Our landscape changes every year with more planting, expanded borders and the development of our arboretum. We thought you might enjoy seeing the landscape from the beginning, the changes we've made through the years and some of our favorite plants
Rick and Debbie Corrington
Rick's Custom Nursery, Lexington, VA
Although the house was built in an open field, we do have a wooded area with a very steep slope which drops down to the cool water of the stream which borders our property, Cold Run Creek. Unfortunately the woodlands aren't easily accessible but we do try to venture out in the spring when the Trilliums and Hepaticas are in bloom. The struggle to view them at their peak is worthwhile, but we do have to watch out for the poison ivy!
A friend from PA who was visiting a few years ago took this picture when we had an opportunity to relax by the stream one afternoon.
In just a few years there were major changes and by the summer of 2007, when viewed from the road, the trees and shrubs we've planted are finally providing some privacy AND shade!
But we're jumping ahead, we need to show you the changes and all our projects!
The site was prepared for the landscape in 1993 and by the spring of 1994 the planting had already begun. We have very few pictures of the initial planting but this one shows you the front border along the driveway and to the left of the front door.
Hollies were planted at the corner of the house with several conifers and a lovely (but young) variegated Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum 'Butterfly') shown behind the Colorado Spruce (Picea pungens f. glauca 'Fat Albert). Toward the back and still in its pot waiting for planting is European Hornbeam (Carpinus betulus 'Fastigiata')which will eventually block the view of the telephone pole from the driveway.
In the spring of 1999, just five years later and what a difference!
We've added a few more trees and shrubs and it's finally beginning to look more like a real landscape!
The pink flowering tree is a Redbud (Cercis canadensis 'Forest Pansy'), a beautiful tree in the spring but just as nice when the deep burgundy foliage appears after the flowers are gone.
We really liked the Forest Pansy Redbud and decided to plant another in the island on the opposite side of the driveway. It's still a young tree but as it matures the arching canopy will provide shade
for our parked cars in the driveway.
Although the deep burgundy color fades somewhat by mid summer, who can resist the beautiful foliage in the spring?
A year later, in the spring of 2000, the border to the right side of the front door is beginning to take shape.
Plantings in this area include: Colorado Spruce (Picea pungens 'Glauca Prostrata'), Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum var. dissectum atropurpureum 'Crimson Queen'), Bridalwreath Spirea (Spirea pruniflora), Katsura Tree (Cercidiphyllum japonicum), and a weeping Eastern White Pine (Pinus strobus 'Pendula') and a very fast growing Willow with a unique form (Salix x erythroflexuosa 'Scarlet Curls') planted on the slope behind a small pond which is behind the heron sculptures in the photo. Two Mugo Pines (Pinus mugo) were also planted but suffered through the years and have been removed.
The plantings in the center island have now grown enough to provide some privacy from the road.
Another glimpse of the front border in the Fall of 2000. The slope behind the small pond drops down to the driveway below where the larger pond is located which you'll see photos of soon.
A month later the fall colors are an indication of winter approaching and we can look forward to more planting next year!
The handsome exfoliating bark of the Paperbark Maple (Acer griseum) can be seen on the right in this photo.
Unfortunately we don't have many pictures of the front borders after the first few years, so we'll fast forward to May of 2008!
The deep burgundy foliage of the Forest Pansy Redbud provides a nice background for the variegation of the Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum 'Butterfly'). We've planted another tree with dark foliage, a Hazelnut (Corylus avellana 'Fuscorubra') along the edge of the driveway.
The bright yellow blooms of Goldenchain Tree (Laburnum x waterei 'Vossii') provide a splash of color early in the spring.
A closer look at the brilliant yellow blooms of the Goldenchain Tree.
As we move towards the center of the front border, the Hazelnut really stands out with the foliage of surrounding trees in the background. Magnolia 'Jane' (next to the house) was in full bloom a month earlier and will continue to bloom sporadically into the summer. We made a mistake and planted it too close to the house and a severe pruning is necessary every couple of years :(
To the right of the Hazelnut is the Paperbark Maple (Acer griseum) shown before. It wasn't long before visitors were questioning the identity of this handsome tree, especially during the winter months when the beautiful cinnamon bark is particularly striking.
