Category Archives: Garden Design

Glorious, Gorgeous Gardens Galore

by Categorized: Garden Design, Gardening, Gardens, Landscape, Landscape Architecture Date:

IMG_1185For many people, including yours truly, this is the time of year when one’s garden often starts to look, well, rather raggedy around the edges.

So it is hard not to marvel at the great number of private gardens that are still in such spectacular, well-tended shape that they are open to the public this weekend.

The national Garden Conservancy, sponsor of the wonderful Open Days program, is moving toward more in-depth, regional programs, and a slew of gardens are open around the state this weekend.

Visitors are welcome to stop in at as many or few as the schedule permits. Admission to each private garden is $7; free for children 12 and under.

On Saturday, gardens are open in Redding, Weston, Wilton, Meriden, Canton and Glastonbury. The action moves for the most part to Litchfield County on Sunday, with gardens in Roxbury, Bridgewater and several in Washington open for ogling.

The weather should be delightful, and the gardens inspirational. For complete details, including garden descriptions and directions, go to www.opendaysprogram.org.

Meanwhile, here’s a sneak peek:

Acclaimed potter and photographer Frances Palmer is opening her garden in Weston, pictured above and below, Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. It is especially noted for dahlias and her “Alice in Wonderland” flowers.

CTFF_Palmer_clyde_s_choice_barn_webThen swing over to Pixie Perennials in Wilton, where there will be a plant and local artisans’ sale as well as a beautiful garden to stroll through, pictured below:

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Fashion designer Linda Allard of Ellen Tracy fame is opening her garden, Highmeadows in Washington — pictured below, and featured recently in an article by Tovah Martin in Architectural Digest — on Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The fashionably designed garden with exquisite sense of color features a pleasing mix that is part formal garden defined by boxwood hedges and part more informal potagere, with fruits, vegetables and flowers. The new woodland garden is said to have been inspired by William Robinson’s 1870 classic, “The Wild Garden.”

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And among the other gardens open on Sunday is Maywood Gardens, pictured below, the largest private estate in Litchfield County, with 1,000 acres. It includes a sunken perennial garden protected by 10-foot stone walls, a gazebo garden planted with butterfly- and hummingbird-attracting flowers and shrubs, a rose garden arranged in a French design surrounded by a circle of hemlocks, a woodland path, a heather bed, a white garden, an herb garden, an ornamental kitchen garden, a 4,000-square-foot greenhouse and more. Phew!

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Outstanding American Gardens Cover ImageThis special weekend coincides with the release of the Garden Conservancy’s new book, “Outstanding American Gardens: A Celebration – 25 Years of the Garden Conservancy” (Abrams).

 

A Garden To Honor Garden Writer Lee May

by Categorized: Garden Design, Gardening, Gardens Date:

Harry Link, a master gardener who lives in East Haddam, had the great pleasure of being Lee May‘s friend. They were next-door neighbors for 12 years until Lee, a well-known garden writer, moved back to Atlanta from Connecticut in 2013.

Having just been in touch by email with Lee in November, I was stunned and terribly sad when Harry told me that Lee died in December after a short and difficult fight with cancer.

Now Harry is planning to install a memorial garden at the East Haddam Senior Center in Heritage Park to honor Lee. The garden will be dedicated on May 30 — and it will be a surprise for Lee’s wife, Lyn, who will be visiting for a memorial service.

Here’s Harry’s sketch:

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Harry told me that Nancy Ballek Mackinnon, a partner at Ballek’s Garden Center in East Haddam, is contributing “tons of perennials,” and other garden centers also are donating plant material. One section of the garden will be planted to attract lots of pollinators.

And, as an homage to the distinctive style of Lee’s own garden — with its rock assemblages and dry bed stream of stone — Harry plans to incorporate those sorts of elements as well in the memorial garden, on town property just off Great Hillwood Road and Route 149. The gently curved garden — about 90 by 45 feet — also will incorporate a rain garden and several pathways, and Harry says he’d like to buy an arbor for an entry.

