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 Kerriajaponica ‘Picta’ above..
The path leading to “The Circle of Friends” in my garden this morning … above