Aftermath … and insight

So the Garden Conservancy event is over … and I take up my camera the next day, June 30, to see what I missed, being totally distracted the day before. First, above, the entrance through the shade garden …

Pulmonarias must love hard clay and root competition. Mine are thriving, so I intend to add more. The raised stone planting beds are newly planted and in their first season. I imagine they’ll eventually vanish, at least in the growing season.

FT June 30 after GC OD 220

Looking round the bend to the sunny wet prairie.

FT June 30 after GC OD 226

Where the gravel path enters the sun, a colony of Carex muskengumensis adjoins an even larger colony of Petasites x Dutch (meaning someone thinks it’s a hybrid from Holland) and Darmera peltata. I don’t know the name of the Thalictrum, but it must be around eight feet, and it stands tall through winter.

FT June 30 after GC OD 243

Looking back toward the entrance to the woodland garden …

FT June 30 after GC OD 414

Looking up the evolving white hydrangea bank toward the house. Notice the windows and doors reflect the landscape like a wall of mirrors. Not a good thing for the birds, who sometimes unfortunately try to fly through the glass.

FT June 30 after GC OD 419


FT June 30 after GC OD 185

Petasites growing in the drainage channel running toward the long pond …

FT June 30 after GC OD 239

The main path across the garden …

FT June 30 after GC OD 263

Mounds of Sanguisorba, Joe Pye Weed in the foreground …

FT June 30 after GC OD 265

One of a multitude of self-seeded Cup plants (Silphium perfoliatum) just about to flower …

FT June 30 after GC OD 274

Part of the long field of Queen of the Prairie (Filipendula rubra ‘Venusta’) stretches about fourty feet across the central garden, just about to burst into candy floss pink bloom.

FT June 30 after GC OD 276

Continuing along the central path …

FT June 30 after GC OD 280

Silphium perfoliatum buds …

FT June 30 after GC OD 286

Button Bush (Cephalanthus occidentalis) …

FT June 30 after GC OD 308

Looking across to the newly built reflecting pool and new plantings surrounding it. These plantings probably need only one year to better integrate with the rest of the garden. (They’re not bad now.)

FT June 30 after GC OD 289

View toward the house, across the almost invisible reflecting pool …

FT June 30 after GC OD 368

… a little closer and you can make out the pool …

FT June 30 after GC OD 372

The entrance to the new pool, with the ground mulched until the new planting grows in …

FT June 30 after GC OD 126

The central sitting area with the Wave Hill chairs …

FT June 30 after GC OD 357

The circle of red logs …

FT June 30 after GC OD 331

Mounds of Miscanthus ‘Silberfeder’, Pycnanthemum muticum and Petasites in a big planting on the backside of the garden. Inula racemosa has seeded in–too much, I think–and I’ll be pulling most of it out in a few days.

FT June 30 after GC OD 388

Same planting, from the other end …

FT June 30 after GC OD 377

The far sitting area, hidden by hydrangeas … a Hornbeam (Carpinus betulus) hedge at the side and back is nearing four feet. I look forward to having a fully grown hedge to enclose this space. This is a wonderfully private place to sit at sunset.

FT June 30 after GC OD 344

The path out the other side …

FT June 30 after GC OD 349

The wood pile, gradually fading behind the plants. That’s a Tulip Popular rising in the right background.

FT June 30 after GC OD 379

Across the garden is this new space I want to make into a fernery. I’ll add many new ferns to the colony of Osmunda cinnamomea (Cinnamon fern) already here–Matteuccia struthiopteris (Ostrich fern), Polystichum acrosticoides (Christmas fern), others that can take advantage of the wetness of the area. I moved a bunch of Ilex verticellita here in early spring.  If they grow well their berries should add fall color and interesting higher structure. I think some stone, possibly a new stone wall, might be good here.

