There were some very nice townhouse gardens on last weekend's South End Garden Tour in Boston -- but there were also some very nice, tiny front gardens that were not on the tour. This carefully designed front has a nice curve of boxwood and an upright plant in the window box that matches the color of the Japanese maple on the far side. The color compliments the brick as well.
And ... just a couple of blocks away .... what could be simpler than boxwood in front, a golden Japanese forest grass (Hakonachloa macra spp) in the middle, and an urn filled with a flowing fern.
This front garden was on the garden tour ... it's actually the front garden of a B&B on West Brookline Street .. simple shade plantings, a Japanese maple in an urn, and a tiny pond.
Here's a better view of the water trough that recirculates water into the pond, and some of the river stones that give it an Asian air.
Into my email box from ThinkGlass ... and I began wondering why designers don't, indeed commission more glass objects for the garden. Light shines through it beautifully, at night it shimmers, and of course it has great reflective quaities.
ThinkGlass creates custom artworks or panels from glass that are four or even six inches thick ... think fountains, wall panels, outdoor cooking areas.
In all the years I've been visiting gardens, I've only seen a couple of mirrors ... and one pool fence made of glass panels ... it was definitely a show-stopper ... something we should consider far more often than we do.
I'd never heard of Cecil Ross Pinsent, but he's a designer certainly worth knowing. Pinsent was an English expatriate who lived in Italy during the first part of the 20th century, an architect and landscape designer whose clients included princesses, counts and countesses and many Anglo-Americans who lived in Italy at the time.
Edith Wharton sought him out for advice; Vita Sackville-West and her husband were influenced by his work; and British landscape architect Sir Geoffrey Jellicoe called Pinsent "his first maestro on the placing of buildings in the landscape."
It's a fascinating look at expatriate life in Italy in the early 20th century, particularly in Florence, where Pinsent designed the gardens at Villa I Tatti for Bernard and Mary Berenson. That commission led to many others, including Villa Le Balze in Fiesole, La Foce in Tuscany; and many smaller projects around Florence. The book is filled with Pinsent's drawings, photographs, and plans, as well as portraits of his many famous clients.
As Clarke notes, "Pinsent's sensitivity to landscape and his ability to shape his work according to its needs was one of his greatest design strengths ...he created areas of dignified spatial harmony closest to the house, while establishing the drama of disclosure with concealed vistas framed by shadowy hedge 'walls' or 'frivolous' flower gardens. And therein lies his success."
It's been called an experiment in habitat re-creation that will unfold over time: the new, one-acre addition to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden's 100-year old Native Flora Garden. A mature tree canopy in the original garden shaded out plants that require more sun, necessitating the garden's expansion.
The new garden, designed by landscape architect Darrel Morrison, features a meadow, upland and lowland pine barrens, a pond, a serpentine outcrop and woodland edge, representing ecosystems nearly wiped out by a centuries of urban development.
R.A. Howard @USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database
Horticulturists gathered specimens from the wild in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and on Long Island to populate the area with 15 thousand plants (plus grasses grown from 16 lb. of seed) of 150 species, including rare plants that are of special conservation concern like the pixie-moss (Pyxidanthera barbulata), pictured here, sandmyrtle (Leiophyllum buxifolium) and the swamp pink (Helonias bullata).
Designer Darrell Morrison said the project will allow visitors to see recreations of transitions that occur in nature. "As you move from the existing, wooded area, you'll pass through a grove of birches that will act as a woodland edge, and the light continuum and the moisture continuum will change and give way. You will really see and feel it open onto the sunloving garden area," he said. The garden includes a curving central boardwalk, a circular overlook, and a series of winding footpaths through pine barrens and bogs, meadows and woodland edges.
The garden includes North America's only representation of the unique pine barrens of southern New Jersey and a coastal plain meadow that is modeled after the Hempstead Plains on Long Island. It'll be a rarefied experience for nature lovers for decades to come.
You may wonder why you should plant a smoke tree (Cotinus spp). I'm not sure exactly which one this is -- it's next to the parking area at the Gotelli Collection in the US National Arboretum in DC -- but I've always wanted to see it in bloom, and it was in its full glory when I was in DC in late May. An incredible sight.
