Reposting of New Design-Part One-Why?

The garden, my garden is an extension of my inner being. It is personal, not just a hobby. It exists not just geographically but metaphysically. The Faire Garden is not a location that stays put. It is the garden I create wherever I happen to be. At the moment it is in Southeast Tennessee, but it could be anyplace. The act of gardening is in the striving to achieve a vision that has been formed by every garden that has been visited, every book that has been read, every magazine article that has been studied and even every blog post that has been poured over and absorbed. The vision is a great cloud of words and pictures swirling inside the hippocampus. It is at this time of year, as the summer lushness winds down, that critical inspection of the garden as a whole and the individual parts can be objectively executed. We want it to be better. It can be better, but how? Why does the hypertufa planter shown above please us so? What is it about that miniature landscape that works so well to give us delight and please the eye? There is color, texture, form, contrast and healthy plants all working together in harmony. Not to mention here, that will be another subject in this series of posts, the ease of care. This planter gets watered and occasional pruning. It looks good all year, even mid winter. This is the vision I have for the entire garden. It is our goal to translate these ideas into job lists that when accomplished will transform this garden into the pleasure producing spot of my dreams and strivings. I invite you to come along on this journey and feel free to offer your opinions. Shall we proceed?

Along the wall at the back of the house is a forty foot bed that gets lots of attention. It is planted with a variety of daffodils, grape hyacinths and small fritillarias that make early spring sing with joy. After that, it is disappointing by comparison. We have used many annuals for color, believing that color was the missing link. There was once a row of lavenders to provide heavenly scent, they all died but two, for the ground is thick red clay under the layers of mulch. What has worked here is Japanese blood grass, Imperata cylindrica, one of the highlights of the hypertufa container that works so well. It has movement, color,and is not too tall to block the view up the hill. It disappears during winter though. There is diversity of leaf form and color with the golden creeping jenny and the Euphobia dulcis ‘Chameleon’. What is lacking is flower color and a larger leaf. Is that asking too much?

Above is the bed at the side of the garage deck. It is a success with the use of the blood grass, creeping thymes giving form contrast and four large plants for substance and dimension, common pussywillow, coppiced, Aronia melanocarpa ‘Viking’ for its black berries and fall leaf color, Rosa ‘About Face’ for peach flower color and a self sown snakeroot, Ageratina altissima for fall presence and insect attraction. Rosemary at the right gives evergreen interest.

A view from under the garage deck just to the right of the previous shot shows the standard trained Pee Gee Hydrangea as focal point but the surrounding plants, while pretty are too similar in leaf form. The volunteer purple perillas keep this from being a sea of green spikes. This bed is the white/yellow garden. That may have not been a good idea as there is not enough contrast. Some of you may think there is nothing wrong here and you are right. But it can be better. What can be added or subtracted to improve this design? That is the driving force behind the desire for change. Knowing that it can be improved.

Another view of the same area shows more of the reasons for dissatisfaction. It is a jumble without design, an accumulation of a variety of plants that are not being used to the best effect. This is a true long shot of the garden behind the garage that includes the orange berries of the giant pyracantha hedge, easily fifteen feet tall and fifty feet long. The neighbor’s mature maple is a borrowed view. You can see the immensity of it knowing the height of the pyracantha. The fall colors of the leaves of this magnificent tree are always stupendous. We are glad to not have to deal with those leaves after they fall however wonderful is the compost they make.

The planting under the Pee Gee shows the failure of delight even better. Again without the weedy perilla it would be even worse. Barely showing up is the budded dwarf goldenrod that will help out with some golden yellow to brighten this spot. The edges are lined with the plentiful grape hyacinths for spring interest and there is a row of small blue Veronica ‘Royal Candles ‘ mixed in there as well. The idea of a yellow/white bed is going to need some tweaking in the plant choices. Last year several echinaceas were added, at no small expense. They have all but disappeared. Some died, and none have grown larger. More study is needed here.

