CIRCLE OF FRIENDS

Earlier this summer, as I  sat in the Circle of Friends, I realized that after the first major flush of bloom my ‘interesting hydrangeas’ really had no impact at all. What was needed was more of the strong blue mopheads.

                                                                                    

                                                                                     

So cuttings it was, since that particular hydrangea is an unknown variety and I have no idea how to locate more.

                                                                                             

Good plan? Yes, untill I saw them today; this is what they look like now.  

                                                                                

                                                                                    

Yet, on the other side …

                                                                                

the less spectacular blue mopheads dry beautifully.

                                                                              

                                                                                

What a terrific problem to have!

A GRACIOUS GARDEN

Last week I mentioned my client the gracious Ms. C  and her luxurious  flower arrangements.  Now lets take a look at her garden.

Like so many homes here in the piedmont, the house was set into a slope which began immediately past the brick patio.

                                                                                  

High on one side… ( note patio in left corner)

                                                                                      

drop off on the other.

While several talented designers had created plans for the landscape, it was not till Ms. C  bought an antique fountain in England that serious consideration was given to getting the landscape ‘done’.  Enter me.

Entertaining  & a cutting garden were high on the list of priorities .

So, here is what we did.

We cut into the slope to bring it to grade with the patio, and we built decorative retaining walls ( stucco, same as the house). This would create a larger space for entertaining.

                                                                                      

The soil that we excavated was then reused  to create another  garden room where the grade dropped off.

                                                                                            

                                                                                 

We then terraced the slope on the opposite side …                                                                                   

      to create an herb & cutting garden on the uppermost level.

                                                                                  

                                                                                         

Here there is just enough room  to indulge her passion for gardening ,without it becoming overwhelming.

Below, a few more views…

                                                                                                   

                                                                                       

I appreciate it when my clients maintain their gardens, this one was meticulous!

A gracious garden for a gracious lady. Thank you Ms. C.

LESSONS FROM CHARLESTON S.C.

 No cameras in the gardens! The only photography allowed  was from the public sidewalk. Still there are many lessons to be learned.

                                                                                    

All the gardens are small, tiny in fact, some no larger than a postage stamp.

                                                                                    

In small gardens, design  is more important than it is in  larger landscapes; for here, there is a concentrated use of space. Also, because the space is limited and seen all at once, the details & planting must be faultless.

                                                                              

Consider the ground plane, it is significant in all seasons. Below, variety in materials & texture. This is a driveway.

                                                                                 

 With a little imagination —- garden by day, parking at night.

                                                                                

 There should always be a focal point to lead the eye.

                                                                                     

                                                                                            

Reinforce the design of beds with edging.

  

Keep the planting simple,

                                                                                    

       And finally.. co-ordinate…

                                                                               

THIS ‘N’ THAT…

This is the busiest season in and about the garden.

                                                                                      

Seedlings must be nurtured in the house,

                                                                          

 the semi-finished Bothy is being organised… with a nod to its previous tenants.

                                                                                 

Weeds are rampant  and everything needs attention at once!

                                                                                       

Still, the garden is beautiful and feeds my soul.

                                                                               

The potager,is putting forth such succulent delights as ‘Gourmet  Lettuce  Mix’ ,’ Italian Kale’ &  ‘Red Mesclun Mix’.

                                                                                          Finally the arbor has found its home. Poor thing , one has moved her about so often…

                                                                                     

I like the way it ties into the Bothy. Evergreens will be planted on both sides of the arbor, forming a hedge. This will serve as the entrance to the Potager and the end of the ‘Pleasure Garden” (so Edwardian don’t you think?)

© all photos 2011

NATURE’S MASTERPIECES

These are some of nature’s masterpieces. Every bit as beautiful as roses… don’t you think?

                                                                                                

                                              REV. JOHN DRAYTON                                                                                         

                                                   MAGNOLIAEFLORA

                                                                                           

                                                TAYLOR’S PERFECTION                                                                                            

                                                    WHITE EMPRESS

                                                                                       

                                                      ROSE DAWN

                                                                                    

                                                       BETTY SHEFFIELD

The above Camellias all reside in the ‘Circle of Friends.’

                                                                                                    

Just a thought… there needs to be a larger more interesting focal point there.

DRUNK with CAMELLIAS!!

Vita Sackville West wrote of her garden… “I am drunk with roses!”

I, am drunk with Camellias!

blooming on the right …

                                                                       

              Camellia japonica ‘Debutante’                                                       

The Camellia Walk snakes through the shade garden in the form of an inverted ‘S’

Below, it is the Camellia Walk which forms the background for the Mourning Bench.

                                                                    

                                                                   

In the Potager, below, a salad Garden, some collards & cabbages.

                                                                   

In the Cutting Garden, the seeds of the Lilies (Lilium formosanum)are ripe. Please e-mail me if you would like seeds. There were some request  after I posted the flowers, HERE.