He also says a granite bench will be carved with words of Lee’s: “Gardening … well, gardening is life.”

Harry has set up an account with the town for cash contributions (which are needed). They are tax-deductible, and can be made to the Lee May Memorial Garden Fund, East Haddam Finance Department, 7 Main St., East Haddam, CT 06423.

“Lee meant so much to me, so I just want to honor him the best I can,” Harry said.

I can’t think of a more fitting tribute.

I met Lee and Lyn when I visited to write about and photograph the garden back in 2010. Lee had shifted gears in the early 1990s from being an award-winning hard news and investigative writer for the Los Angeles Times and the Atlanta-Constitution to focus on garden writing.

Lee’s distinctive garden in East Haddam was one of Asian grace and playful touches. His quiet humor rippled through the landscape. For example, he tucked rubber snakes here and there in an effort to scare off squirrels. “They were amused,” he dryly observed.

Lee’s passion for pruning trees in search of their essence was fascinating, too.

Most of all, I was touched by Lee’s gentle demeanor, his sheer pleasure in both story-telling and in creating enticing and enjoyable spaces in nature. He worked with nature and shaped it, but he clearly revered it, too. Take a ramble through his wonderful blog: Lee May’s Gardening Life.

And here’s my story: Click here.

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Lee May-shrine

Lee May at his garden in East Haddam.

Lee May-stones

Photos by NANCY SCHOEFFLER

 

 

A Japanese lantern harmonizes with the stone and rock in the garden.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of a number of handmade cairns.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lee May-bridge

Japanese blood grass, one of many varieties of grasses in the garden, adds a brilliant jolt of color alongside a bridge over a dry bed stream of stone.

Lee May-bonsai

Bonsai played an important role in Lee May’s East Haddam garden.

Secret Gardens

by Categorized: Books, Children, Elizabeth Park, Garden Design, Gardens, Heritage, Landscape Architecture, Magazines Date:

HRG--4-.JPG_HCMagazine1_03-29-2015_FullRun_HTM_847PM2T1.jpgThis month’s issue of Hartford magazine is all about secrets — and included are two secret gardens that I’ve loved visiting.

Houghton_AC85_B9345_911s_-_Secret_Garden,_1911_-_coverSecret gardens have captivated me since girlhood — even before I first read Frances Burnett Hodgson’s classic novel, “The Secret Garden,” rooted in the wisdom of a garden as a healing, health-restoring tonic.

In particular, I was entranced by the sheltering bowers of rhododendrons at my grandparents’ home, where I often played hide-and-seek with my siblings and cousins (all of them younger than I). Those hiding places offered quite a refreshing respite; I could get away from the fracas and daydream, yet still be part of the action.

 

Cardinal Richelieu rose, bred prior to 1847Back in 2010, work had just begun on what is now the glorious Heritage Rose Garden, in an intimate and often-overlooked corner of Elizabeth Park. Restoring the garden and replanting Elizabeth Park’s collection of old roses — and I mean old, all of them developed prior to 1867 — was the Rose-Apothecary Rosecentennial project of the Connecticut Valley Garden Club (though the actual centennial isn’t until 2017).

One of the ancient roses included is the Apothecary Rose, at right, developed before 1240 and thought to have been brought to France by a returning Crusader.

Alice Prescott Whyte, an aficionado of antique roses and author of “The Roses of Elizabeth Park,” designed the 10 raised beds in a lovely rosette pattern. Her photographs of roses are featured here. Back in 2010, when volunteers were replanting the roses and the garden still looked pretty bare, Alice told me that the popularity of contemporary Knockout roses has knocked a lot of older roses out of favor.

Rose-Camieux“We’re saving history, one rose at a time,” she said.

The Heritage Rose Garden is tucked a little bit out of sight so be sure to make a point of discovering it later this spring, when the park’s famed Rose Garden arches and beds are in full flowering glory.

