Fragrant Fern, Damp Moss & Fantaisie: Summer Rain in the Secret Garden…

June 29th, 2012 § 4 comments § permalink

Inside My Secret Garden: Earthy Fragrance of Damp Moss & Fern, Verdant Hues & Cool, Moist Air {In Mexican Terra Cotta: Ligularia ‘Osiris Fantaisie’ & Athyrium nipponicum ‘Pictum’}

Although the shady Secret Garden outside my studio door is a welcome retreat on hot summer days, sometimes I feel it is actually most alluring in the rain. Fragrant moss and fern, damp earth and stone; when skies are grey and raindrops shimmer, the Secret Garden comes alive with verdant color and musky fragrance…

The Mysterious, Shadowy Allure of the Secret Garden in Rain (In Pots: Ligularia ‘Osiris Fantaisie’, Hosta ‘Patriot’ and Hedera helix ‘Glacier’, Surrounded by Perennials, Vines, Rusty Curious and Old Pottery)

At the threshold to the Secret Garden Room —where I pause daily to fumble with my keys— I like to create a different, containerized vignette each season. This year I filled my terra cotta pots with perennials, which I plan to plant directly in the garden later this fall. Annuals and tender tropicals are wonderful in containers, but if you’re on a budget and have a garden to fill, it’s wise to consider perennials, hardy ornamental grasses and woody plants as well. Many perennial plants have stunning foliage year-round, and perform well in containers (Some perennials to consider for shady spots: Hosta, Heuchera, Ophiopogon, Hakonechloa, Brunnera and Athyrium)  Imagine how wise you will feel when you recycle potted plants into your beds and borders —rather than tossing them with annuals, into the compost pile— at the end of the season.

Ligularia ‘Osiris Fantaisie’: Such a Stunning, Jewel-Toned, Ruffled Leaf

This year’s shade-pot display stars a new beauty in my garden. Ligularia —particularly the large, maroon-leafed cultivar L. dentata ‘Britt-Marie Crawford’— has long been a favorite of mine for damp spots and shade garden designs. But my latest infatuation is with the more petite and delightfully ruffled Ligularia ‘Osiris Fantaisie’ (pictured on the far left in the photo at top and in the foliage close-up directly above). As if the gorgeous two-tone leaves and ruby stems weren’t enough to sweep me off my feet, later in summer, this beauty produces deep gold, aster-like flowers. Hardy in zones 3-8, Ligularia makes a great plant for shade or, with ample moisture, partial to full sun. L. ‘Osiris Fantaisie’ will reach a height and width of about 2′ at maturity, and combines well with many other plants; particularly those with subtly variegated foliage, maroon, bronze, blue or gold-tinted foliage.

Secret Garden Steps: Heuchera x ‘Silver Lode’, Valerian officinalis & Juniperus squamata ‘Holgers’

Photographs and Text ⓒ Michaela Medina/The Gardener’s Eden. All photographs, 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. Thank you!

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The Moment of Spring: A Walk Along The Secret Garden Path in Magical May

May 11th, 2011 § 3 comments § permalink

Pretty is the Cool Morning Mist; Softening the Landscape and Intensifying the Fragrance of Springtime

So busy is the month of May… Days pass so quickly, I can barely remember to flip the pages of my desktop calendar. Things in the garden change rapidly from day to day, and I try to take a different path to the driveway each morning, so I won’t miss a single unfurling leaf or flower. But no matter how hard I try, I can’t put sweet springtime on pause to wait for me. And even if I could, would I want to restrain the exuberant sprint of nature, even for a day?

The Pink Buds of Koreanspice Viburnum (V. carlesii) Swell on Graceful Branches; Draped Upon Grey Stone

Only a Week Ago, Trees Stood Bare and A Few Blossoming Shrubs Played Solo…

Now, Everywhere I Look, New Leaves Appear

The Bold Colors of European Beech (Fagus sylvatica ‘Riversii’) Sing…

In Perfect Harmony with Blushing Daphne (D. x burkwoodii ‘Carol Mackie’)

Her Sweet & Spicy Scent Seducing all Who Draw Near…







Favorite Combinations Reemerge… Delicate Foam Flower & Cimicifuga… Woodland Phlox & Ferns…

