INDISPENSABLE PERENNIALS 2

Another indispensable perennial for the  winter garden would be  Epimedium or Barrenwort. Pleasant foliage all summer turning bronze / rose in the winter. They make a very useful groundcover in dry shade and  are magnificent paired with Helleborus. Below in my garden…

                                                                                             

 In very early spring the delicate flowers, commonly called Fairy Wings, emerge and proclaim winter officially over.

 Although they find their way into my miniature vases, they are by no means ‘show stoppers’. I use them primarily as ‘filler’ although some of the newer varieties just introduced from Asia can definitely stand on their own. Below Epimedium ‘Making Waves’

                                                                                            

 I encourage you to add some to your garden. The best & newest  can be found at http://www.plantdelights.com Another bonus… they are deer resistant.

Photo of  Epimedium “Making Waves’   used with permission from Plant Delights Nursery.

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MORE ON HELLEBORES

I neglected to include a close up photo of the hellebore ( Helleborus orientalis) I featured in the last post… so here it is.

                                                                                      

There are many hellebore species (15 according to Armitage). I grow only the  two common types successfully.  The second one is the Bearsfoot Hellebore (Helleborus foetidus). This is the earliest hellebore to open in my garden.The lime green nodding bell-shaped flowers with a thin purple rim  often greet me just before the New Year.

                                                                                          

 The blue-green foliage is a wonderful foil for the flowers.

This is also known as the “Stinking Hellebore’ but I have never detected an odor and I do use them in arrangements indoors.

The other commonly known hellebore is  the Christmas Rose (Helleborus niger) and I have presided over the funeral of every one I have planted. I REALLY would like to grow it, so if anyone reading this has any advice I would appreciate it. It does bloom before Christmas & through the holiday, just not in my garden.

The last few years there has been much made of the new double hellebore, but quite frankly they have disappointed me. Unlike the photos in catalogues, which feature only the flowers, they are quite small (6-8″tall) and fall short of making a big show. IF they were to be grown say, at the top of a wall or in a raised container  seen at eye level, yes, they would be delightful, but I am frankly interested in landscape appeal on a larger scale.

                                                                                             

 For the next few posts I will cover a few more perennials I consider indispensable.

© All photos & text 2011

PROJECT MOURNING BENCH

For this area, the Vinca has too  much movement & energy; the glossy leaves reflect so much light one can hardly make out the ‘star plants’…

                                                                 

  So out it went (to a friend’s garden).

                                                                   

The golden club Moss,(Selaginella kraussiana ‘Aurea’) on the other hand, has a matt texture & absorbs the light. It makes a much calmer background which allows the ‘stars’ to shine..

                                                                     

This is so much better. I first added a wheelbarrow of rabbit manure & raked it over the ground. No digging is done here because there are Trillium rhizomes underground. Then I dug up the Selaginella from the path on the other side…

                                                                  

                                                                   

And transplanted it. While I tried for whole ‘sheets ‘ of the moss, it falls apart, so little pieces with roots are pushed into the ground. They will shortly spread to form the carpet needed for this area.  All the while…                                                                     

  Cleome supervised.  

This type of gardening is really painting beautiful pictures with plants…but the one element the other arts do not have to deal with is TIME.  If I was using paints or pencils…it would already be coloured in.  

The Star plants are:-

                                                                      Black Mondo Grass (Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Nigrescens’)

                                                                   East Indian Holly Fern (Polystichum acrostichoides)  and…

                                                                       Amorphophallus rivieri, a type of voodoo Lilly.. all improved by changing their background.

                                                                  

                                                                  

A good days work all in all, and part of another project started.

                                                                   

“Success depends on simplicity, one plant supplying the quiet background, while the other stands out clearly against it.” – Sylvia Crowe*

*Sylvia Crowe, distinguished British Landscape architect.

© All photos & text 2010

WHAT WAS I THINKING?

Never one to work on just one project, I am now looking into another area of the garden I may not have discussed before; that would be the Mourning Bench.

                                                                             

  Located  down the walk from the Circle of friends,  just past the intersecting path that leads to the Potager and compost, sits the Mourning Bench. Flanked by two variegated Boxwood (Buxus sempervirens ‘variegata’), it is recessed into the border and one can pass it without noticing.

                                                                    

I spent a lot of time here, both having morning coffee and finding shelter from the sun when working in the Potager. Opposite the bench were planted perennials, a tapestry.  Quite lovely for several years, then…

                                                                  

 the Vinca appeared.  Above, it is pushing the Golden Club Moss (Selaginella krausiana ‘Aurea’) into the path. Earlier in the season I thought I would let the Vinca take over….but It looks terrible!

WHAT WAS  I THINKING?

                                                                  

So, while I recruit an extra pair of hands to help with the landscape fabric, then locate the right colour pea gravel for the Circle of Friends… this is what I will be working on.

© All photos & text 2010

FAUX GARDEN

                                                                                                                                                  

Delightful little courtyard garden? No. Just all the ‘driveway plants.’  Every plantaholic  has these. The plants that are unloaded from the car waiting in the drive to be planted.

This vignette was put together by our British host just before we  arrived for a tour.

© 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