Archive for the Garden Tour Category

Drifts of Snowdrops at Colesbourne Park

Posted in bulbs for shade, garden to visit, Garden Tour, snowdrops, winter interest with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 3, 2017 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

colesbourne-lake-2-10-2017-5-16-18-amA drift of snowdrops covers the hill above the extraordinarily colored lake at Colesbourne Park.  The amazing blue is caused by light reflecting off naturally deposited clay in the water.  It is worth visiting just to see it.

Michael and I just returned from a two week snowdrop trip to England.  For six days we were the guests of Sir Henry and Lady Carolyn Elwes at Colesbourne Park in the Cotswolds.   Colesbourne has been called England’s greatest snowdrop garden, and wandering through the grounds for six days I can see why.  First, the 2,500 acre setting is absolutely magnificent, including the lake pictured above, a church dating back to 1067, and a charming village with a delightful pub, the Colesbourne Inn, serving delicious food.

Nursery News:  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.

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Galanthus 'Margaret Owen'This lovely, very large snowdrop ‘Margaret Owen’ is a fitting tribute to its namesake, a renowned galanthophile.

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Galanthus 'Rodmarton'The double snowdrop ‘Rodmarton’ originated at the nearby Rodmarton Manor, an arts and crafts house featuring its own wonderful snowdrop collection.

Second, you can see many rare and unusual snowdrops, like ‘Margaret Owen’ and ‘Rodmarton’ above, in large clumps instead of singly or in small groups.  Colesbourne Park has over 250 varieties in its collection, and they work hard to develop each into a large stand. 

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Galanthus 'S. Arnott'Sir Henry Elwes stands in a field of  ‘S. Arnott’ as he entertains a guided tour with tales of Colesbourne and its snowdrops.

Third, if you are lucky enough to go on a tour, you will be taken around by Sir Henry Elwes who grew up at Colesbourne and knows all 2,500 acres intimately.  His great-grandfather was Henry John Elwes, the famous Victorian plant explorer who discovered his namesake snowdrop, Galanthus elwesii, in Turkey in 1874.  During the tour, Sir Henry will tell you about snowdrops, but he will also regale you with fascinating stories about Colesbourne itself.

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Galanthus 'S. Arnott'A close up of ‘S. Arnott’, called the desert island snowdrop because if galanthophiles could have just one, this would be it!

But for me, the most amazing thing about Colesbourne is the huge drifts of some of the more well known cultivars of snowdrops.  As I have said before, I am not interested in having a collection of hundreds of little groups of rare snowdrops.  I want plants with interesting leaves and habits as well as flowers, that are vigorous and will multiply into large clumps fairly quickly.

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Galanthus 'Titania'‘Titania’, a Greatorex double snowdrop, which has been intentionally divided and spread out at Colesbourne.

When Sir Henry and Lady Carolyn Elwes took over Colesbourne Park, intervening generations had not tended John Henry Elwes’s collections and many had been sold.  However, some snowdrops remained, and Sir Henry and Lady Carolyn developed the current Colesbourne snowdrop display in the last 25 years.  Colesbourne showed me what you could do with a snowdrop collection and why snowdrops like ‘S. Arnott’ and the others pictured below are so widely grown.  It was a revelation.

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Galanthus 'Titania'‘Titania’ en masse

Here are some more snowdrops that have been systematically divided to form huge stands at Colesbourne:

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Galanthus 'Galatea'‘Galatea’, a large and vigorous single snowdrop, called “one of the foundation stones of many collections” by Matt Bishop’s snowdrop book.

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Galanthus 'Galatea'‘Galatea’ quickly turns into a good sized patch.

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Galanthus 'Galatea'‘Galatea’ drifts

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Galanthus 'Ophelia'‘Ophelia’ is my favorite of the many Greatorex doubles and also the most widely grown.

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Galanthus 'Ophelia'‘Ophelia’ as far as the eye can see.

