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!

Trade Secrets 2017 – Coltsfoot Garden

One of the private gardens open this year for Trade Secrets was Coltsfoot Garden in Cornwall, CT.  This is an enchanting cottage garden that along with the colonial home has been in this family for almost 100 years.  Upon arrival you are immediately dawn in by the multi-colored lilac trees surrounding the garden, the crabapple trees and the surrounding landscape.  This is Litchfield county CT at its finest.

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The garden while formal in structure is welcoming and plants are encouraged to self sow wherever they can find a spot.

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There is a newly added second vegetable garden placed closer to the house, surrounded by a picket fence, gravel paths and artful colorscaping of vegetables like asparagus, lettuces, peas, beans, tomatoes, peppers and rhubarbs. Plants are staked using branches and twigs in artful and rustic ways.

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There are perennial gardens framing a neighbor’s old barn featuring boxwood, peonies, crabapple trees, dwarf Alberta Spruce, roses, irises, bachelor buttons, spurge,  and daylilies which create a delightfully soft, uncluttered effect.

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Gravel paths are created in a geometric pattern to facilitate your winding your way throughout with their edges being blurred by lady’s mantle, nepeta (my favorite plant) and others.

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This is another garden area with an ingenious method of taming climbing vines. This garden features, raspberries, vegetables, peonies for cut flowers.  I suggest if you love to have cut flowers in your home and hate the idea of cutting in your ornamental beds that you plant a separate area for cutting flowers both perennial and annuals for all season flowers.  Don’t forget to use your greens like hostas, astible,  solomon’s seal, grasses and branches etc. to fill in.

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This couple lovingly maintains the property coaxing dahlias, hydrangeas, lilacs and roses to thrive year after year.  The formal yet informal design of the garden allows for times of not too much fuss!

Thank you to the Hubbard’s for opening their garden to us for Trade Secrets Open Garden Tours 2017. Can’t wait for 2018!

I have written many times over the years about the Trade Secrets event which takes place in mid-May each year.  You can read more about this fabulous event in previous blogs.

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Trade Secrets GardenTours

Trade Secrets Garden Tours part 2

 

 

 

 

Garden Conservancy Open Days – Cobble Pond Farm

The history of this garden goes back 250 years!  Originally an Olmsted design it was carefully restored and updated by Kathy Metz, the homeowner, with some inspired help from others. With its formal and informal gardens it is gracefully accented by stone walls, unusual species of trees and a sunken garden surrounded by clipped yews.  It is surrounded by the magnificent Sharon, CT countryside where Angus herds graze in the afternoon sun.

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The pool was added to resemble a reflecting pool accented by stone walls and a pool house and a giant Copper Beech
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Open pastures surround the property in Sharon, CT

The trees are worthy of envy by any gardener who is just starting a landscaping project. They include maples, columnar maples reaching for the sky, birches, Ginkgo and dogwoods.  The property owners have lovingly enhanced this property staying true to its original design while updating it so it works for them.  Gone are the annuals that were so popular back when the garden was originally conceived and they are replaced by low maintenance perennials and native shrubs.  Each area of the garden relates to another making for a relaxing experience while meandering around.  Of course, taking care of it all I am sure is a joy but a full time project.  A Labor of Love as most all gardeners will tell you, me included!

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Arbor and Peonies

The landscape is dotted with bulbs, tulips, lilacs with their fragrances enticing you to come closer.  There are pergolas, arbors, cutting gardens, a summerhouse garden and a sunken garden surrounded by clipped yews and is anchored with a central fountain. a brilliant tip for keeping yews healthy was to angle the hedge edges thus allowing light in on all sides.  This should be applied to most all hedges so they don’t die out at the bottom.  This was a particularly difficult winter here in CT and it is apparent the yews suffered greatly as did many of our boxwoods.

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Sunken Garden with central fountain and yew hedges

I love the Japanese Maples growing in containers.  A great tip if you can’t get them to grow in the ground is to grow them in a container. In winter, in colder climates they can be moved to a garage or basement.