For now, feast your eyes on Krystian von Speidel’s appreciation: click here.

Another Hidden Gem

hc-farmingtongarden002-jpg-20150325Meanwhile, Iris Van Rynbach writes about another hidden garden — this one in Farmington, created by landscape architect Fletcher Steele in 1954.

hc-farmingtongarden009-jpg-20150325A pioneer in landscape design, Harvard-educated Steele designed nearly 700 gardens in his career. Many were at grand estates, like the renowned gardens he designed in the 1920s at Naumkeag in Stockbridge, Mass., now a museum, with its renowned Blue Steps flanked by white birches.

hc-farmingtongarden004-jpg-20150325It was quite a coup for Stuart and Mary Smith to have the highly exacting designer transform their 1-acre yard on Main Street — which he initially derided as looking like Tobacco Road — into such a serene showplace.

Here’s a link to Iris’ story: click here.

I love the tale of how the garden was created in the 1950s by the renowned Steele, who had a fondness for martinis and a rather authoritarian streak.

And here are a lot more photos of the garden, by Mark Mirko and yours truly: click here.

Photos, from top: Heritage Rose Garden at Elizabeth Park (courtesy of Elizabeth Park).

Cardinal Richelieu, Apothecary and Camieux roses (by Alice Prescott Whyte).

Farmington garden, including view of ram’s head fountain drenched with water (all three by Mark Mirko).

 

April Is The Impatient Month

by Categorized: Garden Design, Gardening, Nature, Seasons, Vegetable Gardening Date:

stone bowlBefore you rush willy-nilly into the garden this month… the experts I talked with for my latest gardening story in the April issues of Hartford magazine and New Haven Living offer this advice: Wait.

You don’t want to compress the soil and the crowns of plants you can’t yet see by walking around on too early in the garden, or jump the gun by removing leaf debris and wind up exposing tender shoots to a late frost.

But there is a lot you can do this month to ensure a gorgeous garden ahead. Click here for the story.

Photo by Irene Jeruss / courtesy of White Flower Farm

‘I Am So Ready For Spring’

by Categorized: Flowers And Floral Design, Garden Design, Garden Ornaments, Gardening, Horticulture, Landscape Date:

2015-02-19 04.24.14The temperature was in the 20s, yet flowers were in bloom everywhere.

The Connecticut Flower & Garden Show, which opened today and runs through Sunday at the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford, comes at just the right time of year.

I overheard this refrain at least three times this afternoon: “I am so ready for Spring.”

People were out in force, shopping for vegetable seeds, garden ornaments and big bunches of pussywillow branches, checking out landscapers’ displays, picking up ideas and brochures and inspiration, and delighting in the experts’ seminars (I caught Roger Swain’s delightful and information-packed talk on “Vegetables That I Have Known & That You Will Love”).

Vendors displayed everything from fencing, fountains, peonies, pavers, jewelry, soaps, outdoor kitchens, tools and tulips to books, bonsais and butterflies.

Magic Wings Butterfly Conservatory & Gardens of South Deerfield, Mass., displayed a case filled with exquisite, fluttering butterflies from around the world, and was selling cups of tiger swallowtail and black swallowtail butterfly eggs, which will hatch when the time comes. General manager Kathy Fiore also offered information sheets on which plants will attract specific butterflies to yards in New England. She said many people had been approaching her table to talk about the plight of monarchs and the need to plant milkweed, which monarchs require to lay their eggs and which newly hatched caterpillars need to feed.

“”People are aware of it, conscientious about it,” she said. “The plight is out there.”

The lovely sound of waterfalls and water features splashed gently through a number of the 18 lush landscaping displays, including Creative Contour Landscape Design in Middletown, which took best-in-show honors for landscape design (photo at top).