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Galanthus 'Mrs. Macnamara'Early-blooming ‘Mrs. Macnamara’, another much admired classic called a “plant of great quality” by the Bishop book.

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Galanthus 'Mrs. Macnamara'A stand of ‘Mrs. Macnamara’

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Galanthus 'Hippolyta'‘Hippolyta’, also a Greatorex double

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Galanthus 'Hippolyta'‘Hippolyta’ spread far and wide.

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Galanthus 'Colossus' plicatusGalanthus plicatus ‘Colossus’, an early vigorous snowdrop with a beautiful habit and elegant leaves.

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Galanthus 'Colossus' plicatusStands of ‘Colossus’

I visited some other snowdrop venues that had sweeping drifts but none with the variety found at Colesbourne.  Painswick Rococo Garden is the place where the famous snowdrop ‘Atkinsii’ was first selected in the 1860s.  There are amazing drifts of ‘Atkinsii’, Galanthus nivalis, and ‘Flore Pleno’ there:

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Galanthus 'Atkinsii' with Galanthus 'Flore PlenoThe very tall and stately ‘Atkinsii’ in the back with ‘Flore Pleno’ in the front at Painswick.

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Galanthus 'Atkinsii'A hillside of ‘Atkinsii’ at Painswick.
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Welford Park is awe-inspiring for sheer numbers of snowdrops, which grow in sheets through out their woods.  All of the plants are Galanthus nivalis:
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galanthus-nivalis-welford-park-2-5-2017-7-26-017Galanthus nivalis, the common snowdrop, with winter aconite.
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galanthus-nivalis-welford-park-2-5-2017-6-50-02-amCommon snowdrops at Welford Park
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galanthus-nivalis-welford-park-2-5-2017-6-40-38-amIt looks like it just snowed in the woods at Welford Park.

Thank you so much to Sir Henry and Lady Carolyn Elwes for opening their world, both snowdrop and otherwise, to two very grateful visitors from across the pond.

Carolyn

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Nursery Happenings: You can sign up to receive catalogues and emails about nursery events by sending your full name and phone number to carolynsshadegardens@verizon.net.  Subscribing to my blog does not sign you up to receive this information.  Please indicate if you will be shopping at the nursery or are mail order only.

Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is a local retail nursery in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, U.S., zone 6b/7a. The only plants that we mail order are snowdrops and miniature hostas and only within the US.

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.

Unusual Garden Art

Posted in garden to visit, Garden Tour, How to, landscape design with tags , , , , on October 1, 2015 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

DSCN6570Temporary art in a bowl of water at Chanticleer

In June, Michael and I went on the annual Scott Arboretum Associates’ Garden Day.  This tour is one of the many wonderful events planned by the arboretum free of charge for its members.   The tour was followed by a reception at world famous Chanticleer featuring delicious food and drink and providing an opportunity to stroll around the lovely gardens after hours.

Nursery News:  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.

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DSCN6561Unfortunately, I didn’t record the name of this arresting sculpture.

One of the homes on the tour featured a collection of very unusual sculptures or installations.  I didn’t count them, but it seemed like there could have been at least 100 and maybe more.  Most of them were not what for want of a better term I will call “pretty art”; in fact, some of them were quite disturbing.   Would you want the boxer above greeting you every time you entered your driveway?  It really got me thinking about the age old question of what is art?

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DSCN6551There were many of these installations, if that is the right term, in the woodlands surrounding the house.

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DSCN6559untitled, Will Dexter, cast glass and steel

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DSCN6558“Seated Woman”, Maria Markovich, white birch, wire, and dried plants

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DSCN6557untitled, Bob Harrington, mahogany

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DSCN6553

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DSCN6555“Sleeping Beauty”, Debra Rosenblum

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DSCN6549“Arboreal Timbre”, Greg Leavitt, copper and steel.  This life size metal tree was right outside the front door.

