The gardener's eye

The Gardener's Eye

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Another View

A slightly different view of the terrace in the Lower Garden photographed by my son, Teddy.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

The Garden After Another Tour

I had a garden tour from Albany, NY visit my garden and the Peterborough public gardens on Wednesday. We are having a severe drought here in New Hampshire but the garden has held up reasonably well. Here are some photos of the garden and some plant IDs for the visitors.

The Lower Garden from the terrace

Lower Garden head-on from the opposite direction

From another angle in the Lower Garden

The granite, yew and boxwoods in the Hall with Balls illustrates how strong structure in the garden can be very useful during a drought as well as in winter.

'Peterborough' Adirondack chairs in the Woodland Garden

Dahlia 'Happy Single Juliet' is turning out to be one of the few dahlias that I can rely on in southern New Hampshire. It is sturdy and produces many single bright pink flowers that pop visually in the garden against the dark foliage. There are other colors of single anemone-type dahlias in the 'Happy' series that I am thinking of trying next year.

I got this gomphrena called 'All Around Purple' from Helen O'Donnell at Bunker Farm in Dummerston, VT. Helen propagates an exciting list of plants each year. You can find her plant list for 2016 here. She specializes in unusual plants, many of which she learned about at her time gardening for Fergus Garrett at Great Dixter.

I let this tuberous begonia called 'Sparks Will Fly' go dormant in my basement last year and it came back beautifully. I love the tangerine-colored flowers against the lightly-veined dark foliage.

This is Clematis tangutica 'Bill MacKenzie' in the crabapple tree in the Upper Garden. I have noticed several seedlings of this clematis in the garden which I will let grow to see what the progeny look like.

I never tire of the fresh foliage of Amicia zygomeris. I may attempt taking cuttings this year. I found some excellent instructions, again from Great Dixter,  on how to do it here.

This annual red-leafed hibiscus called 'Mahogany Splendor' is also from Helen at Bunker Farm. By the end of the season, it turns into a robust shrub which looks a dwarf Japanese maple.

Here is another Helen O'Donnell plant, a variegated kiss-me-over-the garden-gate called  Persicaria orientalis "Shiro gane Nishiki'. It is just beginning to flower but the foliage has been an eye-catching feature throughout the season. I will be getting this plant again next year!

Melanthus major is my all-time favorite annual for the garden. The pleated glaucous foliage smells like peanut butter when it is rubbed but its best attribute is that it gets bigger and better throughout the season and survives the first wave of light frosts in autumn.

Cuphea llavea 'Bat Face' is a useful front-of-the-border plant that looks great for an extended season with little effort and no dead-heading.

Mina lobata 'Exotic Love', aka the firecracker vine, again from Helen

Finally, a volunteer seedling of Nicotiana sylverstris. This fragrant tobacco plant lands exactly where I need it every year. This time, it emerged from the brickwork at a corner of the Lower Garden that wasn't quite living up to expectations. Nicotiana sylverstris always exceeds expectations wherever it pops up. The huge, and oddly sticky, foliage is a dramatic feature that quickly identifies this plant as being from the tobacco tribe. I am a big fan of self-seeding nicotianas in the garden. I probably have 7 or 8 different species and/or cultivars, many of them are also intoxicatingly fragrant.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Bill Noble's Mixed Border in Norwich, VT

Last week, I took some time out from my garden to visit several gardens that I have been wanting to see again. I had visited Bill Noble's garden in Norwich, VT several years ago and returned for a visit last week. Bill was the former Director of Preservation at the Garden Conservancy and has been involved in numerous preservation projects throughout the country including the Garden Conservancy's first project, The Fells Estate and Gardens in Newbury, NH. One of Bill's signature plants is a Himalayan rhubarb called Rheum australe which can be seen in the foreground of the photo above. Behind is his mixed border which looked sumptuous in the late afternoon cloudy lighting. The border includes hydrangeas, phlox, Joe Pye weed, red barberries and the ever-reliable 'Autumn Joy' sedum. I kept asking myself "Why doesn't my garden look this wonderful?"


