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

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HOLD THE PRUNERS

                                                                             

I have for several years grown the ‘Knockout Roses’. They had so much good PR, I was sold. Since it promised a long season of color,( something clients inevitable ask me for) I thought I needed to try them. Well, they did indeed bloom all summer long and stopped only around Christmas but they were far from ‘maintenance free’.

                                                                      

Why I started pruning them I’m not sure, but I was advised by several gardeners that one ‘had to’. This year I did not, well not all. I did start out cutting them back some but stopped when I was reminded of Vita Sackville West’s* plea to just trim roses lightly. So I did. She is/was after all, one of my first mentors.(I read everything I could on her, and everything she wrote that I could access.)
 
                                                                      

It worked! While I had complained before of their stiff habit; I now see  they can be a  graceful cascading plant. What will happen during the summer? I’ll keep you posted.

 Now, what to do about their lack of  fragrance?

NOTE: the wire cage in front is protecting a newly planted antique rose from the deer.

*Vita Sackville West was the planting genius behind the garden at Sissinghurst Castle, Kent England.

© All photos & text 2010

HYDRANGEAS, HYDRANGEAS!!!

The hydrangeas are coming!

The Oakleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia) is just starting. This native has much to recommend it. When it first breaks dormancy, the leaves are silver-grey and fuzzy, the flowering is worthy of a glass of champagne. The handsome foliage turns a wonderful burgundy red in the autumn (almost December here in Georgia) and when the leaves finally fall, the stems look like peeling cinnamon sticks. DO NOT PRUNE this shrub unless it is necessary to keep it in bounds, better yet, just give it plenty of space. If you must prune cut bouquets while it is in bloom. This will assure flowering the following year.

The first of the macrophylla types, ‘Penny Mac’ is showing a bit of color. I rely on this plant to carry the garden through the summer months. This hydrangea was not named for my dear late friend Penny McHenry. It came to be known by this name as it was refered to  as “Penny’s macrophylla” (hence ‘Penny mac’). This was one of the first remontant types that later led to the breeding of  ‘Endless Summer’ and many more reblooming types. There is a new hydrangea, developed by Mike Dirr et al, named for Penny called ‘Mini Penny’ look for it at your local nursery. No pruning here either. See above.

The buds on Hydrangea serrata.

 Typically the serrata group is earlier flowering and lower growing, maintaining a height of 3′ and spreading wider.  This group hails from the mountainous regions of Japan, therefore not so quick to leaf out on the first warm day (usually January here) and then get frozen as the colder temps return. No pruning.

© All photos & text 2010

SOMETIMES

It works just like one imagined!

                                                                          

It has taken some years but finally the Variegated Aralia (Acanthopanax sieboldianus  ‘Variegatus’ now called  Eleutherococcus sieboldianus) is sending it’s graceful arching canes into the Viburnum dilatatum.

                                                                                                                                                       

Later these viburnum flowers will become clusters of red berries, many will grace the Thanksgiving floral centerpiece.

                                                                          

Somewhere in there is planted a white clematis. It has not been seen yet this season. Although the earlier viburnums have a delicious  fragrance, these do not…

© All photos & text 2010

AN INVITATION

To a peek through parts of my garden. Nothing is styled here, this is real-time. Hoses snaking around beds and weeds.

                                                                           

Poppies, from a dear friend who acquired them from a 90-year-old gardener 40 years ago. End of this month we will celebrate her 94th birthday.

                                                                     

 some semi double, some single,  all stunning.

                                                                       

I spread the poppy seed on cultivated soil in the late fall, after a rain. These seeds need light to germinate. If they were scattered in cultivated dry soil & then watered the soil would cover the seed, excluding the light.

I always allow the seed pods to ripen. After extracting the seed to be used in bread making and saving some for the garden, the pods are used in  dry arrangements. This is an annual show.

And there are more Clematis.

                                                                     

This  Clematis is ‘Multi-Blue’,  the Viburnum  is ‘Michael Dodge’.  The viburnum  flowers will turn to clusters of  yellow berries in the fall when HOPEFULLY, the clematis will bloom again.

                                                                      

Another clematis, ‘Duchess of Edinburgh’ cascading through a Tea Olive (Osmanthus fragrans).

And finally,

                                                                      

The Potager. Growing now, Onions, Leeks and garlic. All the beds are enclosed with wire to keep the rabbits out.

© All photos & text 2010

CONFESSION

That was not the front of my house in the last post. This is, below, taken in winter so there is no wonderful green lawn sweeping up to it and the trees are bare.

I thought the other photo was a better illustration of  my point.

 FYI, it was a  client’s house ‘before’. There is no longer a foundation planting of tidy pruned ‘meatball’ shrubs there anymore.

© All photos & text 2010

TRANSITION SPACES

There are several types of transition spaces. The first would be the porch or veranda. Here the veranda unites both indoors and out, creating a continuous living space.

                                                                            

My veranda outfitted for a long hot summer of outdoor living. (above & below)

                                                                        

Below, the sweeping  lawn and the trees on either side anchor the house to the landscape, strengthening the relationship between architecture and site.

                                                                       Other transition spaces that create interest in the garden are pergolas, trellised walkways  or arbors.

                                                                     

Here one passes through a dark shaded area into a pool of sunlight.

                                                                       

                                                                       

The above arbor was created using only plants. No Money? No excuse!

© All photos & text 2010