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DSCN6556“Throne”, Peter Diepenbrock, metal washers

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DSCN6554“Emergence”, Debra Rosenblum, bronze and slate

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This is not the accumulation of an eccentric included on the tour for some obscure reason, but the well-respected collection of an art connoisseur frequently visited by groups from prominent area art institutions.  I am definitely of the opinion that beauty (or if not beauty, then interest) is in the eye of the beholder, and everyone is entitled to design their garden in the way most pleasing to them.  I found the garden thought provoking, and maybe that’s part of the owner’s intention.   It is still hard for me to think of some of this as art.  What do you think?

Carolyn

Nursery Happenings: You can sign up to receive catalogues and emails about nursery events by sending your full name and phone number to carolynsshadegardens@verizon.net.  Subscribing to my blog does not sign you up to receive this information.

Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is a local retail nursery in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, U.S., zone 6b/7a. The only plants that we mail order are snowdrops and miniature hostas and only within the US.

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.

Camden Maine Garden Tour 2015

Posted in garden to visit, Garden Tour, How to, landscape design, Maine with tags , , , , , , , , , on August 21, 2015 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

Camden Garden Club 2015 Tour 7-16-2015 1-05-34 PMAn iconic Maine view from one of the tour houses.

For the third year in a row, Michael and I traveled to Camden, Maine, to attend the Camden Garden Club’s House and Garden Tour.  My last two posts covered all the beautiful containers displayed through out the town.  To read them click here and here.  This post will show highlights of the tour itself.

Nursery News:  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.

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Camden Garden Club 2015 Tour 7-16-2015 10-12-36 AMThe Alden House, an 1855 Queen Anne Victorian, was just one of the seven historic houses on the tour.  The first president of the Camden Garden Club lived there when the club was founded 100 years ago.

2015 marks the 100th anniversary of the Camden Garden Club.  To celebrate, all the houses on the tour were historic.  The oldest was built in 1806 and the newest in the early 1900s.  It was fun to see all the beautiful architecture and the amazing ocean views that often accompanied it.  However, only two houses had gardens worth visiting, which was disappointing and didn’t result in many garden photos.  Nevertheless, I thought you would enjoy seeing the buildings and views.

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Camden Garden Club 2015 Tour 7-16-2015 10-13-06 AMAlden House barn.  Unfortunately, no photos were allowed inside the houses because I would love to show you how well preserved this home was.

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Camden Garden Club 2015 Tour 7-16-2015 10-07-59 AMThe Alden House had a lovely and classic shade garden along the back side.

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Camden Garden Club 2015 Tour 7-16-2015 10-09-21 AM.

Camden Garden Club 2015 Tour 7-16-2015 10-14-54 AMThis Georgian-style brick home called Red Chimneys built in 1825 was the site of the first meeting of the club in 1915.

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Camden Garden Club 2015 Tour 7-16-2015 10-40-30 AMLovely stonework found at Tranquility Garden in downtown Camden.

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Camden Garden Club 2015 Tour 7-16-2015 10-41-21 AMA close up of the unusual “paving” shown in the photo above.  The owners traveled all over the world for 30 years collecting ideas and objects for their garden.

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Camden Garden Club 2015 Tour 7-16-2015 10-53-02 AMTranquility Garden had lovely sun and shade borders.  The bright sunlight and shadows made the gardens very difficult to photograph.

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Camden Garden Club 2015 Tour 7-16-2015 11-00-45 AMThe combination of unusual textures was quite creative in this garden.

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Camden Garden Club 2015 Tour 7-16-2015 12-05-40 PMAlthough it had no gardens to speak of, this property on a prominent point in Camden Harbor had almost 360 degree views of the ocean.

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Camden Garden Club 2015 Tour 7-16-2015 12-01-00 PMOne of its views was of this little island.

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Camden Garden Club 2015 Tour 7-16-2015 12-01-08 PM Another view was of this beach.