A pleasure at the moment is the fergully area, notice the edge of the compost bin at the far right of this shot. Tall perennials Joe Pye weed and what we call the tall sunflower, rudbeckia lanciniata are joined by a single volunteer Datura metel. The large leaves of the datura are what is missing in the yellow/white bed, don’t you agree? Another lesson to be gleaned here is the height of the plants. The back yard is big, three city lots actually and spread out in a way that the entire space cannot be viewed from any one spot. A whole bunch of little plants with little leaves, no matter how beautiful in those macro shots just are not up to the task of meeting expectations. We need more plants with larger leaves. And a mass planting of fewer plants that have multi seasonal interest.

Beautiful and tough Salvia greggii is a fine example of the little leaf syndrome. Add to that little flowers and you may begin to see the problem. The red is great, it draws the eye just as expected, but there is no contrast of texture and form, and let’s not forget size. But there is hope in the upper right corner of this photo, let’s check it out.

The bed in front of the side of the shed was given the redo treatment last fall. There is a small boxwood hedge that needs to do some more growing that will offer evergreen color and geometry in addition to holding up floppy plants heavy with flower heads and trying to keep their footing on this very steep slope. The blackberry lilies have been spread from collected and sown seeds and are now numerous enough for some impact. Their iris shaped leaves are a good foil to the now brown eryngiums located here. The grass Stipa tenuissima has been spread here for movement and diversity with its winter leaf color against the boxwood. The hypericum at the right has finally grown to a size that calls attention to the yellow spring flowers, purplish leaf color and dark berries. The color added by the Heleniums is turning this bed into one of the successes. We just need more of these plants to fill in the blank spaces.

Just to show you why this is named blackberry lily. These are ready to be sown in the ground now, and some already have been planted. We need a mass of these plants, for they are very floppy and need to be in a group to hold each other up.

At the end of the long wall behind the main house is the pond. Again this is not adequate to the vision. The red Japanese maples have begun to recover from the direct hit of the Easter freeze of 2007. We lost four out of eight of this type of tree and consider it a blessing that these two were spared. But that disaster did set back the vision for this spot. The pond was redone that same year a month earlier and the hopes were high. The villain for the last two years has been the drought, all but knocking out the hostas that surround the top of the pond. Hostas were used extensively in this shady area of the hill and looked good in the first few years. The lack of water has killed several outright and damaged severely what is still alive. We need that large leaf with the blue and yellow coloring of the cultivars planted here. Is there a substitution that can be made? Something xeric?

To begin the wrap up of this portion of the new design plan we give you a shot taken from the back of the house at the long wall. The space between the house and wall is nine feet and the whole area is covered in river bottom gravel from the Tennessee river. Nearly all of the container collection lives along the wall where the plantings can be watered easily and tended to lovingly. There has never been a year with the containers that we were satisfied with the way they looked. We have tried all perennials for year around interest, all coleus, bulbs with pansies, this year the theme was orange annuals. While nice, this year is like all the rest, with a grade of Cminus being generous.

For those of you who come to this blog to see macro shots of brightly colored flowers, here is your fix. This is the regular shot of a dark orange zinnia with some red Salvia coccinea to the far left, yellow melampodium just left and Verbena bonariensis behind.

