The gardener's eye

The Gardener's Eye

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

NH Open Days Baum/Reeves Style

Gazing at the Aralia elata 'Variegata'

The Ganesh Holds Court

What is that in the White Pine Allee?






Terry Reeves and David Baum have an extraordinary garden in Peterborough. Their 230 year old colonial house boasts ancient 200 year old maple trees and a seven foot tall barn foundation that forms the backdrop to beautiful mixed border. But this year the highlight was a sculpture at the end of an allee of huge pine trees that was once a country road. David and Terry commissioned Vermont artist Mark Ragonese to make an installation especially for the Garden Conservancy Open Days.

Terry had a vision of nest-like sculpture and the collaboration with Mark produced a huge egg shaped structure with a sort of stone cairn as a focal point. The sculpture, about 10 feet tall, had to be quite large to be in scale with the enormous pine trees. The best part of the experience is how the visitor can not see the sculpture from the house. As one follows the curved path of mowed grass, they suddenly see the focal point in the distance. A wonderful surprise in a very inviting garden.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Hidcote Folly at NH Open Days

Pool House Modeled After Hidcote's Garden Pavilion

The Pool Garden

Pot of Succulents

Joe Valentine and Paula Hunter's garden in Francestown was on The Garden Conservancy's Open Days Tour this past weekend along with ten other gardens including mine. Each garden was unique and spoke volumes about the gardeners who built them. I got a chance to visit with Joe and Paula this evening. A couple days after a garden tour is not a bad time to visit a garden. Everything is still "just so" but the gardeners are ready to relax and enjoy the garden for themselves.

The latest addition to their garden was a pool house modeled after the pavilions between the Red Borders and the Stilt Garden. It is on axis at the end of the pool. It is beautifully built and is also a functioning pool house. The garden's surround an 18th century saltbox house that they have lovingly restored. They have about 2 acres of "country formal" gardens and if that wasn't enough, it is also a "working farm that is home to some of the world's most endangered breeds of livestock." Joe and Paula also are serious boxwood enthusiasts and grow eleven different varieties of boxwoods. Their favorite is called 'Newport Blue' and is surprisingly hardy in protected locations in their garden.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Two Weddings and No Funeral

The Archway in the Ruin Garden

Coreopsis, Pentsemon, Butterfly Weed and Honeysuckle Vines beginning to bloom

A Nice Place for a White Wedding

The Ruin Garden at Teixeira Park has been the setting for at least two weddings in the last year I am told. West Peterborough has just undergone a revitalization and Teixeira Park is the now crown jewel of that part of town. The Ruin Garden was installed in 2007 and is now starting to settle down and is beginning to get the patina of age to its granite structure.

I think of Teixeira Park as the "wild" park in Peterborough. It abuts the Nubanusit River and we designed it to attract birds and butterflies. There are many fruit bearing trees and shrubs (crab apples, vibirnums, shadblows and dogwoods) to attract birds. Honeysuckles are now in bloom to coax the hummingbirds to their nectar. The pentsemons should bring both hummers and butterflies. Later in the season, the garden should be teaming with butterflies as the sedums, butterfly weeds, asters, liatris, goldenrods, oreganos, heleniums, solidagos and Verbena bonariensis take center stage.
Ron Higgins designed the granite wall to be inviting to children to play on. I have witnessed families reading to their young children on the walls on more than one occasion. What I didn't expect was the Ruin Garden as a wedding chapel but why not? It has a beautiful archway for the wedding couple, seating for the guests and flowers already in bloom just waiting for the wedding party to arrive.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Three Favorite Biennials

The common foxglove, Digitalis purpurea

The gargantuan Scotch Thistle, Onopordum acanthium

Miss Willmott's Ghost, Eryngium giganteum

I don't mulch my garden until late June every year. It's not because I am behind schedule, it is because the annuals and biennials. The self-seeding annuals like poppies, nicotianas and Verbena bonariensis complete their life cycle in a single season. That is they germinate, flower, set seed and die before the first frost. Biennials germinate one year and flower the following year. So careful mulching is necessary to protect the seedlings in the springtime.

Digitalis purpurea, the common foxglove, grows in the dappled shade of woodlands in Europe, but it has been in grandmother's garden for generations. The Scotch thistle, Onopordum acanthium, feels much more exotic. I grow it in the pastel themed borders off the terrace. That garden is out of sight from the passerby and I like it to look best when we have guests for cocktails. In that light, the Scotch thistle's gray, edged-with-spikes, foliage seems to collect moonlight at twilight. I like the scale of it. It is huge...always a plant that I, at 6'3" can look up to. Its downfall is that you can easily lacerate your forearms when it is time to remove its faded skeleton in August after it has gone to seed.

