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Everyday Gardeners

Plant. Grow. Live.

Posts by Everyday Gardeners

Five fantastic gardens in Asheville

Most people associate Asheville, NC with the Biltmore Estate and gorgeous mountain scenery. But dig a bit deeper into the gardening scene there, and you’ll find much more to appreciate. During a recent visit I saw numerous edible gardens tucked into city rights-of-way, next door to restaurants, such as the Sunny Point Cafe, and in residential areas, including the well-tended garden of Nan Chase, author of Eat Your Yard! and co-author of Bark House Style. I also saw too many pretty landscapes to mention them all, but I’d like to share images from five of them here.

It’s easy to see how the WhiteGate Inn & Cottage received a Top-10 Romantic Getaway rating from BedandBreakfast.com. The property, located within walking distance of downtown Asheville, includes a collection of guest suites and a separate cottage surrounded by gardens laced with paths that invite exploration. And, no, I didn’t stay there on this trip. But I’d love to get the full experience during a future trip to the city.

A double waterfall adds alluring sound and motion at the base of a small stream flowing through the property.

Atlas bears an armillary sphere in one of the gardens at WhiteGate Inn and Cottage.

If you appreciate formal display gardens, have a hankering for bonsai, or like to hike woodland trails, the North Carolina Arboretum is the place to go. From the fully-functional rain garden next to the main garden entrance to the 65 acres of cultivated gardens and 10 miles of trails, you’re sure to find something to love.

The quilt garden had just recently been planted, so the pattern of colors was just beginning to show.

This sculpture, entitled "Oh Great Spirit", is a focal point in one of the formal gardens at the North Carolina Arboretum.

Christopher Mello combines plants with purple foliage, rusted ironwork (including a central stockade of rusted shovels surrounding a collection of Tonka toys), and a twist on on the Southern garden staple bottle tree into an eclectic mix that showcases his unique style.

Purple smoketree limbs display cobalt blue and kelly green bottles.

Succulents and stones combine beautifully with a rusted iron trough on a pedestal in Christopher Mello's West Asheville garden.

Wamboldtopia, the home and garden of Damaris and Ricki Pierce features extensive rock work and surprising details tucked in throughout the garden.

How do you disguise an ugly chain link fence? Damaris and Ricki decided to convert it into a stucco and stone arcade.

Look closely throughout the landscape at Wamboltopia to find whimsical portals with a gothic touch.

In the hills overlooking Asheville, Peter and Jasmin Gentling have carved out a relaxing garden retreat with an amazing history and collection of unique plants.

Natural stone steps carved into the hillside provide a meandering means of reaching the hilltop home.

A simple, rustic gate leads to a moss-covered path through the woods in the Gentling garden.


plant a flower day

Did you know that March 12 is Plant a Flower Day? I don’t need much of an excuse to plant flowers. I already have several dozen types of annual flowers started in the greenhouse, including the All-America Selections winners for this year (see below), and one from last year.

Salvia coccinea 'Summer Jewel Pink' is a 2012 All-America Selections Bedding Plant Award Winner that I think will look great in my pink border. Photo courtesy of All-America Selections.

Vinca 'Jams 'N Jellies Blackberry' is a 2012 All-America Selections Flower Award Winner. I can't wait for the seedlings that I've started in the greenhouse to start blooming. Photo courtesy of All-America Selections.

'Glamour Red' ornamental kale was a 2011 All-America Selections Cool Season Bedding Plant Award Winner. It looked great in my garden into December, so I'm growing it again this year. Photo courtesy of All-America Selections.

It may be a bit premature to plant perennials here in Des Moines, but I have some on order from High Country Gardens that will expand my collection of Midwest and High Plains native perennials. A few of them are pictured below. They’re scheduled for arrival in mid-April. By then, I’ll be able to plant them directly in the garden.

Which new flowers will you be growing in your yard this year?

 

Zauschneria garrettii is sometimes known as hardy fuschia as well as hummingbird trumpet. The bright orange tubular blooms draw hummingbirds to the garden.

