English Exotica: Tresco Abbey Garden

 photo courtesy of tresco.co.uk

photo courtesy of tresco.co.uk

On a recent garden tour of Cornwall, England, I was delighted to visit the glorious Tresco Abbey Garden on Tresco Island, one of the Isles of Scilly. The Isles of Scilly are an archipelago of five inhabited islands and many rock outcroppings located off the southwestern tip of Cornwall. Reaching Abbey Garden was no small task—a meticulously orchestrated journey by rented van, small airplane, airport transport bus, ferry boat and tractor-pulled trolley. The journey was well worth the visit to this amazing tropical garden filled with exotic horticulture.

The gardens at Tresco were founded by Augustus Smith, who built a house on a rocky outcrop overlooking the Abbey ruins in 1838. He was a man of independent means and spirit, and the isolation of the island suited his temperment. The remains of the Benedictine priory, built a thousand years earlier, captured his imagination, and he became determined to create a magnificent garden.

 photo courtesy of cornwalls.co.uk

photo courtesy of cornwalls.co.uk

Thanks to the Gulf Stream, Tresco has a very mild climate, virtually free of frost. It is however extremely windy and subject to Atlantic gales, so a shelter-belt of quick-growing and salt-tolerant trees was imperative. Smith found the best trees for this were from California - Monterey Pines and Cypresses. He also built a granite wall around his garden to protect it from the elements.  He began by planting collections of pelargoniums and mesembryanthemums – fifty of each – and later acquired plants from all over the world through his connections with other plant collectors. At his death in 1872, the garden was essentially in the form that you see it in today.

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The garden has remained in the same family for five generations, and each generation has made its contribution. Augustus’ nephew Thomas Algernon (Dorrien) Smith continued with the garden, as did his son Arthur who collected plants from Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and the Americas. Those contributions include the grevillas, leucanthemums and the many varieties of proteas that we saw in bloom during our visit, as well as huge American agaves, African aloes, and aeoniums native to the Canary Islands.

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The garden is protected on the north and west sides by Abbey Hill. It is laid out on 17 acres and bisected by the formal Long Walk surrounded by tree ferns and palms which grow lush in the deep soil of that area. Above the Long Walk are two terraces that span the width of the garden. The Top Terrace has the hot dry conditions and free-draining poor soil of South Africa and Australia. It is perfect for many varieties of Protea, Aloe, Cistus, and succulents, and offers beautiful views of the garden and the sea beyond.

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The Middle Terrace is the heart of the Garden, with fishponds, a summerhouse and the stone Gaia sculpture, all nestled in a botanical paradise. Thousands of colorful plants from all over the world provide a lush backdrop, and even at the winter solstice, there are more than 300 species of plants in bloom. 

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The lowest level is the Mediterranean Garden, with its Agave Fountain and the Shell House decorated with seashell mosaics created by the current owner. Here you will also find the Valhalla Museum started by Augustus Smith which contains a collection of 30 ship figureheads, name-boards and other decorative carvings. Most of the figureheads date from the late 19th century, and come from merchant sailing vessels or early steamships that were wrecked on the Isles of Scilly.

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I may never see the gardens of Australia, New Zealand and South America, but thanks to a wonderful visit to Tresco Abbey Garden, I feel like I have traveled to many corners of the world and seen the richness of the plant species that they hold.

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Hakone Grass - A Four Season Stunner

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It can be tough to find perennials that dazzle in all four seasons,  but Hakonechloa macra, commonly called Hakone grass, is a plant that fits the bill. Hakone grass is a beautiful perennial grass with gracefully arching leaves that sway in the breeze. It grows slowly to form a cascading mound of eye-catching foliage and has a strong presence in the garden year round.

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Although most grasses prefer full sun, Hakone grass is a shade-loving grass native to moist mountain and woodland areas in central Japan. Mt. Hakone, gives it both its genus name and common name, and it is also commonly referred to as Japanese Forest Grass. Its native habitat also gives a clue to its water requirements. Although this grass can grow in full sun and deep shade, it needs consistent moisture – not wet feet, but regular watering. 

 Garden of Wayne Mezzitt.

Garden of Wayne Mezzitt.

Hakone grass is a tough, long-lived perennial that is easy to grow and has no serious insect or disease problems. It performs best in part shade and humus-rich, well-drained soil. Leaves may scorch in hot summers, particularly when consistent moisture is not maintained. A winter mulch is recommended, but I have found no need for this. Clumps spread slowly by rhizomes, but are not invasive. The plant ultimately grows to about 24” wide by 18” tall, and produces delicate sprays of green flowers in summer. The leaves have a papery texture that resembles bamboo. Hakone grass is best divided in spring, but because it is a slow grower, division will not be necessary for many years.

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The foliage turns a soft copper color in late fall, and can be left on the plant to provide winter interest. It should be trimmed to the ground in early spring before new shoots emerge.

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There are two popular varieties of Hakone grass. Just as its name implies, ‘All Gold’ gleams in the garden and holds its brilliant color from spring through fall. It will be chartreuse in shade, and yellow gold in full sun.

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‘Aureola’ is a golden-striped form that grows to 15” tall and features gracefully arching green leaves variegated with gold longitudinal striping. It is slower growing and less winter hardy than the straight species or ‘All Gold'. Leaf variegation color is affected by the amount of sun exposure and the growing climate. 

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Hakone grass has many uses in the garden. It can be grown as a specimen in a container.

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It can be massed as a ground cover in the landscape.

 "Grass Painting" at Bedrock Gardens.

"Grass Painting" at Bedrock Gardens.

 Shady entrance area at Tower Hill Botanical Garden.

Shady entrance area at Tower Hill Botanical Garden.

Hakone Grass makes a perfect focal point in the shade garden.

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 At the Elizabeth Park perennial garden.

At the Elizabeth Park perennial garden.

Hakone Grass is brilliant in all four seasons. It adds bright color in early spring, and is a brilliant companion to spring bulbs.

 Early spring with ajuga at Elm Bank.

Early spring with ajuga at Elm Bank.

 Mid-spring with tulips at Tower Hill Botanic Garden.

Mid-spring with tulips at Tower Hill Botanic Garden.

It adds softness to paved areas and stone elements, and drapes beautiful on slopes and over garden edges.

 Garden of Joyce Hannaford

Garden of Joyce Hannaford

 Garden of Joyce Hannaford

Garden of Joyce Hannaford

Its fine texture makes a lovely contrast with hostas and shade perennials, including heucheras, epimediums, ferns and hellebores.

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Once you start growing hakone grass, you will continue to find new ways and new places to use it!

Garden Cocktails

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As my husband and I drove for five hours to visit the beautiful gardens of Mount Desert Island, Maine, we listened to an Audible rendition of Amy Stewart's The Drunken Botanist to pass the time. Like many gardeners, I have become more interested in cultivated and foraged edible plants in the past few years. How could I put my sage, lavender, lemon balm, mints, lemon verbena, basil, rosemary, blueberries and peaches to better use?

A collection of new botanical cocktail books caught my eye, from The Drunken Botanist, to Adriana Picker's The Cocktail Garden, Amy Zavatto's Forager's Cocktails and C.L. Fornari's The Cocktail Hour Garden. After years of drinking nothing but wine, I was intrigued by the promise of "drinks for long hot summer afternoons spent among flowers in the garden; wine spritzers for breezy evenings on the back porch; champagne cocktails for celebrations under the apple tree; and fruity party punches for that garden party gathering with style."

The Drunken Botanist delivered a fascinating mix of botany, chemistry, history, etymology, mixology, gardening know-how and drink recipes during our journey north. When we arrived at the Asticou Inn, we were delighted to find a long porch where you could spend an afternoon with a Blueberry Mojito or a Porch Sipper and watch the boats sail in and out of Northeast Harbor. The recipe for a Porch Sipper and other delicious garden cocktails follow.

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English Garden

Ingredients:

2 lime wedges
5 mint leaves
1 1/2 Tb Belvoir Elderflower Cordial
2 oz white rum
2 oz apple juice

Mix in a highball glass with cubed ice, garnishing with a mint sprig.

belvoirfruitfarms.co.uk

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Strawberry Gin Smash

Ingredients:

1/2 tsp granulated sugar
1 lime wedge
3 fresh strawberries, 2 hulled and sliced, 1 for garnish
3 oz gin
Club soda
Fresh mint

In a tall glass, combine the sugar and a squeeze of juice from the lime wedge. Muddle with the back of a spoon to dissolve the sugar. Add the sliced strawberries and lightly muddle. Fill the glass with ice and add the gin. Top with a splash of club soda and garnish with the last strawberry and a sprig of mint.

thekitchn.com

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Lavender Gin & Tonic

Ingredients:

3 oz gin
4 oz tonic water
1 Tb fresh lime juice
Lavender simple syrup to taste (see recipe below)
Sprig of lavender for garnish
 

Mix in a highball glass with cubed ice, garnishing with a lavender sprig.

garden therapy.com

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Kiwi Margarita

Ingredients:

2 oz Grand Marnier
1 1/2 oz Tequila
2 oz lime juice
2 1/2 oz kiwi simple syrup

lime + fresh kiwi slices for garnish
coarse salt for the rim

Trace the rim of your glass with a lime wedge and dip in a mix of coarse salt. Fill the glass with ice. In a cocktail shaker, combine the tequila, grand marnier, kiwi simple syrup and lime juice with ice, and shake for about 30 seconds. Pour over ice and squeeze in lime slices and garnish with kiwi slices

Kiwi Simple Syrup

4 kiwi fruit
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water

Combine the sugar and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil, whisking until the sugar dissolves. Turn off the heat and let the mixture cool. Puree the kiwi fruit in a food processor or blender. Add the cooled sugar syrup and blend. 

hotsweeteats.com

 

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Cucumber Spritz

Ingredients:

1 oz vodka
1 oz dry vermouth
2 cucumber ribbons (created with potato peeler)
2 oz sparkling water
2 oz tonic water

Combine all the ingredients in a long glass filled with ice and stir.

houseandgarden.co.uk

Herb-infused Simple Syrup

Ingredients:

2 cups sugar
5 cups water
2 Tbs. fresh herb

Add all of the ingredients to a saucepan and bring to a boil while stirring to dissolve the sugar. Turn down the heat to low and let simmer for another 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow the syrup to cool. Once cool, strain the herbs, then pour through a coffee-filter-lined strainer to remove any particles. Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.

