San Diego Dreams

Traveling from winter in New Hampshire where daffodils are just beginning to bloom to the city of San Diego, where colorful flowers blanket the community makes me feel like I’m visiting Never Never Land. Six brothers and sisters, husbands, nieces are converging on my one sister, a potter and artist who has the greenest thumb of all of us. Morning coffee is always spent discovering the beauty of her garden combined with her newest artistic creations. This year the bougainvillea was the first plant that caught my eye. Grown like a vine over a fence, the prolific blooms shade a garden bench like a pink umbrella.

On closer inspection in the dense branches, I discovered adorable new whimsical art hidden deep beneath the canopy. These magic wands were all alive with little faces and personalities. Perhaps we were in Never Never Land and these little wands once belonged to Tinkerbell. Siblings were invited to select a wand that spoke to us and take it home. We didn’t waste any time. Maybe they are magic and all our dreams will come true.

Paths In The Garden…

Whether it’s a walkway welcoming guests to the front door or a pathway to the azaleas in bloom, paths in the garden can be both function and inviting. Landscape plans incorporate plans for garden paths before a plant goes in the ground but in our gardens they simply evolved around natural settings.

I do love paths in a garden.  Who can resist an invitation to venture into the unknown?  It can lead to a discovery of a pond or a secret garden or to the glorious hellibores in bloom beneath the Chinese Chestnut tree on a cool day in late winter. Because we live in a rural area, we chose a less formal fieldstone to provide a path around the side and back of our home with plantings of miniature sedums and an assortment of thymes intermixed between the stones. This pathway curves around foundation shrubs, herbs, and ornamental gardens built up at the corners of the home. At journey’s end of this walkway, we are rewarded with the frog pond and gardens, a haven for birds, fish, frogs, skinks, and butterflies. There we are invited to linger in provided seating.

Other pathways in our garden are of brick or a bit of slate as stepping stones leading to faucet and hose, but the majority of our paths are simply grass, my very favorite material. It is beautiful and it’s soft and forgiving to my bare feet. Trees in our gardens dictated where  paths should be. One grassy alleé walkway is bordered on each side by hedges of poet’s laurel and it leads me straight to the garden house. Another curved grassy path leads me down a euonymus lined walkway, through the garden gate and into the neighbors’ domain. Narrow grass paths in the gardens all widen into open areas of lawn and the eye can scan the horizon for the next destination, whether it’s a pathway to the bench under the beech or the small mulched footpath to the new secret garden or across open lawn to the river.

I like to think of a garden landscape as a novel with each garden revealing itself as a chapter in the plot. Whether its a mystery or a ‘who done it’ or a love story, pathways in the garden help the story unfold by linking the chapters and keeping the story exciting. Paths can be functional and aesthetic and enticing, an welcome invitation for new discoveries. Is there a path in your garden?

Ann Hohenberger, The Garden Club of Gloucester

They Did it Their Way

Through the garden gate

From the street in this west side Richmond neighborhood, you would never know that behind the dense growth of winter jasmine, tall bayberries, plump boxwood and red-tip photinia is a garden gate that opens to a compact, well-designed landscape. Soothing greens with varied textures and shapes entice you to enter through the gate and explore.  I always enjoy an invitation to this charming garden. There’s something magic and restorative about the cool spaces in the dappled light of tall trees.

The couple who lives on this lovely property designed the garden layout themselves and every bed was developed and planted by them. The space has been embellished through the years to become a lush tapestry of foliage punctuated by colorful treasures of flowering trees and perennials. It’s obvious that this garden is their retreat, a place to enjoy the outdoors and fulfill their passion for gardening. It’s great fun to stroll through the grounds with them for he showers her with credit for aspects of the garden and she returns the praise.

The rear of the home opens onto a terrace that flows into a small grassy lawn. Steps away are several garden paths that beckon. Birdbaths, benches, sculpture, bridges and lighted pagodas are focal points along the woodland journey. A clear stream winds through the shade providing interest and a home for many small visitors. Native plants and new cultivar discoveries pepper the landscape.

Following the brick walk along a natural rise, a border of  boxwood, variegated hostas and liriope edging become the nucleus of this garden. A hand crafted martin house beneath a golden rain tree is a reminder of the birding paradise the couple has created.

Exiting through the garden gate, we are not disappointed by what we encounter. A colonial garden house, designed and built by the owner, greets us in this space.  I’ll say no more. A photograph of this structure is worth a thousand words.

The newest feature in the landscape, the Charleston Garden, bids a welcome to enter and rest on one of the benches. High stucco walls, beautifully designed brick walks, statuary, a pool with splashing water and colorful fish, and cool green groundcover, invite you to linger. With a daughter living in Charleston, the couple made numerous visits, falling in love with the courtyard garden designs.

I’m sure readers will agree that the owners have created an Eden…. but I might be a bit biased. On an earlier blog entry, I whisked you away to California to visit my sister’s whimsical garden in San Diego. This time you left your stresses at the gate and toured the garden retreat of my brother and his wife who live in Richmond.

For another view of his garden house, click HERE.

Ann Hohenberger, The Garden Club of Gloucester