Continuing to the right border we've planted a Japanese Snowbell (Styrax japonicus 'Pink Chimes') which is in full bloom in May.
Our original plan was to construct a pergola over the front entry to create shade for the hot southern exposure. However, our plans were delayed and as this tree gains some height over the years, we plan to limb it up to create a natural canopy over the front entry and nix the idea for a pergola!
With the canopy overhead, we'll be looking up at these delicate pink flowers every spring!
Obviously, our primary focus was the front landscape when the house was built. You've seen the transformation there over the last 14 years so we'll show you what we've been working on behind the house. A lot of changes over the years in this area and it continues to change as the gardens are expanded every year and the planting continues!
This is the view if you were standing on our deck and looking to the east toward the Blue Ridge Mountains. The pond was installed during the summer of 1995 with a wooden plank walkway around the perimeter and a gazebo was constructed the following year.
This photo was taken in the fall of 1999 with some of the trees and shrubs that have been planted along the pond's edge in the last five years. A hedgerow of White Pines was planted from the road along the edge of the field all the way to the pond area when the house was built. A few of the trees which were added along the back of the pond include: Cherry Plum (Prunus cerasifera 'Thundercloud'), Variegated Japanese Privet (Ligustrum japonicum 'Variegatum'), and several Viburnums - (Viburnum sieboldii 'Seneca') and (Viburnum setigerum 'Aurantiacum'), on the left.
Again, taken in the fall of 1999, you're looking at the newly tilled beds ready for planting which are located to the left of the pond. We refer to this area as the "Catcher's Mitt", in part due to its shape but also because this area 'catches' all the water rushing down the driveway when heavy rains occur.
In the foreground is a Crabapple (Malus, spp unknown) and in the background is a beautiful River Birch (Betula nigra 'Heritage') with the silhouette of a Hollywood Juniper (Juniperus chinensis 'Torulosa') planted to the left. We've made many changes to this area over the years and you'll see them all as we continue the tour.
In the spring of 1999, a different view shows the "Catcher's Mitt" in the background and what will become the new "Herb Garden" in the foreground.
The trees we've planted in front of the house have rapidly grown to provide shade and protection from the brutal heat of the southern exposure. Now we're ready to plant more trees and create some shade to cool things off in the back of the house.
We started with two new trees planted in the "Herb Garden" last fall: American Sweetgum (Liquidamber styraciflua 'Rotundiloba') on the left and Goldenraintree (Koelreuteria paniculata) on the right.
When Debbie moved to Virginia in September of 1999, she brought a few plants with her, many of them herbs from her gardens in Maine. We're ready to begin planting and because the majority of the plants for this garden are herbs, we decided to call it the "Herb Garden".
In the spring of 2000 everything has survived its first winter in Virginia and we're ready to plant more!
By the spring of 2001 it's looking like a real garden (but we still don't have a digital camera)!
We've planted a few more trees in the "Catcher's Mitt": Magnolia x loebneri 'Leonard Messel', Japanese Zelkova (Zelkova serrata), a pink flowering American Yellowwood (Cladrastis kentukea 'Perkins Pink'), a beautiful Beech with deep purple foliage (Fagus sylvatica 'Riversii').
Unfortunately a lovely tree we planted which suffered and failed several years later, Littleleaf Linden (Tilia cordata), was replaced with a Japanese Hornbeam (Carpinus japonica).
We planted several trees in the "Herb Garden" as well: a pink flowering Kousa Dogwood (Cornus kousa 'Satomi') and a variegated Zelkova (Zelkova serrata 'Goshiki'). We also added a few annuals, perennials and tropicals to provide a little more color to the garden.
We finally have a digital camera and just in time - by late summer the garden was full of color. The Castor Bean in the background was at least 10' tall! We had to dig the Banana on the right and bring it in for the winter and unfortunately it never made its way back to the gardens the next year :(
We were really pleased with the 'theme' of the garden this year and sorry to see it disappear with the approaching winter months.
The 'theme' changed every year and we continued to plant more trees in the "Herb Garden". The trees were now providing a nice canopy of shade but created problems for some of the herbs and plants that required full sun. In the spring of 2005 it was a time for another change...let the digging begin!
