A Moment of Verdant Bliss

July 16th, 2015 § 4 comments § permalink

IMG_5596.JPG Cool, lush, verdant: a moment of mid-summer bliss in the Secret Garden

It’s been an incredibly rewarding, but also a busy and stressful week at my studio. I bite my nails when anxiety rises and I know that worrying about tomorrow robs me of today. Gardening has taught me to slow down and stay in the moment. After an hour or two of weeding therapy, I realize that I’m exactly where I need to be, right now.

  IMG_1924.JPGJapanese Painted Fern (Athyrium nipponicum ‘Pictum’) & Astilbe ‘Europa’ (A. arendesii), beside the Secret Garden water bowl

Photography & Text ⓒ  Michaela Medina Harlow/The Gardener’s Eden. All photographs, artwork, articles and content on this site (with noted exceptions), are the original, copyrighted property of Michaela Medina Harlow and/or The Gardener’s Eden and may not be reposted, reproduced or used in any way without prior written consent. Contact information is in the left side bar. Please do not take my photographs without permission. Thank you!

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Enkianthus campanulatas ‘Red Bells’ Rings with Rosy, Late Spring Blossoms & Glorious Beauty Beyond Bloom . . .

June 7th, 2013 § 2 comments § permalink

Enkianthus_ campanulatas_Red_Bells_michaela_medina_harlow_thegardenerseden.com Enkianthus campanulatas ‘Red Bells’ with Baptisia australis, blooming in the background

June is a fantastic month for flowers. Everywhere you look —from sunny meadows to shady nooks— something seems to be blooming. At this time of year, many gardeners spend their weekend hours strolling through nursery rows, choosing blooming plants based upon their flower color. This is a tried and true method for selecting optimal bloom-time combinations, however, because most gardeners shop exclusively in spring and early summer, many gardens look great in June, but then fizzle out by early July. I like to encourage my clients to look beyond the beauty of May-June flowers; planning monthly, inspirational visits to nurseries and botanical gardens, straight through October. Keep in mind that as beautiful as they are in bloom, the majority of trees and shrubs in a well-designed garden should offer more than a brief, 1-2 week flowering period. When I plan gardens for my clients, I look for trees, shrubs and perennial plants with beauty-beyond-bloom; offering form, foliage (especially those with dramatic fall foliage), and structure, as well as gorgeous flowers.

Enkianthus_campanulatus_'Red_Bells'_with_Baptisia_australis_in_June_Rain_michaela_medina_harlow_thegardenerseden.com I love the way Red Bells Enkianthus (Enkianthus campanulatus ‘Red Bells’) catch raindrops and blend beautifully with the blue and violet springtime hues in gardens

Take Red Bells Enkianthus (Enkianthus campanulatas ‘Red Bells’), for example. Native to Japan, the beautiful, red-pink blossoms of this lovely shrub —opening in late May here in Vermont—  attract pollinators —such as hummingbirds, butterflies and bees— and the tiny bell shaped flowers last well into the middle of June. Even after the flowers fade, Red Bells Enkianthus’ shiny, green leaves and its pleasing form offer a verdant backdrop for flowering perennials and foliage plants throughout the growing year. But the real bonus comes in autumn, when the leaves turn brilliant color; with hues ranging from red-orange to sizzling scarlet. Frosted with ice and fresh snow, the delicate twigs even look lovely in early winter.

Enkianthus_campanulatas-Red-Bells-leaf-ⓒ-michaela-medina-thegardenerseden1 Late October Enkianthus campanulatus ‘Red Bells’ foliage in my Vermont garden

Hardy in USDA zones 4a-7b, Red Bells Enkianthus is a medium-sized garden shrub; with a mature size of 6-8′ high and 4-6′ wide. This ericaceous plant prefers moist, woodsy, acidic soil and partially shady to mostly sunny locations. Great in combination with spring-flowering perennials and bulbs —particularly in blue-violet and clear yellow colors— I also like to position Red Bells Enkianthus near indigo, purple and blue fall bloomers and shrubs or perennial plants with maroon, burgundy or gold hued fall foliage. Used as a knock-out, solitary specimen or clustered in a group for an informal hedge, Enkianthus’ three-season beauty can bring bold color to a shady garden and lend a cooling hand to a sunny spot. It’s a great choice for extending beauty-beyond-bloom in your garden design.

Garden Design: Michaela Medina Harlow

Photography & Text ⓒ Michaela Medina Harlow/The Gardener’s Eden. All images, articles and content on this site (with noted exceptions), are the original, copyrighted property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be reposted, reproduced or used in any way without prior written consent. Contact information is in the left side bar. Please do not take my photographs without asking first. Thank you! 

