Friday, August 26, 2011

Larkwhistle Part 2

There is a slick saying that I, as an artist, have always hated. "Do what you love and the money will follow." This sweeping statement suggests that acting on your passions in life will not only be self-fullilling, they will lead directly to that self-sustaining necessity called "money". 

But, there is not a hint of just how quick will that money follow if you, as an artist, quit your job and start painting away in your attic studio. The reality is that the money may never come. I can think of many an artist who died virtually penniless.

Everyone thinks they have talents. And they do more or less. The question is instead, is that gift for writing stories, taking photographs, painting pictures or singing songs exceptional?

Do really talented people know that they are truly gifted? 

I am not so sure confidence and talent necessarily go hand in hand. Certainly, there are many people who think they have talent where little or none exists. Just think of those sad creatures who turn up for auditions on shows like American Idol, fully believing that they are the next big singing sensation, when in reality they can barely carry a tune.

I believe that people who do great things, do so, not so because they believe acting on their passions will bring guaranteed rewards. They act on their passions because something inside compels them to take that huge leap of faith. The strength of their commitment is impervious to nagging doubts and the fear of failure that haunt the rest of us.

I know, you must be wondering what all this has to do with gardening? 

Well, years ago when Patrick Lima and John Scanlan decided to quietly follow their passion for gardening on vacant strip of land near the tip of the Bruce Peninsula, it was a tremendous leap of faith. Larkwhistle is quite literally in the middle of nowhere. Winters on the Bruce were going be long and harsh. Everything including their home would have to be built from scratch, with little very money on hand. Plants would have to be gifts from friends or grown from seed. 

There was absolutely no guarantee that they could make a go of it, much less that "money would follow." I have no doubt, it took amazing courage and conviction for Patrick and John to act on their love of gardening. And I am sure that there were plenty of lean years before the money from the sale of their books began to roll in the door. 

That is courage you just have to admire.

In this second post on Larkwhistle garden, we will head into the center of the garden.

We will pass by a small shed where onions are drying on a table.

These are grapes growing up the side of the shed.

Fancy hybrid roses, like this one, seem to be in the minority at Larkwhistle. I noted more use of 
old fashioned shrub roses instead.

An educated guess that this is Phlox panicilata 'Franz Schubert'

One of the intriguing things about the layout of the property is that the vegetable garden is not a separate entity, but is incorporated right into the main flower garden. In this shot, you can see vegetables growing just beyond the phlox.

An apple tree creates the shade for the phlox at its feet.

There is no water tap or hose at Larwhistle with which to water the garden. The 
watering can at the edge of the pond is not purely decorative either.

It is not a great picture, but I want to call your attention to the tall purple flower on the middle left.

It was hard to get a great picture with the tiny flowers shifting in the breeze, but isn't this pretty?
It is Meadow Rue or Thalictrum delavayi. I have tried myself to grow this unsuccessfully. It likes moist soil, which I don't have. After seeing it here, I may have to give Meadow Rue one more go.

Finally, we will take a quick look at the "Quite Garden" where the color palette has been limited to calming whites.

On the left there is Black Snakeroot, Cimicifuga racemosa and on the right Lily of the Nile (another example of zonal denial. Lily of the Nile is native to South Africa.)

If you are thinking of making a visit to this quintessential Canadain garden, the good news is that Larkwhistle is open to the public. Admission is a nominal charge of $3. There are also cards with John Scanlan's photography and seeds for sale at the front gate. 

Check out this link for further information: Larkwhistle Garden. While you are in the area, be sure to check out some of the many other beautiful gardens on the Grey-Bruce Peninsula. To get a more information and a map of these rural gardens chick here.

Have a great weekend!

Today, I am going to link up to Fertilizer Friday at Tootsie Time. On Monday, I will link to the Creative ExchangeTo see other great posts please click the links.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Taking Notes on Late Summer Color at Larkwhistle Gardens

When I was but a young thing, with not much more than dreams of my very own garden, I turned to books to teach and inspire me. 

Of those books, some of the most influential were the ones written by Patrick Lima, with beautiful photographs by his partner John Scanlan. Their garden, located in the northwestern corner of the Bruce Peninsula in Ontario, was everything I hoped to create myself one day.