Penstemon cobaea purpureus is a type of beardtongue with foxglove-like blooms on stalks several feet tall. It is a Midwest native.

Whether you call it redbirds in a tree or New Mexico figwort, Scrophularia macrantha is a cute perennial for dry sites with its panicles of rosy red blooms on compact plants.


Measuring Summer’s Success

The following is a guest blog post from Helen Yoest–owner of Gardening With Confidence where she is a garden designer, garden writer, and field editor for Better Homes and Gardens, Country Gardens, Traditional Home, and many other magazines.


A tomato, ripened on the vine, still warm from the sun, then sinking my teeth deep into the meat of the mighty ‘mater, pegs my pleasure meter. I can think of nothing better to measure summer’s success. But, did I grow tomatoes in my garden? Nope; not then, but I do now.

It wasn’t my idea to have a vegetable garden; it was my kids’. I was perfectly happy with beautiful flowers and foliage to keep me amused. But then, late one summer, my 8-year-old son, Aster, wondered why we didn’t grow tomatoes. I didn’t have a good reason, but I answered, “I thought you liked going to the Farmer’s Market each week?” His reply was “I do, but I wonder what it would be like to grow my own.” So we did.

We made short work of figuring out where to put our vegetable garden. Co-planting in our packed, wildlife habitat was an option; however, I was more keen on commandeering some turf. We found a small, 20- by 20-foot piece of yard, that seemed like the perfect location — in full sun and right in front of our driveway.

Covered with composted leaf mulch

Despite my son’s need for instant gratification, I was able to curb his enthusiasm to wait until the next growing season for planting. In the meantime, we covered the new garden space with 4 inches of composted leaf mulch, allowing the earthworms do the hard work for us, while we planned our future garden.

We also thought we needed to name our garden, so it was dubbed the Le Petite Potager. At the time, I wasn’t sure if the name related to the size of the garden or the size of my kids; either way the name seemed to fit. (Full disclosure, only 2 of my 3 kids thought this garden was a good idea. The teenage was the holdout.)

We weren’t serious vegetables gardeners, not like those admirable ones in search for the most coveted heirloom varieties, we just wanted a few home-grown tomatoes, big and red; cucumbers, long and straight, and yellow bell peppers. We also added hot peppers in hopes to interest my husband in our new gardening foray.  Our thinking was if he was interested, he might share in the care.

The next summer, we were swimming in success.

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Lily’s cucumber crop was measured in feet beyond her body length, with arms stretched forward.

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Aster’s tomato crop was measured in the number of tomato sandwiches he could eat in one sitting; Lara Rose’s (the teenager) success was measured in how little time her nose was parted from her book.

My success was measured in perfecting the most delicious fried green tomatoes, with the least amount of effort. We each also relished in the taste only a vine ripened, red, homegrown tomatoes could provide.

Lily and BeanOh and yes, my kids successfully lured their father into the garden, who declared himself the one in charge of adding kitchen compost to Le Petite Potager and taking credit for the number of earthworms present, which he boosts as the reason for the garden’s overall success. Ah, Cest le Vie, it’s a good thing the kid’s and I have other measures of the garden’s success.


color on display

Last week I visited the Gardens at Ball in West Chicago, IL, and spent the day photographing hundreds of gorgeous annual flowers, perennials, and shrubs. The gardens are open to the public, and definitely worth a visit to get ideas on how to combine plants for beautiful displays and to see side-by-side comparisons of flower varieties.

Cocktail Mix begonia in a background of Alternanthera spells out the Ball logo in this vertical garden display.

Cocktail Mix begonia in a background of Alternanthera spells out the Ball logo in this vertical garden display.

Although the gardens are large, they're arranged into "rooms" that mimic the scale of home landscapes. See below for a close up of this combo.

Although the gardens are large, they're arranged into "rooms" that mimic the scale of home landscapes. See below for a close up of this combo.

Zahara Double Fire zinnia, Henna coleus, Mahogany Splendor hibiscus, and Silky Scarlet Asclepias combine beautifully in this hot border.

