The gardener's eye

The Gardener's Eye

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Sky is the Limit

These are three views of the upper garden this morning. We have dug out from our snowstorm the day after Christmas. I was hoping to capture the value of structural plants in the winter covered with snow but realized the magnificence of the winter sky was the moment to savor.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Saturday, December 11, 2010

New Focal Point Leading to the Wild Garden

New Granite Post at the Entrance of the Wild Garden as seen from the Lower Garden

View from the Street Through Both Arbors

Close-up View from the Lower Garden

I have been contemplating focal point leading to the lowest level in my garden, a garden in progress, that I call the Wild Garden. The two upper gardens are rather formally designed and have several perpendicular axes. The most prominent axis leads from the street down the granite steps in the Hall with Balls through an archway into the Lower Garden and through another archway leading into the Wild Garden.

My thought has always been that if I was going to create this axis there should be a focal point for the eye to follow and lead the visitor to the Wild Garden. I finally decided on a vertical granite post. John Kaufhold, the owner of Peterborough Marble and Granite Works, had the perfect piece of granite that had the height, width and texture I was looking for. This particular piece had a natural flare at one end that created some subtle visual interest. John and his crew did an excellent job installing the post last week before the ground froze. The next step will be to think of just the right plantings to soften the post and make the entrance to the Wild Garden more inviting.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Downtown Peterborough in Early December

Oudolf Yew Waves at the Pavilion Entrance of Depot Park

Another View of the Pavilion Entrance

The Long Hedge in Depot Park

Nubanusit Terrace Bundled with Burlap for Salt Protection

Boccelli Garden

Bridge Flower Boxes in Christmas Garb Courtesy of the Community Garden Project

The Parks in Downtown Peterborough reveal their structure a few weeks before Christmas. Yew, bowwood and ornamental grasses are the main elements. Each year, the Community Garden Project adds greens to the flower boxes on the two bridges in town and the holiday season can begin.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Joanna's Bergenia

Bergenia cordifolia with Indian Pot and Stone Pedestal

According to my gardening journal, on May 5, 1997, I got a division of Bergenia cordifolia from the late Joanna Reed's garden in my hometown of Malvern, PA. I didn't know the plant but was willing to try anything Joanna suggested. I brought a single plant home and every year I divided it. One year, I happened to plant a division on the shapely drained slope flanking the granite steps down to what I now call the Blue Bench Terrace. It was the right plant in the right spot and it prospered beautifully there.

The bergenia's russet-colored leathery paddles of foliage contrasts well with the gray granite steps and the bluestone patio this time of year. It is also the perfect compliment to the rusted Indian pots from Michael Trapp's Connecticut shop I got about a dozen years ago. In April, it will have rose-colored blooms that seem to hang on for several weeks. Here in New Hampshire, any plant that peaks in December and April is highly prized.

Bergenia cordifolia is an extremely useful plant but what I treasure most about this unnamed cultivar is that it came from Joanna's garden. It is a lasting memento of her garden and the time I spent there when I was just beginning to learn about gardening.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Material Culture on Black Friday

Material Culture at 4700 Wissahickon Avenue in Philadelphia

Beautiful Objects and Artifacts in the Lobby

Antique Chinese Ceramic Vessels and Forms to Fabricate Shoes

Antique Chinese Cabinets and Furniture

Indonesian Polychrome Figures and Antique Indian Stone Columns

My Main Reason for Coming: the Stone Pedestals from India

Buddhas, Buddhas and More Stone Buddhas

Material Culture Has a Excellent Selection of Handmade Rugs From Around the World

West African Art

Wooden Masks From West Africa

West African Art by Nigerian artist Prince Twins Seven-Seven

Barack Obama was a Popular Subject of the West African Art

"Black and White Are One"

We usually spend Thanksgiving with my family, where I grew up, in suburban Philadelphia. For the last ten years or so, a visit to Material Culture has been the Friday-after-Thanksgiving tradition. Material Culture specializes in antiques, furnishings, handmade carpets, art and collectibles from around the world. It is located in a 60,000 square foot former warehouse in North Philadelphia.