When I was finally able to visit the garden I had studied in books for years, I was not disappointed. The garden was every bit as amazing as it had appeared in the glossy pages of my books. 

Recently, we were able to return for a second visit to the garden Patrick Lima and John Scanlan have named 'Larkwhistle'.

Although I have now been gardening for years, I think that I still have lots to learn. I find that there are always plants that I have forgotten about or otherwise overlooked. And I am always delighted to discover perennials that I have never attempted to grow myself. Color combinations still leap out and surprise me. 

The plan of Larkwhistle Garden from the book The Art of Perennial Gardening by Patrick Lima, 
Photographs by John Scanlan, Published by Firefly Books in 2000. 

So, come along with me and take a stroll down the soft, sandy paths of Larkwhistle. It is late summer, a time when many perennials have faded, yet there is lots of color here. Let's take a look and see what is in bloom.

The three tall perennials in a row just inside the front gate are Mullein. Two varieties of Mullein are grown at Larkwhistle, Verbascum olympicum (Greek Mullein) and Verbascum bombyciferum (Turkish Mullein). 

Mulleins are a biennials plants, which produce leafy rosettes in the first year, and flowering stalks in the second year. Verbascum olympicum is the branching Greek relative of the North American native Verbascum thapsus, which can often be seen growing in fields of wild flowers. The second variety of mullein, Verbascum bombyciferum is thickly coated with downy wool and has clear yellow flowers. Both mulleins prefer sun and light, sandy soil.

At Larkwhistle, the mulleins are left to self-seed. Patrick Lima writes that the spent flower stalks are a winter favourite with chickadees. In spring, the young seedlings are lifted from wherever they have happened to have appear and are transplanted towards the back of the flower borders.

When it comes to color, sedums are indispensable at this time of year.

Opposite the sedums and just beyond the pond are these pretty lilies.

Hummingbirds were going wild for these 'Black Beauty' Lilies. 

Now, we will turn and head into the main garden.

Just as you enter the garden, there is a garden bench. Behind it is a mixed planting that includes navy-colored Monkshood, Aconitum and white Phlox, Phlox paniculata 'David', yellow daylilies and tall yellow-orange Helenium.

Opposite the bench is a cluster of Torch Lilies (Kniphofia). Torch lilies, which have elongated heads of tubular flowers, are listed as hardy to Zone 6, yet they survive the harsh winters of the Bruce Peninsula. Patrick Lima writes that the secret of getting them to over-winter is to plant the lilies in light, sandy soil that provides good drainage. As an extra measure, he also suggests that in fall you bunch the spent leaves to make a sheltering tent. Then, a light soil is heaped over the crowns, and leaf mulch is placed around (not over) the tuft of tied foliage.

False Mallow, Sidalcea 'Party Girl'

Did you notice the tall perennial just behind the False Mallow? It is Helenium or Sneezeweed. I have found that this North American native is a great upright plant in my own late summer garden. They prefer rich moist earth and sun, but it will tolerate light shade.

I was blown away by this zinnia and when I got home I was kicking myself for not remembering to go back and ask its name. A little research online leads me to believe that it is Zinnia 'Purple Prince'. The magenta colored flowers were an impressive 3" or 4" inches in circumference.

We are now going to head down another pathway at the top of the garden to see what is in flower there.

Another hummingbird magnet is scarlet Crocosmias. Though Crocosmia is native to South Africa, they can actually be made to over-winter in a northern garden if they are given good drainage and a generous topping of mulch. Grown from spring-planted corms, Crocosmia require sun and light, sandy soil. Interesting to note, is the fact that deer apparently dislike the taste of them.  

You can always depend on phlox for great, late summer color.

Phlox blossoms float on the surface of a small pond.

Right beside the phlox are soft blue Globe Thistles, Echinops ritro. Globe thistles like full sun (although I have a plant that puts up with light shade).

Just opposite the Globe Thistles are Sea Holly, 'Eryngium planum'. I made the mistake of planting one in light shade and can tell you from disappointing results, that it is a plant that will only be happy if planted in full sun. 

This post is getting a bit long and so we will head into the garden's core in my next post.