Hummelo Revisited, A Pictorial

Hummelo, SkyIn September of 2009, while living in the Netherlands, I was fortunate to visit Piet Oudolf’s nursery in Hummelo twice, which was located not too far from DeWiersse.  I was able to visit once with Laura, from DeWiersse, and the second time with my good friend Tom Coward, head gardener at Gravetye Manor.  It is a pity when you visit nurseries in other countries, seeing so many plants you wish you could have but, alas, cannot travel with or bring back. I am pleased to have in my possession the beautiful and informative purple nursery catalog, which has continued to be an excellent source of information for me. The catalog has been a great key for identifying many of the plants he continues to use in his gardens throughout the different countries I have seen them – Holland, England, and U.S., especially in my hometown of NYC at the High Line.  Every time I move, I make sure this catalog is with me.  In 2014, I saw Piet Oudolf speak about the plantings at the High Line in the Garden History Museum in London. I was able to have coffee with him after the lecture (due to the wonderful Stephen Crisp) and Anja Oudolf, his wonderful wife, was insistent upon letting people know that the nursery was now closed. The decision seems appropriate since there is more than enough international projects to keep them busy.  With Eric’s beautifully descriptive explanation of the new book Oudolf Hummelo, I felt I had to share these images of a striking garden since I have never had the opportunity before. I have not labeled the images, for it is merely to enjoy, but if you are curious to know a combination, leave a note in the comments section below. – James

Hummelo, Hedge and House

Hummelo, Plant Groupings and PathHummelo, Plant GroupingsHummelo, Plant Groupings and hedgeHummelo, Piet OudolfHummelo, Plant Grouping Detail

Hummelo, Plant Groupings and GrassesHummelo, Plant Groupings and BloomsPiet Oudolf and famous Hedges, HummeloHummelo, Grass Groupings Along Path, Piet Oudolfjimmy 074

Plantsman Corner: Salvias of Slovakia

Seeing garden plants in the wild is always a pleasant, if not eye opening, experience. Familiarity is heartwarming, but one can also learn much from observing the immediate environment in which plants grow before tailoring our gardens to suit them once we return home.

Three of the most commonly seen salvias in Slovakia are Salvia glutinosa (upper left). S. nemorosa (bottom left), and S. verticillata (right). All species are forebears of our garden plants that are now popular in naturalistic gardens.

Three of the most commonly seen salvias in Slovakia are Salvia glutinosa (upper left). S. nemorosa (bottom left), and S. verticillata (right). All species are forebears of our garden plants that are now popular in naturalistic gardens.

I spent this past summer in Slovakia, a mountainous country situated in the hearth of Eastern Europe. It is a place of great biodiversity, and I enjoyed admiring the flora and botanizing. Although a wide array of plants is well represented, it is the wild sages (Salvia) that largely impressed me. They are ubiquitous and widespread throughout the country. Owing to their resilience and adaptability in disturbed habitats, salvias have an advantage over other species in the agrarian landscape here.

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The first Salvia I encountered was Salvia nemorosa. It is common in central and southern Slovakia, growing in meadows and disturbed areas. Salvia nemorosa seems to love roadsides and a trail of purple often accompanied me on my peregrinations down to Austria or Hungary. Its flowering is a long affair, and even if it had been in bloom for some time since my arrival in early July, the flowers are still going strong as I pen these words at the end of August. The color is consistently a dark magenta-purple in the wild, although considerable variability appears in cultivation. Numerous cultivars have been selected for size and color, ranging from the diminutive blue ‘Marcus, scarcely a foot tall, to the tall pink ‘Amethyst’, towering over 3 feet.

Another cultivar worth mentioning here, but rather rare in North America is ‘Pusztaflamme’, an aberrant mutation with branched spikes of flowers that form a cone-shaped head. One presumes it must have been found in a meadow in Hungary since puszta, (pronounced ‘pussta’), is the Hungarian word for prairie. ‘Pusztaflamme’ is also known as ‘Plumosa’, a name that describes well the chenille-like texture of the flowers.

Salvia nemorosa 'Caradonna' still remains one of the best selections as seen here in late May at Chanticleer.

Salvia nemorosa ‘Caradonna’ still remains one of the best selections as seen here in late May at Chanticleer.

Although any Salvia nemorosa is deserving of a place in the garden,  some sort are more dramatic than others. ‘Caradonna’, bred by Beate Zillmer of Zillmer Pflanzen in Uchte, Germany, is perhaps the most famous for its narrow spikes of dark purple flowers on black stems, an intense, but luminous combination.

Another common Salvia in Slovakia is a superb garden plant that I grow with fondness and ease in Canada: Salvia verticillata. This plant seems to prefer ditches, vacant lots and meadows where I saw it bursting with surprising vigor in gravel and even in dense grass. Its hardiness probably comes from its woolly leaves that retain moisture when needed and its long taproot capable of drawing water and minerals from deep down below. I had known Salvia verticillata well as a tough plant, having used it in less than ideal conditions without adverse results. Unlike other salvias, it does not need regular division or replacement, and indeed resents being moved (although recovery will happen within a year). Unsurprisingly vegetative propagation is difficult. Luckily, seeds are plentiful and easy to germinate, including the rare white form that comes true to type. For the rather special (but somewhat gloomy) all-dark cultivar ‘Purple Rain’ (which does not set seeds), basal cuttings in spring is the best option.

Salvia pratensis, commonly known as meadow sage, colonizes open fields and meadows. It has given rise to the hybrid Salvia x sylvestris.

Salvia pratensis, commonly known as meadow sage, colonizes open fields and meadows. It has given rise to the hybrid Salvia x sylvestris.

Fairly common in Slovakia too but only in short-grass meadows (including lawns) is Salvia pratensis. Linnaeus clearly observed the species’ habitat preference for pratensis means ‘of meadows’. Although Salvia pratensis comes in a variety of colors in gardens, the ones I saw flowering were all a particularly dark purple color. Flowering was not abundant in late summer because Salvia pratensis is a spring-blooming species. The few I saw flowering already had been mowed down and were on their second flush of flowers (an observation that I will not hesitate to put in practice). Although there was no color variation, the intensity of the color –the shade that my camera unfortunately refuses to capture as it should – impressed me. In the garden, Salvia pratensis does occur in various shades of white, pink, or purple, as well as bicolored. This species is usually propagated from seeds because clumps do not increase fast and therefore yield little divisions, but outstanding cultivars are occasionally propagated vegetatively from basal cuttings or tissue culture. One such example is the outstanding ‘Madeline’, a bicolor blue and white selection from the Dutch nurseryman and designer Piet Oudolf. Oudolf too has introduced a hybrid between Salvia nemorosa and S. pratensis (hybrids are now known as S. x sylvestris), ‘Dear Anja, in honor of his charming and eccentric wife. It is a luminous plant with blue flowers born out of dark magenta calyxes. If I were forced to choose only one salvia, ‘Dear Anja’ would probably be it. Unfortunately It is a difficult plant to propagate and has thus far remained rather elusive.

