Chelsea Flower Show, London & Country Gardens with CarexTours Pt. 4

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Let’s geek out on architecture for a few moments, shall we? When I travel, I am at least as motivated to capture shots of fascinating architecture as much as fantastic gardens. And on THIS portion of the trip, I was utterly stunned.

Our fantastic CarexTours guides thankfully had us staying here at the Ettington Park Hotel near Stratford-Upon-Avon in Warwickshire for two nights last spring because I think I would have thrown a fit otherwise. This grand building deserved the attention. I only wish I could see it again in summer.

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We arrived in the late afternoon on a typical spring day in the UK, gray, sprinkling, chilly and windy. But, we were rewarded with such incredible drama from this Grand Dame we didn’t even notice.

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The entry hall was ready for us with bikes, umbrellas and even Welly’s to borrow!

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Once we were all given our rooms it was time to do a bit of exploring while dinner was being prepped. This was our private dining room where I felt SO under dressed!

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Our incredible dining room even had hidden passageways of course!

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The main salon just off a tiny little bar area was exquisite, my colors!!!

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The view from our dining room was looking toward the remains of this once private chapel for the family who originally built this incredible property.

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The hotel and recently undergone a major renovation and they did a wonderful job bringing this folly back to life. Wouldn’t it be fun to be there during an event?

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My own room was AMAZING. Though I didn’t shoot pics of it because it was quite modern in contrast. My bathroom was GIANT!

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Though it was still quite brisk, you could feel spring and I bet this garden get more beautiful by the day!

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The color of the wisteria blooms was incredible against the warm golds of the local stone used to build this enormous building.

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Hotel guests having fun goofing with this photographer while waiting for dinner service to begin!

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Everywhere you looked, the details imparted by artisans of bygone era’s were sumptuous and truly a sight to behold. The hotel told us that they believe it’s haunted as staff regaled us with stories of ghostly sightings in the halls.

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Can you imagine the time and level of attention to detail that each doorway took to make?
It was truly a reflection of wealth, power, and devotion to the church and state.

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Visiting the ruins of the former chapel was in and of itself spiritual. Maybe it was just me, but in the quiet, all by myself, it was like you could physically feel the history all around you. I could have photographed it for days.

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There was a tremendous amount of history here. This was a space where children were laid to rest.

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I realize these are a bit challenging to read, but if you can, take the time to try, it will be so worth it!

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Incredible details like this were everywhere inside the dark chapel area. There was a closed off portion still quite intact that a few people got a tour of, I wasn’t on the ball enough to get that tour, but I got to see other parts of the property that no one else paid attention to so it balanced out!

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One of my favorite shots because you can see the hotel through the one portion of broken glass.

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More details from the chapel!

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Epic Cedar of Lebanon standing guard near the chapel as we look back toward the hotel and a ray of sun!

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The gorgeous mature trees gave such a feeling of intimacy on this property.

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Heading away from the hotel to the back of the property, we were told there were even Roman ruins here at one point too. This path I followed took me past the employee living quarters and the old tennis court behind this wall. Forget me Nots abound!

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Honeysuckle takes its victim. 🙂

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On top of one of the maintenance buildings….can you imagine how incredible this must have been at one time? The copper alone must have been quite something!

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Then you turn to see THIS! Glowing fields of rape seed were incredibly dreamy.

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These horses seemed to have a GREAT life!!!

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Heading back to the hotel before dark, one last look at the scene. Sigh……

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Night time fell and she lit up like a fairytale castle. Off to bed and the next incredible place we visited! Stay tuned!

If you liked this post, go to THIS link and see about taking a tour with CarexTours for yourself. I was incredibly impressed and felt it was a truly life changing experience!
Until next post, CHEERS!

Chelsea Flower Show, London & Country Gardens with CarexTours Pt. 3

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Spring at the Pettifers garden in Oxfordshire owned and designed by Gina Price is a privilege to behold. Upon arriving, you have no idea the delightful spectacle that awaits you through the beautiful gate.

 

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The front of Gina Price’s home gives only a minimal taste of what you’re about to see. Our tour group came in through the larger gates on the entry drive. 

