Sometime, no matter how much thought goes into companion planting, It just does not give the results anticipated.

On a Variegated Tea Olive (Osmanthus heterophyllus ‘Variegatus’) I planned a creamy white Clematis to peek through Tea Olive’s foliage.



 I did not plan on the green foliage of the Clematis!


So… variegated leaves peek through clematis foliage to pick up the creamy white flower!

Not exactly what I had expected. Pretty still.

© All photos & text



Curved paths create mystery. They take us to places we cannot see.


On the way to the compost bin,  I am greeted by Southern azaleas  (Rhododendron indica).  ‘George L. Tabor (pink) on one side and ‘G.G. Gerbing’ (white) on the other.


After the last post I got to thinking about how fortunate we are to have the  paintings that record the gardens of a vanished age and lifestyle.

As Lanning Roper* so elquently stated, “Gardens are so personal and poetic in their conception that their spirit dies with the owner.”

Jeklly recorded her gardens in the medium of the day. That new fangled invention… the camera.

Below, Jekyll’s photograph of the break in the flower border punctuated by Yuccas.

*Lanning Roper was an American landscape architect, commisioned by HRH Price Charles to help with the design of  Highgrove, the Prince’s garden in the Cotswolds.


Probably one of the most influential garden designers of the early 20th century, Gertrude Jekyll, was a proponent of separating the garden into separate enclosed areas,  each devoted to a season, or a single plant.  She believed no garden could possibly be kept at it’s best for the entire season.

Below, her Autumn garden of Michaelmas Daisies. Painted by George Samuel Elgood.

Another view, painted by Helen Allingham.

Allingham also painted a break in the main flower border. Notice how Jekyll used masses of yuccas as  punctuation points on both sides of the path.

These watercolors illustrate her lush planting style and skillful use of color.


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.


The flower buds on Hydrangea macrophylla .


Secrets of Companion Planting

“The best associations are between plants which have one element in common and another contrasted.”     – Dame Sylvia Crowe  (Distinguished British Landscape Architect)

Here the common element is the color white, while the contrasting element is size.

Large blossoms compliments of the Chinese Snowball (Viburnum macrocephalum); small blossoms are the white Lady Banks Rose (Rosa banksiae ‘Alboplena’).

Versatile Climbers

Clematis ‘Asao’ made its appearance this week. Raised in Japan, this beauty graces the shrub Viburnum dilatatum ‘Michael Dodge.’  The Viburnum will bloom later and so will Asao, thus extending the show in this area of the garden.

In their native habitat, Clematis climb through shrubs & trees without hurting the host plant. They lift themselves by twisting their leaf stalk gently around the nearest support. I like to go along with nature. She knows what she is doing.

Imagine more of your shrubs doing double duty.