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Asticou Inn Porch Sipper

Ingredients:

1 oz lemon juice
3 oz grapefruit juice
2 oz vodka
2 Tb rosemary syrup (see recipe above)
rosemary and grapefruit slice for garnish

Mix in a tall glass with cubed ice, garnishing with a grapefruit slice and rosemary sprig.

Sit back and enjoy the view!

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Chesterwood: A Sculptor's Garden

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A visit to the Berkshires is not complete without a tour of Chesterwood,  the home, garden and studio of Daniel Chester French. 

“I hope you will come to ‘Chesterwood’ and rest. It is as beautiful as fairy-land here now, the hemlocks are decorating themselves with their light-green tassels and the laurel is beginning to blossom and the peonies are a glory in the garden. I go about in an ecstasy of delight over the loveliness of things.”

—Daniel Chester French, 1911

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One of the most successful sculptors of the twentieth century, French was best known for his statue of Abraham Lincoln at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. French purchased the 150-acre property in the Berkshires in 1896 for a summer estate and studio. He had already achieved national prominence for his bronze Minute Man statue, which resides at the Old North Bridge in Concord, Massachusetts. At Chesterwood he collaborated with his friend Henry Bacon on the construction of a residence and what would become his primary studio space for the rest of his career. The Colonial Revival house with its long veranda was sited to take advantage of the views of Monument Mountain and Mount Everett.

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For thirty-five years, the French family spent their winters in New York and their summers at Chesterwood. Family and friends visited the Berkshire retreat all season long, participating in dinner parties, dances, and tennis games. Mary French kept a detailed recipe book to organize her entertaining. 

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The main garden area is adjacent to the studio. French would often end a day of sculpting with a couple of hours tending the perennial and vegetable gardens, and taking long walks in the woods. A semicircular graveled courtyard is furnished with decorative planters and a pair of curved marble benches called exedras. Bacon designed the central marble-cement fountain for which French created putti relief.

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From the courtyard, marble steps lead to an elevated lawn with a central walk of peonies and Hydrangea paniculata standards. The main axis of the garden features a long perennial border planted with pastel-colored flowers. At its end, a pair of white-glazed terracotta columns mark the beginning of a woodland walk. The garden is enclosed by a lilac hedge and hemlocks, and accessorized with a pergola, marble benches, statuary, and a small square pool of water hyacinths and water lilies.

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Chesterwood opened to the public in 1955, and in 1962 French’s nephew, landscape architect Prentiss French, designed a new circulation pattern to better accommodate visitors. Today, Chesterwood is owned by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and French's house, garden and studio are open for touring.

The grounds are also used as exhibition space for contemporary sculpture as well as works by French. The studio, barn, and other gallery spaces include sculptural studies for a number of his works, including The Minute ManThe Continents, and Abraham Lincoln

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Chesterwood is open from Memorial Day to Columbus Day, daily 10 am to 5 pm. Admission is $18. The grounds are 15 acres in size. There are picnic tables, trails for woodland walks, an annual outdoor contemporary sculpture exhibition, and a permanent exhibition of Daniel Chester French's work.

4 Williamsville Rd., Stockbridge, MA 02162, (413) 298-3579, chesterwood.org

Peony Partners

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From early childhood, peonies had a special place in my heart. Perhaps it was that their bloom time coincided with my June birthday. Or my mother's often recounted memory of the lavish peony bouquet that Dad had gave her in the early days of their courtship. I loved the soft colors, full blooms and heavenly scent of peony blossoms. Like other June brides, I included peonies in my wedding bouquet, and they were the first perennials that I planted in my garden.

Although gorgeous on their own, peonies can be paired with other perennials and shrubs that will serve as complements or offer contrasts in shape, form or texture. Below are examples of peony partners from my own garden and others that I have toured.

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Pale pink peonies in my garden are paired with purple heuchera, geranium 'Biokovo' and the colorful foliage of weigela 'My Monet', which is only 2' tall at maturity.

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The spiky form and soft blue color of catmint complements all types of peonies, as seen at The Mount.

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Digitalis offers a strong architectural form that contrasts well with peony flowers.

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On the Bridge of Flowers in Shelburne Falls, peonies are paired with pale pink poppies and alliums.

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I enjoy underplanting peonies with purple heucheras and  Geranium 'Johnson's Blue'.

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Siberian and bearded irises provide a strong complement to peonies with their large flowers and statuesque form.

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Baptisia, with its spires of blue, white, purple or yellow flowers, creates a great backdrop for peonies.

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The large flower heads of alliums balance the prominent flowers of double peonies at Ambler Arboretum in Pennsylvania.

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This lovely combination of coral peonies and purple alliums was a prominent planting feature at Longwood Gardens this spring.

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Light pink peonies cascade over the fading blooms of hellebores and perennial geraniums. Hellebores thrive in sunny spots as long as they are watered regularly.

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A boxwood hedge creates a stately and serene background for peonies in a Delaware garden.

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Shrubs that flower at the same time as peonies, such as mountain laurels (above) and rhododendrons, provide pleasing counterparts. At Winterthur, the peony garden is framed by several old fashioned 'beauty bush' (kolwitzia) shrubs, which can be trained into a tree form or left as a weeping shrub.

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A gold smoke tree, Cotinus 'Golden Spirit', provides a stunning backdrop for coral peonies at Longwood Gardens. In my garden, weigela 'Wine and Roses' sets off the dark blooms of peony 'Karl Rosenfeld'.

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The maroon foliage of a 'Crimson Queen' Japanese maple provides a stunning backdrop to peonies in bud and bloom.

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In my cutting garden, the peonies are backed by an ivy-covered stone wall that has both aesthetic and functional benefits. It shields the peonies from wind and radiates warmth on cool spring days.

2018 Plant Sales by Public Gardens and Specialty Nurseries in the Northeast

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May is the month of plant sales across the Northeast, as public gardens and specialty nurseries welcome gardeners to shop for unusual plants, natives, and divisions from their gardens. Whether you are home or traveling, you can find a plant sale near you!

Massachusetts

Massachusetts Horticultural Society. The Massachusetts Horticultural Society is hosting its annual Gardeners’ Fair on Saturday, May 12 from 9:00 am – 3:00 pm at Elm Bank in Wellesley. The “Society Row Sale” features plants sold by local plant society chapters including the Daylily, Hosta, Conifer, Rose, Herb, and Cactus societies. Dozens of heirloom and hybrid tomato varieties will also be available for purchase from Allendale Farm. www.masshort.org.

Tower Hill Plant Sale. Outstanding plants of all kinds are offered by Tower Hill, premier vendors and plant societies at the Tower Hill Plant Sale. Saturday, June 2, open to members 9:00 -11:00 am, opens to the public at 11:00 am–2:00 pm. 11 French Drive, Boylston, MA. www.towerhillbg.org

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Garden Vision Epimediums. Gardeners looking to expand their epimedium collection can visit Garden Vision Epimediums in Phillipston on select days in May: May 4–13 (10 days), and May 18–20, 10:00 am – 4:00 pm, rain or shine. Garden Vision is primarily a mail order nursery, normally closed to the public except for the May sale dates. www.epimediums.com

Garden in the Woods. Native plants can be found at New England Wildflower Society’s Garden in the Woods in Framingham, which offers the largest selection of native trees, shrubs, vines, grasses, ferns, and perennials in New England. Garden in the Woods is open daily, and plants are available for sale throughout the season. www.newfs.org

Berkshire Botanical Garden's Plants and Answers Be-a-Better-Gardener Plant Sale. Thousands of woody and herbaceous plants are displayed by habitat including plants for sunny areas, beds and borders, dry areas, plants for the woodland edge, and woodland plants, as well as annuals (most grown at BBG), tropicals, vines, divisions of perennials dug from BBG display gardens, organic vegetable and herb plants, and hanging baskets. Many plants are donated by 60 nurseries from throughout the tri-state area. May 11-12, 9 am–5 pm. www.berkshirebotanical.org

Long Hill Plant Sale. You'll find a great selection of unusual plants and old favorites, including Tree Peonies, Japanese Maple, Dogwood, Tulip Tree, Stewartia, Forget-me-nots, and more! Arrive by 11am to join us for the silent auction of rare plants, parennials from A to Z, natives, show stopping annuals, propagated Sedgwick Garden specialties, herbs, succulents, Hypertufa containers, and gardening books. Vegetable seedlings will be available from the Food Project and horticultural experts including the Mass. Master Gardeners of Massachusetts will be on hand to answer any questions. The Master Gardeners will also be doing free soil testing. May 12, 10 am–1 pm. www.thetrustees.org

Allan Haskell Plant Sale. Find your favorite annuals, perennials, trees and shrubs, and purchase some of Allen’s signature selections. Colors galore, and horticulturists on hand to help you with your decisions and answer any questions you may have. May 26, 10 am–1 pm www.thetrustees.org