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Camden Garden Club 2015 Tour 7-16-2015 12-52-44 PMGray Lodge is a shingle-style summer “cottage” built in the mid-1890s.

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Camden Garden Club 2015 Tour 7-16-2015 1-05-44 PMThe view at the start of the post was from this porch and is of Curtis Island Light.

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Camden Garden Club 2015 Tour 7-16-2015 2-44-40 PMSo-called Spite House was the prettiest building on the tour.  It was built in Phippsburg, Maine, in 1806 and floated on a barge to its current site in Rockport in 1925.  I never found out the origin of its name.

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Camden Garden Club 2015 Tour 7-16-2015 2-44-17 PM.

Camden Garden Club 2015 Tour 7-16-2015 2-45-04 PMSpite House gardens

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Camden Garden Club 2015 Tour 7-16-2015 2-53-00 PM.

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Digitalis 'Illumination Flame'I discovered one new plant on the tour: Digitalis ‘Illumination Flame’.  Although it is only hardy in zone 8 and above, the color and habit is so beautiful that I may have to grow it next year.

The Camden-Rockport-Rockland area is such a gorgeous place to visit, but after three years Michael and I plan to attend the Bar Harbor Garden Club’s tour in 2016.

Carolyn

Nursery Happenings: You can sign up to receive catalogues and emails about nursery events by sending your full name and phone number to carolynsshadegardens@verizon.net.  Subscribing to my blog does not sign you up to receive this information.

Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is a local retail nursery in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, U.S., zone 6b/7a. The only plants that we mail order are snowdrops and miniature hostas and only within the US.

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.

Window Box Ideas from Camden Maine

Posted in annuals, annuals, container gardening, container gardening, containers for shade, garden to visit, Garden Tour, How to, landscape design, Maine with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 31, 2015 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

window boxes in Camden Maine 7-14-2015 5-32-58 PMThis beautiful window box full of my favorite color flowers was outside a storefront in Camden, Maine.

As I mentioned in my last post, Michael and I recently visited Camden, Maine, to attend the Camden Garden Club House and Garden Tour.  The town is full of inspiring container ideas.  So many, in fact, that I split the photos into two posts.  This one covers window boxes, and the previous post pictured pots and hanging baskets.  To read it, click here.

Nursery News:  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.

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window boxes in Camden Maine 7-14-2015 5-33-46 PMIn containers, you can often use colors that wouldn’t necessarily go well together in the garden.

I was very impressed that most local businesses in Camden invested in flower-filled containers along the sidewalk.  It was very attractive and complemented all the plantings maintained by the Camden Garden Club.  The Camden Library grounds are especially beautiful.  Even if you are just passing through Camden, it is worth stopping to walk around.  The harbor is gorgeous, and there are lots of wonderful restaurants—more on that later.

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window boxes in Camden Maine 7-14-2015 5-45-52 PMThis display was particularly creative with the use of a wooden oar and driftwood in this seaside town.

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window boxes in Camden Maine 7-14-2015 6-02-03 PMIt is not necessary to get fancy: very traditional and very pretty.

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window boxes in Camden Maine 7-14-2015 5-51-28 PM.

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window boxes in Camden Maine 7-14-2015 5-51-40 PMThere is a tendency to go with bold colors in containers, and I do that myself.  However, this combination of yellow, white, and silver is quite elegant.

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window boxes in Camden Maine 7-14-2015 5-48-21 PMWe saw the chef from this restaurant collecting nasturtiums for culinary use.  Containers are not just for viewing.  I intend to put my basil and parsley in my window boxes next year.

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window boxes in Camden Maine 7-14-2015 5-53-34 PM.

window boxes in Camden Maine 7-14-2015 5-53-45 PMUnlike plastic pots, baskets lined with moss or another organic material are aesthetically pleasing when first planted and the container is still visible.

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window boxes in Camden Maine 7-14-2015 5-47-09 PMThis restaurant down by the waterfront went all out with window boxes lining both stories.  All the remaining photos are of planting combinations from this location.

