Ramblings of a "New American" Gardener

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Once warmth arrives, the garden luxuriates in planty fleshiness, growth proliferates, detonates in slow motion.

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Thick planting, no ground visible. Iris virginica, Onoclea sensibilis, Calamagrostis acutiflora x ‘Karl Foerester’, Hemerocallis, Silphium perfoliatum, Filipendula rubra ‘Venusta’, Equisetum arvensis, some bits of low grass or carex.

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The relationships and relative sizes of the plants will change dramatically over the next four weeks as the Silphiums and other large plants approach their mature size. The Euphorbia palustris (left) has done its spring gold thing and now will fade into the background until its autumn colors come. The Ligularia japonica (right) is budding and will soon reach its seasonal peak. The ornate foliage will remain a pleasure–and it’s a seedhead star.

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View of the low, mid-century house from the stone circle. Several colonies of Filipendula rubra, and many other plants, are rising in the foreground. This is a thriving community no weeds can penetrate–except for Multiflora rose and various wild Solidagos.

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The stone circle under a canopy of Salix udensis ‘Sekka’, Japanese fantail willow.

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Wave Hill chairs (made by Dan Benarcik) in a mid-garden sitting place.

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Strolling the main path across the garden …

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Behind Iris pseudacorus, Petasites and Silphium perfoliatum mounded in battle.

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Near a curve in the main garden path, the circle of red logs emerges from the dark edge of the woods … Who needs flowers?

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Late sunlight on Baptisia; I wish I could remember which one …

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Another path–into the woodland garden …

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Reflecting pool …

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… and beside it Baptisia alba. In one more year it should attain enough bulk to give a good show.

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‘”I started collaging as an escape from making meaning. I got tired of writing poems, of trying to make sense – verbal sense. It is a relief to make a different kind of sense – visual sense. One must think, of course, but it is an entirely different kind of thinking, one in which language does not intrude.”‘

 – from Garrison Keillor’s The Writer’s Almanac, quoting poet Mark Strand

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Holding pattern

April 21, 2016

Until summer arrives to ripen the garden, I’ll be looking back to last summer. Click on the photo to enter the time machine.

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Which way, please?

April 7, 2016

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The garden in early April is mostly invisible. This is its skeleton. By mid-June the rapidly growing perennials and grasses will make most pathways disappear, creating a new landscape, a virtual new topography.

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Clean slate

March 14, 2016

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The burning and cutting is done. Within a month, with warmer temperatures,  thousands of grasses and perennials will break the surface, and a textured plain of green will emerge.

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Art of Gardening COVER 3D-1

“The entrance to the Chanticleer garden, in a wooded countryside just outside Philadelphia, could be described as a portal into a horticultural parallel universe … The brief is simple: innovate, innovate, innovate. There are more ideas at Chanticleer than any one garden could reasonably be expected to accommodate, and visiting is an intense experience for those with the ability and desire to ‘read’ these plantings.”

– Tim Richardson, Great Gardens of America

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Re-imagining nature – a review of Planting in a Post-Wild World by Thomas Rainer and Claudia West

January 24, 2016

(This review originally appeared on the Thinkingardens website.) “The founding fathers of modern environmentalism, Henry David Thoreau and John Muir, promised that ‘in wildness is the preservation of the world.’ The presumption was that the wilderness was out there, somewhere … and that it would be the antidote for the poisons of industrial society. But […]

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A Garden in Movement

January 18, 2016

  I just received the pdf of the January article on Federal Twist in Garden Design Journal, published by the Society of Garden Designers (UK). Be forewarned, it’s readable if you click two times, but really a hassle to get through unless you have a large screen.

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Gravetye Manor

January 16, 2016

The following article by Gillian Vine is from the Otago Daily Times online edition – 17 January 2016 – on the history of Gravetye Manor, home of William Robinson, one of the early progenitors of the naturalistic tradition in gardening. (Thanks to Facebook gardening friend Scott Nickerson of Queenstown, New Zealand, for posting it there.)