And the same shot cropped.
~~~
This is the first installment of the new design series. It has yet to be determined if these will go in sequence or have some other type of posts interspersed between them. On a technical note, all of the photos were taken on the same day at the same time of day, early morning just as the sun was shining with a slant from the East. That is usually a good time for photographing the garden, but it still looks very different in person. Nothing can compare to experiencing a garden in whole with bird songs, insect and wind movement, smells and sensations. The garden is a beauty, there is no disputing that. But it is not static and in the changing there is much improvement that can and will be made, some sooner and some more long term. Plans and tastes can even change before the stage setting bears fruit. Fall leads to winter where gardening is done here in bundled garb and the biggest changes get carried out with moist soil and without the distraction of weeds or butterflies. We can make this place prettier and at the same time easier to tend. It can be done!

Frances

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46 Responses to Reposting of New Design-Part One-Why?

  1. PGL says:

    Sounds like you have some plans running around in your head. This is the time of year I start thinking about how to modify or improve my beds too. Great post today Frances. And your garden is lovely!

  2. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    I love seeing your garden overall. I share in those “visions” you spoke of in that I am always trying to “improve” the overall look.

    This time of year there isn’t much blooming in my garden. It is the mix of greens that carry on.

    I will look forward to seeing what else you are thinking about in your garden. These thoughts of yours make me look at my garden different.

  3. tina says:

    I think your garden is an amazing garden and you an amazing gardener. Whatever you decide to change will be super too.

  4. Gail says:

    Frances, An excellent post! You have asked the essential gardening questions; questions that are certainly pertinent to my garden;-) I look at the photos and see the beauty you have created; but I do understand the striving to have it meet your vision.

    I don’t know what the solution plants are for our Tennessee gardens. What xeric plants can withstand the waxing and waning of our rain, the poor drainage of our soils and the heat and humidity! I gave up Hostas long ago and have yet to find the plant to replace their amazing amount of leaf coloration. (Next time you are in town let’s go to Growild and ask Mike what natives he could recommend to fit the bill. ) I would suggest Verbascum thapsis for its xeric qualities, its outstanding leaf color and size, but it is a thug of monumental proportions and on the invasives threat list!

    Thank you for a great read, stimulating questions, sharing your garden vision and for those dazzling close-ups! We need to set a date for my visit! Gail

  5. Sylvia (England) says:

    A very interesting post Frances. We all think we could do better next year and next year! I think you have a lovely garden and look forward to reading how you develop it.

    Hostas and heat, I don’t have the problem so I can’t help but I will be interested in alternative plants because my hostas are looking so tatty with holes at the moment. I am growing more heuchera as the slugs and snails leave them alone, different varieties seem to vary in their toughness, so perhaps there are some that can cope with your climate.

    Have fun, best wishes Sylvia (England)

  6. Jean says:

    Frances, lovely post. I think we can all relate. And thanks for giving us a tour of your garden, it looks really great. About your yellow and white garden… maybe you’re on the right path with that perilla. I.e., add some burgundies in there. An idea might be castor bean plant?? That might be too big for that area but it should be fairly drought tolerant. And yes, I think the datura would be great there too.

  7. Frances, says:

    Hi PGL, thanks. There is something about knowing that we are on the downhill slide of the garden’s action that sparks ideas for betterment. I enjoy this part, the planning and dreaming of what could be, don’t you?

    Hi Lisa, thanks so much. I have gotten so many ideas from the blogs, including yours! Change is good, right?

    Hi Tina, whew, I am blushing, thanks! The garden is a wild thing, but tameable, sort of. We wouldn’t want it to be too calm. That is part of its charm, nature taking charge.

  8. Frances, says:

    Hi Gail, I can’t wait for you to see the garden in person, we will try and set a date. The trouble with our drought is that during the winter it can be quite wet, that spells death to so many of the xeric plants. While I have good drainage on the hill, it is still clay underneath the mulch. Finding those plants that can meet the needs of the environment AND meet my design requirements is a challenge. Any help from your wildplant guy would be helpful, or anyone! The verbascum could work in the yellow/white, that is full sun and flat, but invasive is a problem there for there are special plants like the lilies and fancy echinaceas that need protecting from thugs. Maybe when you see it you can think of a solution with me.

