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The Elisabeth C. Miller Botanical Garden in Seattle

The Sunny Bank I was very excited to get the opportunity to visit this garden because I've heard so much about it. It did not disappoint. The garden was created by Elisabeth Carey Miller and her husband Pendleton who purchased the house in 1948. Mrs. Miller was a self-taught gardener who used her artistic skills (she majored in Art History) to create the stunning garden which features a dense canopy of native conifers. She became a plant collector and tracked down unusual specimens and was known as a well-respected plantswoman in the horticultural community. The front entrance Visiting this garden is not exactly easy. It is situated in a restricted community and there is a limit to the number of visitors per year. You must make an appointment on the website at designated times or you can find a tour group like I did. The address isn't listed either although even if you had it, you would have to get past the security guard at the gate to the neighborhood. I think if I lived in

Shrubs and Hedges by Eva Monheim - A Book Review


Shrubs and Hedges: Discover, Grow and Care for the World's Most Popular Plants
by Eva Monheim
Cool Springs Press
Publication Date: March 3, 2020

In the introduction, the author reminisces about growing up near Philadelphia and the memories of hedgerows. There was the neighbor's magnificent hedge of privet that completely surrounded their farmhouse, a relatives distant farm whose fields were divided by mixed shrubs and her own families hedges of honeysuckle and roses. These hedges not only provided an attractive facade and means of providing privacy but also acted as a powerful magnet for wildlife, ablaze with singing birds and buzzing insects.

Sadly, as time and development encroached, the hedges were razed to make way for houses and more houses. The passage saddened me as I see it happening on a daily basis all around me. It seems that every time I venture out, I see another field being leveled to make way for a cluttered mass of houses with barely enough space around them to plant anything. 

We have to have hope, however, and the author hopes to inspire a new generation of gardeners, plant lovers and horticultural scientists. The book presents general information on a variety of topics including the history and purpose of shrubs and the complicated system of plant names. There were some interesting tidbits here, especially about common names. For example, I had never heard that Serviceberry (which is sometimes called a host of other names - "Saskatoon" here in the Pacific northwest) may have gotten its name from the fact that it blooms in the spring when the ground has thawed enough to bury a dead body after a cold winter.  I also learned the the 'PJM' rhododendron is named after Peter John Mezitt, a nurseryman who introduced it.

After some rather detailed information about the various shrub shapes and forms and leaf characteristics, specific shrubs are highlighted. The shrubs chosen are ones that provide a multitude of uses and offer multiple seasons of interest. Arranged by season of interest, "Spring" features profiles of spirea, deutzia, kerria, lilac and viburnum. Under the "Summer" section, you will find hydrangea, native roses and the Seven Sons Tree (Heptacodium miconioides). The Fall season showcases more viburnums, beautybeerry, Edgeworthia, hollies and the witch hazels. 

The latter chapters go into designing with shrubs and pruning and caring for them. There is also information on how to create an allees, espalier, topiary and hedges. Attracting wildlife and selecting plants for wet areas are covered in separate chapters. 


The book has an attractive layout with nice photos and detailed charts that pinpoint particular cultivars of specific plants. Overall, a very nice book for people who are just beginning to venture into the plant world and need help with landscaping their property.



Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy

Comments

  1. Sounds like a good one. I would like a hedge in my tiny garden. ha... You never know it might happen.

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