Zahara Double Fire zinnia, Henna coleus, Mahogany Splendor hibiscus, and Silky Scarlet Asclepias combine beautifully in this hot border.

This pillar of Wave Purple Improved petunia and Wave Misty Lilac petunia brightens the patio outside the employee cafeteria.

This pillar of Wave Purple Improved petunia and Wave Misty Lilac petunia brightens the patio outside the employee cafeteria.

Here's a close up showing how the petunia tower was constructed. Basically, it's a ring of galvanized fencing lined with landscape fabric, then filled with potting soil. The petunias were planted through slits in the landscape fabric. This looks like a pretty easy do-it-yourself project!

Here's a close up showing how the petunia tower was constructed. Basically, it's a ring of galvanized fencing lined with landscape fabric, then filled with potting soil. The petunias were planted through slits in the landscape fabric. This looks like a pretty easy do-it-yourself project!

Here's an idea for taming a slope. Large culverts were filled with soil and planted with Madeira colocasia, Marguerite and Sweet Caroline Light Green sweet potato vine, Silky Gold asclepias, and Snow Princess lobularia.

Here's an idea for taming a slope. Large culverts were filled with soil and planted with Madeira colocasia, Marguerite and Sweet Caroline Light Green sweet potato vine, Silky Gold asclepias, and Snow Princess lobularia.


Attention Grabbers in the Summer Garden

The following is a guest blog post from Chris Tidrick a gardener, writer and photographer.


Although we’re only a short way into the summer calendar, I have a good idea which plants are going to be the highlights in my gardens. Summer perennials are lush with foliage and starting to bloom, while the annuals planted in containers and garden beds no longer resemble those tiny plants I purchased in flats just a few weeks ago. There’s so much competing for attention in the summer landscape, it often takes the unique plant or combination of plants to truly grab our attention.

This year, a handful of new plants and a couple of garden veterans are stealing the show in my garden.

Solenostemon ‘Twist and Twirl’

I grow a lot of coleus (Solenostemon), but the one variety that stands out is ‘Twist and Twirl’. True to its name, its burgundy, yellow, and green, deeply lobed foliage appears to dance up the main stem. More upright and narrow than most coleus, ‘Twist and Twirl’ makes an excellent choice for a vertical element in containers. I have found that it combines best with other burgundy and green coleus, as the bright yellow isn’t the most complementary color with other hues.

Heuchera ‘Cherry Cola’

Heuchera has taken garden centers by storm in the past few years, but I have to admit that I still waver when asked my opinion on this diverse group of foliage perennials. Perhaps I haven’t given them the proper growing conditions, but most Heuchera I’ve planted seem to simply survive rather than flourish in my garden. I’d slowly been giving up on them, until planted H. ‘Cherry Cola’, a cultivar whose new growth emerges a deep cherry red and slowly fades to a darker brown-red as it ages. When backlit, the plant appears to have glowing embers under the foliage. The foliage color, combined with an above average vigor, definitely places ‘Cherry Cola’ on the short list of attention grabbers this summer.


Helenium ‘Mardi Gras’

From Rudbeckia to Leucanthemum and many genus in between, the choices for summer-flowering, daisy-type flowers seem endless. One plant that is often overlooked is Helenium, or Helen’s flower. A number of cultivars are available, ranging from yellow to orange to red. In my garden, ‘Mardi Gras’ is the cultivar of choice. Standing 30-36 inches tall, it is covered in yellow-orange blooms from June through September.

Salvia ‘Black and Blue’

I’ve also been enamored this summer by ‘Black and Blue’, an annual salvia (S. gauranitica). The true blue petals of ‘Black and Blue’, which resemble Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis) in form if not color, emerge from a nearly black calyx attached to the stem. In full bloom, the flowers of ‘Black and Blue’ appear to be tiny pennants run up along a ship’s mast. The foliage is green and indistinct, but forms a solid base below these outstanding flowers.

