Walating on the garden tour - part 2

woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)June 21, 2009

This afternoon was the second part of the local garden tour - 5 gardens today. The first two we saw were multi-million dollar homes. Both had naturalistic type plantings, particularly in the back. Lots of stones involved for paths and stairs. But the most interesting thing in the first garden was this rather unique bird feeder! (Since it was open, I'm sure it is a general wildlife feeder...) The birdseed is the center of the flower:

The second garden was on a steep lot at the edge of the floodplain of a local creek. Because it was so steep and had lots of massive stone stairs, it was not accessible for me. But the owner actually had the house open too - because it was built to bring the garden inside (not literally) - there were two story walls of windows and balconies at various places to sit and look down on the garden. It was gorgeous! And the guy was a very nice, friendly garden enthusiast too. We didn't get a good picture of the part I liked best - that was looking down on a large stone stairway interplanted with hostas, ferns and (I think) some sort of pachysandra type stuff. It was a perfect symphony of shades of light, vibrant green. The front garden was drought tolerant with the lawn removed. The new 'lawn' was the best thyme lawn I've seen. These pictures don't do either the front or back justice but will give you some idea of the space:

The rest of the gardens were small and 'ordinary' suburban gardens. The pictures are mainly of little things that particularly caught our eyes.

It's hard to tell the scale but these are the larges alliums Randy has ever seen - they're about 10" across!

Randy's a sucker for butterflies :-) and he found one in a beautybush:

And he was fascinated with this rose - I think it's Fourth of July:

This rose and clematis combination was nice. The shape of the yellow rose was unusual but there was no identification for it and the Hort. Soc. hosts didn't know what its name is:

This was a beautiful combination of a yellow tree peony and golden forest grass:

This was a cute sign we liked. The fence/wall behind it was covered with clematis (only a few in bloom). This was the garden that, in our opinion, took the prize for the neatest garden - immaculate edging; not a weed in sight!

So that was the garden tour for this year.... We ran into the two coordinators of the tour. One of them lives not far from here and walks by regularly obviously because she know everything that was blooming here at the moment! She particularly likes the roses and, of course, the Vyvyan Pennell clematis. Here are both of those as they looked when we got home this afternoon:

Vyvyan Pennell - still trying to be a dwarf!

Blanc Double de Coubert rose with angel roses hiding her bare legs:

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gardenbug(Canada zone 5)

I bet the tour coordinator watched every step of your front yard expansion this spring! I like the thyme lawn too. DD and DSIL removed most of theirs because they could not deal with the weeds in it. But then they have planted thyme in their front pathway. Go figure!
Lovely butterfly! I like all the yellows...but I know it isn't your favorite garden color. ;)
Thanks for the tour!

    Bookmark   June 21, 2009 at 5:45PM
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deanneart(z5Southern NH)

Beautiful photos and gardens Woody. One of my favorite things in garden tours is to see all the different uses for the same plants.... Every garden has a different feel and it depends on the personalties of the gardeners. It is all about creativity isnt' it? and the love of growing things unites us all.

Your 'Vyvyan Pennell' is FABULOUS! I'm jealous. I can't get mine to bloom like that. I must move it someplace else.


    Bookmark   June 21, 2009 at 6:13PM
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Woody that Vyvyan Pennell is just spectacular !
I would love a Thyme lawn, but fear it in an impratical chioce for me. I use it on a path area and it seems to work ok there-I am using 'Elfin' Thyme. I agree the ID on 4th of July..Very nice butterfly pic too ! Randy is earning his garden-photo stripes !

Thanks for the WALAT !

Kathy in Napa

    Bookmark   June 21, 2009 at 6:22PM
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Interesting stuff Woody. I am fascinated by the bird feeder. I love the clematis and yellow rose combo.

Your Vyvyan Pennell is gorgeous even if she is short. What is the plant next to it?

Thanks for sharing.

The watergardening society is have tours next weekend around the St. Louis area. I have been planning on going but if this heat wave continues as it is supposed to, I don't know if it will be worth it this year.


    Bookmark   June 21, 2009 at 6:28PM
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I can imagine your Vyvyan P. hiding the legs of BlancDC. You get clematis to do the most amazing things! Virtual garden tours are the next best thing to being there. Thanks, Woody.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2009 at 7:53PM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

gb - yes, I know the tour coordinator that lives near here was watching the new bed go in - because she stopped in one day when Laurie and I were working on it! We gave her a tour of the garden so she could see the changes sice 2006 when we were on the tour. We talked about the possibility in a year or two of including our garden again, along with the neighbour to the north, the neighbour across the street (who was on the tour in 2005 and was probably the reason we were contacted for the 2006 tour) and another neighbour across the street and down two houses who is in the process of greatly enlarging her garden. Gardening is the neighbourhood competitive sport :-) so there's no shortage of gardens to choose from on this street and the one behind us! She mentioned it again when we ran into her at one of the gardens. They have a policy of not 'repeating' gadens until 5 years have passed so the issue isn't likely to come up until 2011.

