Beth Chatto's Dry Garden - Poppies
I was away from my garden last week. It is hard to leave in June when all plants are lush, full and show no symptoms of decline. It is a fleeting time in the garden. July often brings dry weather and bugs but June is glorious. It is also the time when garden tours abound and this one took me to Essex, England. I know, I am very lucky. Traveling to other gardens gives knowledge, persepective, enjoyment, angst (my garden does not measure up), and new enthusiasm. The group I traveled with was pure fun. People who love to garden or love to look at gardens. More about this at a later time.
Beth Chatto's Dry Garden - Stipa tenuissima
The highlight of my trip was a visit to the garden of one of my gardening heroines, Beth Chatto. Her book 'Green Tapestry' has been on my shelf and in my hands since it was published in 1989. It has been a long valued gardening resource. I am still trying to absorb her teachings. Her whole premise for gardening is based on ecology.
Beth Chatto's Garden -The Open Walks
The ecology of understanding where plants grow in the world, what type of soil in which they thrive and then placing them in the appropriate setting in her garden. This is common sense. I have thrown it aside on many occasions when plant lust has taken over. Many of us are guilty of this.
Beth Chatto's Garden - vignette
Beth Chatto is a skilled veteran in the garden and, as such, her wisdom and experience which is so evident in the beauty she has created holds much weight. You can read more about Beth Chatto's garden here. East Anglia, where this garden is located, receives about twenty inches of rain per year. It has been dry there this year but this garden, with its crunchy gravel surface, looks divine. Our group entered the garden, as all do, through the dry garden. It is a large area and there are many interesting and unknown plants to enjoy. The path meanders through a level section of the garden. Grasses provide vertical, filmy curtains to entice the visitor through the paths.
Beth Chatto's Dry Garden
David was an interesting and informative guide telling us that 'Beth Chatto "paints the sky as well as the ground' with plants.
The transition from the dry garden to the lower lush garden with the bog, walks, pond and borders takes one down steps under the shade of large trees.
The temperature is cooler and the green lushness a distinct contrast to the burnished copper and bright sun of the gravel garden. As we rounded a corner with our guide, David, there was Beth Chatto giving exacting pruning instructions to one of her gardeners.
He had pruners in hand and was listening intently as was I. David asked if she had time to speak to our group and she graciously gave us a few moments of her wisdom.
She discussed the problems of climate change in her garden and said that in 'the last ten years, there has not been enough ice on the pond to bear a duck'. I am really not embarrassed to say that I angled around behind her so that a friend of mine could get me in the same frame. After all, she is my gardening heroine. What resulted was a series of 'Where's Waldo' shots with Beth Chatto in the foreground with a rather looming, 'out of focus' me in the background.
That is as it should be. I am not quite in focus with my gardens or in life yet but perhaps if I am lucky enough to reach Beth Chatto's age of experience the edges will become more distinct.
Addendum: Added 'Stalking' photos
So, have you ever made flower fairies? I had not made them before but a friend of mine, Lois, told me that she spent hours of her childhood making these creatures and since she was visiting she showed me a few of her techniques. I don't usually have time for this since weeding must be done and other garden chores beckon. Having a grandchild does make one pause a bit and little HED does enjoy picking flowers.
She was here also and seemed quite uninterested in the process but then she is only two. I thought it would be a fun technique to learn for her future fairy follies. One needs a Y shaped stick to start. I was told that my oak sticks were a bit bulky for fairies but then I come from bulky stock so it seemed only right to have bulky fairies.
I was not chastened one bit. Once the body is in place it just needs to be dressed with arms, skirt, bonnet and poppy seed heads make great heads but with a bonnet a head is not really necessary.
Campanula flowers, foxglove flowers (she was never poisoned), lamb's ear and whatever else your imagination dictates, can be utilized for clothing. I think friend, Lois, had the most fun. I can see why, these are quite cute don't you think?
Oh, I almost forgot to mention that you have to name your fairies and Rose lily is the most popular name. Mine is named Ginger. She is the bulky one although I think her dress slims her right down. Do you think there are flower fairies in your future?
You do see these trees everywhere now but this year is a spectacular bloom year for my Cornus kousa. Last year it was a bit thin with flowers and I don't know if it was the layer of compost mixed with organic fertilizer spread around the drip line or the difficult summer we had last year which precipitated this year's plethora of blooms.
The creamy white portion of the flower is actually a bract or modified leaf with the flower located in the center. This tree flowers with the large leaf rhododendrons but the flowers last much longer. I hope you are enjoying one of these trees in your garden. What does yours look like this year?
May is the time of perfection in many gardens but really, here in RI, it is early June when the borders really start to flush out and shine.
The peonies are in full bloom, the dianthus and geraniums are flowering and singing a duet.
The birds are happy and the vegetable garden is off and running. It is early enough in the season that the 'freedom' lawn has not browned although it has been warm for the past week with no rain and I can almost feel the change in the ground as I take the morning walk with the pups. In a month we have gone from new beginnings to lushness but, I am not fooled, this is transitory.
As the season progresses those water rich peonies give way to the blooms of the sturdier daylilies and yarrows. This is just as it should be. One doesn't want to get bored with the garden, after all. Which is your best month in the garden?