Splendor in the Grass…

Flying in the face of the blizzard, I am posting some garden pics. Gardening is now my livelihood which is great as my obsession was growing way to big for my backyard ;).  Enjoy!!

The design below was a lot of fun as the owner was a knowledgeable garden lover. His garden was a tribute to his deceased parents and wife which had gotten way too overgrown for him to tend to. They planted many of the flowers we removed but it was time. People always ask me for no maintenance specimens and what they fail to realize is that there really is no such thing. Nature, when left to it’s own devices, will inevitably become unmanageable because a plant’s cells NEVER stop dividing. In the home garden environment, humans have to impose control or be prepared for the inevitable spread that results. Perennials should be divided every 3 years but that’s gravy for the home propagator as it just gives you MORE plants. Evergreens require a special kind of pruning so you should either (a) be cognizant of space constraints or (b) be prepared to prune yearly. Trees require the least maintenance once established but I am sure you have all seen the havoc which ensues when a tree is put in the wrong place. My professors constantly tell us, “Planting the right plant in the right place is much easier than having to relocate or baby a plant that was planted in the wrong environmental conditions or has limited space.” Research, then purchase. Just a word to the wise. 

Mr. S. wanted unique specimens and year round color. I was honored that he chose us to gut and redesign his little garden oasis and had more fun than one should have when getting paid lol.

 Since his property is shady in the front, I gave him one of the most beautiful shade evergreens, Tsuga Canadensis (Weeping Hemlock). To truly appreciate this specimen you have to see it in it’s prime. After several years, it grows wider and more pendulous, resembling a weeping fountain of delicate green (fantastic texture). It is paired with Variegated azaleas in the back, Upside Down Pineapple Cake Hostas, Silver Pewter Heuchera, Lady Ferns and a Pygmy Barberry. I can’t forget the Helleborus which are such a unique and interesting evergreen. The variety I used was the Lenten Rose, absolutely gorgeous in bloom. The little plot on the side of the house now has Bunny Grass and Autumn Joy Sedum for Summer coloration and winter interest.

On the left side, were these straggly, non-descript bushes being completely overshadowed by a shade tree so they had to go.

The bed right next to the fence is cool because it is actually a berm. The soil level was raised about 2′ above ground level before planting to raise the plant level and avoid the tree roots. When the plants mature, you will see the beauty and diversity of this small bed. It contains Burgundy colored Astilbe, can’t recall the name but the blooms are dark and rich and the leaves also become tinged with red. It is paired with Lady Ferns, Anemone Tomentosa Robustissima, “Bressingham Ruby” Bergenia, Epimedium Rubrum and a Oakleaf Hydrangea Shrub. The Bergenia and Epimedium are uncommon perennials and quite gorgeous in their own right. The Bergenia has shiny green and red foliage which is topped by small, hot pink flowers in Spring. It’s common name is Pigsqueak for the sound that the leaves make when they rub together lol. The Oakleaf Hydrangea is renowned for its new foliage which comes in a pale green, contrasting with the darker leaves, distinctively lobed foliage and huge conical blooms that age to a dusky rose. The blooms provide winter interest as they last and last. We kept the Bridal Wreath Spirea bush and just trimmed it back since it is wonderfully floriferous. Hint: These plants should be pruned back hard after blooming to retain their vigor and kept to a reasonable size.

Before pics of the backyard, a real jungle…

And voila….

We left the original Rose bush as it was planted by his father and only needed to be rejuvenated. The centerpiece is a Peony surrounded by Gardenias, Variegated Irises and Lavender.  

 The shrub by the fence is a Variegated Dogwood planted with a series of grasses, Miscanthus Sinesis, is a favorite of mine for its contrast and movement. Forgive the grass as it was in the process of going dormant due to the heat wave.

This baby is a Norway Weeping Spruce. It is gorgeous at any time of the year and the new cones come in purple in Spring, the coolest thing I’ve ever seen.


Cedrus Deodora which is a gorgeous blue and grows very slowly becoming more prostrate with age. Love the Dixie pink rocks!!



Shrubs: Nellie R. Stevens Holly, Dwarf Hinoki Cypress, Golden Barberry, Dwarf Lilac. Not in the pic are the Diablo Ninebark, Redtwig Dogwood and Midnight Duchess Lacecap Hydrangea. Bed Perennials: Blue Fescue Grass, Variegated Irises and Heuchera. I threw in some Miscanthus Grass for contrast and movement as well.

As any gardener knows, the costs can quickly add up when purchasing so much material so we left in his azaleas and pruned them back hard. The plants look a bit stressed but will fare much better next year as they were installed during the heat wave when temps went as high as 105 degrees. Geez Louise! Thank goodness we only lost two to transplant shock. I LOVE MY JOB when its not snowing 😉

For the Plantaholics, please see www.monrovia.com for selections and care info.


2 thoughts on “Splendor in the Grass…”

  1. When you say, “It can be hard for me to see…” Do you mean what the garden will look like at maturity? I assume so and can only say that it is a learned skill. I have been studying Horticulture for awhile and they have impressed that upon me. I have only been gardening for 1o yrs so I suppose I am still a newbie lol. A lot of Landscapers have a really cool software that allows them to show you how a design will look in 2, 5 or 10 years which is a great tool for visualization etc. Send you a sample if you are interested.

    We handle the maintenance for the property as well so I will have the pleasure of seeing it next year. I applied compost, bio-stimulants, installed a sprinkler system with fertigation (liquid fertilizer) capability so I CAN’T wait to see how it will look next year. Should be all lush and gorgeous 🙂

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