Jerry's Garden

The rain finally broke, just in time to visit Jerry's garden. Jerry, a fellow adopt-a-plot gardener at Ault Park, invited me to see his orchids that were in bloom. A much needed trip with Darryl and several days of rain postponed the visit by a week. But as luck would have it, a few orchid blossoms were to be seen tucked inside the garden.

Jerry is a plant collector. His discerning eye shows throughout his garden. A fine collection of hostas, ferns and heuchera anchor the garden. Mixed with the traditional shady plants I found orchid, iris, toad lilies and Solomon's Seal. As he guided my tour, Jerry offered the names of each plant, in Latin. I know there are many of you who have this ability. I am in awe. This dyslexic gardener has mastered a few Latin names, mostly for my University classes, but I am more comfortable with common names.

But common names will not due for Jerry, and for good reason. When he started gardening nurseries were not as abundant as they are today and much of his plant collecting was done via catalog. Unfortunately, the use of different common names by different nurseries for the same plant, meant Jerry would end up with three of a kind, not three different varieties of a plant. So he took to Latin and never looked back!

Lessons from Jerry's Garden

Even in a smaller city garden, focal points are a must. A half dozen statues are placed throughout the garden, creating small vignettes. Statues also add texture and shape to the garden.

Shade gardens can feel heavy. Many shade plants have dark, broad leaves designed to capture as much light as possible. To add a lighter, airier feel Jerry incorporated plants with variegated leaves as well as the soft, wispy feel of carex.

Play with color and shapes to add pop and interest to any garden.

Diversify but stay the same..... The rich plant diversity on Jerry's garden works because he repeats plant types such as ferns and hostas.  A variety of hostas adds color, shape, height and even texture. 
Hostas illuminated by the setting sun.
Stepping stones invite visitors to explore a bit more.


A Garden in the Woods

In a small town near Cincinnati is a garden tucked on a hillside. Half in the woods and half on a sunny plateau, the garden is a brilliant blend of garden design and woodland sensibility.

To protect the privacy of the owners I have not included photos of the home and stone barn. Nonetheless, what I do share with you shows how the owner of the garden uses generous plantings to give weight and presence to the garden- critical to its success. A garden with modest plant collections and plantings would have been lost in this grand, natural setting.

As I toured the garden it was immediately evident that the designer had the garden visitor in mind. Statues, water features, a pond and garden structures provide focal points in the garden- important in any garden, but critical in this setting. Without them, with such an abundance of beauty, my mind would not have known where to rest. Do I look at the mature trees, the deep ravine planted with azaleas and hostas, the azalea beds or the stand of irises? The added focal points create a pleasant pause in the landscape, allowing the viewer to take in a vignette before moving onto more of the garden.

Visitors descend from the gravel drive via massive stone steps leading to a space created with large stone slabs. The size of the stones is in proportion to the surrounds. A small patio area with smaller pavers would have felt weak- leaving visitors feeling small and vulnerable in such a grand setting, These stones have a solid presence equal to that of the surrounding landscape.

When a garden is designed in a setting that is magnificent on its own, it is important to draw the eye into the garden. However, a total disregard of the garden's setting would be disastrous.  A successful garden takes queues from the natural landscape, especially in transitional areas. Doing so creates a fluid movement from woods to gardens.  

When designing in shade, include white flowers and variegated foliage. The white flowers of the azaleas really pop in this shady setting and the fountain provides not only a focal point but a touch of human influence as we transition from woodland setting to the grassy, open plateau.
A stone wall accentuates the curve of the drive that winds up a hill through a dense woods. The plantings on the wall give a glimpse of what is to come.

Woods meets garden. Why this works - The log and bark mulch ties the woods to the garden. Pavers would have been out of place and jarring to the senses. Ferns and azaleas are equally at home in the woods or gardenscape and the impatiens hint that this is the beginning of gardenscape.

Details, details. A Japanese Maple's fine textured leaves add detail to the garden. This tree was planted close to a path, making it easy for garden visitors to see their fine detail.

A hillside planted with Rhododendrons, Azaleas and hostas.


Coming Home

Coming home to a gardener means more than returning to the embrace of our family. Coming home means returning to the place many of us feel most at home, our gardens.

As I was sitting in the Minneapolis airport, waiting for my flight home, I thought about how I had just spent three days almost entirely indoors. As you can surmise, this was not a garden trekking trip. From the window of my cab I had gazed upon a landscape that was still patiently waiting for Mother Nature to make her entrance.     More at Horticulture magazine.


Good Design Starts with Miss Rumphius’ Rules

Sometimes you only need to look as far as your own backyard for a beautiful garden and wonderful garden blogs. That is where we found, or shall we say revisited, the always informative, wonderfully engaging and redesigned for the new garden season, Miss Rumphius’ Rules. The latest recipient of our Best Gardening Blogs for 2011 award is an eye-catching garden design blog authored by landscape design professional and our very own Contributing Editor to Horticulture magazine, Susan Cohan. Read more!

Wordless Wednesday


A Very Close Look at Fort Hill

I hope you will excuse me as I post a few more pictures from my trip to Fort Hill.  I love to find the smaller flowers and the tiny details that you can easily overlook when hiking a trail.
The trails at Fort Hill took us through some pretty amazing scenery. Not only did we hike up to an ancient Indian fort and pass through the very walls that they created thousands of years ago, we also had the opportunity to stand near a perfect circle mound, climb out on rock outcroppings that hover over a river and feel very, very tiny standing next to towering rock walls that were in themselves ecosystems for fascinating plant life.
There is a lot to take in at Fort Hill, as with most desirable hikes. So, it is in our best interest to take a hike, at least once in the spring, with a camera and friends who like to scout out as many flowers as possible.

Fort Hill Hike

As soon as we pulled into Fort Hill's picnic area I knew we were in for a treat. Flowers were blooming in every corner, on every hillside and between the stones on the way to the shelter house.

I joined the slower group knowing I wanted to take as many pictures as possible (accomplished!) and not worry about holding up our hiking friends who move at a breakneck pace. Our group included a few new faces including a few who were as excited to see what was in bloom as I was. It was great having extra sets of eyes scanning the woods for new flowers.

As we hiked along, enjoying the flowers and meeting new friends, Darryl shared with us the history of the land and its people. 

Here I have included a very small sampling of my photos.

Before we stepped foot on the trail, which started with one heck of a long trek up a hill, this beauty was blooming in abundance.  The anticipation of what we would find propelled us up the hill in good time. 

Fellow hikers make their way along the meandering woodland path. Blankets of spring flowers, saplings and trees leafing out made for a beautiful walk.  

Throughout the woods, thick stands of Mayapples could be found.

Violets carpeted the landscape. Trilliums, wild geraniums, Jack-in-the Pulpits are just a few of the flowers that awaited us. And, from time-to-time, it was wise to glance up for even the trees were in bloom.
Fort Hill offers more than a botanical wonderland, it is also the home of spectacular rock outcroppings and arches. It takes a sharp eye to spy the arches in the summer.

Clinging to the rock ledges and rock face were ferns, Columbines, Miterwort, Hepatica and much more.

 Iris and Trilliums add a bit of grace and elegance to the woods.