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window boxes in Camden Maine 7-14-2015 5-47-39 PMRestaurant patrons seated by the windows got not only a beautiful harbor view but also lovely flower arrangements.

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window boxes in Camden Maine 7-14-2015 5-46-46 PM .

window boxes in Camden Maine 7-14-2015 5-46-35 PM.

window boxes in Camden Maine 7-14-2015 5-46-17 PM

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window boxes in Camden Maine 7-14-2015 5-46-07 PM

I hope you have gotten a few ideas from Camden’s flowers—I know I have!

Carolyn

Nursery Happenings: You can sign up to receive catalogues and emails about nursery events by sending your full name and phone number to carolynsshadegardens@verizon.net.  Subscribing to my blog does not sign you up to receive this information.

Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is a local retail nursery in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, U.S., zone 6b/7a. The only plants that we mail order are snowdrops and miniature hostas and only within the US.

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.

Container Planting Ideas from Camden Maine

Posted in annuals, annuals, container gardening, container gardening, containers for shade, garden to visit, Garden Tour, How to, landscape design, Maine with tags , , , , , , , on July 24, 2015 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

Camden Containers 7-14-2015 5-35-55 PMThe display outside a storefront in Camden, Maine.

Michael and I visited Camden, Maine, for the third year in a row to attend the 68th Annual Camden Garden Club House and Garden Tour.  Readers love my posts from Maine so I took lots of photos while I was there.  The garden club maintains most of the public spaces in Camden and seems to have inspired the town to go wild with containers outside many of the homes and businesses.

Nursery News:  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.

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Camden Containers 7-14-2015 5-34-06 PM.

I take lots of photos of creative containers over the summer.  I have been reluctant to post a lot of them because most people probably have their pots, window boxes, and hanging baskets filled by late July.  This year I am forging ahead though, hoping that readers will get some creative ideas for next year.  In fact, I found so many beautiful combinations in Camden that I have split the post into two parts:  this one will cover pots and hanging baskets and the next will be window boxes.  For some advice on container design techniques, click here and follow the links in the first paragraph to three other posts.

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Camden Containers 7-14-2015 5-34-59 PM

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Camden Containers 7-14-2015 5-35-08 PMIt is not necessary to get fancy: a container of ordinary pink petunias and blue annual lobelia is lush and beautiful.

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Camden Containers 7-14-2015 5-21-39 PMHanging baskets echo the colors at this local bed and breakfast, The Blue Harbor Inn.

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Camden Containers 7-14-2015 5-21-50 PMA close up, hanging baskets look the best when they are filled to overflowing and the pot is not visible.

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Camden Containers 7-14-2015 6-17-38 PMThis more subtle and elegant combination was sitting on the top of a trash can in downtown Camden.

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Camden Containers 7-14-2015 6-17-17 PMThe other side of the container on the trash can.  Petunias used to be somewhat boring, but there are so many elegant cultivars available now, here white with delicate yellow and pink shading.  The yellow blooms are double-flowered million bells.

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Camden Containers 7-14-2015 6-15-01 PMIf you are looking for a tall, narrow effect, this container and another identical one flanked a store entrance.

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Camden Containers 7-23-2015 10-54-27 AMA cheerful combination of red annual verbena, yellow million bells, and blue annual lobelia.

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Camden Containers 7-14-2015 5-54-34 PM.

Camden Containers 7-14-2015 5-54-22 PMAnother pair of containers at a store entrance using verbena and double million bells.  The grasses give the the pots an added bit of interest and elegance.

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Camden Containers 7-14-2015 5-36-08 PM This large display (also pictured in the first photo) was definitely my favorite.  The color combination is subtle yet eye-catching, the textures are interesting especially the kale in the back, and the rustic containers are very attractive.

