WHAT WAS I THINKING?

Never one to work on just one project, I am now looking into another area of the garden I may not have discussed before; that would be the Mourning Bench.

                                                                             

  Located  down the walk from the Circle of friends,  just past the intersecting path that leads to the Potager and compost, sits the Mourning Bench. Flanked by two variegated Boxwood (Buxus sempervirens ‘variegata’), it is recessed into the border and one can pass it without noticing.

                                                                    

I spent a lot of time here, both having morning coffee and finding shelter from the sun when working in the Potager. Opposite the bench were planted perennials, a tapestry.  Quite lovely for several years, then…

                                                                  

 the Vinca appeared.  Above, it is pushing the Golden Club Moss (Selaginella krausiana ‘Aurea’) into the path. Earlier in the season I thought I would let the Vinca take over….but It looks terrible!

WHAT WAS  I THINKING?

                                                                  

So, while I recruit an extra pair of hands to help with the landscape fabric, then locate the right colour pea gravel for the Circle of Friends… this is what I will be working on.

© All photos & text 2010

GOOD BONES

Last week I was in the vicinity of a garden I had designed 8 years ago. I had recently heard that the property was for sale and had been sitting empty since my client had moved out-of-state to caretake elderly parents. Driven by curiosity I stopped by. Much to my surprise this little garden has held up!

                                                                         

Retaining walls were built to hold the bank after we excavated for the patio. Originally the slope started just 10 feet from the back door. Not usable, nor a great view from both living room and eating area off the kitchen.

                                                                     

A shade structure allows for comfortable dinning out-of-doors. ( I noticed the climbing plants are no longer on the wall.)

                                                                     

  Single slab Crab Orchard stone steps lead to the upper level, alongside which there is supposed to be a waterfall terminating in a small pond…

                                                                   where presently there are the remains of a  temporary Rose Garden .    

                                                                      Utilitarian steps to the compost, pea gravel & lumber are fine for this area.   

                                                                       And finally for ease of maintenance, stepping-stones  set into dwarf mondo. Never needs mowing.  

                                                                      Because of the height of the hill, two short walls were erected. One would have looked too much like a fortress.   

Without any care at all in this very long, hot, Georgia summer the Annabelle hydrangeas are holding up. They are underplanted  with evergreen ferns & Lenten Roses (Helleborus orientalis) for winter interest.

 The stone was selected to blend with the colours of the interior. Rich browns & muted terra-cotta, with pops of orange and yellow.

I hope someone buys this soon, and I hope the rest of my design gets installed or repurposed for another.   

 © All photos & text 2010

What I wanted… what I got.

I envisioned a soft carpet of moss beneath my feet as I walked through the garden…                                                                           

and then the weeds came.

                                                                                    

So now not only do the beds require weeding, so do the paths! YIKES!

I have been resisting the pea gravel alternative. When I am alone in the garden the crunch of the gravel is delightful but when accompanied, it is so distracting it is difficult to have a conversation.

GARDEN UPDATE CONTINUED

                                                                      

Plants with a cascading habit,  call attention to the ground plane.  Above, The heavy flowers of  Snowflake Hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Snowflake’),  draw the eye to the  Japanese painted fern (Athyrium nipponicum).

                                                                     

 The flower on ‘Snowflake’  has  double sepals, significantly different from that                                                                    of ‘Amethyst’ above, or ‘Alice’ below.

                                                                      

                                                               

Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’   forming it’s  flower heads. This is one hydrangea that SHOULD BE PRUNED early spring. These hydrangeas form flower buds on NEW GROWTH.

UPDATE ON EPHEMERALS:

                                                                   

The Trillium are fading, (see yellow foliage). What will clothe the ground now is Vinca. I really tried for Selaginella kraussiana aurea, below

                                                                    

 but it prefers the path so I’m going to stop fighting and let the vinca do its thing.

                                                                   

Arum foliage has died down & the berries have formed. They need to ripen, then they will be spread where more are needed. See previous post on Arum.

FINALLY THE POTAGER:

 Below squash, peppers, cucumbers, beans, Eggplant                                                                  

  and below, TOMATOES!!                                                                

 Have a great week end!

©All photos and text 2010

TEXTURE

How important is Texture?  Texture can be more pleasing than flowers, and persist longer. In smaller gardens where every design element  is seen up close, it is of particular importance.

                                                                    

Here the  bold glossy leaves of  Lenten Rose (Helleborus orientalis)  stand in a mass of delicate Maidenhair fern (Adiantum capillus-veneris).

                                                                      Plants used for background need to be fine, dense and matt in order to be a suitable foil for either statuary or flowers. Above St. Fiacre against a matt evergreen Arborvitae (Thuja plicata).  On either side the coarse, shining leaves of Gardenia (Gardenia japonica) and  Banana Shrub (Michelia figo),  reflect too much light to be an effective background.

Contrasting textures apply not only to plant relationships.

                                                        Here the fine ferny foliage of Japanese Maple ( Acer palmatum) stand out in sharp contrast to the smooth Bluestone walkway.

                                                                      

 The best effects are achieved with simplicity.  Texture = contrast = beauty.

© All photos & text 2010

GROUNDCOVER IDEA

Every gardener/designer has their own ideas on groundcovers. I thought I would share what I do with my hydrangea.

At the base of  the shrubs, and forming a nice ‘sweep’, I plant the small tubers of Arum italicum ‘Pictum’. This delightful little plant  is the ideal workhorse groundcover for any shrub that looses its leaves in winter. It does not appear till October/November, the handsome foliage persists all winter, and disappears in mid spring,  just as the shrubs leaf out.

Here  the Arum covers what would be bare earth as the Annabelle hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’) is cut back early spring.  (See the stems peeking out?)

Weeks later,  the Annabelle  starts to fill in. By the time the Arum foliage dies back the hydrangea will shade the ground.

PLEASE NOTE: do not prune all your hydrangeas. The macrophylla type hydrangeas (big blue or pink mophead or lacecap flowers) formed their flower buds last year. If you prune them, there will be no blooms this year.

ANTICIPATION!

The flower buds on Hydrangea macrophylla .