Sunday, December 23, 2012

Clematic chiisanensis 'Korean Beauty'

I started this little clematis from seed three years ago. The following photos follow it throughout the season.

I do love a plant that has beautiful seed heads and buds at the same time.
Here it blooms with Hydrangea panniculata 'Tardiva.'

A few weeks later the seed heads start to bronze up...

And a few months later, the seed heads have bleached out completely. They still hang on looking lovely in December.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Summer in My Garden

Taken in June, this picture highlights a beautiful, though short lived little annual, Didiscus caerulea. Interplanted with a wonderful perennial Agastache 'Apache Sunset-' this Agastache has a look like tarragon with tiny bluish leaves and a strong smell of anise. Next to it, Astible chinensis 'Pumila,' and behind it is a striking deep pink flower of Papaver 'Lauren's Grape' (seeds brought home from Great Dixter) and a blue Delphinium I started from seed.

This is Cleamtis chiisanensis 'Korean Beauty,' a lovely plant I started from seed three years ago. It bloomed for the first time this year, and it has delicate little flowers and funny seed heads, like a diminutive form of 'Bill MacKenzie.' I planted it at the base of Hydrangea paniculata 'Tardiva,' a sturdy specimen with a strong woody base, acting as a great support for this wee clematis.

Slightly out of focus, you can see the those sweet drooping bell flowers. Now as the leaves are down, these seed heads look incredible, bleached out by the cold and strung through the study frame of the Hydrangea. Rising in the background is a cloud of yellow Rudbeckia triloba and Coreopsis tripteris.

This is a newly planted area of the garden and one of my favorite planting slices. Bronze fennel intermingles with the honey colored grass, Calamagrostis x acutiflora 'Overdamn' (like 'Karl Foerster,' but with a white-striped variegated leaf). The bright pink flowers are Gomphrena 'Fireworks,' which offer a similar look as the classic Verbena bonariensis. A happy surprise is that each pink pom pom is tipped in bright yellow. Dark structural seed heads of Cephalaria gigantea and not easily seen, but certainly present, are the rusty orange flowers of Tagetes 'Cinanbar,' a plant whose blossoms increase as the summer fades.

Calamagrostis x acutiflora 'Eldorado' (a variation on the others, this time green and yellow stripped foliage) as a backdrop for one of the very best Salvias I have grown, S. uglinosa. This plant went on and on until frost, and even after the frost the plant looked healthy and hearty. The plant sends out underground runners and one small plant took up the space of a small shrub by the end of the season. I dug a few roots up and potted them up for the winter and it is now thriving in a northern window. What a plant!

Looking in the other direction, the salvia blooms look like they are levitating out over the garden.  This sea of white is from the the annual Euphorbia marginata. This is a really easy plant to grow from seed and a quick grower.

This was one of my favorite annuals of the season, Ammi visnaga 'Green Mist.' Here it is planted with Salvia farinacea 'Victoria Blue' in amongst Crocosmia leaves at the feet of Cotinus 'Grace.'

Fuschia magellanica 'Aurea,' dark purple Oxalis, Begonia 'Little Brother Montgomery', and fat green ruffled leaves of Modiolastrum lateritium in a pot placed into a shady spot in the garden.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Autumn at the Haywards

We had an early and hard frost here in Vermont in mid October, which sealed the deal on many of the annuals and tender plants. It is always a bittersweet morning, walking out to sagging and slimy foliage, crumpled flowers and everything tinged the color of death. The work does become clear in that moment and we all hastily cut back, rake out, and prep for the winter garden. Here are some pictures from the first week in October, pre-frost, at Gordon and Mary Hayward's Garden.

Above: The New Spring Garden with layers of autumnal color. In front is the purple splash of Aster oblongifolius 'Raydon's Favorite,' with a gangly self-seeded Nicotiana sylvestris, sprays of white Gaura, scrambling nastursium, bits of deep red from a Gallardia and Persicaria amplexicaulis 'Firetail,' complimented by the upright mustard hue of Senna hebecarpa, against the dark red backdrop of Viburnum trilobum.

