You Asked for the Long View Part 2

Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is a retail nursery located in Bryn Mawr, PA, specializing in showy, colorful, and unusual plants for shade.  The only plants that we ship are snowdrops and miniature hostas.  For catalogues and announcements of events, please send your full name, location, and phone number (for back up use only) to  Click here to get to the home page of our website for catalogues and information about our nursery and to subscribe to our blog.

Looking down the hill through the gardens on the back side of the house.  The ‘Butterfly’ Japanese maple is like a torch.

This is the sequel to the post You Asked for the Long View Part 1 in which I showed you all the gardens along the front side of the house.  I wrote that post to satisfy all my readers who have been asking to see the big picture of my garden.  I took the photos for both posts using my recently purchased “new iPad”, which has a highly acclaimed camera function.  After experimenting with it, I have concluded that the iPad does take decent photos but a lot of the reason they look so good is because the screen resolution on the new iPad is amazing.  Once I downloaded the photos to my PC, they didn’t look so fabulous.  The new iPad will not be replacing my camera anytime soon.

The view from my dry shade garden across the lawn to my production beds.  The gardens on the right were planted in the last two years to hide the neighbor’s hideous chain link fence.

Before we begin the second half of the tour, I want to comment on the odd gardening season.  Because the ground never froze this winter and March was so warm, everything started blooming a month early.  I kept wondering when this was going to catch up with us, and the answer is now.  There is not much blooming in my garden because it all bloomed early and later-flowering plants have gone back to their regular schedule.  If you want to see what the gardens looked like when everything bloomed together, view the amazing photographs in Julie’s Carolyn’s Shade Gardens post on her blog Wife, Mother, Gardener.

The production beds at the bottom of the lawn where I grow plants to sell at my nursery, mostly primroses, pulmonarias, and hellebores.

The tour starts at my dry shade garden where we left off in the last post and continues down the hill to my production beds (see two photos above).  From there, we turn to the left and loop up behind the house.  One route branches off to the right to meander through the woodland garden and the other goes straight up the hill past our deck.  It is hard to explain how it all fits together, but I will do my best.

The production beds are behind us, to the left is the water garden, which stays moist most of the year, and ahead is the back side of the house and the deck.  The lower entrance to the woodland garden is hidden just ahead on the right.

A closer view walking towards the deck.

We headed off into the woods.  This is the upper half of the fully shaded woodland garden.  All the paths are covered in white pine needles.

A closer view of the woodland garden: it peaks in early spring but Hosta ‘Sum and Substance’ is making a splash right now.

Still in the woodland but turning the corner to exit out the top entrance.

Standing outside the top entrance and looking back into the woodland.

Looking back from the patio towards the top entrance of the woodland with the yellow and gold garden on the left and the silver and blue garden on the right.

A slight detour to show you the patio.  You can see the yellow and gold garden behind the magnolia.

Looking from the patio towards the stone room where we make compost and store firewood.  Our garage was the carriage house for an estate, and the compost area was the manure pit for the stables .

We have backtracked to walk up the hill by the deck without detouring into the woodland.  The silver and blue garden is on the right and the deck/patio is on the left.

Passing the upper entrance to the woodland.

We call this hosta hill because we used hostas to colonize the eroded slope and get rid of the grass.

The upper half of hosta hill.

Passing the miniature hosta rock garden.

Looking down hosta hill from the top.

Turning towards the carriage house at the top of hosta hill.

Heading back out to the driveway where we started in the  first post.

I hope you have enjoyed the “big picture” tour of the gardens on the east side of the house.  Stay tuned for a series of posts on all the wonderful gardens I have visited in the last few months.


Nursery Happenings:  The nursery is closed until the fall.  Thanks for a great spring season!

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Notes: Every word that appears in orange on my blog is a link that you can click for more information.  If you want to return to my blog’s homepage to access the sidebar information (catalogues, previous articles, etc.) or to subscribe to my blog, just click here.

56 Responses to “You Asked for the Long View Part 2”

  1. cathywieder Says:

    Carolyn, you have created an amazing haven…. and in the shade, which is what makes it all that more remarkable. Quite a feat, and a place not just of beauty but of serenity. I’m guessing you spend a lot of time working to keep it looking so gorgeous – I hope you can spend as much time simply enjoying the beauty of what you’ve created.

    • Cathy, I know it is hard to believe, but I really spend very little time working on the gardens. I am too busy with the nursery. I clean out the beds and mulch with ground leaves in the fall. I am just getting to weeding most of these areas for the first time this spring, but they are heavily planted and don’t require much weeding. I usually don’t water (except new plants), spray, stake, deadhead, or generally fuss. I find gardening in the shade much easier than the sun because shade gardens don’t require all the things in the previous sentence and weeds don’t grow very well in the shade (comparatively speaking). Carolyn

  2. You have a very lovely garden. Thank you for sharing it with us. You gave me some ideas of my garden.

  3. The Hosta hill is a beautiful place filled with so many varieties of Hosta. We have a renowned Hosta expert, Mike Shadrack, here in Buffalo that grows them similar to you on an incline. You should contact him. He has many varieties of Mouse Ears too.

