(October 27, 2014) As our class stood in Charles Cresson's front yard in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania the anticipation of the gardens on the other side of the fence felt like a tease. However looking back to that afternoon, I think he timed it so the sun would be at its perfect place in the sky when we turned the corner. The man in the hat discussed Camellia's and maintaing a sense of family history while I started eyeing plants that definitely were not the focus of the trip but "it's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see."
(September 29, 2014) We visited North Creek Nurseries where their corporate offices sit in Landenberg, Pennsylvania on a drizzly afternoon in late September. Claudia West, their Ecological Sales Manager, gave us a little tour around their facilities. She knows a lot and I wish I could follow her around for a couple of days, at least. I was really excited to learn that North Creek discovered Schizachyrium scoparium 'Standing Ovation' (Little bluestem) because I planted several this year and it is a favorite. They were in the process of constructing several huge new greenhouses while we were there. Massive. Especially in contrast to their existing structures. I also really liked the paths in the (naturalized?) garden at the bottom of the property. And the way greenhouses subtly peek above the varied plant life. Of course I have much more to say about each photo I decided to post, but I needed to get them up here before the external hard drive forgot about them
We visited Chanticleer this morning and I feel like I missed certain plants or focused on the wrong things, but on second thought I realize I saw what my eyes wanted to see. I really liked their transitions from one space to the next, for example the various paths (formal, undefined, grass, stones, pebbles, steps, etc). As we came out of the "ruins" the sunlight hit the grass' pink plumes and suddenly I felt perfectly lost in a way I felt at Elizabeth Schumacher's garden last week and a way I felt ten years ago visiting the Accademia in Venice. There is something so fantastic about these gardens we've looked at that I can't help but compare to collections of art. The pairings at Chanticleer reassured the uneducated, intuitive-based plant choices I've made so far in a couple gardens. Mixing Angelina sedum (Sedum rupestre 'Angelina') with lambs ear (Stachys byzantina) seemed risky but the texture and color contrast actually provides and awkwardly striking attraction that feels exotic ... like the Rockies... not the Andes. Another combination at home that we saw at Chanticleer was Verbena (Verbena bonariensis) with Russian sage (Perovskia antriplicifolia): my verbena came from a nearby estate we worked on last year and the sage from a little 2" container that I couldn't decide where to plant in a clients garden- so it came home with me and I ended up shoving it in the ground with very little care before one of this past summer's few thunderstorms came rolling in. Even though I love the two together, I still wonder(ed) how an expert would critique this choice. I guess I done did OK.
A note from the field trip
I am obsessed with this shrub! I have to find it somewhere locally!