This takes time, just to see what will happen. The unexpected. Effects of weather, for example. How the heavy rains and wind three weeks back bent over the four suddenly top-heavy Gleditsia, prompting me to prune and stake them, anticipating more rain and wind and snow and ice in winter ...
... bent over to the ground. Thank god the trees are flexible and didn't break. Here is one crown after removal of about a foot on each side and cutting to encourage growth up and out.
The shade bed is growing well, but I can't know what to do until winter passes and I see which plants like this place, which are long-term keepers, and which should go. You design, plan, select, plant, but chance and accident really determine what the garden will be in a few years. You just have to go with that throw of the dice, the thrill of the unknown, unforeseen, make of it what you will.
The austere pool is a powerful balance to the fulsome planting, which I can now see needs to be pared, refined. The fence needs flatter vines, perhaps the dwarf Boston ivy I found this weekend. The climbing hydrangea is too bulky, visually too busy. It's chatter conflicts with the more serene, sculptural shapes. Probably better at the back.
Most ground covers have yet to close up the exposed soil ...
... though the Selaginella is doing unexpectedly well considering the intense heat over the last few weeks. I especially like the Carex muskingumensis 'Oehme' above and am likely to bring more from Federal Twist. Those wet, slightly rotted epimediums and the little blue hosta haven't won my admiration.
The side opposite, the sunny side, is thriving. Here are two Pennisetum 'Hamlen', Pycnanthemum muticum in its white-flowering, ultra fragrant loveliness, an almost black ajuga, thyme, and at each end a small box wood (yes, they need to grow larger for impact), suggested by Rob. The box have to grow but I do think their geometry and dark green will help unify this exuberance and control the colors.
The large grass at back is much bluer than I expected. It was sold as Panicum 'Cloud Nine'. I've begun to suspect it may be Dallas Blues or Northwind. Won't know until the flowers open. I've thought of replacing it with an evergreen, perhaps a large Ilex 'Sky Pencil'. Of course, the ones I had my eye on have been sold, so I have more opportunity to engage with search and compromise.
Bronze fennel and Pycnanthemum muticum transplanted from Federal Twist are successful in the heat and all day sun. At right (above and below) is Ceratostigma plumbaginoides ...
... their intense blue flowers can stand up to the bright light that floods the garden throughout the day. (Their blue really pops; these photos can't show that.) And it makes a good ground cover alongside the Sedum 'Herbstfreude'.
And in the opposite corner, a Sambucus nigra 'Black Lace' (suggested by Ross, in another context). I want to prune it high to get a dark purple canopy (reflecting the beech in different form) carrying the darkness of the fence upward. Rather scrawny now, but let's hope it grows quickly into something like a small umbellifer-shaped tree form.
I think I'll not spoil this clean facade with vines though I do want vines covering much of the dark walls. Look closely and you can see fish near the center of the pool.
The pool, the walls, the field of gravel, the four Gleditsia triacanthos 'Sunburst', the "random" box diagonal, these are garden Number 1. The other plants are garden Number 2, and I don't see an end to changes in the foreseeable future.