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!

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.

 

 

A HEALING GARDEN

I’m in Montreal to spend as much time as possible with my mom. P1210936

The Palliative Care facility here has an in credible Healing Garden for patients and their families.

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Although not  my own haven, it fills the bill temporarily.

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Big surprise is  Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’. I had no idea they were hardy to Zone 3!

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Delightful mixed with daylilies & ferns below.

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Large plantings of both wax and  tuberous begonias for annual colour.

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Ingenious solution to keep the fish safe from predators. a network of fishing line.

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Clearly all the paths are paved  and the entire garden is wheelchair accessible.

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Everything I learned  about in my year-long seminar ” Design for the Elderly & Infirm” is beautifully executed here.

I  lunch here daily, overlooking the pond,listening to the sound of the gentle fountain.

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My mom is receiving the most incredible care and we  are so grateful to the entire staff of the Palliative Care Program at Mount Sinai Hospital where she is being treated with compassion & dignity.

A huge thank you to all who left comments on my last post. I appreciate your kindness & good wishes.

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THE WELCOME HOME

After  five  weeks the garden welcomes me home..

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I’m just in time for the blueberry harvest.

walk from compost

Away from the garden for this length of time lets me see it objectively with a more discerning  eye…. Above, the walk from the compost

Major pruning is required of the figs, but I hate to give up the harvest although one tree is shading out the Styrax obassia  (photos  to follow)

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Meanwhile, the hydrangeas are coming into their own. Above, the entrance   of the drive from the house, to the garden,

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My garden is healing…  peaceful….  as I  start  to realize … I am loosing  my mother….

My posting  will be erratic over the next few months so please bear with me.

 

 

INSPIRATION

I need to get out more often!

 The talk by Robert Mallet at the Hydrangea Society has inspired me to make some changes in parts of the garden.

                                                                         ROBERT MALLET

I was particularly interested in his recommendation to plant masses of Hydrangea macrophylla in the shade of the later blooming Hydrangea  paniculata.

There is an area in my garden where Oakleaf Hydrangeas (Hydrangea quercifolia) are combined with both ‘Annabelle’ hydrangeas and macrophylla types to nice effect; therefore, I am giving this recommendation much thought.

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The Viburnum court has been maintenance nightmare for quite some time. Although I love their foliage, flowers and  berries; they have been sprouting everywhere, and they are NOT easy to remove (my criteria for allowing self seeders).  Parts of the garden have become a viburnum forest rivaled only by the dreaded  Privet.

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So, in the interest of making the garden less of a maintenance headache, I am considering the removal of many Viburnums; perhaps adding a few sterile types (above) and more late-blooming hydrangeas. The only caveat being they would require hard pruning every few years. Easier than digging seedlings, no?

HYDRANGEAS & LUNCH

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Yesterday I listened in awe and lunched with the Hydrangea experts.

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                                                                                                    Above,  Gene Griffin & Robert Mallet

Robert Mallet OF THE SHAMROCK COLLECTION, (located in Normandy France; the largest collection of Hydrangeas in the world), visited with Elizabeth Dean & Gene Griffin of WILKERSON MILL GARDENS; North America’s premiere hydrangea nursery.

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Above, discussing the  furry stems of Hydrangea aspera.

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                                A peek at the propagating nursery above.                                                                                                        

How lucky I was to be invited. Listening to the conversations was an education! Thank you Elizabeth & Gene.

Robert will be addressing the American Hydrangea Society tonight.

SPRING IS HERE!!

I’m finally convinced that spring is here! Sufficient rain and warmer weather have created ideal conditions for an explosion of blooms.                                                                      Viburnum plicatum & Azalea

Above, Viburnum plicatum & Azalea indica ‘Formosa’

Hydrangea anomala petiolaris

Climbing the wall;  Hydrangea anomala petiolaris & Clematis ‘Freckles’ using it for support.

Phlox divericata

The Phlox divericata encouraged to naturalized between the daffodils.

Clematis "asao'
Clematis “asao’

I have pruned all the Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’, and almost all the Hydrangea paniculata. I still have to deadhead the Hydrangea macrophylla but I like to attend to those last lest I get too enthusiastic and remove this years flower buds.                                                                             Aesculus pavia

Aesculus pavia

  Pruned some of the clematis that require it and took an inventory of the garden.

Some of the news is not good. I have record losses this year. There is no sign of life on several Clematis, and my favorite Quince ‘Apple blossom’ has bit the dust.

Over the last few years I have let some shrubs go and now they require some drastic pruning. Good thing I bought a good excellent lopper. That is another post, promise.

MAGIC OF THE GARDEN

                                                                 

 Doing repetitive chores in the Potager sets  my mind free…

                                                                         

to traveled back in time….

 another season..

“When summer gathers up her robes of glory,

And like a dream of beauty glides away.”

                                     -Sarah Helen Power Whitman

                                                                             

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….

SO NOT READY!!!

 It’s really September and I am so not ready for the change of seasons. The Camellia  sasanqua  ‘Sparkling Burgundy’ is blooming….

and all the berries on the viburnums are full & beautiful…

Neglected area..or should I say areas I left to Mother Nature are actually lovely, nurturing many beneficial insects, Humming birds  and other wildlife

…including deer. I’ve stopped chasing them away.. they love these hydrangeas!

Once again, The Season of The Mourning Bench………….

HYDRANGEAS… AGAIN

Hydrangeas… again.  No longer shades of  blue or pink…

 or somewhere between both.

                                                                                            

 today they look like this……

                                                                                                             

Begs the question… when do they peak?

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.