HYDRANGEA SEASON!

                                                                                                                                                                   

 Hydrangea Season is perhaps my favorite time of year. It signals the beginning of summer and triggers memories of summers past to be savored in the peace of the garden.

                                                                                   

Long before it was “The Mourning Bench” this area was ‘The Morning Garden’. Here, in the shade of a dogwood, with variegated Boxwoods on either side, I would bring my mug of coffee and notebook to plan the gardening day.

                                                                                   

 Originally, the bench was surrounded by hydrangeas, struck from cuttings, of the bouquets brought to me by Penny McHenry* on the occasion of my daughter’s wedding. I imagined sitting there embraced by all those hydrangeas and reveling in the happy memories of that time shared with family members and good friends.

                                                                                 

Unfortunately,  this site was windswept in the winter. Year after year the hydrangeas would die back to the ground. Although they produced luscious foliage every year, there were no flowers. A change needed to be made. I swapped them out for other hydrangeas… ‘Annabelles’ (Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’), these bloom on new wood (i.e. this years growth) so they were perfect for this area. The wedding hydrangeas were moved to a more protected space.

BLOOMING NOW:

(For names of the hydrangeas in this post, hover over photo with mouse.)

                                                                            

                                                                                        

                                                          

                                                                                  

                                                                                      

                                                                              

To be continued…..

* Penny McHenry- Dear friend, client and founder of the American Hydrangea Society.

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.

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

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

Challenge

Some sites are not conducive to gardenmaking. It takes great skill and determination to build a garden under such challenging circumstances…… such is the case with the garden that a friend created.

                                                                            

In front, she created a wonderful perennial border with enough evergreen shrubs  & small trees to give structure and interest in winter.

The huge challenge was the back. Like so many homes in the Piedmont, it was built on a slope. A very steep slope.

Here is what she did.

A gracious, inviting entrance abuts a seating area …

Supported by terraced stone walls…

the lowest of which houses a small pond.  (below)

Below, looking DOWN into the garden.

To compound the problem, her house was downhill from her neighbour. Drainage was a nightmare. So…she incorporated  a dry steam into her design to channel the water.

She used river rock for the most natural appearance and the stones are substantial enough not to be moved by the rushing water.

Stepping stones lead the way through inspired plantings …

with touches of whimsy and surprises tucked in when least expected.

She also has some very good ideas for planting pots…

But that is another post. Thanks for the lovely visit.

© All photos & text 2010

MEANWHILE, back in the garden…

The hydrangeas are at their peak. This year they are particularly beautiful having benefitted from a long cold winter.

                                                                           

                                                                        Hydrangea macrophylla (unknown) on left & Hydrangea macrophylla ‘ Lilacina’    above

                                                                      Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Snowflake’ is non-stop hose in hose flowers.

                                                                      

                                                                     

Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’ on left and Hydrangea macrophylla ‘White Wave’  (above)

                                                                     

Hydrangea arborescens ‘Hayes Starburst’ a variation of the native  found by Hayes Jackson.

As a result of last weeks garden tour, I have added a pot to the Circle of Friends.

                                                                      

                                                                     

Much better.  Someplace for the eye to rest.

PORTRAITS:

                                                                     

 Above Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Jogasaki’  Below, Hydrangea serrata ‘ Beni Gaku’

                                                                      

The stunning  Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Geoffrey Chaudbund’

                                                                     

And the mysterious “From Penny’s back door” If anyone can ID this I would appreciate it.

© All photos and text 2010

MORE GREAT IDEAS

That Brilliant idea in my last post was that of Robert Meaders’, architect extraordinaire.  Also seen in his garden…

                                                                        

A welcoming collection of pots,

                                                                     

 an urn, perfectly placed in a border.

                                                                     

Another pot, that echoes the foliage of the hostas and the hydrangeas beyond.

                                                                      

Many other delightful & unique features  make this garden truly special.

Thank you Robert.

©All photos and text 2010

BRILLIANT IDEA!

Seen on the garden tour last weekend.

                                                                          

Between two windows, a blank brick wall is made into a sensational seating area.

                                                                     

 Not only does it overlook the garden, it reflects it!! Yes, that is a mirror. Brilliant!

© All photos & text 2010

GARDEN TOUR

Yesterday I ventured into Atlanta for one of the annual garden tours.

This year the majority of gardens were small  urban spaces, well-appointed  for outdoor living.

                                                                            

Above, a comfortable chaise in shade for reading and listening to the sound of the waterfall (below).

                                                                     

                                                              

Festoons of ivy grace an otherwise nondescript wall along a driveway.

                                                                       

Lushly planted window boxes.

                                                                     

And below, a private putting green!

                                                                     

I will share more highlights during the week.