Return to the Perennials Forum | Post a Follow-Up

visitors bearing gifts....!

Posted by woodyoak 5 (Canada) (My Page) on
Wed, Jul 23, 14 at 11:51

Rouge and SunnyBorders dropped by yesterday for a pleasant afternoon in the garden. I now have a Spigelia to replace the ones that died out in the wet corner a few years ago - thank you Rouge. I think I will plant this one at the end of the north alley where it can be seen from the patio but be in the moist zone from where the downspouts provide water for the Astilboides. And thanks to SunnyBorders I now have a very nice Gaelic Magic pulmonaria to find a place for in my shady borders :-) I will probably be letting it fraternize promiscuously (tsk tsk!) with existing pulmonarias as I like them mostly for the appealing patterns on the leaves.

Image Hosting by

BTW SB - I meant to show you DH's Bionic rose gauntlets before you left yesterday but forgot.... Here is a picture of them, and one of DH using them. They provide much more protection to your arms than regular garden gloves
Image Hosting by
Image Hosting by

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: visitors bearing gifts....!

Woody, you lucky gal, I love pulmonarias in fact I just bought 'High Contrast' it really does live up to it's name. I haven't seen 'Gaelic Magic' in my neck of the wood, if I had I would have snapped it up :). I've never grown 'Spigelia' looks like a very interesting little plant. It's nice to get together with like minded gardeners isn't it, I know I always enjoy it.


RE: visitors bearing gifts....!

Thank you, Woody.

I'd highly recommend Woody both for her garden and for her hospitality.

Actually Woody has two distinct gardens: a sunny one in front and a shady one behind, each with lots to learn.

Thanks also for the strawberry plants;
also for the picture of the rose gauntlets above.
I think I'll warm up to roses again!
(PS: Tell the model he's a natural.)

RE: visitors bearing gifts....!

Sounds like a lovely time!

(those are some serious gloves!)

RE: visitors bearing gifts....!

  • Posted by mxk3 z5b/6 MI (My Page) on
    Fri, Jul 25, 14 at 0:04

Sounds like you guys had a nice day! :0)

I have similar gloves -- leather gauntlets, wouldn't work with the roses without them!

RE: visitors bearing gifts....!

It's always fun to have other gardeners come for a visit! It's hard to know what your garden looks like through someone else's eyes though. So I have some questions for Rouge and SB.... But first, a long preamble :-)

As SB mentioned above, there are two distinct garden areas here - the sunny front garden where the majority of the flowers are, and the shady 'woodland' backyard. The side alley gardens are transition spaces, with sun-lovers at the front yard end, changing to shade-lovers at the backyard end. I plant some sun lovers (most notably Persicaria polymorpha) in the shady backyard, and some shade lovers (e.g. Rodgersia) in the sunny front yard to provide some continuity between the otherwise quite different spaces. Also, the path network in the garden connects the two through the alley gardens - you can follow the paths continuously through both front and back gardens, no matter where you initially get on the path. Because of the layout and orientation of the house, very little of the front garden is visible from within the house - the backyard garden is what is mainly seen from within the house. Other than when working in it, the flowery front garden is mainly seen by us when leaving the house or returning home, or when walking past it when walking the dog. So the main 'audience' for the front garden is visitors, the neighbours, and passers-by! While the 'woodland' backyard has a cohesive, calm feel, to me, the front garden feels more restless and unfocused. I think I do a reasonably good job of making good plant combinations, But I always seem to be trying to 'fix' the front garden to make it feel more cohesive. (In the backyard I add or move plants regularly too but it's more to enhance what's there, rather than to 'fix' the appearance.) So, the questions for Rouge and SB....

Does my description of the front vs. the back match your experience with the garden? What things/areas appealed to you and what didn't? What would you change or 'fix' and how?

Question for all the rest of you :-) Do you struggle with this sort of issue re trying to make things feel cohesive rather than a collection of individual spaces, or have I just read too many esoteric garden books and am obsessing about something that isn't really a practical concern in a small-scale domestic garden?

RE: visitors bearing gifts....!

I agree with your thoughts above.

In a very much shade garden (one where so much of the space gets little direct sunlight) the focus is on foliage i.e. textures and to I think a lesser extent colours. And so I think it is easier to achieve what you have called "cohesiveness". As you have said your shade garden is just green and white.

In exciting contrast in your very much sun garden, as in probably many large sun gardens, there is a rainbow of bright colours due to flowers and so much lesser because of least at first glance.