It Seems Everything is Springing to Life at Once. Breathless, I Barely Keep Up…

Creating Vignettes in Summertime Spaces…

And Drinking In the Beautiful, Fleeting Moment of Springtime…

Sanguinaria canadensis – Bloodroot Blossoms

Moonlight Hydrangea Vine (Schizophragma hydrangeoides ‘Moonlight’) Leafs Out- Sprawling Over a Candle Niche in the Secret, Walled Garden at Ferncliff

Helleborus x hybridus ‘Royal Heritage Strain’

The Fading & Falling Blossoms of Viburnum bodnantense ‘Dawn’


Secret Garden Walls and All Stonework at Ferncliff is by Vermont Artist Dan Snow

Secret Garden Design and Installation by Michaela (for details on plantings see Ferncliff and Secret Garden pages at left)

Article and Photographs ⓒ Michaela at The Gardener’s Eden

All photographs, articles and content on this site, (with noted exceptions), are the original, copyrighted property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be used or reproduced or reposted without prior written consent. Contact information is in the left side bar. Thank you!

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Indoor Eden: Simple,Verdant Beauty… Twisting & Twining English Ivy

January 22nd, 2011 § 3 comments § permalink

Hedera helix ‘Glacier’ – English Ivy Twists and Twines Round a Metal Chair in the Secret Garden Room

Busy about the Secret Garden Room this morning –potting, pruning and moving plants around to make room for new seed starts– I suddenly found myself driven to delightful distraction by my gorgeous friend, Ivy. Positioned as she is –right inside the double French doors– I routinely pass my lovely Hedera helix ‘Glacier’, whenever I enter or exit the garden room. But today, something about the way the light flickered behind her verdant, porcelain-edged leaves made me stop right in my tracks. Simply beautiful…

Hedera helix ‘Glacier’ catches winter sunlight in the Secret Garden Room

English ivy likes to twist and twine, making it the ideal plant for wrapping around old metal chairs, bed frames and other ironwork. There are many ivy cultivars available, in all shapes and sizes. The colors and leaf patterns of Hedera helix range from the simple to the bold; in endless shades of gold, cream and green. I have a great fondness for the subtly variegated ivies; leaves with beautiful mottling and shadowy color combinations. Grown from a small softwood cutting, my durable H. helix ‘Glacier’ thrives in the filtered light and cool temperatures of my Secret Garden Room. Feeding –with a low-nitrogen organic fertilizer– will begin in spring and continue every two weeks through late fall. Ivy prefers slightly dry soil year round, and in winter, I reduce watering even further to prevent rot. I like to prune longer stems –especially those with large gaps between leaves– taking them back to a node located amid lush growth. This bit of regular maintenance helps keep the plant looking full and healthy. My lovely English ivy is currently insect free, however aphids, mealy bugs and scale are common ivy-pests, and can be controlled with insecticidal soap, neem and horticultural oil. And although regular misting usually keeps them at bay in my Secret Garden Room, spider mites can sometimes become a problem for ivy –indoors or out. Clip off and destroy mite infested parts where possible, and/or treat the ivy with a horticultural oil/soap mix.

Ivy is easily trained along walls with hooks and wire or fishing line. Here, Hedera helix ‘Glacier’ creeps along the rough-hewn hemlock between the double French doors.

English ivy may be common, but she’s also a stunning and remarkably versatile houseplant. In this dimly-lit indoor garden, the variegated leaves of ivy capture filtered rays of sun and enliven plastered walls. In summer, this plant lives just outside the garden room door, and in late autumn –before the hard freeze– I move her back inside. Over time, my variegated ivy has become one with her pedestal; winding her tendrils ’round the back, legs and seat of an on old metal chair. Because the seat is constructed of light weight metal, I can easily move the entire vignette back an forth with the seasons.  Ivy is easy to propagate. When pieces break off, I simply stick them in a pot of moistened soil and begin a new plant for a friend.

Much as a well-worn pair of blue jeans or fine old leather bag with a perfectly-aged patina adds character to a basic wardrobe, a lush pot of English ivy lends classic style to a low-lit room. Looking at my lovely old ivy in the sunlight today, I’m reminded to never underestimate the beauty and power of simplicity…

I love to watch sun spots dancing around the Secret Garden Room –the low light illuminating Ivy’s wild tendrils– while I’m tending to plants or working at my desk.

Discover more extraordinary ivy cultivars and find information on ivy culture at the website of The American Ivy Society.


Article and Photos ⓒ Michaela at The Gardener’s Eden

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