The gardener's eye

The Gardener's Eye

Thursday, September 30, 2010

October Skies on the Last Day of September

Aster oblongifolius 'October Skies' Forms a Low Hedge

Aster oblongifolius 'October Skies' is a small aster with bountiful deep blue flowers from late September through October. It is very tolerant of drought. It best feature is its luxurious habit. It grows about 18" x 18" and forms an excellent low hedge.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Remembering Wayne Winterrowd

Entrance Path to the House at North Hill

Wayne Winterrowd died at the age of 68 on September 17 at his home, North Hill, in Readsboro, VT. I first heard of Wayne and his partner Joe Eck when I read Rosemary Verey's book The American Man's Garden. The year was 1993 and I was beginning to gardening seriously. I was intrigued by this garden in Vermont and all the unusual plants they were able to grow. In those days, North Hill was opened to the public on the last day of June, July and August each year as a fundraiser for the Brattleboro AIDS project. Unfortunately, I had to work In Manchester, NH that June afternoon so I called to ask if I might come an hour earlier so I could make it back to work (a two-and-half hour drive) in time. I had no idea then what a rude and crazy request that was at the time. Wayne answered the phone and said of course, come earlier if you like, so I did. When I arrived to the garden an hour early, I could hear the weed trimmer working overtime getting the garden ready for the visitors. I met Joe at the garden entrance to explain the circumstances, I could tell immediately he was not pleased (and rightly so!) with this early bird. I suspect he was less pleased with Wayne. But when Wayne arrived at the scene, he could not have been more welcoming.

So my first visit to North Hill I had the place to myself for an hour. I had never seen anything like it. It was jaw-droppingly gorgeous. The design was wonderful and the plants were better. I could recognize few if any plants and I knew at that moment I wanted to have a garden. A REAL garden. Something special like this magical place.

About five years later, I took a weekend-long garden design class at North Hill with about 15 other gardeners. Wayne and Joe had lectures on garden design and each of the students presented their gardens and got advice from the dynamic duo. At the end of the class, I asked Wayne if I might return to North Hill later in the winter and spring to learn from the garden in the other seasons. I was interested in the bones of the garden and I wanted see the changes during the long winter months when the garden was dormant. Not surprisingly, Wayne immediately gave his blessing and I had the luxury of being in the garden by myself during the winter. I studied the garden in their book A Year at North Hill: Four Seasons in a Vermont Garden. I returned in November after a light snow and again in April when the Cornus mas, early magnolias and the daffodils were blooming. I cross-referenced each visit with the corresponding chapter in the book and had one of the best possible learning experiences a neophyte gardener could imagine.

The last time I heard from Wayne was last May. I had signed up for their symposium with Fergus Garrett and some other wonderful speakers but it had been filled to capacity. I received a typewritten letter informing me that the symposium was closed. At the bottom of the letter was a note written in Wayne's beautiful and distinctive handwriting. He was apologizing for the situation and inviting me to "please come visit the garden." I wish I had. Wayne was a very generous and thoughtful man. He was among the finest of our American garden writers. He will be greatly missed.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Peterborough Parks in Late September

The Pavilion Entrance to Depot Park

Another View of the Pavilion Garden

Peter's Gate

Coleus 'Compact Red' and Jasminum officinalis 'Fiona Sunrise' Form a Nice Contrast

Red foliage of Syringa patula 'Miss Kim', Miscanthus 'Morning Light' and Fagus sylvatica 'Asplenifolia'

Laura and Maude Tidy Up

Russian Sage Hangs On Beautifully at Nubanusit Terrace

Planter at Putnam Park

Boccelli Garden at the End of the Season

Monday, September 13, 2010

It Ain't Over Til the Fat Lady Freezes

Blue Bench Border

Lower Terrace: Heptacodium miconioides in bloom behind the shed with the red foliage of Physocarpus opulifolious 'Summer Wine'

Close Up Of Indian Pot with Solanum quitoense and Coleus 'Compact Red'

Pots on Patio: Senecio petasitis, Torenia 'Summer Wave', Oxalis regnellii var. triangularis, and Begonia 'Marmaduke'

Lower Border Left Side: Cotinus 'Grace' Towers above the Rest

Lower Border Right Side: Salix purpurea 'Nana' shines with the red foliage of Euphorbia cotinafolia behind. Rubus thibetanus echoes the dwarf willow at the far end. The rich red bark of Acer griseum x 'Gingerbread' smolders.