This one has been around for awhile, so if you plant one in your yard, check the cultivar and leave plenty of room for it if it's one of the ones that tends to get large.
And, just another great combo from the "dwarf" conifer collection. My favorite part of the arboretum, I think.
I was in DC last week and we couldn't resist a trip to the National Portrait Gallery -- our first since it reopened. The main reason to go there, of course, is to see the fab portraits and other art -- but the new Atrium -- where you can eat lunch -- has to be one of the most special places in the city.
I don't know who designed it (if you know, please enter a comment) -- but the water feature alone is worth a visit for any designer.
The rectangular pools flow almost imperceptibly from one long side to the other into a slot in the paving, where the water is obviously recycled. It doesn't so much move as shimmer, and it's so shallow that I'm sure many visitors have walked right through the water. I wasn't paying attention and almost got my feet wet, myself.
This is a photo of the "slot" that the water flows into, and as you can see if you look closely, you'll see that one can barely notice the water exiting the pool. It just looks like part of the hardscape.
I also love the shadows that the ceiling casts on the water and on the planting beds. Truly worth a visit the next time you're in DC.
I was really looking forward to my first tour of the annual "Secret
Gardens of Beacon Hill" tour in Boston, but I do have to admit I was
Aside from the fact that most of the gardens were paved with brick and more brick, they are SO tiny and in SO much shade that it is obviously very difficult to do creative designs with hardscapes and plants that will take the conditions. HOWEVER, I did like this back yard vignette which was not on the tour, but visible through a gate: very clean and classy, and it fits beautifully with the architecture.
And ... a nice idea as you're going up the steps on either side to the upper level of the garden. The pebbles and the plant catch your eye, although I do wish the plant were a luscious fern of some type.
In most cases, this tree would probably have been set into a bed of mulch or ivy or some other common groundcover, but the moss gives it a distinctive flair and calls attention to the leafy canopy of the white redbud.
The lone fern is a distraction, but the moss is so nice that I almost didn't notice it.
This house was not on the tour either, but what a standout! This is what wisteria is supposed to look like ... what it looks like all over England ... carefully pruned to climb up a facade and show off the blooms ... but of course you really need someone who knows how to prune the beast, and obviously this homeowner has found the right person.
Looking forward to some other urban garden tours this summer ... and something a little different.
May 31 - June 1 Great Rosarians of the World Conference, NYC & Flushing, NY East Coast Conference, "The Science Behind Sustainable Roses." May 31-June 1, Concord Museum Garden Tour, Concord, MA 24th annual tour, 7 gardens 978-369-9763
June Garden Dialogues: CA, KY, MA, MI, MO, NY, OR Garden Tours with the Landscape Architects who design them.
June 1, Water-Wise Landscape Tour, Dallas, TX 9AM-3PM, 19th annual tour, self-guided. 214-670-3155 June 1-2 Garden Conservancy Open Days Tours: CA, CT, MA, NY Counties: CA: Marin; CT: Hartford, Fairfield; MA: Berkshire; NY: Columbia, Westchester. June 2, Private Gardens of Montgomery Cty Tour, Bethesda-Chevy Chase, MD 10AM-4PM, 3rd annual tour, sponsor: Brookside Gardens, 301-962-1402 June 2, 22nd annual garden tour, Baltimore, MD 10AM-4PM, "Scents in the City," Hort Society of MD, 410-821-5551 June 5, Restoration of Consecration Dell, Mt. Auburn Cemetery, Cambridge, MA 7PM, Lecture, Mt. Auburn President Dave Barnett, 617-354-0502 June 5, "Natural Swimming Ponds," Sandwich, MA 10:30AM-12:30PM, Workshop, Ecological Landscaping Assn, 617-436-5838 June 6, Landscape Lectures, Boston, MA 7PM, Dutch landscape architect Rosetta Sarah Elkin, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, 617-566-1401 June 8-9, "Landscape Pleasures" Symposium, Water Mill, NY Parrish Art Museum, Symposium & Garden Tour, 631-283-2118 June 8, Enchanted Gardens of NW Denver Garden Tour, Denver, CO 9AM-4PM, 20 gardens, 13th annual self-guided tour, 303-433-4983 June 8, Making Meadows, Bronx, NY 10AM-1PM, Workshop, NY Botanical Garden, 800-322-NYBG June 8-9 Garden Conservancy Open Days Tours: CA, CT, MA, MO, NJ Counties: CA: Albion, Mendocino; CT: Fairfield; MA: Norfolk; MO: St. Louis; NJ: Essex
June 9, Somerville Garden Tour, Somerville, MA 11AM-4PM, Self-guided tour, "Backyard Havens," 20 gardens. June 12, Putnam County Secret Garden Tour, Putnam Cty, NY 10AM-4PM, Self-guided tour, 845-225-5650 June 15, South End Garden Tour, Boston, MA 10AM-4PM, 20th annual Self-guided tour, 617-542-7696 June 15-16, Garden Conservancy Open Days Tours: CT, NJ, NY Counties: CT: Litchfield, Hartford, New London; NJ: Hunterdon, Morris; NY: Cayuga, Columbia, Dutchess, Tompkins, Ulster.