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Camden Containers 7-14-2015 5-36-22 PMA close up

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Camden Containers 7-16-2015 11-12-35 AMThis pedestrian bridge was lined with containers of pink petunias, tomatoes, and squash, a utilitarian yet attractive combination.

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Camden Containers 7-16-2015 11-14-03 AMI love the idea of walking out on my deck to harvest vegetables and may try this next year.

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Camden Containers 7-23-2015 10-56-053This last photo shows a traditional Maine scene with a simple but beautiful combination of pink petunias, yellow million bells, and the less common and very lovely pale blue annual lobelia.

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I hope you are enjoying summer!

Carolyn

Nursery Happenings: You can sign up to receive catalogues and emails about nursery events by sending your full name and phone number to carolynsshadegardens@verizon.net.  Subscribing to my blog does not sign you up to receive this information.

Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is a local retail nursery in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, U.S., zone 6b/7a. The only plants that we mail order are snowdrops and miniature hostas and only within the US.

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.

The Elements of a Beautiful Garden

Posted in container gardening, containers for shade, Garden Tour, How to, landscape design, miniature hosta with tags , , , , , , , , on June 26, 2015 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

DSCN6643I love this combination of ‘All Gold’ Japanese Hakone grass and pink astilbe.

My son Alex Walker-Drennan took me to visit one of the gardens installed and maintained by his landscaping company Practiced Hands Gardening (practicedhandsgardening@gmail.com).  The garden has a strong Carolyn’s Shade Gardens connection as almost all the plants came from my nursery, and it was designed by Joan LaLeike whom many of you know from my open house sales.  It is owned by Hope and is on less than 1/4 acre very close to the City of Philadelphia.

Nursery News:  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.

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DSCN6620The front of Hope’s house has great curb appeal.

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The garden was started about five years ago, and Hope works on a different section each year.  I always recommend that customers take this approach rather than trying to work on their whole property at once.  Completing an area, even a small one, gives you a sense of accomplishment and the inspiration to tackle the next project.  Hope has created a very satisfying garden in a relatively short period of time, which got me thinking about the important elements of a beautiful garden. Here’s what I came up with:

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DSCN66021. A Good Design: complementary textures, heights, and colors.

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DSCN6619A mixture of perennials, annuals, and deciduous and evergreen shrubs plus the lovely bark and habit of the birch keeps the garden flanking the front door interesting all year.

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DSCN6618A close up of the front garden, hellebores—-my favorites!

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DSCN6632A good design can be achieved without hiring a designer but knowledge of the plant material and how it performs is crucial.  Visit local public gardens like Chanticleer, Longwood, Winterthur, and the Morris Arboretum to view mature specimens thriving in an established environment before you choose and place your plants.

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DSCN66262.  Lot of Plants: Hope’s garden is densely planted giving a lush and vibrant look and cutting down on maintenance by keeping out weeds.  If you are working with a big space and a small budget, tackle one section at a time and fill it in.

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I am not sure who came up with the idea that plants should not touch and should be surrounded by a sea of mulch, but from a design perspective the results are not pleasing.  Leave room for each plant to reach its mature size without crowding, but once it does no soil should be visible.

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DSCN66313.  Lots of the Same Plant:  Massing of this Japanese hakone grass makes viewing from a distance a pleasure and guides the viewer around the garden.

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DSCN6627I rarely plant one of anything except trees.  When you shop, stay within your budget by purchasing the same total number of perennials but choose more of each variety you plant and less varieites.  Here, ‘Caramel’ heuchera and hydrangeas are massed.

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Athyrium niponicum 'Pictum' & Brunnera macrophyllaA simple mass planting of Japanese painted ferns and perennial forget-me-nots used as ground cover under a tree are much more pleasing than one or two of a lot of different plants crowded into the space.

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Brunnera macrophylla 'Dawson's White' A new planting masses ‘Dawson’s White’ brunnera leaving enough space for it to reach its mature size.