    Hi Sylvia, thanks so much. That is a great suggestion around the pond for the heucheras. It is shady and dry, there are probably some varieties that would do well there. Hooray!

    Hi Jean, thanks for that great suggestion. I do grow a few annuals, especially ones that reseed themselves. That castor bean is too large for that bed, but could be used elsewhere for some large leaf impact. Great idea, thanks so much.

  9. Mr. McGregor's Daughter says:

    I applaud your willingness to try to make over areas of the garden that do not satisfy you. It’s a drag that the large-leaved plants are those that need more moisture. (I have Ligularia envy.) I hope you find the plants you need. Would Chaemacyparis survive in your garden? If so, one of the little blues or golds might be just the thing for the white/yellow garden.

  10. Shady Gardener says:

    Hi Frances, Gardening is definitely never static! ;-) And if/when a gardener changes location, it’s the “gardener” within the gardener that strives to create harmony, balance, and areas pleasing to the beholder. I always enjoy seeing what you’ve done and what you’re doing. Thanks for your sensitive post. :-)
    p.s. I’ve been meaning to create a hypertufa container for some time!! Hope you’ve inspired me to make it a priority.

  11. DP Nguyen says:

    Your garden is gorgeous as always. It looks so peaceful and serene. I am sure whatever you decide to do will be perfect! Your garden is a wonderful escape and how lucky you are to have such a great place.

  12. Frances, says:

    Hi MMD, thanks. I wish we had a spot for those ligularias, they are exquisite in leaf and flower. Sigh. We do have several, make that many of the chams, including a row of ten that border the veggie garden of Gold Mops, that are supposed to grow to 5'x5'. They are at about eight feet high and still climbing. I asked the nursery guy in Nashville that Gail took my to about that and he said those sizes are with pruning! Well anything can be any size with pruning. Maybe there is a true dwarf or even miniature, I think those are smaller. The tiny thing I could afford would be eaten by the other plants unfortunately. An evergreen is a good idea, thanks for the help. I'll be at Zany's on friday to heckle you, be ready!

    Hi Shady, good for you on the hypertufa, put it on your task list on your sidebar to remind yourself, I do that sometimes. Thanks for those supportive words. The garden is a challenge and as one ages, the challenge is even greater to be able to maintain it, yet another factor in the plan. Wish me luck!

    Hi DP, thanks so much. I am indeed lucky to have been able to have the time and resources to create this garden in addition to being physically able to do some heavy work. My advice to you is do the heavy lifting while you are still young! ;->

  13. lola says:

    Great post & great pics. Will be happy to see your changes. I know how it is to want a garden to look a certain way & have to keep trying different plants to achieve the look we want.
    Yes, ability has a large part to play in achieving the look we want.

  14. Frances, says:

    Hi Lola, nice to see you. I have been studying photographs and reading up on Piet Oudolf and have come to the conclusion that his style is what I have been looking for in the garden. Ease of maintenance is key along with a naturalistic look. It can be done, but can I do the hard editing that is necessary?

  15. Aunt Debbi/kurts mom says:

    Great post Frances. Love the garden tour. My garden renovations usually come when an area has been allowed to grow into a total disaster.

  16. Rose says:

    I so enjoyed this tour of your garden, Frances. I can only imagine how much more impressive it must be when viewing it in person.

    I can’t offer any suggestions–you are much more experienced than I!–but trying to make the garden drought tolerant makes plant choice even more difficult.

    Enjoyed reading your musings about what a garden means and how it is constantly changing. I have been thinking, too, about changes for next year. I want you to know that your garden is an inspiration to me and has given me many new ideas.
    Looking forward to reading more about your new plans!

  17. Roses and Lilacs says:

    Hi Frances, Good subject. I often feel like you describe. I will keep improving my garden but I’ve given up the idea it will ever be perfect or even approaching perfection. I’m not as dedicated as are you first of all. Second my garden is more trial and error than a vision to work toward. Many of my trials are failures that I hope to improve next season.

