Trade Secrets 2018- Wethersfield Garden

Thankfully the weather held out for the Sunday Garden tours this year unlike Saturday’s Garden and Rare Plant Sale at Lion Rock Farm. Wethersfield Garden in Amenia, NY is a beautifully manicured ten acre garden surrounding the home of the late Chauncey D. Stillman. The gardens were created in a classical style similar to the Italian villas found in the 17th century.

In every direction the Garden takes full advantage of the views and creates rooms and spaces with statues, steps, water features and plant materials. It was created on a north-south and east-west axis by Landscape Architect Bryan J. Lynch and then Evelyn N. Poehler.

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The Garden relies on the architecture of varying shades and textures of plant material that marry themselves into the natural landscape starting immediately upon arrival in the East Garden. Besides the sculpted yews there are Korean dogwoods, azaleas, lilacs, rhododendrons and magnolias. The four corners of this garden feature the most magnificent European Weeping Beech trees trimmed into cylindrical shape. Sorry the Garden geek in me was drooling!

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The north wall in the East Garden features the Cupid Fountain surrounded by a fieldstone retaining wall that supports Sedum, Campanula and Ivy.

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When you look to the south through the Arborvitae Arch which is flanked by two figurines playing pipes the views of the countryside unfold. These statues are called the “Pan Pipers”. This area features Witch Hazel, Hawthorne, Elderberry and Gray Dogwood.

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The reflecting pool has a black interior that allows the surrounding shrubs to reflect onto the water’s surface. The surrounding yews are shaped into globes and cones.

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The Inner Garden was originally designed when the house was built.

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In the Knot Garden the flower tubs on either sides of the steps supposedly were designed by the architect Stanford White so they plant them with white petunias in his honor.

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The Pine Terrace so named for the White Pine in the center of the stone terrace. A goldfish pond with its frogs and Iris and Agapanthas and Clivia that attract hummingbirds.

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The Allee is flanked with Cupid urns that encourage “silence” in the garden. This area features a 12′ wide lawn and a bronze statute “Naiad” by a Swedish sculptor Carl Milles.

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The Trade Secrets Garden tours are always a wonderful opportunity to tour private gardens that we can get ideas from for our own gardens even if only in our dreams.

Attracting Pollinators to your Garden

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Black Eyed Susans – Rudbeckia

Pollinators are crucial to the production of most fruits, nuts and berries including apples, oranges, tomatoes and blueberries.  There are many plants that will attract hummingbirds, butterflies and bees to your property.  In order to attract these pollinators plant a succession of blooming annuals, perennials and shrubs so pollen is available throughout the growing season. Planting flowers in large drifts and different shapes will also help attract pollinators. Just as we can’t find a ‘needle in a haystack’ neither can they.  One plant will not say ‘COME HERE’ to my yard!  Be Bold!

Butterflies are attracted to red, yellow, and purple blossoms that are flat topped or clustered and have short flower tubes and they prefer to feed only in the sun. Sunflowers, Zinnias, Lupines, Red-osier Dogwood,  Chokecherry and Asters are a few. Female butterflies select specific plants on which to lay their eggs. The Monarch butterfly relies on Ascelpias – Butterfly weed as it serves as a Host and Nectar plant.

 

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Verbena bonariensis
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Yarrow

Hummingbirds are attracted to scarlet, orange, red or white tubular flowers sipping nectar from long tubular honeysuckle flowers as well as Verbena, Zinnias and Penstemon.

Bees are attracted to bright white, yellow or blue and purple flowers so plant several colors in your yard to attract a variety of pollinators such as Black-eyed Susan’s and Sunflowers. Bees, unlike Hummingbirds and Butterflies feed only on flowers gathering nectar and pollen.

You will get hours of enjoyment watching the hummingbirds and butterflies dance around your garden and think of all the cut flowers you will have for bouquets!