Rhode Island

Blithewold Plant Sale. Come out and support Bristol Garden Club. They will be selling fresh annuals, perennials, herbs, veggies, and handmade flower arrangements in vases. The garden club will be set up in the side yard of our Carriage House. Pick up the perfect Mother’s Day gift or something for your spring gardens. May 12, 8:30–1:30. www.blithewold.org

Wicked Tulip Flower Farm UPick Tulip Sale. Pick your own tulips on 5 acres of fields sporting 600,000 tulip bulbs. Tickets required, available online. April 25–mid May, see website for admission hours. wickedtulips.com

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Connecticut

OBrien Nursery in Granby, Conn. will feature a different plant family on each May weekend: 
May 4-6 – Diverse, Dynamic and Deliciously Fragrant Daphne
May 11-13 – Enticing Epimediums – Explore our Expanded Choices
May 18-20 – Cypripediums! Yes, we have Lady-Slippers!
May 25-28 – Don’t miss our Itoh Peony Selections in Flower
Open on those dates only, 10 am–5 pm. www.obrienhosta.com

Florence Griswold Museum. Join the Museum’s Garden Gang for a sale of beautiful plants and garden specimens, featuring heirloom perennials, roses, herbs, and succulents. May 18 & 19, 9 am–3 pm florencegriswoldmuseum.org

Hill Stead Museum. May Market is Hill-Stead’s annual home, garden and gourmet benefit event featuring premium exhibitors, rare and unusual plants, entertainment, children’s activities, food, and a museum open house. May 5 & 6, 10 am–4 pm www.hillstead.org

New Hampshire

Fuller Gardens Plant Sale: Friday, Saturday, and Sunday,  May 11–13, 10am to 3pm all three days.  Featured for sale will be hundreds of field grown hardy perennials, potted hardy rose bushes of all varieties and herbs. Gift shop will be open.  Come browse our selection and get a plant that will last for Mom.  The Gardens will also OPEN FOR THE SEASON on May 13th. www.fullergardens.org

New Jersey

New Jersey Botanical Garden Plant Sale. Perennials, annuals, vegetables, herbs, trees, shrubs, vines, ground covers, hanging baskets, and potted plants. Knowledgeable Master Gardeners will be on hand to offer advice, and the plants are lush and healthy. May 5-6 & 13, 10 am–4 pm. www.njbg.org

Van Vleck House & Gardens Annual Plant Sale. May 4–5, 9 am–4 pm; May 6, 10 am–4 pm; May 7-9, 10 am–2 pm. vanvleck.org

Frelinghuysen Arboretum Plant Sale: May 5-6, 9 am–5 pm. www.arboretumfriends.org

Cross Estate Gardens Plant Sale: Saturday, May 5, 9 am–1 pm. Wide selection of plants: native and non-native; sun-loving and shade-loving; evergreen, semi-evergreen, woody, and herbacious.www.crossestategardens.org

Reeves Reed Arboretum: This year's plant sale features an outstanding collection of plants selected for native lovers and shade gardeners, in addition to our usual eclectic mix of hard-to-find perennials and annuals. Friday, May 18, between 2:00 pm and 5:00 pm, for RRA members only. On Saturday, May 19, the plant sale opens to the general public from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm. www.reeves-reedarboretum.org

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Spring Inspiration at the Leonard J. Buck Garden

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If you are looking for a gorgeous garden to visit this spring, plan a trip to The Leonard J. Buck Garden in Far Hills, New Jersey.

The Leonard J. Buck Garden is one of the finest and largest rock gardens in the eastern United States. It consists of a series of alpine and woodland gardens situated in a 33-acre wooded stream valley. While most rock gardens are man-made and small in scale like the alpine plants they showcase, this rock garden is a series of huge natural rock outcroppings in a 500-foot-wide, 90-foot-deep gorge. The gorge was formed at the end of the Ice Age, about 12,000 years ago, when the water from melting glaciers carved out the valley of Moggy Hollow.

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The rocky garden backbone was perfect for Leonard Buck, a geologist who made his fortune in mining. As he traveled the world on business, he collected rare plants. In the 1930s Buck was a trustee of the New York Botanical Garden, where he met and hired Swiss-born landscape architect Zenon Schreiber. Their goal was to develop a naturalistic woodland garden composed of many smaller gardens, each with its own character and microhabitat.

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Buck and Schreiber worked by eye and proportion, without a formal plan on paper. Buck worked the rock—chiseling, picking, and shoveling to expose the rugged face. Schreiber worked the plants, tucking in rare and exotic specimens and planting azaleas and rhododendrons at the base of the valley walls to create a dazzling display in spring. He also established a backbone of dogwoods, crabapples, shadbush, fothergilla, viburnums, and other native trees and shrubs throughout the property.

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The garden’s trails wind past two ponds and a rock-edged stream, through the woods, and up into the gorge. At its spring peak, the garden is a showcase for lady slippers, trilliums, woodland phlox, bergenia, iris cristata, tiarella, epimediums, and columbines, as well as Siberian squill, Spanish bluebells, winter aconite, grape hyacinths, and other miniature bulbs. Japanese primroses line the streambed and masses of azaleas dazzle in the valley. To help plan your visit, the website provides a weekly list of plants in bloom. There is something to see in every season. (For more information about these spring bloomers see the blog articles in the links above.) 

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When Interstate 287 was being laid out, the original plans called for Interstate 287 to run directly through Buck’s property. However he invited the officials in charge to visit his garden and succeeded in having the highway rerouted. After his death in 1976, the family donated the garden to the Somerset County Park Commission and set up a trust to fund maintenance and renovations. 

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10 New Perennials for Your Garden

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March is a great time to peruse plant catalogs, websites and flower shows in search of the new and garden-worthy. Here are 10 intriguing new plants for this year's perennial gardens.

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Astrantia major 'White Giant'

This long-flowering favorite of butterflies and floral designers produces tidy mounds of greenish white flowers, each framed by a burst of white bracts tipped and veined in green. The flowers are held high on slender stems, making them great for cutting, and they’re contrasted to perfection by dark green, serrated leaves. An excellent cut flower if stems are harvested when the uppermost blooms are fully open. Astrantias prefer full sun or partial shade and average soil that doesn’t go dry. White Flower Farm

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Geranium 'Azure Rush'

A compact sport of G. Rozanne, the light lavender-blue 2 ½” flowers feature the same vigorous, long-blooming, heat-tolerant qualities on a more compact, rounded shape. 18" tall, full sun to half-day sun. Geranium Azure Rush is a Blooms of Bressingham variety selected for outstanding qualities, reliable growing performance and stunning beauty. Bluestone Perennials

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Clematis 'Chevalier'

Though technically a vine, this clematis grows to a small size and can be left to mingle horizontally in the perennial bed. Very free-flowering, Chevalier produces starry, rich purple flowers over a long bloom season.  It can be grown in containers. Height: 4-6 feet, blooms all summer. Brushwood Nursery

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Hosta 'Sapphire Pillows'

Another great blue hosta from Don Dean and a must-have for the hosta collector! Leaves are intensely sapphire blue with heavy corrugation, slight cupping at the mid-rib, and fold at the tip. The blue will hold very late into the season when kept from direct sunlight. Lavender flowers in summer. 23" tall x 45" wide. New Hampshire Hostas

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Hakonechloa 'SunFlare'

This Japanese Forest Grass sports bright yellow cascading leaves tipped with rich burgundy.  Cool weather brings green and orange highlights. Great color addtion to a shade garden! Santa Rosa Gardens

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Corydalis 'Blackberry Wine'

An amazing new corydalis from China that is taking the trade by storm.  Will take full sun or light shade in superbly drained soil and grow to a stunning 24" wide clump topped with fragrant, wine-purple flowers from mid-April through November. Lazy S'S Farm

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Peony 'Julia Rose'

An Itoh peony with glorious tonal variations of vibrant pink, soft cream, and peach on a compact plant with beautiful foliage. Itoh peonies are crosses of a tree and an herbaceous peony. Peony's Envy

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Dicentra Spectabilis 'White Gold'

This select form of Bleeding Hearts brightens the mid-spring garden with brilliant golden foliage and pure white blossoms on arching stems. Plants grow to 2' tall x 3' wide, and in bloom might reach 30". Avant Gardens

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Baptisia  'Purple Smoke'

This 3-4’ tall plant produces numerous dusky-purple flowers atop gray-green leaves that are carried on charcoal-colored stems. An outstanding cultivar introduced by the NC Botanical Garden. Broken Arrow

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Hemerocallis 'Ruby Clare Mims'

Ruby Clare checks all the boxes for the perfect summer border—a high bud count, pleasing fragrance and reliable reblooming nature. Large, 6" blooms are held at a moderate 29" height and feature rosy red petals with a pale highlight at the eye. Contrasting white, toothy edging and a striking yellow-green throat add to its appeal. Breck's

10 Ways to Beat the Winter Blues

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Tired of winter already? It's only the beginning of February, and we still have two months of snow and frigid temperatures here in Massachusetts. Here are ten ideas for coping with the winter blues for gardeners.

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buxton begonia society

1. Get involved!

Local garden clubs and plant societies offer a wealth of programming for their members. Joining a plant society is an excellent way to deepen your knowledge of a particular plant family, meet experts in that field, and make new friends! There are New England branches of the Hosta Society, Rhododendron Society, Dahlia Society, Hydrangea Society, Daffodil Society, Herb Society and many more!

 snug harbor farm valentine bouquet workshop

snug harbor farm valentine bouquet workshop

2. Learn and create

Even if you are not a member, you have access to excellent gardening lectures, classes, and workshops offered by local nurseries and organization such as Mass Hort, Tower Hill, Trustees for Reservations, Arnold Arboretum, Berkshire Botanic Garden, and New England Wildflower Society to name just a few. See the events listings offered on their websites.

