Sunday, March 15, 2009

Diary November 2006 - Friends' Gardens

Gardeners are life-long students: the more they know, the more they want to know (and the more they realize how little they know!) Gardening is a life-long learning experience, which is why it can never get boring. Beginner gardeners want to learn everything. Intermediate and advanced gardeners know a fair bit but are hungry for more. Many advanced gardeners become collectors, always searching for new interesting plants. Sometimes a magazine article or TV programme showcases a new species, a new cultivar or a variation on an old plant favourite. That’s when the Hunt starts!
Many of my family members, friends, neighbours and work colleagues are gardeners. It’s fun to learn from them as well as teach them things I’ve learned.
This month I thought I’d share plant information and photos of several friends’ gardens.
My friend Sheila, who I’ve mentioned before, has a lovely property on the Grand River. The beds near her front door are becoming quite established and are a great combination of colours and textures.

This spring, she started some new beds closer to the road and has within them, some very noteworthy plants (see if you’re familiar with them – I wasn’t!). They are all worth “Googling”.
She has several different types of dogwoods, whose branches can be used in containers: Bud’s yellow, Kesselringii (dark purple stems) and Midwinter Fire (lovely yellow blending to orange stems). She also bought Hydrangea paniculata ‘Limelight’ with (as White Flower Farm describes it) “… ice cream parlor’s worth of outsized, pistachio-hued floral cones…”
Corkscrew Hazel ‘Crimson King’; ‘Golden Spirit’ Smoke bush; dark burgundy elder ‘Black Lace’; ‘Royal Burgundy’ barberry and variegated lilac.
The beds will fill in quickly, I’m sure. It will be interesting to compare this picture to what things look like in a year or two.

Remember the gardener’s saying: First year sleep, second year creep, third year leap!
I’m sure Sheila learns about new plants the same way the rest of us do: through friends, gardening organizations, magazine articles, books, the Internet and by scouting out local and specialized garden centres/nurseries.
Another friend Liz gardens in Stoney Creek. We spent a great afternoon this summer in my garden, talking about plants and again I learned about interesting plants that were new to me.
Liz’s garden has areas of both sun and shade. Some of her shade combinations are spectacular as seen in the beautiful photos she sent me:
Here Chinese Astilbe ‘Vision’ is paired with reliable hosta ‘Halcyon’.

Next is Halcyon is seen again with 2 types of Heuchera: ‘Lime Ricky’ and one of the dark purple ones, maybe ‘Palace Purple’.
She and I also traded some plants: I gave her a white peony and Ajuga pyramidalis ‘Metallica Crispa’ (which coincidentally I originally got from Sheila!!!) and in return she gave me Veronica spicata ‘Red Fox’.
As Liz says, it’s fun getting plants from friends, because every time you look at them, they remind you of the donor.
My friend Linda is an excellent gardener but so are her parents who live north of Toronto. Betty and Doug’s garden is on a spacious suburban lot but the look and feel is more like an English country estate. The effect is achieved by grand scale and proportion as well as immaculately groomed lawn and beds. Groundcover, hostas, perennials, shrubs and evergreens provide the background and bed material while flagstone walkways, wooden gates, lattice archways and statues convey elegance and serenity.

So listen, learn, make notes, hunt, discover, buy, plant and enjoy! Oh yes - SHARE!

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