Friday, June 29, 2012

Norfolk Botanical Garden

It was sad leaving Pam Harper's garden but the journey continues. Driving about one hour south to Norfolk was the Norfolk Botanical Gardens which had been recommended by Pam and others. Along the way, we drove through some torrential downpours (ah the memory of rain!), went through some scary tunnels and across enormous bridges. The rain had stopped once we arrived at the gardens but it had turned hot and steamy. This was the only time during our trip that we experienced hot temperatures.

A guided tour on a tram was just about to depart so we jumped on board. As soon as we pulled out from the welcome center, the rain started again. Thankfully it was a covered tram. The tram took us through the major parts of the garden. Most impressive was the Flowering Arboretum, a massive field with the biggest tree specimens I had ever seen. Even the smaller trees, like crabapples and crape myrtles, were huge! Since we were moving, I wasn't about to get good photos, so we decided to depart at the last stop before arriving back at the starting point.

We had left the tram at a good spot - the Kaufman Hydrangea Garden. By this time, the rain had stopped and it was sunny again. The hydrangea garden included about 300 varieties and it was spectacular. The plants were labeled so I was jotting down the names of the ones I liked. 

The first hydrangea that caught my eye was Hydrangea luteovenosa (below).

Another striking one was Hydrangea 'Kuroshime'

Hydrangea "Lemon Wave"
Moving along, we entered the "Renaissance Garden" -

 You know I have a weakness for statuary, so I loved this poriton of the garden. Walking even further, we came upon the "Statuary Vista". This was a 400 ft. long double perennial border filled with shade plants and featured 11 7 ft. tall statues depicting notable painters and sculptors. The statues were carved by Sir Moses Ezekiel in Rome from 1879-1884. According the Norfolk Botanical Gardens website, these statues have been nominated for Virginia's Top Ten Endangered Artifacts.

We then walked to the sunnier areas of the gardens. There are several different gardens listed and I'm afraid I may have gotten some of them mixed up. There was the Conifer Garden (below) and several different perennial gardens. Some of these areas were blocked off because of the Bald Eagle nesting season.

The Colonial Herb Garden
This photo was taken from atop the NATO Tower Overlook
Blue Atlas Cedar
Last, but not least, the Bicentennial Rose Garden, displaying over 3,000 roses representing more than 300 varieties.

Our Trip Itinerary

Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Canna "Panache"

This is Canna "Panache" that we purchased at Plant Delights. This was a plant that I first read about in Pam Harper's book "Time Tested Plants" and it has been on my wish list for a long time. It is rather unique looking for a canna, don't you think? The blooms look a little tired from the heat but it is performing nicely and growing fast.

Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Pam Harper's Garden

One of the most thrilling events on our vacation was visiting Pam Harper's garden in Seaford, Virginia. She is an award winning garden writer, photographer, and plantswoman extraordinaire. After her arrival in the United States from England in 1968, she began gardening on two acres near the tidal creeks of Virginia’s Chesapeake Bay. She has tended that garden for more than 40 years and shared her experiences through her lectures and writings. She has authored five gardening books – The Story of a Garden (1972)Perennials: How to Select, Grow and Enjoy (1982), Designing with Perennials (1991), Color Echoes (1994)Time-Tested Plants: Thirty Years in a Four-Season Garden (2000) – and earned awards from the Garden Writers Association of America and the America Horticultural Society.

In the beginning, most all of my gardening knowledge came from books and Pam Harper's books were particularly wonderful and to this day remain ones that I turn to often. She, in turn, said she learned a great deal from Elizabeth Lawrence, whose classic book A Southern Garden  is one that influenced me as well.

One of my favorite Pam Harper books is her last one, Time-Tested Plants: Thirty Years in a Four-Season Garden (2000) in which she profiles plants that have performed well for her for the past 30 years. I can't tell you how many plants I've grown after reading about them in this book but one day I will do a blog post about that. Although her garden is quite a distance north of us, we are in the same USDA Hardiness zone - 7b. Her garden is on sandy soil that has been well ammended over the years so our soil types are quite different but her plant recommendations have performed excellently in our garden.

In addition to plant recommendations, Pam is well known for her striking combinations of textures and colors. Her photographs (she has a massive slide collection of over 40,000 images and is interesting in selling them) display irresistable palettes of colors combined with the artistry of a decorator.

We arrived late in the day (6-ish) and took an immediate tour of the garden. I took quite a few photos and took more again early the next morning. It was awesome recognizing scenes from her books and seeing them in person. Pam was such a delightful host, sharing stories with us about her gardening adventures, feeding us and sharing plants. I wish I was able to visit her garden in every season. It is very special and so fascinating.

Sorry for the photo-heavy post but I couldn't help myself!

Cercis 'Silver Cloud' (Redbud) and an unknown hydrangea that came from
a cutting at the Norfolk Botanical Garden
Cornus kousa 'Wolf's Eyes' and Rose 'Petite Pink'
Eleutherococcus sieboldianus Variegatus (Aralia) and Dryopteris erythrosora (Autumn Fern)
Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum 'Shaina') with Spirea
Schizophragma hydrangeoides 'Moonlight' (Japanese Hydrangea Vine) and Rose 'Veilchenblau'
A spectacular rose that she did not know the name of (she received it from her hairdresser)
Chrysogonum virginianum 'Green and Gold'
The conifer in the center is Picea orientalis 'Skylands'
Campanula garganica
Cedrus deodara 'Montrose Veil' and Nandina 'Harbor Dwarf'
Cornus controversa 'Variegata'
Rose 'Graham Thomas' and Huechera 'Caramel'
Acer palmatum 'Crimson Queen', Miscanthus 'Morning Light', Deutzia setchuenensis var. corymbiflora (Chinese Snow Flower), Verbena 'Snowflurry'
Michael and I loved this clematis named 'Princess Diana'. Pam said that it was a very
good performer in her garden.
Bletilla striata (Chinese Ground Orchid) - We grow this in our garden but it doesn't look this good!
Pam has many varieites of clematis in her garden and she lets them mingle into other plants. 'Princess Diana' clematis grows next to the rose 'Red Cascade'

Spigelia marilandica (Indian Pink)
Physocarpus 'Coppertina' (Ninebark) - The color was electric.
Another plant to add to my wish list!
The chartreuse plant with the purple blooms is Tradescantia 'Sweet Kate' (Golden Spiderwort) - we bought one of these at Plant Delights.

Out Trip Itinerary