  4. Carolyn…. I would like to see every gardener do a post such as you have shared today…. it is extremely interesting as well as informative to see a gardener’s ‘BIg Picture’… I loved it! I have done this sort of thing in the past and it just occurred to me that it would be fun to do the same sort of thing again but include each area when they were at their ‘personal best’ with bloom or whatever.

    As an aside, I planted a Butterfly Japanese maple this spring and am now having some second thoughts as to its hardiness… it is in a spot where I can offer a fair amount of protection however.

    I also have something going on that is “haunting” me… you may recall that I reset much of my clump epimedium collection this spring so that the drainage would be better. Despite watering and attention, several have turned totally dry and brown. Every time I see them I get upset and am considering cutting them back to the ground so I don’t have to be reminded of what has happened. I presume they would not put any new growth out this year but have hopes the roots may still be viable… any thoughts on what I should do? They have been among my favorite shade plants and represent quite an expense as well… needless to say this concerns me greatly.
    Thanks again for the great post! Larry

    • Larry, I hope your ‘Butterfly makes it. As you can see it’s quite beautiful. I grow about thirty varieties of epimediums (I guess I collect them) but have never encountered this problem. For problems with epimediums (and to purchase them), I always consult Garden Vision Epimediums in Templeton, MA. Karen and Darryl are the world experts on the genus. Call them at 978-249-3863 or email them at Carolyn

  5. nwphillygardner Says:

    Thanks for that overview! Although I’ve had the opportunity to visit during sale days, I know it’s great for those far away to have a better sense of the entire garden.
    On the third to last photo, can you tell me the name of the Hosta with deep green leaves with a central lance-shaped chartreuse streak? Quite striking!
    By the way, have you seen the cultivar called “Albiqua Drinking Gourd”? It’s a mid-sized glaucous blue hosta with extremely corrugated cupped leaves that reveal a very silvery underside. It’s another real stand-out that I saw on a garden tour in Swarthmore, PA this May.

    • Eric, The hosta is ‘Striptease’, the hosta of the year for 2005. It is very unusual. I not only grow six ‘Abiqua Drinking Gourds’ in two places in my garden, but I also sell it. I have two left if you are interested. It is the hosta of the year for 2014, and deservedly so. Please introduce yourself as nwphillygardener next time you come to my nursery so I can put the name, face, and comments together. Carolyn

  6. Your tours, part 1 and 2, have been thoroughly enjoyable. You’ve turned your property into a magnificent and magical garden! Thank you for taking the time to share it with us. I think I’ve figured out the problem with commenting on wp blogs so hopefully will be able to communicate with you again 😉

  7. Your garden must be a piece of paradise. I looked at Julie’s photographs and I must say that all your flowers were spectacular. But all these shades of green in your photographs are even better.

  8. This has been such a pleasure to see. It is tranquil and woody and clean and I love the Hostas – I am thinking of using them in my shade area, but it might be too hot in summer.

    • I have Hostas in my garden in Italy as long as they are in shade they seem to grow well with very little irrigation even in the heat of summer. A Mulberry soaks up most of the water from the irrigation anyway, I’m thinking of extending my planting of them with the addition of Acanthus for winter interest. Christina

  9. It’s so beautiful and so full of wonderful shade plants! Gosh my dream garden!

  10. So glad I caught part 2 as well. Your gardens look fabulous despite the lack of blooms right now. Your shade gardens have always been an inspiration to me and I am pleased to see them in the big picture.

  11. So pretty. I especially love the pop of color from the variegated leaves. Your garden looks very cool and relaxing, and the different textures really stand out well. Thanks for the tour!

  12. wifemothergardener Says:

    I love seeing your garden again in its green hues… they definitely show the true staying power of foliage in the shade garden.

    Thanks for the link! I am glad you like the photos. Taking pictures is more fun when it can bless others. I so enjoyed my visit to your beautiful garden.

  13. paulinemulligan Says:

    Lovely tour round your shady areas and such inspiration. I already have quite a few hostas in my little woodland area, many of which I saw in your photos, but obviously I need more to follow on when all the spring bulbs have died down, to make it more interesting during the summer months.