We've enlarged the "Herb Garden" over the past few years and planted even more trees.
Trees added: two Japanese Maples (Acer japonicum 'Aconitifolium, Acer palmatum var. dissectum 'Viridis'), Purpleleaf Sand Cherry (Prunus x cistena), Pagoda Dogwood (Cornus alternifolia), Thornless Honeylocust (Gleditsia triacanthos), Cucumbertree Magnolia (Magnolia acuminata 'Yellow Lantern') and Fragrant Wintersweet (Chimonanthus praecox var. concolor).
Slate and stone pavers are added to the path and most of the herbs have been replaced with plants that are much happier in the shade.
Standing in the middle of the "Herb Garden" and looking toward the "Catcher's Mitt", the beautiful foliage of the Beech can be seen in the background.
Three years later, even more shade and two years of drought have caused problems for some of the 2005 plantings.
It's time for another change!
By October, a lot of the plants have been removed and more plants which will thrive in the shade (Ferns, Hostas, etc.) have been planted, just in time before the cold weather!
We'll be adding updated photos of the new "Herb Garden" next spring.
Moving now to the gardens we've established to the west of the house. If you're looking down from the deck, this is the area which was originally used for our propagation beds. We decided to till the beds under, start over and plant trees...we need more shade!
By the fall of 2000, the landscape fabric has been tacked down to keep the weeds under control.
All we have to do is cut the path for the driveway and start planting!
Beyond the propagation beds is another area where the only tree planted here originally was a Dawn Redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides). In the Spring of 2001 we added a Black Gum (Nyssa sylvatica), Red Maple (Acer rubrum 'October Glory'), Black Locust (Robinia pseudoacacia 'Purple Robe') and another Magnolia.
Three years later (2003) the 'October Glory' Maple is showing its beautiful fall foliage and a variety of trees have been planted in the propagation bed area.
By June of 2005 more trees have been planted in this area, including several varieties of Crabapple (Malus spp.), Katsuratree (Cercidiphyllum japonicum), Red Maple (Acer rubrum 'Red Sunset'), Dragon's Claw Willow (Salix matsudana 'Tortuosa'), two "pink" flowering cultivars of Red Horsechestnut (Aesculus x carnea: 'O'Neill's Red' and 'Fort McNair'), Forsythia (x intermedia 'Golden Times'), a variegated form of Tulip Poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera 'Aureomarginatum'), a unique weeping Winged Elm (Ulmus alata 'Lace Parasol') and a compact form of Bush Clover (Lespedeza bicolor 'Little Buddy').
Most summers we take a relaxing vacation break in Michigan. A visit to our favorite nursery one year tempted us with a few more selections for planting in this area and we made the effort to squeeze them into the van for the trip home! Japanese Tree Lilac (Syringa reticulata 'Ivory Silk'), a variegated Wayfaringtree Viburnum (Viburnum lantana 'Variegatum'), and one we could not find locally - what we consider the best Sour Cherry (Prunus cerasus 'Montmorency').
Spring 2006...the 'Golden Times' Forsythia actually blooms earlier in the year but the bright gold foliage continues to provide a brilliant contrast when the flowers of the Red Horsechestnuts appear in May (Aesculus pavia 'O'Neill's Red and 'Fort McNair').
The rosey-pink blooms of this Red Horsechestnut are a favorite at this time of the year. Unfortunately the foliage suffers from the summer heat and humidity and looks pretty sad by August :(
We also planted a border of Old Fashioned Weigela (Weigela florida) along the driveway. This cultivar ('Rubidor') is one of our favorites with brilliant gold foliage and dark red flowers.
Others planted in this border include: 'Wine & Roses' with burgundy foliage and pink flowers; 'French Lace' with gold and green variegated foliage and deep pink flowers; 'Rumba' with rich green foliage and pink flowers; and 'Variegata' with green and white variegated foliage and light pink flowers.
In the adjoining bed, the 'Purple Robe' Locust is a prolific bloomer, beginning sometime in early May and usually holding its flowers until June!
A closer look at the dark rose-pink flowers.
We're still looking at the view from the deck but now we'll move up the driveway from the Propagation Beds to the "West Garden" and another older scanned photo.
