Archive for the ‘Ruminations’ Category

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

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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Death Becomes Them

Arc borders with Pennisetum alopecuroides 'Cassian', Solidago rugosa 'Fireworks', and Molinia caerulea 'Skyracer' on the right and Pennisetum orientale 'Karley Rose', Echinacea purpurea, Veronicastrum virginicum, Panicum virgatum 'Rotstrahlbusch', Symphyotrichum oblongifolium, and Panicum virgatum 'Prairie Sky' on left at Hayefield

Misspelled words are usually either annoying or embarrassing, depending on whether you’re reading them or creating them. But every once in a while, they inspire a whole new line of thought. When I recently ran across “necrofilia” (never mind where, but really, it was nothing horrible), I read it as “necrofolia,” and suddenly, there was the perfect term for an entire horticultural subculture.

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It’s Personal – Part 2

Side garden at Hayefield June 2012

A few weeks ago, in It’s Personal – Part 1, I started talking about some of the ways I’ve tackled the development of the gardens here at Hayefield, in response to some readers’ questions. I ended that part by mentioning that I have a group of plants that I rely on for filling new gardens. Here are some of my favorites, along with a few more thoughts about planting and maintenance and some more pictures of how the gardens have evolved over the last decade.

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It’s Personal – Part 1

Hayefield Day 1 (May 21, 2001)

Hayefield Day 1 (May 21, 2001)

Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day posts offer a great opportunity to show off pretty pictures of the garden, but recently, I’ve had a couple of requests to show the less-than-pretty parts that I’ve only mentioned in passing. So, to combine that with some journaling of the garden’s changes over the years, I figure it’s time for one of those “behind the scenes” posts: looking back on how I planned parts of the garden, how things actually turned out, and what I’ve been learning along the way.

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Odds and Ends

Seeds for Sharing Dec 2011

How exciting to get such an enthusiastic response to the offering of seeds in my last post! I have a little follow-up to do on that project, plus a few other miscellaneous bits of information that I thought you might find interesting or amusing.

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Pretty in Pictures – Part 2

Weigela florida 'Alexandra' (Wine and Roses) with Iris x robusta 'Gerald Darby' May 28 2011

[Part 1]

It’s surprisingly easy to find wow moments in your own garden, regardless how little or much effort you put into creating combinations, because the luck factor graces beginners and experts alike. When you’re not comparing your gardens to other people’s pretty pictures, you can be more open to the moments that come along without any intention on your part. The key here isn’t doing, it’s seeing. The more time you’re out in your garden, the greater your chances of spotting magic moments, such as the way the sun shining through a dark leaf makes it glow the same shade of red as a nearby bloom.

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Pretty in Pictures

Vernonia, Patrinia scabiosifolia, Solidago rugosa 'Fireworks', and Eutrochium maculatum late August 09

What can you learn from this picture? That ironweeds (Vernonia), golden lace (Patrinia scabiosifolia), ‘Fireworks’ goldenrod (Solidago rugosa), and Joe-Pye weed (Eutrochium/Eupatoriadelphus/Eupatorium maculatum) can all thrive in the same site. And that purple, pink, and yellow can look as good together in fall as they do in spring. But you can’t tell that the Joe-Pye and the ironweed in the background are in completely separate beds, about 8 and 15 feet away, respectively. Or, that I cut back the Joe-Pye in early summer, so it’s about 2 feet shorter than it would usually be, and it’s just coming into bloom now instead of finishing up. So, if you liked this picture and wanted to try the same combination in your own garden, you might be happy with the results, or you might not.

I’ve enjoyed gardening for many different reasons – the thrill of tracking down unusual plants, the fun of harvesting homegrown edibles, the delight of sniffing great fragrances, the excitement of growing new plants from seed, and so on – but for the past few years, my main interest has been in creating and capturing what I think of as “wow moments”: in other words, pretty pictures. It’s no surprise that this interest coincides with the amount of time I’ve been blogging, because this is such a perfect place to share the results.

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