    Let me say that from where I’m setting, your garden looks great. Maybe not the perfection you want, but great! Those little .jpg photos we see online don’t begin to let us view all the subtle colors and shapes.
    Marnie

  18. Skeeter says:

    The vision I just saw in your garden through this post is wonderful! I think you are the type gardener that will never be completely satisfied with your gardens as a whole. I see a perfect garden, you do not. If you did see the perfect garden, maybe you would feel less need to be in the garden on a daily basis. See where I am going here? You have the drive and need to do more and more therefore; your vision will never be fulfilled. But your life will be fulfilled with each day as you dig, plant and water your lovely surroundings….

    Ah, the life of a true Gardner…

    It is truly spectacular Frances!

  19. Frances, says:

    Hi Deb, thanks. Since I work in the garden nearly every day it probably wouldn’t get to disaster ranking. That is the trouble, with a disaster you know that you have to do something to fix it, when it looks pretty good, there is not anything that jumps out as wrong. It takes much more study. I am having fun studying design schools though.

    Hi Rose, thanks for that high compliment. I know your garden is lovely and feel honored to have given you or anyone else a useable idea. Arent’ garden blogs the greatest?

    Hi Marnie, thanks so much. I am not trying for perfection for that will never be possible. I just want to apply some of the things I have read about and seen recently to make the garden more pleasing. It truly does please me now, but there must always be something else to do, and not just pull weeds, yuck, that puts a bounce in my step as I don my gardening gear and head outside.

    Hi Skeeter, thanks for you insightful words. You are spot on with them. It is the constant striving that is what makes gardening the perfect fit for me. I love to work hard and have plenty on my plate that needs doing. I love being outside, all year no matter the temps and I love growing things. That all those things I enjoy can also be changed and rearranged with the result being an improvement over what was, is the icing on the cake. Thanks for being so supportive, I really do appreciate you.

  20. flowergardengirl.com says:

    Your garden does look well planned and maintained. It’s a lot of work and takes some constant thinking. I can appreciate your comments about making a garden wherever you live. Enjoyed the pics today and the telling of the piece.

  21. GardenJoy4Me says:

    Frances I am in awe of your gardens .. they are beautiful !
    There is so much work and constant changes to planning it must keep you ‘garden thinking” almost all the time.
    I find now is the time to write what I want to change and plan for next year while it is fresh in my mind .. otherwise .. duh ? LOL
    The Japanese Blood grass is so striking .. I’m a grass fan so I take note of those. I’m hoping my Green Panda Bamboo is going to actually do the job I have it doing (in my head ?) haha.
    Wonderful pictures !

  22. Frances, says:

    Hi Anna, I fixed your link BTW in the sidebar. Thanks for dropping by. The garden does take up most of my time, I like it that way. I don’t have to care for children anymore and can care for the garden instead. Glad you enjoyed this story. There will be more to follow as I figure out solutions to specific spots.

    Hi Joy, so nice to see you. I am garden thinking all the time. I don’t know what I would do with myself without the garden. It is very forgiving if I am away or otherwise occupied with other things too. You are so right that now is the perfect time to see what is needed. Even if it is just a quick note to self. Thanks for stopping by.

  23. Defining Your Home says:

    I found my way here via PGL. You have gorgeous gardens and your photography (and use of light) is just remarkable! I’ll stop by often. Cameron

  24. Frances, says:

    Hi Cameron, thanks so much and welcome. I can take no credit for the light, but the gardens are mine! I do hope to see you again and your photo of the hummer with the black and blue salvia was amazing!

  25. Fran Sorin says:

    Frances-
    You’ve offered all of us a wonderful treatise on garden design that captures not only the dynamics and ‘how tos’ of proceeding but also the ‘heart and soul’ of creating. Whatever you may consider not yet up to par design wise is fine. But overall, you’ve got one heck of a garden and you’re a terrific gardener! Thanks for sharing! Fran

  26. Frances, says:

    Hi Fran, what glowing words, thanks so much! This post and the ones to follow are a bit of soul searching on my part in addition to trying to make the garden better. Sort of painful but a way to get out choosing plants and placing them using criteria that are not working for me at present. It is a struggle to figure out what to change and what to change it to! I appreciate your kind support and am flattered as well. Thank you.

  27. Jill in Atlanta says:

    Oh if only I had the time….

