PROJECT MOURNING BENCH

For this area, the Vinca has too  much movement & energy; the glossy leaves reflect so much light one can hardly make out the ‘star plants’…

                                                                 

  So out it went (to a friend’s garden).

                                                                   

The golden club Moss,(Selaginella kraussiana ‘Aurea’) on the other hand, has a matt texture & absorbs the light. It makes a much calmer background which allows the ‘stars’ to shine..

                                                                     

This is so much better. I first added a wheelbarrow of rabbit manure & raked it over the ground. No digging is done here because there are Trillium rhizomes underground. Then I dug up the Selaginella from the path on the other side…

                                                                  

                                                                   

And transplanted it. While I tried for whole ‘sheets ‘ of the moss, it falls apart, so little pieces with roots are pushed into the ground. They will shortly spread to form the carpet needed for this area.  All the while…                                                                     

  Cleome supervised.  

This type of gardening is really painting beautiful pictures with plants…but the one element the other arts do not have to deal with is TIME.  If I was using paints or pencils…it would already be coloured in.  

The Star plants are:-

                                                                      Black Mondo Grass (Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Nigrescens’)

                                                                   East Indian Holly Fern (Polystichum acrostichoides)  and…

                                                                       Amorphophallus rivieri, a type of voodoo Lilly.. all improved by changing their background.

                                                                  

                                                                  

A good days work all in all, and part of another project started.

                                                                   

“Success depends on simplicity, one plant supplying the quiet background, while the other stands out clearly against it.” – Sylvia Crowe*

*Sylvia Crowe, distinguished British Landscape architect.

© All photos & text 2010

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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

IN THE GARDEN…AT LAST

The heat has finally broken (low 90’s) and the  humidity has dropped. Early this morning I chose a project from my ever-growing list of things to do in the garden and out I went!

The project is the ‘Circle of Friends’  What is needed here are a few finishing touches.                                                                                                                                            

Today I pulled  string  and arranged the brick to line the path that leads to and from the Circle of friends. Next will be the landscape fabric, crushed stone & pea gravel, and finally painting the furniture.                                                                  

This area is so peaceful, it is one of my favorite spaces in the garden. Arranged  in the shape of an oval…                                                                   punctuated by four variegated Boxwoods, it suggests finality and invites repose.

                                                                   It sits under a wonderful canopy that allows dappled light and provides perfect conditions for both camellias & hydrangeas to flourish. In this case the plants both create the space  and embellish it.

While I had hoped for a carpet of moss, That idea has been abandoned as impractical. The seating is not all I wished for but it is comfortable and affordable and when painted BLACK it will recede nicely. Then all that is needed is a groundcover.

 I just might put a check mark next to one project this summer.

© All photos & text 2010

THE LAST CLEMATIS

                                                                  The last Clematis to bloom in my garden is the Sweet Autumn Clematis (Clematis terniflora )                                                                  

I love this clematis. If I did not, it would be banished  from my garden. It is a thug. But so beautiful, so fragrant, and  my honeybees are all over it.

                                                                      

 When I lived in Massachusetts I planted it against the house. It climbed to the second story and found its way into my studio window and bloomed inside.

                                                                   

But in Georgia it is another matter. The seeds are all viable and if left to their own devices  will germinate and take over the garden. In order to avoid this, it is cut to the ground immediately after the bloom. Too bad because the seedheads are spectacular, however I dare not let it go to seed. The one year it was neglected  over 30 volunteer clematis had to be dug up the following spring. Of course this does not apply to gardeners in colder climates.

                                                                 

Strong and vigorous it can exceed 30 feet. In the above photos it has smothered a Tea Olive (Osmanthus fragrans).

Known alternately as Clematis paniculata then  Clematis maximowicziana, it is aptly named ‘Sweet Autumn Clematis’. For me this is one of the first plants to signal the end of summer.

© All photos & text

HEAT ADVISORY!

This may be the first time in my life I wanted summer to be OVER. In Georgia we have had 63 days with temps in the high 90’s and that is before they calculate the heat index.

Hope is on the way… I saw camellia buds today.

                                                                           Cooler weather is around the corner. I can’t believe I was as excited to see these , as when I see the first daffodil pierce the ground in January.

© All photos & text 2010

HYDRANGEA PANICULATA

Hydrangea paniculata is one of my favorite hydrangeas.These are the hydrangeas my grandmother grew in Montreal, Canada. She also grew H. paniculata grandiflora,aka Pee Gee but I don’t have that cultivar in my garden. (soon to be rectified)

                                                                    

From Left, cultivars ‘Pink Diamond’ ‘Tardiva’ ‘Chantilly Lace’

The major differences in the cultivars are the size of the sterile florets and foliage, ‘Pink Diamond’ being the largest.

This hydrangea can be cut to the ground and it will grow right back and bloom late summer.(see here) I guess that is why it was the choice in her Zone 3 garden. The winter would cut everything to the ground. However, it is NOT necessary to cut it back. The flowers (pyramidal panicles) will be more profuse but smaller if left unpruned.

I also have observed H. paniculata ‘Fragrant Mountain’ given to me by Eddie Aldridge* but it seems to be a later flowering plant and it has not yet opened. Last year I observed that there was NO fragrance, but maybe this year…

 

*Eddie Aldridge and his father discovered and introduced the Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Snowflake’. Eddie and his lovely wife Kay donated their home and acreage  to establish Aldridge Botanical Gardens in Hoover Alabama. Visit if you can, it is extraordinary! Read Eddie’s book ‘A Garden of Destiny’

© 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