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boston flower and garden show

3. Attend a flower show

With exuberant landscape displays, floral design competitions, lectures, and gardening vendors, flower shows offer a rich preview of spring. Here are the 2018 dates:
Connecticut Flower Show: Feb 22-26
Boston Flower and Garden Show: March 14-18
Maine Flower Show: March 22-25

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4. Become a bookworm

Organize a monthly Garden Book Club with your friends,  garden club, or library. For book suggestions, see the Books page. Learn, discuss and enjoy!

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better homes & gardens

5. Create an indoor garden

Get your creative juices flowing by planting a miniature indoor garden. Whether it's a bowl garden of succulents or a basket of miniature houseplants, the possibilities are endless. Transform an old aquarium into a terrarium, add miniature accessories for a fanciful fairy garden, or create a hanging kokedama planting!

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6. Swap and share

Have your houseplants outgrown their space or are you just tired of them? Organize a houseplant swap with your garden club, friend or neighbors and enjoy growing a new plant for free!

 my variegated African violet cuttings 

my variegated African violet cuttings 

7. Propagate the plants you love

Many houseplants including African violets, begonias, and pepperonias are easy to propagate from leaf cuttings. Cut the leaf stem, dip in a rooting hormone, plant into a container of potting soil, water and cover. New leaves usually appear in 4-6 weeks. Restaurant take-out containers with clear lids are great for this purpose. 

 cymbidium florals, portsmouth, NH

cymbidium florals, portsmouth, NH

8. Surround yourself with flowers

One of the things that I miss the most in winter is the sweet scent of flowers and blooming shrubs. Visit your local florist for a quick olfactory pick-me-up, purchase some flowers, and create an arrangement that will fill your home with beauty and fragrance.

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fine gardening

9. Force flowering branches

February is a great time to force branches of spring-blooming trees and shrubs. Cut the branches, split the ends with a knife for maximum water uptake, place in a bucket of water in a cool room out of direct sunlight, and mist frequently. Buds open in 2-4 weeks depending on the variety. Great plants for forcing include forsythias, bodant viburnums, cherries, crabapples and magnolias.

 mike's backyard nursery

mike's backyard nursery

10. Try winter propagation in the garden

Many deciduous shrubs can be propagated in winter from hardwood cuttings. I tried this last winter and had good success! Shrubs best suited for this technique include abelias, hydrangeas, red-twig dogwood, pussywillows, forsythia, spires, deutzias and more. Ask your friends if you can take cuttings from their shrubs and try this easy technique! For more information, see this blogpost at Mike's Backyard Nursery.

Any other ideas for beating the winter blues? Please leave them in the Comments section.

Come in From the Cold at the Roger Williams Botanical Center

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If you are looking to come in from the cold in January, New England features several lovely indoor gardens (see related article). One of the newest is in Providence, in a park that has provided leisure, entertainment and education for residents and visitors for almost 150 years.

Roger Williams Park was created in 1870 after Betsey Williams bequeathed 102 acres of farmland and woodland to the city of Providence to be used for public purpose. A portion of the gift included land that was originally purchased from the Narragansetts by her great, great, great, grandfather, Rhode Island’s founder Roger Williams.

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Horace Cleveland, a leader in the Urban Parks Movement, created the design for the park. It was intended to serve as an escape for residents of highly industrialized Providence in the late 19th century. Today, the Roger Williams Park contains a zoo, a museum of natural history, a planetarium, the Botanical Center,  Japanese Gardens, Victorian Rose Gardens, the Providence Police Department’s Mounted Command center, the boathouse and boat rentals, historical tours, a carousel, playground, the Temple to Music, the Roger Williams Park Casino, and many miles of walking paths.

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The Botanical Center opened in 2007, and at 12,000 square feet is the largest public indoor display garden in New England. It includes two main greenhouses: The Conservatory and the Mediterranean Room. The Conservatory has the feeling of a large courtyard surrounded by elegant tall palms. Unlike most greenhouses, this one is airy and open, with a central area for ceremonies or social events. A fountain bubbles and colorful tropical plants bloom beneath stately trees. Immense birds of paradise hide among the palms, like storks in the jungle.

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The Mediterranean Room is built around a long stucco wall with a circular gate. A densely planted pond with giant koi dominates the room. The Orchid Society displays delicate orchids growing in a moss-draped tree in one corner, and the Carnivorous Plant Society exhibits pitcher plants and delicate wild flowers in a raised bog garden. A small waterfall and a Mediterranean fountain provide soothing background music. All in all, there are over 150 different species and cultivars of plants including 17 types of palms. Upcoming projects include a Flavor Lab designed for chefs and farmers to compare the taste of vegetable varieties, and a Journey Through America exhibit featuring plants native to South, Central, and North America.

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The Botanical Center’s outdoor display gardens are equally attractive and well worth a visit in the warmer months. The Winter Garden has gorgeous specimens of umbrella pines, a Lacebark Pine, Metasequoia, and other unusual conifers; Sargent cherries and trees with distinctive bark such river birches; hellebores, evergreen ferns, and bamboo. Other displays include a beautiful Perennial Garden, with large plantings of bee balm, balloon flower, phlox, daylilies, coneflowers, and blackeye susans. A Pine and Hosta Dell, Wooded Hillside Garden, Overlook Terrace, and Rain Garden offer interesting plantings to view. Downhill from the greenhouses, gorgeous roses and clematis cover the arches of the Rose Maze.

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1000 Elmwood Ave., Providence, RI 02905, (401) 785-9450
providenceri.com/botanical-center

HOURS: Tues. –Sun. 11–4
ADMISSION: $5

Holiday Gifts for Gardeners 2017

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Here are some gift ideas for the gardener on your holiday list:

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Arianna Necklace

Pure silver Fig leaf, accented with a tiny faceted labradorite, brought together by a delicate gold vermeil branch, to gracefully adorn your day! 18" long.

$95 The Alchemist's Garden

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The Green Thumb Gardening Gift Box

Includes (3) Assorted seed packets, The Curious Gardener book, Floral drawer sachet, Cherry bon bons candies, Water spritzer bottle, Spade, Foam knee pad, Garden stepping stone, Pretzel sticks, Moisturizing hand cream, Gardening gloves, (2) Herbal teas

$62 Hayneedle.com

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Garden Conservancy Membership

A membership to the Garden Conservancy will provide pleasurable days of touring gorgeous private gardens.

From $50, Garden Conservancy 

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Meyer Lemon

An heirloom dwarf lemon with delicious golden-yellow fruit, Meyer Lemon makes a fine potted plant and it’s one of the hardiest lemons for cool temperatures. The fruit is more flavorful than store-bought lemons and is prized by chefs. It bears heavily at a young age, flowering and fruiting year-round.

From $24.95, Logee's

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Aged Scallop Planters

The gentle ripples of the scallop planter make for a cheerful sun bonnet impression around your plants. A genuine classic shape that has stood the test of time, and that continues to be a favourite in all sizes.

From $23.75, Campo de' Fiori

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Plantable Wire Lantern

With a glass hurricane inside to hold your favorite pillar candle, this open-weave wire lantern welcomes a planting of seasonal greens or an abundant display of fresh cuts.

From $48, Terrain

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Deluxe Soil Knife

The one gardening tool you can't be without! Use it to: divide plants, plant bulbs, flowers and herbs, dig out weeds, remove rocks, cut through roots, plant in pots, clean out cracks, cut twine and ties, and for so much more!

$22.49, AM Leonard

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Copper Roof Birdhouse

These handcrafted birdhouses are a focal point in flower gardens or nature sanctuaries. Durable construction and beautiful materials made these houses perfect gifts.

From $69, Wooden Expression

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Bioprotect Year-Round Greenhouse

Protect plants from chilly temperatures and wind, so you can plants out weeks earlier and to harden off transplants. Once the weather warms up, slide out the polycarbonate top panel, leaving the screen to foil most insects, slugs and wildlife.

$159, Gardener's Supply

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Herb Pot with Tray

Your sunny kitchen windowsill is the ideal place for herbs and this set of three pots is perfectly sized to fit. Each pot is faced with a front slot, pre-printed with Basil, Parsley or Thyme and may be customized by slipping in a label of your own.

$29, William-Sonoma

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The Garden Tourist: 120 Destination Garden and Nurseries in the Northeast

A travel guide of 120 gardens and nurseries in New England, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

$21.95 Enchanted Gardens

Garden Style Holidays

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November and December offer many special holiday events and workshops for gardeners. From wreath decorating to viewing amazing holiday displays, there are plenty of opportunities to get inspired. Below is just a sampling. If your organization has an event that is not listed, please feel free to add it in the Comments.

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Bert Ford in his Final Holiday Hurrah!

Holliston Garden Club, Holliston, MA
Friday, Nov. 10, 7:30 pm

A festive evening of music, refreshments, holiday gifts and a demonstration of Bert Ford's floral artistry. Refreshments begin at 7:00 pm at St. Mary's Auditorium in Holliston. Tickets are $15 at the door, $12 in advance at Outpost Farm, Debra's Flowers, Coffee Haven, or at 508-488-6422.

