The gardener's eye

The Gardener's Eye

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Monadnock Area Open Days August 20-21, 2016

I have finally whipped the garden in shape in order to prepare for the Monadnock Area Open Days for the Garden Conservancy. I took a few photos of my garden this evening as a preview. We have had a drought this summer but thankfully last weekend we had several inches of rain which has perked the garden up considerably. Ed Bowen, of Opus Plants will be on site selling plants at my garden from 10 am to 4 pm. on Saturday, August 20th. Garden writer, Page Dickey, will giving a talk on Friday night in Peterborough. On Sunday, several more gardens are open in western New Hampshire and Westminster West, Vermont.  Check the Garden Conservancy website for details for what promises to be a great weekend.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Nannau Cottage and Garden

Last month, I visited Bar Harbor, Maine for the Garden Club of Mount Desert Open Garden Day. My favorite garden was Nannau Cottage overlooking Compass Harbor, an inlet off Frenchman Bay. The handsome shingle style house was built in 1904. It was originally owned by a New York City lawyer named David R. Ogden. For many years, it was hotel and is a private residence again. I liked the simplicity of the main walk to the front of the house and the use of huge slabs of granite which are in scale with the grand house.

There was a pair of small gardens in the back of the house which framed a view of Compass Bay.

Here is the view of Frenchman Bay from a simple seating area of 4 Adirondack chairs at the water's edge.

The walk up to the house had lots of rough grass and natural plantings which enhanced the natural beauty of the site, the garden's best feature.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Here's to You, Mr. Robinson

After attending the Chelsea Flower Show,  I took the train to see Gravetye Manor and Garden, the West Sussex home of garden writer William Robinson. Robinson lived there from 1884 until his death in 1935. He wrote The English Flower Garden and The Wild Garden, both remain relevant to today's gardeners. The Wild Garden was recently re-issued in 2009 with chapters added by the American garden writer, Rick Darke. Robinson was noted for challenging the Victorian fashion of using bedding-out plantings in rigid geometrically-shaped beds. Robinson advocated using native and exotic plants used in a natural way that reflected where they were found in nature. He was inspired by seeing plants in their natural habitats in North America and throughout Europe. The house has been a luxury hotel and restaurant for many years. The gardens are currently being refurbished by Dixter-trained Head Gardener, Tom Coward.

The house looking from the Wildflower Meadow

The entrance to the Flower Garden

                                     A view from across the garden to the same entrance

The opposite veiw from the entance

The Azalea Bank was still in bloom in mid-May

Steps in the Azalea Bank

The Croquet Lawn above the House; the top of the Azalea bank can be seen at the left

A path in the Wild Garden

A handkerchief tree, Davidia involucrata, was in full flower in the Wild Garden.

Camassia in the Wild Garden

The artfully arranged Kitchen Garden was huge

A seat with William Robinson's initials in the Kitchen Garden

This garden, along a wall at the top of the Wild Flower Meadow,  had some of the best combinations of plants I saw that day

I am uncertain of the name of the yellow spire in front of the ornamental rhubarb. I am sure it would not be hardy in New Hampshire but it was beautiful.

A pair of cardoons, with a purple-leafed fennel tucked beneath their broad grey foliage, were planted with a grass and the crimson flowers of Cirsium rivulare ‘Atropurpureum’

I have no idea what this plant is (I would welcome an ID) but I thought it had a magnificent presence

The Wildflower Meadow

The bouquet on my table where I had tea

Visiting Gravetye was a sort of  pilgrimage for me in my gardening education. There was much that inspired me for my own garden in Peterborough. I was thrilled to finally see it in person. Wave Hill, the public garden in the Bronx, has several gardens (most notably, their "Wild Garden") which are planted in a style reminiscent of Robinson. I think their "Flower Garden" may have also been inspired by the Gravetye Flower Garden. I have studied those gardens for many years. Now I finally see how they were informed by Robinson.

In my own garden, I am interested in both strong design and interesting plantings. Gravetye has both. Gardens worth preserving need a strong and coherent design first and foremost. When the bones are good and well-executed, an old garden almost calls for renewal. This garden has literal bones, i.e. walls, steps, pergolas, and spiritual bones, i.e. the writings of Robinson. It is a garden I hope to revisit on foot and by the fireplace with a book in hand.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Pettifers in May

Last month, The Passionate Gardener Tour visited Pettifers Garden in Oxfordshire. I had checked out the garden last spring and I was pleased to be able to take my group this year. The owner, Gina Price, showed us around the garden pointing out interesting plant combinations and discussing changes in the garden.The formal Parterre at the heart of the garden looks good from every angle. 

Even the driveway has a handsome topiary planting.

Iris lactea, above, is new to me and is on my list of plants I want to add to my garden. It is a common wild iris from China, Afghanistan and Korea. I liked the light blue flower matched with the thin foliage of this sweet-looking iris.

I loved the combination above last year and I couldn't resist photographing it again.

Every year, there seems to be a plant that I discover in multiple gardens. This year, it was Valeriana pyrenaica. It is a native of the Pyrenees Mountains. It is a self-seeding perennial with small lilac-colored flowers. I also saw it used to nice effect at Great Dixter. Ed Bowen of Opus Plants has carried it in the past. I am hoping to get a plant from him the next time he has it available.


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