Some Plants that attract polliantors:

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Joe Pye Weed

 

 

 

 

 

Salvia guaranitica; Asceplias; Agastache; Asters; Verbena bonariensis; Rudbeckia – Black-eyed Susans; Lavender; Lespedeza;  Leucanthemum- Daisy; Ligularia, Coreposis, Helianthus annus- Sunflowers; Baptisa, Catmint, Solidago – Goldenrod, (not to be confused with Ragweed); Lilacs, Antirrhinum – Snapdragons; Buddleia – Butterfly Bush; Zinnias, Penstemon; Phlox; Allium, Cosmos, Monarda- Bee balm- Eupatorium- Joe Pye weed; Columbine; Echinacea- Coneflower; Achillea millefolium – Yarrow to name just a few.

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Bleeding Hearts – Dicentra spectabilis

 

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Phlox ‘David’
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Zinnias

A great source for plants to attract butterflies, bees and hummingbirds to your garden is White Flower Farm.  They can help you select a variety of plants to keep a steady supply of pollen and nectar available all throughout the growing season. You can find them at  White Flower Farm

 

Do you want more ideas for Pollinators? Here is a previous Blog-A few more Pollinators

A Day in the Country- Trade Secrets

With Trade Secrets being this weekend in CT I thought you might be interested in this blog I wrote several years ago on the Saturday event which is always a widely anticipated event by plant geeks everywhere.  People come from far and wide to attend, booking their hotel rooms a year in advance!  Many of the vendors come every year so although this blog is from several years ago the information is very relevant to this weekends show in Sharon!

Trade Secrets is a two-day event which started 18 years ago in Bunny Williams backyard. This event is the foremost fundraiser for Women’s Support Services which offers crisis intervention, counseling and education, as well as legal, medical, and housing assistance to fulfill its mission of creating a community free of domestic violence.  Women’s Support Services is a nonprofit organization that provides free and confidential aid to victims of domestic violence and abuse. WSS provides a 24 hour hotline, (860) 364.1900 short-term emergency shelter, counseling, legal advocacy, education and emergency support for those in need.

The proceeds from Trade Secrets 2018 will help WSS fund programs that teach children about healthy relationships and conflict resolution and will help fund operation of their 24-hour hotline. If you missed it this year mark your calendar for next year like Martha Stewart.

“Sadly 1 in 4 women experience domestic violence in their lives” (National Violence Against Women Survey, 2000)

The mission of WSS is to create a community free of domestic violence and abuse through intervention, prevention and education.

Trade Secrets is the premiere Rare Plant & Garden Antique Sale of the season on Saturday with Private Garden tours on Sunday! Today I will take you on a tour of the Rare Plant & Garden Antique Sale.

The plant and antique sale is held yearly at Lion Rock Farm in Sharon, CT.  This is a stunning property overlooking Amenia, NY located in one of the most scenic areas in northwest CT. There were antiques of every variety, rare plants that you can only find here as well as perennials, vegetables and annuals for sale.  There are trees and shrubs, containers and planters, statuary and towers, peonies, roses, and lavender.  You name it and I am sure you can find it here.

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Lion Rock Farm
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Plant towers

Plants in every shape and color to buy

 

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Lion Rock Farm
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Pool at Lion Rock
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Lion Rock
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Pots from Campo de’ Fiori, Sheffield, MA
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Topiaries in all shapes and sizes

 

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Ready for take off

 

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Every garden needs one of these

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Need backyard furniture?

 

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Splish, splash!

 

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I want this gate!

 

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Antiques

 

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Lilacs

Bye till next year!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Take time to smell the ROSES!

Roses are perhaps my favorite flower!  There are so many varieties, some with glorious fragrances, others with prickly thorns that always seem to get me through my garden gloves.  Roses are quite versatile in the garden as they can be used in mixed borders, as a hedge, in a Rose only border as climbers or container plants and of course they make wonderful cut flowers.  Planting in groups of three or more makes a big impact if that is what you are after. What is your favorite way to use Roses?

