Saturday, June 28, 2014

The Four Seasons of Gardening-Garden Design

As a gardener and designer who lives in the northeast I give extra special attention to creating a landscape that will supply interest throughout all of the four seasons.  After determining  function, such elements as structure, form, color, foliage and texture need to be taken into consideration when planning a landscape.
The first main element I consider is structure.  Structure is important in the garden because it serves as a framework for the design.  Structural elements can be either plant material or hardscape. The use of evergreens or landscape plants with interesting bark or trunk formation can provide interest as well as functional elements such as patios, pathways, garden benches or water features.  In the above perennial garden, Blue Montgomery Globe Spruce overlooks the main garden adding vertical interest while Juniperus ‘Blue Star’, Spirea ‘Goldflame’, Dwarf Fountain Grass and perennial Lamb’s Ear serve as a framework or anchors for the garden bed in winter. I have also added a few pieces of moss rock here and there to add some additional interest and dimension.  When discussing form and function consider the purpose you would like your landscape to achieve. If it is a quiet place you desire then perhaps adding a small stone patio and/or garden bench could create a peaceful retreat. If looking to attract wildlife then a birdbath or feeder could also be an addition or possibly a garden statue could provide some whimsy! 
Color plays an important role and is more difficult to achieve in winter. Plant perennials that complement one another (warm and cool hues) and that have varying bloom times.  Add colorful shrubs such as Barberry and Gold Mop Cypress for additional interest. Take into consideration the fact that foliage and bloom colors of perennials and shrubs do change with each season. The idea is to disperse color equally among the four seasons. Elements such as Dwarf Fountain Grass provide greenery in spring throughout summer and a take on a bronze appearance in fall and winter. Fall foliage on such perennials as Astilbe and Daylily turn a vibrant orange and gold while Hosta leaves turn a bright yellow. Lamb’s Ear is a discovery I made years ago.  Its soft white foliage can be seen along the garden border every season of the year and its pink flower spikes add extra interest in the summer.  In the winter months the blue evergreens such as Montgomery Spruce and Blue Star Juniper along with golden evergreens (Gold Mop Cypress and Gold Lace Juniper), Dwarf Fountain Grasses and Lamb’s Ear give just enough interest to get through those cold and snowy days.
Without blooms texture becomes the primary design element. Texture refers to the size, shape, coarseness or smoothness of foliage and plays along with structure. Some plants known for texture are Hosta, Heuchera, Daylily, and ornamental grasses. The incredible large and colorful foliage of Heuchera(Coral Bells) and graceful fronds of Daylily complement the broad veined variegated leaves of Hosta and narrow wispy blades of dwarf fountain grasses. The feathery foliage of Astilbe and the elongated smooth foliage of Lamb's ear make a great combination as well. Even the dried seed heads and stalks of saliva rise up above the garden to create landing pads for dragonflies in the fall.  Deciduous shrubs such as spirea and barberry add interesting foliage in spring, summer and fall and provide structure in winter. Add some evergreens which play an integral part in adding all the elements of structure, color, form and foliage to the landscape for all of the four seasons.  
Evergreens can be found in a variety of colors ranging from golds to blues and greens and textures ranging from broad-leaved evergreens to fine-needled varieties. They can also take on a variety of forms including rounded, horizontal or spreading, vertical and weeping. These elements can be placed accordingly to add width or height to a garden.  In this case the grafted Montgomery Globe Spruce provides a vertical element in the garden.  'Blue Star' Juniper, Spirea and Dwarf Fountain Grasses anchor each side of the garden bed and show continuity, uniformity and balance. Lamb's Ear frames the front of the perennial area. Looking further you can view Weeping Pussy Willow and Arborvitae (vertical) with Gold Mop Cypress and Barberry (Medium height and horizontal). That upper and lower sections of the garden have more detailed structure with evergreens and flowering shrubs with the perennial garden in the center.
COLOR, FORM & STRUCTURE: Evergreens provide form in winter landscape, Structure of Japanese Maple Trunk, Color of Coral Bark Maple Bark in winter, Changing Colors of Spirea Foliage