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This fantastic color was only mildly foretelling of the visual treat we were in for during this lovely visit.

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Wouldn’t you LOVE for this to be your garage? I could have photographed just THIS for half the day, there were SO many fantastic details to take in and it was so neat and tidy!

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Then you turn and take in the incredible old country home before you. Since 1984 Gina Price has been gardening here after her inspiration from learning about the “New Perennial Movement” that emphasized featuring grasses within the mixed border. Her interest in focusing on perennials rather than the tradition of roses and shrubs became the theme of the garden.

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Keeping certain larger formally clipped, traditional shrubs for the effect of defining spaces served this garden very well!

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I could not take my eyes off of the two urns placed on top of the pedestals filled with succulents in cracks and crevices. The blending of two seemingly distant trends in the garden of traditional, old world and the new ways of using practical sedum for color, texture and low maintenance beauty were magical!

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The deep borders displayed voluptuous colors in both flowers and foliage and were incredibly well designed. Combining both old world planting style with 21st century ideas came together expertly.

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Drifts of spring perennials and bulbs worked together in harmony. I would have loved to be able to see this garden in fall too!

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Renowned for the formal parterre garden of clipped boxwood and yew, it also had a quite graceful, casual flair as well.

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Far from the house, this portion of the garden featured more demure color. This clematis must really be a sight in summer!

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Seating both intended for socializing, view gazing or solitary contemplation marked spots all over the property.

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I love the artistic nature and placement of these smooth wooden chairs and the unusual shapes that reminded me of oxen yoke.

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A broader shot that shows the lower part of the garden away from the house and the beautiful rolling hills and glowing rape seed growing in the distance make for an iconic view.

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So many plants to photograph, so little time! 

 

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Happy gardeners! 

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Terrific backdrop for garden loving couples! 

 
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Gina Price on the far right generously toured all of us through her exquisite landscape answering all of our questions before serving all of us proper tea and crisps.

 

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Pettifers also enjoys having a very talented garden assistant on site who had a wonderfully encyclopedic memory for plants and the history behind the garden too. It was a pleasure chatting with her!

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It was our good fortune to be visiting this garden in spring to catch it at the beginning of the growing season all fresh and lovely. What a garden!

Want your very own taste of the English countryside in spring? Click HERE for more information on the spring tours that are about to happen for 2017 and how to secure your own spot. GO-CLICK-NOW! 🙂 

Chelsea Flower Show, London & Country Gardens with CarexTours Pt.1

 

Broughton Grange, Carex Tours 2016

Carolyn Mullet is a top-level landscape designer based in Maryland and I was the BLESSED photographer she invited along to document her tour through England earlier this year via her tour company Carex Garden Tours. This blog is one in a series that will take YOU along with us on a visual tour of what we saw in the gardens and a glimpse into the fun that was had by the group along the way. So join me and our fun group for visits to some of the world’s top British gardens as well as the world-famous Chelsea Flower Show!

Our first stop on the tour was Broughton Grange Gardens  where we were all SO excited to get going we could hardly wait for that big old gate to open!

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Once we were through the gate it was like falling down the rabbit hole in Alice in Wonderland. We were all ready for adventure and did we ever get it! Though it was a cool and mildly damp morning as you would expect the english countryside to be, not one of us intrepid garden enthusiasts would be deterred.

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Immediately in the garden, there was a lovely tea and biscuit ready and waiting for us while we learned about this wonderfully complicated garden and all of its many facets that we were about to explore!
Here is an excerpt from Broughton Grange that describes a bit about the gardens:

