Archive for April 2013

An Artist Down the Road

April 19, 2013

In early March, the day of our “kick-off” meeting of all the crews and staff at Landscape Projects’ Poolesville, MD location, the other designers and I took a small road trip. Two miles away from our company’s physical plant, in Beallsville, sits Alden Farms, a local annuals-and-perennials garden center that happens to be owned by an accomplished sculptor.

David Therriault, the sculptor/gardener/entrepreneur in question, has been working with various kinds of “found” stone and metal for a number of years. What I loved about his work was its variety and how he combines different materials into a beautiful, cohesive work of art. Some of them are stand-alone sculptures of different sizes; some are water features. I saw at least a dozen I could envision incorporating into a garden.

If you’d like to contact David about his work, he can be reached via the Alden Farms website. If you live in the Montgomery County area, it’s worth a trip. But don’t be surprised if some of these works are gone when you visit, because I’m planning to take a client there soon, and she has a very large garden.

The Hinoki Falsecypress – Gold for the Garden

April 6, 2013

Recently, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society announced its most recent Gold Medal Awards for garden plants. I was excited to see that my own excellent taste in plants had been validated by the inclusion of Chaemacyparis obtusa ‘Nana’, or dwarf Hinoki falsecypress.

Hinoki falsecypress, Gold Medal plants, Pennsylvania Horticultural Society

My very own dwarf Hinoki falsecypress, about 12 years (I think) after planting. It’s in a sunny but occasionally windswept spot on the eastern side of my yard. (iPhone 5 photo, taken with Camera+ and captioned in Over app).

I fell in love with this shrub/tree during my education as a landscape designer. I love(d) its evergreen presence, the somewhat loose (but not out of control) way its branches and needles grew in a whorl-like manner, and the idea that you could include it in a mixed border or small garden and its slow-growing nature meant it wouldn’t eat the yard/house.

As both a gardener and photographer, I’ve found other aspects of it to admire.

Hinoki falsecypress, Gold Medal plants, Pennsylvania Horticultural Society

A close-up of the foliage. This image (taken at the National Zoo) wound up being used as the front page of our landscape company’s brochure.

The bark exfoliates if the plant has been mislabeled (as sometimes happens in nurseries) and it’s not a ‘Nana’ after all. See this example from Filoli.

Hinoki falsecypress, Gold Medal plants, Pennsylvania Horticultural Society

The bark of a non-‘Nana’ Hinoki falsecypress on the grounds of Filoli Gardens in Woodside, California.

And last but not least, it produces these adorable little mini-cones.

Hinoki falsecypress, Gold Medal plants, Pennsylvania Horticultural Society

Look closely or you might miss the cones!

The PHS chose this plant because, as my friend and colleague Jane Berger wrote in her blog post announcing the awards, “it is sorely under-used compared to dwarf Alberta spruce”, which is planted in so many housing developments.” (Don’t get me started on Alberta spruces . . .). The wood is rot-resistant and in Japan has been used for building temples, shrines, palaces, Noh theatres, and goodness knows what else. But if you  aren’t in the market for hardwood to build with, plant it for its beauty. It’s hardy from Zones 5-7, and possibly into Zone 8A.


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