Salvia pratensis withstands the competition with the grass well.

Salvia pratensis withstands the competition with the grass well.

The last Salvia species I encountered on my walks in Slovakia less common and only in hedgerows and forest edges (sometimes even deep into the forest itself), was the lovely yellow Salvia glutinosa. I was surprised to see it in the shade since it has always grown well in full sunshine in my Canadian garden. Perhaps moisture is a deciding factor since Slovakia only gets half the rain we receive at home. Salvia glutinosa is a beautiful plant and one of my favorite salvias with its large heads of pale yellow flowers and its hastate foliage. It is the European answer to Japan’s Salvia koyamae, which coincidentally prefers partial shade. I look forward to trying Salvia glutinosa on the edge of our woodland, perhaps amongst Aconitum uncinatum or Actaea.

~Philippe Levesque and Eric

5-10-5: Laura Ekasetya, Horticulturist, Lurie Garden

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Laura Ekasetya was a week-long guest horticulturist at Chanticleer earlier this year, and I sensed in her an astute and inquisitive mind about plants and gardens. It is infrequent that we hear about the individuals who maintain the work of creative visionaries while keeping it afresh and evolving, and Laura is one of those fortunate souls who oversees the Lurie Garden in Millennium Park, Chicago, Illinois with her team of coworkers and volunteers. Coincidentally her colleague Jennifer Davit, the garden’s Director and Head Horticulturist, was my classmate when I enrolled in the public garden management course at Cornell. She had nothing, but plaudits for Laura’s work in tending the garden.

 

Connecting art and horticulture: After School Matters student painting in the garden.

Connecting art and horticulture: After School Matters student painting in the garden.

Please introduce yourself.
Laura Ekasetya, horticulturist at the Lurie Garden
The arts or the horticulture?
Horticulture and art are intertwined. Even though on a day to day basis I am not designing gardens, I’m maintaining the integrity of Piet Oudolf’s creative work, with plants providing the medium. I’m surrounded by the link between art and gardens every day. The modern wing of the Art Institute of Chicago overlooks the Lurie Garden.  The garden’s topography was designed with that wing in mind, even though the expansion of the Art Institute was still in its planning stage at the time of the Lurie Garden installation. On a daily basis I am maintaining living art as a conservator would do, though the effect of time on a planting design is welcome. I recently read a gardening memoir “The Gardener of Versailles: My Life in the World’s Grandest Garden” by Alain Baraton who has managed the over 2,000 acres of grounds including 230 acres of gardens at the Palace of Versailles since 1982. He writes that public horticulture is “an art de vivre–an art of living well and helping people to live well.”
Volunteers plantig Echinacea simulata

Volunteers planting Echinacea simulata

What does your job involve on a daily basis?
I spend much of my time working outside weeding and editing the planting design. I work with eight terrific hands-on volunteers who help out two days a week, and part-time with an intern. I also give tours and teach workshops as part of the Lurie Garden’s year-round environmental programming. I spend a good deal of time answering visitor questions. I update plant information on our website and record the bloom times of the plants in the garden as well as keep our Facebook page interesting. I assist with maintaining our two beehives. I do my best to record the variety of wildlife in the garden such as insects and migratory birds.
Visitors admire the beautiful planting of Gentiana andrewsii (bottle gentian)  in Calamintha nepeta ssp. nepeta (calamint) as Laura photographs the flower.

Visitors admire the beautiful planting of Gentiana andrewsii (bottle gentian) in Calamintha nepeta ssp. nepeta (calamint) as the Lurie Garden intern Erin Dumbauld photographs the flower.

 

Laura carefully consults the detailed color-coded map of the plantings for the bulbs.

Laura carefully consults the detailed color-coded map of the plantings for the bulbs.

How did you become interested in plants and horticulture? What led to your current job at the Lurie Garden in the Millennium Park?
In early grade school my family lived for a few years in Midland, Michigan where I would ask my parents to take me to Dow Gardens, a lovely botanic garden, and the Chippewa Nature Center which has woodland trails to explore as well as a log cabin homestead with a vegetable garden.  Seeing pink lady slipper orchids growing in their natural environment was really exciting to me.  We moved to a rural area in central Illinois where I enjoyed gardening in the yard, but never realized that there could be career possibilities. I did a lot of farm field work every summer since age 11, so doing labor intensive work outside is something I’m very used to. I came to horticulture as a career choice post college after working a few uninspired years for clinical research trials at a medical school. I volunteered at the Chicago Park District where I learned about a horticulture degree program at a city college.  I interned in the city’s forestry department for a year and then came to the Chicago Botanic Garden as a seasonal where I enjoyed working in the research evaluation gardens. After three years I came to the Lurie Garden. This is my 4th year at the garden.
Baptisia alba var. macrophylla looks in scale with the Chicago skyline from this perspective.

Baptisia alba var. macrophylla looks in scale with the Chicago skyline from this perspective.