                                                                 

AND… The Continuing Saga of yet another project….

                                                                    

An improvement since the last time I posted this spot.

I will be away from the computer for a week. Will fill you in when I return.

 © All photos & text 2010

THE GARDEN UNFOLDS

An overcast and rainy day. Great for the garden, good for photography. In the last post the photo of the entrance to both the Camellia Walk & Circle of Friends was not clear so here are some taken today.

                                                                  

This is where the Camellia Walk begins. a few yards over to the right  lies… (keep your eye on the pink flowering camellia)

                                                                     

the walkway that leads to the Circle of Friends. Note that the pink flowering camellia plays a role in both garden rooms.

                                                                  

 

The east side of  The Circle of Friends, punctuated by variegated boxwoods (Buxus sempervirens ‘variegata’). This space is actually oval in shape.  All the plants in this little garden were gifted to me or were cuttings from the gardens of friends, hence the name. It is encircled by camellias (as background structure) and hydrangeas.

                                                                     

On the west side, the structure of camellias is the back side of the Camellia Walk. Like most areas in the garden it is unfinished however, what I plan can be found here.

 Leaving this area and following the path we intersect with the Camellia Walk . (it curves round)

                                                                      This is marked by the interesting texture of four upright Japanese Plum Yews (Cephalotaxus harringtonia ‘Fastigiata’) and underplanted with variegated Japanese Sedge (Carex morrowii);  the idea being to tie in the variegation and create an ‘Elizabethan Collar” around the yews.

A few yards past this intersection lies the Mourning Bench. As I have said before; one can pass it without noticing. It sits between the two variegated boxwoods on the right. Below…

                                                                 

 

If this path is followed further,one gets to the Potager. We have been walking north. Below, the view from the north looking south back through to the meadow.

                                                                 

The repetition of  the Variegated Box & the Carex create  rhythm and serve to tie the sequential spaces together into a coherent whole.

To be continued…

© All photos & text

GLORIOUS DAYS

The weather has been beautiful this past week and there is no better place to spend these glorious days than in the garden.  Below, The Meadow gets its annual mowing.

                                                                      

                                                                       

It always looks so verdant after the cut. Next the Daffodils  will pierce the ground and spring will be back in a few short weeks! (always an optismist.)

The photography however, has not been very satisfying. Too much glare now that the canopy is thinning out. Guess I’ll have to try earlier or later in the day.

                                                                 

One of my favorite blogs is Edith Hope’s Garden Journal.  Her last comment made me realize that I need to show long shots of the property to give some context for the photos. So here are a few…

                                                                  

The front of the house, circa 1844. The meadow is to the right (east) below…

                                                                     

                                                                      

East side of the house from the meadow.

                                                                      

The east side of the house from the entrance to the ‘Camellia Walk’.

Backtracking just a few steps….

                                                                     The meadow terminates at the entrance to the Camellia Walk on the left and the walk to the Circle of Friends straight ahead.

Here you can see some ‘Garden Arithmetic’; the camellias form both one side of the Camellia Walk as well as the background for the hydrangeas on one side in The Circle of Friends.

The expression is divide to multiply your space!

I’ll continue the tour with better photos this week.

© All photos & text 2010

STRUCTURE IN THE GARDEN

                                                                   

With their rich evergreen foliage camellias are used in my garden to create the ‘ architecture’. They form the ‘walls’ in my shade garden which give it structure.

                                                                   

My walls talk.

  © all photos & text 2010

HYDRANGEAS & GARDEN UPDATE

Hydrangea paniculata looking particularly lovely…

 taking on its autumn hue

                                                                   

  So is Hydrangea macrophylla below.

                                                                 

AND I am loosing the groundcover war @ the Mourning Bench.                                                                     

Some critter is digging up all my transplants and I have to fix them every morning. I have resorted to laying chicken wire over the lot & hope it deters whatever. My guess is a racoon digging for the worms in the compost I spread.

                                                                  

 Perennials need so much maintenance.I think I remember why I thought the vinca could take over!! I cannot spend every day replanting & trying to save what has been dug up with so many other tasks to attend to. AND, I am directed to economise and unfortunately gardening help is very low on the list of priorities. Good thing is, I am getting into shape.

Moving on…

The Perilla I allowed to stay…

                                                                 

 MUST be out of here before it sets seed. So far I have loaded the ‘dump truck’ and I am not done yet.

                                                                       

It served its purpose ; which was to shade to roots of the clematis planted around the perimeter of this garden room.; and, with no effort from me , will return again next year so will the cleome. My garden philosophy is to let the self seeders do their thing.  I can look after the shrubs & clematis. When this part of the garden, The Viburnum Court, is between bloom & berries, the clematis, perilla & cleome really liven it up; then the perilla & cleome take over & keep it ‘furnished’ till the berries show.