  28. Philip Bewley says:

    What a beautiful post, Frances.
    There was so many things of interest, but I loved the planter as a micrcosm of the whole garden.
    I felt transported by the light in the early morning, slanted from the east. It has been a pleasure to see the posts of your garden this last Spring and Summer.The Autumnal qualities beginning to appear in your garden is wonderful to look at and enjoy.
    You have created a spectacular garden which has an atmosphere in every season.
    Regards,
    Philip

  29. Frances, says:

    Hi Jill in Atlanta, thanks and welcome. It does take time to make a garden like this, lots of it, but that is the way of all gardens, isn’t it?

    Hi Philip, you are a sweetheart! How observant you are to notice the changes in light through the garden posts. I had thought there was something wrong with my camera mid summer, the photos were so washed out, but it was just the overhead blazing summer sun. The golden light of fall is coming soon. The light of spring is pink. The light of winter is…well we will have to see! I am so happy you enjoyed seeing my garden, it is the main reason I blog.

  30. Blackswamp_Girl says:

    Frances, you know that I drool over your gardens… and these pictures are no exception to that. :)

    That said, I’ve been having some similar “issues” with needing contrast in some areas of my garden, mostly with larger-leaf plants. I’ve used cannas with some success in shadier areas… you don’t get the flowers as much with more shade, but you do get the big leaves and their interesting coloring, if you use some of the reddish or golden varieties. And although they’re supposed to love moisture, they seem to be more xeric than most people give them credit for–at least in my yard.

    Something you might want to use in place of your smaller hostas are the lady’s mantles. I’m not sure how they would hold up to your heat, but they seem to do okay here even in a dry, sunny bed.

    Maybe the answer, too, isn’t even so much with the larger leaves as it is with dense areas of evergreens? I keep thinking about doing a ribbon of dense, clipped boxwood or maybe of silver lavender cotton…

  31. Blackswamp_Girl says:

    Oh, and bergenia! I’ve noticed that the bergenia I’ve had in place for 2-3 years now is forming a nice dense mass, and seems to “ground” the area around it rather nicely…

  32. Frances, says:

    Hi Kim, thanks so much for all of those good suggestions. I have tried the bergenia, new last year. I had to move it from the pond area, it didn’t show up at all to another shady spot on the steep slope. It is hanging in despite the squirrels trying their best to dig it out of the ground. I ended up putting large rocks around the base. That kept it more moist and the critters at bay. It didn’t bloom this year, but is still alive, a plus. I am for the everygreen idea and have had good success with blue star junipers. A friend suggested lamb’s ear, which I have by the truck load, although it is a little short. I love ladies’ mantle and have tried it several times, it died immediately. I grew it in my other TN garden and it self seeded but that was more level and back when we were getting regular rain. Cannas have been tried too, same result, the hill is just too dry. For that same reason though, the bulbs love it there, spring is great, it’s this time of year that is blah. Thanks for helping.

  33. Blackswamp_Girl says:

    Hmm… I never thought about the Junipers, but I might have to give those a try myself. They would have that “grounding” effect that you and I both seem to be searching for these days in the garden, that’s for sure.

    Another thing, I thought you already had the ‘Jack Frost’ brunnera (but I may be assuming that, since you and I have lots of plants in common!) but that is extremely tolerant of dry shade conditions. I’m not sure whether the regular dark-green-leaf brunnera would have the same drought tolerance, but it might be worth a try.

    Or… well, sculpture. Between you and your artistic offspring, I’m thinking that someone can come up with a few awe-inspiring somethings to create focal points. :)

  34. Balisha says:

    Hi,
    Come over to my blog…there’s an award for you.

  35. Frances, says:

    Hi Kim, thanks for even more suggestions. Since you mentioned them, I saw lady’s mantle for sale today while in Knoxville that looked pretty good, and I bought three of them! I had some Brunnera, just the green kind that died when the big tree ferngully died and put all those shade plants in full sun. I love Jack Frost and will give it a try, I even saw some today but had already bought the lady’s mantle. Next time! I do appreciate your help. I have had great luck with the blue stars, they are slow growing but the color is so pretty with everything, especially the chartreuse greens. Now to figure out where to place these guys, oops, gals.

    Hi Balisha,thanks and welcome and double thanks for the award. It is proudly displayed on my sidebar with a link to your blog, Never Enough Time. I will add you on the blog list too.