Do you enjoy The Gardener’s Eden? You can help support this site by shopping through affiliate links. A small percentage of each sale will be paid to this site, helping to cover web hosting and maintenance costs. Thank you so much for your support!

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Time for Maytime Magic & Wonder . . .

May 28th, 2013 § Comments Off on Time for Maytime Magic & Wonder . . . § permalink

Sunrise_Silverbells_(Halesia_tetraptera)_Michaela_Medina_Harlow_thegardenerseden.com Maytime Magic: Waking Up to Sunlit Silverbells in the Bedroom Window, Eagerly Anticipating an Unstructured Day

With cold temperatures and rainy days squeezing an already tight work schedule, finding time to enjoy my own garden can be a challenge at this time of year. Busy creating outdoor spaces for others —with a growing backlog of projects and deadlines to meet— it’s essential to recharge my creative batteries. I promise myself Sunday and Monday rest; tending to my garden’s maintenance on off-days. More often than not though, this year Mother Nature seems to have other ideas; late frosts, torrential rains and damaging winds. Finally, at the end of a raw, wet weekend, she decided to grant me my wish… A glorious, golden day in the garden.

This is my eden; a secret sanctuary where I seek fresh inspiration and refill my well . . .

Blossom_Strewn_Table_on_the_Terrace_Michaela_Medina_Harlow_thegardenerseden.com Seduced by the Warm Light and the Song Sparrow’s Springtime Serenade 

Sunlit_Terrace_with_Silverbell_Blossoms_in_May_Michaela_Medina_Harlow_thegarderseden.com We Accept Our Invitation to Breakfast Alfresco on the Blossom-Stewn Terrace, Beneath the Sun-Drenched Silverbell Boughs

Blossom_Strewn_Terrace_Michaela_Medina_Harlow_thegardenerseden.com Drinking in this Moment of Purest, Springtime Perfection

Camassia_quamash_in_Full_Bloom_Michaela_Medina_Harlow_thegardenerseden.com  And Later, Perhaps a Walk Through the Meadow, Swaying with Blue-Violet Camassia Blossoms (Camassia quamash)

Secret_Garden_May_Sunset_2013_ Michaela_Medina_Harlow_thegardenerseden.comAnd Later, a Stroll through the Secret Garden —Long Afternoon Shadows Slipping Through Pathways— Fragrant with Wild, Woodland Phlox (Phlox divaricata) and Daphne (D. x burkwoodii ‘Carol Mackie)

Prince_Pickerel_in_the_Secret_Garden_michaela_medina_harlow_thegardenerseden.com  Where We’ll Rendezvous with Prince Pickerel —Resident Royal of the Secret Garden— Just Recently Returned to His Summertime Throne, Beside the Stone Door

Magical_May_Secret_Garden_Path_michaela_medina_harlow_thegardenerseden We Won’t Hurry, Instead, Lingering Long on the Phlox-Lined Path (P. divaricata)

Fothergilla_major_Mt._Airy_in_Afternoon_Sunlight_michaela_medina_harlow_thegardenerseden.comWatching as the Witch Alder (Fothergilla major ‘Mt. Airy’), Catches Fire in Afternoon Sunlight, Dizzy with Drunken Honeybees

Secret_Garden_Steps_May_2013_Michaela_Medina_Harlow_thegardenerseden.comLater, as Evening Moves in —Forest Echoing with Birdsong– We’ll Wander Up the Stairs, Back Onto the Terrace

Halesia_tetraptera_Blossoms_Upon_a_Rainy_Evening_Michaela_Medina_Harlow_thegardenerseden.comSipping Wine Beneath the Blossoms, Long into the Late May Evening

Garden Design: Michaela Medina Harlow

Photography & Text ⓒ Michaela Medina Harlow/The Gardener’s Eden. All images, articles and content on this site (with noted exceptions), are the original, copyrighted property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be reposted, reproduced or used in any way without prior written consent. Contact information is in the left side bar. Please do not take my photographs without asking first. Thank you! 

Do you enjoy The Gardener’s Eden? You can help support this site by shopping through affiliate links. A small percentage of each sale will be paid to this site, helping to cover web hosting and maintenance costs. Thank you so much for your support!