If you don’t make any other changes after you read this post, do this:  for the next year (or even better two years) do not buy any new plant varieties but instead add more of the same plants to groups that are working in your garden already.  I did this in my garden and the results were spectacular.

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Hosta 'Cracker Crumbs', Sedum 'Antique Grill'4.  Pay Attention to Details:  While the big picture is very important, little details really add to garden interest.  Hope has a very attractive but tiny bed filled with small scale plants edging her front walk, here petunias, ‘Antique Grill’ sedum, and ‘Cracker Crumbs’ miniature hosta.

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Hosta 'Blue Mouse Ears' 6-21-2015 1-44-28 PMThe bed really shows off her ‘Blue Mouse Ears’ hosta, which is planted all along the walk.

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DSCN66285.  Expect Trial and Error not Perfection:  The leyland cypresses behind this bed (upper right of photo), put in before Joan took over, are failing.  Instead of nursing along these ugly plants, Hope is removing them and trying something new.  Plants are living things so every one that you or a designer chooses will not necessarily work or even live.  Give your plants a few years to perform and if they don’t, move on.

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DSCN66396. Use Hardscape:  Walls, walks, patios, decks, fountains, ponds, etc., add tremendous interest to a garden design.  They also significantly increase the cost so they should be added with a lot of forethought.  Here Hope removed her dated deck and replaced it with a two-level stone patio complete with “fountain stairs”.

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DSCN66447.  Add garden ornaments and containers:  You don’t have to go wild with sculptures, birdhouses, sundials, and urns everywhere, but a few well-placed garden ornaments really add interest.  At Hope’s, this lovely pot anchors this part of the garden.

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DSCN6638Ornaments don’t have to be big or expensive—I love this little mushroom sitting under the oakleaf hydrangea.

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DSCN6635Containers of plants are visually interesting, here dwarf conifers on Hope’s patio wall.

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DSCN6634A dish of mini hostas and sedums.

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DSCN66468.  Maintain Your Garden Well Especially the Edges:  A beautiful garden needs work to stay that way.  Trees and shrubs require regular pruning, beds should be cut back and mulched in the fall or spring, borders need edging at least once a year, and weeding is ongoing.  A beautiful design with  lovely plant material is wasted if the garden is overgrown with messy edges and full of weeds.

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I admit that I am not always diligent about following my own rules, but when I finally do the results are always superior to what went before.

Carolyn

Nursery Happenings: You can sign up to receive emails about nursery events by sending your full name and phone number to carolynsshadegardens@verizon.net.

Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is a local retail nursery in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, U.S., zone 6b/7a. 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.

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.

Garden Conservancy Tour in Litchfield County Connecticut

Posted in garden to visit, Garden Tour, landscape design with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 11, 2015 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

Stonecrop Gardens conservatoryThe conservatory at Stonecrop Gardens in Cold Spring, New York—a stop on the way home to Pennsylvania.

My readers were inspired by my last post on the beautiful, flower-filled garden of Charles Cresson, which I visited in May of 2014.  To see the lovely photos, click here.  It was fun to revisit a sunny garden during what seems like a winter that will never end.  We have now had three warm days so spring is on its way.  But snow still covers the ground, and I thought everyone could use another dose of sun and flowers.

Nursery News:  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.

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Hidden Valley B&BOur headquarters for our Connecticut trip was the beautiful Hidden Valley Bed and Breakfast in Washington Depot, CT.

In the third week of June, a friend and I traveled to the northwestern corner of Connecticut to attend The Garden Conservancy’s Litchfield County Open Day.  The Litchfield area is a gorgeous part of the U.S. with historic New England towns, classic farms surrounded by stone walls, and wooded hills and valleys running through sparsely populated countryside.  Just driving around the area is a pleasure.

The Garden Conservancy sponsored a tour to seven area gardens to finance their “mission to save and share outstanding American gardens for the education and inspiration of the public.”  Here are a few of the hundreds of photos I took during the tour.  Enjoy!

