Hello. 2015 has been a very busy gardening year here at the new Fairegarden. At what point does the new garden become simply The Garden, one wonders? Let’s start that right now, for there is now an actual garden here. Shown above is a plant much beloved at the old garden (there will always be the old garden, for reference and nostalgia purposes), Calluna vulgaris ‘Firefly’. There are three of them in the front walk bed, still quite small but with great potential. They will grow to be about twenty-four by twenty-four inches unless pruned. Pruning helps keep them neater and fuller so when they get larger there will be some snip snipping.
It is overcast and wet but the rain stopped long enough for these images to be captured. Looking out the windows the colors were still joyful as fall slides soon into winter. Some leaves remain, even some flowers are still in bloom and the grasses are erect if bowed by wetness. Juniperus virginiana ‘Blue Owl’ can get larger than desired for this design but is easily pruned while small. Eryngium yuccifolium from saved seeds scattered last winter produced a few blooms the first year. Lamb’s ear, Stachys byzantina has been spread about and is a vigorous grower. Great gobs of it have already been pulled out to make room for other plants. The Aster oblongifolius ‘October Skies’ should prove to be a worthy opponent. May the best plant win, but if things don’t look right, the arbiter will step in with the shovel. The pink muhly grass, Muhlenbergia capillaris is fading but still a frothy mass of beauty. This plot is the back of the bed behind the mailbox at curbside.
Continuing in the mailbox bed, along the curbing is a trio of Cornus sanguinea ‘Midwinter Fire’ still holding their leaves. The stems will offer winter interest with hues of coral, red and gold. These shrubs were hardly a foot tall when planted and have grown at a surprising rate. They are expected to be four feet tall and wide with hard pruning every three years. We will see how that goes. Ground covers include grape hyacinths, Muscari armeniacum most likely. They were inherited at the old garden so we really don’t know but they are wonderful and spread rapidly by seed and bulblets. I wouldn’t be without them. The Japanese blood grass, Imperata cylindrica ‘Red Baron’ has been a little finicky to get going, but seems to have found its stride. This plant is listed as invasive in some places but it never has spread for us without me manually doing so. It is struggling here but alive. Violas and crocus will offer support in spring.
Peering through the Cornus, the pink muhly can be seen. Harder to discern is the white flowered muhly, M. capillaris ‘White Cloud’ directly above the copyright symbol in the watermark. Only a couple of blooms were managed this year, but that is a hopeful sign since it never flowered at the old garden after the first year when it was bought in bloom. This shot shows pumpkins still sitting on the large boulders that were a Christmas present from The Financier last year.
Evergreen foliage that is not green has been added along the front side bed that divides the property with our next door neighbor. A row of six Lavendula x intermedia ‘Provence’ have done well. Artemisia ‘Powis Castle’ still looks good as do the bobbles of yellow sheffie mum spent flower heads. Several Salvia greggiis, sedums and a variety of other perennials fill this portion, all planted just this spring and summer. We will stand back as it sorts itself out, editing as necessary.
Pycnanthemum muticum, mountain mint clumps have been added to the wilder back areas of the front side bed. Planted directly into an unmown lawn were an assortment of the toughest of the tough perennials including many daylilies, ornamental grasses and stalwart wildflowers. This is no place for sissies, having to compete with well established lawn grass. We were glad to see some wild asters, goldenrod, ironweed and fleabane spring up and flower this year. Everything will be cut down by mowing or weed whacking in January. It is to be a lawn/meadow similar to what we had at the old garden. Click here to if you are interested in learning more.
The very back of the front bed is to be a collection of small trees and shrubs. Dogwoods, willows, ninebarks, a blue atlas cedar are now joined by winterberry hollies. Ilex verticillata ‘Winter Gold’ will be planted in the cluster of I. ‘Winter Red’ and the male pollinator I. ‘Southern Gentleman’. A variety of Chamaecyparis will grow to brighten the area in front of the large pine trees that form the back property line. Or that is the vision, anyway.
Let’s go through the gate into the back. These beds have not been shown on the blog much because they are still very much a work in progress, but progress has been made. Two small sections of boxwood hedging, Buxus ‘Wintergreen’, the same as we had at the old garden, some even from cuttings, line the nursery and lower nursery beds. Carex buchanii has been spread directly behind the boxwood for color and textural contrast. The most delightful and generous Alison of Bonney Lassie was so kind to send me packages of plants that included this Carex earlier to help get my new garden started. I am proud and pleased to say that everything you sent has taken hold nicely, Alison, and I cannot express my gratitude in words for your meaningful contribution to my gardens. XOXOXO
Ordered on a whim while selecting some climbers for the fence was this climinging aster, A. carolinianus. Having never grown it before, I didn’t know what to expect. It turned out to be evergreen and very late blooming, covered in pinkish lavender flowers that fed the pollinators well after most everything else had been zapped by several freezes. Chamaecyparis thyoides ‘Red Star’ stands below in a large container. There are three such containers sitting on the gravel patio area between the shed and the fence, all with red stars.
Dying daylily foliage is giving temporary but tempting color right now. Nothing has been cut down in the back gardens as the stalks and seedheads are assessed for strength and attractiveness.
Among the best are the Rudbeckia triloba, so far. Most of these have been pulled, none were actually planted. Seeds hidden in the soil of scores of plants that were potted up and brought from the old garden germinated and were a pleasant surprise this summer. They finished up and turned brown early in the season but are near the top of the list of those plants that die well, or as was once written, fading faire.
Providing color, movement, height, texture and viewing pleasure are Miscanthus ‘Adagio’. We bought all they had late in the season at Home Depot last year and chopped them into many pieces. Most were planted in the lawn/meadow front side bed but four were added as anchors between the nursery and lower nursery in back. A board walk was fashioned out of home made bench tops during heavy rains in late 2014 to get across the two piles of planting mix and topsoil that were trucked in to make these beds. It worked out that there were just enough bench tops, fashioned from leftover decking boards to span the eleven feet width. They look kind of goofy but certainly work very well. Maybe a raised walk can be built in the future, but for now this one has sentimental and utilitarian value.
There was a lone Helleborus orientalis planted in the nurseries, for the self seeding can overcome an area with babies and there were many other plants I wanted to try here. Ferns, geraniums, heucheras, spring ephemerals among many others were planted in the lower, wetter and shadiest portion. This is an experimental bed and the hellebore doesn’t really belong there, but it sure looks pretty right now.
This has been fun, sharing what is happening as this garden develops its own personality. I hope to keep posting through the seasons. Gardens are never static but constantly changing. Just like the gardeners. The final shot is Spiraea ‘Magic Carpet’. This was another member of the old garden that was potted up and brought here. Old and new, silver and gold friends….ahhhhh.