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.