Central Park in New York City has an Arcadian landscape idyll envisioned through Frederick Law Olmstead and Calvert Vaux who looked towards the pleasure parks and landscape gardens of Europe for inspiration. These greensward parks have become the imprimatur by which future parks were created. In contrast, the Millennium Park seems futuristic in fusing art, architecture, and landscape design  Some people may argue that the ‘smoke and mirrors’ detract from a park’s primary purpose as a place of tranquility and recreation, a green respite from the urban jungle. What are your thoughts about a traditional park versus a contemporary park that deploys entertainment venues and interactive art?
It does seem on the surface that fitting in all these recreational areas with a prominent music venue, a restaurant, and places for displaying art exhibits is a lot to ask of 24.5 acres, but great cities are all about maximizing what can be done with limited land. Much thought went in to planning the park in a way that its various components would work well together. The Lurie Garden is visually connected to the Frank Gehry designed Pritzker Pavilion, but the garden is also separated from the rest of the park by its 12 foot high Shoulder Hedge that surrounds the garden on two sides. When you look out at the garden facing the hedge, you see the skyscrapers towering above the park and then a lovely row of mature maples and then the hedge of Thuja which steps the garden down to human scale. This relative calm of the garden allows the visitor to observe the smaller things happening down at the level of the plants. Various pollinators and other wildlife become noticeable. It’s exciting to see the gleaming architectural work of modern man towering above the natural architecture of the plants which host the drama of insect life. They live among us largely unnoticed, though they were around long before humans, and our bodies will one day be consumed by these smaller lives. Taking in these two opposing worlds gives visitors a chance to step outside the routine drum of office life and experience something that refreshes the senses. It was always in the plan for Millennium Park to have an area specifically set aside for a garden. Eleven different landscape architect firms submitted plans for what was then called the “Monroe Garden.” Fortunately,  Kathryn Gustafson (GGN Llc.) teamed up with Piet Oudolf to create the design that became the Lurie Garden. Their work really is what allows this contemporary park to also have a quiet side, though it is every bit as interactive as the other features of Millennium Park.
Exquisite plants and combinations can be admired throughout the Lurie Garden merely a stone's throw from downtown Chicago: Echinacea pallida in morning fog; Thalictrum 'Elin' with Veronicastrum virginicum 'Fascination'; Allium atropurpureum and Monarda bradburiana;  Baptisia 'Purple Smoke' with the salvia river in the background.

Exquisite plants and combinations can be admired throughout the Lurie Garden merely a stone’s throw from downtown Chicago: Echinacea pallida in morning fog; Thalictrum ‘Elin’ with Veronicastrum virginicum ‘Fascination’; Allium atropurpureum and Monarda bradburiana; Baptisia ‘Purple Smoke’ with the salvia river in the background.

I visited Millennium Park several years ago during the American Public Garden Association’s annual conference, and was fascinated by the dichotomy between the two art installations Anish Kapoor’s Cloud Gate and Jaume Plensa’s Crown Fountain and the Lurie Garden. It was fun to watch the public interact openly with these public art. Then you enter the Lurie Garden where the reactions were more ‘hushed’ and still enthusiastic about the lush plantings. What has been the public reaction towards the plantings in the Lurie Garden?
Though I wasn’t living in Chicago at the time, I did attend Millennium Park’s opening to the public in 2004. As the Grant Park Orchestra finished its performance for the evening, the Redmoon Theater company marched over Frank Gehry’s BP bridge bearing torches. The crowd from the concert spontaneously followed the parade of dancers to the Cloud Gate sculpture where a fire-themed performance was reflected into the mirrored “bean.” This performance fit well with the way the park encourages the visitors to physically interact with its features. People can go under and through Cloud Gate, even though it is a well regarded work of art.  Fountains you are allowed to get into? Now that is an exciting concept. The Crown Fountain is full of families laughing and having a good time all the while literally immersed in fine art.  The Lurie Garden has a water feature in the form of a stream that invites the visitors to dip toes in water on a warm day, a perhaps less jubilant activity than what goes on at the Crown Fountain, but one which encourages relaxation and taking in the surroundings peacefully. The way the paths of the garden move through the perennial plantings, you end up brushing against the plants. You really feel like you are in the middle of a meadow. The general visitor response at the time of the opening was a mixed one. The Seam feature has lovely lighting in the evening so that was easily appreciated early on, but to those not familiar with perennial gardens, they may have been underwhelmed at the size of the individual plants. It took about two years for the plants to grow to a size where the non-perennial plant savvy visitor could really “get” the garden’s design intent. Now when visitors see the garden for the first time they are amazed that such a vast expanse of planting exists right in downtown Chicago.  The south entrance along the Seam has arborvitae on both sides for 70 feet or so and then opens up to the garden. A few years ago I was working near that part of the hedge when a child entering the garden shouted out, “This is Narnia!” There is a something similar to walking through C.S. Lewis’s wardrobe in entering Lurie Garden. It seems magically larger than its 5 acres somehow, and this is probably a result of the layered planting design having enough balance between complexity and coherence.
Piet Oudolf photographing the Lurie Garden from the Art Institute of Chicago

Piet Oudolf photographing the Lurie Garden from the Art Institute of Chicago

Piet Oudolf obviously cannot be at the helm of the Lurie Garden physically all the time, and somehow the Lurie Garden has to evolve without losing the Oudolf’s signature touch. Oudolf himself has moved away from the drift-like sweeps of his earlier work at Pensthorpe and RHS Wisley towards looser, less definable matrix planting that mimics nature. Do you and your coworkers see a similar gradual development towards that style? 
Piet has stayed involved with the garden since its inception, so yes I would say any change in his own style would have some effect on the garden today. We were fortunate to have him here this July to celebrate the 10 year anniversary of the Lurie Garden and Millennium Park. He suggested a number of small changes to the garden that largely involve adding new plant species and improving on existing plant combinations by adding even more variety to them. Possibly because of the High Line project in NYC where the plantings are more intermingled, some visiting garden design enthusiasts have wondered if we will keep the salvia river (a large drift of four varieties of salvia) as a feature in the garden. The Lurie Garden has a completely different scale than the High Line, which has narrow plantings. The salvia river works well both with the scale of the garden and with its tendency to be viewed from above by the Art Institute, by the surrounding sky scrapers, and even from the part-shade Dark Plate side of the garden which is topographically higher than our full-sun Light Plate. The salvia river is iconic to the Lurie Garden and to Chicago.
Editing is a continual process integral to the Lurie Garden for it referees the dominant plants from overtaking lesser ones and maintains the overall balance. Contrary to what one thinks, a pile of Eryngium yuccifolium awaits composting, not replanting bare-rooted! Although people confess having difficulty keep it alive, this native species does exceedingly well at the Lurie Garden.

Editing is a continual process integral to the Lurie Garden for it referees the dominant plants from overtaking lesser ones and maintains the overall balance. Contrary to what one thinks, a pile of Eryngium yuccifolium awaits composting, not replanting bare-rooted! Although people confess having difficulty keep it alive, this native species does exceedingly well at the Lurie Garden.

Clumps of Pycnanthemum muticum are thinned out and have been donated to Neighborspace Community Gardens. Removing self-sown seedlings is not enough alone since thinning existing clumps must be done to keep the plantings within scale.

