Thursday, June 30, 2011

Erodium x variabile 'Album'

There is an old gravel path that runs along the edge of one of my gardens that receives full sun. These qualities make it an excellent place to plant alpine and rock garden treasures and so far I have had some luck. Before I post about a plant I usually search the internet to make sure I am spelling and naming the plant correctly. Time after time I have come across a page from Paghat's Garden who writes about many of the plants I am interested in. Paghat has usually uncovered quite a bit about the taxonomy of many of these plants. Check out Paghat's post on this particular Erodium!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Late Flowering Bulbs

Brodiaea corrina (Syn. Triteleia corrina)

I went out on a limb last fall and purchased two types of late flowering bulbs both rated to zone six. This spring, I have been watching their tender stalks emerge and have been wondering what it was that I had planted, exactly? Today the Calochortus opened its first flower and I was thrilled; not only to discover who it was, but also to find it as beautiful as I imagined.

Calochortus luteus 'Golden Orb'

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Plants at Sakonnet

There were so many fascinating plants in John Gwynne and Mikel Folcarelli's garden and here are a few of them! The above specimen is Impatiens omeiana 'Silver Pink' poking through the juniper. This was one of the four plants I brought home from Opus Nursery.

A closer view of Meconopsis x Lingholm

Podophyllum peltatum 'Spotty Dotty'
A very close cousin to our native Mayapple, this particular plant was discussed during the talk as a fabulous textural plant, and while this is clearly true, the bloom also happens to be spectacular!! See below photograph.


This plant made everyone stop in their tracks and Fergus Garrett was particularly taken with it. It was assumed to be the native Thalictrum diocum, but was considered to be a rather tall and more robust specimen. However, I was randomly reading Piet Oudolf's book, Designing with Plants,  last night and stumbled across a description and photograph of Thalictrum aqualegifolium var alblum that describes a rather tall, early flowering Thalictrum that resembles the one pictured above. Oh the mysteries continue! Whoever it is, this Thalictrum was so elegant poking through the leaves of the rhododendron and its sweet fragrance was heavenly.

Clematis 'Betty Corning'

Anchusa azurea 'Alkanet'
Seen flowing in the Blue Garden.

As we were leaving, we spotted the blossom of the famous Tulip Poplar (Liriodendreon tulipifera) and it was unusually at eye level!


This weekend I traveled to Little Compton, Rhode Island for the Sakonnet Garden Symposium, titled Lofty Aspirations for Down to Earth Gardeners.  The day started off with a talk given by Marco Polo Stufano, a renown plants man and gardener who started Wave Hill in the Bronx. He showed us examples (actual slides!) of numerous great gardens in the states and in England of terrific planting combinations and designs. Throughout the entire day, there was huge emphasis on shape, form, and texture taking precedent over color and bloom- and encouraging us to think about plants from an architectural view. Stufano talked about 'the hand of man' being important in controlling plants and their forms and then juxtaposing this with the "fluffiness" of more herbaceous plants.

John Gwynne and Mikel Folcarelli followed with a talk about the evolution of their own garden, called Sakonnet. It was a wonderful presentation, where each spoke about various aspects of the design, process, and their own personal strengths and sensibilities as gardeners.  They talked about the tension between using plants as vehicles for design and also allowing plants to remain where they thrive. The garden is actually rather small, but so intricately planted and planned that when you are meandering through it you find yourself seeing the same garden from a completely different view. They called this the "experience of being lost and then of being found" which I completely loved.

The last speaker was Fergus Garrett, the head gardener at Great Dixter in Sussex England, who is one of the most enthusiastic and dynamic gardeners out there. He spoke about the gardens at Great Dixter, which was incredibly exciting for me because I am heading there in March to volunteer for the month. He spoke about how gardening is an aesthetic and organic process; that it is about being creative as well as a nurturing. He talked about the fun, freedom, and self- expression that is a huge part of gardening, but that there is also an aspect of professionalism in striving to grow these plants to be their very best. The most inspiring thing I took away from his talk was his belief that change is good and necessary- once you get it right, you move on and try something completely different! This makes many people very uncomfortable, but it leaves so much room for learning, progress, and growing as a gardener.

The last three hours of the day were spent in John and Mikel's garden where I took many photographs and explored their rich and varied plantings. There was also a specialty plant sale from Opus Nursery and Broken Arrow Nursery. It was an incredible day!

A view of the cetral axis, looking into the yellow garden. When I read about the yellow garden I assumed all the flowers would be yellow. In fact, there was hardly a bloom in the entire garden! Instead the garden was comprised of plants with yellow- chartreuse foliage and it was lovely! Here it looks stunning in the low afternoon light.


An example of having fun. Mikel made tubes of chicken wire and let the Euonymus grow over the tube creating these incredible arching arms of greenery!

Light was another element discussed during the day, how plants catch the light and how it changes throughout the day and throughout the seasons. The blue flower in the corner is Meconopsis x Lingholm and it was the first one I had actually ever seen. It was a plant much discussed at Hidcote and as New Englanders, we all want to grow it! Here is sits happily on a protected stream side.

