Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Garden Design Details

Susan Wheeler,  a garden designer in the White Rock/South Surrey area, is writing a guest blog today! The photos of her own gardens show many of the plants that are available here at West Coast Gardens.  She has a garden design business: www.greendesign-gardenstolivein.com, as well as her own blog at www.greengardeningtips.net. We thank Susan for sharing her expertise with us!

Stop... and see the Details!

For anyone who loves design and colour, especially in the garden, late winter and early spring can be the most enjoyable time of all. Yes, I know the weather is not all that wonderful, but living on this West Coast we can usually find a few sunny days to wander through our gardens and see what is happening. Whenever I am out in my gardens at this time of year, even if I have to wear waterproof gear and carry an umbrella, I am so happy to see ‘old friends’ returning.’ And so today, I would like to share these images of the beginnings of some of the most beautiful plants and flowers that grow here. I am hoping that you gardeners and plant lovers will look closely to find these small details which are the start of a whole new season.
These first two photos below, show a ‘curtain’ of new leaves (needles) on the Larix kaempferi ‘Pendula’, (Weeping Larch). These new leaves are very interesting, and you will miss their emergence if you do not look for it early. Before you know it, all of the needles are out, once again. It is the only conifer that loses its needles in the winter, and like many of our evergreen plants, it prefers a soil that is somewhat acidic. It likes moisture as well and is a very neat and tidy plant. Mine has its roots a bit constricted because of where it is growing and this seems to be keeping it at a very manageable size. By the time the needles have completely emerged, the white Hellebore which is growing beside the Larch, in a large wooden planter, has begun to turn a lovely shade of green which matches the Heuchera at the base so nicely. It is Heuchera ‘Hercules’, I think. (Common name is Coral Bells). Other Heucheras that would look good with this grouping are H.‘Green Spice’, H. ‘Mint Frost’ or H. ‘Snowfire’.

The emerging needles of this Larix kaempferi ‘Pendula’ (Larch) are a most striking shade of spring green and they look like a living ‘curtain’ for the Hellebores, behind them.

 Hellebores and Heucheras combine as one 
interesting planter look in early spring.

This next little surprise is the beginning of a lovely rose and I was so interested to note that the beautiful spring-green of its leaves, which look so soft and almost curling have, in contrast, the sharp thorns. Quite a combo!

What a contrast.... the soft curling leaf of the Rose, 
with a sharp thorn in the background!

Simple Beauty...

I find that my Woodland Garden holds the greatest ‘finds’ for me. The Trilliums begin pushing up quite early, as do theHostas and the Arisaemas. Below, up come the buds of a white Trillium.

 The Trilliums are just now waking up in my Woodland Garden.

Whenever I see this lovely Woodland flower, it reminds me 
of happy times, playing with my friends when I was very young.

Now the leaves and bright blue flowers of the Brunnera macrophylla (Common name is Siberian Bugloss) are already bursting out. These blue flowers of Brunnera macrophylla (Common name is Siberian Bugloss) resemble Forget-me-nots but do not have the troublesome habit of seeding themselves everywhere. These plants are grown for their patterned leaves, and my favourites are Brunnera ‘Looking Glass’ and B. ‘Jack Frost’. Although, I must admit that I also love the white flowers of B. Mr. Morse and B. ‘Hadspen Cream’, as well. The leaves of B. ‘Hadspen Cream’ are quite variegated, white or cream and green. I have found that these plants can manage very well near tree roots and they need shade from the hot sun. If you have not tried this plant before, and you are lucky enough to have some shade, do try one of these. I highly recommend them and then, next spring, you will have the pleasure of greeting it early, just as I do each year.

 Here come the new flower buds and patterned leaves of Brunnera 
macrophylla ‘Looking Glass’ (Common name is Siberian Bugloss).

Always such a cheery site every spring, these blue flowers resemble the
 flowers of the ‘Forget-me-not, but do not seed so prolifically.

While I do love to see my small Woodland Garden plants begin to break through the soil, still my greatest pleasure at this time of year is to reach down and lift up the heads of my many Hellebores. There is often such a surprise, as they keep their heads down, and sometimes you will not even see all of their special beauty, hiding. If you can plant them somewhere high, such as I have done with many of mine all across my back terraces, you will be able to see their faces much easier. But, even so, it is such a treat to lift them up and be completely surprised, year after year! I just love them! For example, look at this little face, growing beside the Woodland Garden path. I lifted up this flower head and rested it on another, in order to be able to enjoy its beauty whenever I walk by.

 This lovely Hellebore is growing by the path in my Woodland Garden. 
Care must be taken not to step on it!