Clumps of Pycnanthemum muticum are thinned out and have been donated to Neighborspace Community Gardens. Removing self-sown seedlings is not enough alone since thinning existing clumps must be done to keep the plantings within scale.

There is sometimes a mistaken belief that naturalistic gardens, especially those by Piet Oudolf, are relatively low or no maintenance, needing little human input. How do you cope with self-seeding plants or plants in the original design that failed to thrive?
Because the Lurie Garden is a chemical free garden, all removal of self-seeding plants and other weeds is done by hand. Our team of 8 gardening volunteers have been working with the garden for several years, so they are very knowledgable about the garden. We do thin some seedheads to minimize the number of seeds. Chasmanthium latifolium has beautiful spikelets that also, unfortunately drop a good number of seeds. Thinning the spikelets by half actually allows them more room to rustle in the breeze. Sometimes less is more! We do the same to Anemone hupehensis, Penstemon sp., and Scuttelaria incana. For our Amsonia species, we remove the seeds entirely. Though these pods are attractive in winter, we have other less prolific seeders that provide winter interest, so we can reduce maintenance while still keeping a winter garden. When plants do not perform as well as expected we replace them with something that will. We consult garden magazines and books, Piet Oudolf, and Roy Diblik to select something better. Often Roy will grow the plants for Lurie at Northwind Perennial Farm.
The first snowfall of Winter 2013-14 falls upon the maples still in autumnal foliage.

The first snowfall of Winter 2013-14 falls upon the maples still in autumnal foliage.

What are some of the challenges you and your co-workers face in maintaining a large public garden in an urban environment?
Most days, visitors are just happy to have a quiet place amid bustling downtown and are respectful of the garden and the staff. We have round-the-clock security including cameras in Millennium Park so that helps a lot with some of the strange things that are bound to happen in a free public park that is open from 6:00 am to 11:00 pm every day of the year. The park expects 5 million visitors this year. Fortunately, if a well-attended parade or concert dramatically increases foot traffic to the garden, we can temporarily close the garden and then re-open once the crowds have dispersed. Sometimes people try to pick a flower as they walk by, but most of our plants near the edges are really tough prairie plants such as coneflowers that can’t be easily picked. This bends the stems so I have to prune that type of damage in the morning, but really most people just stop and take photos and enjoy the garden in a way that causes no damage.  People occasionally step in the beds to have their photo taken. Often they don’t realize that this action can smash the plants and cause soil compaction, and they apologize after that is explained. We do have signs asking visitors to stay on the paths. We have great security that handle this issue well when staff are not around. Our garden is just as photogenic from the paths. We have this really observant security guard, Officer Barlow, who has been with the park since it opened. He is really great at his job and keeps a sharp eye on things.
Insect visitors abound at the Lurie Garden (clockwise beginning left): Bee on Inula magnifica 'Sonnenstrahl' backed by Polygonum polymorphum; eastern swallowtail butterfly on Erygnium yuccifolium; great black wasp on Erygnium yuccifolium; dragonfly on Allium 'Summer Beauty'

Insect visitors abound at the Lurie Garden (clockwise beginning left): Bee on Inula magnifica ‘Sonnenstrahl’ backed by Polygonum polymorphum; eastern swallowtail butterfly on Erygnium yuccifolium; great black wasp on Erygnium yuccifolium; dragonfly on Allium ‘Summer Beauty’

Stilted Performance on Allium atropurpureum: A female red-winged blackbird tries to upstage the late spring floral display of the Lurie Garden.

Stilted Performance on Allium atropurpureum: A female red-winged blackbird tries to upstage the late spring floral display of the Lurie Garden.

The presence of wildlife in urban areas is always welcome. Have you see noticeable increase of wildlife taking advantage of the Lurie Garden during their migratory journeys? 
The garden is just two blocks from Lake Michigan on the Mississippi flyway so migratory birds stop and rest in the Lurie Garden on their journey. We have plenty of insects and seeds for them. Many birders come to the garden during migration season. Since birds generally migrate at night, the morning and lunchtime are great times to see many different species of birds. We are a birding hotspot on Cornell’s Lab of Ornithology citizen science website, ebird (http://ebird.org/ebird/hotspot/L2132400). Insects such as monarch butterflies lay their eggs in the garden, and twelve-spotted skimmer dragonflies are around in summer and migrate with the dragonfly swarms along the Great Lakes in fall.
Two of Laura's favorite places include the Chicago Botanic Garden's Lavin Evaluation Garden (left) and Singapore's Gardens by the Bay (right).

Two of Laura’s favorite places include the Chicago Botanic Garden’s Lavin Evaluation Garden (left) and Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay kk(right).

What places and gardens inspire you?
The research evaluation gardens at the Chicago Botanic Garden always inspires. There’s a beautiful view of Oehme Van Sweden’s Evening Island garden from the Lavin Sun Evaluation garden. Seeing all different cultivars growing right next to each other is really interesting. Many of the plants are part of Jim Ault’s breeding program, and it’s fun to see what is happening there. I often consult Richard Hawke’s evaluation notes on the CBG website.
Possibility Place Nursery, run by Connor Shaw and his sons, is an adventure. They propagate most of their stock from wild-collected seed, so it’s great to associate with people who have a lot of patience and passion for regionally native plants.
Northwind Perennial Farm in Burlington, WI is inspiring as well as charming.
Gardens by the Bay in Singapore has got to be the world’s most over-the-top horticultural project. Keeping glass houses cool takes more energy than the other way around and yet these two stunning 2.5 acre conservatories are carbon positive! This place is a joyous theme park for plants.
Guest gardening with Chanticleer horticulturist Dan Benarcik and assistant Tom Maczko earlier in spring

Guest gardening with Chanticleer horticulturist Dan Benarcik and assistant Tom Maczko earlier in spring

I had the opportunity to work as a guest gardener at Chanticleer for a week last May. That was a very inspiring experience for me. The staff there have such thoughtful visions for the areas they manage. I learned a lot from envisioning the different garden areas through the perspective of each person I worked with. The variety of plants at Chanticleer was thrilling.
Geum triflorum shows the apt name of prairie smoke as the pink plume-like seed heads develop. Despite being a North American native, it is still uncommon in American gardens.

Geum triflorum shows the apt name of prairie smoke as the pink plume-like seed heads develop. Despite being a North American native, it is still uncommon in American gardens.

