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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PUNCTUATION POINTS

I love punctuation points. As a designer, I use them to break up large horizontal spaces, or to mark the transition from one garden room to another.

Above, four ‘Degroot’s Spire’ Arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis ‘Degroot’s Spire) mark the entrance to the Viburnum/Clematis Court from the Potager & Fruitery.

(Ilex crenata )’Sky Pencil’ announce the entrance to the Cutting Garden and it just followed that the  interior beds be punctuated with the same. (good contrast with the rounded Boxwood that mark the other beds)

Unfortunately, one of the ‘Skypencils’ has died.

To replace it, the brick edging will have to be  removed as well as part of the brick path. These plants are 9 years old with extensive root systems; locating another this size  at a reasonable price is unlikely.

Cause of death ? Unknown. Initially  spider-mites were suspected but then the other three plants would be affected since they are in such close proximity. Any thoughts out there?

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.

CONNOISSEURS GARDEN TOUR 2

To continue the garden tour…

all were meticulously appointed…

lushly planted pots…

with a Belgian Fence as background, below…

a private putting green that can double as a Bocce Court!

The best treatment for a driveway and large parking court… antique cobbles in asphalt…

Beautiful side door…                                                                                            

A Mediterranean style home deserves a Mediterranean style courtyard, below.

Then there was THE GARDENER….

I’m told he never stops working nor has he ever asked for a raise!  Below, the no maintenance garden…

Interesting treatment for steps….

and finally one of my favorite gardens, below…

There is a marvelous screened porch….

overlooking a stunning English Knot garden.

 Admittedly, I did not get to all the gardens. There were eleven gardens on the two-day tour and I saw only nine, in one day.

I strongly suggest this annual tour held on Mother’s Day weekend to benefit The Atlanta Botanical Garden.  Hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.

GARDENS FOR CONNOISSEURS TOUR

There is nothing like a garden tour for some inspiration and the Atlanta Botanical Garden’s  “Gardens for connoisseurs  Tour” is one of the best.

The gardens, all private, ranged from highly manicured to woodland all in the heart of the city.

Here are some photos I took…..

I  liked the way formal elements were incorporated in to this woodland paradise….

as well as a formidable Bonsai collection.

Also,  the groundplane changed to mark the transition from one garden room to another…..

Then there is the patio area around the house….

And opposite the French Doors……

I could go on and on about this garden, it is 2.75 acres with two creeks and boasts 300 different cultivars of Japanese Maples. I did not want to leave.

In stark contrast, the next garden was about as formal as Versailles! Well actually, Vaux le Vicomte , the predecessor to the gardens at Versailles.

The above garden in search of Edward Sissorshands and an assistant!

The tour will continue. I took over 250 photos!

GARDEN TOUR 2

  I am tickled that the rambling rose Etain  is blooming for the very first time,

                                                                                   

I have envisioned it climbing  20 feet up the Oak tree.

                                                                                    

On the other side I have planted ‘Rambling Rector’, another rose that could, under good cultivation reach to 30 feet. So I have hopes for this area to have real impact …..in time.

                                                                                      

The Oakleaf Hydrangeas have formed their flower buds and are just starting to open, beyond them are the fig trees.

What I have long called the Viburnum Court should be refered to as the clematis court, since there are far more Clematis than Viburnum now.

                                                                                          

Shame on me… those majestic shrubs are reduced to being supports for my Clem addiction!

                                                                                                   

Whenever I pass the Schiaparelli bench I congratulate myself on choosing the paint colour.

Here is a good example of either buying a plant while it’s in bloom or ordering from a reliable source.

                                                                                             

The Clematis was supposed to be white…. oops,  sorry, love it just the same , in fact this is a happy accident.

                                                                                        

A quick peek at Clematis Josephine … So feminine!

                                                                                       

And Clematis ‘Polish Spirit’ above.

I am just now getting around to pruning the dead flowers off the Hydrangea macrophylla.  If one waits long enough there can be no mistakes, the new buds are obvious.

Earlier on I would have pruned more for shape than flowers; but now that I have the choice, I left some of the awkward branches for cutting.

When the Clematis are done… we will move on to rapsodising  over the Hydrangeas!

GARDEN TOUR part 1

“You should have seen it last week!” The familiar phrase heard from gardeners, when showing visitors around. Well to avoid that I’m posting a  time-lapse kind of garden tour. Photos from the garden over the last two weeks.

                                                                                        

The Dogwoods in the meadow, like most other spring-flowering plants, cooked in the 80 degree temperatures. the blossoms did not last long. Above, in their moment of  glory with the native Phlox (Phlox divericata).

                                                                                    

 Above, the view from a second floor  window,  Dogwoods, Lady Banks Rose (white selection) & Viburnums. Those ‘Snowballs’ (Viburnum macrocephalum) are trained into trees.

                                                                               

Love the tree right by the house.

                                                                            

Early clematis, blooming now for several weeks.

                                                                                 

Along the North Border….Viburnum ‘Kern’s Pink’  & Baptisia…. (below)

                                                                             

followed by Viburnum opulus, Purple smoke tree  (Cotinus coggygria  ‘Royal Purple’ ) & Styrax obassia ..heavenly fragrant bells.

                                                                                   

                                                                   

Clematis  ‘Carnaby’ &  Cotinus ‘coggygria ‘Royal Purple’

                                                                                     

Look at those knockout roses below.. not pruned this year, they are lush & voluptuous reaching almost 6 ‘ tall.

                                                                            

The rose,’ Madame Alfred Carrier’, burst out of her restraints..

                                                                                         

so….the trellis is moving again… to paraphrase Margery Fish, “In time she will learn to walk!”

                                                                                     

All leading up to the Shocking Pink Schiaparelli bench.

To be continued….

FALL TOUR

 The area of the garden I’m sharing now on this Fall Tour is little seen because it’s incomplete. Not that any garden is ever ‘done’ or completed, however this part is has only ‘bones’ and is waiting for me to flesh out the details.  Till now it did not seem too pressing because all the important plants were tiny (1 gal.) but over the years they have matured. So its time has come. 

This green space above, divides the grapes and berries on the right from the vegetables on the left. (My husband’s Vegetable Garden is MY POTAGER)

                                                                                 

This feature, four upright exclamation points, is one I repeat in different garden rooms (with different plants)  throughout the garden. Here,  Eastern Arborvitae  (Thuja occidentalis)  ‘Degroot’s Spire’  marks the intersection of several foot paths; to the right ( West) is the Rose Walk terminated by the Schiaparelli Bench….. (below)

 to the left (east) lies the North Border which runs parallel to the Potager ….

                                                                          

and straight ahead, (south) the Viburnum / Clematis Court.

                                                                                           

Looking back, (north) the uprights  frame the putti that resides at the end of the Cutting garden…

                                                                                               

Going forward (south) through the Viburnum Court, around the bend, Oakleaf  Hydrangeas frame the path to the Main Walk and the  back of the house. (note the Camellia sasanqua blooming on the right.)

                                                                                         

This winter some garden construction is on the agenda.

A GARDENER’S DIARY

                                                                             

If you, like me,watched every episode of A GARDENER’S DIARY on HGTV  (taped and TiVo them for future viewing) and  lament the fact that  it is no longer; you will be pleased to know that the blog GARDEN PHOTO OF THE DAY is written by Martha Tate, the creator /producer of the series.

                                                                                     

Martha features an incredible photo of a  plant or garden with a delightful narrative.

The above photos are from her blog, so tune in, you will not be disappointed.