Eryngium giganteum, known as Miss Willmott's Ghost, is a sea holly that has grey foliage with jagged edges and pale blue flowers. Garden legend has it that famed English plantswoman Ellen Willmott, who had an appropriately prickly disposition, would carry seeds in her pocket and secretly scatter them in the gardens she visited. I love the texture that Miss Willmott's Ghost provides in my borders. One of the best features of biennials is that they have an uncanny ability to seed themselves in precisely the location they are needed most. They add a note of spontaneity in gardens that tend to be too perfectly orchestrated.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Wednesday 7 AM: Changing of the Guard in the Peterborough Parks

Mollie, Molly and Terry cleaning the Toadstool Beds.

Calamagrostis 'Avalanche' in the Toadstool Beds.

The Pavilion Garden in Depot Park.

Senecio 'Velvet Groundsel', A Landcraft Environments foliage plant, new to us this year.

The red leafed Hibiscus acetosella 'Maple Sugar' and the thorny Silybum marianum 'Milk Thistle Purple' getting ready to become huge and fill the gaps.

New Annuals mixed with perennials and boxwood.

Sesleria nitida in flower.

Nepeta gigantea 'Six Hills Giant' earning its keep.

Mollie raking the path with the foliage of Baptisia autsralis and bergenia. Briza media quaking in the foreground.

The freshly planted pot at Peter's Gate. This year we chose Coleus 'Compact Red', Dracaena 'Torbay Dazzler', Angelonia 'Angel Mist' and Centradenia 'Blushing Cascade'. By August, it will be overflowing.

Mollie and Terry weeding and removing the spent bulb foliage at Nubanusit Terrace.

Perovskia atriplicifolia gets ready to take over the beds and maybe Terry too.

The Boccelli Garden

Emerging Catalpa bignonioides 'Aurea' with Salix purpurea 'Nana' and Miscanthus floridulus 'Giganteus' behind.

The orange Eremurus 'Cleopatra' with Miscanthus sinensis 'Silver Shadow', the yellow-leafed tansy, Tanacetum vulgare 'Elsa Gold', and Picea pungens 'Glauca Globosa'.

On Wednesday mornings from April to October you will often find the Parks Gardeners working in the Gardens of downtown Peterborough. We usually meet at the the Pavilion Garden in Depot Park. This morning we were working on removing the spent foliage of the bulbs, weeding and tending to the newly planted annuals.

The Pavilion Garden is our most labor intensive garden. We treat it as a large pot and have a new display of tulips each year. Around Memorial Day, we remove all the tulip bulbs and plant unusual annuals in their place. The beds have a yew hedge spine with boxwoods to carry the garden from season to season. There are also a few perennials and ornamental grasses for three season structure. The most interesting aspect of the gardens are the annuals. We like them weird and wonderful.

The bulbs at Nubanusit Terrace have passed and Russian sage is taking their place. The Russian sage is contained in rectangular beds of yew and boxwood. I was inspired by a garden in Provence that had rectangular beds filled only with lavender. We substituted the very hardy Perovskia atriplicifolia to great effect. It looks wonderful from June to October and is very easy and elegant.

The Boccelli Garden needed only a quick clean up today. We were worked until about 11 AM and we were on our way.....until next Wednesday at 7AM.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Not Ready for Primetime.......Yet

The Garden Gate....will William Baffin stay a while?

The Upper Garden....Could use some filling in and not Mulched Yet

Ligustrum sinense 'Variegata' with Clematis 'Honora'.... a fleeting combo?

The Lower Garden..... Furniture Finally Painted Yesterday

The Garden Conservancy Open Days is in two short weeks. I have been visiting the Conservancy's gardens (my favorites are in northwestern CT) since 1996, its second year. I find one of the best ways to to learn about gardens is to visit the best possible ones you can and The Open Days is a great way to do it. I bring a notebook and take notes of plants I like or are new to me. I also try to sit in every seat in the garden and observe what the host has to offer.

The Monadnock/Greater Manchester Open Days are on June 26 and 27. I was asked by Joe Valentine, a obsessed gardening friend from Francestown if I would like participate. I said sure but now I need to push the petal to the metal! Most of the big jobs have been completed. I am hoping the stars this week will stay for the show. I have a lot of biennials in the garden which means I don't usually mulch the garden until mid-June!

If you are in the area, come see some wonderful gardens. Nine of the eleven gardens will be open for the first time. For more information see The Garden Conservancy's web page

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Rosa 'Complicata' : Not Complicated at All

Rosa 'Complicata'

On the Fence in the Hall with Balls

Close up

Rosa 'Complicata' is a very simple shell pink rose I grow on the picket fence in front of our house. It is an old Gallica hybrid that gets a lot of comments when it blooms right about the time the school year ends at the elementary school across the street. This year has been a warm spring and it is blooming a couple weeks early. It is very hardy, care free and highly recommended.


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