My favorite roses are David Austin English Roses www.davidaustinroses.com but there are many other types of Roses.  Knock-Out Roses are very useful in the landscape as well.  Roses are very adaptable plants and look great in a mixed border which is my preference. They continue to flower when many other plants are finished blooming providing color right through the end of the growing season here in CT.

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Over The Moon

One of my favorites is ‘Heritage’ which has a medium sized cup shaped bloom.  It is a soft, clear pink at its center and the the outer petals are almost white. Thankfully for me it has very few thorns and is a nicely shaped shrub.  The fragrance makes it one of my favorite for cut flower arrangements.

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David Austin Heritage Rose

I have finally gotten ‘Munstead Wood’ and Old Rose Hybrid that I have coveted for years. It is a very deep velvety crimson. Hopefully this will take hold and become a lovely bushy shrub.  They supposedly have good disease resistance so that is always a plus when it comes to Roses. The new leaves are a lovely reddish bronze and it has a very strong Old Rose fragrance that is a little on the fruity side. I am very excited for this to really take off.

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David Austin ‘Munstead Wood’

Another new Rose for me is ‘Princess Anne’.  This rose is a deep pink and blooms for a long period.  An added benefit for sure! The blooms are in large clusters and this Rose has a medium Tea Rose fragrance.  This too should become a lovely compact, bushy, upright shrub.

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David Austin ‘Princess Anne’

I couldn’t talk about Roses without showing you one of my all time stars – ‘Winchester Cathedral’.  I have a few of these and have moved them with me from property to property since I can’t bear to leave them behind.  This is an Old Rose Hybrid with a lovely fragrance of honey and almond and is a pure white Rose with just a touch of pink at the center. There are masses of flowers on this shrub and it blooms at different intervals during the season. It would be a superb selection for anywhere in your garden whether in mixed borders, hedges or flower beds. I can’t get enough of this Rose!

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David Austin ‘Winchester Cathedral’
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David Austin ‘Winchester Cathedral’

Another of my favorites is David Austin ‘Graham Thomas’ but it did not bloom this past year as I have transplanted it now so many times.  This year I hope to see that lovely pure yellow bloom once more. This is one of the best known of the English Roses and is usually very vigorous and fragrant.

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David Austin Graham Thomas

There are other varieties of Roses as I mentioned earlier, Climbing Roses, Knock-Out Roses, Shrub Roses.  Here are some more photos to entice you into planting at least one rose bush this year whatever type suits your fancy!

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Pink Knock Out Roses

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Noble Anthony Rose

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Villa Cimbrone, Ravello, IT Rose

More from the home of Linda Allard. Sorry I don’t know the varieties.

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“What’s in a name? That which we call a Rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”

William Shakespeare

Garden Ornaments and its finally time to get out in the Garden!

Art in the Garden is certainly not a new idea.  It provides a practical purpose as a place for the eye to rest or be drawn to. It can be artsy, a container, a sculpture, a spiritual figure, an arbor, water feature or any type of vessel.  It provides structural definition and architecture to the garden.  It creates geometry.

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Hummingbird birdbath

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This can also be accomplished with clipped shapes or allee’s which emphasize the geometry of your garden.  In these instances maybe boxwoods or trees create the geometry and symmetry.

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Clipped boxwoods, Vessel, Tulips

Merge your art into your planting beds.  Your plants should be the frosting on the cake!

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Water fountain among the Daisies and bee balm
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Fun garden art in among the peonies
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Nepeta with Statuary among the flowers
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Water fountain

I spent today pruning shrubs, cleaning up leaves, removing the thick layer of mulch I put down around my roses and tender perennials.  Finally I think we may have turned the corner and I took off the burlap coats that I bundled some of my newly transplanted roses and hydrangeas in last fall. I think the Boxwood that I have now transplanted 3 times made it thru as did my new Oakleaf Hydrangeas.

Use garden supports to create winter interest and structure.

