The gardener's eye

The Gardener's Eye

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Birth of Boxwoods

The boxwoods at the Boccelli Garden were hatching from out of their shells today. 

Happy New Year!!

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Boys are Back in Town

The ten yards of the compost was ripe on Thursday and delivered on Friday. It was just in the nick of time because in a few weeks, maybe days, the temperatures will make it impossible to move the giant  pile of black gold that could instantly turn into a frozen chocolate-colored iceberg. Time was of the essence.The most difficult part about having a small garden on a steep slope is getting anything--mulch, compost, clippings-- from point A to point B.  This time, I was in luck because my son, Teddy, and his roommate, Micky, came home from their apartment outside Boston looking for some extra cash--ready, willing and able to help.

The ramp in the Hall with Balls to the Lower Garden

Micky wheelbarrowing compost to the Woodland Garden

Teddy's turn

Teddy mulching the entrance to the Woodland Garden

Micky adding compost to the boxwoods in the Hall with Balls

We used a hose to create a pleasing curve in the path in the Woodland Garden

Fresh compost mulch in the Woodland Garden

Another curve in the Woodland Garden edged with compost

All done-- in less than half the time it would have taken me to complete the job

Thursday, November 15, 2012

New "Layered" Plantings at Teixeira Park

The Ruin Garden at Teixeira Park has had five years to settle down and fill in. The dozen Malus 'Prariefire' trees along the sidewalk have gotten larger and fruited well. The theme has always been to be a wild garden, attracting birds and butterflies. A common complaint was that the garden felt isolated in the park and the suggestion was to add plantings on the outside of the granite walls of the Ruin Garden to soften them. My thought has always been that as the granite ages and the plants spill out, the garden will mature and its hidden nature will beckon visitors to enter and explore the garden; that being partially concealed was part of the allure. 

But after careful consideration, we decided to plant the two triangular areas formed by the pathways at each end of the park. The East end is full sun and the West end is partial shade. I wanted to continue the wild theme and the paths, like the granite walls in the Ruin garden, made the boundaries very clear, which from a maintenance perspective is a good thing. We would now have three related gardens with overlapping plant lists that would talk to each other and create a repetition of gardens over the entire park as seen from the road. Hopefully the Ruin Garden wouldn't feel isolated, but rather, integrated into the landscape.

The Ruin Garden at Teixeira Park

Waking toward the West Garden from the Ruin Garden

The Part-Shade West Garden at Teixeira Park

The Sidewalk Looking toward the East Garden--Malus 'Prariefire' to the right

The East Garden at Teixeira Park

I have spent many hours studying Piet Oudolf's work in books and have seen three of his designs in person: the Glasshouse Borders at Wisley in England, The High Line and the Gardens of Remembrance in Manhattan. I was particularly  interested in his "layered" approach to planting that Noel Kingsbury describes in the book Landscapes in Landscapes. The first layer is the "martix planting of ground-covering, relatively low growing plants. The next layer is the "island plants where irregularly shaped beds are planted with a mixture of grasses (and in my case, also perennials) for a late-summer-to-winter period of interest." The final layer is "the scatter plants, taller species, often colorful or with distinct structure." We also added trees and shrubs with colorful fruit and bulbs for interest in the early spring. Below is the plant list. Time will tell if our planting will be successful.

The East Garden Plant List

Viburnum dentatum 'Blue Muffin'

Matrix Planting
Sesleria autumnalis
Heuchera villosa 'Autumn Bride'
Aster macrophyllus

Island Plants
Helianthus occidentalis
Liatris ligulistylis
Monarda fistulosa
Solidago speciosa
Sporobolus heterolepsis
Solidago rigida

Scatter Plants
Eupatorium purpureum
Helianthus salicifolius
Sorghastrum nutans
Silphium perfoliatum

Camassia leichtlinii 'Blue Danube'
Chionodoxa sardensis
Tulipa sylvestris

The West Garden Plant List

Cornus mas

Matrix Planting
Sesleria autumnalis
Heuchera villosa 'Autumn Bride'
Aster macrophyllus