Prior to purchase by the present owner in 1992, Broughton Grange was owned for 200 years by the Morrell family. The gardens are beautifully set in 350 acres of parkland, farmland and open meadow, with planting that owes its origins to the Victorian era. In the early 20th century and under the ownership of Lady Ottoline and Philip Morrell, figures such as Bertrand Russell and Lytton Strachey were entertained on the estate. Although not ultimately fond of Broughton, Lady Ottoline wrote to Russell “I think the country looks very charming, very secluded; the trees and air and stillness are so delightful”. Broughton Grange now represents one of the most significant private contemporary gardens in Britain.
The gardens’ development accelerated in 2001, when leading landscape designer Tom Stuart-Smith was commissioned to transform a six acre south facing field into a walled garden. This impressive new garden, walled on two sides only, features three individually themed terraces and has been designed in strong relation to the surrounding rural landscape. Since the late 1990s, other parts of the gardens have been beautifully developed and from 2003 onwards, a significant arboretum has been planted. Further development of the arboretum will remain an ongoing project over the coming years. The tree collection at Broughton includes a wide range of interesting species and cultivars, covering an area of approximately 80 acres.
Over the past decade, the gardens have received a large amount of media attention and have opened for visitors since 2004 under the National Gardens Scheme (NGS). Overall, this diverse and interesting horticultural collection demonstrates all the potential for being a landscape of much significance in the future.

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The gardens greet you immediately with a small but wonderful little jewel of a nursery that begs you to examine all of those wonderful plants you may not get to see back home!

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Emerging hosta meet you as you pass through the first gate into the upper part of the formal walled garden. This peek gives you an idea of what’s ahead.

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Foliage on these espaliered trees tells you that we are here just as spring is really springing and its beginning to warm up in this handsome landscape.

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I find it very important to make a point of always looking back and see what lay behind you in the garden as you meander. It’s often quite as revealing as what lay further along the garden walk!

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Glowing hillsides of rape seed are a flowing blanket of sunshine in the distance on this gray day. In the foreground, the structured and angular water feature is made for exploring the garden. Walkways and steps are in just the perfect spots to invite you to puddle jump across for another view of the garden.

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The large water feature houses hungry koi. Across from the spectacular pond, there is a stand of espaliered trees. This time in a full circle, enveloping you as you stand at the wall that leads out to another section of the garden. 20160517-cs_img_0202

The rill viewed from down low with a garden that is full of deceptively casual perennials may seem scattered about in haphazard fashion, but are skillfully snuggled up on both sides.

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The rill spills down into the lower portion of the garden. If you follow the flow back up, this shot takes you to the greenhouse still full with plants waiting for their turn in the sunshine.

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Looking across the waterway from a bugs eye view gives you a great idea of what it felt like to pass through the walled garden via this crown of trees. 
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One of the features that this garden is well-known for is this delicate, undulating boxwood hedge. The very last of the tulips bloom triumphantly within the random pattern of sheared boxwood. As we look down the path and through the tall hedge that borders the young arboretum filled with hundreds of incredible trees, I’m confident that it’s going to be quite the incredible sight for generations to come when those trees are large enough to have a presence.

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Impeccably pruned shrubs anchor the garden in a way that only a proper English garden can demonstrate. In the distance, you can see the larger shrubs lovingly pruned to perfection, another one of this gardens treasures.

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Spring veggies were literally being planted the day we visited. And we all loved those classy metal plant supports, hard to capture for me though! 🙂

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Can you envision how long these peony/poppy supports have been in use? These are going to be monster sized blooms on the oriental poppy’s, no wonder they need support!

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The sun came out long enough for our tour mate from Italy to put on sunglasses while she sketched and took notes of this meticulously kept garden. Oh happy day! 🙂 
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THIS is where you know that serious plantsman, horticulturists and the like have been lovingly designing and refining a garden for years. When perennials, shrubs, trees, edibles and annuals all appear to mingle together effortlessly, yet it takes years and years of skill and effort to make it look SO easy. This is the sure sign.

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When I am giving my clients Personal Garden Coaching advice, one thing we talk about frequently is that adding a bench or seating in an area that no one will ever sit on is wasted effort and money. This bench IS getting used! The elegant piece is placed to view the garden from many angles and this shot gives you a very small peek to the garden and young arboretum in the distance.

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This beech tunnel must be a cool and calming place to hide on hot summer days!

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Garden art was integral to this garden in MANY forms!!!

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The owners of Broughton Grange built this fanciful tree house for their grandchildren.

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Well placed statuary gave the gardens a sense of “place” as well as providing focal points for the eye to rest in such an expansive space.

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Emerging spring perennials graced the traditional double borders nearest the house.

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This particular statue was fabulous coming and going! 🙂

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The formal garden just below the house featured beautiful blue obelisks that draw your eye up and out of the garden to the field beyond effortlessly.