  36. Crafty Gardener says:

    Thank you for the garden tour. I’m so glad we can take virtual tours of other gardens. What would we do without the internet. I see you are still very busy at Blotanical.

  37. Frances, says:

    Hi Crafty, thanks and glad you enjoyed the tour. I don't remember what took up so much of my time before the internet, especially during non gardening hours! I am picking even though the blogger blogs are not showing up, it makes the pickings slim! ;=>

  38. Val at The Illustrated Garden says:

    Wow! Thanks for the extensive garden tour. I feel as if I walked through the greenery in person. It’s a beautiful place.

  39. Frances, says:

    Hi Val, thanks and welcome. I am so impressed with your talent for drawing what you are growing. It makes mere photographs pale by comparison.

  40. Cosmo says:

    Hi, Frances–Great tour and great questions–I learned a lot from this virtual walk through your garden. My suggestions–and forgive me if someone else suggested these, you had so many great comments!–would be germanders and santolinas for the drier parts of the garden. We have heavy clay soil, too, and these do really well, especially in dry conditions (they can get leggy during a wet summer). They are both small-leaved, though the santolina mounds really nicely and so gives a little structure of its own. I thought yours was a great posting, really helpful.

  41. Frances, says:

    Hi Cosmo, thanks so much for trying to help. I agree with your suggestions and do use santolina, gray and green both in the knot garden at the top of the property. Germander would work there as well. I was just looking at some nice specimens at a local nursery in Knoxville this weekend. The most problematic plant choices seem to be the large leaf ones. Drought tolerant large leaves are hard to come by. I appreciate your thoughtfulness, thanks.

  42. marmee says:

    your garden is lovely! i love the pee gee hydrangeas just beautiful !
    those are so unusual, the blackberry lilies. the ferngully area is great!
    i know we can all improve but you don’t have much room for it.
    thank you for taking me on a stroll thru your very lovely garden!

  43. Frances, says:

    Hi Marmee, thanks for those kind words. Funny how the garden looks to different sets of eyes. Mine see lots of room for improvement. But I am so glad you went along for the tour and my ramblings!

  44. Pam/Digging says:

    Frances, I had to set aside a block of time to read this post, which is why I’m so late commenting here. Since you took the time to really muse over your design issues, I wanted to take the time to read through it with you.

    You and I have some of the same problems. While I don’t have a slope, I have slow-draining clay soil and use a lot of fine-leaved plants (which tend to be more xeric). As you know, I use broad-leaved agaves and yuccas for evergreen structure and large-leaf contrast. Have you found any cold-tolerant agaves or yuccas that might work for you? I think they’d love your slope, which would help keep their feet dry.

    Mass plantings of grasses, while fine-leaved themselves, look nice in contrast with salvias. They create a ball-like mass, much like boxwood, with the added advantage of fall interest.

    I was also going to suggest cannas and sculpture, but I see Kim beat me to it. Other than that, I’m not sure what works in your area. Maybe reliance on evergreen shrubs for additional structure?

    Good luck. It’s fun to watch the progress of an excellent gardener at work. I know you’ll come up with something stunning.

  45. Frances, says:

    Hi Pam, thanks so much for such a thoughtful comment. So far the agaves have turned to mush over the winter. They are a little too sharp for the style here, but I do love them in your garden. Maybe in my next garden there will be a spot for them. We tend to have rainy winters, I think that does them in. I have tried cannas, even ordering a new phaison from plant delights this spring. It is alive but not yet large enough for impact. If it grows and prospers there may be more of them, I don’t even care about the flowers and would probably cut them off. I do have some sculpture, a black metal pineapple that was a gift from the Financier when we lived in Texas. It was featured in one of the posts about color in the garden workshop. The mass of grasses is my best option, and there are a couple of areas planted like that already that are very pleasing. I am still on the search for the xeric large leaf, but it seems a difficult task. I also will look forward to the stories of your new garden as you make that spot your own.

  46. Michael W Winkley says:

    I am interested in obtaining a giant pyracantha. Can you help in any way?

    Several of my pyracanthas came from Lowe’s, if that is any help to you. They grow quickly to a large size.
    Frances

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