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 season is in full swing. I have, over the last 15 years, been ‘collecting’ hydrangeas and devising many ways to display them in a garden setting. They bloom a very long time and even when they pass their ‘prime’ they are still very effective; in fact I love them more when they are faded. They truly carry the southern garden throughout the summer months.
H. macrophylla ‘Westfalen” above…
Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Jogasaki’
Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Mme Emile Mouillere’, turning pale blue above..
Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’ in the garden with companion Kerria japonica ‘Picta’ above..
The path leading to “The Circle of Friends” in my garden this morning … above
Tomorrow on the American Hydrangea Society Garden Tour I am going to see beautiful gardens and more hydrangea cultivars to lust over. Hope to see you there.
How wonderful to be back in Georgia, where it appears we are in full-blown spring….
The gardening to do list grows daily as the overwhelming season is upon us. Trying to separate the list into A) what will make an impact in the garden visually, and B) plant requirements. e.g. weeding and feeding.
All the camellias, both in the Circle of Friends, and the Camellia Walk are in bloom along with the Hellebores.
Permeating the air is the fragrance of Daphne odora…. The garden is truly magnificent. A celebration of all the senses.
The daffodils… well, they deserve their own post.
The very first bloom on ‘Mini-Penny’. (Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Mini-Penny’)
Oakleaf hydrangeas line a path below
leading to more heavenly hydrangeas.
Above, a glorious mix of Hydrangeas. Oakleaf (Hydrangea quercifolia) Annabelle (Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’) and blue mopheads,(Hydrangea macrophylla) assorted, many of them Penny Macs.
Variegated kerria (Kerria Japonica ‘Pictum’) weaves it way through Hydrangea “Annabelle’ (Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’) Gold Heart Ivy (Hedera helix “Gold Heart’) climbing the trees.
The ‘Circle of Friends’ consists of camellias and hydrangeas, either gifted to me, or those that arrived via cuttings from friend’s gardens. The identity of some have been lost, they therefore wear ID tags that read ‘From Penny’s back door’ or ‘Lacecap at Penny’s stream’, indicating where they originated.
The inverted pot served as a plinth for St. Fiacre, but he is temporarily needed elsewhere. (I have a shortage of statuary.)
Above,’ Penny Mac’ (Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Penny Mac’) Blue, and ‘Madame Emile’ (Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Madame Emile Mouillere’) White.
This show is just starting. I rely on the hydrangeas to carry the ornamental garden through the summer months. As the blossoms age they become papery. They can then be harvested for winter arrangements.
© All photos & text