Saturday, April 30, 2011

Michael B. Gordon's Garden

The following photographs were taken at Michael B. Gordon's garden in Peterborough, New Hampshire. Michael is an optometrist and a garden designer and has designed many of the small parks and gardens in Peterborough. His own garden is a small garden, but intricately designed and packed with an amazing collection of plants. In my usual way, I was on the ground examining the delicacy of his spring flowering treasures. Above is a wonderful stand of Bergenia. I loved them with the old iron urns, the red bricks, and the blue bench, all standing in front of the wonderful deep green of the boxwoods.

Daffodil nestled in the folds of the emerging Ligularia leaves.

The garden is situated on a hill and Michael has created three levels, the top two are more formal and the lower slope is being developed into a woodland garden. I thought the more formal elements (the arbors with vines, the yew hedges and box topiaries) were so well designed and offered such an inviting space to display his exciting plant collection.

I made the mistake calling this the Cornus mas, it is actually Cornus officinalis!

Ranunculus ficaria 'Brazen Hussey' was seen flowering on the upper level. Michael tells me that he planted this plant in combination with Crocosmia 'Lucifer, as suggested by Christopher Lloyd (which this very morning I randomly opened Lloyd's book on Succession Planting to the very page that suggested this combination!) I saw this Ranunculus in flower at The Courts garden in England and so was excited to see it here in Micahel's garden.

Here is that wonderful combination of Euphorbia myrsinites and Sedum rupestre 'Angelina,' although much improved by the addition of the dark leafed Euphorbia.

When I got home I emailed Michael to ask him who this amazing Epimedium was because I had never seen any other quite like it. He wrote back,

"I was walking around the garden after work today wondering what on earth looked decent at this time of year and the one thing I saw that seemed like it might spark some interest was the epimedium you are asking about. Isn't that funny? Is called Epimedium grandiflorum 'Queen Esta'. I got it for the story as much as beauty of the plant. The late and legendary plantsman, Harold Epstein named it after his wife, Esta. It was the first seedling he ever introduced from his garden. Epstein was an epimedium connoisseur who died about a dozen years ago. Before he died, his garden was open on the Garden Conservancy Open Days and always regret not driving down to Larchmont, NY to see his garden. That is the wonderful thing about plants--having a piece of someone else's garden in your own garden." - Micahel B. Gordon

Jeffersonia diphylla

Beautiful rose hips still hanging on and still offering so much. Reminded me again of The Courts garden. I can't wait to see this garden again in another season.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Anemonella thalictroides

As some people may remember, I became rather obsessed with a certain Anemonella thalictroides at Hidcote and so here it is in all its modest glory blooming in Vermont.

Two years ago I planted the above A. thalictroides 'Lloyds Big Bloomer' (amazing name!) in Marion and Mark Schlefer's garden in Putney, Vermont.

Above is A. thalictroides 'Cameo' seen blooming in Deb Shumlin's garden in Putney, Vermont. This is the beginning of many more outstanding plants soon to be seen flowering in her garden.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Juniper Hill Farm

Today Sarah and I went to Peterborough, New Hampshire to see three VERY nice gardens (all arranged by Gordon, thank you!) Each garden was different from the next, but all were very inspiring. I felt like I was in England again, just by going around looking at great gardens, designs, and plants! All the gardens showed signs of English (and even specifically Hidcote) influences in the structures, planting schemes, and plant material. I was very impressed by how green the gardens were with all the evergreen and conifer plants.

Juniper Hill Farm is Joe Valentine's garden in Francestown, New Hampshire and it is truly a wonderful garden. (Please check out his blog too! Joe spent an hour or so walking Sarah and I around his beautiful garden and property. I was so impressed by his evergreen planting scheme and plant collection, this garden has some great bones! I was also equally impressed with how well the house itself was incorporated into the design as well as the surrounding landscape- oh the wonderful New England forests and fields!

A charming detail on the raised kitchen garden beds.

The glorious Aubreita that jumped ship from a pot and now survives happily in the crevice of a rock. This is the very same plant blooming in all the walls in the Cotswolds.

This is a winner of a ground cover Vaccinium vitis-idaea L. ssp. minus
To read more, please see Joe's blog where he has already posted about this terrific plant!

A view looking out to the pastures and forest's edge.

Rock wall covered in evergreens. Joe has an amazing collection of Japanese Maples, which must be glorious leafed out.

Amazing colors! This is where Joe puts his succulent collection in the summer months.

Blue spruce with Alcamilla alipina

Gordon brought Joe pictures of the gazebos at Hidcote and from these photographs Joe built himself his own gazebo. I think he really got the lines right, especially the roof. Joe will travel to Hidcote this May and see it for himself.