Another nice scene and one that hasn't changed dramatically since early summer, since both the Persicaria 'Firetail' and Origanum 'Rosenkuppel' have been in bloom since then. Credit goes to Gordon and Mary for their great plant choices, these two, plus the delicate seed heads Sporobolus heterolepsis, are the longest performing perennials of the year. All three bloomed early and held on late, the colors of their blooms deepening into rustier hues as the season progressed. Here, late in the season, Anemone 'Robustissima' joined the stage while the shrub, Cornus officinalis, turned a ruddy tone. My other all time favorite plant of this past summer was the annual Ammi visnaga 'Green Mist.' Its foliage started out a delicate, feathery ferny green in early summer. It's bloom was lovely, a greeny tinted Queen Ann's flower, with that lovely wiry- nest like seed head. Over time, the ferny green took on a yellow tone that lasted until the frost.

It was an endless sea of Verbena bonariensis, though we only planted a few plants. All the manure, long, spring rains, and ample space to take up, encouraged each plant to grow long, lanky arms, full of flowers. Here it is paired with the Persicaria 'Firetail' again. This was a plant that got better as time went by and one that did not require any deadheading. Its only downfall was its deliciousness to those pesky Japanese Beatles, who turned their foliage into pitted, ratty wings. Once the pest season passed, the foliage rebounded and the flowers deepened in color.  In the foreground, the yellow flowers of the bronze fennel are coming into their fine show. This plant had such striking foliage all summer, it was hard to imagine the plant could improve- and then it did.

Here is one of the Salvia confertifloras just starting to bloom. In most gardens, as I was warned, this plant did not have enough time to come into full bloom, but I often admired this plant for its structure and foliage alone. It has large, bright green, leathery leaves and dark stems. It always had such a presence where ever it was planted.

One of the greatest grasses of all time:
Miscanthus sinensis 'Purpurascens'

Here is a picture taken earlier in the season of the Aster 'Raydon's Favorite' inter planted with Ammi visnaga 'Green Mist.'

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Denver Botanic Garden

On a recent trip to Denver, Colorado to visit my husband's brother and family, we took a trip to the Denver Botanic Garden. I encountered some incredible plants, many for the first time, thriving in a climate unlike any I have ever gardened in before. In some respects the desert and high altitude region seems harsh, but then again, many plants that have trouble over wintering in Vermont, seem to do just fine here. It was amazing to see what plants were entirely happy with extreme temperature changes coupled with constant dryness and drought. All those beautiful silvery leaved plants, gorgeous grasses, and unusual succulents were in their ultimate growing conditions.

Above photo: Bright red fruits of the desert prickly pear (Optunia phaeacantha) with Artemesia, Euphorbia, and Eriogonum all showcased in the low water garden.

I liked this little tableau of interesting foliage, shapes, textures and colors. I think the emerging purple flowers belong to Crocus speciousus, but I am not entirely confident in my ability to appropriately identify the crocus/colchicum bulbs. My inexpert guess is based on the great photographs and descriptions of the various autumn flowering bulbs found in a a recently acquired copy of Anna Pavrod's book titled Bulb.

Bouteloua graculis 'Blonde Ambition'
This was one of the most exciting plants I saw and it caught my eye from a great distance.  This grass is truly blonde with dainty, angled seed heads flicking about in the breeze. It is short (about 30"), but dense and extremly upright. Apparently the seed heads can stand tall through the winter. It is also cold hardy to Zone 4.

Erigonum wrightii var. wrightii (Snow mesa buckwheat)
I recently read about these great buckwheat plants perfectly suited to mountain climates and a great food source for the pollinators. Its seed heads are extremly beautiful, emanating a lovely coppery glow.

 A bamboo sculpture exhibit was going on in different parts of the garden and here the pool was decorated with these wiry objects rising up from the inky black water.

I thought this was another man made sculpture, but these wide, flat pads are in fact living waterlilies.  Victoria 'Longwood Hybrids'

The native plants garden was perhaps my favorite part. Since I arrived in this arid city, I have been enamored with all the wild plants that grow here- from peoples' cultivated gardens to the weeds in the sidewalk.  The large shrubs with a blush of pink are Artemesia tridentata, which are seen everywhere.

Cylindroptuntia imbricata, a cool region cactus native to the semi arid high plains of the United States

Meadow garden

Some incredible seed heads of some incredible plant (?)

