Entries in moss path (4)

Sunday
May142017

My Beautiful May Garden

What makes a beautiful garden?Color, certainly. Healthy plants. Proportion and balance. Variety. Movement and flow, repetition. Fragrance. All those things, but much more. A beautiful garden can be humble or grand. It is highly personal. For me: a peaceful atmosphere, comfort, birdsong, memories, a little whimsy.

May is a beautiful month! I want to be outside every day, tending my garden. I love Confederate jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides), which is in full bloom on the arch by the patio. The intoxicating fragrance is a delight whenever I walk under it. I can also catch a whiff of rosemary. Nearby, pink 'Anthony Waterer' Spirea is blooming.

Coral drift roses line one edge of the patio, along with bacopa and a silvery artemesia:

On the patio table is a ceramic green rabbit, a souvenir I brought home from Hills and Dales Estate in LaGrange, Georgia, a very grand and gorgeous garden!

Here are more images of some of the flowers in my May garden:1st row: 'Penelope' rose; 'Anthony Waterer' spirea; Lichnis coronaria, commonly called rose campion. 2nd row: Yarrow; Calibrachoa; 'Snowflake' Hydrangea. 3rd row: Rosa palustris, also called swamp rose; Coral honeysuckle; Gardenia Jasminoides 'Kleims Hardy', a dwarf gardenia bush.

As much as I love flowers, I am also drawn toward colorful foliage. I purchased a variegated geranium without even knowing what color the blooms were; the leaves are spectacular! It has started blooming now, and the orange blooms complement its foliage perfectly. Near the steps leading from the patio to the arbor garden are two 'Francis Williams' Hostas, Japanese painted fern, and an interesting plant with variegated arrow-shaped leaves, 'Red Dragon' Persicaria. I have placed an unlikely companion next to one of the the hostas: a red poinsettia, left over from Christmas and still looking good! 

Clockwise from top left: 'Francis Williams' Hosta with poinsettia in background and a neighboring branch belonging to Edgeworthia chrysantha; A variegated geranium; 'Red Dragon' Persicaria and 'Francis Williams' hosta; 'Red Dragon' Persicaria and Japanese painted fern.

I have featured 'Tropicana' Canna lily a number of times over the years. Its bold colors hold up well to the hot sun that bathes the front of our house in summer:

The stone steps leading down to the much shadier woodland garden are located across from the front parking area. One of my favorite views of the woodland garden (shown many times on this blog!) is seen from the bottom of the steps. Moss paths tie different parts of the woodland garden together and give it a peaceful, quiet atmosphere:

The white birdhouse in this photo was home to a family of bluebirds, recently fledged:

I put this little woodland sitting area in last year. It is near an area featuring ferns and native azaleas. Moss and ground covers will soon carpet the ground around the chairs. That is an old iron magazine rack holding small potted begonias. The blue flowers are Tourenia fournier, also called wishbone flower. It is my newly discovered favorite annual for shade. Tourenia comes in various colors. The cobalt blue blooms of this one are fabulous. I also planted lime green Scotch Moss (Sagina subulata), Creeping Jenny, and wild violets in this area. :

More plants in the woodland garden:1st row: Japanese felt fern; 'Whitewater' weeping redbud; Hardy begonia. 2nd row: Athyrium filix-femina 'Lady in Red'; bench next to fern glade; Polystichum acrostichoides, a native fern also known as Christmas fern. 3rd row: Hellebore whose red blooms have faded to green; wild violets; Woodland rabbit with Colocasia.

This beautiful Bird's Nest fern (Asplenium nidus) stays in the woodland garden until cold weather arrives. It spends the winter inside, but it flourishes outside when the weather warms:

What about you? What makes you pause in a garden? How do you define beauty? The wonder is that I have seen many beautiful gardens, and they are all different!

You may also enjoy my previous post, Seven Elements of a Beautiful Garden.

Sunday
Feb142016

My Garden Mistakes

I have been working on the rocks in the arbor garden. Again. They are dry-stacked to form low walls enclosing the planting beds, and I have been tinkering with them ever since I began this particular garden in 2009. After seven years I should have gotten them right, and maybe now I will. I have changed the shape of the planting areas several times, not knowing exactly what was wrong. This year I realized that rather than giving definition to the planting beds, my wimpy outline was merely a suggestion. I needed bigger rocks and more of them. I have also been resetting the large flagstones that form the patio area under the wooden arbor, bringing in bags and bags of sand and leveling the stones. I am not finished yet, but already I am happier with the whole space. Here is what it looks like today, in progress:

It is obvious that I did not know what I was doing when I began. If I had hired a stone mason, it would have been money well spent.

I tend to dive into a project with the gusto and optimism of inexperience and come out the other end humbled and much wiser. You bet I have made plenty of gardening mistakes over the years.

I have planted plants too close together, only to remove half of them when they began to encroach upon one another. This has not always been my fault. These dwarf Yaupon Hollies planted in the front garden, shown in the foreground here, grew twice as large as the three feet claimed on the tag:Now I know labels give averages for mature plants; the actual ultimate size depends on many factors.

I once planted something called Viburnum augustifolium. It had lovely evergreen leaves, but I had no idea about its habits. It grew to about thirty feet tall. I came to call it Cancer Tree, because it produced abundant underground runners, which sent up new trees in all directions, rapidly metastasizing into nearby planting areas. Unchecked, this thing could have colonized the planet. We cut it down, and years later we are still spraying herbicide on new sprouts. 

I watched a parade of hydrangeas and azaleas choke to death on my clay soil before a wise woman told me to improve the soil by adding lots of soil conditioner to my planting holes. Wow! What a difference this has made. I also discovered that my soil is going to be acidic no matter what I do. I can sweeten it temporarily by adding lime, but it is easier to plant acid-loving plants, or else grow the plants in raised beds or pots. 

One mistake that did not happen: Originally, I almost painted my little woodland bridge brown! I debated over the color, thinking blue would be too bold for its wooded setting. But I wanted blue; and once I put it in place, I knew it was just right. Even in the depths of winter, it brightens the area, and it compliments the moss path perfectly:

So do I regret all the mistakes? Certainly I hate to waste money. Education and prior experience help to minimize blunders, but "mistakes" are going to happen in the garden. Gardens are as individual as their makers, and the books don't cover everything. I have learned not to moan too much over my mistakes, but to learn from them. It is all part of the process.