HYDRANGEAS… AGAIN

Hydrangeas… again.  No longer shades of  blue or pink…

 or somewhere between both.

                                                                                            

 today they look like this……

                                                                                                             

Begs the question… when do they peak?

AUDITION

Perfect for the part!

‘Shopping my garden’ for the plants to surround the Schiaparelli Bench.

The hot colours of the knockout Roses……

and these purple berries (Callicarpa dichotoma or Beauty Berry)….there is also the perilla.. and maybe some cleome.

This area is coming together…at least in my head!

REFINING THE GARDEN

When I ‘mapped out’ the gardens here at Hamilton House, I did not draw the plan on paper, rather I did it on-site; marking  out all areas with twine and grading stakes.  This is the ideal way to design, for me, ( translating that vision to a drawing takes time; then there are the endless details and decisions.)

First, the slow-growing plants that would form the foundation of the  landscape were put in… they required the time to bulk up while other areas of the garden were dug & created.

The Circle of Friends was first planted with the surround of camellias; these would form THE WALLS which would isolate it from the rest of the gardens and create a human sized room.)

This area was then left  for several years, before the hydrangeas were planted.

From a design point of view, the hydrangea planting should consist entirely of Hydrangea arborescens ‘ Annabelle’…. This would continue the planting leading to and from this area….

but I am an avid plant collector and sentimentalist, so here reside hydrangeas of all sorts…

cuttings from dear friends.. each with its own story and memory.

I was also fortunate enough to be a recipient of a tray of cuttings from Michael Dirr when he was heading research on  hydrangeas at the University of Georgia. So some of those plants are here as well.

A few years ago I planted the variegated boxwood, These serve a dual purpose;

1) they  ‘lead the eye’ as a  repeated element, which ties the garden together…

2) they articulate the space.

This fall I will execute the rest of the design by planting out the small hedge of Variegated Boxwood.

( I took these cuttings from the plants at the Mourning Bench in August/September of last year.)

The little plants are firmly rooted and healthy….soon it will be a beautiful enclosure for all the hydrangeas, like the tight little hedge in the photo below.

I could have gone another route here and planted shade loving hosta,  ferns, and the myriad of plants the enjoy these conditions.

This, however, is what I designed for the Camellia Walk /Woodland Garden and I wanted a more formal feeling for this room.

Also, for maintenance, one trim a year should keep it looking neat & contained.

I will wisely wait till the weather cools, in concert with  Mother Nature, to plant. Meanwhile, I will spread a nice layer of compost, shredded leaves & manure over the area , turn it in, to prepare the soil, then add more on top.

Please excuse all the leaves & debris… I am care-giving at the moment and unable to keep up with the garden the way I would like.

A RECIPE FROM THE PAST

My friend Leah is a true Southern Belle. Her beautiful mama, whom I never had the pleasure of meeting, was clearly a great cook. I know this from tidbits that Leah drops, “Oh…. mama used to add some ginger to her fig preserves”  What a difference! I will forever add ginger to the figs.

Today she gave me a recipe for a ‘ Chili Sauce’  her mother used to make. This is not a ‘ Hot Sauce’ rather it is sweet and tangy but the heat can be adjusted to taste. Since I had all the ingredients from the Potager I gave it a go.

LEAH’S MAMA’S CHILI SAUCE

18 ripe tomatoes peeled & chopped

3 green peppers chopped

6 onions chopped

Cook the above ingredients till tender.

ADD

1 1/4 cups sugar

2 1/2 cups cider vinegar

2 Tablespoons salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1 teaspoon each of cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg

Dash or two of cayenne pepper or to taste

Cook till a medium thick consistency, this will take several hours so plan ahead.

Chopped tomatoes & peppers

Onions ready to go…

Final result….. DELICIOUS!

ALMOST MISSED IT!

                                                                                       I was away for the peak bloom of the lilies, in fact I almost missed it. They do bloom  over an extended period of time so I was able to cut a few that are still looking good today.

                                                                                                 My bouquet was pretty sparse this year so I had to fill in with Hydrangeas; three types, Hydrangea paniculata, Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’ and Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Penny Mac’

                                                                                                       

Not my usual Beverley Nichols moment but still lovely…..

                                                                                                

I discovered last year, they give off a delightful fragrance….at night.

A HUGE thank you to  ‘Little Augury’ a blog that stimulates and inspires. THANK YOU for that wonderful mention!

LESSONS FROM A PARK

While in Montreal recently, I visited a small park in a neighborhood of  6 story buildings.

Once in the park one could not see a single building, or hear a vehicle.

An oasis in a city setting.

Carefully planned, berms* were created and artfully arranged in semi circles.

These are planted with both deciduous and  evergreen trees creating several  large spaces and providing privacy in each; both visually and acoustically.

The children’s Water Park  is delightful. I had to resist the temptation to run through it.

I was also super impressed at how clean it is, no trash anywhere…..I have been away too long.

*Berm- A  low rolling artificial hill, a direct descendant of the medieval ‘Mount’. Very effective at blocking sound.

And, used in winter for tobogganing!