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Be whimsical

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Always when planning your garden start with the structure of the property!  In reality 20% – 50% of your garden should be evergreen and shrubs.  Remember we talked a few weeks ago about planting for winter interest.  We need to think of our gardens as a year round canvas.  A low maintenance garden might include 40% evergreens, 35% deciduous shrubs and 25% perennials, ground covers and bulbs. Try planting in masses of 9 -50 for broad sweeps of color, texture and pattern.

The goal is to create layers of interest throughout the year. Vertical elements will frame the garden views. Pay attention to the view from your windows.  Where do you most often see your garden from inside.  Create focal points around these axis points when creating major elements of your landscape, patios and walls.

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Out the kitchen window

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Pay attention to the traffic flow throughout the garden. Of course, you must remember sun and shade and check your Zone when selecting plants. Create different rooms in your garden so there is always something just around the corner and consider a separation of public and private space.  There should be a reason to continue to meander through. Collect pictures that speak to you style, feelings and the light in your space.  Dream as big as possible then evaluate your site. If you have an amazing view try to frame it, almost like a photograph!

If you are starting from scratch, I recommend a qualified garden designer.  Like any renovation the job is always bigger than we anticipate and a knowledgeable professional can guide you thru the pitfalls.  Remember that plants take time to mature. I usually tell people it takes 3 years for perennials to start to reach their full potential.  If a plant is really struggling maybe try it in a different spot.  Is it getting the correct amount of light and water.

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Hydrangea ‘Pink Diamond’ on left with Loosestrife

 

Remember that every property has its assets and limitations created by sun and shade, soil and water.  There are always plants that will thrive in each condition.  Match the plants to the site and include ornamentals.  Instead of all your containers being on the porch move them out into the flower garden where you can add some height and dimension.  Plants requiring special needs can find a home here.  Don’t forget to mix vegetables into your flower beds.  No one says vegetables all need to be in a separate bed!  I mix my herbs, especially  sage, oregano, rosemary and chives into my beds. Last year I experimented with Kale and loved it!  The dark green leaves were an awesome contrast to the surrounding plants and help hide some struggling shrubs that I transplanted, yet again!

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Artichokes

Pay attention to the labels.  We are all guilty of going to the garden center and falling in love with this and that only to realize we have brought home something that will not work in our landscape.  Full sun means sun for the greater part of the day, typically 6 hours or more.  Daylilies for example.  Shade can be a little challenging.  We see full shade, part shade, dappled shade, light shade, so confusing right!  Full shade really means full shade for the entire day.  Plants that need full shade often get scorched when sunlight fades them out. When considering part shade morning sun is always preferable as it is not as strong.  Avoid afternoon sun when possible. Light shade means 2-3 hours of shade during the hottest part of the day. There are literally many, many plants for any given situation. Just like with painting, preparation is key.  If you take the time to properly prepare your garden beds you will find success.

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Try to get out and visit public gardens to see what combinations they have on display. Note how the plant is growing.  Is it in shade, sun, water, very moist conditions. Remember that foliage is truly important as no perennials or shrub blooms all year. Plan your garden with a succession of bloom by selecting plants that bloom at different times of the season and then sit back and enjoy the show!

Hiking in CT – Lover’s Leap State Park

Lover’s Leap is a Connecticut State park located in New Milford along the Housatonic River and straddles the Housatonic Gorge. The history of this park is dark and full of mystery! The signature attraction is the red wrought-iron bridge built in 1895 and one of four iron lenticular truss bridges remaining in Connecticut. It rises 100′ above the rocky gorge below. Don’t look down if you are afraid of heights!

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This historic bridge is listed on the National Register of Historic Places

The legend of this park dates back hundreds of years to Native American Princess Lillinonah, the daughter of Chief Waramaug of the Pootatuck Indians. The Chief died in 1735. There are a variety of scenarios of what happened but one says that she fell in love with an Englishman who she married but while he was gone on business she supposedly jumped from the rocks at the top of the mountain when he didn’t return in the time frame expected.  When he returned and learned of her fate he also jumped into the river to be with his love. There are many variations on this story so who knows! Some say she canoed to her death into the ‘Great Falls’ ( now 14′ below the surface of the Housatonic since the construction of the Shepaug Dam) and when he returned he saw her in the rapids and leaped to his death in an attempt to save her.