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Sunlit Saffron, Rose & Brilliant Bronze: Fleeting Moments of Garden Beauty…

October 25th, 2012 § Comments Off on Sunlit Saffron, Rose & Brilliant Bronze: Fleeting Moments of Garden Beauty… § permalink

A Moment’s Reflection and I’m Off to Work, Through the Secret Garden Door

My garden misses me, and I miss my garden. Autumn days are growing shorter, and with so many projects to finish before the ground freezes, I only have time to catch a glimpse of her sunlit beauty on the way to and from work. And oh, the low, golden light is so spectacular at this time of year… Don’t you wish we could bottle a bit and pull it out on one of February’s most dismal days?

So sorry for my absence, friends! Things have been a bit hectic, but I will be back soon to catch up …

Burnt Orange & Sunlit Saffron: The Blue Green Dragon is Breathing Fire at the Secret Garden Door (Acer palmatum x dissectum ‘Seiryu’)

Golden Silverbell Leaves, Scattered About the Table On A Frosty Morn

Cold Roses (Rosa de Rescht)

Secret Garden Design & Installation: Michaela Medina Harlow

Stonework by Dan Snow

Photography and Text ⓒ Michaela Medina/The Gardener’s Eden. All images, articles and content on this site (with noted exceptions), are the original, copyrighted property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be reposted, reproduced or used in any way without prior written consent. Contact information is in the left side bar. Please do not take my photographs without asking first. Thank you! 

Do you enjoy The Gardener’s Eden? You can help support this site by shopping through affiliate links. A small percentage of each sale will be paid to this site, helping to cover web hosting and maintenance costs. Thank you so much for your support!

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Endless Summer: A Garden Designed for Season-Spanning Beauty & Interest . . .

August 28th, 2012 § 2 comments § permalink

Late August in Susan & Bob’s Front Entryway Garden. Geranium ‘Rozanne’ Mass Planted for a Beautiful, Long-Blooming Lavender-Blue-Haze. A Background of Coreopsis, Heuchera micrantha, Echinacea purpurea, Eupatorium maculatum, E. rugosum & Thalictrum, Round Out the Late-Summer Color-Scheme. Ceramic Vessel: Stephen Procter

Endless summer. Yes, I realize the phrase might seem a bit odd for a Vermont-based gardening journal. After all, we are heading toward autumn, and New England is rather famous for “nine months of winter and three months of damned poor sledding”. But the fleeting days of balmy weather needn’t cramp a northern gardener’s style. A well-designed landscape remains beautiful every month of the year, and by choosing the right plants, colorful, textural compositions can enliven gardens throughout the growing season and well into the dark days of winter.

Designing a four season garden does require a certain amount of experience or research and usually involves more than one-stop shopping at the local nursery. Over time, seasoned gardeners develop an understanding of  how plants change throughout the growing year. When foliage begins to shift from the greens of summertime to the gold, red and burgundy hues of autumn, opportunities for new vignettes appear. Later —as winter chill settles in and leaves disappear altogether— texture, underlying color and structure is revealed; offering endless ways to play with glistening snow and ice.

Dry-Laid Stone Retaining Walls (By Massachusetts Artist Curtis Gray) Provide Ample Opportunities to Play Plant Textures & Colors Against Rock (Plantings Include: Eupatorium maculatum ‘Gateway’, Miscanthus sinensis ‘Morning Light’, Eupatorium rugosum ‘Chocolate’, Baptisia australis & Echinacea purpurea ‘Magnus’)

In the Front Entry, Rich Colors and Textures Keep the Garden Lively in August (Plantings Include: Eupatorium maculatum ‘Gateway’, Miscanthus sinensis ‘Morning Light’, Amsonia illustris, Echinacea purpurea ‘Magnus’, Baptisia australis, Eupatorium rugosum ‘Chocolate’, Coreopsis and Huechera)

The Entry Garden –Pictured Above– in Late Spring (Blooming Here Are Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker’s Red’ and Coreopsis grandiflora ‘Early Sunrise’)

As beautiful as blossoms are, in order for a garden to remain interesting in autumn and winter, the design must contain more than flowering plants. Perennials and grasses with colorful foliage and sensual textures, trees and shrubs with great structure, bright berries and unusual bark are the keys to creating never-ending beauty in the landscape.

Featured here is a young garden I created, in several stages, over the past year. The oldest part of the garden —welcoming entry walk and perennial-filled retaining walls— was planted for my clients late last summer. In autumn of 2011, I created a bulb plan for the front gardens and began designing borders for edging the back meadow and a soft, breezy screen to surround the stone terrace and sunken fire feature. Work continues with a second bulb plan this autumn, and preliminary sketches for another garden room with a water feature, to be created next spring. The gardens change dramatically from season to season, with colors and textures shifting from pale and delicate to bright and bold.

