POLAR VORTEX UPDATE

The Polar Vortex that crippled the south last week wreaked some havoc  in my garden.

I could tell from the window that the Michelia foliage was damaged and the Camellia blossoms were brown and mushy. Today I ventured out (74 degrees) to access the damage.

Michelia

Although there is some browning of foliage, it is not nearly as bad as I had anticipated.

The Michelia (now reclassified as a Magnolia) looks awful, but the buds seem to be viable in their protected furry coats.

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The camellias, on the other hand did not fare as well. The good news is  the plants survived, however, many tight buds came off in my hand when I touched them.

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The  few that are okay are on the underside of the foliage so I guess that was their protection . ( Like all gardeners, I wish plants could talk!)

Now for the bad news… I doubt there will be  Hydrangeas this year, most of the buds are frozen & dead. While the stems appear fine right now, only time will tell.

Bay Laurel

Above, my Bay Laurel (Laurus nobilis)… bit the proverbial dust.

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Hellebores (Helleborus orientalis) (above)  may be short in the stem but they are coming along.

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 Above, Winter Daphne ( Daphne odora aureomarginata)  unscathed & looking cheerful. Waiting for another few sunny days to unfurl and envelope the garden in its wonderful perfume.

And, as always, there is something cheerful waiting to brighten my day…

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Early species crocus.

What damage if any, did your garden experience?

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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

                                                                             

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.

HYDRANGEA TOUR PART 2

                                                                     

The second garden on tour was that of Cheryl & Max Lenker.

It is a perfect English Style Cottage Garden; complete with rose arbor entrance, boxwood lined walk and welcoming plaque…

 The mixed borders are masterfully planted …

featuring an elegant shade structure that serves as focal point.

Adjacent to the house is an outdoor living room with all the accoutrements for gracious living & entertaining.

                                                                                                   

From this area one can enjoy the sound and sight of a split stream waterfall.

                                                                           

If one ascends to the upper level one crosses the waterfall.

Here the character of the garden changes and one discovers a quiet shaded walkway …

and a place for contemplation.

This garden has it all and of course the hydrangeas were fabulous!

We all see different elements in a garden, I have not touched on the amazing front of this house, so for more  on this garden see PRETTY OLD HOUSES  and LINDARAXA.

THE FIRST CAMELLIA

The first camellia to bloom in my garden is Camellia sinensis, the Tea Plant.

                                                                                  

No big drumroll for it is not the showiest, but then neither are crocuses, yet we delight to see them.

 This plant is my introduction to the Camellia Season, and yes, this is the plant from which tea is made.

                                                                                             

Fast on its heels is Camellia sasanqua ‘Sparkling Burgundy’. 

                                                                                        

 Camellias and hydrangeas have the same cultural requirements; below, another  good reason to plant them in close proximity.

                                                                                              

This was taken in the ‘Circle of Friends’ so you can see this area is really non-stop beautiful throughout the year.

                                                                                   

A bit blurry, but you get the idea.

 BTW my Camellia sinensis has provenance. It was gifted to me from Penny McHenry but it was a seedling from the garden of Martha Tate.

CLEMATIS, HYDRANGEAS & BURNT SUGAR

                                                                                                                                                                               

Nothing signals the end of summer like Sweet Autumn Clematis (Clematis terniflora) and  hydrangeas cut for drying.

                                                                                    

                                                                

The hydrangeas are cut with some ‘old wood’ I find they hold their shape better that way. Later, when I arrange them, I will cut the stem to whatever length required.

                                                                                      

Sometimes, when cut on the tender green stems, the flowers tend to curl up. These looks really luscious…

                                                                                  

 I hope they stay that way.

 The fragrance of  Sweet Autumn Clematis is one of my favorites; perhaps, because for me,  it  elicits  nostalgia.  When I went to cut a few sprigs, I caught the aroma of burnt sugar… Creme Caramel? I sniffed my way to the Katsuratree (Cercidiphyllum japonicum). Typically, when the leaves start to colour to a buttery yellow in fall, it emits a scent some have likened to cinnamon  or cotton candy.

                                                                                   

Mine, is definitely Creme Brulee!

With the temps consistently in the 90’s since May, I cannot say I am sorry to see this summer wind down. And…

                                                                                  

 the camellias are already showing their buds. I welcome another gardening season.

I posted about this clematis here, please read it if you plan on planting one.

MEANWHILE, BACK IN THE GARDEN…

I have mentioned often, how I find the large mophead hydrangeas very effective in the landscape, but when they start to look like this…

                                                                                    

                                                                                           

They have my heart!

                                                                                        

In my mind’s eye I can see my grandmother’s garden, and smell the rich fragrance of old roses.

The last lily  of the season is starting to bloom. More on her later…

                                                                              

                                                                                           

                                                                                

I have been short on posts lately but hope to be back posting more regularly soon.  If you are curious, here is my kitchen … 

                                                                                    

 I have to ‘DO’ something with all if this!!  Where does gardening end?????

Hopefully my friend Julieta of LINDARAXA can help.  Her recipes are divine!! 

Happy gardening!!