Tuesday, May 26, 2009


Madame Curie Rose previously shown in bud finally in full bloom, hundreds!

It is a bit of an anticlimax to follow up last week's blog with something new and exciting. There were weeks of preparation for a single day's event. The garden, in spite of my fears of being past its prime due to the warm weather, proved itself ready to handle just about anything. The outcome of it all was rather a wonderful opportunity to meet people and share my passion for gardens.

In addition to the planning for the Proud Neighbors Garden Tour, I had been interviewed for an un-related newspaper article on the Philadelphia Inquirer that appeared on May 22. The topic, of which I was never sure, eventually became Building Backyards to Serve as Extensions of a House. In it three different gardens and their uses were discussed. My part of the article was about techniques to deal with my swamp and the natural approach that I have taken. Judge, and read it for yourselves and don't forget to view the three images associated with the article:

One of the things that I have done that makes my garden unique is I have removed some of the elements that make gardens difficult and a nuisance to house owners. I have simplified maintenance by designing around items where most people spend most of their time in the garden: mowing and trimming lawns. Add to that fertilizing and putting down chemicals to deal with everything under the sun that is other than the chosen blades that make individual lawns. My garden has no lawn. It disappeared from the front yard as soon as I bought the house. Replaced with the liriope you have seen in other blogs and that now seem as natural as the lawn in my neighbor's yard. The rear yard took more consideration and time to eventually be replaced, but I got there. Today I go to my garden to relax not necessarily to work. While I am there, however; I listen to my neighbors who are still pushing the mowers, blowers, and trimmers and making such a racket all they can do is escape back into their houses when they are done. Aside from the special occasion of a picnic, birthday or some kind of special event most people seem not to enjoy just lazing around in the backyards. I am often the only person in my backyard and the view that I share to other yards is often without their inhabitants.

It seems to me that for all people who grow up the USA lawns seem to be a right and an expectation. The issue is not whether or not we merit or are justified to have lawns. The question should be Why? I understand the reason for children playing in backyards and possibly for benefits of people with pets, but these uses used to be handled by parks where people often went to recreate and socialize. Now-a-days parks serve mostly to foster team sports; the rest we seem to do in private. But for show? A garden is far more complex and beautiful and if designed correctly does not need to equal more work than a lawn.

The issues of course are not so black and white because design costs money, installation likewise and finally once you have it installed who is going to take care of it if not you? Your typical mow and blow fellow who comes once a week and charges 30-50 dollars makes his money by doing a lot of different lawns. If you ask him to stop and look at something more complex, that might take him a half hour that throws off his schedule and you may not get what you want done correctly because he may not know how to do it. So who is left to do garden work? That, I will leave for another day.

The following, are a few plants worth showing that were not in bloom for the Tour.
Japanese Snowbell (Styrax japonica) From above
A medium size tree about 20 to 30 feet in height and width that blooms magically with white or pink fragrant flowers that hang to create magical effect in garden. Pest free and very little with little maintenance requirement. Plant some place where you can view flowers from below. Eventually flowers carpet ground like a snow fall. Mine is located in side yard and serves as a perfect screen between the houses.
Japanese Snowbell (Styrax japonica) Branch flowering detail
Dainty Bess a Hybrid Tea Rose bred in England in 1925: A simple and elegant rose.

Austin's Graham Thomas bred in 1983 is one of the finest yellow roses to date

Oriental Poppy (Papaver orientale) that has managed to grow in my garden in spite of its requirement for not too much water

Another of my unknown irises. Please feel free to identify and send me a note if you know the variety.
Herbaceous Peony Resembling a Strawberry Ice Cream Cone

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