Achillea ‘Strawberry Seduction’

I’ve never been that attracted to yarrow (Achillea), with its weedy foliage and tendency to fade in the summer heat and overwinter poorly during our Midwestern winters. But as I was browsing a clearance table at a garden center last fall, the name ‘Strawberry Seduction’ and a two dollar price tag convinced me to give it a try. So far, it’s been worth far more in my garden. Planted at the base of a large ‘Jackmanii’ clematis, my small clump of  ’Strawberry Seduction’ manages to catch my eye every time I walk through the garden.

Hemerocallis ‘Kwanso’

Any discussion of the attention grabbers in the early summer garden has to include Hemerocallis. I grow nearly 30 different varieties of daylilies in my garden. While my collection focuses heavily on red culivars, including  ’Angel Fire’, ‘Ivory Edges’, and ‘Christmas Carol’, there is one I wouldn’t do without: H. ‘Kwanso’. A close, yet cultivated, relative of the much disparaged “ditch lily” H. fulva, ‘Kwanso’ commands attention with its double-petaled orange flowers and vigorous (almost aggressive) growth habit. While many of my other Hemerocallis specimens may get overlooked at first glance, ‘Kwanso’ in full bloom is undeniably a starring member of my garden.

Clematis ‘Rouge Cardinal’

While I’d be remiss to ignore ‘Jackmanii’ clematis that forms the focal point of my front border,  ’Jackmanii’ is so well known that it seems redundant to give it more attention. Besides, another clematis in my garden may actually be outperforming ‘Jackmanii’ this year. ‘Rouge Cardinal’ is finally coming into its own after growing on the corner of my home for several years, is covered with dark red-purple, velvet-textured blooms from June through July. After the petals fade, the seed heads that remain are beautiful in their own right.

Calibrachoa Cabaret ‘Hot Pink and Pelargonium ‘Happy Thought’

Often plants form an attention-grabbing combination in the garden. In this container that grows near the end of our driveway, Calibrachoa Cabaret ‘Hot Pink’ and Pelargonium ‘Happy Thought’ (zonal geranium) combine to form a trailing base below a dark pink tropical Hibiscus. The yellow variegation in the Pelargonium foliage offsets the orange-red flowers and forms a clear transition between the solid green foliage of the Calibrachoa and Hibiscus.

Lobelia ‘Crystal Palace’ and Impatiens Tempo ‘Cancun Mix’

Sometimes breaking the rules of gardening can lead to a unique plant combination. While putting my containers together, I had three leftover plants: Lobelia ‘Crystal Palace’, Impatiens Tempo ‘Cancun’ and a small division of a variegated Hosta. While the light needs of these plants are on opposite ends of the spectrum, I decided to push the growing conditions for all the plants involved because I loved the combination of the blue and salmon, with a slight interruption of the yellow variegation in the Hosta.

Those are just a few of the attention grabbers growing in my garden. Please feel free to use the comment feature to share those plants and plant combinations that are starring in your summer garden. Please join me at my blog, From the Soil, on Facebook, or on Twitter.


garden tour

Last winter I agreed to place my garden on tour in mid-July. At the time I didn’t think that it would take any extra effort. After all, I’m usually photographing in the garden every couple of weeks, so I try to keep it in good condition. And I always enjoy sharing my garden with those who are interested. But this spring, it struck closer to home that the beds better be fully mulched (300 bags worth!), garden projects completed (a new water garden in the backyard), gaps in beds filled in (hurray for garden center shopping trips!), and plants fully groomed (a weekend of deadheading ahead) by the time the tour arrives next week.

I think that we’re just about ready for the group. The photos below take you on a virtual tour of my backyard. Next week I’ll show you the front yard. What do you think? Will it pass muster?

Herbal knot garden with lavender, germander, marigolds, and mealycup sage

New formal water garden

Firepit seating area

Boxwood knot garden with marigolds and ageratum

Mixed shrub and perennial border

Raised bed vegetable garden and compost bin screen

Drought-tolerant border

Potager, kitchen garden

Deckscaping

Terraced vegetable beds


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