Island Plants
Helianthus stromusus
Aster divaricatus
Sporobolus heterolepsis

Scatter plants
Eupatorium purpureum
Aruncus aethusifolia
Aralia racemosa

Camassia leichtlinii 'Blue Danube'
Chionodoxa sardensis
Hyacinthoides non-scripta
Tulipa sylvestris

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Chanticleer in October

When we arrived at Chanticleer, the day after the Perennial Plant Conference, I suggested that Tovah and Maude use the facilities and asked them produce evidence (Tovah's photo above) that Chanticleer's  ladies lavatory was just as impressive (marble counter tops, lovely tile work and, of course, a vase of fresh flowers from the garden) as the men's room. I was happy to learn that Chanticleer did not discriminate on the basis of gender. 

We had a wonderful tour of the gardens on a perfect October morning led by Bill Thomas, Executive Director and Head Gardener of Chanticleer. Like New Hampshire, Pennsylvania had a hard frost about  a week earlier. The staff had a done miraculous job covering the tender plants and you would have never known that the thermometer dropped below freezing.

A stand of Musa ‘Thai Black’ at the Teacup Garden

Hand made iron stairway railing 

The stairway at the Chanticleer House

A planter  of Agave attenuata, Calathea roseopicta, Melanthus major and Pelargonium sidoides overflowing with Senecio radicans

Tovah is curious about this plant

Maude took this shot of Tovah conferring with Bill Thomas about the plant ID

The Rill Garden with pots of Aechmea ‘Dean’ and Dichondra argentea


Another beautiful shot by Maude through the limbed up branches of Lagerstroemia 'Tonto' in the Rill Garden

The bright orange flowers of Leonotis leonurus

Vitex trifolia 'Purpurea' in the West Bed at Chanticleer House

Soft clouds of pink Muhlenbergia capillaris at the Gravel Garden

A bench in the Minder Woods

The Ruin Garden

Quercus alba trained up a pillar at the Ruin Garden


Oak Leaf Water Fountain

Red Dwarf Grain Sorghum winds its way through the Serpentine Garden

Close up of Sorghum

The New Bell's Wood Bridge to the American Woodland looked like a giant submarine...

...was actually a fallen beech tree.

Gardeners come in all sizes.

Thanks to Maude Odgers and Tovah Martin for some of the photographs for this post.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Box, Tea and Agaves

Federal Twist wasn't the only garden we had the chance to visit while traveling to and from the Perennial Plant Conference at Swarthmore College. Tovah arranged for us to visit Andrea Filippone's elegant garden in Pottersville, New Jersey. Andrea owns an interiors and landscape design firm and has in the process become a boxwood expert. Her interest in the organic management of her boxwoods and garden transformed her into passionate proponent of sustainable and environmentally friendly gardening practices. She is a partner in a company called F2 Environmental Design which "bases its landscape management techniques on encouraging and maintaining the natural living systems, through soil management techniques, applying custom blends of compost, liquid biological amendments often referred to as “compost tea”, and other biological nutrients."

The gate into the Boxwood Garden

Andrea doesn't severely shear her boxwoods into balls, hedges  or cones. She allows them to grow naturally. She has found that they are more disease resistant, stronger and healthier. This is a cultivar of Buxus microphylla named 'Grace Hendrick Phillips'

All the lawns are treated organically with a compost tea filled with beneficial naturally occurring organisms to improve the soil.

I recognized this view immediately from a NYTimes article about the garden

Andrea is demonstrating where, deep in to plant, is the best place to prune boxwoods to let in air and light to the in order to keep them healthy and strong.

Andrea's dalmatian leads the way into the formal French potager 

The pool is the central feature leading to the greenhouse which is heated and powered by solar energy

A grouping of antique sprinklers 

The greenhouse was salvaged from Rutgers University and is filled with tender plants brought in for the winter including many cultivars of Agave. Adrea has found both boxwoods and succulents are perfect plants for keeping the local deer population at bay.

Andrea says the leaves of this agave move throughout the day, depending on the light, almost like an octopus

The boxwood nursery that Andrea uses for projects and clients is a garden in itself.


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