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Japanese Maples in containers
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Pool House

Peonies are about to explode everywhere both flanking the gated entrance to the sunken garden and around the pool and cabana. I wish I could go back to see them in a few weeks when they bloom.

The original rustic gazebo just beckons you to sit and take it all in. There is a clever use of statutes in this garden.  Garden ornaments can make a garden feel loved and personal while adding personality and letting you see the homeowner’s whimsy.

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Boy statue

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Winding paths lead you around the gardens and the house showcasing Irises, Clematis, Roses, Solomon’s Seal, Hostas, Tulips, and Alliums just to name a few.

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Barney the Basset hound was standing guard, or maybe just waiting for someone to pay more attention to him than the gardens.  Sorry, Barney!

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If you are a gardener The Garden Conservancy has Open Days all over the United States and these private and public gardens are indeed an inspiration to all gardeners.  They showcase places to see how others have handled particularly challenging landscapes or just how to decorate a porch, maybe to highlight a plant combination you have been dying to try yourself.  Experiment! What is the worst that could happen?  If it doesn’t work out, move it or remove it! Gardening should be fun, not stressful!  Be sure to check one out this summer!

Can you feel it? Spring is coming!

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Ranunculus

I don’t know about you but here in Connecticut we really haven’t had winter so we are all eagerly anticipating an end to this dreariness and excited to welcome spring in just a few short weeks!  I am going to be creating new gardens this spring in my new house so I will keep you posted on my progress once it starts.  Of course, I have a lot to do to prep the soil and get the beds planned and prepared.  I am giving in this time and hiring some manual labor!

Spring is defined as “the early part or first stage of something”. So as we move into spring take the time to see where you have been and where you want to go.  There is never a better time than the present to start something. You cannot succeed if you don’t try!

While you are perusing your catalogs and planning what to add or replace in your garden I thought I would entice you with a few spring flowering trees, shrubs and bulbs!

One of the very first trees to bloom is the Magnolia (see Magnolia x soulangeana ‘Alexandrina’ saucer magnolia above)  hopefully we can get some gentle spring weather so those fragrant blossoms last awhile.

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Magnolia x soulangeana ‘Alexandrina’ saucer magnolia

The Hellebores are already peeking their heads up. I think they have been as confused as we have been.  First cold, then warm, then cold- too confusing! Come up or stay in hibernation!

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Helleborous x hybridus lenten rose
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Helleborus x ericsmithii ‘HGC Silvermoon’

 

One of my favorite shrubs is Spirea thunbergii Mellow Yellow ‘Ogon’.  A fine shrub which prospers in most any environment. It still has its leaves late into the fall.  Typically zones 4-8; sun to part shade. As you can see below it starts out in the spring with these tiny white flowers on lovely bare, arching branches and then the leaves appear and remain the richest gold throughout the season. I also am partial to Spirea japonica ‘Anthony Waterer’ and ‘Gold Mound’.

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Spirea thunbergii ‘Ogon’

 

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Spirea japonica ‘Goldflame’

 

Spring brings us some of the most delightful flowers.  Try something new this season. A great way to see how plants will work in the landscape is to visit public gardens like the NY Botanical Garden, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, or the Berkshire Botanical Garden to name a few. See what other plants they like to keep company with and how large they really get.  When you get plants at the garden center remember it typically takes about 3 years to get to a full size.  Make sure to leave enough room.

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Anemone pulsatilla ‘Papageno’ Pasque flower

 

Of course we mustn’t forget the flowering Cherry, Apricot and Apple trees to follow. Even just planting one in your yard will make you look forward to the new beginnings that spring can offer.

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Prunus mume ‘Peggy Clarke’ Japanese Apricot
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Prunus ‘Accolade’ Flowering Cherry

 

Of course, as I write this it is suddenly snowing like crazy.  Go figure!!!

 

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