                                                                   

What I did Labour Day Weekend… below

                                                                    

  I really like it , It just recedes into the background without calling any attention to itself.

 The To Do list gets another check mark.

And finally… more plants I will be rushing to banish before they set their seed. But oh, the butterflies & Hummingbirds.

                                                                    

not to mention I love the colours!!

© All photos & text 2010

DESIGN SOLUTIONS

 Pointing to the car port at our first meeting, Ms. H. said…                                                        

“We will get rid of that eyesore.”  (below)

                                                                     

 After surveying the property, I saw that this side door (very close to the kitchen) was the only access to the garden. There was no back door.

“Wait” I said “I think we can use this”

                                                                     So I designed an outdoor space for dining, with privacy from the street and  access to the garden.

                                                                                                                                       

 A brick semi circular patio completes the space.

Even Mr. H loved it.

© All photos & text 2010

IN THE GARDEN…AT LAST

The heat has finally broken (low 90’s) and the  humidity has dropped. Early this morning I chose a project from my ever-growing list of things to do in the garden and out I went!

The project is the ‘Circle of Friends’  What is needed here are a few finishing touches.                                                                                                                                            

Today I pulled  string  and arranged the brick to line the path that leads to and from the Circle of friends. Next will be the landscape fabric, crushed stone & pea gravel, and finally painting the furniture.                                                                  

This area is so peaceful, it is one of my favorite spaces in the garden. Arranged  in the shape of an oval…                                                                   punctuated by four variegated Boxwoods, it suggests finality and invites repose.

                                                                   It sits under a wonderful canopy that allows dappled light and provides perfect conditions for both camellias & hydrangeas to flourish. In this case the plants both create the space  and embellish it.

While I had hoped for a carpet of moss, That idea has been abandoned as impractical. The seating is not all I wished for but it is comfortable and affordable and when painted BLACK it will recede nicely. Then all that is needed is a groundcover.

 I just might put a check mark next to one project this summer.

© All photos & text 2010

GOOD BONES

Last week I was in the vicinity of a garden I had designed 8 years ago. I had recently heard that the property was for sale and had been sitting empty since my client had moved out-of-state to caretake elderly parents. Driven by curiosity I stopped by. Much to my surprise this little garden has held up!

                                                                         

Retaining walls were built to hold the bank after we excavated for the patio. Originally the slope started just 10 feet from the back door. Not usable, nor a great view from both living room and eating area off the kitchen.

                                                                     

A shade structure allows for comfortable dinning out-of-doors. ( I noticed the climbing plants are no longer on the wall.)

                                                                     

  Single slab Crab Orchard stone steps lead to the upper level, alongside which there is supposed to be a waterfall terminating in a small pond…

                                                                   where presently there are the remains of a  temporary Rose Garden .    

                                                                      Utilitarian steps to the compost, pea gravel & lumber are fine for this area.   

                                                                       And finally for ease of maintenance, stepping-stones  set into dwarf mondo. Never needs mowing.  

                                                                      Because of the height of the hill, two short walls were erected. One would have looked too much like a fortress.   

Without any care at all in this very long, hot, Georgia summer the Annabelle hydrangeas are holding up. They are underplanted  with evergreen ferns & Lenten Roses (Helleborus orientalis) for winter interest.

 The stone was selected to blend with the colours of the interior. Rich browns & muted terra-cotta, with pops of orange and yellow.

I hope someone buys this soon, and I hope the rest of my design gets installed or repurposed for another.   

 © All photos & text 2010

HAVE A SEAT

One essential element needed in a garden is a place to rest, both the eye and the body.

Above, Luytens’ bench ‘Breaking Wave’  as focal point at the end of this axis. The strong rectilinear design draws the eye immediately to the bench.                                                              

Notice that the hedge has been clipped to mimic the shape of the back, thus reinforcing the design and creating unity. Superb!

This rectangular bench fits perfectly into this space. See the straight hedge behind ( needs some pruning) and the upright plants on either side . Notice too, that the beds  between which it sits, are also rectilinear.                                                                   

Another example of a bench perfectly suited to its enviornment. The repetition of shapes in several elements creates harmony. Circles in bench, pond & surrounding pots. The upright shrubs are also pruned into circular shapes.

A perfect fit! The niche is pruned in the shape of the bench.

So HARMONY is just as important as CONTRAST in landscape design.

(Benches are mostly used by visitors. Gardeners are much too busy.)

© All photos & text 2010

FAUX GARDEN

                                                                                                                                                  

Delightful little courtyard garden? No. Just all the ‘driveway plants.’  Every plantaholic  has these. The plants that are unloaded from the car waiting in the drive to be planted.

This vignette was put together by our British host just before we  arrived for a tour.

© All photos & text 2010