Blue Cohosh

Another amazing northeastern native Blue Cohosh (Caulophyllum thalictriodes) blooming here in my garden. The genus is made up of three very similar species, but this one is C. thalictroides, because its leaves resemble those of the beloved Thalictrum. Not only does it have such incredible flowers and foliage, but in the fall it produces vibrant blue berries. Hey ho, a real keeper!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


Acer griseum & Cornus mas

Acer griseum

Today, the weather was glorious, actually quite hot, but we cannot complain after last week. Sarah and I worked in Gordon and Mary's garden today planting some very exciting stuff. Acer griseum found its place on the Paddock Lawn and three very large Cornus mas were planted in the Spring Garden. The Cornus root balls were massive and it was quite a feat tucking them in amongst all the spring flowering beauties. The Acer and Cornus were particularly exciting additions for me because I had seen both these trees in all their glory at Hidcote!

Cornus mas in the Spring Garden

Here is the lovely Cornus mas at Hidcote

Sweet Fern

Comptonia peregrina (another monotypic genus) also known as Sweet Fern, is a northeastern native and one of the best. It is hard to believe that last year's leaves still look so good! Below is the weeping willow (Salix babylonica) seen in bud along every swampy roadside.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Pieris japonica

Another cloudy day here, but FINALLY warm! Laurie and I had a productive day at the Berg's pruning, raking, and moving shrubs. Here is the prize of the day- the magnificent Pieris japonica. Its little fragrant bells hang heavy with scent and we saw a happy bee drinking deeply.

The native Elderberry (Samabucus canadensis) in bud in the Foundation Garden.

My Bloodroot has decided to open today, pure perfection!

Vigorous (though not perfect) rose pruning in the the Foundation Garden.

The daffodil bank at Small Meadows Lane.

Monday, April 25, 2011


Sanguinaria canadensis

I have been waiting for days and days to post about dear Bloodroot (Sanguine/Blood colored roots), but I couldn't wait for it to actually bloom. So here it is and the potential is great! Those rosy tinted young petals waiting for a little more sunshine before opening.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Tulips Turkestanica

This morning things were looking up. Most of the snow had left us and there was a cool mistiness to the air which always reminds me of mornings in Maine and almost always predicts warming weather. And now, here are those lovely tulips - no longer cowering under snow!

Pulmonaria, showing off its perfect spotted leaf.

The Muscari latifolium coming into its own.

Saturday, April 23, 2011


Wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens) in the snowy woods today.

Tulips in Snow

I woke up this morning feeling very excited about all the things to do this Saturday (namely start all my seeds in the greenhouse), then I looked outside. Many hours later, it continues to snow and rain and the world is coated in an icy sheet. Yesterday the above species Tulipa turkestanica was in full bloom and glorious! Today she has closed her petals to the hostile world! Ahh well.

Here is a lovely shot of the Berg's garden last week looking South to the mountains of neighboring Vermont. This slow spring looks and feels a lot like fall.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Petasites hybridus

This incredible prehistoric looking flower belongs to Petasites hybridus. It is seen here blooming in the Foundation Garden at the Bergs. An amazing plant blooming before its leaves appear! The leaves themselves are reminiscent of a very large Rhubarb or Gunnera. We cut the spent leaves when ratty or too large and very quickly more appear. We constantly "manage" its size and desired look, but we do it ever so willingly because this plant is too remarkable to live without.

Our first Hellabores, seen in the Berg's Woodland Garden.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


Evergreen Entrance Garden at the Berg's garden.

I always thought that this plant was Juniperus procumbens 'Nana,' but after a little research it looks like this plant could be J. procumbens 'Greenmound,' which is very similar to 'Nana' only brighter green and slightly more compact. Rising out from the sea of juniper are vibrant stems of the Red Twig Dogwood (Cornus alba).

The ground cover planting scheme is made up of large swaths of various evergreen plants that flow from one species to another. There are at least four different junipers, including J. horizonalitalis 'Wiltoni' (Blue Rug Juniper) as well as J. horizontalis 'Blue Chip' (it has a slightly purple tinge to its leaves). Intermixed is a lovely evergreen called Paxistima canbyi, which shows its little red stems this time of year. There is a nice visual vibrancy of the contrasting reds and greens.

Paxistima canbyi

I think that this is Picea abies nidiformis (Bird's Nest Spruce). It has wonderful horizontal, rounding, creeping growth that is structurally very interesting. Its form does seem to mimic a birds nest.

A personal evergreen favorite called Microbiota decussata. It is one of those genus-of-one-species plants, making it so unique and one of a kind. Unlike Junipers it is incredibly soft and feathery. It has a beautiful soft yellow-green color with graceful arching (slightly upward facing) branches.

Monday, April 18, 2011


On Saturday it was a blustery and chilly day, but we were very warm because we were edging the garden at Gordon and Mary's. It took four of us all day, but we almost finished all the garden beds. It is extremely satisfying to put a nice, tidy edge on the beds this time of year and it makes a huge difference in the overall appearance of the garden. The above picture is a view looking down the Long Borders. These borders are incredibly beautiful and extraordinarily full of lovely, tall perennials in summer.