The Europeans have always appreciated our Midwest flora that the garden writer Allen Lacy often joked about our plants going aboard for an European education before we American gardeners accept them in our ‘beds’. Only in the last ten or so years have we seen reinvigorated breeding programs in Baptisia, Coreopsis, and Echinacea on our shores. What are some of the North American prairie perennials or woody plants you feel are overlooked or underused? Some may be good candidates for breeding.
Pycnanthemum muticum is such a fantastic pollinator attractant that I can’t imagine having a garden without it. It doesn’t take over as readily as other mountain mints, and its mossy-green color is uncommon. This plant requires a bench in front of it so that the insect variety can be fully appreciated. I also love Euonymus atropurpureus for its color and showy fruit; it looks like a valentine. This shrub could be a good candidate for breeding for compact habit. An underused tree in the landscape is Carya illinoinensis. For areas in need of large shade trees, it really produces prodigious quantities of fantastic pecans (you will need two trees). Though more popular as a crop in the south, the pecans from this Illinois native and its cultivars have a higher oil content and superior flavor.
We are trying out Euphorbia corollata in the garden next spring. I’m really excited to see how this native beauty will fit in with the Light Plate plantings.
What is your desert island plant?
 A durian tree. If I’m alone on a desert island there will be no one to complain about the smell.
What is your advice for those seeking a career in public horticulture?
Find mentors in the field, and if you can’t go work for them offer to help them out with something. Learn everything you can from those who have made horticulture their life’s work. I’m fortunate to have a boss who demonstrates amazing leadership and organizational skills. Your career will develop much more quickly if you work hard for people who have ability and are patient and confident enough to share that with others.
Herbaceous perennials are tied back to plant bulbs without damaging the growth. Here volunteer Dan Buonaiuto is planting tulip bulbs for next spring's show.

Herbaceous perennials are tied back to plant bulbs without damaging the growth. Here volunteer Dan Buonaiuto is planting tulip bulbs for next spring’s show.

What do you look forward the most in the future?
Several years ago at the Chicago Botanic Garden I was planting some evaluation plots with Jim Ault and a group of volunteers. These two older ladies, who turned out to be sisters and in their late 80’s and mid 90’s, were barely holding each other up as they hobbled along the beds. They asked about this nearby plant and Jim told them it was a phlox he bred that he intended to put on the market but that it wouldn’t be available for a few years. They said they looked forward to having it in their gardens. I love the optimism there.  Gardeners get a reputation for being grumpy, but really we are the most optimistic people around. That’s what I look forward to, a lifetime of looking forward to the next plant.
Thank you Laura!
~Eric

Anatomy of a Garden: Two Plantings at Lurie Garden

The principal genius of the Lurie Garden, conceived by Kathryn Gustafson, Shannon Nichol, Jennifer Guthrie (Gustafson Nichol Guthrie firm), and Piet Oudolf, lies in the ingenuity with which North American prairie plants are mixed with exotics to spectacular effect in an urban environment. A 15 ft tall hedge, a physical manifestation of Carl Sandburg’s “City of Big Shoulders’, gives muscular heft and the maple allees (Acer x freemanii [Autumn Blaze] = ‘Jeffersred’ keeps the scale proportional and intermediate between the skyscrapers and the perennial plantings. Because Chicago’s cold and snowy winters can truncate the winter interest of herbaceous plantings that Piet Oudolf is famous for, the structural stillness of the hedge and maple trees cannot be underestimated and by its virtue of solid mass, the former makes the garden’s loose naturalism more marked during the growing season, and the latter intercepting light at a higher level. Had not the Gustafson Nichol Guthire firm and Oudolf been perceptive to create this framework, the Lurie Garden overall looks lost against the domineering Chicago skyline. Below are two photographs of different plantings taken at different seasons.

One could say that the first photograph of the garden in autumn resembles abstract expressionism since colors – the scarlet ridge of maples, the angular contours of the hedge, the tawny seedheads of Panicum virgatum ‘Shenandoah’, and the fine loose foliage of Amsonia hubrichtii –  are sharply demarcated.

Amsonia hubrechtii in fall

 

1. Amsonia hubrichtii 

Restricted to the Ouachita mountains in Arkansas and Oklahoma, Amsonia hubrichtii commemorates the American conchologist (someone who studies molluscs) Leslie Hubricht who found it in 1942. Young plants resemble straggly pine seedlings, but will mature to form billows of fine-textured stems with 3 to 4 feet spread. Like other amsonias, Amsonia hubrichtii produces light cornflower blue flowers in spring. Although some garden writers have derided its widespread availability and potential overuse in landscapes, it still remains somewhat uncommon and should not be overlooked especially for its bright yellow autumn foliage. Full sun and regular soil will be satisfactory and a bit of self-seeding may be observed. The second photograph shows Amsonia hubrichtii in its spring attire (Number 6).

2. Panicum virgatum ‘Shenandoah’ 

One of the earliest switchgrasses to be introduced to the trade for its reddish foliage, ‘Shenandoah’ is a German selection by Hans Simon who evaluated more than several hundred seedlings of ‘Hanse Herms’. Leaves emerge green in early summer and develop reddish tints in midsummer. ‘Shenandoah’ does not flop and remains remarkably upright throughout the season. The downsides is that the foliage seems more susceptible to rust than the green or blue-leafed cultivars and the roots, aromatic when dug, are irresistible to rodents, especially voles.

3. Thujas (Thuja occidentalis ‘Brabant’, T. occidentalis ‘Nigra’, T. occidentalis ‘Pyramidalis’, and T. occidentalis ‘Wintergreen’, Thuja ‘Spring Grove’)

Different Thuja cultivars fill out the hedging that surrounded the perimeter of the Lurie Garden and diminishes the unsightly effect of winter damage were one variety used. In a heavily trafficked urban environment, the thujas do not suffer from deer depredation and remain evergreen.

4. Acer x freemanii [Autumn Blaze] = ‘Jeffersred’ 

Freeman maples are hybrids between Acer rubrum and A. saccharinum that combine the best attributes of their parents. The form and brilliant scarlet foliage is inherited from Acer rubrum, with rapid growth and urban adaptability from A. saccharinum. In Manual of Landscape Plants (2009), Michael Dirr noted that Autumn Blaze has ‘rich green leaves with excellent orange-red fall color that persists later than many cultivars, dense oval-rounded head with ascending branch structure and central leader, rapid growth and Zone 5 hardiness, may be more drought tolerant than true Acer rubrum cultivars.” Indeed the scarlet color is a worthy ornamental characteristic of Autumn Blaze. Dirr does express caution over the overuse of Autumn Blaze in commercial landscapes.