 This particular Hellebore has one of the most interesting 
‘Elizabethan Collars’ that I have ever seen....

Last week I bent down and discovered these almost ‘alien-looking’ fiddleheads starting to unfurl. Beautiful! Who would ever guess, unless you knew, of course, that these ‘creatures’ would develop into such incredible fern fronds, below.

Who says we haven’t been invaded by Aliens?

Oh, I guess we’re safe, after all.... its just a fern! But what a beauty!

What would you say this next photo below, might promise? This is the beginning of my most beautiful Hydrangea of all time. It is Hydrangea quercifolia, the Oak-leaf Hydrangea and I wish that I had paid more attention to which cultivar it was when I bought it! I have never seen one so ‘double’ since. Whenever I take a photo of it, it seems to be almost out of focus, but it is really just so unusually full that it appears this way. It lives at the end of my Woodland Garden, right next to the “girl watering the gardens” figure, in the far corner.

The beginnings of my most beautiful Hydrangea quercifolia.

These flowers are so very full that they almost appear to be ‘out of focus’, 
even when you are standing right in front of them yourself!

Notice the girl pouring water, at the end of the garden.

And then there are the special yellow Hellebores.... It is hard to find a really good yellow Hellebore, but I think that this one, Helleborus ‘Sally’ is the best. I bought it in memory of a very loving and special friend who is dearly missed. I have planted it in the ‘Yellow Garden’ at the front of the house, next to similarly coloured perennials and shrubs.

This special Hellebore ‘Sally’ will always remind me of my dear friend. 
As beautiful in spirit as this flower is.

Plant like coloured plants near on another. This brings harmony to your 
gardens. The brightly coloured plant in the foreground is a Euphorbia 
which puts out its bracts in the spring.

 In a very large planter, which sits right in the garden, I have planted a perennial yellow Anemone which will return each year. Once it has finished flowering, the large Hydrangea which also lives in this planter, has variegated yellow and green leaves, and will be about ready to show its yellow colour, as well. I think its name is Hydrangea ‘Lemon Drop’.

Now this next plant below, can be so easily passed by without notice, as it starts out so inconspicuously. But, if you take the time to bend down and really look at it, you will certainly see something very unique! This is one of my Arisaemas ( common name is Jack-in-the-Pulpit) and it is so cool. As a kid I can remember finding these in the woods back in Ontario, but of course now there are so many different cultivars. Below, you will see two that grow in my shade garden. The first one is just now trying to get its leaves free and up and out! The second one has the lovely black stripes down its back. Put these in the shade, for sure.
Sometimes these little ‘jewels’ can very easily get stepped on instead of admired! In my Woodland Garden I have to put green bamboo stakes in a teepee formation over all of my small perennials that disappear over the winter. Otherwise, it is just too easy to tread on their little heads in the spring, and then it can pretty much destroy all of their emerging leaves. And so, my GARDENING TIP today, is to make sure that you do mark where they are this autumn, before they go back down into the soil and disappear.

Whatever can this be?

Why, of course it must be an Arisaema! The common name is 
‘Jack-in-the –Pulpit. Can you guess why?

Here is another of those very unusual Arisaemas. 
This one has such striking black stripes.

And finally, the Star of our spring gardens, surely. The Rhododendron.... I always feel somewhat in awe when I look at this small, beautiful bud and recognize all the promise that it holds. Sort of amazing, don’t you think? This is Rhododendron ‘Ken Janeck’, one of the Yakushimanum types and it is dependably lovely all the year through, but especially in the spring, of course!

What a lovely promise this bud holds.

This is Rhododendron ‘Ken Janeck’, one of the best performing 
Rhodos I have ever grown. It has Yakushimanum in its parentage 
and that accounts for a lot of its good behaviour!

I do hope that many of you might still have an opportunity to get outside (take your umbrella with you!!) and look for the wonderful beginnings of a new and most interesting season in our gardens. What could you want to do that would ever be more important than loving the promises of spring?

And remember, if you need a bit of guidance, call me for a consultation. We can even go shopping together, right here at West Coast Gardens!

One last thought.... if any of my readers would like to suggest topics, broad or specific, please don’t hesitate to do so. I will try to do my best to accommodate your requests.  You can also ask to be notified of my new blog posts. Just go to this link: http://www.greendesign-gardenstolivein.com/html-contact-form.php.  

And, if you might be interested in even more “details” to look for this spring, check out my own Blog at www.greengardeningtips.net as I plan to have even more ideas and photos to share, from my own gardens.

Susan Wheeler

NOTE: all photos and text in this website/blog are copyrighted and may not be used without the written permission of Susan Wheeler.