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Lovers Leap Wrought Iron Bridge

The park has several hiking trails with beautiful views of the Housatonic River and overlooks Lake Lillinonah and a now submerged Goodyear Island named for an early fur trader who traded with the Indian community in this area.

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The LEAP over Lake Lillinonah

Part of this park once was the estate of Catherine Judson Hurd who bequeathed the land to the state for use as a public park. The native Americans occupied this site for over 8,000 years. It’s location was strategic for both observation and signaling.

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Housatonic River Gorge

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Hydrangeas

Hydrangeas can add drama to the garden whether pink, white, green or red.  They make great cut flowers!  Early spring is a perfect time to plant Hydrangeas because the ground is still cool so they are less likely to get stressed.

Hydrangeas are basically low maintenance shrubs and highlight the summer and fall gardens. Just prune occasionally for shape and they will serve you well. The key with Hydrangeas is to site them properly to start with so they have the appropriate room to grow and don’t need pruning. You should however remove spent flowers and dead wood. They prefer sun and some shade.  If you do need to prune it should be done after the years’ bloom cycle has ended to ensure blossoms for next year for some that is late summer or even late winter.

I’ll try to explain some of the many varieties of Hydrangeas:

Hydrangea Paniculata – Blooms on new wood and has large coned shaped flowers and are very cold hardy.

Hydrangeas
Hydrangeas

Quick Fire’ – turns a lovely rosey-pink in fall and blooms up to a month earlier than other Hydrangeas; Bobo’ – compact with lime green and violet blooms; Pinky Winky’ –  has large white panicles that turn turns pink at the base during the fall creating a two-toned effect; Pink Diamond’ – white blooms fade to pink and Limelight’ – huge, bright lime green panicles that changes to deep pink, red and burgundy in fall.

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Pink Diamond
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Hydrangea ‘Pink Diamond’
Hydrangea Pink Diamond
Hydrangea ‘Pink Diamond’ on left
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Hydrangea ‘Quick Fire’

Hydrangea Quercifolia – Oakleaf Hydrangeas – These have a lovely, peeling bark on older stems and a felt like bark on newer stems. They start out white and turn pink as the season progresses and have amazing burgundy red leaves in fall. Shown below is ‘Alice’ which I use in my garden in a group of 3.  Give it lots of room to spread out! The inflorescences are about 10-14″ long. Others to consider: ‘Snowflake’; ‘Ruby Slippers’ and ‘Gatsby Moon’

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Oakleaf Hydrangea in fall

Hydrangea macrophylla- “Bigleaf Hydrangeas” – these have large round mophead flowers particularly in June, July and August. They have beautiful dark green leaves and can provide some but not great fall color. Also in this category are the Lacecaps.

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Hydrangea ‘Bloomstruck ‘Endless Summer’

Flower color can be determined often by the acidity (blue-purple) or alkalinity (pink or red) of your soil. Some of these bloom on new growth as well as last year’s stems. So prune right after flowering to be safe if in doubt which you have. Deadheading spent blossoms unless you are going to dry them will help produce more blossoms.

Endless Summer – Bloomstruck’; ‘Nikko Blue’; ‘ColorFantasy’; and ‘Vanilla Strawberry’

Hydrangea arborescens or ‘Smooth Hydrangeas’ – which bloom May – June on new wood so they are good for colder climates although there is little fall leaf color. Most notably ‘Annabelle’ is one of the most hardy with large inflorescenses. Also ‘Incrediball’ is another variety

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‘Annabelle’  (Source: Missouri Botanical)

Yet another popular Hydrangea anomala petiolaris: the Climbing Hydrangea: This Hydrangea has lovely white lacecap blossoms and a thick vine that also produces horizontal branches and nice thick green leaves and clings to any structure. The bark is also distinctive with its cinnamon colored bark that exfoliates and is lovely in winter.