FT June 30 after GC OD 400

The path by the pond, returning to the house and upper level garden …

FT June 30 after GC OD 152


FT June 30 after GC OD 164


FT June 30 after GC OD 159

Now looking down at the other pond from the opposite side of the upper level garden …

FT June 30 after GC OD 084


FT June 30 after GC OD 078

A part of the planting (much is self-seeded) up top, Geranium ‘Rozanne’ and Asclepias tuberosa in flower. The tall things are Patrinia scabiosifolia.

FT June 30 after GC OD 073

Looking back over these images, I realize the growing importance of the interplay of light and dark, sun and shade, as the garden matures into its eighth year. I recognize this now because the wall of tall white pines that shielded the southern border of the garden fell in Hurricane Sandy last fall, bringing in much more light, and making the shade cast by the trees within the garden much more pronounced. The experience of the garden is changing rather dramatically. I’m seeing that for the first time.

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37 thoughts on “Aftermath … and insight

  1. I was joking about the roses BUT I grow Rosa virginiana which was grown from some USA University seed..I reckon it would look fab at you Blot..and in particular when the garden is falling (Autumn I believe) it leaf colours would slot in perfectly..I am not much of an Autumn foliage type but i think your Blot is at its most magnificent in that season…all this bloated green now delightful as it is I find rather boring!
    P.S. that rose would work so well with your weeds. (grasses)

    1. “Bloated green. ” is a nice turn of phrase and very descriptive of what’s happening now. But the light makes it interesting. Now, for example, the morning light reflects off the grasses and willow foliage, making a sparkly, silver effect. I tried to take pics of it but the camera kills the effect. You have to be here as they say. I wonder if I could find a dry enough spot for Rosa virginiana. The fall color would be nice. May give it a try.

    2. I second the recommendation for Roas virginica. I have it growing in my own yard, and not only does it offer great fall color but also lots of bottles. It is flowering now by me; it’s not a spectacular show, but, you know, it adds a bit of punctuation to the green mass that is that section of my garden this time of year too.

  2. Solid objects be they coniferous or whatever rather upset your openness. (Californian word?) For me this is the a hugely important element and without which I would look away.

  3. It’s very beautiful James, complements to both you and nature. The photographs are a pleasure, and make me determined to visit the next open day. What I noted from the photographs, given the multiple interplay of green, was the effect of oppositional colors — whether the orange of the daylilies and the asclepias (very effective) or the softer brush of the bank of filipendula (a brilliant idea). Have you thought of adding a sweep of monarda, perhaps in a raised bed, as it doesn’t appreciate the wet)? That might be nice. Ross

    1. Ross, please come but Open Days may not be the best time. I discovered I don’t have time to talk to friends, being on garden tour guide duty full time. I once tried Monarda down there and it perished. Too wet. It’s not able to compete, not a contender. It must be hot as hell where you are. It’s hot as hell here too. The Filipendula burst into full bloom four days after Open Days. It just doesn’t look like a real plant when it’s flowering.

  4. Hey James, I am blown away by your garden. It is a wonder of wonders. I wish I could develop an artist’s eye so I could design my garden instead of sticking plants in willy-nilly. As mine gets older it is beginning to have a better look. We are landscaping the ditch this summer and fall and building beds off of the patio in the back. I didn’t like the bare look of just grass…needed to break it up…but everything will be low or framing so it doesn’t disturb the view into the backyard and the woods behind our lot. One day I will get rid of the trampoline, the piled up bricks, the plastic playhouse, etc., but not til my grands are grown. It is a treat reading your blog and seeing the pictures. I’ll check back more often. Also, tell me what plants I could grow down here in heavy clay soil, not always wet.