 

By contrast, the second photograph taken in early summer depicts the Lurie Garden painterly in the Impressionist manner – the drifted plantings orient in unusual angles, the colors appearing brushstroke-like, and plants an essence of their selves. Not surprisingly, the Lurie Garden Design Narrative describes this section “bold, warm, dry and bright” and the its topography  “a contoured, controlled plane experienced by walking on its surface.” Early summer is a bounteous time for herbaceous perennials which respond well to longer day lengths and consistent warmth.

female-redwing-blackbird-late-spring

 

1. Monarda bradburiana 

Monarda cultivars from Europe have largely overshadowed the native species from which they were hybridized, and it’s a shame since the species seem to exhibit better mildew resistance and adaptability. Native to open dry woodlands in Southeast US and northwards to Iowa, the Eastern bee balm has attractive silver-green foliage and creamy pink tubular flowers. The calyces age attractively to a wine hue, an additional seasonal interest after the main floral display has finished. Here in the Lurie Garden, the wine calyces connect visually to the dark globes of Allium atropurpureum. Pollinators are usually drawn to its nectar-rich flowers, giving a strong case to cultivate Monarda bradburiana.

2. Allium atropurpureum

I first saw this allium at Nori and Sandra Pope’s late Hadspen Garden, Somerset, UK where the dark purple florets echoed the purplish-suffused blue foliage of Rosa glauca in the plum border. Used alone, Allium atropurpureum looks lost, receding in the background. However, its dark tone is a good chromatic foil for the purple Salvia river and Baptisia ‘Purple Smoke’. Some accounts have noted the short lifespan of Allium atropurpureum although excellent drainage may be the difference between success and failure. Topping up the bulbs annually will offset any gaps and maintain the display overall.

3. Amsonia ‘Blue Ice’ and Papaver orientale ‘Scarlet O’Hara’ 

Of unknown parentage (one parent is certainly Amsonia tabermontana), Amsonia ‘Blue Ice’ originated in the stock beds of White Flower Farm several years ago. It is a superb garden plant for its all around good looks – the buds are a winsome dark blue, habit is tidy and manageable, leaves dark green and lustrous (turning yellow in autumn), and pests seldom trouble ‘Blue Ice’.

The bright splash of red orange from Papaver orientale ‘Scarlet O’Hara’ prevents the planting from looking sedate, polite for a lack of better term. In a mixed planting like the Lurie Garden, Oriental poppies can be tricky to integrate because they left gaping holes during summer dormancy and resent crowding when foliage returns in late summer and autumn. In addition, it is easy to plant in the empty spaces vacated by dormant Oriental poppies.

4. Amsonia tabermontana var. salicifolia 

Taller (24-36″) than ‘Blue Ice’ (12-15″) and bearing lighter hued flowers, Amsonia tabermontana var. salicifolia was among the first amsonias to be cultivated and still remains a classic for the perennial border. The terminal clusters of light blue flowers appear in spring and become bean-like seed pods in late summer and autumn. Be mindful of its siting since transplanting established amsonias is not a feat for the weak-hearted as their taproots probe long and deep.

5. Baptisia ‘Purple Smoke’ 

Sometimes the best garden plants are happy accidents and ‘Purple Smoke’ was a chance seedling discovered by the late curator Rob Gardner in the trial beds of Baptisia minor and B. alba at the North Carolina Botanical Garden. Sultry smokiness essentially sums up the appealing trait of this hybrid – the stems emerge an inky gray color rare among herbaceous perennials, the flowers a soft violet the color of evening dusk, and the pea-like foliage unfazed by heat and humidity. Mature plants can reach 50″ tall. In this planting above, the soft violet flowers are a good transitional hue between the salvias and Allium atropurpureum. Young plants do not resemble much and require some time to reach their full potential.

6. Amsonia hubrichtii 

Lumina

Dear Jimmy,

Your post on the Spanish artist Joaquín Sorolla had me contemplating about light. We should practice ‘luminism’ more in gardening. Light is perhaps the most misunderstood and poorly considered element in gardens. Only are the plants’ cultural requirements weighed does it become significant. While we may appreciate its effect in interior design and architecture, for some reason we fail to apply the same priority in gardens, concentrating instead on hardscaping and plants. Focusing on hardscaping and plants is like deciding what furniture and decor will be without thought to the wall color and floors. Yet it is light that noticeably alters the mood and atmosphere of the garden – the silhouettes of trees and shrubs, the long shadows cast onto the walls, and the reflections in water features. Sylvia Crowe once wrote: “There is always a delight in looking out on to the sunlight from within a dark wood, or from between the columns of an arcade, whether they be the pillars of an Italian pergola or the trunks of a lime walk, and there is the unfailing effect of light falling on some special spot from surrounding shade.”

As dark as the yews may be, they compel us to seek the light towards the end of the pathway (Yew Walk, Tregrehan, Cornwall, UK).

As dark as the yews may be, they compel us to seek the light towards the end of the pathway (Yew Walk, Tregrehan, Cornwall, UK).

Studying the various nuances of light has revised my approach towards combining plants. Just as theatrical lighting affects our attention on the stage performers, the right light can accentuate plants. Simply it seems sensible to design a planting through light. I recall Nori and Sandra Pope explain how they observed where the light fell at various times against the curvilinear kitchen garden wall at Hadspen, letting it dictate what colors decreed the garden. Their tonal plantings modulated from light to dark, proving again that light underpins color. The same principle pertained to Great Dixter, renowned for its virtuoso color combinations that either soothe or excite depending on the time of day. In the High Garden there, the intense colors of tender perennials and annuals were heightened in the evening light than they were in the morning.

Salvia confertiflora pulses brilliantly in the low evening light at Great Dixter.

Salvia confertiflora pulses brilliantly in the low evening light at Great Dixter.

To bring light into the garden is to embrace the luminous quality of grasses. What makes the gardens of contemporary garden designers like Piet Oudolf, Tom Stuart Smith, or Wolfgang Oehme, appealing is the interplay of light between grasses and herbaceous perennials – the buoyancy of the former enliven the perennial flowers, propping up their decaying seedheads later. A friend cleverly interplanted Sanguisorba officinalis (burnet) among Stipa gigantea where the first rays of sunlight hit the garden. The grass has the kinetic and translucent magnetism, a perfect foil for the opaque dark Sanguisorba in summer and autumn. It is a magnetism seen hundredfold in a field of Miscanthus sinensis  I once waded through at Yangmingshan National Park, Taiwan. High above the urban smog of Taipei, the clear skies highlighted a shimmery silver sea of plumes, a memorable sight that linked landscapes to my light fixation in gardens.