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Spice up Your Home with a Grapevine Wreath

Weston Nurseries, Hopkinton, MA
Sunday, November 12

Create a grapevine wreath fragrant with the scents of the holidays – dried oranges, apples, lavender, quince, moss and cinnamon sticks. A perfect way to welcome guests at your door. Registration: $45, includes all materials; bows available for an additional $10.

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Holiday Tablescaping Workshop

Snug Harbor Farm, Kennebunk, ME
Nov. 19, 1-2 pm

A workshop focused on constructing centerpieces and tablescapes with seasonal flowers and gourds. We will build out of terracotta or glass bowls, getting your holiday table dressing ready to go through the week. The cost of the class provides each student with their own centerpiece creation. More can be made, paying a la cart for additional dressing. Class size is limited, so sign up early to secure your place. Please bring your own clippers and tools. We’ll provide botanical materials and vessels. Cost is $75.

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Christmas at the Newport Mansions

Newport Mansions, Newport, MA
November 18 - January 1

The Breakers, The Elms and Marble House--three National Historic Landmarks and icons of the Gilded Age in America--are filled with thousands of poinsettias, fresh flowers, evergreens and wreaths.  Thirty decorated Christmas trees reflecting individual room decor anchor many of the magnificent spaces.  Dining tables set with period silver and china complete the elegant setting. Windows of each mansion are lit with individual white candles, in keeping with the colonial tradition. New for 2017, a gingerbread model of each house, created by amazing local pastry chefs, will be on display in its kitchen. 

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Wayside Inn Holidays

Wayside Inn, Sudbury, MA
November 28 - January 7

Each room of the historic Wayside Inn is decorated by a different garden club with hand-made creations for the holidays. The inn features a holiday menu, and advance reservations are recommended.

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Ornament, Decorative Boughs and Wreath Sale

Eleanor Cabot Bradley Estate, Canton, MA
Thurs - Sat., Nov 30 - Dec 9

Ye Olde Bradley Estate Shoppe will be open on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays for the first two weeks of December!  Ornaments, decorative boughs and wreaths made by staff and volunteers will be available for purchase.  Free holiday hot drinks to warm you up for the holidays! Music and raffles for fun stocking stuffers!

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Christmas at Castle Hill: The Season of Carols

Crane Estate, Ipswich, MA
December 1 - 2

Visiting Castle Hill at Christmas is a time-honored tradition for many New England families. Don't miss this year's spectacular "The Season of Carols". Each room in our 1920s mansion is festively decorated for a beloved Christmas carol. You'll find live music and dance, fresh baked cookies and cider, a treasure hunt, family activities, and a visit with Santa. Make Friday, date night with evening tour hours, a cash bar, light appetizers, and festive music. Come with friends on Saturday for great decorating ideas, shopping in the Castle Hill gift shop and Harbor Sweets pop up cafe, and more. Bring the children on Sunday to visit with Santa, take photos, and hunt for carol-themed items in our holiday treasure hunt.

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A Christmas Home for Everyone

Canton Garden Club, Canton, MA
Friday Dec. 1 - Sat. Dec. 2

Three homes decorated with different holiday themes. They include: “Home for the Holidays” at 34 Century Drive, “A Sporting Christmas Home” at 10 Kings Road and “A Cozy Woodland Christmas” at 5 Bailey Street. For tickets email cantongcmembership@gmail.com.

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Holiday Marketplace

Berkshire Botanical Garden, Stockbridge, MA
December 2-3

A holiday marketplace of one-of-a-kind Christmas decorations and gifts made be a select group of local craftspeople. A Gallery of Wreaths created by volunteer designers, refreshments and goodies from the Garden Shop also included.
 

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Holiday House Tour

Village Garden Club of Dennis, Dennis, MA
Dec. 9, 10-4

The tour features 6 homes in Dennis and East Dennis that are festively decorated for the season. One home will have a small holiday boutique, another will feature a harpist.

Tickets will be $30 the day of the tour at Carleton Hall, Old Bass River Road, Dennis.
Advance tickets are $25 and available starting Nov. 1. Email villagegardenclubofdennis@gmail.com

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Holiday Open House

Peckham's Greenhouses, Little Compton, RI
December 2 & 3, 9am-5 pm

Holiday plants and unique gifts for sale.

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Christmastime Teas

Florence Griswold Museum, Lyme, CT
December 5 - 23

As music of the season quietly plays, nibble delectable scones with clotted cream, assorted savory tea sandwiches, and seasonal sweets as lovely as they are tasty. Let the warmth of holiday cheer spread with each sip of Miss Florence’s Tea. Served in a delightfully eclectic assortment of china, the unique and elegant beverage is a blend of superior Ceylon and China black teas enhanced with a touch of vanilla and other delicate spices. It is created over a two-day process just for the Museum by Sundial Gardens in Higganum, Connecticut. Quite a day to remember – and all against the backdrop of the Lieutenant River cloaked in its wintery splendor.

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Wreath Making Classes

The Farmer's Daughter, South Kingston, RI
Fri., Nov 24 - Sat., Dec. 30

Cost of the class is $70.00 Class includes: all materials, wine, cheeses, mulled cider, goodies and a great time! Pre-registration is required, call 792-1340. We suggest that yo u bring a light pair of gloves and your favorite shears.

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Festival of Trees and Snow Village

Massachusetts Horticultural Society, Elm Bank, Wellesley, MA
November 24-December 10

The Festival of Trees, displayed in the Hunnewell Building, offers beautifully decorated holiday trees that are donated and decorated by local businesses, garden clubs, and individuals. Visitors “vote” with their raffle tickets, in hopes of being the tree winner at the end of the festival. Visitors can also enjoy the decorated buildings and grounds at The Gardens at Elm Bank with a stroll or a horse-drawn wagon ride. For the young at heart, there are Santa Visits and other activities.

Snow Village at Elm Bank is a wonderful addition to the holiday spirit of the Festival of Trees. Bill Meagher of Needham graciously donated the product of his thirteen year "hobby" of building Christmas villages and trains.  It is a bit different each year as he continues to tweak the arrangement.  Massachusetts Horticultural Society is delighted to share his enchanting displays with model trains winding through villages and vignettes, including Christmas in the City (Boston of course!), Fenway Park, and hundreds of decorated houses and lights. This amazing scenery in miniature is sure to get kids of all ages excited about the holiday season.

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Winter Reimagined 2017

Tower Hill Botanic Garden, Boylston, MA
November 24 - January 7

As evening falls at Tower Hill, visitors have the opportunity to marvel at glittering lights displayed throughout acres of formal gardens. The prized collection of trees and shrubs, along with illuminated paths, sculptures, and fountains, come to life in the glow of the lights. Inside, guests will see hand-made and nature-inspired ornaments, a wishing tree forest, an up-cycled igloo, and two towering conservatories brimming with subtropical plants and seasonal music. Stop in the Garden Shop for unique plant-centric gift ideas.

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Christmas at Blithewold

Blithewold, Bristol, RI
November 24 - January 1

Every year, Blithewold transforms into a dazzling display celebrating the magic of Christmas. Each room of the Mansion is filled with elaborate holiday decorations, and the gardens become a glimmering winter wonderland! Enjoy a winter marketplace, holiday teas and musical performances.

If your organization has an event that is not listed, please feel free to add it in the Comments below.

New Hampshire's Garden of Whimsical Sculptures

 Photo courtesy of Bedrock Gardens

Photo courtesy of Bedrock Gardens

Bedrock Gardens is a 20-acre garden that Carol Stocker of the Boston Globe aptly described as a “cross between Sissinghurst and the Dr. Seuss Sculpture Garden.” In 1980 Bob Munger and Jill Nooney purchased this former dairy farm and began a 30-year transformation of the landscape into a collection of themed garden rooms enlivened by whimsical sculptures.

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Nooney is a practicing clinical social worker, as well as an artist and graduate of the Radcliffe Institute Landscape Design program. She uses old farm equipment and repurposed metal to create a variety of abstract sculptures, arches, arbors, water features and “creatures” inspired by nature and her imagination. Munger is a retired doctor and a lifelong tinkerer. Nooney is the garden’s visionary artist and “problem maker.” He is the “problem solver,” the implementer of those visions, including beautifully patterned walkways and patios, and hydraulics for water features.

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Nooney and Munger created their garden as a journey with “places to go, places to pause and rest and interesting things to see along the way.” Nearly two-dozen “points of interest,” many with humorous names, are connected by paths that wind through garden rooms, around ponds, and through woodlands.

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Closest to the house, a yew hedge encloses a formal parterre planted with white flowers, with a diamond patterned bluestone path and a circular pool and fountain. The Straight and Narrow garden features a cobbled-edged path that runs between beds of native trees, shrubs, and perennials. The Swaleway’s woodland wildflowers welcome spring amidst towers of balanced stones. The Garish Garden’s playful sculptures fit in with flowers in flaming reds and oranges and trees and shrubs with bright gold foliage.

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Bedrock Gardens is full of new ideas for gardeners as well as new takes on classic garden forms. The Wiggle Waggle is a wavy 200-foot long water channel, planted with lotus and water lilies. The Spiral Garden is a “twist” on a traditional maze garden, with twirling roof ventilators on spiral stands that emphasize the Fibonacci-inspired paving laid in a moss floor. Grass Acre is a “painting” of Switchgrass, Hakone Grass, and Little Blue Stem, anchored by a metal sculpture that evokes a mountain range. The Dark Woods is a grove of dead trees accented with sculptural ghosts, spiders, and other scary creatures. The Wave is a series of 26 small metal characters on pedestals backed by a tall arborvitae hedge. Several ponds and many more gardens await the visitor.