    • Pauline, From a distance in these photos it looks like the gardens are mostly hostas. However there are lots of other shade plants in there—they have either bloomed or will bloom later. When nothing is in bloom the colorful hosta leaves really stand out. Carolyn

  14. Your garden looks so green, serene, and inviting. It also looks quite expansive, and like a lot of work! I must admit though, I’m a little envious of your stone room area, replete with former manure pit. Hiding compost here is a bit of a challenge, and I’d love not to be looking at stacks of firewood too! Maybe a tall stone wall is in order…

    • Clare, We are very lucky that all kinds of amazing stone work was already in place when we bought the house. I have always wanted to put a hot tub in the manure pit as it is a square stone room with 8′ walls. As I keep saying, the gardens are really not that much work. Carolyn

  15. Oh Carolyn the hosta gardens with the pine needles are just so gorgeous. To have your compost in the manure pit is an added bonus. I so want my shade gardens to resemble these but the deer have other plans…arrggh

  16. Carolyn, I enjoyed this virtual tour of your garden, showing familiar places in a different season. I love all those masses of hosta foliage.

  17. Thank you for this view of your garden, Carolyn. Good to know about the ipad too, I’m thinking of purchasing one but I thought it looked clumbsy to use as a camera. I love Hosta hill, just perfect, what stops the weeds in the winter? Maybe it is well mulched and you don’t have a problem. Your soil is an amazing red and looks very fertile. All your property has been intellegently designed, my compliments. Christina

    • Christina, Weeds don’t grow here in the winter. On hosta hill and other less manicured areas, we leave all the leaves in the beds and they act as mulch. In more formal areas we grind the leaves up and put them back in the beds as mulch. The soil is in not red, that is the color of the pine needles that we use on the paths. Carolyn

  18. Hi Carolyn, You have a huge garden to tend! I don’t know about you, but I thankfully find that shaded garden beds are less work than the ones in full sun. Generally, weeds seem to prefer the sun.

  19. Thank you for the tour. I think you must have done a lot of work initially to improve the soil under your trees. In many places in my woodlands the soil is dry and shallow and won’t support plants like hostas, but your shady garden is lush and as wonderful as I imagined. It is great to see your hostas and other plantings in context. Everything is so artfully arranged. I love your ‘Butterfly’ japanese maple. I have a small one and hope mine grows up to look like yours!

  20. Carolyn I have enjoyed both yours and Julie’s posts showing the larger picture of your garden, I read Julie’s post when I was on her blog about a week ago after I had read your first post, the contrast between all the blooms when Julie visited and the serene greens now shows both sides of your garden’s beauty,

    hostas ~ when I saw my first hosta in a neighbours garden when I first moved to the islands I loved it the foliage is so beautiful, I soon realised the reason I had not seen them before is because I had previously lived in a highly alkaline often dry part of the UK, my current garden is almost perfect for hostas but I have resisited buying any due to them being food for slugs, I noticed your hostas have perfect leaves, do you not have problems with slugs and/or snails? I would love to have hostas but not ones with leaves full of holes! any advice welcome, Frances

    • Frances, We do not have snails. I generally also do not have a problem with slugs. However, this year because the ground has been moist almost all the time, slugs are eating my hosta. There are two things you can do. First, plant hosta varieties that have thicker leaves and are slug resistant. They will be described in the hosta literature as having “heavy or thick substance.” Second, spread something around the base of the hostas that the slugs won’t crawl across. Crushed egg shells are recommended. You could also use turkey or chicken grit from a farm supply store or crushed seashells if they are available. I don’t do anything because the holes don’t bother me. Carolyn

      • thanks Carolyn, I have found putting sand around plants helps with the slugs and my garden bird population help too, I don’t mind a few holes but not more hole than leaf, I might try some the next time I see some I like for sale, we don’t have snails on the island either, many thanks for your time, Frances

      • I certainly would be bothered by more hole than leaf. I find the deterrent works better if it is grittier than sand although I too have used that in my vegetable garden.

  21. The woodland garden with the hosta hill are beautiful, I would half exect the see fairies peeking behind the trees. The shady path creates an air of mystey and then hosta hills greets you with a patch of sun, brilliant.

  22. Hi Carolyn, loved the long view again and don’t think I would ever tire of it. Your garden is absolutely huge, bet you count your blessings every day. Particularly liked the view down hosta hill from the top.

    • Alistair, Funny you should say that because I was just eating lunch on the patio and thinking how lucky I was to be able to sit outside in such a beautiful space. We have a little over 2 acres. Half that is planted but a significant portion is lawn, which I have been working to eliminate without creating more maintenance work. Carolyn

  23. Of course I noticed all the gorgeous plantings first, but your deck/patio was striking because it is a problem I am having that you have maybe solved. How do you get such a lovely neutral color for yours? Is it painted? Can you reveal the product?

  24. Wow…your garden is beautiful. I simply love all of your hostas–so thick and lush. I agree with Graziella…it is so dreamlike I almost expected to see fairies dancing on the leaves and flitting about. Thank you for sharing this part of your beautiful haven.

  25. Breathtaking! Your ‘forest’ of Hostas are amazing! I have a small collection that I guard from the deer….I am envious!

  26. I just discovered your blog and wanted to let you know how much I enjoy it. Beautiful gardens!

  27. Nice post thanks for sharring

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