The garnet orbs of Sanguisorba officinalis spangle the metallic oat-like flowers of Stipa gigantea (private garden, Australia).

The garnet orbs of Sanguisorba officinalis spangle the metallic oat-like flowers of Stipa gigantea (private garden, Australia).

Being serious about photography taught me about light as well. Garden and landscape photographers often register the light carefully for the best pictures. Doing so slows you down as you walk around and observe the garden from different angles, and then the garden’s personality becomes more apparent. It always dismayed me to visit a garden at midday for the resultant photographs were washed out. Soon I reluctantly started to wake up before dawn and venture out when people were still asleep. That reluctance disappeared into contentedness – the still mornings, unsullied by nothing but birdsong, promised moments of beautiful repose. Those moments induce a dream-like state, suspended between surrealism and reality, fertile for creativity.

The light breaks through the mist behind the black walnut tree at Chanticleer.

The light breaks through the mist behind the black walnut tree at Chanticleer.

My appreciation for gardens and landscapes went deeper beyond color and form. I paid heed to Crowe’s finer points of light in the garden – the long shadows cast by trees across the lawn, the shafts of light splintering the morning mist, the backlit beauty of a solitary flower heavy with dew. It is an experience immensely private and not immediately apparent during the process of gardening – sometimes we are deeply engrossed in the mundane tasks on hand, forgetting to look up.

Birches cast long shadows across the lawn studded with daffodils.

Birches cast long shadows across the lawn studded with daffodils.

When I was in Australia, I was startled by the country’s hard light – the textures and colors, the leaves of eucalyptus or the rocky formations, were clear-cut and reflective. The clarity of the Down Under light forced me to rethink my perceptions previously informed by the Northern Hemisphere. Landscapes became more sculptural, abstract, and wilder. Genteel places created by homesick Europeans paled in comparison with their surroundings – the demarcations between the domesticated and untamed were more sharply drawn than those blurred in Europe and parts of North America. The stronger light only compounded that difference.

Orange lichen-encrusted rocks at Bay of Fires, Tasmania, Australia

Orange lichen-encrusted rocks at Bay of Fires, Tasmania, Australia

Every detail seemingly asserts itself graphically in the Australian light – the orange lichen encrusted rocks, pockmarking the east coast of Tasmania and Victoria, are fully saturated, nowhere muted as they would be in the Northern Hemisphere. Clouds seem more alive – their fluffy contours indelibly etched against the antipodean skies.  Using Northern Hemisphere plants in these areas would feel too contrived and futile – they would appear discordant in the grand landscapes. More than anything, light sets the style of the garden.

Binalong Bay, Tasmania, Australia

Binalong Bay, Tasmania, Australia

Only in the higher elevations did the light wane, receding with more luxuriant plant-life and cooler temperatures. The mists chilled us as they would have elsewhere in the Pacific Northwest, the Yorkshire Moors, or the Californian redwood forests. Here greens, grays, and muddy browns dominated, taking over the whites, oranges, and burnt sienna of the coastal areas.

Only minutes was the garden in full sunlight before the fog crept through the trees (private garden, Tasmania, Australia).

Only minutes was the garden in full sunlight before the fog crept through the trees (private garden, Tasmania, Australia).

Such ruminations on light can be turned on without going overseas. As I drive to and from work home, I watch how the light shifts into dawn and evening. The low-angled light in autumn is a profound difference from the high summer light, a more golden luminosity not seen in spring, and it is one advantage of residing in the Northeast U.S. In more northern latitudes, the light seems weaker, diminished by the geographical proximity to the Arctic Circle. You become habituated to the subtle changes in the same way plants begin to respond to longer day lengths.

Clouds_TAS

Deciphering light in gardens is our capacity to envince the atmosphere of a natural place. We have the benefit that Sorolla and other Impressionist painters never had – we never need to reproduce the light. Sometimes the methodical aspects of gardening can leave us incapable of creating the feeling, the emotional limitations and longings that precisely characterize the beauty of creating a garden.  ~ Eric

Breakfast by the morning light in Corfu, Greece

Breakfast by the morning light in Corfu, Greece

Dichotomy of a Modern Garden: Bury Court

It is rare to find a garden that is a product of two designers  – especially one runs the risk of creating a bipolar identity. Bury Court represents the fulcrum of two designers whose styles seem superficially similar, but upon closer inspection are different.

The Belgian granite setts are used for the pathway (in the far right image) and link to the architectural details  of the buildings (central image); Oudolf's early trademark herbaceous planting

The Belgian granite setts are used for the pathway (in the far right image) and link to the architectural details of the buildings (central image); Oudolf’s early trademark herbaceous planting

The trio of oasthouses, once used for drying hops, dominates the courtyard of the Oudolf garden. In the foreground the purple orbs of Allium sphaerocephalon and spires of Digitalis ferruginea bobble in Molinia grasses.

The trio of oasthouses, once used for drying hops, dominates the courtyard of the Oudolf garden. In the foreground the purple orbs of Allium sphaerocephalon and spires of Digitalis ferruginea bobble in Deschampsia grasses. Copied elsewhere by other designers, this highly influential Deschampsia meadow has been reinterpreted using the longer-lived Molinia caerulea in Oudolf’s subsequent work.

It is considered the first British commission that the Dutch designer Piet Oudolf designed in 1997 after John Coke, the owner of Bury Court, sought someone to collaborate on the courtyard garden. With Marina Christopher, John Coke operated the now-closed specialist nursery Green Farm Plants, one of the first nurseries to sell herbaceous perennials and grasses popular in today’s contemporary gardens. Coke found a kindred soul in Oudolf who combined plantsmanship and design (it didn’t hurt that Oudolf and his wife Anja ran a successful nursery selling similar plants as Green Farm).