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Wrapping up our tour brought us around to the back side of the house and up toward the side of the garden leading us on up to our bus for the next stop. Stay tuned….we visit Broughton Castle next!

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10 Things You Didn’t Know About Hiring a Personal Garden Coach!

August 2008 garden 003 copyEnthusiasm for gardening is easy to acquire every single spring when you begin to see the first little plants start to line the front of the grocery store entryway. St. Patrick’s Day is almost upon you, here put this super cute clover on your desk at work and watch it…die. 😩 Easter is coming and there are those fragrant, gorgeous Easter Lilly’s at every turn. YES!! Let’s get one of those for the kitchen window and enjoy the blooms…until it dies. See a theme here?

IMG_7208But its SPRING! You simply feel compelled to head to the Big BOX store and buy a flat cart load full of soil, mulches, fertilizers and dozens and dozens of plants. You eagerly roll up to the cash register pay for your loot and take it home. Now what? PLANT! We’re weekend warriors, we can DO this! Dump those bags of soil out, plant that one over there, that one the other side and zippity-doo-dah, you are very nearly the definition of a PRO-Gardener. You sprayed the fertilizer of green liquid just like the commercial, sat down, had a cold adult beverage and admired your handiwork while you called your friends and invited them over for a barbecue to admire your horticultural feats.

Sumner McLendon's 007Now its a month later, your plants are either dead or they look really sad. What? No one at the Big BOX store told you that those were actually not hardy OUTSIDE in your area? They may have also failed to mention that those pretty little flowers you were SO excited about are chock full of disease that will kill them quickly and the store knowingly sold them anyway? OUCH! They didn’t mention when you were shopping that you were buying “Potting Soil” for your perennial beds when you really needed a compost mix? The fertilizer you bought and sprayed all over everything with abandon not only isn’t organic for your edibles but you used 6X the recommended amount and now they have all turned black?

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What happened? You went out with all of the very BEST intentions, but once again, you feel like you failed because it all turned out wrong. How come it doesn’t look like the magazines or all of the pictures on Pinterest? It’s NOT your fault!

It’s because you need a “Horticultural Hand-Holder”! Seriously, you’ve heard of people using Career Coaches, Nutritionists to help with a diet, or a Fitness Coach right? How about a Personal Shopper? Personal Chef? Dog Trainer? The bottom line is that we are all busy and you simply can’t be expected to have the time or inclination to be an expert at everything. And just like anything else, learning about YOUR garden takes time. Why not take the step to hire a Personal Garden Coach? Don’t be intimidated, just dive in, the beauty is that YOU set the pace. Once per month, once per season, twice a year, it all depends on what goals you have in mind for your landscape and what YOU intend to get out of it.

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Here is what you need to know about working with a Personal Garden Coach:

  1. A Personal Garden Coach has the goal of saving you MONEY, TIME and, LABOR. By making informed decisions when you are shopping for plants, and hard-goods likes soils, fertilizers and tools. We have tried them ALL and made the mistakes for you. WE know who good vendors are, we know what products are worth spending a little bit extra on and even more important, we can help you save where it makes sense to save. By doing it right the first time, you aren’t wasting valuable time that you can be using to ENJOY your landscape.
  2. We want to see you succeed and eventually not need us anymore!
  3. A Personal Garden Coach wants you to find the PASSION in plants and gardening, not the drudgery.
  4. A Personal Garden Coach is on the journey with you, there WILL be mishaps. A plant WILL fail, a storm will happen at the wrong time, animals WILL cause problems. But, learning how to handle those issues as they happen is part of learning.
  5. A Personal Garden Coach is there to cheer you on to try NEW things that you might not have considered before. Want to create a fantasy miniature garden? Why not?
  6. A Personal Garden Coach is also the FIRM hand of reason. You want to begin collecting $1000 Koi fish? Maybe we should try our hand at building a self enclosed fountain first?
  7. A Personal Garden Coach is going to help you decide on your best options for that new Hot Tub and Patio you have always wanted- need a subcontractor, a Personal Garden Coach is going to help you find one.
  8. Feeling the need to Prune? A Personal Garden Coach is going to teach you how to properly to avoid situations like this one.
  9. Is your dream to have a sustainable vegetable garden and homestead for chickens? A Personal Garden Coach can help with that too!
  10. Got a fruit orchard and need help learning what to do with it all? A Personal Garden Coach is your foodie growing and preserving ally!