The trees have grown since the initial planting in 1994 and we're ready to plant more!
We're not enthusiastic about many Roses, but this beautiful Rose ('Constance Spry') was planted along the edge of the woodland after seeing it on one of the television garden shows. One of the first "English" Roses bred by David Austin, it's proven to be a vigorous grower and blooms profusely in late spring/early summer. The long canes make it suitable to be trained as a climber but we've chosen to keep it pruned to form a large shrub.
We planted a lovely 'Yoshino' Cherry (Prunus x yedoensis) in the spring of 2001 which quickly tripled in size (seen here in 2005) and continues to grow and form a canopy at the end of this bed. Blooming around the same time as the 'Golden Times' Forsythia, these two really add some color to this area even on an overcast day. If windy weather arrives when the Cherry is blooming, we're treated to a 'blizzard' of Cherry blossoms!
When the sun shines, the brilliant blooms of the Forsythia proclaim that spring is definitely here!
Just above the bed where the 'Yoshino' Cherry was planted, we gathered an assortment of Hostas to plant for future propagation. Seen here in May of 2005, they have continued to prosper with an exposure of early morning sun and shade by afternoon.
The Japanese Maple in the foreground resides in a bed which finally received a 'makeover' in the summer of 2008.
The Japanese Maple shown in the previous photo, is now surrounded by numerous Trees and Shrubs. Most of the planting in this area was accomplished during the summer of 2008. Numerous Hydrangeas were planted as well as several selections of Viburnum for their early spring blooms and Clethra for the extremely fragrant late summer blooms. More Trees and Shrubs were planted in the background along the woodland's edge as well. If we can prevent the deer from grazing, we should see major changes in this area within just a few years!
Moving closer to the house, this area also underwent major changes this year. In the center of the bed is another type of Horsechestnut, Bottlebrush Buckeye (Aesculus parviflora), which blooms later in the season. We wait in anticipation every year as the flower buds form in spring but seem to take forever to bloom. By late June we're rewarded with this outstanding display of flowers. In the late afternoon it's obvious the bees are as pleased as we are when the shrub is alive with their activity!
We all love to show our glorious photos of the gardens, right? Well here's a NOT so glorious photo of the new Heuchera garden!
The Bottlebrush Buckeye fills the border at the back of this bed. The Yoshino Cherry on the left and the Black Locust (Robinia pseudoacacia 'Aurea') on the right have rapidly grown and now provide a canopy for the planned planting of shade plants.
This "Before" photo was taken the end of June, 2008.
We tackled the planting the first week of July and here is the result!
This is a very large area and the photos had to be spliced to show you almost all of the plants.
The path actually continues to the left where we planted an assortment of the newer Hosta varieties we grow.
Another view looking toward the woodland's edge and as you can see we were still working in this area! To the right of the path are two types of Grass: Japanese Wood Grass (Hakonechloa macra 'Aurea' and Hakonechloa macra 'Beni-kaze'). Several Daphnes have been planted and numerous Toad Lilies (Tricyrtis) are waiting in their pots for planting at the base of the tree.
Several weeks later and all the plants seem happy in their new home and we were pleased with the results!
Despite the soaring temperatures, we were anxious to continue planting and finish the new woodland garden Rick started last year. The path through the Heucheras leads into Rick's garden.
"Rick's" garden? Yes :) It's becoming obvious, even though we discuss the designs for our plantings, most of the newer projects have our own individual 'tastes' and you'll see more of "Debbie's" gardens as you follow along!
Leaving the Heucheras, you follow the path which leads to the driveway. This garden was planted 5-6 years ago with Arisaemas, Epimediums, Hostas, Peonies, etc. At the end of the path is one of our favorites, Oakleaf Hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia 'Snow Queen'). It's planted on the other side of the driveway under the canopy of the European Hornbeam (Carpinus betulus 'Fastigiata') which you saw as a young plant in the earlier photos.
One of our favorite combinations planted along this path is the Peony and Hardy Geranium (Geranium renardii 'Terra Franche'). The Peony cultivar is unknown as it was one of those which was originally planted years ago in Rick's grandmother's garden in Illinois. They were then planted in Rick's mother's garden and in 2000 they were transferred to our gardens.