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Walking through the gardens is a delightful journey. There are many places to sit and enjoy a vista or a sculpture along the way. The Japanese garden and Tea House offer quiet repose in the woods, and the two thrones at the Termi at the far end of the large pond offer a stunning view along the 900-foot axis through the garden. Nooney has designed the garden with an artist’s eye and her strategic placement of focal points and vistas takes classical garden design concepts into a contemporary setting.

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Nooney and Munger want to preserve the garden for future generations and are working with Friends of Bedrock Gardens and new executive director John Forti to transition the property into a public garden.

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Bedrock Gardens will close out the 2017 season with a special fundraising Fairy House and Hobbit House Festival Weekend, October 7-9, 11 am to 3 pm. Tracy Kane, award-winning Fairy Houses author, www.fairyhouses.com, will read from her books. Visitors can stroll along a Fairy and Hobbit House Trail past houses created by gardeners, artists, and children, and take time to make their own house out of natural materials provided. Chili, books, whimsical handmade creations and fairy fare will be for sale. The entire garden will be available for touring.

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Bedrock Gardens, 45 High Rd., Lee, NH 03861, (603) 659-2993, bedrockgardens.org

Excerpted from The Garden Tourist, 120 Destination Gardens and Nurseries in the Northeast by Jana Milbocker

The Magical Garden of Green Animals

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Green Animals is the oldest and most northern topiary garden in the United States. The 7-acre estate overlooks the Narragansett Bay, and contains a whimsical garden with more than 80 topiaries sculpted from California privet, yew, and English boxwood.

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This small country estate in Portsmouth was purchased in 1872 by Thomas E. Brayton, Treasurer of the Union Cotton Manufacturing Company in Fall River, Massachusetts. It included a white clapboard summer residence, farm outbuildings, a pasture and a vegetable garden. Brayton's daughter Alice gave the estate its name because of the profusion of "green animals" created by property superintendent Joseph Carreiro.

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Carreiro was hired to design and maintain the ornamental and edible gardens from 1905 to 1945. He experimented with California privet propagated in the estate greenhouse, and developed a system for training these, without the support of frames, into over-sized animal shapes. Many of the animals took almost 20 years to grow into their final size. Since the Brayton home was a summer residence, it was not a concern that privet was deciduous and sheds its leaves in the fall. His son-in-law, George Mendonca, superintendent until 1985, expanded the gardens to include more than 80 topiaries, and sculpted some from yew and boxwood.

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Alice Brayton inherited the estate and made it her permanent residence. She became an avid historian and gardener herself, and bequeathed Green Animals to The Preservation Society of Newport County upon her death. Today, Green Animals remains as a rare example of an estate with formal topiaries, beautiful flower, vegetable and herb gardens, orchards and a Victorian house.

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The landscape is a series of garden rooms bordered by mature conifers and magnolias. The fanciful topiaries are the stars of the garden. Favorites include teddy bears, a camel, a giraffe, an ostrich, an elephant, a unicorn, a reindeer, a dog, and a horse with his rider. They are set within lovely flower beds planted with colorful perennials and annuals. Near the house and main entrance, the topiary retains a more formal style of figurative and geometric shapes. A walkway of arched topiary leads around the house to the front porch, where you can relax on a rocking chair and enjoy a view of the bay. The topiaries are all trimmed by hand using garden shears and require weekly hand trimming. Some conservation metal supports have been discreetly positioned inside the forms to provide stability in wind and snow.

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The rest of the garden is equally magical. Grape arbors, fruit beds, orchards, cutting gardens and an extensive vegetable gardens sport decorations and whimsical scarecrows that delight children.

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The Brayton house museum contains a display of vintage toys including a large collection of toy soldiers and vintage dollhouses. Adults will appreciate the original Victorian family furnishings and decoration.

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Ribbons for prize-winning dahlias and vegetables, dating from about 1915, line the walls of the well-curated gift shop. Green Animals Topiary Garden is a delight for gardeners of all ages!

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Edinburgh's Beloved Botanic Garden

Armed with an umbrella, sweater and raincoat, I toured Edinburgh's Royal Botanic Garden on Sunday. While July temperatures in the mid-50s and scattered downpours do not deter traveling gardeners from visiting botanic gardens, I was amazed to find the garden packed with city residents and tourists enjoying their Sunday outdoors. Mothers pushed babies in prams, dads chased after runaway toddlers, elderly couples strolled arm in arm admiring the delicate alpines, Spanish tourists snacked on sandwiches in the Chinese pavilion, a group of American teenagers chatted about their European adventures, and a Japanese bride and groom kissed for the photographer while the caterer distributed flutes of champagne to their guests. I walked around marveling at the 4' tall hardy geraniums, the swaths of Japanese primroses, the towering monkey puzzle trees, and the many plants from all corners of the world that I had never seen before.

 The 500-foot long Herbaceous Border, created in 1902, is backed by a commanding hedge of 158 beech trees. The hedge is pruned annually to retain its 24' height.

The 500-foot long Herbaceous Border, created in 1902, is backed by a commanding hedge of 158 beech trees. The hedge is pruned annually to retain its 24' height.

 Himalayan poppy (Meconopsis grandis) is popular in Scotland and grows to 4' with beautiful sky-blue flowers in June.

Himalayan poppy (Meconopsis grandis) is popular in Scotland and grows to 4' with beautiful sky-blue flowers in June.

Showcasing 128,000 plants from 156 countries, the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE) is a living encyclopedia of horticulture that brings out the "plant geek" in all of us. The garden was founded in 1670 as a "physic garden" by two adventurous Scottish doctors who returned from a 'grand tour' of Europe determined to grow, study and identify plants for treatment of disease. Medical students were schooled in botany by the Head Gardener until the mid 1800s. With the expansion of the British Empire, the plant collections grew rapidly, and the garden was relocated several times to accommodate new acquisitions. It has been at its current site on the outskirts of the city center since 1821.

 The Chinese Hillside is the result of plant hunter George Forrest's seven trips to Yunnan between 1904 and 1932. Winding paths, a waterfall, bridge and pavilion are placed among 16,000 plants collected from Yunnan, many rare and endangered.

The Chinese Hillside is the result of plant hunter George Forrest's seven trips to Yunnan between 1904 and 1932. Winding paths, a waterfall, bridge and pavilion are placed among 16,000 plants collected from Yunnan, many rare and endangered.

 Young monkey puzzle trees in the Biodiversity Garden which illustrates the evolution of plants.

Young monkey puzzle trees in the Biodiversity Garden which illustrates the evolution of plants.

One of the first things that you notice when visiting the garden are the magnificent and unusual trees set in a stately, park-like setting of 70acres. Some of these trees were moved from the garden's previous location and are more than 200 years old. Others were acquired as seeds from habitats that no longer exist, such as the extremely rare Catacol whitebean. Only one other specimen of this tree exists in the wild - in a ravine on the isle of Aran.

 A stand of coastal redwoods planted in the 1920s creates a cathedral-like atmosphere and is a popular site for weddings.

A stand of coastal redwoods planted in the 1920s creates a cathedral-like atmosphere and is a popular site for weddings.

RBGE's glasshouses offer ten distinct climatic zones with thousands of flowering plants, cycads and ferns. The Temperate Palm House, currently under renovation, was built in 1858 and is one of the tallest in the world. The Plants and People House showcases plants that are integral to our daily lives - sugar, cocoa, rice and coffee, as well as giant water platters. Other glasshouses feature plants of the desert, the rainforest and mountain regions. My favorite was the Lowland Tropics House and its collection of gingers that sported the most unusual flowers (see red pinecone below).

Themed gardens illustrate various habitats from around the world. The Alpine Garden exhibits plants from high mountain tops which are a real challenge to grow in Edinburgh's maritime lowlands climate. Alpines are important to RGBE's conservation work, as they can be indicators of global warming. The Alpine House and Tufa House protect these tender plants from the wet Scottish climate. Troughs are used to create individual landscapes representing miniature mountain tops.

The Rock Garden features 5,000 plants from the great mountain ranges of Chile, China, Europe, Japan, South Africa and North America. Dwarf conifers, bulbs and rhododendrons complement true alpines. The neighboring Scottish Heath Garden shows off Scotland's iconic shrub.

The Queen Mother's Memorial Garden was formally opened in 2006, and reflects the Queen Mother's love of gardening. A Celtic-style labyrinth planted with bog myrtle is surrounded by perennial beds and a charming pavilion.

 The Memorial Pavilion within the Queen Mother's Garden is decorated with shells collected by schoolchildren from around Scotland. The ceiling is lined with pine cones from RBGE's gardens.

The Memorial Pavilion within the Queen Mother's Garden is decorated with shells collected by schoolchildren from around Scotland. The ceiling is lined with pine cones from RBGE's gardens.

 The Demonstration Garden is used by local schools and students in RGBE's Horticulture and Herbology courses to experiment with growing crops and medicinal plants.

The Demonstration Garden is used by local schools and students in RGBE's Horticulture and Herbology courses to experiment with growing crops and medicinal plants.

 Swaths of primroses, trilliums and other shade lovers thrive in the woodland garden, along with rhododendrons and magnolias. Many of these plants look like they are on steroids: Edinburgh's mild, wet climate provides ideal growing conditions.

Swaths of primroses, trilliums and other shade lovers thrive in the woodland garden, along with rhododendrons and magnolias. Many of these plants look like they are on steroids: Edinburgh's mild, wet climate provides ideal growing conditions.

The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh is open daily except Christmas and New Year's Day, and features a restaurant, cafe, shop stocked with gifts and plants, and seasonal exhibitions and events. Admission is free, with a small fee for the glasshouses. See rgbe.org.uk/edinburgh for more info.