In the above photograph evergreens provide form and structure in the winter landscape, the twisting structure of a Weeping Japanese Maple trunk provides interest while the tree is dormant, the vibrant red bark of the Japanese Coral Bark Maple (Sango Kaku) provides structure and color in winter, and the changing blooms and foliage of Spirea are turning a deep pink in fall.  A garden is constantly changing and can be enjoyed all year round with some basic elements of structure, form and color. Creating an all-season landscape can be accomplished by following the design principles discussed here and guaranteed your garden will have something to offer every day of the year!

As Always...Happy Gardening!

Author: Lee@ A Guide to Northeastern Gardening.  All rights reserved 2014.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day & Foliage Follow-Up June 2014: Long Island Garden and 150th Post!

Welcome to another Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day and Foliage Follow-Up in my Long Island garden and my 150th post!  There can be something said for a bitter cold winter with abundant snow.  The blooms are more vibrant than I can remember or maybe I'm just appreciating them more after the never ending winter and late arrival of spring.  The temperatures have now worked their way up into the mid to upper 70's with a couple of days soaring right up into the 80's.  Spring has sprung and the gardens are putting on quite a display of color. Come along with me for a tour of my June garden.
Peony 'Karl Rosenfeld'

I am enjoying my new macro lens and was always amazed as to how photographers can get images of a bee in flight.  I was delighted to get this shot and excited to see what else this lens is capable of.
Hybrid Itoh Peony 'Bartzella'

This is my newest addition to the garden...Itoh Peony 'Bartzella'.  An established Spirea 'Gold Flame' had expired after this past brutal winter and I had a pretty decent sized spot for something new.  I planted a trio of these beauties and they just keep on blooming.  I have heard that they can produce hundreds of blooms in succession for up to a month once established (see last post) and am looking forward to even more of a display next year!

Peony 'Karl Rosenfeld'

'Karl Rosenfeld' is a peony I have had for many years now also in a grouping of three.  I look forward to the beginning of every June for its blooms to start.  You can see another photo of the new hybrid peony below.  I couldn't resist sneaking in one more photo after the rain had landed gently upon it.

Raindrops on Hybrid Itoh Peony 'Bartzella'

Around the corner and along the fence the Japanese Iris are in full bloom and the Bearded Iris will follow.  These iris have been here since I was a young girl and spark fond memories.  My mom had planted them and had enjoyed them for years.

Japanese Iris
 Alchemilla Morris (Lady's Mantle) is another new addition to my front yard island bed.  I had always admired the foliage of this beauty and finally got some of my own.
Alchemilla Mollis (Lady's Mantle)

I am enjoying the yellow blooms as well.

Stachys (Lambs Ear)
The macro lens is coming in handy as we tour the gardens.  Here is Lamb's Ear close up...
Salvia 'May Night' and Stachys (Lambs Ear)
and here is the Lamb's Ear with a backdrop of purple 'May Night' Salvia.
Salvia 'May Night'

Did someone say purple...well here's some more!  It's just seems so much more vibrant this year.
Spirea Double Play 'Big Bang'
The Spirea Double Play Big Bang is starting its show again on the front island. It has been performing well after being planted last season and the foliage has already changed from a bright pinkish-red hue to now a golden-lime color with blooms on the way.
Viburnum 'Summer Snowflake'

In the back yard shadier area is Viburnum 'Summer Snowflake', always reliable with its pretty snow white blooms in star shaped clusters.
Salvia 'May Night'
The Salvia is outstanding this season after the long cold winter and twice the size it normally is with abundant blooms.  Here is another grouping too purple to pass up!
Double Red Knock Out Rose
Here are the Knock Out Roses...also doing well after the cold winter.
 Evergreen and Perennial Garden

