The gardener's eye

The Gardener's Eye

Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Ruin Garden Evolves: Letting Nature Take its Course

The Ruin Garden at Teixeira Park

Textures in the Garden: Calamagrostis brachytricha in the foreground

Volunteer Goldenrod allowed to enter the garden

Echinacea, Butterflyweed and the fine foliage of Vernonia lettermannii 'Iron Butterfly' in foreground

Close up of the original Asclepias tuberosa 'Gay Butterflies'  and Heliopsis helianthoides 'Summer Nights'

Asclepias tuberosa 'Gay Butterflies' and Heliopsis helianthoides 'Summer Nights' are the stars of the Ruin Garden in early July. They are good companions. Asclepias tuberosa 'Gay Butterflies'  is a short and squat plant of about 24" with bright orange flowers.  Heliopsis helianthoides 'Summer Nights' is slim, airy and stands about 3-4 feet tall on elegant red-tinged stems.  The golden flowers tower above the low granite walls at the Ruin Garden and can be seen from the sidewalk on Union Street inviting the passerby to explore the garden.

Both plants are cultivars of Native American plants that attract butterflies. The seeds of Heliopsis helianthoides 'Summer Nights' also provide food for goldfinches. Interestingly, both of these plants are self-seeding in the garden. I want the Ruin Garden to have a wild feeling and I am letting some of the volunteers grow where they please but I am editing out other plants that may overwhelm neighboring plants. 

This garden is a bit of an experiment for me. I usually like to control what happens in the garden. I am working on removing any unhappy species and letting the happy plants be fruitful and multiply. I want the Ruin Garden to attract birds and butterflies and be full of a diverse combination of plants that look good throughout the year. It is more difficult task to do well than one might think.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Before and After at the Pavilion Garden

The trimming of the hedges at the Pavilion Garden at Depot Park is always a turning point in the season for the public gardens. I love the contrast of the neatly sculpted hedges with the fluff of the grasses and maturing annuals in the garden. It is most effective at the end of the season right before frost when the annuals are in full swing. It is a lot of work but only needs to be done once if you wait until early July.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

What is it?

5) Aralia cordata 'Sun King' 

4) Stewartia pseudocamellia

3) Persicaria polymorpha

2) Eryngium giganteum 'Miss Willmott's Ghost'

1) Onopordum acanthium aka Scotch Thistle

We had about 150 visitors to the garden yesterday for the Monadnock Region Garden Conservancy Open Day. It was a hot, sunny day with a refreshingly pleasant breeze. The most asked about plant in the garden was the enormous Scotch Thistle, Onopordum acanthium. This biennial is a favorite of mine because it has a such a commanding presence in the garden. When it goes to seed, it becomes ratty looking and I immediately take it out. It needs to be removed carefully because the spines are razor shape. For some people it is an intimidating plant but for me, at 6 foot three, it is one of the few herbaceous plants that I can look up to.


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