A Mass Planing of Fountain Grass (Pennisetum alopecuroides ‘Hameln’) and Russian Sage (Perovskia antriplicifolia) Softens the Edge of a Deck, Facing the Meadow and Hills Beyond

Blooming Brightly from Early August Straight Through Early Frost, Rudbeckia fulgida ‘Goldsturm’ is the Perfect Perennial for Mid to Front Border, Late-Summer Compositions (Planted Here with Festuca glauca ‘Elijah Blue’)

To Soften the Edge of the Stone Patio/Fire Pit and Benches (Stonework by Curtis Gray), I Created a Summer-Screen of Fine-Textured Grasses and Meadow Flowers, Backed by a Beautiful Wind-Breaking Wall of Viburnum. Eventually, this Outdoor Room will be a Semi-Enclosed, Three-Season Space for Grilling & Entertaining. In Winter, the Snow-Catching, Sculptural Beauty of Ornamental Grasses and Horizontal Lines of Viburnum plicatum will Remain Visible from the Indoor Living/Dining Space (Plantings Include: Miscanthus sinensis ‘Gracillimus’, Heliopsis helianthoides ‘Venus’ and Veronica)

Many new gardeners focus on spring-blooming perennials —iris, peonies, roses, etc— creating fragrant, floriferous gardens that, while beautiful in June, fizzle out by Fourth of July. If you are new to four-season gardening, have a look at some of the later blooming perennials –Fairy Candles (Actaea simplex), Asters, Black-Eyed Susans (Rudbeckia), Coneflowers (Echinacea), Russian Sage (Perovskia), Sedum, Windflowers (Anemone), The Rocket (Ligularia), Toad Lilies (Tricyrtis), Joe-Pye Weed (Eupatorium maculatum & E. rugosum), Globe Thistle (Echinops), Sea Holly (Eryngium), Turtlehead (Chelone), Phlox, Tick Seed (Coreopsis), Sneeze-Weed (Helenium), False Sunflower (Heliopsis), Yellow Waxbells (Kirengeshoma palmata) and Bush Clover (Lespedeza), to name a few— as well as ornamental grasses, ferns, berry-producing plants, and shrubs and trees with fall foliage, interesting bark and sculptural form for winter interest.

An Early Tint of Rusty-Red on Viburnum trilobum ‘Bailey Compact’ is Accented by Rudbeckia fulgida ‘Goldsturm’, Festuca glauca ‘Elijah Blue’, Miscanthus sinensis ‘Morning Light’ and in the Foreground, Salvia nemerosa ‘May Night’ (Second Flush of Blooms Brought on by Timely Pruning of Spent Blossoms from the First Wave) Brightens the Meadow-Edge

The Front Entryway Garden —Pictured at Top of Post— in Very Early Spring of its First Year

And Later in Spring of its First Year, with Sunny Perennials Blooming on the Left and Shade Garden Plants Emerging at Right (Hosta, Ferns & Astilbe Beneath Stewartia)

Detail of Front Entryway Garden Walk in Late August

All Stonework: Curtis Gray.

Hardscape Materials/Site Prep & Plants: Turner & Renaud.

Ceramic Vessel: Stephen Procter.

Garden Design & Installation: Michaela Medina Harlow.

Photography and Text ⓒ Michaela Medina/The Gardener’s Eden. All images, articles and content on this site (with noted exceptions), are the original, copyrighted property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be reposted, reproduced or used in any way without prior written consent. Contact information is in the left side bar. Please do not take my photographs without asking first. Thank you! 

Do you enjoy The Gardener’s Eden? You can help support this site by shopping through affiliate links. A small percentage of each sale will be paid to this site, helping to cover web hosting and maintenance costs. Thank you so much for your support!

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Summer Hide Away: A Shady Nook & Dreamy Gardening Books …

July 16th, 2012 § Comments Off on Summer Hide Away: A Shady Nook & Dreamy Gardening Books … § permalink

Hosta Leaves in Soothing Shades of  Blue-Green and Lime Cool Things Down on a Hot Summer Day. I Love Creating Shady Vignettes Outside of Entryways. This Grouping of Shady Ladies on the North Side of My Studio Includes: Aruncus dioicus, Hosta ‘Sum & Substance’ and in the foreground, Hosta ‘Blue Ice’

A gentle rain fell here last night, providing a bit of respite for my parched garden and the forest beyond. And it’s a good thing Mother Nature quenched our thirst with a modest drink, as it seems New England is headed into another heatwave. In an effort to remain comfortable and productive, my cat-like nature leads me from room to room with the change of seasons. During the hottest months —when there’s no breeze blowing through the dogtrot— I often retreat into the cool shade of my Secret Garden Room. Here —French doors flung open wide to a view of mossy walls and verdant plantings— I work from my desk throughout the heat of the day. The temperature in this sunken shade garden is noticeably cooler, and with blue-green foliage and soft textures soothing the eye, it’s a welcome relief to spend time here…

My Secret Garden Room/Office: For More Photos, Visit Previous Post Here

Inside the Secret Garden Room, Which is Really Just a Walkout Basement I Designed with a Wall of French Doors, Leading to the Walled Courtyard Beyond. For More Images of This Room, Click Here.