Roses Bloom at Elizabeth Park

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June is the best time for visiting gardens that feature roses, and there's no place better in New England than Elizabeth Park in Hartford, Connecticut - the home of our country's oldest public rose garden.

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The property was once called Prospect Hill, the Hartford farming estate of wealthy businessman and politician Charles Murray Pond, and his wife, Elizabeth. When he died in 1894, Charles left his entire estate to the City of Hartford for a public park in his will. The estate consisted of 90 acres and a generous fund to purchase additional land, hire a park designer, and for maintenance. He requested that the park be a botanical park and named after his wife, Elizabeth, who was an avid gardener.

Swiss-born landscape architect Theodore Wirth was hired as the park superintendent, and he worked with the firm of Frederick Law Olmstead to design this new space. Elizabeth Park reflects a combination of both schools of landscape design with European formal gardens and Olmstead's natural setting with serpentine roadways, sweeping vistas and peripheral trees.

The rose garden is the centerpiece of Elizabeth Park, 2.5 acres in size with 475 beds and over 15,000 rose bushes and arches. The arches are in full bloom in late June to early July, and are just spectacular. They only bloom once. Many of the other roses continue to bloom until the fall.

If you visit in June, be sure to see the separated Heritage Rose Garden —one of the few in the country. Also known as Old Garden Roses, Heritage Roses—Albas, Bourbons, Centifolias, Damasks, Chinas, Gallicas, Hybrid Perpetuals, Moss, Noisettes, Portlands and Teas—are extremely fragrant and bloom only in June. These roses are exhibited in raised beds that form a five-petaled rosette symbolizing a centifolia or 100-petaled rose, which is the typical form of a heritage rose.
 

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I grew up just a few miles from Elizabeth Park, and have a personal connection to the rose garden. My neighbor and friend Donna Fuss became a stay-at-home mom when her children were born, and developed a passion for gardening, especially for roses. She and her husband Mike planted a small formal rose garden in a corner of their backyard, and as their passion for roses grew, added more and more rose beds throughout the yard. They started entering rose shows, judging, and co-founded the Connecticut Rose Society. Donna’s hobby evolved into a second career, and she became the consulting rosarian to Elizabeth Park Rose Garden. Knowledgeable, outgoing, generous, and funny, Donna became an ambassador for Elizabeth Park - fondly known as the “Rose Lady.” She shared her garden enthusiasm with everyone she met, and I owe some of my garden passion to Donna.

In addition to its rose gardens, Elizabeth Park has several other notable gardens. The Perennial Garden is formal in design, with a central wooden pavilion adorned with Clematis Jackmanii. Enclosed by a hedge of dwarf Japanese yew, the garden features 1,600 perennials arranged in “cool” and “warm” color beds accented by silver grey foliage.

The Tulip and Annual Garden is planted with 11,000 tulips each fall for a spectacular spring display, and features a American Flag in summer.

The Shade Garden features mixed plantings of herbs, perennials, ornamental grasses, woody shrubs, and small evergreen and deciduous trees. Several horticultural groups design, plant, and maintain gardens in the park. These specialty gardens include the herb garden, dahlia display garden and iris garden.

After touring the gardens, you can have lunch at the Pond House Cafe located withing the park. The cafe features eclectic cuisine made with fresh, local ingredients. The menu changes to reflect the seasons.

Elizabeth Park is open 365 days of the year, dawn to dusk, and is FREE to the public. There are no admission fees.

Elizabeth Park is one of the gardens profiled in The Garden Tourist, a book of 120 destination gardens and nurseries in the Northeast, which will be published in fall 2017.

 

 

 

Spring Fling with Fritillaries

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Historically known as "the crown imperial", but jokingly referred to as "the Dr. Seuss Flower" by members of my garden club, Fritillaria is a sight to behold in the spring garden. All 45 members of my garden club were given a bulb to plant 3 years ago, so that we could try it and compare notes. We were all surprised and delighted by this unusual spring bulb.

There are more than 200 forms of fritillaria in the world, many of them rare alpine plants. They are popular in the UK, home of the Fritillaria Society, and of garden estates that host Frittillary Weekends. Vita Sackville-West described the fritillary as looking like something exceedingly choice and expensive, but added it was “a sinister little flower, in the mournful colours of decay”. She was referring to Fritillaria meleagris, also known as snake’s head lily, leper lily, chess or guinea flower, with pendant bells in white, purple or pink checks hanging from gray grassy stems. Despite their sinister common names, checkered lilies are charming little flowers (12" - 15" tall) native to damp meadows and woodlands in Europe. They require partial shade and abundant moisture, and are an excellent choice for naturalizing. I will never forget my first encounter with them naturalized in a lawn at Chanticleer Garden - it was a magical sight!

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 Fritillaria meleagris - White Flower Farm

Fritillaria meleagris - White Flower Farm

Another charming Fritillary is Fritillaria michailovski, or Michael's Flower, which is native to Turkey. Its nodding bell-shaped deep burgundy blossoms are brightly tipped in glowing yellow on arched branches. Michael's Flower looks great in a pot as well as in the garden.

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Fritillaria persica, or Persian Fritillaria, sports narrow 30" stalks of deep purple-black bell-shaped blossoms with gold centers and gray-green foliage. It grows in full sun to part shade, and complements dark maroon tulips.

 Fritillaria persica at Avant Gardens

Fritillaria persica at Avant Gardens

 Spring garden with Fritillaria persica at Chanticleer

Spring garden with Fritillaria persica at Chanticleer

 A Fritillaria persica alba has soft white blossoms.

A Fritillaria persica alba has soft white blossoms.

Tall and aristocratic looking, the crown imperial looks down on the world from its 3 foot height, usually in shades of yellow, orange and scarlet. Its bell-shaped flowers on strong stalks are "crowned" with another burst of green foliage that sits majestically atop the pendulous blooms. It prefers a sunny, well-drained soil, and attracts butterflies.

 Scarlet Crown Imperial from Phoenix Perennials

Scarlet Crown Imperial from Phoenix Perennials

A new variegated fritillary called Aureomarginata emerges in spring with twisted green and yellow foliage, a smoky flower stalk and bright orange flowers crowned with spidery green leaves. It is both surprising and whimsical.

 Fritillaria imperialis Aureomarginata from Bluestone Perennials

Fritillaria imperialis Aureomarginata from Bluestone Perennials

Fritillaries are members of the lily family, and their name is derived from the Latin term for a dice box (fritillus) which probably refers to the checkered pattern of the flowers. Fritillaries do not like to be disturbed after planting, so they are not ideal for containers. Crown Imperials should no be cut for vases, because that would reduce their stems too much and would weaken the plant. They also have a slight odor, which does not make them welcome indoors, but repels deer, rabbits and voles. As with other spring bulbs, the foliage should be left standing until it yellows, so that the plant can photosynthesize and store carbohydrate reserves for its dormancy.

Spring Ideas from Blithewold

Joan and I had the pleasure of presenting our lecture "Spring Ephemerals and Other Delights" at Blithewold last April. For those of you that have never been there, Blithewold is a 33-acre estate with a 45-room mansion framed by a series of lovely gardens overlooking Narragansett Bay in Rhode Island. The property was purchased in 1895 by Augustus and Bessie Van Wickle, and served as the family summer home. The gardens were designed in the late 1800s, and feature a 10-acre lawn, an arboretum of specimen trees, perennials gardens, and a "bouquet" or scenic woodland. Bessie and her daughter Marjorie were ardent gardeners and turned the estate into a horticultural showplace. 

Blithewold is beautiful in all seasons. In the spring, the rose garden, framed by an Asian-inspired moon gate, blooms with colorful bulbs and early perennials.

Tulips, leucojum, grape hyacinths, bleeding hearts, euphorbia and other perennials welcome you to the Blithewold estate. 

Century-old trees present a sculptural beauty even in early spring, before they leaf out. Some are underplanted with shade and drought-tolerant perennials such as epimedium (below).

The chartreuse leaves of ginkgo trees are a delight when viewed against the mature deep green conifers.

The Bosque is planted with thousands of daffodils and a carpet of spring ephemerals including mayapples (above) and erythronium, also known as trout lilies (below). These woodland plants bloom while there is ample sunlight before the trees leaf out, and become dormant in the summer.

The Van Wickles used stone from their property to create rock gardens and garden ornaments such as the whimsical stone bench below.

Flowering crabapples frame the view of Narragansett Bay. In April, you can view more than 50,000 daffodils in bloom. In May, see the Magnolias, Flowering Cherries, Honeysuckles, Weigelas, Lilacs, and Viburnum, along with hundreds of blooming perennials.

Joan and I will be back at Blithewold on Monday, May 8 at 1:00 pm, presenting our "Propagating Perennials" workshop. Hope you can join us!

Creating a Layered Garden

Every gardener wants a lush, colorful garden that brims with excitement and interest throughout the year. But how do you achieve this? By creating a "layered garden" - one in which the plantings are carefully selected to provide a succession of interesting combinations (or layers) from spring through fall.

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In his excellent book, The Layered Garden, David Culp illustrates this concept with stunning photographs of his gardens at Brandywine Cottage in Bucks County, Penn. As he writes in his book:

"The key to creating a many-layered garden is understanding and taking advantage of the ways plants grow and change through the seasons and over the years, providing different textures, colors, and effects and evoking a variety of feelings. Garden layers are made up of a variety of plants, some with complementary or contrasting colors, other with interesting shapes and textures." 