Pink feathery flower heads of the grass, Mulenbergia reverchonii

This is a nice annual grass (zone 8-10) Melinis nerviglumis 'Pink Crystals'

A tall, towering stand of Leonotis, just a little bit bruised by their first frost

A captivating water feature and grass promenade

Friday, October 12, 2012

Cheryl Lewy's Garden


Cheryl Lewy has a real love of great gardening and of great plants. Her gardens and landscape are beautiful, including rock gardens, a cascading pond garden, and beautiful stands of shrubs and trees. One area of the garden is more formal, with a picket fence, gravel paths, roses and mix perennial plantings. It is spectacular in the spring, with iris, oriental poppies, and roses. I was hired this April with task of bringing more interest to this area of the garden from July through to October. I began in the spring by eliminating a great deal of phlox and poppy plants that had been taking up more than their fair share of space. I prepared planting areas in between many of the established plants, digging in rich compost. I then proceeded to plant, perennials, annuals (many I started from seed or purchased from Walker Farm), Dahlias, and tender Salvias.  This October, the garden is looking incredibly vibrant, full of flowers and foliage, contrasting in color, form and texture. 

Above: Bright red spots of Emilia javanica set off against the purple Verbena and Nepeta sibrica, the gray haze of Perovskia, and the dark red foliage of Dahlia 'Bishop of Llandaff', Pennisetum 'Vertigo', and Cotinus.


Low light in high summer, the phlox is floating in big white drifts. In the foreground the deep pink grass, Pennisetum 'Fireworks,' is coming into bloom.

Cheryl has a strong connection to Great Dixter and she loves the grass Calamagrostis 'Karl Foerster.' Here I planted this grass in a wall-like-hedge, directly influenced by the Calamagrostis planting in the Peacock Garden at Great Dixter. Those bleached straight-up blooms catch the light in spectacular ways.

The following pictures were taken in the first week of October and the garden is still so varied and colorful. The Sedum has turned its robust pink, off set by a tangle of bronze fennel and silvery sprays of Panicum virgatum 'Ruby Ribbons.' The tall yellow aster is unknown to me, but it is a stately specimen with great upright habit and mildew-free foliage.

Upright blossoms of the large, pale pink Dahlia 'Karma Prospero,' with Salvia 'Phyllis Fancy,' and the dark leaves of Pennisetum 'Vertigo.' This particular salvia is one of the most outstanding performers, it is a huge plant, loaded with blooms that starts early and ends late. Stay tuned for more shots of this plant as the weeks progress.

 Bright fall foliage of the low spreading Indigofera.


White flowers of Gaura lindheimeri and the bright red Dahlia 'Bishop of Llandaff.'

The bright blue of Salvia uliginosa pokes its head into this October scene.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Hollister House Garden: Study Weekend

Two weeks ago I attended a Garden Study Weekend, hosted by the Garden Conservancy and Hollister House Gardens. I went down for Saturday, though the event kicked off on Friday and finished with garden tours all day Sunday.  Saturday was packed full of incredible speakers, starting with William Cullina, director of the Maine Botanical Garden in Boothbay Harbor, Maine.  He gave a great tour of some of his favorite trees and shrubs, many he treats like perennials by hard pruning in spring. Some plants he will cut to the ground each year, such as Physocarpus, Salix, and Sambucus, and others he will cut every 3-5 years, such as Ilex verticillata (winterberry), Fothergilla major, and Rhus typhina. Still other shrubs he cuts to 6 inches in the early spring to encourage bushier growth and often larger leaves and/or flowers, such as Hydrangea (the arborescens and paniculata types) and Clethra.

Next came Edwina Von Gal, a landscape designer, who gave a very motivating talk about her process and approach to designing a garden and landscape. She had a very artistic approach, the way she talked about her work was similar to how an artist talks about a painting. A few key points that resonated with me: striking a balance between imperfection and perfection, what can we let go? "Designing" views that require nothing from the viewer. "Checking out even" by never removing biomass from the property. Leaving dying things (trees and plants) in place, as the decay and the architecture is interesting and provides good habitat. She did not talk much about plants, it was all about ideas, process, and intentions.

