The gardener's eye

The Gardener's Eye

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Taking the Road Less Traveled on Pack Monadnock

Two roads diverged in a White Wood called Pack Monadnock

The more traveled road

I took the less traveled road

It made all the difference 

Actually, it made no difference; they both went to the same place, the top

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost
New Hampshire, 1915

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Subtraction in a Maturing Garden

Over a decade ago, I planted a pair of small Juniperus scopulorum 'Skyrocket' trees to add a vertical accent on the slope connecting the Upper garden with Lower Garden. Later, I added granite steps and planted it with boxwoods which gave the impression of balls rolling down the hill. The junipers flourished and became quite handsome but in the last several years they have grown out of scale for the space and suffered snow damage. In the mean time, the yew hedge that encloses the area has finally become a wall and the Cornus officinialis in the center of the space is large enough to become a focal point in the space.

After our snow this Thanksgiving, it became clear that the junipers were more of a detriment than a virtue in the garden. I removed them today and I don't regret my decision.

The pair of Juniperus scopulorum 'Skyrocket' trees in the Hall with Balls.

Now that the junipers are gone, the granite retaining wall can be seen once more.

The "before view" from the Upper Garden

and the "after view" with Cornus officinialis to the left.

A pleasant surprise was the view from the Master Bedroom. The boxwoods that seem to be rolling down the hill are exposed as well as the Cornus officinialis in the center of the Hall with Balls. The round boxwoods have been used as a unifying element in the garden. I like the idea that the boxwoods give the impression that they have rolled from the Upper Garden down through the Hall with Balls into the Lower gardena and down into the Woodland Garden below. I did a series of posts earlier this year experimenting with ideas about how to place boxwoods in the rest of garden; its time to think about it once more.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Stewartias in Full Blaze

Two Stewartia pseudocamellia trees with bright orange foliage in the morning light in the Lower Garden. I planted these trees from seed I collected at the Arnold Arboretum in 1996. I collected both seeds from the same parent plant hoping to get similar progeny. I failed to realize that all the stewartias species are planted together and there could be any number of genetic crosses in the seed I collected. My trees have slightly different bark and stature but similar autumn foliage. Last year's fall color was disappointing. This year was hit.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Great Expectations Realized

Now that I have finally seen the smoldering fall foliage on my three toddler Lindera glauca var. angustifolia plants in the Woodland Garden, the purported four-season usefulness of this shrub has been confirmed. I first encountered this plant at the Arnold Arboretum in the winter when the persistant foliage turns a tawny tan color. I have placed this plant in the woodland garden along a path on a steep slope so the shrub will create a year-long visual and physical barrier ensuring that the garden visitor will not physically, and psychologically, roll down the hill into the garden below. This particular plant is placed forward to our native hemlock, Tsuga canadensis, which should be an effective combination all winter. During the summer, the  foliage is a pleasing light green color with glaucous tones on the undersides.

A second specimen is planted against the back of the yew hedge of the Lower Garden, a terraced garden room above the Woodland Garden. Here, I have combined it with Hydrangea quercifolia 'Snowqueen' whose massive leaves will be a nice contrast to the long glossy leaves of Lindera glauca var. angustifolia in any season.

Lindera glauca var. angustifolia does best in a semi-shaded site with ample moisture and will grow to about 5 feet; a few feet smaller than the very similar, and more well-known, Lindera glauca var. salicigolia. I chose this plant for its smaller stature which should fit in nicely in my diminutive woodland garden. As an added bonus, female plants produce small black fruit following tiny yellow flowers in early spring.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Boccelli Garden: the End of the First Season of a Public/Private Partnership Project V

This weekend is 'Peek into Peterborough'. Busloads of tourists come to New England and Peterborough to see the fall foliage. I was hoping things would still be looking vibrant at this point in the season. Now that the grass has grown in, the new project at the Boccelli Garden is looking well-established.

The fall foliage of clethra (yellow) and enkianthus (red) in the far left of the new gardens can be seen from across the Nubanusit River.

We got several new Adirondack chairs for the downtown parks this year.

 About a month ago, we enlarged the new bed below the retaining wall. The original idea was to leave grass below the last 5-6 feet of the retaining wall to create a bench, but I think the enlarged bed envelops the new terrace and existing Boccelli Garden and is an improvemnet even if the "bench" has been lost.

The Boccelli Garden as it has always looked in October.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The Aussies Arrive

The ASA (Australians Studying Abroad) Tour called "Gardens, Art & Fall Foliage: Coastal Maine to Philadelphia including Boston & New York" stopped in earlier this week to visit my garden. A tour led by John Patrick (far left above) was spending 23 days visiting North East America to see gardens including Wave Hill, Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, Longwood Gardens, Chanticleer and several private gardens, including mine. When I was asked to be a stop on this tour and saw the list of gardens they would be visiting, I was honored to be included.

The night before their arrival, the temperatures dipped to 34 degrees F and many of the tender plants were hit by a light frost. I watered the lightly frosted foliage of the coleus and begonias in this flower box before the sun hit the leaves. This old trick of florists seemed to work because the leaves survived unscathed. Apparently, the cell damage to the leaves occurs as the sun melts the frozen water on the leaves but if warm water melts the ice, there is less chance of damage. The afternoon turned out to be a lovely sunny autumn day: perfect for garden visiting.

I learned that the Eucalyptus gunnii ‘Silver Drop’ that I use as an annual in the Lower Garden grows to become a large tree in Australia. John Patrick also pointed out that Plectranthus argentatus, another silver-foliaged-plant that I use as textural plant in the Lower Garden is also native to Australia.

The most admired plant on the Blue Bench Terrace was Pelargonium sidoides, a tender geranium with gray foliage and tiny magenta flowers which spilled out of the central planter.


Being such a small garden on this tour had its advantages because the participants got the chance to use the seating throughout the garden to take a contemplative moment to rest and actually "be" in the garden.

I thoroughly enjoyed the invasion of friendly Aussies to my garden. Australia has always intrigued me. I hope to get the opportunity to visit gardens in their country one day.

Monday, September 22, 2014

The Upper Garden in Late September

Melianthus major, Salvia 'Indigo Spires', Amaranthus hypochondriacsDahlia 'Bishop of Llandaff' doing their job well before frost hits.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Putnam Park in Late September

Sanguisorba officinalis, or burnet, is indispensable in the garden at Putnam Park. The red button-like flowers of this northern European native create a great textural addition and they contrast well with the asters and persicarias of autumn. The way they float in the breeze is magical.

View From the Living Room the Last day of Summer

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Texture, Texture Read All About It

It is the textural elements of plants that I find most intriguing. When I am looking for plants at another garden or nursery, the foliage is very important. Grey, red/purples and chartreuse are often good colors to mix with other plants. Then I look for foliage that is thin vs thick, shiny vs flat or fuzzy, serrated vs smooth edged, round vs long. All the grass-like foliaged plants are particularly useful as are the round or paddle-like shaped leaves. When I put a composition together, I try to have a pleasing balance between contrast and harmony with both leaf color and leaf texture.


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