That thyme lawn was completely weed free! I suspect a garden service of some sort is involved on the property....

I just don't want a lot of yellow in my garden because there is a huge chunk of yellow in it already - the house! If I did have yellow in the garden, what I'd like to do with it is make a yellow garden as a feature for a section of the garden rather than mixed in. I have a lot of relatively monochrome/limited color range areas - that appeals to me a lot. I loved the peony/golden grass combo. In the same bed there was also euonymus with golden centers to the leaves and some gold juniper. I thought what needed to be done was eliminate most of the other stuff in the bed and make it a much more concentrated yellow bed! It would have been stunning I think. There was a lot of strong blue in the house trim and garden furniture and a gold bed would have complimented it wonderfully.

Deanne - I agree that one of the fun things on the tour is seeing the personality in the gardens - they were all very individual and it's also interesting to see what it was that caught our eye in each. It makes me wonder what were the things that people focussed on here. Vyvyan Pennell, I know, was it for a lot of people! I've been thinking a lot about why that blooms the way it does. I have concluded that maybe the reason is the soil. I gather clematis likes things on the alkaline side. The soil there must be very alkaline - there's the concrete curb at the edge of the bed; the driveway goes right up to the bed and the base under the asphalt is limestone road base stuff; the porch is supported by concrete in sonotubes; and our soil here tends to be on the alkaline side in general. So, if you're moving the Pennell, maybe move it to somewhere near concrete - or add lime to where it is now? I give it some clematis fertilizer in spring because I know the soil there is VERY poor - clay, dry because it's under the roof overhang, winter salt ends up there from the driveway - and so on... It's amazing it survives at all! Maybe it's doing the 'bloom like mad/reproduce before you die' thing :-)

Kathy - Randy has always been great at the close-up garden pictures. It's getting him to take 'big picture' views that are hard - he's naturally a detail kind of person....

Norma - the plant next to Vyvyan Pennell is Rodgersia aesculifolia. It's a fabulous thing - wonderful leaves and great flowers too. Rodgersias are one of gb's favorites too - right gb...?

Denise - there is a x durandii growing in the BDC rose - and not doing anything worth talking about! Vyvyan is in such tight quarters, there's no way I could dig it up so there it stays! I'm going to give it some more fertilizer after it finishes blooming and see if I can get it to put out new growth and climb the ropes you can see in the picture.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2009 at 8:19PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Woody, looks like you and Randy are having a good time. :-) The yellow tree peony with that grass, such a pretty combo. I have to say that I find your garden more interesting. [g] That Vyvyen Pennell is so full! Do you get just one flush of bloom on that? I am amazed at how large your BDDC rose is! I suppose it adds great fragrance to your front garden. Thanks for the tour. :-)

    Bookmark   June 26, 2009 at 7:02AM
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Marian_2(Z6 ARKozarks)

Woody, I enjoyed the tour, and espacially your own yard pics. I love that 'shrub' clematis. And I am envious of the roses.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2009 at 9:59AM
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Woody, I enjoyed the tour on this dank morning. I think the butterfly shot is terrific, Randy captured that one perfectly.

I think you're right about the cultural preference of Clematis, I know that lime is suggested for the planting holes here in New Enland where the native soil can oftentimes be quite acid. I love the combination of Viv. and the Rodgersia (a favorite), great mixture of delicate and rugged.

The Thyme lawn is super! I'd love one of those, too, had I an adequately sunny area for one (had I any sun, period!). I particularly like groundcovers and liked the combination of the junipers, the rocks, and the Veronica (?) spikes in the background.

I'm also mindful of accessibility issues, too, though it didn't start out that way. The paths began as practical ways to get the garden carts around and provide a place to stroll while taking the dogs outdoors early in the morning and at night. But the benefit became clear when Mum was living here. And we've opted to stick with it. In fact, we've inceased the width of some paths and it's a dream to continue a level, graciously wide path through the wooded area that is on the south side of the property. I am always mindful of your comments on accessibility which I find particualarly interesting and helpful.

Beautiful gardens and I have little doubt yours will be featured in the not so distant future.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2009 at 6:38AM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

PM - yes, so far at least, Randy and I are having a good time :-) He's coming along nicely as a garden helper too - he did a lot of deadheading for me yesterday and helped tie in new growth on the rose swag. He likes roses and I think will probably take over most of the rose care eventually. I think he's particularly intrigued with the development of the swag - although the swag idea was one of those that generated a lot of eye-rolling when I first suggested it a few years ago! :-)

The BDC rose is definitely a big one. It's in it's own bed where paths go all around it. Those pretty white flowers turn to brown mush as they fade so it needs to be placed such that it is easy to deadhead! (Deadheading BDC was a large part of Randy's deadheading chores yesterday - and it still needs more again today - it produces LOTS of flowers!) And it has a very pleasant fragrance that does indeed 'travel' quite a distance.