See? You CAN do this, don’t just settle for bland when your garden and landscape can be your proudest achievement without nearly as much expense and personal inner turmoil as you might have thought.

Enjoy this post?
Please do me the honor of sharing it with friends. And if you are on Facebook, you can find LOTS of neat info every day right here too! 

Celebrating One Season at a Time

Each spring I find that my wonder and exaltation of natures capacity to renew me after a long winter seems greater and greater. Once I’m able to be outside for any length of time without getting either soaked or numb is a wonderful day to be outside enjoying the garden.

In the Northwest we live with a constant paradox, our winter seems longer than a truly cold climate season due to our gray skies that seems to last for 6 months. Well, now that I actually think about it, it really is almost a 6 month winter. So, when we do get let out of the house we get a little nutty and want to plant tomatoes in March. Not that I would actually do it, but when we are pining for those lazy warm summer days that never seem to arrive soon enough, it’s a tempting thought.

While I can commiserate with my damp, often pale and possibly pruney gardening compatriots, I do firmly believe in celebrating one season at a time. Enjoy spring, people. It’s the lovely, bursting with juicy color season. It’s the time to wind your spring for summer. Exercise those gardening muscles in the slow warm-up to balmy weather madness. Don’t pass up the wonders right in front of your eyes in favor of the lure of Impatiens and Peaches. Seize the SPRING day and discover all of the shrubs, perennials and edibles that deserve to have that level of adoration too.

Here is a small taste of the spring delights that I have been able to capture so far in April. So, get out there and beat the drum, blow off steam, carouse a bit, exalt, extol, fete, and glorify. Have a ball, jubilate, kick up your heels, let loose, live it up, make merry, make whoopee, mark with a red letter, memorialize, observe, paint the town red, party, proclaim, publicize, raise hell, raise a glass, revel, rejoice, revere, ritualize, solemnize all that is spring rather than skipping it and moving right on to summer.

http://www.oprah.com/spirit/How-to-Practice-Living-in-the-Moment-Seize-the-Day

http://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/200810/the-art-now-six-steps-living-in-the-moment

Garden Designer’s Roundtable: Underused plants, Uncovered!

Over the years I have created my “go-to” list of plants that have a bounty of the personality traits that I require for them to make it on to my special list. As designers, I’ve noticed that many of us tend to repeat using the plants on our “go-to” list over and over, because THEY make US look like we’re genius’!

A plant that makes it on THE list for me has these points going for them:

1) Great foliage– Seemingly obvious I know, but not everyone appreciates this when they are in the throes of passion for flowers at the nursery and garden center in Spring and Summer.

2) Flowers– This one is tricky because I don’t require the flowers to be ostentatious or bold and showy, but if they are – BONUS points!!

3) Plays well with others– If it’s an evergreen, it had better be an awesome tone, hue, shade or texture that I can marry well with others. I can think of a few “overused plants” that fit that category and need to be divorced from one another – think of the children!

4) Fall color– If it’s deciduous, it had better have great flowers AND fall color, those two are simply non-negotiable. Is that really So much to ask?

Now that you have a familiarity with what turns me on in a horticultural way, you will now understand why I have chosen to profile these two fantastic plants!

Hydrangea Quercifolia ‘Oakleaf Hydrangea’

This shrub could have me waxing poetic about it for days. Graceful and hardy with insanely beautiful panicle flowers bigger than my head! Not poetic, but you feel my passion, right?

Hydrangea Quercifolia 'Oakleaf Hydrangea'

The oak leaf shaped foliage lends itself to so many plant combinations that I can’t imagine why every garden with a shady corner does not have one! Every plant space, every school, every mall, every home in america. Except the desert ones of course. They have other beauties that I’m sure to love. But, every mortgage should require one like insurance for a beautiful garden in most of the country!

Watch out for the Hydrangea clause in your next mortgage contract!