Then came a plant show and tell with Marco Polo Stefano, Paige Dickey, and Andrew Wheeler (from Arrowhead Nursery). They got on stage with many of their favorite plants and discussed their merits. A couple of promising stars: Caryopteris x clanodensis 'Sterling Silver,' Cercis 'Rising Sun,' Ptelea trifoliata 'Aurea,' Hydrangea involucrata opus 'Plena,' Lespedeza yakushima (low, spreading), and Albizia 'Black Chocolate' (dark leaf mimosa shrub, also good to cut to the ground annually). One of the most exciting plants I saw during the plant sale was Vernonia lettermannii, it has the fine, ferny foliage of Amsonia hubrichtii, but has deep purple- pink flowers and is in bloom now.

Later, Bill Noble spoke about the Garden Conservancy, projects and acquistions, Barbara Paul Robinson spoke about her new book, Rosemary Verey: The Life and Lessons of a Legendary Gardener, and then Eric T. Fleisher, horticulture director at the Battery Parks City Parks in New York City, gave a very engaging and informative talk on soil science, composting, and organic approaches to managing landscapes that receive high impact (such as Battery Park lawns in New York City, and the lawns at Harvard College). The last speaker was Bill Thomas, director of Chanticleer, who spoke about the garden and gave a photographic tour through the seasons. I have never been to Chanticleer, but I am really looking forward to it now. The day ended at the Hollister House Garden. See pictures below- it is stunning!

I am so appreciative of how the yew hedge sets off this Maclaeya. I wondered what the species name was and discovered that there are only 2 (or 3) species of Maclaeya and that as far as I can tell, the only real difference in the species is the number of stamens found in the flowers. M. cordata has 25-40 stamens, M. microcarpa has 8-15, and the third debatable species is M. kewensis (M. cordata x M. microcarpa) which has 12-18 stamens. So that should clear things up! I planted a M. kewensis 'Flamingo' one year which seems to have pinker buds and flowers. 

George Schoellkopf began creating Hollister House garden in 1979 and he was greatly influenced by the three great English gardens of Hidcote Manor, Sissinghurst and Great Dixter. You can feel these influences everywhere, especially the brick walls laden with plants and vines reminiscent of Sissinghurst.

This was the tallest Eupatorium I have ever seen, easily ten feet high. No one I asked seemed to know who exactly it was. I love it with Dahlia's skirting around.

The deep borders with the lovely red leafed annual popping up here and there. I thought I heard it called Red Orach (Atriplex hortensis), but my plant friend, Bobbi Angell, thinks it might be Perilla frutescens. After a little research I think she might be right! I thought this garden was beautiful in its annuals and self seeders running through perennial plantings.

Foliage of Viola 'Dancing Geisha'

Magnolia ashei with its big, fat, glossy leaves. This was one of the plants William Cullina uses as a foliage plant in his Maine borders, cutting it to the ground every few years.

The yellow garden, with its golden yellow foliage and lots of yellow flowers.

Crisp, clean lines of the kitchen garden.

This is a nice display of Verbena bonariensis and our wonderful, "weedy" Queen Ann's lace, Daucus carota. This is a no- nonsense solution to the Great Dixter combo, Verbena bonariensis with Ammi Majus (the more refined Queen Ann's Lace). The Daucus is a self seeding biennial and the verbena is a fairly reliable self-seeded annual, especially in a hot, gravelly site such as this one.

One of the largest Hydrangea specimens I have ever seen! I think it is H. 'Tardiva.'

These perfect plant combinations were everywhere- blue glossy green leaves of the holly, with the bright white stripped hosta, and the annual Perilla.

One of the plants mentioned in the 'Show and Tell' was Ptelea trifoliata 'Aurea.' This is a new plant to me, commonly called Wafer Tree or Common Hoptree, it glows golden yellow. You can see it poking its leaves above the purple tops of the iron weed, Vernonia. To read more about the Ptelea and see more pictures, check out this post at the blog Hayefield.

Some nice plants spilling over the paving stones.

A terrific pot combination with silver leaves and purple stems of the Plectranthus argentea (Argenteus= silver coin from the Roman era), a salmon pink Agastache, and a dark purple leaf of a sweet potato vine.

This doorway felt like one at Sissinghurst.