Ramblings of a "New American" Gardener

Garden Diary: Green Foam Differentiating

May 17, 2013

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The big picture, the foam of green. In a couple of weeks the carpet of perennials will be higher and show much more definition and interest.

Space, height, gesture … reaching up and pulling the sky into the garden …

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 One area where the intermingled planting is beginning to show emerging structure and form …

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Old times, a legacy tree peony that that came with the house … a visual signal that this ‘nature’ isn’t exclusive.

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The woodland, with the new path to the compost maintenance area …

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Around the house … a hosta, Sum and Substance (I think) with wandering Brunnera microphylla …

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Little fountain outside the garden entrance to the house …

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Expanding colony of Helleborus foetidus …

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New frog land (new reflecting pool down in the garden), now full of tadpoles and small frogs, other things I can’t identify (yet) …

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That new crevice, the ‘river’ between the rocks needs to be planted with something. My current thought is Carex muskingumensis.

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Many large grasses and perennials will form a background to the newly planted area and are already in place. Some are well established and will be fully grown in a few weeks. Others, newly planted, will take a while: two Baccharis halimifolia, various panicums and miscanthus, Joe Pye Weed, Liatris pycnostachya, more to come. I’ll add Rosemary willow (Salix eleagnos) as soon as my cuttings are rooted well enough to survive the competition.

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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Helen May 17, 2013 at 3:58 pm

I think some low grasses,just some species, in the crevice would look good, it would create some movement like water flowing. It is amazing how quicky wildlife finds a new pool isnt it.
I have just planted my first tree peony, it has been waiting patiently for 3 years for me to create a border for it

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James Golden May 20, 2013 at 9:20 pm

Just what I want to do. Carex pennsylvanica would be great, or Carex muskingumensis, probably the latter. I think my tree peony is over forty years old. It’s not what I would choose if I were choosing, but as a legacy “gift” it’s fine.

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Peter Holt May 17, 2013 at 8:54 pm

Golden James, it’s so reassuring to be seeing updates from a relatively awake FT garden again! The new sections feel very new and look great – it will be interesting to see how they settle in. The equisetum is looking particularly fine this year, James! And the “Stinking” hellebore and english ivy combination is perfect. Both heavy weight plants are interacting well and it’s all quite evergreen isn’t it? Seems like this would work really well in your city garden as well. And mine, perhaps. I wonder if some white camassia might be able to compete therein? Hmm. Are the Salix eleagnos cuttings of which you speak the first FT experiments with this species? The conditions in FT garden will be a good acid test – thanks much. If it does well there it should do okay here. Let’s cross our fingers.

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James Golden May 20, 2013 at 9:26 pm

Peter, I like your thought of white camassia with the “heavy” and dark Helleborus foetidus and ivy. I enjoy seeing the stinking hellebore outside the living room windows all winter. They’re amazingly durable plants and quite beautiful. I’m trying to seed colonies all over the garden. I’ve long admired Salix eleagnos, most recently on the High Line. I’ve never grown it before but it should be easily hardy in my zone 6. And yes, the blur of equisetum has become a feature time in the garden. I’m sure some would be horrified to see it everywhere, but I think it makes a wonderful spectacle.

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Christina May 18, 2013 at 2:22 am

I so love that when you are thinking of adding something to an area you think of ONE plant to repeat. The more I garden the more I want huge swathes of single species just pointed up with something in places like explanation marks. Yours is the most successful of many ‘natural plantings’ I’ve seen. The summer will show what effect the hurricane will have long term; already, to me, the garden is feeling protected by its surroundings; this may just be an impression as images are never the same as actually being in the garden. Christina

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James Golden May 20, 2013 at 9:29 pm

I try to think in 20s and 30s, but it quickly gets expensive because I need to get fairly mature plants. Little plugs have a difficult time in the competition of my garden.

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Cindy at enclos*ure May 19, 2013 at 9:58 am

Do you actually have a stream? (in the first two photos) Or has it been a very wet spring? I notice something new every time you post. What a lovely peony. Rwanda is too warm for them.

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James Golden May 20, 2013 at 9:32 pm

No spring. That’s the long pond, created by digging. But I’m pleased that you might mistake it for a natural feature. That’s what I hoped to achieve. It’s in a natural drainage channel, collecting water that flows around the end of the house. It’s full of life, so certainly functionally natural.

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Cindy at enclos*ure May 21, 2013 at 4:15 am

Exactly what should happen to runoff. That glint of silver in the grasses is perfect.

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Charlie@Seattle Trekker May 19, 2013 at 10:10 am

Gorgeous photos; I really enjoyed your tree peony.

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James Golden May 20, 2013 at 9:33 pm

Thanks for visiting.

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Rob (OurFrenchGarden) May 23, 2013 at 2:04 am

Your reflecting pool works beautifully. The whole water ‘thing’ will change the whole dynamic as you pass through the garden.

Aside, did you ever plant any miscanthus giganteus? I wondered what you thought as having never seen one in the flesh am unable to decide whether to plant one here.

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James Golden May 23, 2013 at 6:32 am

I want to finish the pool area with a “river” of Carex muskingumensis in the crevice between the low stone walls/berms. But re: Miscanthus giganteus … yes, I have one 4-foot wide “column” of it in the center of the garden and several plants coming along at the edges, to help hide the deer=exclusion fencing behind. Here it easily gets 9 feet high and, when in flower, probably 13 to 15 feet. I wouldn’t be without it. Unlike running bambu, it’s easily controlled so you can try it without worry. Under dry conditions, it can loose a lot of its lower leaves, which I imagine it would do in your climate. You could plant other grasses around its base.

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Amy May 23, 2013 at 10:55 am

The frogs are what stood out for me most in this post. Like butterflies or bees or hummingbirds, I consider seeing a frog in my garden a blessing from nature. And also a surprise since I do not have any water in my garden (other than a birdbath)!

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