 Ahhh... The Blue Garden.  This garden was truly the show stopper of the day in terms of bloom and seeing it at peak time! Every plant was perfect and glorious. The tall white puff in the back is the incredible Crambe cordifolia, which I grew to love when I was introduced to it gardening in the Pacific Northwest. Other plants included Eryngium, white Digitalis, Geranium, Anchusa, thistle, Hosta, Platycodon, Allium, grasses, and delphinium.

Onopordum acanthium

I think this is the name of the above thistle, which I saw two days before at Morning Star Nursery in Rockingham, Vermont. It was so exciting to see it in all its glory at Sakonnet.

An example of the "Hand of Man" at work. A maple tree pruned into a vertical pillar.


There was a very engaging discussion of meadows and the various issues surrounding the management plans and practices, both here in New England and at Great Dixter. Here is a picture of the meadows surrounding Sakonnet.

Thursday, June 16, 2011


Penstemon digitalis 'Husker's Red'

I am a big fan of all penstemon and I have been collecting a few different kinds in my own garden. They are all blooming presently (or are in bud) and tonight as the light was fading I went out and patiently photographed them all. Over the past years many penstemon babies have appeared in my beds and I am letting them all grow and I am wondering if any will cross?

This was the first penstemon given to me by a friend and I do not know its name. It looks a lot like the P. digitalis, without the red leaf.

Penstemon heterphyllus

This is an alpine treasure that is low growing, likes it hot and dry, and has delicate feathery blue leaves.

Penstemon digitalis 'Dark Towers'

This one has much darker foliage than 'Husker's Red' and its bloom is quite pink. It also seems to stand upright a little bit better.

Penstemon barbatus 'Iron Maiden' 

Recently purchased from a great nursery called Morning Star in Rockingham, Vermont.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Daffodils in June!

This very miniature daffodil is called 'Baby Moon.' Not remembering that I had planted it, I wondered what it was even as it was coming into bud. Everything about this daffodil is delicate and perfect and it blooms mid June.

Monday, June 13, 2011

American Yellowwood

Cladrastis kentukea

This is a spectacular tree, native in the southern united states in scattered and small populations. Under cultivation it survives to Zone 4, though it is an uncommon tree. There is one planted at the Berg's as well as at Gordon and Mary's. It is a smallish tree with a very attractive habit and the blossoms are deliciously fragrant and reminds me of sweet peas. The most incredible thing about the Yellowwood is that it only blooms every two (or in some cases every four) years. This year, both trees are blooming which makes me wonder if all the trees bloom in the same years?


Sunday, June 12, 2011


Peonies falling into other lovely plants!

Plant Combinations

June is a time for green growth, especially this year with the combination of so much rain and then so much heat.  I have zeroed in on some wonderful planting combinations tucked in amongst the jungle of new leaves. Above are daisies back dropped by lush Ligularia foliage seen in the Hayward's garden.

Geum, Campanula, Aquilegia, Ranunculus, and Trollius planted in the Spring Garden at the Hayward's. 

Amsonia heubrechtii seen flowering at the Berg's. I love the backdrop of pink Geranium macrorrhizum and the red Berberis.

Lychnis x arkwrightii 'Lengai Orange' combined with the foliage of Lespedeza bicolor in my garden. (The next few pictures are all from my garden.)

Sweet pink Alium unifolium poking through the leaves of nearby Hosta, Ligulaira, and Fothergilla.

The color of your house can really make or break a plant. In this case I think the red house really makes this Thalictrum 'Black Stockings' stand out. This Thalictrum is falling over onto the strong, upright leaves of a shrub clematis, possibly Clematis tubulosa?

Here is a beautiful mess of a Heuchera (I always called this one 'Bridal Veil' but I can't find a record of it) falling into Allium schubertii, under planted with Sedum cauticola, with the fallen petals of Peony 'Blaze.'

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Dutchman's Pipe

This vine, Aristolochia durior (syn. A. macrophylla) is well known for its large heart shaped leaves and its vigorous growth. However, its common name, Dutchman's pipe, reflects its very unusual flower, which I had never seen until now!? It honestly took my breath, by its sheer uniqueness, but also by the complete surprise of finding it!

The vine is rather attractive too, holding its leaves well into late fall and winter.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Deb Shumlin's Garden

Here are some photographs of Deb Shumlin's garden. I have been helping her with maintenance for the past three years, but this year we have been spending lots of time re-structuring and re-organizing her garden and plants. We moved numerous small trees and shrubs and have added new plant material in order to extend her fabulous June garden into fall and winter. The gardens were originally designed by her great Aunt, the late Alice Holway, a renown plants woman of Putney, so the bones are good and the plants choice!

A view of the wet garden.

Amsonia 'Blue Ice'

This Amsonia is a real knockout! This was plant was found in a seedling block with Amsonia tabernaemontana at White Flower Farm in Connecticut and its parentage is yet to be determined. Another taxonomy mystery!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Lady's Slipper

Cyperpedium acaule

These incredible orchids are one of New England's most precious wild flowers. The last time I saw one was when I was a child in the woods behind my house in Maine. If the flowers are picked, the plant will not regenerate and I imagine that it is for this reason that it is considered an endangered or vulnerable plant in many states. However, its range is large! It is found from the southern United States to northern Canada and near to the Arctic Circle. This plant also requires fungus to grow and therefore does not transplant heartily. So where ever you find this plant, do drop to your knees in order to take in its heavenly fragrance. It might just be the perfect scent.