This is another Peony from Rick's grandmother which is planted on the opposite side of the path - isn't it beautiful?
I'm getting sidetracked...showing you some of our favorites! If you follow along we'll be showing you more of our favorite plants in the gardens later.
The woodland garden required a tremendous amount of work in order to begin planting! Several trees and shrubs which were planted when the landscaping began had suffered from the shade of the Pine trees and had to be removed. Posts and barbed wire fencing along the road were also removed. And did we mention weeds? This area had been neglected for many, many years. A Bamboo-like grass (which we had planted years ago) was running rampant throughout the area and the weeding took forever!
After endless hours of preparing the site, two years later we're ready for planting! The plants have been selected and are waiting at the entry to the woodland garden.
A few weeks later, islands of Ferns and Hostas have been planted with paths developed on either side.
This is the view looking up through the Woodland Garden with the new island of Ferns in the middle of the photo. Another path was created just beyond the Ferns which leads to our driveway, or you can follow this path to the road.
Rick planted a number of native plants as well as many shade loving perennials in addition to the Ferns and Hostas. He's also planted a wonderful assortment of shrubs including Deciduous Azaleas and Oakleaf Hydrangeas which will eventually provide privacy from the road.
This is the view from the road looking back through the Woodland Garden.
There are a few of the older trees which we didn't remove, Chastetree (Vitex agnus-castus 'Shoal Creek') and Smokebush (Cotinus coggygria 'Atropurpurea'). They've suffered in the deep shade but we've pruned some lower limbs of the Pine trees to allow more sun and hope they'll respond!
From the other direction, the Woodland Garden continues along the bank looking up the road to our driveway. Rick was still busy planting this area when the photo was taken. Obviously, this garden is on ongoing project and we hope to share more photos with you as the planting continues and the garden matures.
Now we're going to leave the gardens to the west of the house and move back to the east where Debbie's been planting!
Several years have passed since these gardens were first planted. If you remember the photos of the "Catcher's Mitt", this is the area I'm working in now. The trees we planted have really grown and provide a perfect setting for some of the lovely shade plants we grow.
Speaking of lovely shade plants, these are just a few of our favorite plants in this area and we need to add more!
Top left (clockwise): Masterwort (Astrantia 'Lars'), Showy Ladyslipper (Cypripedium reginae), Shooting Star (Dodecatheon jeffreyi), and Hardy Ground Orchids (Bletilla striata 'Alba' and Bletilla striata).
Before the planting could begin, a new path had to be laid. Heavy rains traveling down the driveway repeatedly gouged the soil so we installed crushed stone and pavers to prevent further erosion.
We also had to break down a rock wall which had been constructed on the left in 2002. A running grass which had been planted became a nuisance when its aggressive roots jumped the rock wall and threatened the gardens beyond. Removing the grass was a frustrating experience...however when we tore the rock wall apart it provided rocks for the new Rock Garden!
Planting of the Rock Garden border continues. Several species of exotic Jack in the Pulpit (Arisaema), Ferns and mini Hostas were planted.
In the background is another extremely aggressive plant which will have to be removed, Japanese Butterbur (Petasites japonicus purpureus). Actually, a wonderful groundcover if you have the right conditions but it is far too aggressive for this area!
The path leading through this garden splits with an island which will be planted with Heucheras as companions for the Siberian Bugloss (Brunnera macrophylla 'Jack Frost') and Lungwort (Pulmonaria 'Silver Streamers').
The path continues with more Heucheras, Heucherellas and Tiarellas planted on the berm at the base of the Purple Beech, shown here one year later.
Other plants in this area include: Fairy Bells (Disporum smilacinum), Rodger's Flower (Rodgersia aesculifolia), Umbrella Plant (Darmera (Peltiphyllum) peltatum) and numerous Hostas.
The decision to hold our first Open House was the inspiration to expand these borders and create the new Rock Garden. Since the nursery is open by appointment only, we wanted to give our customers an opportunity to tour the gardens and by 2006 we were ready!
Compliments from visitors inspired us to expand the gardens even more!
