The gardener's eye

The Gardener's Eye

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Winter Interest in the Border

"Winter interest in the border", I said to my two sons Nick, 7 and Teddy, 5 one morning. Now imagine me imitating Dan Aykroyd, using his best Julia Child impression skills, to mimic English gardening doyenne, Penelope Hobhouse saying, "winter interest in the border". Now imagine it with FEELING at the breakfast table. That was the scene at my house the morning after a Horticulture magazine symposium called Mastering the Mixed Border nearly 16 years ago. Mrs. Hobhouse's lecture provided a profound and well-timed lesson in my early gardening education and my two young sons' first garden design memory. It was at that moment that I realized the importance of structure in the garden.
For me, structure includes evergreens, trees, shrubs, ornamental grasses and good old New Hampshire granite. Some of the more useful evergreens in my garden are: Pinus korainesis 'Morris Blue', Picea orientalis 'Gowdy', Buxus 'Green Gem', Juniper scopulotum 'Skyrocket' and Taxus x media 'Hicksii'. Some favorite grasses are: Miscanthus 'Giganteus' and sinensis 'Morning Light', Calamagrostis x acutiflora 'Karl Foerster' and brachytricha. Additional trees that I haven't mentioned in the previous blog are: the katsura tree, Cercidiphyllum japonicum, Parrotia persica and the spectacularly branching Aralia elata 'Aureovariegata' and Cornus controversa 'Variegata'.

Last December, the devastating ice storm that southern New Hampshire experienced, provided a stunning and glittering spectacle. Boxwoods, arborvitae and a crabapple tree are put to great advantage with an inch-thick ice coating in the upper level of my garden. Even the brick edging comes to life in the morning sunshine. Many of my gardening friends who experienced tragic losses were still able to appreciate the breathtaking beauty that Mother Nature provided that momentous day.


  1. This photograph is now my desktop background. I found it striking for some reason. It's a beautiful interaction between the cold New Hampshire winter and the warm life-giving sun.

  2. Sam,
    That is very cool. Your Mom (Susan Howard) took the photograph from the ice storm in today's (January 30) blog. She also took all the pictures of Boccelli Garden. Glad the days are getting longer!



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