Saturday, July 07, 2012

Paxson Hill Farm

Know what this is? It's an Imu at Paxson Hill Farm. I was about to say "my favorite nursery" but Paxson Hill is so much more than that.

The nursery exists mainly to supply Bruce Gangawer's garden design and landscaping business with plants. (Well, that's ostensibly the reason--something like this place doesn't evolve except through love and passion.) What Bruce doesn't use, he sells. Fortunately, his taste tends toward unusual, hard-to-find plants not available in commercial nurseries. Plants such as Astilboides tabularis, Darmera peltata, Pycnantemum muticum, a variety of different Epimediums, Ligularias, Silphiums, Carexes, that extraordinary Lespedeza 'Gibraltar' ... always something for the discerning eye.

Actually, Lynn runs the nursery operation, and you'll probably be talking to her on your visit. She's very knowledgeable about the plants, and can answer any questions you have.

Then there are the display gardens. A woodland garden filled with shade plants is right next to the nursery area (though I took no photos on my last visit). Across a stretch of lawn is the paddock where the Imus live along with Alpacas and the occasional miniature horse.

Several years back, I remember seeing Bruce on a tractor at work in the distance. I didn't know what he was doing. It wasn't until the following spring that I realized what he was up to ... he was making a new garden in full sun, with ponds and waterfalls and streams.

Here is the main entrance. Great composition, with the black bridge overarching a waterfall, the curving gravel path in the foreground, and the mounding trees behind, giving a dramatic sense of depth even in this two-dimensional photo. As usual, I visited at the height of early afternoon brightness, so much detail is lost. If you look closely you can see three of many Lespedeza 'Gribralter', which will be covered in drooping masses of scarlet flowers in late summer.

Right now, the Japanese irises are in bloom, in many colors. They thrive here and I've always wondered why because this is a sun drenched garden, and it appears to be quite dry.

Use of honeysuckle as a ground cover was one of my first surprises in this garden. I'd never seen it used in that way. It's quite effective left to mound and creep where it will.

More Japanese iris. They're everywhere ...

This was a rather flat piece of land before. Now it's been transformed, terraformed in a magical way, with dramatic changes in elevation.

Artful use of varied path materials--gravel, stone, wood--and ground covers ...

Headed up the hill toward the source of the water in a bubbling "spring."

A view across to the maze garden, with the gazebo on a hill ...

Display plantings in the wooded garden at the top of the hill ...

After several year's growth, the rock garden is just about perfect ...

Looking toward the nursery area from the elevated gazebo ...

The upper pond ...

The sales nursery ... and behind that greenhouses with tropical plants, an unusual selection of annuals, pots and planters, fish and aquatic plants ...

Even if you're not buying, or not even looking, Paxson Hill Farm is a wonderful place to be--though if you're a plant lover, you'll probably leave with something.

Follow the Paxson Hill link at the top of this post for driving directions, and more information on the nursery.

Aerial view of Paxson Hill Farm


  1. I do believe you have captured it. It's full of surprises.

  2. The rock garden is so nice in its simplicity, not to mention the fact this is a destination to inspire one to make a purchase, or a nicer garden.

    I see honeysuckle used as a groundcover in NM as I did in OK, but never the coral one you show...nice!

    1. The rock garden is a gem, David, and yes, lots of ideas there. I'm surprised honeysuckle is used as a groundcover in NM. I assume it would have to be well irrigated, no?

  3. Great job with the imu closeup! I loved the wood pavers and the boardwalk through the meadow.

    1. Seeing the Imu up close, you can easily imagine it's a cousin of a dinosaur, though it's face is quite funny. They seem quite sociable, usually running over whenever visitors approach.

    2. Emu!!!!! And they're not funny when they're trying to steal your lunch or when you hit them at 100kmh.

    3. Fortunately I only have had the opportunity to collide with deer, which I've done twice in my present car. Do they come into your garden and do damage?

  4. I second your recommendation! I was very restrained on my visit and did not buy a thing, not because I didn't want to, but I really try not to plant during the summer. When we were last there two years ago, the garden looked great, but I could tell they were up to something else. Maybe there will be a revisit in my future.

  5. That emu picture startles me every time I see it! I really appreciate all the great textures in this garden. Thanks for the (non-bird) visuals!




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