Wednesday, July 3, 2013

“Come for a walk through One Designer’s Garden....”

Susan Wheeler, a garden designer in the White Rock/South Surrey area, is writing another guest blog to-day! She uses photos from her own gardens to illustrate her ideas. She has a Garden Design business:  as well as her own blog at  Many of the plants that she recommends are available here at West Coast Gardens.
We thank Susan for sharing her expertise with us!

Come for a walk through One Designer’s Garden....

Ah, summer....! It is finally here.  And so, I invite you to take a walk through my summer gardens and let me share some of my favourite plants with you.  I hope you will enjoy your ‘walk’!

Let’s begin by focusing on one of the best plants for almost any summer garden.... the Hydrangea. I have at least one in every garden because they are such low care creatures and they keep on blooming for such a long time. And they add so much to the later summer garden. Not only that, but with the newer varieties, such as the Pee Gees or any of the Hydrangea paniculata, you can prune them down in the spring to almost any height, and they will still flower on the new wood. It used to be so difficult to keep the Hydrangeas contained because they would only flower on old wood and so, in the spring, if you felt that yours was getting way too big, you would be pruning off all of the flower buds if you started to whack it back! Not the plan you were going for...
I also love the ones that I have chosen because the whites begin to change to many shades of pink, as the season goes on.
They are so beautiful !!!

This first photo is looking across the front corner of our property and you can very easily spot those Hydrangeas! These are all Hydrangea paniculata ‘Limelight’.  Some are beginning to turn pink-ish.

Hydrangea paniculata ‘Limelight’ – definitely an attention-getter!

 Hydrangea paniculata ‘Limelight’, showing its later summer colour of soft pinks.

This Hydrangea, below, has been pruned into a standard, so that it can almost become a small tree, if you do not prune it too hard.

A Hydrangea standard, already turning to a deep pink colour.

This next Hydrangea lives in the entry garden next to what is known as the Woodland Garden.

  Another Hydrangea paniculata ‘Limelight’.

This Hydrangea paniculata, below, is also ‘Limelight’ but because it does not get as much sun, it is slower to develop and turn pink. It is planted near the street so that anyone walking by might enjoy it.

This Hydrangea is near the street where neighbours might enjoy it when they are out for a stroll....

Once again, this Hydrangea clamours for attention from the other side of the garden! It is a paricularly nice shade of soft blue.

 A pale blue Hydrangea beckons...

 Close-up of this pale blue Hydrangea.

 This is Hydrangea paniculata ‘Pinky Winky’ , below, and it is really just beginning to show some of its bright pink coloration. It develops very nicely, colour-wise, with the sedum in front.

Hydrangea ‘Pinky Winky’ is just beginning to show off its wonderful deep pink colour.

 Close-up showing the deep, rich pink of Hydrangea ‘Pinky Winky’ as the summer goes on

This next Hydrangea is the most delicate-looking of all my Hydrangeas. It seems to just float... I do not remember its name but it might be a type of Hydrangea serrata.

Such a delicate-looking Hydrangea. It drapes over our back steps leading down to the middle terrace.

After seeing all of the more open gardens that we have, I would now like you to come into the Woodland Garden.
If you were actually going through my gardens, you would notice that I do have a lot of large planters, set right into the gardens. This has been done for two reasons.... the first is that I love the surprise of the annual flowers, kept right up close, where anyone can enjoy them. Also, this way they are easy to deadhead and tidy up, without having to stand on your head to do it! These planters, below, live in my Woodland Garden, a shady, quiet spot, protected by a large pergola which provides dappled shade.

 A very large planter sits on the edge of the path in the Woodland Garden.

The second reason that I like to add very large planters to my gardens you can probably guess at. It is a great way to have just a few more interesting and colourful plants added to a small space!

This planter, below,while not as large nor as tall as some, is still easy to groom and to enjoy as here it sits at the top of the steps which lead to the lowest of the three terraces across the back. It has a large Diffenbachia, which is normally considered a houseplant, providing the focus. I alway add houseplants to my shade garden planters as they do very well as long as enough shade can be provided. The mauve flower is the shade-loving Torenia fournieri (Wishbone flower).

If you have dappled shade, use any houseplant, such as this Diffenbachia, to add colour and texture to your large containers.

This next planter sits atop a large ceramic, almost flat tray. That, in turn, sits on an open ring which is the top of a high metal stand. This planter was hand-made and it looks as if there are reeds on the edges, as they would grow by a stream.

 I follow some sort of ‘tradition’ with this planter. I always plant white Begonias in it. And, at the base, I have some Selaginella which then hides the metal ring of the stand.

Because I do not have the grounds of a large estate to play with (!!!) , I have to confine my colour choices to certain areas. This is because I find it somewhat distracting if my eye is going to many different colours that are all very close together. And so, on our terraces at the back, I have chosen the middle terrace to be the yellow and blue or purple terrace. Mixed in with many of my yellows are several pots with mainly textural plants and even a large pine tree. I feel that the green tends to ‘calm the eye’, so to speak, and focus on just a few flowers at a time. Here I have many of my pots on stands, for ease of pruning or dead-heading, but also because the metal stands can allow several different levels. Below, you can see one of my annual planters on a tall metal stand. It is filled with one of my favourites, the tuberous Begonias.

