I was so looking forward to this master class - a workshop that focused on plant growth, how plants compete with each other, and how to assess their health and their suitability for various garden locations. We were supposed to learn the "rabbit’s eye view,” a close observation of plant growing habits and lifecycles that would make us better gardeners and designers. It was at Chanticleer, which was stunning. but Noel Kingsbury I felt was rather uninspiring.
A tough evergreen shrub with extremely fragrant small white pendent flowers that scent the air for yards around with a wonderful gardenia-like perfume during October and November. Later the brown fruit ripens to red and the evergreen foliage is great in flower arrangements, lustrous green above, dull and silvery dotted with brown below. It is a aggressive grower, impervious to pests, pollution, and salt spray, and thriving in sun or shade, and in all types of soil. I've tried growing 'Glen St. Mary' a supposedly more compact form that is meant to have a pleasing rounded habit unlike the ungainly wild forms. Don't believe it - the best way to grow this shrub is to train against a trellis, prune hard and enjoy the wonderful autumn fragrance.
The last day of bulb planting - finding pockets of empty soil in the beds while the sun shines and the grass still feels pleasant underfoot. Every fall I PROMISE myself I will NEVER buy bulbs again. Then spring comes and I the thousands of bulbs we've planted each year give such joy - the snowdrops, early crocus, chinodoxa, daffodils, bluebells, tulips - I cannot imagine a garden without them but think it enough. The tulips are gorgeous, but maybe, just maybe they will re-bloom next spring and there will be no need to plant any more in the fall. And then the catalogs arrive and I am seduced again - it would be good to have more anemones, the species tulips have been eaten by rodents over the years and probably should be replaced, and maybe instead of grubbing around the flower beds I could plant all the other other tulips in pots. That would be easy ... 5000 bulbs later......
The Annual Perennial Plant Conference - a great roster of speakers this year and the chance to sit outside on a gloriously warm day and have lunch on the grass with other plantaholics in Swathmore's magnificent outdoor amphitheater.
My favorite line of the day was from an English garden designer who quoted Germaine Greer - "at some point hormones turn to horticulture."
Another tree I could not be without. The Katsura has an understated elegance evident – never gauche, gaudy or noisy, always in elegant landscape fashion with a pyramidal habit in youth, pyramidal oval to rounded in maturity with a brown slightly shaggy bark that is lovely in all seasons. The young leaves emerge a beautiful bronzy purple, fading to light green and then blue-green, and turn rich yellow to apricot hues in the fall that is stunning. The dying fall leaves give off a fabulous, spicy caramel, cotton candy fragrance that is absolutely delicious.