Vyvyan will produce single flowers on new growth in late summer - but she hasn't produced many since she decided to stay so short. After this bloom phase finishes in a week or so I think I'll give her a good shot of clematis ferilizer to see if that will help perk her up and produce new growth that I can get to climb up again. She must be pretty exhausted after producing all those flowers....

Marian - I'm not really a rose grower because I can't stand any that need fussing! I refuse to do it... However, I seem to have accumulated some roses now that are able to hold their own in the garden. I'm rather surprised to look around and see how much of a show they are putting on - regardless of aphids....! :-)

Chelone - We like the Rodgersia and Vyvyan combination too - one of those happy accident pairings... I can tell that it particularly appeals to Randy because he took a picture of it - He rarely says 'I like that...' but if he takes a picture of something without me asking him to, I know it's something that particularly appeals to him :-)

I think paths add a lot to the garden. Accessibility is certainly a key one for me, but I have increasingly seen their value as an attractive way to shape the garden and direct the eyes as well as the feet! The paths that define the rectangular lawn in the backyard and the grass path in the front added a great deal of interest to the overall garden. And it's impossible to resist following a path that leads off deeper into the garden. I keep my paths simple - a combination of bark mulch and concrete sand. That's more accessible for me - stepping stones or rough stone slab paths, pea gravel, or paving stones that have shifted with freeze-thaw cycles and have becone uneven are all very bad for walking on if you have disability issues... I think the width of a path, as long as it is at least 30-36" if it is meant for walking, depends a lot on proportions of what's around it and what it is intended for. A narrow 'deer trail' type path can be just as functional and attractive as a wide open 'logging trail' one in a wooded area. Which one you choose would probably depend on how 'open' the woods are and what you want to move on the path. It would probably make sense to have the end of the path that connects to the cultivated parts of the garden be wider and open while the paths deeper in the woods narrow as the woods close in - unless you need to move equipment through the woods or are making a wide 'ride'. I think paths are one of those context-sensitive things that involve a lot of 'gut feel' decision-making :-)

    Bookmark   June 28, 2009 at 11:26AM
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Woody, I found myself nodding my head in agreement reading your astute comments on paths. Though I love brick paths, I only have one, opting elsewhere for paths that are easily moveable  lawn, stepping stones, bark etc. Since my garden is small , the rule that paths be wide enough to accommodate 2 people side by side is impossible to observe here- the planting areas would be reduced by half I expect. I think the placement and route are so important to the overall design of the garden  and in mine one has to be very creative to include a Âdestination ..I have limited results with this. ÂContext Sensitive to be sure.

Kathy in Napa

    Bookmark   June 28, 2009 at 10:55PM
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I nodded along with "context sensitive", too. Our property is large compared to those of several of you. And because the plantings are spread out and still very much in progress there is the necessity of access for equipment.

I was very much influenced by my visit to Versailles and several other very large estates we've visited with respect to paths. Not the formal parterres but the lovely, gracious surrounding groves that are accessed by the gravel paths. Not only do they invite walking, but they allow the grounds crew to maintain the wooded areas with minimal destruction to the area. I was also inspired by my late FIL, a landscape architect who worked on several of the state parks and many public areas, places where secure pathways are non-negotiable. He patiently explained to me that there are always sacrifices required when accessing more remote areas so the character of the area may be fully enjoyed by many. You have to give up something to gain something and therefore you must move carefully within the context of a plan. Progress can be incremental and accomplished over time but only if you have first spent the time to consider carefully what you hope to accomplish long term. I have striven to keep that in mind whenever we've undertaken a project. And it's often a source of frustration because we are constrained by cost and must do the work ourselves, subbing out only that which we cannot do ourselves. But those very same constraints have often saved us from making costly mistakes by forcing us to look and think carefully over the course of time.

We have opted for a stonedust base for the major paths. Yes, there are maintenance issues with respect to weeds but it is the required first step in their construction and it's what provides the necessary drainage to minimize heaving in freeze/thaw cycles. I recall he used 15% of the cost of the home's construction as the basic figure that should be added for landscaping; the more complex the hardscaping the more the percentage should be increased. I'm sure that guideline has changed in the decades in between as tastes and trends have changed, but even so, it's a sobering figure to contemplate.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2009 at 6:33AM
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There is also something to be said Chelone, for the satisfaction of designing, and implementing the plan yourself-within reason of course. I try to do as much as possible on my own, but the hardscaping portion often requires professional intervention- which must be paid for. The other nice feature of the hireing out is the speed in which things get done-hopefully.They can do it alot faster than I can.

Kathy in Napa

    Bookmark   June 29, 2009 at 10:05PM
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