Material Culture, according to anthropologists, is a non-specific way to refer to the artifacts or other concrete things left by past cultures. The store describes themselves "as a venture dedicated to exploring, sourcing, preserving and supporting many of the world's traditional arts and crafts, we conceive of material culture as: humankind’s hammered and burnished self-portrait: It includes everything we have consciously made to sustain ourselves throughout existence. As such, it encompasses art and architecture, clothing, tools, decoration-all manner of thought made tangible in the form of objects. Its moniker is not necessarily ‘made by hand’ but ‘made by human’. It is the comprehensive inventory in long-hand of our journey through the dark and mundane, the dream in which seemingly limitless multitudes of ‘candles in the night’ light our way home. Holding this, we hold material culture".

Over the years, I have bought carpets, chairs, mirrors and miscellaneous artifacts at Material Culture. My favorite objects are the stone pedestals from Turkey, but more often, India. I have collected about a dozen of them in various sizes and shapes. They are the perfect stands for potted plants on the terrace.

My garden is quite small and one of the ways I try to make it more special is to make all its elements: the pots, plants, and furniture, distinctive and unusual. I like the objects to be hand made if possible. I steer away from the mundane and mass-produced. The stone pedestals are very handsome, made of a natural material and have a patina of age that makes a garden feel more mature. This year, I found a small pedestal just right scale for one the potted succulents that I display on the terrace.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Dem Bones, Dem Bones, Dem Garden Bones

View From the Lower Garden: Granite, Box and Yew

This Century-old Granite Wall was the Foundation for a Barn that once stood where the Lower Garden is Today.

Close up of the Granite Bench

Granite Steps to the Lower Garden with Box, Yew and Juniper

View of Mount Monadnock from the Lower Garden

Stewartia Bark Amplified by the Contrasting Background of the Yew Hedge

Acer griseum x 'Gingerbread with Box and Yew Hedges

Exfoliating Bark of Heptacodium miconioides

In mid-November the bones of the garden emerge once more. In my garden, I rely on boxwood balls and hedges, yew hedges, junipers, pines and spruces for the green structure. New Hampshire granite provides the framework for the walls, steps and benches. The interesting bark of the stewartias, heptacodium and the paperbark maple now stand out. Above all, the view of Mount Monadnock is the centerpiece of the late autumn garden.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Wave Hill, the High Line and Wagner Park All in One Day in October

Wave Hill's Flower Garden

Another View of the Flower Garden

The Entrance to the Marco Polo Stufano Conservatory

The Wild Garden

The Aquatic and Monocot Garden at Wave Hill

The Gansevoort Woodland on the High Line

The Washington Grasslands

The Diller-Von Furstenberg Sundeck

The Chelsea Grasslands

The 10th Avenue Square

Rhus glabra on the Sundeck

The Hot Border at Wagner Park

Leonotis leonurus and a Bright Orange Cuphea Make Great Companions

Maude, Tovah and Laura Enjoying the Hot Borders

Last Sunday, three gardening friends and I did a fearless day trip from New Hampshire to NYC and back to visit public gardens in the city. We left at 5:45 am and arrived at Wave Hill, the public garden in the Bronx, at about 10 am. The weather threatened but ended up being very cooperative. The view from the Pergola Overlook across the Hudson River to the Palisades was spectacular. We spent a lot time examining the plant combinations in the Flower Garden. We also visited the Wild Garden and the Aquatic and Monocot Gardens before having a nice lunch on the terrace at the Wave Hill House.

Next, we drove down the Henry Hudson Parkway to the High Line, the recently opened New York City Park, in the Meatpacking District in the Lower West Side of Manhattan. The High Line is a park built on an elevated 1930's freight rail structure. The planting design is inspired by the self-seeded volunteer plants that began to establish themselves after the train made its final delivery in 1980. There are more than 200 species of perennials, grasses, shrubs and trees in the park. The garden was designed by Dutch planting designer, Piet Oudolf. Oudolf is world famous for using grasses in his designs and was the perfect man to take on this project. We spent much of our time there analyzing the way in which one perennial or grass slowly interwove into the next forming a very natural looking tapestry.

Our final stop was Wagner Park, the Lynden B. Miller designed public garden in Battery Park City at the very tip of Manhattan. Some of us had never seen the Statue of Liberty which prominently held court in the Upper Bay where the Hudson River flows into the Atlantic Ocean. The lighting could not have been more beautiful. Wagner Park, like all Lynden's gardens, was meticulously maintained. There were two borders with contrasting hot and cool color themes. Our favorite gardens were the hot borders which were ablaze with a stunning combination of Leonotis leonurus paired with a bright orange cuphea.

We were back on the road by about 6 pm and in our beds by 10:45 pm. It very busy and inspiring day that was totally worth the effort.


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