Yellow tuberous Begonias are growing in a blue pot which sits on top of a metal stand. This brings the flowers right up to your nose, almost.

I think that nothing really says summer quite like a rose. And yes, they do require some special care, but, after all, you are a gardener, are you not???? Besides, there are so many amazingly beautiful ones to choose from, so why not give them a try.
Below, here are a few of my own roses. Some have been in my gardens for almost 10 years. This first rose is ‘Sunsprite’ and it is in a very large planter on the middle ‘yellow’ terrace. It has been growing in this planter for about 9 or 10 years. It is one of the best for fragrance and it just keeps on re-blooming over the summer.

This is really one of the very best yellow roses, ever. It is ‘Sunsprite’ and I have been growing this rose for about 10 or 11 years.

This very impressive beauty, below, is one of the older ones, ‘Chicago Peace’. I don’t find that it has a great deal of fragrance but it certainly has a lot of beauty!

This is Rosa ‘Chicago Peace’ – a great beauty, I think.

And then we have a new one, at least it is new to me. It is ‘Beverly’ and it is extremely fragrant!

Rosa ‘Beverly’ – an extremely fragrant rose.

Now for something a little different...
If you have not, as yet, been introduced to this little garden gem, below, let me do the honours... This is Kalmia latifolia, (common name is Mountain Laurel). This such an underused plant, and I would like to make it known to many more homeowners and gardeners as it is quite a lovely and very beautiful flowering, as well as evergreen, shrub. What is so special about it is the way that its buds look as it they belong on a cake, as they look just like those little icing ‘flowers’. This plant comes in different sizes, as well, and would fit into many town gardens. There is K. ‘Sarah’, K. ‘Tiddlywinks’, K. ‘Elf’ and many more.
In all my years of gardening, I have only seen this plant twice in someone’s garden.
These first photos show Kalmia ‘Elf’. It is situated in front of my tall Thuja occidentalis ‘De Groot’s Spire’ (common name is Arborvitae) where the white buds show up very nicely. Once it begins to open, the companion flower, Campanula  portenschalgiana or poscharskyana (common name is Bell Flower) is also blooming.  One word of caution, however; I have found Campanula glomerata quite invasive and spreading in my gardens. But there are so many Campanula that are absolutely wonderful, such as C. ‘Blue Clips’ or C. persicifolia ‘Chettle Charm’. I hope that you might try one of these Campanula.

Kalmia latifolia, (common name is Mountain Laurel) one of the lovliest of evergreen shrubs that is, sadly, underused. This one is K. ‘Elf’.

 Kalmia latifolia with its companion flower, Campanula poscharskyana (Bell Flower). Notice how the dark green of the Thuja occidentalis ‘ De Groot’s Spire’ (Arborvitae) sets off the white flowers.

Close-up of Kalmia ‘Elf’ with a dark purple Campanula

Here is one more of these Kalmia. I think this one might be K. ‘Sarah’. I think it looks so very pretty leaning over my new rose, ‘Francis Meilland’.

Just-forming buds of a beautiful evergreen, Kalmia latifolia ‘Sarah’

The open flowers are now leaning over my newest Rose, ‘Francis Meilland’, an AARS pick (All American Rose Society), one of the best, and quite fragrant.

If any of my readers would like to continue their ‘walk’ through my gardens, please check out my own blog, at  I shall be posting the latest happenings, next week.

MY GARDENING TIP:   Well,   my garden-loving friends, do not be discouraged by this rather nasty start to our summer gardening season, what with the cold and very wet spring, and now, Bam! right into a heat wave!  because as long as you keep your gardens watered , most of the plants will be quite fine. (Just do not try to dig up and move anything in this very hot weather.) Of course, you can always plant anything that has been grown in a container or that has been a B& B plant (balled and burlapped rootball). This is a good time to take advantage of any sales right now. In fact, the plants will be much happier once they have been put into the ground, as long they have good drainage and get lots of water through this very hot spell.

Something that may be of note to my readers: several of my clients have asked me to design cards for them to send out to friends, etc. that are a bit more personal, rather than sending all their messages through email.
I have now done several and they are now available. They have my own ‘Garden Glimpses’ or close-ups of some of my flowers on the front and my logo on the back and they say, “Thank You”, “Happy Day”, “Thinking of You” and even “With Deepest Sympathy”. They are reasonably priced at $3.99 plus S&H. If you would like to learn more, or see what they look like, click here 

Well, good-bye for a short while at least, as West Coast Gardens is soon closing for the rest of the summer, but they will be open again before you know it!

Cheers, and Happy Gardening,

Susan Wheeler
Green Design Gardens
South Surrey, B.C.
tel: 604-542-1960
see Latest Book at:
”Close your eyes and see the beauty” – Author Unknown

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

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