Back to the drawing board! A view from the deck gives us an idea of what we would like to accomplish. Several plants are selected for the borders and we're almost ready to begin planting, AGAIN!
Several months have passed and we've been too busy to plant. More photos are taken to help develop our design. By late fall the plants are finally in the ground and we'll be ready to plant more next spring.
A year later and a blanket of fresh snow highlights the various Euphorbias which were planted in this area.
Euphorbias have become a favorite in the gardens! Their evergreen foliage continues to change with the cooler temperatures and rapidly grow with an almost shrub-like habit to fill the area.
Two years later the border continues to mature and the Rock Garden planting in the background has filled in nicely as well.
A path on the other side of the border leads through the Catcher's Mitt. At the base of the Deodar (aka Himalayan) Cedar (Cedrus deodara) is Euphorbia 'Blue Lagoon', several varieties of Heuchera and the golden foliage of Hardy Plumbago (Ceratostigma x willmottianum 'My Love') at the path's edge. The narrow, upright habit of the Eastern Arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis 'Smaragd') blends with the tall spikes of Woodland Tobacco (Nicotiana sylvestris) which self sows freely every year in the path and is dug and planted throughout the garden.
At the end of the path through the Catcher's Mitt is one of my favorite combinations. I had combined the bright Golden St. Johnswort (Hypericum calycinum 'Brigadoon') with the deep burgundy foliage of Pineapple Lily (Eucomis 'Sparkling Burgundy') in another area of the gardens and liked it so much I duplicated the combo! This planting actually included another Pineapple Lily (Eucomis comosa 'Oakhurst'), and I can't tell the difference between the two. I added another deep burgundy foliage plant, actually a tree which will eventually grow up and form a canopy over the combo - Chocolate Mimosa (Albizia julibrissin 'Summer Chocolate') and in the left corner is the soft silver foliage of Lamb's Ear (Stachys byzantium 'Helen von Stein').
If you continue along the end of the path, we start heading toward the new "Sitting Deck" which you'll see soon. The trees and shrubs were planted in 2007 and in late 2008 these plants were added to the left of the combination you saw before.
From the top right: Pheasant Berry (Leycesteria formosana 'Golden Lanterns'), Variegated Adam's Needle (Yucca filamentosa ssp. smalliana 'Bright Edge'), more Pineapple Lily with Gold Stonecrop (Sedum rupestre 'Angelina'), Blue Beaked Yucca (Yucca rostrata 'Sapphire Skies'), Cushion Spurge (Euphorbia polychroma 'Bonfire'), European Hornbeam (Carpinus betulus 'Fastigiata'), Copper Leaf Ninebark (Physocarpus 'Coppertina'), and at the top of the photo - the blue foliage of White Willow (Salix alba f. argentea).
Beyond the "Catcher's Mitt" we decided to expand the borders even more! We spliced photos together to help with our design and the quality of the photo is poor but it gives you an idea of the area we need to plant.
This is where our Open House visitors park when they arrive and we really wanted the area to be a little more inviting and encourage them to tour the gardens.
The soil is prepared and obviously we need plants for the area, but we decided an Arbor with a path leading into the gardens might work well here.
It took us several months to find an Arbor - we looked at numerous styles of Arbors (wood, metal and vinyl) and finally found this one late that fall. We chose a metal Arbor to withstand the weather with a pleasing design and color, and even better, reasonably priced! Now we're ready to begin designing the gardens which will surround the Arbor.
Before we get started on the area surrounding the new Arbor, we've got a little work to do in the area where the path will lead into the gardens.
Remember the aggressive patch of Petasites mentioned when I was working on the Rock Garden? For several years I groaned every time I looked at this massive patch as it was threatening to swallow everything in the area! I finally decided to tackle the grueling task of removing it all in the fall of 2006 and plant the area with a combination of Hostas and Ferns.
The Petasites is finally gone! At the head of the path Hellebores and Ferns are planted on the right side. A Japanese Maple was moved to make room for a unique garden accent from sculptor, Bo Atkinson of Maine. It was originally placed in the front gardens but as the shrubs grew it was almost hidden. We moved it to this area where it would be more visible and greet visitors to the gardens.
Not very impressive at this time of the year, but at least 35 Hostas as well as a number of Ferns are finally planted after the removal of the Petasites.
