Early July and the flowering has begun. It’s a pleasant diversion, but flowers aren’t my primary interest in the garden. What really gets my attention are the sculptural forms of the plants and the complex patterns they make growing in community. Most of the garden is very tightly planted, by intention, so the patterning becomes quite complex. I push it to the max. Some might say it’s messy, but I like it. It’s edgy certainly, aesthetically risky, a delicate balance between chaos and order.
The Garden Conservancy Open Days tour last weekend (June 28) was a very pleasant day. Warm and sunny, with much lower humidity than last year.
Garden Conservancy Open Days
Saturday, June 28, 10 am to 4 pm
Prairie dock (Silphium terebinthinaceum) self-seeded among Liatris pycnostachya, wildflowers and grasses
You’re welcome to stop by this Saturday, June 28, for the Garden Conservancy Open Days here at Federal Twist. We’ll be open 10 am to 4 pm, as will several nearby gardens in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. My driving directions are here. The Bucks County gardens are here.
This 500-year-old watercolor by Albrecht Durer is a masterpiece of realism, based on close observation of nature, but a nature interpreted and amplified.
I’m too close to the subject of this post, so it hasn’t come easily. My intent has been to write about Thomas Rainer’s lecture at New York Botanical Garden in March, but I’m in such complete agreement with him, I find it hard to distinguish my own thoughts from my memory of Thomas’s presentation. That said, I’ll give this a try. I do hope I don’t put any unattributable words in his mouth.
The native plant movement has produced some extraordinarily beautiful landscapes … and some appallingly ugly gardens. Many native-only gardens fail because they are created with too few plants, a lot of mulch, and abstract concepts of sustainability and conservation–all very unnatural conditions. Too often a native garden or a rain garden looks just the opposite of what it should be–a dry expanse of bark mulch punctuated by a few scattered plants struggling for life.
My previous post showed the Sunburst honey locusts in my Brooklyn garden bent over into a mass of drooping foliage at the center of the garden.
When Kerry Hand, who planted the same trees on his land in New Zealand, commented “Don’t think I would like that,” that really got under my skin. So late Wednesday I tied the trees back, anchoring them by thin cords to the fence. It makes quite a difference, and unfortunately opened the unattractive view to the houses opposite us.
Diana Studer of Elephant’s Eye recently asked about the Brooklyn garden. Here it is, Diana.
With the Garden Conservancy Open Days coming up June 28, I’ve been focusing all my attention on the country garden. Brooklyn has had to get by with a few minutes each week. Here it is after a day of rain. The Sunburst honey locusts have gotten top heavy again and need trimming back. They also need stronger supports until their trunks gain strength.
Fortunately the garden is small and so jam packed with plants it can get by on its own for a while. I may have to pull plants out next year, but not now for sure. I did add some Hakonechloa macra to the back bed, though it’s not visible here. The bronze fennel is a surprise; last year’s small plants have inflated into small cloud trees. Maybe not what I want every year, but I take pleasure in them now.
Here’s the narrow, shady border. I haven’t shown the Tetrapanax papyrifera ‘Steroidal Giant’ on the sunny side; it was killed to the ground in last winter’s cold; now it’s coming up in several places and promises to become a monster. I’m hoping to put off dealing with it until next spring, when I have to dig most of it up and contain it within some kind of metal barrier.