Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Late Summer Gardens

I returned home at the beginning of August, after a wonderful month at Great Dixter, and was greeted with many happy sights. Most notably, while I was away I found out that Noah and I, along with my sister and Mike, were the chosen applicants to buy The Bunker Farm, a 160 acre farm in Dummerston, Vermont. Naturally we have been busy getting the farm started. We are now all living in the house, the 60 acres of hay fields are mowed and baled, we have chickens and plans for cows, and the gardens are slowly turning over one by one. Pictures to follow!

I also came home to very exuberant gardens. All of those little plants I planted grew and grew, as well as a few weeds.  All in all, the gardens were well- tended and wild. Above is a photo of Deb Shumlin's garden in mid-August. This spring Deb replaced a small terraced lawn surrounded by gardens with a stone patio. We brought the gardens right up to the edges of the stones and planted a few annuals. In a few short months, the gardens have completely filled out. All of the giant Nicotiana sylvestris are self-sown.

Looking back up to the patio. In the back, are the nodding stems of African foxglove (Ceratotheca triloba 'Lilac') and the pink flower in front is the Chinese foxglove, Rehmannia angulata 'Popstar' (also known as Rehmannia elata). I got the Rhemannia seeds from Diane's Seeds and they report that the plant survives zone 5 winters and is more floriferous the following year. It will be interesting to see if this happens for us.

Here is a shot of Bruce Lockhart's Pleasure Garden in Petersham, Massachusetts. I helped him in the spring bringing in new perennials and annuals to his already beautiful garden.

In the Pleasure Garden we planted reds and oranges, in foliage and flower. Emilia javanica (syn. Emilia coccinea) and Cosmos sulphureus 'Towering Orange' give dotted blasts of orange, while Monarda 'Jacob Cline' offers up some red. The deep burgundy hues are from the lovely Hibiscus acetosella 'Mahogany Splendor,' which I started from seed in the spring.  Leaning awkwardly in on the left are the Suess-like arms of Helianthus salacifolius.

 In the Willow Garden, there are more subdued tones, composed in blue, purple, and white. We did throw in a little Solanum ptycanthum, to add some spiny orange stems as a little compliment.


This perennial garden at Diane Bower's garden in Newfane was designed by Gordon Hayward, with room to incorporate some annuals. Diane hired me to plant the garden and add that annual touch.

At Stan Fry's garden in Peterborough, New Hampshire, I designed and planted ten planters and containers dotted throughout the garden. Here is one just coming into its own, with Lophospermum 'Lofos Wine Red' dangling with dark pink flowers. The grass is Unicina unicinata 'Rubra,' grown as an annual here, it is a native to New Zealand. 

These last few photos are from my own small garden, which has been mostly neglected all summer, especially since moving onto the farm. However, it is definitely holding its own and seems to be continuing on perfectly fine without me. My mother saw it and said, "You really have taken on wild gardening." I think she meant it well... Above are a few examples of some incredible, intentionally-left weeds running wild with a few more refined characters. In the weed category are the huge aralia-like purple berries of Phytolacca americana, the very tall Coreposis tripteris, and the native Geranium bicknelli. The pale blue flower in front is an annual I tried this year called Gilla capitata. It has nice foliage and sweet, but very subtle blue flowers. Its habit is a bit too sprawling and tumbling, but I think I might be able to improve on it next year by pinching back and planting in leaner soils.

A good messy combination of lots of things, looking rosier as the cooler weather kicks in. I tried Dahlia 'Fascination' this year and had great results. It is a very strong pink on dark leaves, the flowers stand up well on long stems, and it starts blooming earlier than the others.

Looking in the other direction you can get a good look at the Dahlia. The white spray arching over is from the single flower of a Artemesia lactiflora 'Guizhou,' which is a plant I have been wanting for a few years and just got a piece from Bruce Lockhart's garden. It seems to be doing well and I have high hopes for the future!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Garden Inspirations Workshop

Please join us on Januray 25th at the Latchis Theater in downtown Brattleboro, Vermont for a Garden Inspirations Workshop, as part of a fundraising effort to restore the historic and gorgeous Latchis Theater. I will be giving a talk on my experience at Great Dixter and sharing the program with some of my garden heroes, including Gordon Hayward, Julie Messervy, and Dan Snow! Sign up soon as they are only selling 100 tickets.