Creative Contour owner Jennifer Noyes created a marvelous gazebo topped with sedum and succulents, over an inviting outdoor table. A river literally ran through it: Water flowing through a narrow trench along the middle of the length of the table then cascaded into the shallow pool surrounded by daffodils and other plantings.

“My whole goal is to make people think differently about their yards,” Noyes said.

2015-02-19 03.34.37The landscape designed by Pondering Creations in Terryville (photo above) as a rock garden packed with plants also featured little waterfalls and a pond. It was honored with the Best Horticulture Award.

And Hillside Landscaping Co. of Berlin earned the Best Design Award.

A waterwheel gently rotated through the koi pond in the display created by Comets to Koi of Branford.

2015-02-19 03.40.53And Rob Townsend, owner of Aquascapes of Connecticut in Portland, had built an Oriental azumaya, hand-cut and hand-planed, with a panel of etched glass. The display (photo above) was landscaped with tulips, Lenten roses and Japanese maples, and an unusual copper fountain sculpted like a Japanese maple shimmered with droplets of water.

The Federated Garden Clubs of Connecticut’s flower show boasted several hundred entries in a variety of categories, all with a “Ports of Call” theme —  from the “Far East” (very petite arrangements) to “Caribbean Cruise,” “Jacob’s Ladder” trained plants, “Haku Lei” floral hair wreaths, and, in keeping with weather outside the show, “Into the Arctic,” where one cool arrangement paired orchids with silvered English ivy.

2015-02-19 03.08.27In the “Coral Fringed Barbados” division, the arrangement created by Alice Luster of Country Gardeners of Glastonbury (photo above) — with Asiatic lilies, green spider chrysanthemums and dried palm fronds — had collected a number of ribbons, including first place in the design division, the Designer’s Choice Award, Terry Stoleson Award and an Award of Design Excellence.

The show continues Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For details, Click Here.

Photos on this page by Nancy Schoeffler.

For more photos at the show by Hartford Courant photographer Stephen Dunn, Click Here.

 

 

Spring Fever? Here’s An Intoxicating Cure

by Categorized: Composting, Crafts, Garden Design, Garden Ornaments, Gardening, Gardens, Horticulture, Landscape, Nature, Plants, Seasons, Vegetable Gardening, Wildlife Date:

CTFlower&GardenShowCascade“After that hard winter, one could not get enough of the nimble air.”  — Willa Cather, “My Antonia”

If you’re yearning for the intoxicating fragrances that are the very breath of spring, “the throb of it, the light restlessness, the vital essence of it everywhere” that Willa Cather so aptly described, there’s no need to feel discouraged by the mounds of snow that still abound.

The 34th annual Connecticut Flower and Garden Show opens Thursday and runs through Sunday at the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford, and while the show is not the same as an actual spring day, it does offer a tantalizing preview of springtime to come, which is particularly welcome this time of this year.

Photo SwirlThe show covers nearly 3 acres and includes 18 professionally designed gardens that cover more than an acre. Yes, these gardens are indoors, but the sights and scents are so pleasing to one’s winter-weary senses.

Nancy DuBrule-Clemente of Natureworks in North Branford said her winter-battered spirits were completely turned around when she started setting up for the show earlier this week. “Huge witch hazel trees forced into perfect bloom, piles of mulch and sod, flowering plants absolutely everywhere — my soul was soothed and I came home singing a joyful song!”

CTFlower&GardenShowFlower&FireplaceThere are more than 300 booths with displays of flowers, plants, garden ornaments, bulbs and seeds, gardening books, patio furniture and more. If you can dig beneath the snow in your yard, bring along a half-cup of soil to the UConn Cooperative Extension’s booth for a free soil test.

I always love the eye-popping creativity of the Federated Garden Clubs of Connecticut’s Advanced Flower Show — more than 250 entries that could inspire you to new heights of artistry when arranging a few flowers of your own.