This year, there has been a major shift in my mid-week activities as I have retired from designing and maintaining the gardens in the public parks in Peterborough, NH. My goal was to use a public/partnership funded by grants, private funding, and taxpayers' money to create public spaces that were maintained by volunteers, collaborating with Public Works personnel, that had the intimacy of a private garden. With the support of our former Town Administrator, Pam Brenner, and a cadre of gifted and devoted volunteers, most notably, my good gardening buddy, Maude Odgers, I have achieved my goal. After 18 years of working most Wednesdays from April to November, I have decided that it was time to try something new, oil painting. My first painting is Mount Monadnock as can seen from the top of Pack Mondanock, a mountain I have frequently hiked and know intimately. I have seen this view in almost every weather condition imaginable every month of the year so it seemed like the perfect place to begin painting.

I inherited my maternal grandfather's painting supplies and many of the paints were still usable 40 years after his death. It has been a great joy to use his paints, brushes, linseed oil and pallet to create art. Leaving my work in the public sphere has been bittersweet but I am thrilled to give oil painting a try. Don't worry that I will stop gardening in my private garden, I expect to be gardening there for decades to come. Another new goal I have is host more tours of gardens in Europe. I have trip planned for September, 2017 which I will be posting about in the near future.

Monday, August 29, 2016

What is It and Where Did You Get It?

Last week during the Garden Conservancy Open Day, there were a number of questions about the garden. Here are the most commons inquiries:

The large plant is Solanum quitoense from seed brought from South America by the folks at Walker Farm in Dummerston, VT. The metal pot is from India and I got it at Michael Trapp's shop in West Cornwall, CT. The ground cover is Bergenia cordifolia from the late Joanna Reed's garden in Malvern, PA.

This tree is Acer griseum x 'Gingerbread' from Twombly Nursery in Monroe, CT.

The hydrangea behind the Acer griseum x 'Gingerbread' is Hydrangea quercifolia 'Snowqueen'. I got this plant many years ago from the now defunct Heronswood Nursery but I got a second one at Broken Arrow Nursery in Hamden, CT.

I planted this Stewartia pseudocamellia (crossed with another unidentified stewartia) from seed collected at the Arnold Arboretum in 1996. If you take the propagation class at the Arnold Arboretum, you can have your own stewartia for your garden.

These are seedpods of Clematis tangutica 'Bill MacKenzie', a vine I got from another sadly defunct nursery, Loomis Creek Nursery. It should be fairly easy to find on-line.

Amaranthus hypochondriacs is progeny from seed from Wave Hill in the Bronx. If you come to my garden in autumn, I'd be happy to share some seeds.

This relatively new tender salvia is a new favorite of mine. It is called Salvia 'Amistad'. I got it at Edgewater Farm in Plainfield, NH.

My favorite rose is Rosa villosa, is again, from Heronswood Nursery.

This shrub in the woodland garden is Rhus coppalina 'Lanham's Purple' from Broken Arrow Nursery.

The three shrubs with interesting foliage in the Woodland Garden are right-to-left: Lindera glauca var. angustifolia from another closed mail-order nursery, Fairweather Gardens; Sorbaria kirilowii from Forestfarm in Williams, OR: Hydrangea quercifolia 'Snowqueen', again from Broken Arrow Nursery.

The plant scrambling over the arch is the easy-to-find vine called Actinidia kolomikta. I can't remember where I sourced it.

The grey-foliaged plant is Lavatera x clementii 'Barnsley' from Edgewater Farm. The spiky plant is Agave americana 'Mediopicta Alba'. A plant I got from one of my all-time favorite  nurseries, Blue Meadow Farm, Brian and Alice McGowan's former nursery in Montague, MA.

The graceful shrub cascading down the Woodland garden is Stephanandra incisa 'Crispa'. I don't remember where I got it but it is readily available at many nurseries.

The pair of benches on the Blue Bench Terrace are vintage hospital benches form the '40s. I found  them at the Brimfield Antique Flea Market a dozen years ago.

The groundcover beneath the box balls is a spreading epimedium called Epimedium pinnatum ssp. colchicum from Garden Vision Epimediums in Templeton, MA.

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.


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