I created my layered perennial garden so that I would have a nice view from my kitchen windows. I wanted to use bright, "hot" colors somewhere on my property, and this location seemed ideal since it was a little further from the house. This kidney-shaped island garden was originally planted around a lone small apple tree that later succumbed to disease. It was replaced by the white tuteur, made for me by my brother-in-law. The shape of the tuteur echoes the dwarf Alberta Spruce on the left and provides a focal point for the garden in all seasons. Although the garden has gone through many changes, the concept and some of the plantings have not changed in 24 years.

The kidney garden has grown over the years to its current size of 28' long and 24' deep. It has  always had small access paths so that I would not have to step on the soil.

The first blooms of early spring are daffodils and species tulips. I moved and divided my forsythia bush so that it would be a colorful backdrop to the blooming daffodils. The daffodils are interplanted with daylilies, so as the daylilies grow, their foliage hides the foliage of the daffodils.

The species tulips bloom in April. Unlike most tulips, they are short in stature and truly perennial. They also have beautifully mottled foliage.

In early May, Darwin tulips and forget-me-nots begin to bloom, along with the PJM rhododendrons in the background. The forget-me-nots self-sow from year to year. Once they are done blooming, I remove most of them so make room for emerging perennials.

The fritillary, also called "Crown Imperial", is a regal bulb.

Darwin tulips are more hardy than many other varieties and return year after year. I add more bulbs every 4-5 years to keep my spring show going.

One of the joys of the layered garden is that it allows for flexibility, letting me change the predominant colors of the garden several times during the year. By early June, the color scheme of the garden has transitioned to blue and yellow.

Bulbs are key to achieving a layered look. They take up little space, and their foliage completely dies back later in the season, making room for other plants.

Baptisia produces tall spikes of bright blue flowers and handsome blue-green foliage. It is now the size of a shrub, and I stake it to keep it upright all summer long.

Allium 'Globemaster' produces giant purple globes on sturdy tall stems. It's especially vibrant next to the 'Goldheart' bleeding heart.

I purchased these 'Johnson's Blue' geraniums from Bluestone Perennials more than 20 years ago. They have been divided several times, and continue to form a cloud of blue in June.

My tuteur sports clematis 'HF Young' - a variety with giant flowers. Climbing vines are another asset to a layered garden - they add height, but have a small footprint.

Centaurea montana, or perennial Bachelor's Button has beautiful azure flowers.

In late June, the garden turns to gold and green with the prolific blooms of daylily 'Stella de 'Oro'. I try to plant the perennials in large swaths so that they have impact in the garden from a distance.

Several self-seeding plants weave through the perennials. I remove some in the spring, and leave the others to create an informal English cottage look. Golden feverfew, one of the self-seeders, provides bouquets of tiny daisy flowers and bright chartreuse foliage.

Coreopsis 'Zagreb', also known as Tickseed, is a long bloomer in full sun.

Daylilies begin their show in July. 'Margaret Seawright' is a gorgeous bi-colored variety.

Daylily 'Bloodline' complements its neighbor, scarlet Bee Balm.

The feathery gold foliage of Spirea 'Ogon' and Amsonia contrasts with the strappy foliage of daylilies.

Purple Perilla is another self-sower that adds drama to the late summer garden.

Several varieties of helianthus and rudbeckia create great cut flowers for the house.

These Orienpet lilies add a wonderful fragrance to the entire garden. They came as a set of 25 unnamed bulbs from White Flower Farm.

I grew aster 'Nova Anglie' from seed 24 years ago, and if the woodchuck does not get it, it provides armloads of flowers in September.

Rudbeckia, zebra grass and perilla in the autumn garden. I like the planting to be full - no mulch visible.

Sedum 'Autumn Joy' and Michaelmas daisy welcome autumn.

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Always consider your garden's backdrop.'Karl Foerster' grass, variegated sedum, a golden cypress and burgundy Witherod Viburnum provide a lovely background for the garden in late fall as the perennials die back.

10 Favorite Mail-Order Nurseries

February is a terrific time to choose new plants for the garden. Here are some of my favorite mail-order nurseries for perennials, trees and shrubs. Do you have other favorites? Please share them with others in the comments section!

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Bluestone Perennials

Bluestone Perennials was one of the first mail-order nurseries that I purchased perennials from when I began gardening. Most of those perennials -geraniums 'Wargrave Pink' and 'Johnson's Blue', lobelias and astilbes, to name a few, are still growing in my garden 20 years later. Bluestone carries a huge selection of perennials, as well as bulbs and shrubs, from reliable standbys to exciting new hybrids. If you need help with plant combinations, you can order pre-planned theme gardens, such as a Butterfly Garden, Cutting Garden or Lamp Post Garden. Robust plants are shipped in 3-1/2" x 4" plantable pots. The nursery has been family-owned and operated since 1972, and provides excellent customer service. Catalog available. bluestoneperennials.com

Brushwood Nursery

If you are looking for clematis or other climbers, Brushwood Nursery is an excellent source. Brushwood offers hundreds of clematis varieties as well as honeysuckles, trumpet vines, passion flowers, wisteria and jasmines. The informative website is a virtual encyclopedia of clematis - you will have a hard time narrowing down your choices! I was inspired to try clematis after hearing Cheryl Monroe's lecture, and she recommended Brushwood. Since then, I have ordered plants for myself and as gifts for friends, and they have all done beautifully. Owner Dan Long takes great care in selecting, growing and shipping healthy, vigorous plants. They now sell all the vines in one-gallon pots with free shipping. brushwoodnursery.com

Flowers by the Sea

I love the spiky form and delicate flowers of salvias, but you rarely find any varieties other than 'Caradonna' and 'May Knight' at local nurseries. Luckily, there is a California nursery called Flowers by the Sea, which specializes in beautiful salvias and has 52 varieties that are hardy to Zone 6. Last year I added salvias in periwinkle blue, soft pink, magenta and white to my perennial border and they bloomed until November! Plants are large and healthy and the website offers a wealth of information about growing salvias. If you sign up for their newsletter, you receive weekly Salvia deals. fbts.com

Santa Rosa Gardens

Santa Rosa Gardens offers an extensive selection of perennials with an emphasis on ornamental grasses - there are 182 varieties of grasses on offer! Most of the plants are sun lovers, and you will be pleased with the number of varieties to choose from - 13 types of agastache, 32 varieties of coreopsis, 14 Gaillardias, 44 Sedums, and more. In addition to standard 3-1/2" pots, you can also order perennials in flats of 72 if you are doing a mass planting. Santa Rosa Gardens is family-owned grower that has been in the horticulture business for four generations and offers excellent customer service.

Santa Rosa Gardens has also started a new subscription service called My Garden Box. The nursery assembles a custom crafted collection of plants and gardens goods that you can receive on a monthly basis or send as a gift. The plants are beautifully packaged and arrive as a lovely surprise.  santarosagardens.com

Pine Knot Farms

Hellebores have a special place in my heart, and there is no better place to look for new varieties than Pine Knot Farms. Judith and Dick Tyler have been breeding hellebores for more than 25 years, with stock plants from the UK, the Balkans, Japan, Australia and New Zealand. The couple authored a comprehensive book on Hellebores in 2006. I hope to visit their North Carolina nursery someday, but in the meantime, I try some of their new offerings every year. pineknotfarms.com

Palatine Roses

When I replanted my rose bed last year, I was determined to use hardy, disease-free roses. I ordered bare root rose bushes from several sources, and the best plants came from Palatine Roses in Ontario. The roses had well-developed root systems and strong canes, and flourished during the entire season with no signs of black spot or other diseases. I had blooms through November. Palatine has a minimum order of 3 roses, and the mail order deadline is March 15 for spring shipping. palatineroses.com

High Country Gardens

If you are looking to develop a drought-tolerant perennial garden, look for plants at Santa Fe's High Country Gardens. The nursery has been dedicated to improving the environment "one garden at a time", and has been a pioneer in the concept of xeriscaping - gardening with plants that need minimal water once established. Founder David Salman has introduced unique hybrids for water-wise gardens, and all plants are grown neonicotinoid-free. This nursery is a great source of sun lovers such as liatris, agastache, lavender, coreopsis, monarda and more! The site is also rich with plant description and gardening advice. highcountrygardens.com

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Geraniaceae Nursery

One of my earliest "favorite plants" were the hardy cranesbill geraniums for their long-lasting dainty blooms and ease of care. I recently discovered a book devoted to this family of plants written by Robin Parer which led me to her specialty nursery in Marin County, Cal. While local nurseries sell less then 5 varieties, Geraniaceae offers close to 170 hardy geraniums hybrids, as well as erodiums and pelargoniums. If you love this family of plants, there is no better source! geraniaceae.com

Mason Hollow Nursery

If you have a shady garden or just love to collect hostas, you will enjoy ordering from Mason Hollow Nursery in Mason, New Hampshire. Owners Sue and Chuck Anderson opened the nursery in 2001, and offer an impressive array of more than 800 hosta varieties, as well as ferns, epimediums and other perennials. Plants arrive with good sized root systems and are ready to be planted in the garden. You can also visit Mason Hollow and see their lovely display gardens. masonhollow.com

Lazy S's Farm Nursery

A family-owned nursery in Virginia, Lazy S's Farm offers a huge range of perennials as well as many hard-to-find hybrids of shrubs. Do you like callicarpa? You can find 13 varieties at Lazy S. All plants come in quart pots, so it is an inexpensive way to purchase an unusual shrub if you have the patience to grow it on for a few years before it makes a significant presence in the garden. When delivered, plants are healthy and vigorous and ready to take their place in the garden. lazyssfarm.com