Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Garden Diary: the August burst continues

The pond entrance to the garden should create a sense of mystery and draw a visitor on to see what's around the corner. The curves that direct the eye to the left are there now, finally, but the plantings aren't right. Shrubs need to be placed strategically to block views and the perennial plantings need more work, particularly to contrast large, textured foliage near the viewer (Petasites japonicus x 'Dutch', Darmera peltata, Ligularia 'Desdemona') with smaller foliage in the distance.

The August burst of plant exuberance continues with Joe Pye Weed, Liatris pycnostachya, Inula racemosa 'Sonnenspeer' continuing in flower while the spent bloom of Rudbeckia maxima and Filipendula add geometric interest and seasonal complexity.

The Inula in the foreground (below) and Rudbeckia maxima further back provide an interesting study in contrasting structure (not that these look particularly well together). I'm pleased with the Inula (I ordered 20), which have grown quite large in the first season, thanks to the big roots shipped by Bluestem Nursery (link at top) last spring. The basal leaves of this plant are about 30 inches long, and I expect them to be even larger next year. Walking among these is like communing with living vegetable gnomes designed by Paul Klee.

... and most of the Inula even flowered in the first year.


  1. I am so enjoying the views of your garden through the seasons - and so jealous of the scale on which you are working! Using lobelia syphilitica for ground cover would be a dream - round here we tend to use erinus

  2. I expect you'll have more than 20 Inula next year. At least they seem to like seeding around here.

  3. r. pete free,

    The lobelia was here when we moved to this house, though not a lot, and I think is native. I seeded more three years ago, and it's come up in think patches, so I think it would make a good groundcover, at least in parts of the garden.

    Speaking of seasonal changes, one occurred last night when we had heavy rain for the first time in weeks. Many of my giant vertical plants are now horizontal. Some will recover on their own, but I think I'll have to do some staking. I thoroughly disapprove of staking, both on a philosophical basis and for dislike of the task.

  4. Craig,

    Yes. I've read it's a prolific self-seeder. I think I can live with that. I'll know in a couple of years.

  5. I love your blog! I found it when I joined Blotanical. Your use of plantings that converge with nature is to be commended.
    Happy Gardening!
    Cameron (Defining Your Home Garden)

  6. I'm eager to see how you're going to change the plantings for your pond entrance to the garden. It already has a wonderful sense of mystery, and it would not have occurred to me until you pointed it out that the plantings were not right. I'm awed by your sensibility.

  7. I'm thinking about removing that big maple on the right of the first photo and planting large shrubs to screen the first view of the garden. Maybe plant a small area with willows for biennial coppicing. The willows would form a thicket of tall narrow verticals, giving a visitor a sense of slight disorientation, even of being lost, before emerging into the garden proper. But cutting down a maple that's been growing 40 years makes me want to wait. I'll think on it.

  8. Hmm - I see where you're going. Sounds really nice, but I also see that cutting down the maple would be a big and difficult decision. :-(



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