Two years later, you're looking at the path to the new Arbor with the Hosta and Fern planting on the right. The Hostas suffered major damage their first year from deer browsing in the gardens and several needed to be replanted. Fortunately the deer left them alone this summer and if we can keep them away in 2009 the Hostas should recover and fill this area.
In the background is the area which leads through the Arbor and as you'll soon see we've been busy planting!
As the design for the planting around the new Arbor developed, I realized what a pleasant spot this would be to incorporate a "Sitting Deck" in the design. The late afternoon shade provides a cool and sometimes breezy location where we could relax at the end of the day!
The deck was constructed in the spring of 2007 and by June the planting began. Numerous shrubs and a few small trees were planted which will eventually surround the deck with shade. Several Roses were planted to the right of the Arbor and a white climbing Rose was planted to climb up over the Arbor on the left with Clematis on both sides.
As soon as the deck was constructed we began laying pavers for the path and steps. A few more bags of crushed stone and we're ready to continue planting!
One year later and the planting continues. The Climbing Rose is growing rapidly and by next year should begin to climb over the top of the Arbor.
Although the Sitting Deck was functional, it lacked character. After some thought, I developed a design for a copper Arbor to place over the Sitting Deck with plans for a Wisteria vine to grow up and over it. The actual construction of the copper Arbor began in the spring of 2008, however the project remained unfinished by fall. Hopefully it will be ready to erect in the spring of 2009!
The decision to construct the "Sitting Deck" was inspired by this lovely view of the Blue Ridge Mountains when you're sitting in the gardens.
A closer view of the plantings around the Arbor with Clematis and the yellow Rose (Rosa 'Julia Child') reblooming in September. The lovely plant at the base of the Arbor is a Variegated Bluebeard (Caryopteris divaricata 'Snow Fairy'), a striking perennial which acts like a shrub and blooms profusely in late summer through early fall with delicate blue flowers. Another late bloomer, a Toad Lily (Tricyrtis 'Blue Wonder'), can be seen directly behind the Bluebeard.
A friend's gift of a garden accent, a group of singing frogs, soon had me collecting frogs playing various instruments to accompany them! These are just two members of the "Frog Band" and there are more who are waiting to find their spot in the gardens.
Yes, another project! The area surrounding the Sitting Deck is pleasant but I thought how nice it would be to listen to the sound of running water! If you continue along this path, plans are underway to install a narrow stream which will drop into a small pond - perfect for all the frogs!
This photo was taken after the Arbor was installed, which you can barely see in the distance on the right. The path from the Sitting Deck will cross over the stream, continue around this curve and end at my other "Arbor Project" (which you'll see next)! In the fall of 2008 we planted trees to border the path and more plants will be added as soon as the stream is completed.
Following the path, you'll arrive at this steep slope which drops down from the walkway around the pond. The slope needed steps to provide easy access here from the pond to the arboretum we're developing.
One weekend in October, 2007 when Rick had plans to be away at a photography seminar, I tackled yet another project! I had seen a terrific bargain for an arbor the week before and thought it would be perfect at the top of the steps. As soon as Rick was out the door I was off and running to buy the arbor and pick up the materials to build the steps while he was gone!
Now keep in mind that I'm no carpenter, but I do have a few tricks up my sleeve! Two days later, I had cleaned out the area, installed the Arbor and built the steps! I ran into a few problems with the slope and the lower steps aren't nailed yet, but the first set of steps is installed and they're level!
If you look closely, you can see our new pup, Phoebe, under the branches of the potted Kousa Dogwood (Cornus kousa 'Wolf Eyes') on the left.
I can't resist - Phoebe actually looked like she was posing for the photo so I zoomed in quick and snapped this one! She's a rescue pup who had just joined our family a couple weeks before and she thought she was helping every time she started digging in the soil or falling asleep under the steps!
With the exception of the lower steps, the Arbor is complete and a couple of pots were added on either side to finish the project with Junipers (Juniperus communis 'Gold Cone') and evergreen Spreading Raspberry (Rubus calycinoides) to trail over the edges!
Planting on the slope is scheduled for the spring of 2009 and hopefully will be ready for visitors at our Open House in May.