The Secret Garden Room Serves Many Purposes: Potting Shed, Shady Conservatory, Summer Office and Occasionally, as Seasonal Guest Room

I Design Many Shade Gardens —Secret Gardens are One of My Specialties— so I’m Always Researching Great, New Plants for Shade. I Often Spend My Free Time Reading Garden Books. At the Top of My Stack These Days? Inspirational Titles from Monacelli and Timber Press; including A Clearing in the Woods by Roger Foley, The New Encyclopedia of Hostas & Gardening with Woodland Plants by Karen Junker

When I’m working on a garden design for a client, or even when I’m just relaxing on a day off, more often than not, I am surrounded by a stack of books. My over-flowing shelves and teetering stacks include a great number of shade garden reference books. Secret gardens and shade gardens are two of my specialties as a garden designer. In fact, it seems I’m almost always working with shade — currently designing three shade gardens— so I’m constantly researching the latest and greatest new plant introductions for low light conditions. Familiarizing yourself with zone and site appropriate plants is not unlike learning about possible ingredients before you begin creating a new recipe. I make endless lists of plants when I visit local nurseries and garden centers, and I keep  a running file of photo notes on my iPhone and iPad, for future reference. For more inspiration, revisit my previous posts on shade gardening here and posts listed by topic in the lower right sidebar. See more images of the Secret Garden here and browse through more photos of the Secret Garden and other garden rooms at Ferncliff, throughout the seasons, here.

Needless to Say —Given the Name of My Garden— I’m Ridiculously Infatuated with Ferns. Delicate as a Voile Curtain, this Lady in Red (Athyrium filix-femina) Catches Every Breeze at the Secret Garden Door. Notice the Reddish Hue of the Stems, From Which this Cultivar Takes It’s Name. The Effect is More Pronounced in Early Spring, When the Sanguine Fiddle-Heads Unfurl.

Inside-Out: Now the Asparagus Fern has Become too Large to Move Back & Forth, It Stays within the Secret Garden Room Year-Round; Bringing a Touch of Verdant Beauty to the Plastered Walls Within. I Love Adding Metal, Stone and Clay Objects to Shade Gardens, Where They Often Rust or Collect Moss; Adding Subtle Color Contrast and Texture to Quiet Vignettes.

Blossoms of Astilbe x arendesii ‘Europa’ Offer Beautiful Color to Contrast with the Violet Undertones of Japanese Mitsuba Leaves (Cryptotaenia japonica atropurpurea). Herbal Mitsuba is a Lovely Perennial Ground Cover, but Self-Sows with Abandon. I Suggest Clipping the Foliage short and Dead-Heading Before the Insignificant Blossoms Emerge to Prevent Re-Seeding.

Texture and Foliage Color are the Keys to Creating an Interesting Shade Garden. Shade Tolerant Ornamental Grasses are a Soft and Elegant Option. Among the Best? Japanese Forest Grass (Hakonechloa macra). I Love the Many Cultivars and Frequently Use Them in My Designs. My Favorites Include H. macra ‘All Gold’ —Pictured Here in My Secret Garden— and the Subtly Variegated H. macra ‘Aurea’. In Areas with a Bit More Sunlight, I Often Opt for H. macra ‘Beni Kaze’ or H. macra ‘Nicholas’. Both of the Latter Cultivars Have Brilliant Autumn Coloring.

Stonework: Dan Snow (click here for information)

Garden Design: Michaela Medina (click here to contact)

Photographs and Text ⓒ Michaela Medina/The Gardener’s Eden. All images, articles and content on this site (with noted exceptions), are the original, copyrighted property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be reposted, reproduced or used in any way without prior written consent. Contact information is in the left side bar. Please do not take my photographs without asking first. Thank you! 

Do you enjoy The Gardener’s Eden? You can help support this site by shopping through affiliate links. A small percentage of each sale will be paid to this site, helping to cover web hosting and maintenance costs. Thank you so much for your support!

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