June 20, Garden Conservancy Open Days Tours: Nantucket, MA June 21-23, Dwell on Design Conference, Los Angeles, CA LA Convention Center, Largest Modern Design Event: speakers, tours, exhibits, more. June 21-23, Newport Flower Show, Newport, RI "Jade: Eastern Obsessions" - 18th annual show June 22-23, Garden Conservancy Open Days Tours: CT, IL, NJ, NY, PA, VT, WA Counties: CT: Fairfield, Hartford, Litchfield, Kent, Sharon, Washington, West Cornwall; IL: Cook, Lake; NJ: Bergen; NY: Suffolk; PA: Erie; VT: Chittenden; WA: Pierce.
June 25, Italian Renaissance Gardens, Bronx, NY 10AM-1PM, Workshop, NY Botanical Garden, 800-322-NYBG June 27-Sept 2, "Composite Landscapes" Exhibition, Boston, MA "Photomontage & Landscape Architecture," Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, 617-566-1401 June 29-30, Garden Conservancy Open Days Tours: NJ, NY, OR, PA, WA Counties: NJ: Hunterdon; NY: Columbia, Dutchess, Westchester; OR: Clackamas, Multnomah; PA: Bucks; WA: Kitsap.
Garden Dialogues - various locations and dates in U.S. Landscape architects discuss their projects on site. 202-483-0553 July 21-27 Perennial Plant Symposium, Vancouver, British Columbia August 2-4, APLD International Design Conference, Detroit, MI "Growing Green, Flowing Blue, Pushing Through" 717-238-9870 Nov 15-18, ASLA Annual Meeting, Boston, MA "Gaining Ground," Lectures, Tours, Trade Show, More 866-229-3691
The American Gardener May June * Profile of edible gardening expert Rosalind Creasy * Shrubs for great foliage & color * All about zinnias * My book review of Lifelong Landscape Design by Mary Palmer Dargan
Fine Gardening May June * The trick to great garden gates * Plants that can take the clay * Uncommon, easy-to-care-for plants * Freedom in garden structure
Sunset May * Beautiful Bouquets from foraged flowers * A garden for movie lovers by landscape architect Mark Tessier of Santa Monica.
And what better way to celebrate than with a Memorial Day Rose? This orchid pink hybrid tea was an All-America Rose Selectionswinner in 2004. One bloom is said to be enough to fill an entire room with its strong damask scent. It's a medium-tall, upright shrub, about five feet tall and four feet wide. Long stems, low thorns, and clear green leaves make it a good candidate for the cutting garden. The blooms are about five inches in diameter, with a petal count of 50-plus.
In addition, it's said to have very good disease resistance and it's also quite heat-tolerant.
This rose was developed by Tom Carruth of Weeks Roses of Upland, CA. Memorial Day is a cross between Blueberry Hill and New Zealand, and it was Carruth's fifth AARS winner.
You should be able to buy the rose at most garden centers or from mail-order sources. If not, you can check Weeks website by clicking on the link above to find a nursery that carries it.