'woody', how would you envision a sun garden so that it isn't "restless and unfocused"? At first thought this might be done through mass plantings or with symmetrically planted borders? Have you seen residential full sun gardens that appeal to your organized self. I am curious as to what you would envision.

'woody', as you know this was my second tour of your property and I learned more this time than the first. I love what you and your DH have done. I hope that you can find time for me each season for a tour.

(I realized after the fact that I took almost no pictures, so engaged as I was with what I saw. But I see I did take a snap of your impressive "Moth" hydrangea.)

RE: visitors bearing gifts....!

Rouge - my problem is that I don't have an answer to the question re how do you make a full sun, perennial/mixed garden not feel restless and unfocused. I was hoping you guys or someone else here might have some ideas..... One thing that strikes me as I think about the issue is that there is - to my knowledge at least - no natural environment where perennial flowers grow together in the way they are grown in a garden. A woodland garden has a natural woodland ecology as a reference point; prairie-style and various types of dryland gardens have ecological reference landscapes, and I think that helps to give the gardens based on them a natural sense of coherence. But all the reference gardens for perennial gardens or mixed borders are man-made ones where aesthetic design principles, the specific setting, the culture and fashions of a particular time and place, and the personality of the garden-maker are what shape the garden. The lack of an objective (natural) reference point makes it harder - for me at least! - to try to create something that looks good as a unified whole without feeling like it is ersatz something-or-other :-) I don't know what the answer is - or if the answer is that there isn't one and I' m making a mountain out of a mole-hill ( too much time on my hands to do too much reading and thinking about obscure garden design issues!)

The garden is always open for tours, especially from other gardeners...

Those 'White Moth' hydrangeas are my favourites. They bloom for a long time. The blooms stay white until they fade - no change to pink. The flowers are so big and beautiful.

RE: visitors bearing gifts....!

how do you make a full sun, perennial/mixed garden not feel restless and unfocused

I have seen mass plantings which of course show organization. A very memorable one I saw was at the U Guelph Arboretum a few years ago was a sea of Eryngium. In bloom it was stunning but past its prime it was yucky.

Also I find that symmetry in a border regardless of what comes behind it seems to give organization to the whole.

RE: visitors bearing gifts....!

Yes, I think effectively what you're saying - and I am coming to accept now I think - is that I have to stop seeking for some 'natural' answer and find a way to apply the 'rules' to make the sunny garden feel more coherent and calm. I do like things like symmetry (there is some there but it's often fairly subtle/half-hidden), shaping negative space (e.g. the grass path between the main bed and the 'moat' bed), and strong lines (e.g. the brick edging and the paths in/around the beds). I had a 'light bulb' moment when looking at the garden this morning - a good part of the reason the front garden feels particularly restless and unfocused this year is due to the loss of the big butterfly bush! The height that added to the south end of the bed was important as a balance to the tall cedar clump at the north end of the bed, and also kept the height of the plants from being too monotonous - with that bush gone, most of the rest of the things are all in the 3-4' tall range. Eventually the Weigela florida 'Variegata' might get tell enough to provide the missing balance - but it might not! I need to think of what I could plant there that would get about 8' tall and could be treated as a quasi-tree... Hmmm... Anything come to mind....?

Rouge - you were interested in the patch of old-fashioned garden mums in the north driveway border. Here is a picture of it in bloom October 12 last year:
Image Hosting by
They need to be kept very short up until early July when I stop cutting them back and let them set flowerbuds. The stems are weak so they're very floppy without the pinching back. They still eventually flop over with the weight of the blooms, but not until late - they have a long bloom period. You can see them in the background (behind the pots waiting to be moved into the garage for winter storage) in this rather messy picture from Nov. 10 last year :
Image Hosting by

 o Post a Follow-Up

Please Note: Only registered members are able to post messages to this forum.

    If you are a member, please log in.

    If you aren't yet a member, join now!

Return to the Perennials Forum

Information about Posting

  • You must be logged in to post a message. Once you are logged in, a posting window will appear at the bottom of the messages. If you are not a member, please register for an account.
  • Please review our Rules of Play before posting.
  • Posting is a two-step process. Once you have composed your message, you will be taken to the preview page. You will then have a chance to review your post, make changes and upload photos.
  • After posting your message, you may need to refresh the forum page in order to see it.
  • Before posting copyrighted material, please read about Copyright and Fair Use.
  • We have a strict no-advertising policy!
  • If you would like to practice posting or uploading photos, please visit our Test forum.
  • If you need assistance, please Contact Us and we will be happy to help.

Learn more about in-text links on this page here