Those blooms!! Through every stage of growth and all of the various colors as they morph, oh the bliss of those cool and elegant blossoms! Every time I look at these flowers it reminds me of fluffy white weddings. Or nougat candy, I’m not sure which is better.

Double Flowering Hydrangea 'Snowflake' with Brunnera 'Langtrees'

Single flowers as well as double flowers are equally apt to cast a spell over you once you try this shrub! Then you might be inspired to deeper levels of exhilaration with a  ‘Pee-Wee’ dwarf cultivar in a container or ‘Little Honey’ that glows a glorious chartreuse in the shade.

Yet, I am very comfortable with the clean and sophisticated look of these shrubs in a contemporary design setting as well. The ultra elegant fall color on the deep burgundy foliage as winter approaches is downright handsome! The blooms and foliage may both persist with strength and fortitude almost in a macho way, well into early winter here in my zone 7 area if they are sheltered from fall winds.

And now for something you’ll REALLY love: Sarcococca !! I can equally divide my enchantment between the nearly twin common forms of this fantastic little shrub/ground cover. I will love them in a separate but equal maternal way of course!

Sarcococca 'Humilis' or 'Dwarf Sweet Box'

The fabulous ground cover form has long leaves of glossy, deep green that are reminiscent of the way a concert pianist holds their hands while they play a gentle note. OR writers who delicately tap on a computer keyboard blogging for hours at a time. 🙂

As a shade evergreen shrub this plant has many admirable attributes. However, none rival, surpass or even come close to equaling the fragrance that this tiny powerhouse of a flower can muster! Did I mention that it does this in January? I repeat, this flowering shrub will bloom in winter with a fragrance that is next to impossible to compare. It’s flowers are SO tiny, that if you do not marvel at how much perfume they generate in a small area, your gardening license may be revoked and your neighbors will have rights to come and sniff it ALL up!

Captivating fragrance AND cool, glossy black berries on Sarcococca!

I once took small cuttings for bud vases I made for party tables, trust me it didn’t take much more than a 6 inch piece to make a big impact in a room full of people! Passers by will walk up and down your block like zombies looking for the scent of flowers they can’t see. It’s pretty funny to watch this play out until they are almost rooting around in a garden and pop up wide-eyed to find the sweet smell coming from such a demure and refined source! I like to think of Sarcococca kind of like my Pug- “A lot of plant (dog) in a small space!”

The other common form of Sarcococca is the more upright form that creates a lovely boxwood feeling shrub in a part shade space too. With all the same attributes as it’s smaller cousin, ‘Ruscifolia’ has class and a myriad of fashionable uses. As a container plant in a shady entryway- can you imagine it in January???? Swoon….

Here’s the “Plays well with others” part of the Sarcococca story.

Sarcococca 'Ruscifolia' with Actaea Racemosa 'Black Negligee'

Sarcococca 'Humilis' with 'Tassel' Fern

But wait- there’s more! I managed to get both of my picks for “Underused Plants” in one picture.

If you learned something new about these two wonderful plants, I’m thrilled. If you just voyeuristically enjoyed my pictures and goofy writing that’s all good too. But, if you had a horticultural epiphany about why you haven’t used these two plants more, then I am over the moon with joy!

Be certain to go and read all of this months posts on the topic of “Underused Plants” here at the Garden Designer’s Roundtable page and meet other Garden Designers who are just as passionate about their choices as I am!

Andrew Keys : Garden Smackdown : Boston, MA »
Carolyn Gail Choi : Sweet Home and Garden Chicago : Chicago, IL »
Christina Salwitz : Personal Garden Coach : Renton, WA »
Debbie Roberts : A Garden of Possibilities : Stamford, CT
Douglas Owens-Pike : Energyscapes : Minneapolis, MN »
Genevieve Schmidt : North Coast Gardening : Arcata, CA »
Jocelyn Chilvers : The Art Garden : Denver, CO »
Lesley Hegarty & Robert Webber : Hegarty Webber Partnership : Bristol, UK »
Pam Penick : Digging : Austin, TX »
Rebecca Sweet : Gossip In the Garden : Los Altos, CA »
Scott Hokunson : Blue Heron Landscapes : Granby, CT »
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