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Garden Conservancy Litchfield County June 2014 6-21-2014 10-40-19 AMLink Garden: A pool with a sophisticated, screened pool house perches on the side of the Connecticut hills.

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ligularia, hosta, and ferns in ConnecticutLink Garden: ligularia, hosta, and ferns in a shady corner.

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Garden Conservancy Litchfield County June 2014 6-21-2014 10-53-49 AMLink Garden: Aiming for ease of maintenance as the owners age, the perennial garden was replaced by this stylized rill.

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Garden Conservancy Litchfield County June 2014 6-21-2014 10-49-48 AM Link Garden: another shady nook behind the house.

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Garden Conservancy Litchfield County June 2014 6-21-2014 3-16-13 PMBrush Hill Gardens: In addition to this large and beautiful English cottage garden, there was an extensively planted woodland with several ponds, but the lighting wasn’t good for photos.

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DSCN4525Brush Hill Gardens

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Garden Conservancy Litchfield County June 2014 6-21-2014 11-39-16 AMWilliams Garden: A Greek Revival pool house is not for everyone, but it was interesting to see it.

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Garden Conservancy Litchfield County June 2014 6-21-2014 11-42-34 AMWilliams Garden: The pool edged with 18th century French coping was quite elegant.

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Garden Conservancy Litchfield County June 2014 6-21-2014 11-51-49 AMWilliams Garden: an extensive kitchen garden and elaborate “garden shed”.

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Garden Conservancy Litchfield County June 2014 6-21-2014 11-55-57 AMWilliams Garden: stone trough filled to overflowing with succulents.

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Garden Conservancy Litchfield County June 2014 6-21-2014 12-32-13 PMTrapp Garden: a little bit of Italy in West Cornwall, Connecticut.

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Garden Conservancy Litchfield County June 2014 6-21-2014 12-39-09 PMTrapp Garden:  A very secluded pool on the side of a terrace with a grotto-like pool house sunk in the side of a hill.  I usually think pools detract from the landscape but changed my mind on this tour.

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Garden ConservancyTrapp Garden

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Garden Conservancy Litchfield County June 2014 6-21-2014 3-54-36 PMHighmeadows: Beautiful use of our native goatsbeard, I am not sure why more gardeners don’t grow this.

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Garden Conservancy Litchfield County June 2014 6-21-2014 4-16-30 PMHighmeadows

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DSCN4534Highmeadows

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Garden Conservancy Litchfield County June 2014 6-21-2014 4-20-37 PMHighmeadows: The roses growing on the soft-colored walls were breath-taking.

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Garden Conservancy Litchfield County June 2014 6-21-2014 5-01-09 PMHollister House Garden: This was my favorite.  The garden is a Garden Conservancy preservation project and surrounds an historic Connecticut farmhouse.  It is divided into a series of rooms and vistas by tall hedges and walls.  The plant choices are enchanting, and the color combinations are gorgeous.  The garden is open to the public every Saturday from June through September.  For more information, click here.

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Garden Conservancy Litchfield County June 2014 6-21-2014 5-01-59 PMHollister House Garden

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Garden Conservancy Litchfield County June 2014 6-21-2014 5-03-01 PMHollister House Garden

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DSCN4559Hollister House Garden

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DSCN4551Hollister House Garden

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Garden Conservancy Litchfield County June 2014 6-21-2014 4-59-44 PMHollister House Garden

The sun is shining and it’s going to be 60 degrees F today so all the snow and ice is bound to melt shortly.

Carolyn

Nursery Happenings: Due to rescheduling, spaces have opened up in Charles Cresson’s seminar The Winter Garden in Bloom.  For details, click here.  Our first event is the Hellebore Extravaganza on Saturday, April 11, from 10 am to 3 pm.  However, you can stop by anytime by appointment to purchase hellebores.  To access the 2015 Snowdrop Catalogue, please click here.  

Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is a local retail nursery in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, U.S., zone 6b/7a. 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.

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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