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Climbing Hydrangea (Source: Missouri Botanical)

 

A good source for Hydrangeas is White Flower Farm since they also ship if you are not in the CT area. www.whiteflowerfarm.com

Spring Arrangements & Flowering Plants

After a long winter I love to bring color back into my home as soon as possible. The houseplants have done their duty and brightened the gray days as best they can but now we all want some color!

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When planning your garden or rejuvenating it remember to plan for a variety of sizes, colors, sounds, shapes and textures to provide movement for the eye and a wide variety for bouquets and of course, to support pollinators.

Here are some early spring stars for bouquets that can be used to create the base or backbone of your floral arrangements:

Purple tulip
Tulips

Trees and shrubs – use the branches and flowers: Magnolia, Lilacs, Viburnum, Quince, Andromeda, Forsythia, Fothergilla, Ninebarks ( Physocarpus), Serviceberry (Amelanchier), Spirea, Deutzia, Azalea and Rhododendrons, Redbuds, Mock Orange, Red or Yellow Twig Dogwoods, Corylopsis (Winterhazel), Crabapples, Cherry and Apricot trees.

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Magnolia x soulangeana ‘Alexandrina’ saucer magnolia
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Flowering Cherry
Lilacs Robert Courturier
A Lilac allee’

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Forsythia on the Hudson River at NYBG

Spring flowers that are ideal for arrangements: Peonies, Hyacinths, Tulips, Daffodils, Lilacs, Alliums, Muscari, Pasque Flowers, Frittilaria, Roses, and Ranunculus to name a few!

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Muscari
Allium
Alliums
Daffodil field- Laurel Ridge
Daffodils as far as the eye can see!
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Pasque flower

Here are my top picks for more spring flowering perennials and bulbs.

Hellebores, Siberian Iris, Primrose, Feverfew, Alliums, Wisteria, Amsonia, Baptisa, Bleeding Hearts, Lady’s Mantle, Epimedium, Roses, Hypericum, Solomon’s Seal, Hosta leaves and Lobelias

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Bleeding Hearts – Dicentra spectabilis
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Siberian Iris

Also, don’t forget veggies when making arrangements.  Think about baby carrots, artichokes and curly kale and parsley.

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I love to pair Siberian Iris, Nepeta, Sage, Allium Globemaster or Gladiator, Amsonia and Baptisa and I mix them with Daylilies, Heuchera and Grasses for all season bloom after the spring flush is done.

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My spring garden

If you want to have flowers for cutting be sure to plant in large drifts not one here and one there. Planning for the next season now will yield you beautiful arrangements all year!

Are you interested in how I created my garden from scratch in just a few months? Here is a link to: Anatomy of a New Garden

Amaryllis revived! Amaryllis blooming!

 

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If you are like me and love these beautiful plants you will want to save them till next year. After blooming the bulb needs to rebuild itself. Cut off the flower stalks about 3-5″ above the bulb. Do not cut off the foliage. Keep the plant in a sunny location and water when the top inch of soil is dry to the touch. After all frost had passed I moved mine into the garden and sunk the entire pot into the ground for the summer. In the fall after the frost blackened the leaves I cut them off and brought the plants into the cool basement in the dark for about 8-10 weeks. I then repotted them with new soil and gave it a bit of warm water and put them on the window sill hoping they had survived. YEAH! Finally after many weeks they are just peaking thru. Now you start watering when dry. I have them on my west facing kitchen window sill. I will keep you updated with pictures as they develop. Fingers crossed they will be just as beautiful as last year!

Amaryllis are certainly worth waiting for.  With a little care these beauties will brighten your entire winter!

Tip for next season: Order in the fall for blooms by Ground Hog Day.  Amaryllis make great gifts.  Enjoy!

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