GARDEN TOUR 2

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One of the joys of the Garden Tour Season I always look forward to, is the tour put on by Georgia Perennial Plant Association. Several chosen gardens are opened to the membership for one week- end a year. Most gardeners would have bottled water and iced tea available for the visitors. Margaret Moseley would serve her famous Almond Tea whenever her garden was opened. Last week Pimento Cheese party sandwiches were passed around on silver trays for the guests! (Did I forget to mention that in the last post?)

For several years I served as the Tour Chairperson of this organization as well as The American Hydrangea Society. I know firsthand about what it takes to create a successful event. So I was not surprised that in recent years the format has changed and only one garden is opened for a day. I like this change. One no longer has to budget their time and rush to see as many gardens as possible in the allotted timeframe. These are SPECTACULAR gardens where one could happily spend the entire day and still not take it all in.

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This year, the garden of Lyndy Broder was the featured garden. Lyndy is a dear friend and an expert on the genus Clematis. Her knowledge and talents however, go far beyond Clematis.  She has collected an amazing variety of unusual and seldom seen trees and shrubs to create a personal arboretum ‘par excellence’ on her property….and almost all are festooned with the most delicious varieties of Clematis one could imagine.

P1240753                                                                       A wall of  seed grown species welcome visitors

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P1240771                                                                            Golden Larch (Pseudolarix  amabilis) with Clematis

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The Canadian Geese Meadow leading to the lake above.

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P1240768                                            The Sanctuary of St. Fiacre, patron saint of gardeners ( loved working with Lyndy on this project)

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When a garden of this caliber is open….. everyone comes. This turned into a reunion of great plantsmen and gardeners,  a huge amount of talent here, the energy was palpable.

GARDEN TOUR SEASON

This is the first garden tour I attended this season, there are several more on the agenda.  I promise to post about them all.

Nothing says Welcome quite like a gate. I saw several that intrigued me on the  Gardens for Connoisseurs Tour to benefit The Atlanta Botanical Garden.

P1240474My friend Becky rushing in to get detail photos of this delightful gate. We were tripping over each other in excitement. look at these ….

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Clever designs and beautiful workmanship. We  loved all the details. Gates like these were in several of the gardens, a wonderful piece, both practical and whimsical.

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Several of Atlanta’s finest private gardens open for this annual event. These are all designer gardens with regular and knowledgeable  crews to tend them. They are perfectly groomed. One will never find a yellowing leaf, no space left where a plant was lost, some annual potted plant is placed in its stead, very tastefully.

Touches of whimsy…….

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The summer containers were packed with  perennial foliage plants and annuals.

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I was particularly taken with a table centerpiece …..

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and of course the peaceful sound of water.

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Beautiful gardens…..

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P1240715All in all a no miss event. With our weather this year, the gardens will be more beautiful that ever.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THIS ‘N’ THAT

THIS ‘N’ THAT

This is a fabulous year for the garden. The French Hydrangeas (Hydrangea macrophylla) are full of buds and it promises to be quite a show. I hope I am not putting a Hex on it. Considering the unpredictable weather we are experiencing, tomorrow  could bring an artic blast!

P1240419There are so many varieties I have not seen in years. The flower buds were  killed by late frosts or some years,  the stems are killed right to the ground. This has happened  for several years; bad news for a gardener who loves them and has used them extensively in her plantings.( That would be me.)

Encouraged, I took many more cuttings.

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I am also propagating two all white varieties ( Madame E. Mouillere  & the lacecap White Wave) for my friend Mary who is creating an all white garden. She is well on her way and these white Hydrangeas will be the crowning touch. Isn’t it amazing how much patience a true gardener can exhibit?

My garden and I have matured. I no longer stress the small details and rely on good groundcovers through which I will plant some minor bulbs for more early spring interest.

Since groundcovers are all so similar in height  is essential to play up contrast of either colour, or texture.  Some of the better effects I had achieved in the woodland became so labor intensive, I had to abandon them completely. So my advice is “go simple’

Blk. Mondo & Selaginella

Black Mondo Grass (Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Nigrescens’  ) and Golden Clubmoss (Selaginella ‘Aurea’) were a stunning combination. Then the weeds came. I have to admit that for a few years I painted weed killer on them with an eyeliner brush!

I am very fortunate to have on my property many native wildflowers, while they are ephemeral and will disappear when the summer heat comes on, the low growing Vinca does a great job picking up the slack.

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Above, Leaves of three, Trillium & Poison Ivy; underneath, a carpet of Vinca.

P1230614 This mottled ginger (Asarum splendens)  is  one of several types I planted, it is the only one that has survived & thrived. It is located across from  the Mourning Bench. This was the only area where I originally planted perennials. What comes up now are the tough survivors or the plants that re-seed.

Below the subtle colours of Japanese Painted fern ( Athyrium nipponicum) & Mottled Ginger blend beautifully. Contrasting texture is the key here.

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Elsewhere in the garden, the Viburnums have been sensational and there are still a few blooming. This year Kern’s Pink has outdone itself.