Oudolf countered the asymmetrical shape of the exposed courtyard with curving beds book-ended with mounds and swirls of topiary. He filled the beds with his typical controlled compositions of perennials and grasses that are the defining norm for this style. The low to medium heights of Molinia caerulea and Deschampsia caespitosa are exploited for stylized meadows mixed with Dianthus carthusianorum and Allium sphaerocephalon and Digitalis ferruginea. Copied much elsewhere, these meadows have been reinvented in Oudolf’s subsequent gardens. Only the gravel garden and the formal pool feels slightly awkward, but exist as vestiges of the site’s former nursery.  If the garden seems humbling in the light of his later work, it is due to its domestic scale limiting the drifting style Oudolf normally applies to expansive spaces.

 

Recessed ditches filled with gravel break up the solemn, crisp formality of the rusted steel edges and timber boards (far left and central images); the black reflection pool is a visual eye-opener and contrasting note against the predominantly light hues ; the oak garage, too designed by Bradley-Hole, matches the weathered wood of the central oak pavilion (far right image).

Recessed ditches filled with gravel break up the solemn, crisp formality of the rusted steel edges and timber boards (far left and central images); the black reflection pool is a visual eye-opener and contrasting note against the predominantly light hues ; the oak garage, too designed by Bradley-Hole, matches the weathered wood of the central oak pavilion (far right image).

Open to the elements on all sides, the central oak pavilon allows spliced views of the garden, similar to a Chinese folding screen, a departure from the usual panoramic view in garden design. The large lime trees can be seen in the background.

Open to the elements on all sides, the central oak pavilon allows spliced views of the garden, similar to a Chinese folding screen, a departure from the usual panoramic view in garden design.

Like Oudolf, Christopher Bradley Hole favors the large-scale use of grasses and herbaceous perennials. In an interview with garden writer and designer Mary Keen, Bradley Hole admits a particular fondness for plants ‘invaluable in their ability to reproduce, in an abstract way, the unique forms and seasonal changes within a garden setting.’ It is where this similarity with Oudolf begins and ends. Whereas Oudolf strives for a rather effortless, but romantic feeling reminiscent of natural landscapes, Bradley Hole aims for a minimalist and abstract interpretation. His herbaceous plantings often are squared off by paths, paved or grassed, and blocks of boxwood, yew, and field maple reinforces their geometric patterns. He unabashedly mixes different grasses together than adhere to the conventional practice of block planting – Miscanthus, Molina, Hakonechloa, and Stipa gigantea. His love of grasses does not diminish his soft spot for British native trees, especially Acer campestre (field maple) for its flexibility as a specimen tree or hedge. The results come together in his signature look – a grid-like labyrinth of twenty beds flowing with herbacous perennials and grasses and cordoned off by hedges seen here at the Bury Court garden created in 2003. In its hearth lies a tall oak pavilion adjoining a black pool, and north of the garden is a weathered oak garage building anchored by a grand sweep of Calamagrotis acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’.

Intimate and abstract are not symbiotic, but they curiously come together here. As you enter the pathways, you disappear from sight as the grasses and tall perennials engulf you, creating that experience of being in a meadow or forest. One can imagine how transcendent it can be when the grasses become a shimmering sea of silvery plumes in  autumn. It is the same effect seen at another superb garden Le Jardin Plume, France.

Different grasses, including Miscanthus x giganteus, are mixed together, giving textural unity at different heights.

Different grasses, including Miscanthus x giganteus, are mixed together, giving textural unity at different heights.

Of the two gardens, the Oudolf garden, once novel and innovative, looks funnily dated (I remember being asked by a friend which of the two I liked better) as its look has become much emulated elsewhere in the UK and continental Europe. The diversity of herbaceous perennials and grasses has given it a semblance of the traditional herbaceous border. Oudolf’s current style has since evolved from that of Bury Court – the topiary here that too defined Hummelo no longer plays a seminal role as it did in his early work (the wing-like yew hedges emblematic of Hummelo no longer exists). Blocky plantings have become looser or to borrow the oft used planting vocabulary ‘intermingling’. Innovative or not, there is no denying the significance of Oudolf’s Bury Court garden as a pivotal example of his early work. On the other hand, the Bradley Hole garden feels more fresh, helped by its simplicity in the linear dimensions and more restricted plant spectrum. It is an outstanding example of how the ‘naturalistic’ look can be tailored to a modernist garden without compromising its ethos.

Related Links

Planting: A New Perspective (www.plinthetal.com)

Pettifers (www.plinthetal.com)

~Eric

 

3 Seasonal Servings of Grasses

 

Left to right: Deschampsia cespitosa, private garden in Tasmania, Australia; Pennisetum villosum in Condicote, near Moreton-on-Marsh, United Kingdom; Miscanthus sinensis 'Yakushima', Pettifers, United Kingdom

Left to right: Deschampsia cespitosa, private garden in Tasmania, Australia; Pennisetum villosum in Condicote, near Moreton-on-Marsh, United Kingdom; Miscanthus sinensis ‘Yakushima’, Pettifers, United Kingdom

The prevailing trend of massing grasses for optimal visual effect overshadows the powerful impact of grasses as solitary specimens that can bring light or movement to plantings.  Above are three images that illustrate this impact and gardeners can apply it to small gardens.

Self-sown Shirley poppies pop forth from the backlit seedheads of Deschampsia cespitosa, a cool-season grass. Typically Deschampsia cespitosa is used for massing in gardens and the overall effect is admittedly stupendous (witness the large-scale plantings done by Piet Oudolf and Tom Stuart-Smith in their work). Here Sally Johannsohn uses this grass to inject height and catch the late afternoon to early evening light, and the viewer pauses enough to admire the scene and notice the stone steps on the right.

Pennisetum villosum, a warm-season grass from northeast Africa, will take the baton from the fading Crambe cordifolia in the background.  This planting cleverly integrates tender and hardy perennials, a tactic that the late Pam Schwerdt and Sibylle Kreutzberger honed to extend the seasonal interest during their time at Sissinghurst Castle Garden and later at Condicote.  As long as the days are warm and long, Pennisetum villosum and Plectranthus argentatus will carry the scene well together with the Sedum whose flowers will turn pink or dark red.

In the Autumn Border at Pettifers, the arching form of Miscanthus sinensis ‘Yakushima’ breaks the rigid squat orange flowers of  Kniphofia rooperi and visually mediates the two composites, white Chrysanthemum uliginosum and red-orange Helenium ‘Sahin’s Early Flowerer’, and Euonymous planipes is aflame against the grass plumes.  Gina Price never allows her garden to go out without a last hurrah, and the Autumn Border is Pettifers’ pièce de résistance.

~Eric