The gardener's eye

The Gardener's Eye

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Mid-Atlantic Group Hardy Plant Society Arrives

The Mid-Atlantic Group of the Hardy Plant Society visited my garden today for about an hour. They were touring gardens in NewHampshire. The leader of the group, Janice Thomas, was scouting for gardens to visit last year when I was on The Garden Conservancy Open Days. I was thrilled to be included because I am originally from Malvern, PA and several of the garden mentors I have learned from, Joanna Reed, Charles Cresson and David Culp, are located outside Philadelphia where most of the gardeners on the tour hailed from. It was particularly fun to point out plants that I gotten from these three generous gardeners in my own garden.

I spent most of the last week preparing the garden for their arrival. Earlier in the season when I had just returned from England and the garden looked rather weedy and tattered, my son, Teddy, pointed out to my wife that when she felt things needed some sprucing up, she should invite people to see the garden and it would be whipped into shape (by me) in no time. He sure was right! The first group of photographs were taken this morning during my final cleanup.

The Upper Garden

The granite steps in the Hall with Balls

 The granite pillar focal point in the woodland garden as seen from the Lower Garden

 The Lower Garden

The Blue Bench Terrace

The Woodland Garden

Forty-three gardeners arrive by motor coach.


Gardeners everywhere in the garden

The most asked about plants were....

Gleditsia triacanthos 'Ruby Lace' 

Centaurea atropurpurea 

Boehmeria platanifolia 

Trachystemon orientalis

Filipendula palmata 'Variegata'

The coach leaves and is off to yet another garden. It is hard to believe that it was only about six weeks ago and I was helping lead a tour of English Gardens to North American gardeners. It was very interesting to see it from the opposite perspective.  Lots of work for such a short time of visiting. It is a great exercise in seeing what needs to be developed and improved in the garden.


  1. The garden is looking great, and seeing people in it, I realize it's much larger than I had thought. I'm glad you were host to the group; it gave you reason to post photos of some of your unusual plants. I see new things I never noticed before on my little computer screen. Congratulations on a successful day. Hope you didn't get stressed out, Michael.

    1. Thanks for your kind comments about the garden, James. As I have been spending a lot of time visiting gardens in England and here in the States and have opened my garden to the public, I have been thinking a lot about Anne Wareham's plea for honest critique in gardens. I wonder what she might say about my garden. I usually photograph things that are working and look good. I could do a post about what looks horrible today, the day after I tried to make it look its best. It is a work in progress--should I wait until it is finished before I show it to anyone? Are there enough gardens worthy of open days? I think you understand how personal taste can affect gardens being included in garden tours. Do I have skin tough enough to handle honest critique? All interesting questions.

      I actually didn't get stressed out. On some level, I have an attitude of "it will be what it will be". One good consequence of visitors is the push to implement new aspects to the garden in a timely manner--putting the pedal to the metal or shovel to the ground, if you will. I am enjoying the garden in top condition this morning, coffee in hand, as I do a walk about!

  2. Michael, congratulations on getting your garden to look immaculate but completely relaxed!
    You've got what amounts to a small estate, not just a home garden, to my eyes anyway.
    I like your Centaurea - one of my favourite exotics; I've not seen 'Altropurpurea' before.
    Do you get to let everything get weedy and tattered again, or is there another event looming to keep you out of your seat?!

    1. Faisal, this is the first year the Centaurea got full size. I am not sure what will happen later in the season. It got a lot taller than I thought it would--I'm wondering if I should move it to a place farther from the edge of the garden--it may not have the most beautiful legs, I'm afraid. I'll keep you posted on what happens...

  3. I really like the granite steps and the corresponding plantings. I also like your name for that area of the garden.

    1. Thanks, Les. It probably should be the "Steps with Balls" but I like "Hall with Balls" a lot better.

  4. What a treat for them and us! Thanks for sharing these photos, Michael.

    I'm catching up on your posts from being away. We've been spending a lot of time in Maine. Going up for a third trip soon.

    Your garden has just the perfect balance of flowers, foliage, structure and ornaments. I love it in all seasons.


  5. Thanks very much, Loi. They were a really fun group. Lots of interesting questions about plants and the garden. I have been enjoying your posts from Maine. Looking forward to more posts. We are heading there this weekend. I am hoping to hit Snug Harbor Farm and the Maine Botanical Garden this week.



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