And through the show there will be more than 80 hours of seminars by horticultural, garden design and gardening experts, including:

Mar Jennings on “Creating Casual Luxury in Your Home and Garden”;

Garden photographer and author Ken Druse on “Making More Plants: Propagation” and on “Natural Companions”;

Garden author and photographer Amy Ziffer of Sherman, whose “Shady Lady’s Guide to Northeast Shade Gardening” is an invaluable guide, on “Shade Revealed”;

Roger Swain, former host of “The Victory Garden” on PBS and HGTV’s “People Places & Plants on “Vegetables That I Have Known and You Will Love”;

Bob Buettner, Connecticut Florist of the Year in 2010, on “Floral Arranging”;

Organic gardener, photographer and lecturer Karen Bussolini of South Kent on “40 Great Plants for Connecticut Gardens” and “Gardens in Winter.”

The list of seminar topics goes on and on — “Create and Enhance Wildlife Habitats in Your Surroundings,” “Rain Gardens,” “Daylilies,” “America’s Romance with the English CTFlower&GardenShowDaffodilsGarden,” “Composting and Soil Health,” “Water Gardening Basics,” “Working with Wetlands on Your Property,” “Disease Control in Home Vegetable Gardens,” and many more. For the complete seminar schedule and details about the presenters, Click Here.

The seminars are included in the price of admission, which is $16 for adults, $14 for seniors age 62 and over (Thursday and Friday only); $4 for children age 5 to 12, and free for children under age 5.

Hours are Thursday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Convention Center is at 100 Columbus Blvd.

For more information and details on parking, including free parking, Click Here.

DSC05134Photos courtesy of Connecticut Flower & Garden Show

 

 

 

 

Hartford Blooms! Today Through June 29

by Categorized: Architecture, Art, Elizabeth Park, Garden Design, Gardens, Heritage, Historic Houses Date:

Hartford BloomsThis picture-perfect first day of summer is an ideal start for Hartford Blooms’ 20th anniversary extravaganza, a nine-day celebration of Hartford’s glorious gardens and architecture. Dozens of walking tours are on the schedule.

The kickoff includes guided tours of Elizabeth Park’s magnificent gardens, and later today there’s a cocktail party at Vito’s by the Park.

And weekdays, gather at the Butler-McCook House and Garden on Main Street for a reception — where plein air painters will be creating art as you watch.

Click here for the story I wrote for Hartford Magazine: http://hartfordmag.com/article-1984-hartford-blooms-the-city-in-full-flower.html

A $10 tour book serves as your ticket for all the events. Click here for complete details: http://www.hartfordblooms.org/

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Photographs via Hartford Blooms

 

 

Spring Is Just About Here

by Categorized: Composting, Do It Yourself, Elizabeth Park, Flowers And Floral Design, Garden Design, Garden Ornaments, Gardening, Gardens, Horticulture, Houseplants, Insects, Landscape Architecture, Plants, Seasons, Trees, Vegetable Gardening, Wildlife Date:

MIO5X098_7873_9Forget about that pessimistic, unreliable groundhog. The surest sign that spring is just about here is the annual Connecticut Flower & Garden Show, which runs through Sunday at the Convention Center in Hartford.

After so much snow, the fragrance of flowers and mulch is intoxicating. Booth after booth — there are more than 300 — offer ideas and information for your “Backyard Paradise,” as this year’s show is titled. And there are numerous seminars from gardening experts.

Saturday hours are 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For details:www.ctflowershow.com.

The Federated Garden Clubs of Connecticut’s juried show also is inspirational, with designs that have rhythm, movement balance, intriguing textural contrasts and some playfulness.

2014-02-19 00.54.53This medley in chartreuse (right), including papyrus, carnations, hydrangea, spider mums, lily grass, bells of Ireland, variegated aspidistra, amaranthus and steel grass, is by Amber Pratt of the Garden Club of Kensington.2014-02-19 00.53.392014-02-19 00.57.11

 

 

 

 

Carolyn Bernard of the Garden Club of Madison (above left) plays around with the idea of apples and oranges in this whimsical tabletop display, which also includes Brussels sprouts, asparagus and spray roses.