    1. BJ, good to hear from you. My advice is to plant many of the same thing, like 20 of this, 30 of that, and use grasses. You have a lot of space. I’m not a good adviser on plants you can grow because of our climate differences. I don’t know whether or not what’s native here is native down there in your super hot humid climate (I’ve been gone so long I don’t remember). I do know one plant that I’d recommend, a large shrub. It’s Baccharis halimifolia (google the image). It grows in the wetlands just south of Canton, in the Bear Creek wetlands (I think it’s Bear Creek). It flowers with white flowers in the fall. I remember asking my father what it was many years ago but he didn’t know. I only recently saw it used in gardens up here. It’s a weed, or people will think of it as a week, but it’s actually a beautiful plant.

  5. I would so love to visit your garden, it looks so welcoming, relaxing and peaceful. It is interesting how the trees going have changed the light and the effects this has on other planting

  6. I’m glad you posted a walk around, because I now have such a different appreciation, having seen the real thing. The garden endures after the people depart. I like the new fernery, with the winterberry hollies you moved and your emerging ideas for that area.

    I thought the picture I posted of your Silphium was prairie dock, thinking that’s what you grew, but here you show S. perfoliatum, so in fact it really is cup plant, which is what I thought it was! If only plants would introduce themselves properly.

    1. I have Prairie dock (Silphium teribenthinaceum) too (I’m never sure of the spelling of that). It’s just beginning to put up flower stalks. It’s leaves were badly damaged by slugs this spring (which has never happened before) so I’m glad to see it’s still going to flower. It’s my favorite of the Silphiums. Tall, thin, wiry but strong stems. A magical effect when in flower. My second choice for decorative effect is Silphium laciniata.

  7. Stunning! It looks more like a park than a private garden. :o) I like all the green. It’s soothing and feels mindful. I’m not sure I’d add a rose unless it was a very wild type.

  8. I love your planting James and the way you are using nature to help you achieve the ‘feel’ you want from the garden. My ideas about planting are evolving all the time; moving to a climate that is hard on plants really makes me have to think so much more – in Southern England almost anything will grow (and actually I don’t think that is helpful from a design pont of view. The part of my garden I am most pleased with is ‘the slope’ where first I just planted what self-seeded in the rest of the garden. Now plants move around (seed around I mean) and the area changes week to week, month to month and year on year, I love the dynamic effect.

  9. I’m so struck by your space and possibilities it offers. You can use plants like Silphium and Patrinia without woorying they will take over too much and be out of scale. Wonderful. Touch jealous.

    I wonder if the Thalictrum you mentioned might not be ‘Elin’. They get that high. I have several growing in my garden right now and they are huge. (So much for me worrying about scale.)

    Also, thos Pulmonarias are fabulous. Could I get the variety?

    Groet, Carrie

    1. Carrie,
      The Silphium and Patrinia do move about but I have the space for it. The one I’m worried about is Inula racemosa ‘Sonnenspeer’, which seeds itself like crazy. I’ve read it was one of Wolfgang Oehme’s favorite plants. I love the plant, particularly when it’s dead in winter, but I need to find an easy way to control its spread. The Pulmonarias are Samurai. Thanks for the Thalictrum name. I’ll check it out.

      1. I’ll be curious to hear if and how you find that balance with the Inula spreading. I’ve been experimenting more with combining aggressive plants and letting them battle it out, but even for that, you really need the space.

        And thanks for the Pulmonaria name. Going to check it out.

  10. This is a wonderful photomontage of your garden, revealing the tremendous amount of work that has gone into your garden. I am especially interested in the progress of the hornbeam hedge. I have admired them in other, older gardens, so to watch your progress from a very young stage will be interesting.

    1. The hornbeam has grown very slowly, but this year it put on substantial new growth. I’m hoping it makes a slow start and will develop faster now. It’s at about four feet, and needs to add another four.

  11. An amazing walk! It takes a while to absorb the pictures, I imagine it would be even more impressive in real life. Thanks
    So many different structural elements, textures, shades, colors; but I especially like how well the garden works with the larger trees which predate it. It really ties together.

  12. Thanks for the special tour for those of us who were unable to attend the event. So lovely. . . and interesting. You would have had a hard time getting rid of me that day — so many plants to examine and discuss.

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