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! 

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Dusting Off, Cleaning Out, Taking Stock & Getting Ready for Gardening Season… Plus Another Giveaway!

April 18th, 2011 § 33 comments § permalink

The bright gold of Kalanchoe blossfeldiana is a cheerful welcome in a chair beside my front door. I like using natural baskets as decorative covers for inexpensive, recycled plastic flower pots. I do a similar thing with plants placed outside in summer, using everything from wooden crates and baskets to tin cans and flea market finds to add color, texture and interest to plants with less-than-attractive interior containers.

Ah, fog, mist, sunshine and April showers. What a mixed jumble the forecast is this week! My schedule seems to be at the mercy of the elements lately. But, undaunted by the moody weather, I’ve decided to take advantage of the unpredictable situation and use any rainy days or hours this week to sort through and give a spring cleaning to the growing collection of baskets and pots in my Secret Garden Room.

I love accenting my garden with colorful pots and overflowing baskets, but moving containers in and out every season results in a bit of wear and tear. Each year a few woven baskets are retired to the compost pile, and I lose one or two clay pots to a ‘whoopsie’. For the most part, I’ll replace those containers with new ones found at flea markets, tag sales, curb-side freebies and recycling centers. But sometimes a special handmade vessel catches my eye and I will add to my collection of beautiful clay pots, ceramic urns and stoneware containers. Right now I am admiring a few gorgeous pots I spotted at the lovely online garden store, Terrain, and last fall I also spied a bunch of fabulous pieces at Virginia Wyoming’s pottery studio in Westminster, Vermont. There are so many wonderful handmade pots on Etsy and local craft fairs. I like supporting independent artists when I can, and I always encourage others to do so as well…

Sometimes an Empty Vessel is as Lovely as a Container Filled with Plants. Here, a Cracked, Old, Clay Pot Adds Character to a Shady Nook Filled with Perennials (Including Kiregeshoma palmata and Astilbe) in My Garden

I Like to Create New Container Garden Vignettes Every Year. Here in Front of My Painting Studio, a Collection of Pots, Urns and Vessels Brings Color and Life to the Stone Terrace and Tobacco-Stained Barn Siding. All of these pots came from local, Vermont sources like Walker Farm and A Candle in the Night

Here’s Another Empty Vessel in the Walled Garden. I Love Contrasting a Smooth Surfaced Pot with Intricately Textured Foliage. Here, Indian Rhubarb (Darmera peltata) Provides a Lacy Skirt on this Beautiful Piece of Pottery.

Like many gardeners, I’ve recently become enamored with succulent container gardening. And why not? Succulents –and their close relatives, cacti– are so easy to care for. Last year, my studio’s steel balcony was filled with all sorts of dramatic pots (including the one pictured below), crammed with outlandish, colorful beauties and textural curiosities. Like ornamental grasses, succulents make great container plants for hot, dry spaces; think stone terraces, decks and windy balconies. Of course not all succulents are cold-climate hardy, so they must come inside if you live in a wintry region. But some cacti and succulents –including many sedum, sempervivum and others– are quite tough, and can be overwintered outdoors. Most of these fleshy, shallow-rooted plants are easy to propagate, and in cold climates, cuttings can be taken indoors before the frost in autumn and saved for next year’s container display. If you live in New England, I recommend signing up for Walker Farm’s free, succulent container gardening seminar on May 7th (click here for details). Daisy Unsicker, who will be leading the seminar with owner Karen Manix, propagates some incredible succulents at Walker Farm. Daisy creates gorgeous and inspirational succulent containers. Click here —or on the photo below— to see my previous post on “Un-Flower Pots”, for more unconventional, lower-maintenance, container gardening ideas.

A Collection of Plants (including Sempervivum and Haworthia) From Last Year’s Succulent Container Garden – Click Here for Post with More Details, Photos and Plants

A few years back, The Jewel Box Garden, one of my now-favorite container gardening books by Thomas Hobbs (author of the also gorgeous garden book, Shocking Beauty), inspired me to look at unconventional ways to use pots and vessels in my landscape. And more recently, I’ve found some fabulous ideas in Debra Lee Baldwin’s book Succulent Container Gardens from Timber Press. If you’ve been following this blog for awhile, you may remember that I’ve mentioned this title before; both here and over at Barnes & Noble’s now-archived Garden Variety. This is a fabulous book, and a real must-have for any cacti/succulent lover or container gardening enthusiast.

Order Succulent Container Gardens by Debra Lee Baldwin from image courtesy of fabulous publisher, Timber Press

Because I love this book so much, I’ve decided to purchase one to give away as part of this blog’s second anniversary celebration. To enter, simply leave a comment on today’s post, and in your comment, tell me what you like to grow in containers: ornamental plants, vegetables/herbs, or both. Be sure to correctly enter your email address so that I can contact you if you win the giveaway (your email won’t be visible to others, nor will it be shared or sold). Your entry must be received by 11:59 pm Eastern Time, Friday, April 22nd. A winner will be randomly chosen from the entries received in comments, and announced 4/25 here, on this site’s Facebook page, and also on Twitter. Due to shipping restrictions, this giveaway is open to readers in the United States and Canada only.

Good Luck! xo Michaela

The Winner of Debra Lee Miller’s Succulent Container Gardens is Lisa N. Congratulations Lisa!

Thank you to everyone for playing. If you didn’t win, please stay tuned for another chance this month!


Article and Photographs (with noted exception) ⓒ 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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