The Long And Short Of It-A Garden Tour
Let’s have a tour of the garden, virtually. Our vantage point will be from the deck just outside the addition that joins the main house to the garage. You won’t have to do any walking at all, just sit on the comfy blue chairs, sip your cool beverage and listen intently to the spiel. Or don’t listen and daydream about whatever strikes your fancy, we are free spirited here at the Fairegarden. Let us begin with the daylily hill corner, an intensively planted area since it is the view from the lazyboy inside the addition where all blogging happens. The above zoom in, referred to as *the short* in the title, is the plot under the Crimson Queen Japanese maple that anchors the steeply sloping land. This slope was the property line between the main house, purchased in 1996 for daughters Semi and Chickenpoet to live in while attending the nearby college. When we, The Financier and I moved here in 2000, crashing Semi’s party house, Chickenpoet had moved out after the first year, we began a major renovation that included buying the house next door to demolish and build a garage on the site. This story has been told several times, and goes to show the old saw, truth is stranger than fiction, to be reliable. Back to the plantings. Nasella tenuissima, Sedum acre, Hosta ‘Sunpower’, forget me nots and Spiraea bumaldi ‘Magic Carpet’ in the background are a swirling miasma. The hard working foliage of hyacinths and daffodils is busy storing energy for next year’s blooms and is barely noticeable.
Pulling back some, getting *longer*, we see the bigger picture that contains the promising foliage of the daylilies, Hemerocallis for which this part of the garden is named. Last fall more of the hostas were divided and spread, for their golden color brightens this shady afternoon area well. Emerging fern croziers of Dixie wood fern, Dryopteris x australis also spread more thickly last fall will liven up the sea of spikes.
Pulling way back, the entire view is shown. On the left is the ramp to the garage deck with the purple adirodack chair placed for prime garden watching. Both hedges that line the veggie bed, Chamaecyparis pisifera ‘Gold Mops’ and Arborvitae, Thuja occidentalis ‘Smaragd’ aka ‘Emerald Green’ are visible. But what is that bit of white fabric up there between the hedges?
Not the most attractive of arrangements, unless one considers the salads already consumed, spotless, clean and with no other critters sharing the bounty, this jerry-rigged hoop house is a close up worthy of a magazine cover. Using leftover reinforcing wire that used to be tomato cages, plastic rabbit fence and high quality frost cloth held in place with plastic coated paperclips, the winter planted lettuce has been an unmitigated success. Swiss chard seedlings are emerging from a fall sowing and a couple of bush tomato plants will grow up through the wire after the cloth is undraped in May. Sugar Snap peas are at the far end on bamboo tripods, inside the fence but open to the sky. Coffee grounds have protected all plantings from snails and slugs, if any were around.
Back to the base of the daylily hill, at the imaginary feet of Athena is the delightful mix of forget me nots, spent grape hyacinth stalks, yellow acorus and the seed grown Primula veris with their heads up and showing some orange markings never seen before.
Traveling along the wall from the deck as it rises to full four feet height we see the newest container. Not really needing another pot, this one could not be passed by last weekend at a nursery open house near Semi’s home. The color and unique shape, plus twenty percent off all pottery brought it home with us. The plantings are lemon verbena that will be brushed and sniffed every time the path is traversed, golden lemon thyme, ditto, and Plectranthus ‘Blue Yonder’.
As the right slope of the daylily hill descends to the path, held in place with a rock wall, the group planting of violas is showing great strenth against the onslaught of ever encroaching daylily foliage. This type of massing has exceeded expectations for offering color between early spring and the later show of lily and daylily blooming. At the top of the hand written notes to self is the command “Plant more violas in large groups on the hill”. We will obey. A nearly hidden Phlox divaricata is bravely peeking up above the chaos.
Continuing on zoom, we see the stone steps just past the multi trunk silver maple. Very rickety those, they need some shoring up. The at one time filled in Scotch moss, Sagina subulata ‘Aurea’ risers have become patchy, overtaken by the native true mosses. A volunteer Dicentra eximia returns year after year from under a rock. On the left is lamb’s ear, Stachys byzantina, on the right is a giant foxglove volunteer, Digitalis purpurea with the promise of a tall and stately bloom of unknown color. Whatever the shade, the seeds of this very healthy specimen will be saved and scattered. The silvery grass like form of Dianthus is sending up flower heads for a waltz of great magnitude soon. Lower right corner shows the Hosta ‘Gold Edger’ trying to get into the shot. Above on the right, Filipendula vulgaris ferny foliage is helping hold the soil of this very steep slope in place with a tap root to another hemisphere.
Following the wall to the fence at the property edge we pass by the wide steps to the top where the knot garden is located and see the pond flanked by the Japanese maples Crimson Queen on the left and Garnet on the right. Along the wall edge is the groundcover Lysimachia nummularia ‘Aurea’, golden creeping jenny shining brightly amidst the mess of other plants. Hellebores on the hillside continue to bloom.
Speaking of the hellebores. The four foot wide concrete steps that The Financier and I made to climb to the top of the property have evolved quite a bit from their original plantings. In the beginning, there were various creeping thymes on the risers with dianthus along the sides. Just one or two Ajuga repens were added for some blue with all that pink and the snow in summer, Cerastium tomentosum was the contrast silver foliage with white April blooms. On the slope to the right of the steps, the golden creeping jenny was to illuminate under the red maples by the pond. On the left was to be reds, mostly heucheras as the lowest planting. Quickly the ajuga and jenny spread and met in the middle, choking out the thyme. The dianthus all but disappeared and the heucheras were moved to the knot garden in a failed attempt at evergreen winter interest there. It was too hot, dry and sunny up there for their survival. Most perished and those left were moved to shadier environs on either side of the wide steps. The next interloper was the Euphorbia dulcis ‘Chameleon’, sending seeds from the two plants on either side of the pond to every part of the Fairegarden. One might think that they are the final king of the hill, but do you see the larger light green leaf in the zoom shot above? This is the plant that will inherit the earth. Not violets, dandelions, or even crabgrass, not henbit, corn salad or bitter cress, but the strongest of them all, Hellebores. Larger leaves, extreme tap roots and promiscuous seeding, thanks to the bees, make this the winner in Darwin’s battle. The next move, or lack of action, is up to the gardener.
This shot showing the very beginnings of greening of the Hosta ‘White Feather’ was to be the grand finale of this post. That is until something was noticed just under the placement of the watermark denoting ownership of the photo above. Do you see that smudge of orange?
There could be no more fitting ending to a tour of this garden in mid to late April than the most favorite of all the flowers here, the object of my love and devotion, the signature plants, deciduous azaleas. With over twenty-six varieties and a total of forty-one shrubs, this is what could be called a collection. Shown above is Rhododendron ‘Mandarin Lights’ just opening. To see the list, check out the page on the sidebar Plants We Grow-Deciduous Azaleas. It is hope that named photos will be added of each variety this year to the page, like the daylilies, tulips and daffodils have been handled so far. To read the post about them click here-About Those Azaleas-My Signature Plants.
Thank you for joining in for this virtual tour. If your wait was longer than usual, please consider getting a fast pass next time to view the rest of the show, er garden.