Monthly Archives: June 2014

Green

 Garden Conservancy Open Days

Saturday, June 28, 10 am to 4 pm

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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.

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Thomas Rainer: Interpreting nature

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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.

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Straightening trees, opening voids

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.

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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.

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Brooklyn status, for Diana (on mobile phone)

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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.

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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.

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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.

Hold that date … Garden Conservancy Open Days … Saturday, June 28

Federal Twist will be open Saturday, June 28, for the Garden Conservancy Open Days, 10 am to 4 pm, along with several gardens in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. More information and driving directions are at the Garden Conservancy web page here. You can find a direct link to the Bucks County gardens here.

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