The Upper Border

Coleus 'Compact Red' contrasts Chartreuse Foliage of Spirea bumalda 'Goldmound'

Cuphea 'Batface' and Gomphrena globosa 'Purple' and Hibiscus acetosella 'Maple Sugar'

Plectranthus 'Lemon Twist' in the foreground, Yellow foliage of Ligustrum sinense 'Variegata', Mina lobata vine, red Amaranthus hypochondriacus and teasel Dipsacus fullonum.

Upper Border with Verbena bonariensis in the foreground.

Boxwood frame the steps with Zinna 'Profusion Orange' to the left and Euphorbia myrsinites to the right.

One of the many pleasures of a mixed border is the annuals. Right now, they are full and luxuriant right before the first frost of autumn. Here in New Hampshire that will happen the first week of October. But right now, there is no weeding and little watering necessary as the temperatures drop. It is time to sit back and enjoy!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Lee Link's Garden in Sharon, CT

Front Entrance to the House

Entrance Courtyard with Michael Trapp Pot

Lower Entrance with River Birch: An Idea Borrowed from Helen Dillon

The Greenhouse

Potting Area

Rear view of Greenhouse

Agave on Wall

View from the Pool

Michael Trapp was Here

Three Cornus kousa replace Mixed Border

About a 10 minute drive from Michael Trapp's shop is the Sharon, CT garden of Michael's good friend, Lee Link. Lee is a perennial host to the Garden Conservancy Open Days. I had last seen her garden about 8 or 10 years ago. It was and is meticulously maintained and beautifully designed. I think the greenhouse had been added since my last visit. It is full of exotic and unusual tender plants.

Lee's description of her garden in the Open Days Directory explains, "Three stone walls cascade down a hillside at the top of which is a greenhouse containing a wide spectrum of succulents and tropical plants. Within the last year, the former perennial border was replaced with a new hardscape and three kousa dogwoods highlighted by groundcover and spring bulbs. This is an effort to minimize upkeep. One level has a fish pond which reflects a winter conservatory attached to the house."

Monday, September 6, 2010

Michael Trapp Creates a Mood

Michael Trapp's Shop

Pencil-thin Junipers Reach for the Sky

View over the Upper pool Behind Michael's Shop

Looking from the Upper Level to the Lap Pool below

Steep Steps to the Lower Garden

The stone Spiral Staircase

The Cool Dark Lower Garden and Pool

Steps to the Pool

Architectural Fragments Add an Ancient Feel to the Stone Wall

Urns Flank the Path Parallel to the Pool

The Steps Return to the the Upper Level

Looking Back at the Pool

Stone Benches Invite the Visitor to Stay a While Longer

Simple Composition: White Urn Backed by Boxwood

Michael Trapp knows how to create a mood. He converted an 19th century Greek Revival house overlooking the Housatonic River in West Cornwall, CT into a shop nearly twenty years ago. The shop is chalk-full of architectural fragments, balustrades, antique furniture, pots, urns, statuary and textiles. The 3/4 acre garden surrounding the shop compliments it perfectly. He "wanted to make the house and garden seem as though the were 500 years old." In doing so he brings us to Europe, for the garden has an unmistakable Italian and French atmosphere.

The house and garden are situated on a very steep slope and has a dramatic stone stairway leading to the lower garden and lap pool with handsome limestone coping. The garden boasts 78 tons of cobblestone paths. The plant material is very limited. There is plenty of boxwood, arborvitae, juniper and yew creating walls and repeated vertical elements. The upper garden has some cottage plants like hollyhocks but the lower garden is in deep shade and has a dark and romantic aura.

Michael Trapp's garden has an intention fortified with restraint which makes the garden so successful. Every detail reinforces the feeling of a Tuscan villa on a steep slope complete with vistas and axes. You are taken away to another time, another place. If you are ever in northwestern Connecticut, Michael Trapp's shop and garden should be a must-see destination. There are many exquisite items, but each time I visit his shop, I manage to find a very special inexpensive artifact that I can use to embellish my garden. It is also a charming reminder of this alluring garden.


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