GREAT GARDEN YEAR

Peace, quiet, birdsong, this is a great garden year!

Circle of Freinds at dusk

Circle of Friends at dusk

I am finally back into my garden! I did not realize how much I  missed it.  I spent the last years distracted by various life events and for a time ignored my own needs and passions. Learned some valuable life lessons and returned to my roots, my tribe.

20160604_161957                                  Design of pot attributed to Gertrude Jekyll

Thanks to a very mild winter, my garden this year has been sensational. EVERYTHING bloomed profusely.

Rose 'New Dawn' on old chicken house

Rose ‘New Dawn’ on the old chicken house

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Right now I am enjoying the blooms of Hydrangeas I have not seen (in my garden) for years.

'Fuji Waterfall' aka 'Starburst' these American names given to 'Hanabi'

‘Fuji Waterfall’ aka ‘Shooting Star’ these American names given to ‘Hanabi’

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Hydrangea serrata 'Miyama Yae Murasaki' (AKA Purple Tiers)

Hydrangea serrata ‘Miyama Yae Murasaki’ (AKA Purple Tiers)

The secret garden

The secret garden

It is, however, not just about what is blooming.  A ‘Garden’ must have structure and a narrative. Without these organizing principles, one simply has a collection of plants or chaos.

In my design lectures I talk about the 2 points of view on what makes a garden. One is that a garden is where one puts plants, and the other, to which I adhere, is that plants are used to create the garden.

The first is a ‘yard’. A garden is a refuge, an ongoing work of art to be honed and nurtured.

Below, a plant collector’s garden held together by it’s structure. (another post to follow about this garden & the gardener)

Ozzie Johnson's Garden

Ozzie Johnson’s Garden

 

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What are your thoughts? What is more satisfying a yard or a garden?

photos of my garden, taken with cell phone. Ozzie’s wonderful garden with a real camera!

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.

 

 

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?

 

A NEW FOCAL POINT

As I walk through the garden I see all the areas that would be much improved with a focal point.

Circle of friends

The Circle of Friends (above) has a wonderful pot, an Italian reproduction of a Gertrude Jekyll design. (I want something taller, this is too round & short)

At the end of the Rose & Clematis Walk is the  Schiaparelli Bench.

The Sciaperelli Bench

The cutting garden has several focal points as it is divided into four parterres…

Bench in cutting garden

The bench .. (On axis with the Potager)

entrance to cutting garden

St Fiacre…

and serving as focal point from  two views is one of the classic Four Seasons.. ‘Summer’…

Cutting Garden Entrance

and opposite  ( below)  an urn…  (An overturned pot acts as plinth; my Poverty Cycle)                                                                      cutting garden

My friend, the brilliant and talented  Landscape Designer Tara Dillard posts about focal points on her blog constantly!

This winter when I decorated my dinning room for holiday festivities, I was keenly aware that the view from the window was less than I hoped.So I moved ‘Summer’ from the cutting garden directly on axis with the centerpiece on the table.

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She is here temporarily, I do think ‘Winter’ would be more appropriate  since that is basically the only time we eat in the dining room, and ‘Summer’ belongs in the Cutting Garden with all the blooming beauties of her season. She has been moved  so often that to paraphrase Margery Fish “In time she will learn to walk”

Ah, decisions, decisions… I always opt for more plants and labor when spending my garden $$$$. Perhaps this will be the year I concentrate on accessories.