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Federal Twist in Garden Design Journal

January 5, 2016

Federal Twist is featured in the January 2016 issue of the Garden Design Journal, a publication of the Society of Garden Designers (SGD) in the UK. Photos by Andrea Jones, noted garden photographer, and words by me. I can’t recommend you get a copy. It’s seems not to be available in the US, except among the […]

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Garden diary: remembering winter

December 27, 2015

We had a taste of it. On December 5, a little frost, a thin crust of ice on the pond. Later, a sunny day, the temperature moderated and it’s been warm ever since. Now we’re past the winter solstice, and still no winter.

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Landscape architects in the making

November 18, 2015

Not until after the fact–during it, really–did I realize how gratifying it would be to have a bunch of landscape architecture students come for a visit.

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Ending the season at Chanticleer

October 30, 2015

Autumn is a glorious season in the garden. I took this photo in the gravel garden at Chanticleer last weekend. I like complexity (not chaos; there is a difference). This teeters on the edge, but I think the striking forms of the Yucca rostrata and Agaves and trailing blue-gray ground cover make a strong, legible statement […]

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Pictures vs. words

October 27, 2015

Recently I discovered an intriguing blog, The Brown Advisor, in this case referring to “the great landscape gardener, or place-maker, Lancelot ‘Capability Brown’.” I quote this from the blog, quoting Joseph Addison: “‘Words, when well chosen, have so great a Force in them, that a Description often gives us more lively Ideas than the Sight […]

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Garden Diary: The garden in between …

October 3, 2015

I call this the Edgar Allan Poe season in my garden …

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The Old Rectory at Naunton

September 23, 2015

“I’ve always been drawn to plants which are on the wild side, drawn to gardens which are on the wild side, which feel like they might just be tumbling into something quite primitive and unmuddled with. The way I garden is to let things go almost to the brink of being lost, and that’s often […]

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Green, green

August 23, 2015

Green, green grass of home

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Catch as catch can

July 7, 2015

I’m leaving for England for a month tomorrow. Last weekend, I realized I hadn’t documented the garden’s summer progress, so I made the rounds.

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Hidcote – a Garden of Rooms

July 1, 2015

Hidcote is generally considered to be the apogee of the English Arts and Crafts garden, though it was made by a wealthy American, Lawrence Johnston. It is very much a garden of rooms, and in that way very typical of Arts and Crafts gardens of the period. I visited in May as a member of Carolyn […]

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Open Garden – Saturday, June 27

June 21, 2015

It’s time for another Garden Conservancy Open Day at Federal Twist, next Saturday, June 27, from 10 to 4. Everyone’s welcome. Click on the photo for a selection of views.  

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First seeing Rousham

June 18, 2015

Rousham was the last of many gardens I visited in May as a member of Carolyn Mullet’s spring tour of English gardens and the Chelsea Flower Show. Rousham was the only eighteenth century landscape garden on the tour. In that sense, it appeared to be an outlier, but it turned out to be a key to […]

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Off to England … working with carexTours

April 29, 2015

Is good fortune a kind of grace, a gift of an inherently generous universe? I’d like to think so. But it may just be the luck of the draw.

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Recollection

April 27, 2015

The failed septic system in my garden represents the contingency we all live with, raising the question, in my case, of how to get the garden back. So it’s time to pause, look away from the present mess, and recollect the garden’s past–a long Flickr set of photos through the year. Click on the photo. (When […]

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Rot, decay, more life

April 20, 2015

Behind the house, a very old Japanese weeping cherry has reached the end of its life. Flowering has declined dramatically over the past few years and limbs have begun to rot and fall.

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Where not to put a garden

April 15, 2015

The best I can say is that it happened in the early spring. The plants aren’t up yet, and though a great deal of damage has been done, and much more may come, I can at least imagine the damage can be repaired. But in time?

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