Archive for the books Category

Fall at Brandywine Cottage

Posted in books, Fall, Fall Color, garden to visit, landscape design, Shade Gardening, Uncategorized with tags , , , on October 14, 2013 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

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 carolyn@carolynsshadegardens.com.  Click here to get to the home page of our website for catalogues and information about our nursery and to subscribe to our blog.

David Culp's Garden Fall 2013-013.

I recently had the privilege of visiting Brandywine Cottage, the house and gardens of horticulturalist and author David Culp.  I have toured these extraordinary gardens many times over the last 20 years, but always in the winter and spring as David and I share a passion for (or should I say obsession with) snowdrops and hellebores.  The arrival of a special shipment of snowdrops from England gave me an excuse to make the trip and experience Brandywine Cottage in October.

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David Culp's Garden Fall 2013Looking down on the gardens from the driveway.

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Among his other accomplishments, David Culp is the author of The Layered Garden: Design Lessons for Year-Round Beauty from Brandywine Cottage (Timber Press 2012).  The Layered Garden recently received the 2013 Gold Award from the Garden Writers Association for Best Overall Book.  For more information on this wonderful book detailing David’s approach to garden design, his passion for plants, and the development of Brandywine Cottage over the last 20 years, click here.

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David Culp's Garden Fall 2013-001the front entrance

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Fall is a difficult time to view a garden in southeastern Pennsylvania.  The leaves are falling off all the huge trees, obscuring the beds and detracting from the perfection we can achieve in spring.  The wonderful plants that might provide some lovely close up shots are eaten by insects, browned by drought, and beaten down by torrential rain.  However, a well-designed garden like Brandywine Cottage highlights the subtle beauty of fall.  It  was still a pleasure to visit even on an overcast and dreary day with more heavy rains threatening.  I hope you enjoy your virtual trip through this special place.

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David Culp's Garden Fall 2013-002A courtyard by the front entrance is shaded by a giant Norway spruce whose roots make an interesting pattern in the gravel.

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David Culp's Garden Fall 2013-003.

Edgeeworthia chrysanthaDavid has several edgeworthias thriving in full shade.

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David Culp's Garden Fall 2013-005.

David Culp's Garden Fall 2013-006.

David Culp's Garden Fall 2013-007.

David Culp's Garden Fall 2013-008.

David Culp's Garden Fall 2013-009The vegetable garden with its white picket fence is on the left and the largest perennial border is on the right.

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David Culp's Garden Fall 2013-010large perennial border

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David Culp's Garden Fall 2013-011vegetable garden

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David Culp's Garden Fall 2013-012.

David Culp's Garden Fall 2013-014.

David Culp's Garden Fall 2013-015.

David Culp's Garden Fall 2013-019Narrow paths crisscross the hillside above the house which is filled with shade plants, including hundreds of hellebores.

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David Culp's Garden Fall 2013-017An opening through the trees allows a view from the hillside towards the gardens below.

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Carolyn

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Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is a retail nursery located in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, U.S., zone 6b. The only plants that we mail order are snowdrops and miniature hostas and only within the US.

If you are within visiting distance and would like to receive catalogues and information about customer events, please send your full name and phone number to carolynsshadegardens@verizon.net. Subscribing to my blog does not sign you up to receive this information.

Nursery Happenings: Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is closed for the winter.  Look for the 2014 Snowdrop Catalogue in early January.

Facebook: Carolyn’s Shade Gardens has a Facebook Page where I post single photos, garden tips, and other information that doesn’t fit into a blog post. You can look at my Facebook page here or click the Like button on my right sidebar here.

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.

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My Thanksgiving Oak Forest

Posted in books, green gardening, native plants with tags , on November 26, 2010 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

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 carolyn@carolynsshadegardens.com.  Click here to get to the home page of our website for catalogues and information about our nursery and to subscribe to our blog.

You are probably wondering why I posted this picture of a red oak seedling that looks like Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree.  It’s because this tree is the beginning of the oak forest that we are planting after reading Doug Tallamy’s book Bringing Nature Home.  In fact, I think we will name this new area of our gardens the Tallamy Copse in honor of the person who is doing the most to alert this country to the silent crisis facing our native plants and animals, and us.

Doug Tallamy, Chair of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology at the University of Delaware, finally made me understand why native plants are crucial to our survival on this planet.  Yes, being a somewhat evolved horticulturalist, I knew native plants were desirable.  But I thought it was just because they were native and better adapted.  And the native plant movement really turned me off with its insistence on exclusively native plantings, not even approving of native cultivars.  But it was Tallamy’s simple and insightful analysis that brought the whole problem into focus.

Tallamy calls our home gardens “the last chance we have for sustaining plants and animals that were once common throughout the US.”  Biodiversity is no longer out there in undeveloped areas of the country, because out there no longer exists.  He gives these sobering statistics about the US:

  • as our population soars, 2 million acres of land are developed every year
  • we have paved 4 million miles of roads
  • we have planted 40 million acres of lawn, a non-native monoculture
  • 3,400 species of alien plants have invaded 100 million acres: this will double in five years
  • 54% of the continental US is cities or suburbs and 41% is agricultural, making 95% of US land unable to support native plants and animals

According to Tallamy, research shows that removing 95% of our land from nature will result in the extinction of 95% of the species that live there.  The result for Pennsylvania right now is dire: 800 plant and animal species listed as rare, threatened, or endangered, and 150 gone for good.  And, in case there were any doubts, biodiversity is what keeps us humans alive by generating oxygen, cleaning water, buffering extreme weather, recycling our garbage, etc.

What to do?  Tallamy identifies the answer as planting native plants to support native insects and allow them to pass biomass up the food chain.  The plants must be native because of their shared evolutionary history with native animals.  Native insects do not eat non-native plants.  For example, Kousa dogwood supports no native insects, while our native dogwood supports 117 species of moths and butterflies alone.

That’s where my red oak grove comes into play.  At a lecture I attended, Tallamy stated that if you were only going to do one thing, then plant an oak.  Native oak trees support 534 species of butterflies and moths.  For Thanksgiving, my husband cleared out an area at the bottom of our property that was filled with Japanese knotweed,  goutweed, lesser celandine, privet, bittersweet, multiflora rose, Norway maples, and burning bush—none of it planted by us—and moved five oak seedlings there.  It is the beginning of a native forest, and the only way I can deal with the enormity of what Tallamy has so eloquently described.  I hope you will join me by planting your own oak.

The statistics above are mostly paraphrased from a September 2007 article written by Tallamy for the Hardy Plant Society: Mid Atlantic Group (a great group of people who love plants—check out their website).  His book Bringing Nature Home is a must read, and his website has great information too.  If you ever get a chance to hear him lecture, take it—he’s excellent.

Carolyn

red oak seedling at Carolyn's Shade Gardens

This collage pictures the five native red oak trees my husband planted plus the mother oak.  December 30, 2010.

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