Posted tagged ‘shrubs’

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.

“Winter Sun” in the Garden

December 3, 2011

It’s late November as I write this. Opportunities for photographing gardens are almost nil (although I did happen on a fabulous fall garden a couple of weeks ago when a new client contacted me). With the soaking rains here last week, all the leaves are down (except for those blasted oak leaves, which will last until January) so finding something to shoot is a challenge.

Enter an invitation from one of my ongoing garden owner clients to come see his mahonia. Ho hum, I thought. How interesting can that be? Answer: plenty, when the mahonia in question is Mahonia x media ‘Winter Sun.’

Mahonia x media 'Winter Sun'

'Winter Sun' mahonia lighting up the landscape in late November in a client's garden.

The client had mentioned that he had “a few” of these mahonia around the upper part of his garden, whose hardscape areas were designed several years ago by Corinna Posner (her own garden backs up to this one). But I was totally unprepared for the impact the bright yellow blooms of  ‘Winter Sun’ had on the surrounding areas.
Mahonia x media 'Winter Sun'

Mahonia x media 'Winter Sun', winter garden

The blooms of two plants of 'Winter Sun' lead your eye up into the far parts of the garden - and don't you just love the contrast with the pumpkins?

Mahonia x media 'Winter Sun', fall

The blooms of Mahonia 'Winter Sun' provide a great foil for the fading rust and red colors of adjoining deciduous shrubs as well as its own dark green foliage

Up close, the blooms are even more striking, and faintly fragrant as well.

Mahonia x media 'Winter Sun'

The spiky blooms on 'Winter Sun' turn from chartreuse-green to a bright yellow.

After seeing this beauty in my client’s garden, I looked it up online. ‘Winter Sun’ mahonia is hardy only from zones 7 to 9, prefers a partially shady site sheltered from wind, and will grow to about 10 feet tall unless pruned to a lower height. It’s more fragrant than most mahonias – and should be deer-resistant although if I’m lucky enough to find one for my own garden I will be putting it to the test. For more details on this stunner, visit Great Plant Picks’ website here. And be prepared for a serious case of plant lust.

Roses and More at the Rodin Museum

September 10, 2011

My vacation last month was a big splurge – a trip to Paris and Oxford, in belated celebration of a significant birthday. I treated myself to a week in the City of Lights with my two sons, then took the Eurostar to London (senior discount: half price! I guess there are some advantages to getting older) where a friend who lives in Oxford whisked me away to stay with her for a week.

August may not be the best time of year to visit Paris, but I had no complaints. And although I didn’t go to photograph gardens, my new Nikon 24-120mm f/4 lens proved to be a reliable walk-around friend and I brought back a boatload of photos. Today, some scenes from the garden of the Hotel Biron, home to the Rodin Museum.

Rodin Museum, Hotel Biron garden

From the garden in front of the Rodin, you can enjoy not only roses and tightly pruned yews but also a stunning view of the Invalides.

As it exists today, this garden looks nothing like it did originally. (Rodin’s secretary – the poet Rainer Maria Rilke, who discovered the site – described it as having “an abandoned garden, where rabbits can be seen . . . jumping through the trellises like in an old tapestry.” Add that to the fact that other artists such as Jean Cocteau, Isadora Duncan, and Henri Matisse were already occupying the premises, and one can understand the allure of moving in.) The rose garden in front of Rodin’s masterpiece, The Gates of Hell, was initially planted in the 1920’s, shortly after the building became the museum of Rodin’s works that it is today.

Rodin Museum garden, Hotel Biron

Paths flanked by sculpted yews, softened by roses, lead visitors to Rodin

A garden dedicated primarily to sculpture has to have its planting scheme and components chosen carefully. Most of the Hotel Biron’s grounds – as is true of many other public garden spaces I saw in Paris – are dominated by lawn areas and large yews carefully sculpted into conical shapes. The roses soften an otherwise very formal feel to the garden.

I was impressed with how many roses in bloom I saw in the garden, despite the lateness of the summer. There was even one named “Rodin,” created by the famous hybridizing firm Meilland. It originates from the Knock-Out rose; seven hundred of the Rodin roses were planted on the southern terrace of the Hotel. The color has been described as a “Tyrian purple,” but I thought it more pink in hue.

Rosa Rodin, Rodin Museum, Hotel Biron

The

Speaking of the southern side of the Museum, it is a “knockout” by itself. A long central axis of lawn is flanked by two parterres (designed by landscape architect Jacques Sigard in 1993) with “thematic circuits.”

Hotel Biron gardens, Rodin Museum

The rear garden area of the Hotel Biron

Hydrangea paniculata shrubs were at peak bloom in the parterres.

Hotel Biron gardens, Rodin Musum

Panicle hydrangeas and other shrubs edge the parterres.

At the end of the rear garden is a large pond with Rodin’s sculpture Ugolino devouring his children (a cheery thought).

Hotel Biron, Rodin Museum, sculpture

A view of the Hotel Biron from the rear of the garden, with one of Rodin

The grounds are meticulously maintained.

Hotel Biron, Rodin Museum

A groundskeeper at the museum prunes roses in one of the beds on a hot August day. Note the horse chestnut tree in the foreground, with leaves affected by a bacterium that has spread to many of these trees in France and Europe in general.

For more information on the garden of the Hotel Biron, click here. If you are in Paris and interested in visiting, the Museum is located in the 7th arrondissement, near the Invalides, on the rue de Varenne.

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This post marks the 100th “episode” of Garden Shoots! I’m grateful to everyone who has visited, whether regularly or only once.
Thanks to the demands of my fall design and planting schedule in the “real world,” Garden Shoot posts will appear on a every-other-week basis for the remainder of this year.

Rediscovering Viburnum ‘Mohawk’

April 30, 2011

Early in my design career, I worked with a client on a master plan for a house she had moved into recently, in the District of Columbia. The back yard was designed to have two different seating areas (actually, three, if you counted the small porch overlook into the landscape). For the one nearest the house, we installed a small flagstone patio on stonedust adjacent to the deck and to a basement entrance to the house. We wanted to camouflage the entrance, which was a simple concrete opening; I chose skip laurels which over the years have done the trick.

But I also wanted to include something more ornamental that would provide fragrance, so I planted a couple of ‘Mohawk’ viburnums. Because we don’t maintain the garden on a regular basis, when we do spring cleanups in the back yard, I go along with a crew myself. And often – as this year – the visit coincides with the Mohawks in bloom. Sheer bliss.

Viburnum x 'Mohawk', blooms

Viburnum x Mohawk covered in blooms in early April

Not only are the blooms ornamental and prolific in the right site, they have a heady, clove-like fragrance that is simply intoxicating.

Viburnum Mohawk blooms

This Mohawk viburnum is covered in blooms.

And up close, the flower heads remind me strongly of crabapple blooms – another spring beauty in our region, but without the heavenly scent.

Viburnum x 'Mohawk' blooms

Even at the back of the shrub, up against a lattice screen, the blossoms are happy.

This variety of viburnum, developed by the National Arboretum’s Dr. Don Egolf (after whom a variety of the Chinese redbud was named), is resistant to leaf spot and powdery mildew. An added bonus are its orange-red leaves in fall. No wonder the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society gave it a Gold Medal Plant Award in 1993.

It’s listed as being suitable for light shade, so I am considering including it in a plan for a client with a partially shady back yard who loves fragrant plants. What a great way to start the growing year!


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