As you walk down the slope where the new steps and Arbor are located, you enter the open field which borders our gardens and into what is being developed as our Arboretum. Every year visitors to our Open Houses enter through the gate at the top of the field and drive through this area to reach our retail site. Our goal is to continue planting in the Arboretum with the trees and shrubs we offer as well as some specimen plants which we are testing for hardiness in our area.
During the summer of 2003 Rick began work on the Arboretum tilling the beds and preparing the soil. By late fall an assortment of Conifers were planted in the first bed. Most of these were quite small, either 2" liner or quart pots. A year later they're still small but they're growing!
Early the next summer the Conifers are really taking off! In the background two more beds have been tilled and planted and a load of mulch is ready for spreading.
Beyond the load of mulch is the gate where visitors enter. As the trees and shrubs in the Arboretum mature, visitors will have an opportunity to see the plants we have available and visualize their potential use for their own landscapes.
Another year and three more beds have been added to the Arboretum.
Looking in the opposite direction toward the house and gardens, you can see how fast the Conifers are growing! One more bed has been tilled and prepared but the planting isn't completed until the fall of 2008.
After a summer of severe drought, some of the original planting has suffered and needed to be replaced. Everything has been mulched and we're praying we don't experience another summer's drought!
Note: We did experience another year of drought in 2008, probably worse than 2007 :( Fortunately we were able to set up sprinklers and hoses in an attempt to prevent any further damage to the plantings. With the cooler temperatures in October, Rick continued planting and finished three more new beds. We should have photos of the new plantings to share with you in 2009!
One more project for 2008 and then we can look forward to more changes in 2009!
On the east slope of the house we have a large Willow (Salix x erythroflexuosa 'Scarlet Curls'). It has a beautiful twisted trunk but the lower branches were obscuring the beauty of its form and also providing too much shade for the plantings beneath it. In December, 2007 a friend of ours made the treacherous climb up the trunk and removed the lower branches.
The next month a fresh blanket of snow highlights the beautiful form of this tree.
The following spring the Weeping Cherry (Prunus subhirtella var. pendula) on the opposite side of the driveway is already benefiting from the removal of lower branches of the Willow!
The slope beneath the Willow was originally planted with numerous Astilbes, all of which had suffered from the deep shade. Several Conifers, including the Japanese Falsecypress (Chamaecyparis pisifera 'Boulevard') seen at the top of the photo had suffered as well.
Now that the Willow has been pruned it's time to tackle this "problem" area!
The purple foliage of a Japanese Barberry (Berberis thunbergii var. atropurpurea 'Crimson Velvet') had grown over the small pond which is at the top of the slope. It was obscuring the view to the gardens below and was removed in June. We also removed a golden Japanese Falsecypress from the right side of the pond to open up the view even more.
After the photo was taken, a brightly variegated Pagoda Dogwood (Cornus alternifolia 'Golden Shadows') with a horizontal branching habit was planted on the slope beyond the pond to replace the beautiful European Elder (Sambucus nigra 'Madonna') which had died the year before. Hostas and other shade plants will be planted along the edges of the pond in 2009.
The end of June and the planting is almost complete under the Willow! The Astilbes were replaced and Hostas and other shade plants were planted at the base of the trunk. We also had to severely prune the 'Boulevard' Chamaecyparis as a number of the branches had suffered from the deep shade created by the canopy of the Willow.
A large assortment of Hellebores and brightly colored Heucheras were planted on the left side of the slope after this photo was taken.
Other shade plants at the base of the Willow are also benefiting from the pruning and seem quite happy by the end of September!
From the top, clockwise: Chinese Wild Ginger (Asarum splendens), Fragrant Lady's Tresses in bloom (Spiranthes cernua var. odorata) with the golden foliage of Corydalis 'Berry Exciting'. In the background you can barely see the red berries of Wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens) which normally doesn't do well in our heat and humidity. We're testing the plant in this area because it's the "coolest" spot we have in the gardens and it seems to have adjusted well! We'll be adding more photos of the gardens as our work continues in 2009 and hope you'll return to see our progress!
Thank you for visiting Our Landscape Gallery!
Rick and Debbie