Learn successful strategies of master gardeners that you can put to use in your garden.
In June, the view across the garden of Ernie and Marietta O'Bryne is alive with various English hybrid delphiniums, orange Alstroemeria 'Ligtu,' blue Geranium 'Nimbus,' and white-flowering Clematis recta 'Purpurea,' which adds its dark foliage to the mix.
Mary Reid wove burgundy plants, including Eucomis comosa 'Sparkling Burgundy,' Weigela florida 'Wine and Roses,' Leucadendron salignum 'Summer Red,' Echinacea purpurea 'Bravado,' and Penstemon 'Hidcote Pink,' through a cluster of yellow-green euphorbia, santolina, and silver grasses.
Morning haze heightens the pinks of several roses, including the pale 'Bonica' and the darker 'Royal Bonica,' both disease-free, prolific bloomers; pale-pink 'Bright Eyes' phlox; and, at center stage, hot-pink 'Eva Cullum' phlox. Purple catmint, yellow Phygelius, and silvery Cerastium add contrast and variety.
This bed, bursting in late summer with robust garden classics including phlox, hollyhocks, and roses, is as successful in its interplay of heights as it is in colors. Hollyhocks and sunflowers rise at the back, while catmints and cranesbills form a neat edging at the front.
Studded with glass ornaments, a garland of echeverias, sempervivums, sedums, and other succulents trims a staircase at the Vancouver home of Thomas Hobbs and Brent Beattie. The plants, tucked into soil-filled chicken-wire frames, create a warm-season display. In winter, the tender specimens retire to a heated greenhouse.
Achieving balance between wild and civilized landscapes was a goal for John Scharffengerger, a winemaker turned chocolatier, when he bought 32 acres in Northern California. To avoid cluttering naturalistic views, he enclosed an 80-by-100-foot garden plot, where he mixes edibles and ornamentals in the style of French potagers.
Two hours north of New York City, Margaret Roach has spent more than 15 years cultivating impossibly hilly, often frozen, frequently defiant acres. The first lesson she learned: Don't fight the site. By planting in unlikely spots and in unexpected shapes, she has made peace with her surroundings. The ground below a century-old apple tree could easily have been left unplanted. Instead, Margaret filled it with hellebores, which bloom in the early spring. Once the plants are spent, they're covered by the tree's blooming branches.
In the front of her home, Margaret Roach has overcome the challenge of hills. The area in front of the house is relatively short; the garden beds were built on an angle to create a sense of distance and perspective. Meanwhile, Margaret uses vibrant rhododendron blooms in her smaller gardens to stimulate the senses.
Ken Druse, a garden-book author and radio host, couldn't find his ideal gardening property. So he built it. Working with Mother Nature -- and fooling her -- he created an island paradise in New Jersey. On less than three acres, he made room for a bit of everything: wildflower beds and perennial borders, assemblies of unusual trees and flowering shrubs.
At Martha's Turkey Hill home, creating a clear footprint and a strong sense of color were the first steps in building her gardens. The color palette changes from season to season. The perennial borders are divided into distinct quadrants, but the lush growth blurs the edges gracefully. Martha created entrances to the perennial garden with a pair of rose-covered arches. On a level property, you can use designs like this to add texture and height without changing the landscape.
A walk down a narrow path ends at a rectangular pool. Clearly cut paths elsewhere on the property allow visitors to walk among perennial beds without going astray. The colors seen in late spring -- a heavy dose of pinks and purples -- arrive only after a very yellow showing earlier in the season.
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