hot topics of conversation from my may 10 open garden day

hellebore trillium hylomeconWHAT EDGING MACHINE do you use? one visitor asked, and as my physical therapist will confirm, that would mostly be my right leg and arm, guiding the low-tech iron tool (below) that I’ve relied on for more than 20 years that’s now as well-worn as my shoulder and wrist joints.

edger on back porch“You have a lot of plants,” dozens of people said to sum up their visits (while looking positively exhausted at the very thought of weeding among them all).

chloranthus japonicus 2Many others inquired about an oddball little perennial with brush-like white blooms doing its thing under a big old magnolia (it’s the Asian rarity Chloranthus japonicus, above). Across the yard, a low, hot-pink primula with fuzzy blue-green leaves (Primula kisoana, below) piqued interest, too.

primula kisoana 2011The most-asked question, though, was a side-effect of the prolonged cool weather: the peek-a-boo view into the usually hidden world beneath the trees and shrubs, none of which had any leaves yet.

spring magnolia bed 2014The garden’s woody architecture on May 10 was still see-through, and the carpet below (such as beneath the magnolia, above) looked more like it “normally” does on maybe April 25…lots of gold, and hellebores still colorful (typically by now they are fading, and preparing to set seed). So it was very obvious from the thousands of flowers that when I plant extra-early things, I don’t do so just around the edges of beds, but all the way in, right up to the trunks. No ring-around-the-rosey, but lavish and excessive. (Remember my underplanting mantra?)

hylomecon hellebores corylopsisThe naked 25-year-old, 20-foot-wide Corylopsis spicata (spike winter-hazel, above), for instance, is positively stuffed with Hylomecon japonicum and hellebores, and the century-old apples (top photo) with those and Trillium erectum and more. Earlier, there had already been blooms of Corydalis solida and minor bulbs—Eranthis, Galanthus and such.

under old apple springIt’s as if the ground beneath them is a temporary stage for an April garden show (well, it’s usually over in April; not this year). As each winter fades, I relish looking through the naked branches at the display beneath—and the little shade-lovers are happy for the exposure, but then relieved to be under cover once the heat comes on and the canopy unfurls.

I was glad that in this hesitant spring, 250ish people saw it, too. Yes, just 250 visited this time for Open Day; a smaller-than-normal group, which gave me plenty of time to answer all those questions. I suspect the forecast for “thunderstorms likely” kept others away. I know it preoccupied me all week, worrying about slippery footing, muddy lawns, and worse. In the end, there was not a drop of rain–another lesson, I suppose, in trying to predict what mother nature has in mind for us. She lets us know when she’s good and ready, and a not a minute sooner.

come visit, shop, and learn june 7

stylophorum-diphyllum-clumpI HOPE TO SEE EVEN MORE OF YOU on June 7, the next Open Day, but I dare not make predictions of possible highlights. Who knows what the bigger forces will decide to put on display? Either way, we will have fun—and you can shop for plants, and hear acclaimed naturalist and author Carol Gracie’s lecture about spring wildflowers. Get all the day’s details, and purchase a ticket for her talk.

Speaking of Carol, and “wildflowers:” A lot of visitors last weekend looked alarmed at all the yellow stuff that was blooming here, thinking I was infested with lesser celandine (Ranunculus ficaria), or perhaps greater celandine (Chelidonium majus). I’ll leave it up to Carol to clear that up for you in this other story, but rest assured: All that relentless weeding keeps both of those bad guys at bay. My springtime gold (above) is of another genus entirely. I can’t imagine spring–whether it comes in April, or May–without my Stylophorum.

  1. Doreen Tignanelli says:

    It may have been selfish on our part, but we enjoyed the fact that May 10 was not as crowded as other open garden days you have had. We were able to leisurely walk around, ask you questions and sit in your chairs, taking in the scenery!

  2. Elizabeth Fox says:

    My husband and I loved seeing you garden last weekend. We left our home outside of New Haven CT with bags of slickers, boots and umbrellas expecting rain. By the time we crossed the state border the sun was trying to peak out. It was a beautiful day. We were wondering what the yellow flower on the tall stem is. It is the one in the last large photograph shown above.

  3. Saiisha says:

    Oh gosh – how I wish I could have been there – it all looks beautiful! It’s a long drive for me (I live in MD) but I’m so hoping to make it for Jun 7th!

  4. Carol Annas says:

    My daughter and I arrived at 9:55am on May 10th for your Open House. It was perfect timing. Parked across from the house and spent a leisurely time walking around and around your gardens. When we reached the top two chairs we sat for a long time watching birds, flowers and people. Since our daughter lives in SC the Open House was very special for us. We came away with wonderful plant ideas and beautiful memories.

    I too heard from other garden enthusiast that they did not bother to come out for your Open House because in the past it was too crowded. I will come again and again.

    Thank you.

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