Viburnum 'Kern's Pink'

Viburnum ‘Kern’s Pink’

So heavy with blossoms it has covered an unknown rose. 20160502_182613

The only misstep this year was the loss of two mature Clematis. Victims of the mow and blow guy….. I guess one cannot have everything…..all at once.

 

 

RAINY DAYS

Not complaining, but these downpours really put a damper on going out to see what’s blooming in the garden, so….

P1230627on these rainy days I brought some of the garden indoors.

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sink above, is a new addition in utility room/downstairs potty/ mud/ laundry room.  Mirror will be painted & antiqued  with Annie Sloan paints and the room will be painted. Still contemplating colours.

MEANWHILE

Pictures taken between the raindrops, here is what’s  in the garden …

P1230583                                   Styrax obassia  delightful, fragrant, small tree that shades the entrance to the Potager

P1230587                                   Chinese Snowball Viburnum ( Viburnum macrocephalum)

P1230586                       Azaleas (Rhododendron indica ) and  Cranberrybush Viburnum (Viburnum opulus ) always good companions. LOVE the lime green phase of this shrub.

P1230581                            Viburnum ‘Kern’s Pink is what the label said. (Viburnum picatum ‘Kern’s Pink’) My plant has never seen even a blush. Beautiful none the less.

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A few Clematis too.

                    

 

THE SECOND ACT

Every spring I have posted about the Wordsworth meadow, however, what follows the daffodils is just as exciting. It took a lot less work too.

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Two native plants allowed to seed themselves over a period of time Trillium cuneatum and Phlox divaricata.

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This is the reward for allowing the seeds to form & ripen before the meadow is cut. Need I mention this has taken 17 years?

I have been away from the blog a long time. Life happens, things change, gardens and blogs sometimes must be put aside while other issues of life are addressed.

The garden, while it has suffered some neglect, is very grateful for the attention it is getting now. Major changes about to happen! Stay tuned.

WHERE DO I START?

Where do I start? Here we are at the end of April and I’m still accessing the damage from the past winter.

Today they cut down the second Fig Tree…dead . I waited to be sure but there was no hope. The branches snapped off in my hand. Same with all the Gardenia, they look like toast, brown & crunchy!  There is one in the cutting garden I hope recovers; the small leafed one Margaret Moseley calls ‘First Love’. Keeping my fingers crossed.

The Hydrangea macrophylla are pushing new growth from the roots. All the top growth is dead. There will be no flowers this season.

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I am hoping the Penny Mac’s, will produce. They bloomed on new wood (i.e. current seasons growth) in my friend Penny’s garden for  whom it was named.

Penny McHenry                             Penny McHenry

(I wonder if it was because she grew them  in full sun. They always looked wilted during the day but at 6 pm her garden was transformed into the Hydrangea Heaven it was.)

To add  insult to injury a huge old Oak in the Wordsworth Meadow was uprooted last week in the wind storm.

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That is my 6′ 4″ husband in front of the rootball.(below)

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Now that the second shoe has fallen I’m left wondering what else could possibly go wrong. I’m holding my breath!

Forgot to mention the entire countryside was without power for the day since it brought down the power line.

Still there were many nice surprises. Who knew Stachyurus praecox was so hardy?  I was sure she would succumb to the low temperatures. ( This is yet another shrub commonly known as “Yellow Bells’)

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Stachyurus praecox

The meadow is marvelous with the native Phlox (Phlox divaricata) & Trilliums (Trillium cuneatum)  that follow the spent daffodils …

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and  the Viburnums are doing beautifully. This however, is another post.

How are your gardens doing after this very harsh winter?

 

POLAR VORTEX UPDATE

The Polar Vortex that crippled the south last week wreaked some havoc  in my garden.

I could tell from the window that the Michelia foliage was damaged and the Camellia blossoms were brown and mushy. Today I ventured out (74 degrees) to access the damage.

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Although there is some browning of foliage, it is not nearly as bad as I had anticipated.

The Michelia (now reclassified as a Magnolia) looks awful, but the buds seem to be viable in their protected furry coats.

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The camellias, on the other hand did not fare as well. The good news is  the plants survived, however, many tight buds came off in my hand when I touched them.

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The  few that are okay are on the underside of the foliage so I guess that was their protection . ( Like all gardeners, I wish plants could talk!)

Now for the bad news… I doubt there will be  Hydrangeas this year, most of the buds are frozen & dead. While the stems appear fine right now, only time will tell.

Bay Laurel

Above, my Bay Laurel (Laurus nobilis)… bit the proverbial dust.

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Hellebores (Helleborus orientalis) (above)  may be short in the stem but they are coming along.

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 Above, Winter Daphne ( Daphne odora aureomarginata)  unscathed & looking cheerful. Waiting for another few sunny days to unfurl and envelope the garden in its wonderful perfume.

And, as always, there is something cheerful waiting to brighten my day…

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Early species crocus.

What damage if any, did your garden experience?