 

The dynamic swirl of birds of paradise with monstera, apidistra and sabal palm (left) is by Barbara Deysson of the Shippan Point Garden Club.

 

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The artful drama of this design (right) by Cathy Ritch of the Long Hill Garden Club in Trumbull includes anthurium in and under water in a glass globe, accented with wire mesh and blue swirls.

 

 

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Duane Luster of the Country Gardeners of Glastonbury garden club combines heliconia with philodendron, bamboo, fasciated (fantail) willow and red maple (left).

 

 

ButterflyJuried flower show photos by Nancy Schoeffler

Rice paper butterfly from Magic Wings, a Massachusetts butterfly conservatory. Photo by John Woike | The Hartford Courant.

 

Hartford Blooms: A Call For Gardens

by Categorized: Architecture, Elizabeth Park, Flowers And Floral Design, Garden Design, Gardens, Heritage, Historic Houses, Landscape Architecture Date:

The afternoon could not have been bleaker, slushier, grayer or more dismal.

But Mike McGarry, the former Hartford city councilman who founded Hartford Blooms 20 years ago, burst the afternoon drear into full blossom as he described with infectious exuberance the glorious plans Hartford Blooms has for June: a nine-day garden tour extravaganza, June 21 to 29, with garden, architecture and history tours around the city, garden lectures and evening receptions at the Butler-McCook House.

hydrangeaHartford Blooms presented a garden tour last year in the West End, and the year before on Ashley Street. This June’s event incorporates that, and so much more.

“We’re collaborating with a wide range of organizations to show how important gardening is to beautifying and unifying our city,” Mike said.

There are so many glorious gardens — private gardens, public gardens, gardens at churches, businesses and institutions — and so much outstanding architecture “right under your nose,” Mike said.

hartford bloomsRemarkably, the tour book that will be a ticket to all activities and tours over the nine days is priced at just $10.

However, some tours will have limited capacity, so it’s a good idea to purchase your book now. Make checks out to Hartford 2000 with “Hartford Blooms” in the memo line, and mail to Hartford 2000, c/o CREC, 111 Charter Oak Ave., Hartford, CT 06016.

Or stop by the booth Hartford Blooms is sharing with the Elizabeth Park Conservancy at the Connecticut Flower & Garden Show this weekend at the convention center.

Hartford Blooms also is still lining up gardens for the tours. If you’re interested in showing off your garden — whether it’s grand or just a lovely pocket garden, go to www.HartfordBlooms.org.

And here’s Mike’s op-ed in The Courant, “Hartford Blooms Sets Mega Garden Fete,” with more details: Click here.

You’ll see what I mean by infectious enthusiasm.

 

 

In The Garden With Margaret Roach: Worth Watching

by Categorized: Composting, Ecology, Garden Design, Gardening, Gardens, Insects, Nature, Weeds Date:

Margaret-Roach-and-Joe-Lampl-photo-by-Carl-PenningtonGarden writer Margaret Roach whose invaluable blog, A Way To Garden, is one of my favorites, is featured this week in public TV’s “Growing a Greener World” with Joe Lamp’l. Here’s the link.

It’s a delight to “visit” her garden — the shoot was in August — and the episode is filled with insights, on everything from how she uses gold in the garden, why she painted her house olive and red, how she keeps weeds under control, garden design with your windows in mind and much more. Joe even talks about Margaret’s composting technique: She uses a wind row.

I had the great pleasure of interviewing Margaret a few years ago about the 365-day garden and her delight in the garden in winter. Here’s a link.

M_Roach_fall-foliage-DSC_3682LLPhoto courtesy of Margaret Roach, via “Growing A Greener World”

Margaret garden winterA century-old apple tree behind Margaret Roach‘s home in Copake Falls, N.Y. is outlined in snow. Photo courtesy of Margaret Roach.