On Gardens Left Behind

Side Garden with Arkansas bluestar (Amsonia hubrichtii), 'Axminster Gold' comfrey (Symphytum x uplandicum), red campion (Silene dioica), and 'Latifolia Maculata' boxwood (Buxus sempervirens) [late May 2014] at Hayefield.com

Side Garden at Hayefield with Arkansas bluestar (Amsonia hubrichtii), ‘Axminster Gold’ comfrey (Symphytum x uplandicum), red campion (Silene dioica), and ‘Latifolia Maculata’ boxwood (Buxus sempervirens) – late May 2014

Hearing that several of you are in the process of leaving your current gardens and starting over in new places has gotten me thinking about the fate of gardens that are left behind, either by choice or necessity.

What happens to a garden in the absence of its creator depends a good deal on the person or people who are left with its care. If they are non-gardeners—and yes, though it’s hard to remember, there are lots of people out there for whom gardening is not a consuming passion—they may think of buying the house, rather than the landscape, with the idea of turning the garden back to grass as soon as possible.

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Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day – May 2014

Spiraea x vanhouttei 'Pink Ice' at Hayefield.com

Thank goodness for Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day! If it weren’t for the need to occasionally stop and take pictures, I doubt I’d have taken the time to really notice what’s going on in the garden over the past month. Things are looking much tidier now, but it’s taken a lot of weeding and clipping and pruning to get them that way. (By the way, you can see larger, clearer versions of the images by clicking on them.)

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Picture This – In the Frame

Courtyard arbor with Fallopia 'Lemon Lace' framing Eutrochium maculatum, Amsonia hubrichtii, Sedum rupestre 'Angelina', and Pennisetum orientale 'Karley Rose' at Hayefield.com

When you’re photographing plants and gardens, it’s natural to focus your attention on what’s in the center of the picture. Taking a few seconds to consider the “frame”—the edges of the image—before you shoot can help to enhance the entire photograph.

One thing to think about is the orientation of the image: whether you hold the camera in its normal position to take a photo that’s a horizontal rectangle or turn it 90 degrees to shoot a vertical one. Broad garden shots, large drifts, and low, spreading plants tend to lend themselves to horizontals…

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Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day – April 2014

March sunrise at Hayefield.com

What a difference a few weeks make. Not long ago, we were experiencing the still and quiet of winter, along with the glorious sunrises that seem to happen mostly in the colder months. The first stirrings of spring, in the third week of March this year, came as distinctive sounds: the pre-dawn and pre-dark buzzing and twitterings of the woodcocks in the meadows and hedgerows, and the chirping of the spring peepers and other frogs in the vernal pools and wetlands that are common in our neighborhood.

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Holding Patterns

Holding Beds at Hayefield.com Summer 2003

The snow seems to be gone for good now, so I’m finally making progress on the garden cleanup I didn’t get to tackle last fall. The work is so routine now that it leaves plenty of time for contemplation. It’s easy to start dwelling on the various planting and design mistakes I’ve made over the years, but that’s a poor frame of mind to be in at such a promising time of year, so instead, I try to focus on what I’m happy with. I’ve come up with lots of things to be positive about, but overall, the best decisions I’ve made for the garden have been related to creating an abundance of holding beds.

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What’s in a Name? Body Talk

Salpiglossis variablis

We’re finally seeing a few signs of the growing season starting here in Pennsylvania, but there are still several more days before spring officially arrives, so I’ll indulge now in one of my favorite winter topics: botanical nomenclature. One subject I haven’t covered yet is plant names that relate to the body parts of all kinds of critters, including people. Usually there’s some relation between the body part and the shape or texture of the flower, leaf, or some other structure, but sometimes it’s a clue to the plant’s historical use.

Most, if not all, of these will be obvious to those of you who work in the medical field, and I’m sure all of you will recognize at least some of these. It’s not an exhaustive list, as I couldn’t find plant-name examples for all body parts (feel free to speak up if you know of any I missed), and I deliberately left out some parts to keep things…um…safe for all readers. I’ll warn you now, this is a long one, so if nomenclature isn’t your thing, maybe you’d rather just scroll through the pictures and catch the bit of news at the end.

Still here? Ok, then, working roughly from head to hoof…

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Picture This – Highs and Lows

Front Walk at Hayefield.com

There are no signs of spring springing around here yet, due to the brutal cold still lingering—and oh, look, more snow on the way—so it’s back to the topic of fun garden photography to find some cheering color. This time, I’m thinking about ways you can change your views by changing the height and angle of your camera.

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