THE GOLDEN SEASON

The Golden Season is upon us. The quality of light has changed and there is more than a touch of nostalgia in the air.

The weather in Georgia is still fine; the daytime temps are mild with crisp early mornings and evenings.

                                                                                              

While we cannot boast the colour changes of the northern states, there is still much to celebrate.

The early camellias are blooming……

and the salad garden is coming along….

Gardening may slow down a bit but it does not end. Still have to weed!

To see the name of the plants, hold your mouse over photos.

THIS ‘N’ THAT

Due to an injury I have been unable to garden. I finally got to take a walk and snap some photos so here goes.. a bit of this ‘n’ that.

This scene makes me smile every time..the faded flowers on the hydrangea and the Camellia sasanqua ‘Sparkling Burgundy’ perfect partners.

Stewartia  showing some of its famous exfoliating  bark. This was the year  to remove all the lower branches, it will look somewhat awkward for a few years…

Camellia sasanqua ‘Daydream’ I rescued this plant from the trash at a nursery. Margaret Moseley told me it was the only fragrant sasanqua in her garden…If  Margaret was growing it ..I needed to have one too; but it was an old variety and no one carried it. One Autumn day, plant shopping in Alabama, I caught a sweet fragrance and went to investigate…there it was, a broken scraggly mess, lying in the trash heap… the treasure I was seeking!  They gave it to me.

Beautiful colours on the lacecap hydrangea…

 eggplants and peppers still going in the potager…

and the clematis that bloomed all summer & going strong still… Clematis ‘Odoriba’

Life is good.

BOXWOOD CUTTINGS

I was all set to plant out the little cuttings of Boxwood

directly into the Circle of Friends,

According to my reference book…

at this size I would have to plant them 6″ apart!…

then I read Monty Don…..

                                                                                                   

He transplants his Box cuttings into a nursery bed and  grows them on for two or three years

To me, that makes sense, the plants are tiny.. I can baby them a bit longer,  give them a better start, fatten them up and plant them 3′ apart.

All the while I will be adding organic matter to the ultimate location of the box babies. Layer following layer of shredded leaves and rabbit Manure, and more leaves & compost….and  more leaves…. and….

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.

HYDRANGEA TOUR PART 2

                                                                     

The second garden on tour was that of Cheryl & Max Lenker.

It is a perfect English Style Cottage Garden; complete with rose arbor entrance, boxwood lined walk and welcoming plaque…

 The mixed borders are masterfully planted …

featuring an elegant shade structure that serves as focal point.

Adjacent to the house is an outdoor living room with all the accoutrements for gracious living & entertaining.

                                                                                                   

From this area one can enjoy the sound and sight of a split stream waterfall.

                                                                           

If one ascends to the upper level one crosses the waterfall.

Here the character of the garden changes and one discovers a quiet shaded walkway …

and a place for contemplation.

This garden has it all and of course the hydrangeas were fabulous!

We all see different elements in a garden, I have not touched on the amazing front of this house, so for more  on this garden see PRETTY OLD HOUSES  and LINDARAXA.

HYDRANGEA SOCIETY GARDEN TOUR 1

This weekend I attended American Hydrangea Society’s Annual Garden Tour with Julieta of the outstanding food blog LINDARAXA. This was the very first time we met in person, what a warm, delightful, accomplished and charming lady she is. We connected immediately.

Check her blog for a recipe of the most delicious banana muffins she baked for our mid morning snack,  I have to admit eating more than one on the drive home!

On with the tour, the first garden is that of Michele and Alan Browne….

                                                                                              

From the moment I saw the yatsuhashi bridge spanning the dry creek bed, I knew this garden was going to be special, and it was, on so many levels.

                                                                                      

Michele, did her homework, the garden perfectly compliments the architecture of her magnificent Arts & Crafts style house.

                                                                                                  

                                                                                                   

The Japanese influence was evident throughout.

                                                                                                       

                                                                                                  

The lantern  (below) on the side of the path indicates that you are welcome to enter the garden, if it was placed ON the  path, it would mean they are not receiving.

                                                                                               

Along this path is a connoisseurs collection of hydrangeas, all young and recently planted,  Michele had to wait till the trees she planted grew enough to create the dappled shade the hydrangeas require. (this garden is only 6 years old)

Designed as a stroll garden it has the requisite water features or representaions thereof …

                                                                                             

As one comes round the back of the house one discovers  an outdoor room adjacent to the house…..

                                                                                                 

a courtyard with pergola (notice the repetition of the elephant leg columns, that make it one with the house) From this vantage point one can enjoy  a  dry landscape or meditation garden creating the illusion of water, promontory and rocky shore.

                                                                                            While typically raked sand, crushed slate is used here for ease of maintenance.

All in all, the clever use of conifers, japanese maples , and the Three Friends of Winter ( Black Pine Pinus thunbergii, Flowering Apricot Prunus mume & Bamboo) …..

                                                                                                      

the gardener has successfully created a garden of great beauty, serenity and harmony. BRAVA Michele!!

Thank you for the wonderful stroll.