The Nepeta 'Walkers Low' next to the roses is in full bloom as well. 
Golden Oriental 'Skylands' Spruce and Barberry Foliage Combo
Now lets talk foliage.  Here is a foliage combination of golden evergreen 'Skylands' Spruce along with Barberry 'Royal Burgundy'.
Spirea 'Goldmound', Variegated Hosta, Heuchera and Nepeta Combo
As we pass back around to the side gardens there is a combination of Spirea 'Goldmound',  Nepeta 'Walkers Low', Heuchera 'Palace Purple' and Variegated Hosta.
'Buttercup' Hosta Lime Foliage
This is Hosta 'Buttercup' it for its lime green foliage.
Foliage and Blooms:  Weeping Blue Atlas Cedar, Barberry, Gold Mop Cypress, Heuchera and Salvia

In the back island bed you are viewing a combination of foliage and blooms.  The Dwarf Butterfly Bush in the immediate front will bloom later on this summer.  For now the color is supplied by the evergreens, Barberry 'Rosy Glow', Heuchera 'Caramel' and Salvia 'May Night'.  
Foliage Combo:  Weeping Japanese Maple. Japanese Garden Juniper and Heuchera 'Caramel'
Now...around to the pool...and to the pink roses.
Double Pink Knock Out Rose
As we circle around here is the perennial border by the back patio area...
Blooms and Foliage:  Lamb's Ear, Salvia, Astilbe, Hosta, Blue Spruce, Gold Mop Cypress & Peony

and finally our tour ends with the patio planter with a foliage combination of Coleus and Sweet Potato Vine.
Foliage Combo: Coleus and Sweet Potato Vine Patio Planter
I hope you enjoyed the walk through my June gardens.  Please visit our hostesses Carol at May Dreams Gardens for Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day and Pam at Digging for Foliage Follow-Up.   I am also linking up to Creative Country Mom's new Home Sweet Garden Party. Thank you for the visit and if you leave a note I will know you dropped by to say hello and I will be sure to visit you as well!  

As Always...Happy Gardening!

Author: Lee@A Guide To Northeastern Gardening, Copyright 2014. All rights reserved

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Feature Spring Perennial: Hybrid Peony: Itoh Paeonia 'Bartzella'-A True Beauty!

Paeonia x 'Bartzella'
I came across a new hybrid variety of Paeonia called Itoh Peony 'Bartzella' this past week and thought it was definitely worth sharing the information I found on it.  As an avid gardener and designer I was thrilled to find this yellow beauty to fill a void in my garden where the past harsh winter had severely damaged an established spirea. Itoh Peonies are hybrids created from a blend of woody Tree Peonies and herbaceous Garden Peonies. The plant is named after the Japanese breeder Mr.Toichi Itoh who created the first hybrid. The first successful cross was made in 1948 but this cultivar is considered to be relatively new.  The enormous double blossom flowers on this plant are breathtaking and resemble that of tree peonies but have the expanded color range of garden peonies. Their stems are sturdy like those of a tree peony and will support the weight of the unusually large blooms that appear in late spring. Itoh Peonies are hardy in zones 4-9, grow to a height of 30-36 inches and once established have an extended bloom time in succession for up to a month. 
Paeonia x 'Bartzella'
Plant Itoh Paeonia 'Bartzella' in full sun and in a moist, well-drained soil.  Keep them evenly moist to establish a deep, extensive root system but do not over water.  As blooms fade remove faded flowers to encourage new blooms.  After blooming, the dark green foliage of this hybrid peony resembles that of Tree Peony and adds interest to the garden well into fall. At the end of the season cut back stalks and cover with a thin layer of mulch as you would treat any herbaceous peony to protect the roots. Paeonia 'Bartzella' serve beautifully as a single focal point or as a mass planting and fit into a large range of garden styles including perennial borders, foundation plantings and cottage gardens.  As an added bonus Paeonia 'Bartzella' are also disease resistant, deer resistant, low maintenance and long-lived... hands down a winner!

As Always...Happy Gardening! 

       Author: Lee@A Guide To Northeastern Gardening, Copyright 2014. All rights reserved.