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

GARDEN TOUR ENGLAND & WALES

Its travel season again.  If my passport does not get here in time, I will  be homebound. I am consoling  myself with  photographs from trips past & exercising a mighty imagination!

with Tara Dillard (left) above, we enjoyed this perennial garden which we entered via. . .

this opened gate, (above) we found. . .

along this wall.

Look at the perfectly edged Vegetable garden below. Can this be real? No mulch, that means constant weeding & cultivating!

Look at these gardens below. The English are masters of the ‘mixed border’.

Notice how the repetition of tall plants gives the  border  below rhythm, while the one above is colour driven.                                                                     

Ancient yews,

some clipped into fantastical shapes,

elegant balustrading punctuated by a pot on every pier. . .                                                              and  the incomparable countryside …                                                                      There must always be time for tea.

and more gardens. . .

featuring hydrangeas!! I know I promised no more … but these  are not mine and I can’t help that others find them as appealing as I do.

© All photos & text 2010

FRAMING THE VIEW

Recently, Tara Dillard of A Garden View, posted  about frames in the landscape. It brought to mind a lovely vignette I saw in a garden while in England. Initially I thought an artist had set up to paint.

As I approached

                                                                       

I saw

                                                                        

What had been ‘Framed’.

 The lesson here is that framing a view brings it into relief.  Scroll back to the last photo, see the difference? See Tara’s post here.

©All photos & text 2010

GARDEN UPDATE CONTINUED

                                                                      

Plants with a cascading habit,  call attention to the ground plane.  Above, The heavy flowers of  Snowflake Hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Snowflake’),  draw the eye to the  Japanese painted fern (Athyrium nipponicum).

                                                                     

 The flower on ‘Snowflake’  has  double sepals, significantly different from that                                                                    of ‘Amethyst’ above, or ‘Alice’ below.

                                                                      

                                                               

Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’   forming it’s  flower heads. This is one hydrangea that SHOULD BE PRUNED early spring. These hydrangeas form flower buds on NEW GROWTH.

UPDATE ON EPHEMERALS:

                                                                   

The Trillium are fading, (see yellow foliage). What will clothe the ground now is Vinca. I really tried for Selaginella kraussiana aurea, below

                                                                    

 but it prefers the path so I’m going to stop fighting and let the vinca do its thing.

                                                                   

Arum foliage has died down & the berries have formed. They need to ripen, then they will be spread where more are needed. See previous post on Arum.

FINALLY THE POTAGER:

 Below squash, peppers, cucumbers, beans, Eggplant                                                                  

  and below, TOMATOES!!                                                                

 Have a great week end!

©All photos and text 2010

CLEMATIS CRUSH

I previously mentioned my Clematis Crush ( here and here ). Beside the beautiful flowers,  the fact is they require only vertical space. That makes them the perfect companion to any shrub or small tree. Most shrubs have a limited bloom time so a well-chosen  flowering vine can really extend the season of beauty. Also, from a design point of view, any element seen at eye level has tremendous impact.

 I thought I would showcase some of the clematis blooming in the garden now.

                                                                         

Clematis  viticella ‘Venosa Violacea’ climbing through a viburnum.

                                                                     

 Clematis texensis ‘Catherine Clanwilliam’ on an obilisk till it reaches into the branches of Styrax obassia. Below, looking up into the flowers.

                                                                      

                                                                      

Clematis ‘Piilu’ or sometimes called ‘Little Duckling’, an Estonian hybrid with smaller flowers.

Most of  the above are blooming in viburnums that are passed their peak.  The clematis fill the  gap between bloom time and berries in this part of the garden.

Below, Clematis ‘Rouge Cardinal’ being trained to clothe Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Snowflake’.

                                                                     

Finally, Clematis purpurea plena elegans, chosen to bloom with the roses. Below.

                                                                     

I hope you consider adding some to your garden.

© All photos & text 2010

TEXTURE

How important is Texture?  Texture can be more pleasing than flowers, and persist longer. In smaller gardens where every design element  is seen up close, it is of particular importance.

                                                                    

Here the  bold glossy leaves of  Lenten Rose (Helleborus orientalis)  stand in a mass of delicate Maidenhair fern (Adiantum capillus-veneris).

                                                                      Plants used for background need to be fine, dense and matt in order to be a suitable foil for either statuary or flowers. Above St. Fiacre against a matt evergreen Arborvitae (Thuja plicata).  On either side the coarse, shining leaves of Gardenia (Gardenia japonica) and  Banana Shrub (Michelia figo),  reflect too much light to be an effective background.

Contrasting textures apply not only to plant relationships.

                                                        Here the fine ferny foliage of Japanese Maple ( Acer palmatum) stand out in sharp contrast to the smooth Bluestone walkway.

                                                                      

 The best effects are achieved with simplicity.  Texture = contrast = beauty.

© All photos & text 2010

GARDENER TO THE RESCUE

Another vase of peonies.

                                                                      

Went into the garden to rescue the peonies from the torrential downpour we had on Sunday. Fortunately not many were past the bud stage so there will still be plenty in the garden. I find that  peony hoops  are ineffective in this type of weather.

                                                                                                                                       

I was surprised that many survived the storm.

 Have I mentioned that before the clematis love, there were peonies…roses…hydrangeas……? Brings to mind the lyrics  “when I am not near the one I love… I love the one I’m near!”

PLANT CRUSH OF THE MONTH

My latest plant crush is with Clematis. I have planted many at the feet of shrubs & trees and to my delight they make wonderful companions in the vase with Peonies.

                                                                     

Not all Clematis have large showy flowers. Some, like Betty Corning (below) have nodding bell-shaped blooms & fabulous fragrance.

                                                                      

Some, like ‘Josephine’ (below).  

    And ‘Belle of  Woking’ are fully double.

                                                                      

These plants may take several seasons to make a great show. Be patient, you will be richly rewarded.

GERTRUDE JEKYLL & GARDEN ROOMS

Probably one of the most influential garden designers of the early 20th century, Gertrude Jekyll, was a proponent of separating the garden into separate enclosed areas,  each devoted to a season, or a single plant.  She believed no garden could possibly be kept at it’s best for the entire season.

Below, her Autumn garden of Michaelmas Daisies. Painted by George Samuel Elgood.

Another view, painted by Helen Allingham.

Allingham also painted a break in the main flower border. Notice how Jekyll used masses of yuccas as  punctuation points on both sides of the path.

These watercolors illustrate her lush planting style and skillful use of color.