Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Third Time's the Charm

I had been to David and Deirdre Tomlinson's garden called Merlin's Hollow in May and June, but I had never visited the garden in summer. 

What would the garden be like at its peak I wondered? 

If nothing else, my first two visits to Merlin's Hollow had taught me that there was still had lots to learn from these two very experienced gardeners.

June Columbine

On each of my previous two visits to the garden it rained. No, scratch that. On my second visit, it not only poured, there was the accompanying dramatics of thunder and lightening. 

Could the third time possibly be the charm?

Well, as you will see from my picture of this Clematis, I only narrowly escaped the morning's rain.

The sun even obliged and put in an appearance for a couple of the shots!

For those of you who may have missed the previous blog posts on Merlin's Hollow, the garden was designed by David, a landscape architect, to be a series of 4 themed gardens or "rooms" surrounded by a tall cedar hedge. 

At the entrance to each of the 4 gardens is an arched garden gate. 

There is a Perennial Flower Garden on the lower left, a Fragrant Garden (with a thyme lawn) on the top left, a Rock and Water Garden (with a stream and pond) on the top right, and a Winter Garden (that is a formal knot garden) in the lower right corner. 

To the front of their house, David created a Winter Garden. This formal knot garden has clipped boxwood hedges, and because it is evergreen, the knot garden looks great all through the year. 

In spring, the centre sections of the boxwood knots were filled with spring bulbs. In July, bright red annual poppies were blooming.

In the narrow flower border that surround the knot garden, were these magnificent Bear's Breeches, Acanthus mollis. (Bear's Breeches are happy in a variety of soils and moisture conditions. Full sun/part shade Height: 90-150 cm Spread: 75-90 cm)

Note: Nothing in the garden is labeled, and so if I make a mistake in my identifications, please feel free to correct my mistake. 

Also in the Knot Garden was this plant: Spotted Bellflower, Campanula punctata (Carefully consider before planting Campanula punctata. From everything I have read, this plant can be a bit invasive.)

To the left of the Knot Garden is the Perennial Garden. Here it was in May.

 Now, here it is in June.

A second view in June.

Finally, here it is in July.

Let's take a look around at some of the July standouts in this part of the garden. We will begin with a quick look at a couple of the taller perennials. 

At the back of this grouping is Giant Fleece Flower, Persicaria polymorpha, with its creamy white flower plumes. Full sun/part shade. Average to moist growing conditions in a variety of soil types. Height: 90-120 cm Spread: 80-90 cm.

The mauve flowers in the foreground are Prairie Mallow, Sidalcea Full sun. Height: 60-90 cm Spread: 30-45 cm

Dark Mullein, Verbascum nigrum which is a tall, deciduous biennial or short lived perennial that tolerates drought and prefers loamy, well-draned soil. Full sun. Height: 90 cm Spread 60 cm

Culver's Root, Veronicastrum virginicum 'Album' will grow in a variety of soils, likes full sun and average to moist growing conditions. Height 120-180 cm Spread 75-90 cm

Now, we'll move on to plants for the front or middle of a border. Here we have Balloon Flower, Platycodon grandiflorus which likes full sun and will grow in normal, sandy and clay soils. It  prefers average or moist soil. Height: 45-60 cm Spread: 35-45 cm

White Masterwort, Astrantia blooms for a good part of the summer. Full sun or part shade. Astrantia is happy in a variety of soil types. Average to moist growing conditions. Height: 55-65 cm Spread: 45-60 cm

Whirling Butterflies, Gaura lindheimeri is a North American wildflower. Full sun to part shade 
Height: 90-120 cm Spread: 60-90 cm

By far, my favourite July blooms were found on the different varieties of clematis that were scattered throughout the garden. Seeing this clematis was a nice reminder that not all varieties of clematis reach for the skies. Some varieties grow to a much more modest height, like this pretty one above. 

I thought it was interesting that David and Deirdre were using a standard tomato cage for support and had placed the clematis in the middle of their flowerbed.

Here is another one of these bell-shaped clematis, this time on an arbor.

I am sorry that I don't have identifications for any of these clematis. If you like them as much as I do, you can always look for different bell-shaped varieties at your local nursery this spring. 

(In Canada, you can get a number of different bell-shaped varieties through Gardenimports. Locally, Lost Horizons Nursery also has a nice selection. If you know of any other great sources for clematis, please let us all know.)

There are still 2 more garden rooms to see, but I'll save them for a second post.


  1. Jennifer - I was there years and years ago. Your photos have convinced me that I must visit again this summer.
    BTW - I just repinned a few of these pix on Pinterest :)

  2. So beautiful, loved everything!

    By the way, I introduced the book that I got from you in my blog, here´s the address if you want to take a peak:

  3. I love the magnolia and tulips, and the marvelous gate too. Nice to see these gardens, thanks a lot !

  4. Preciosas las imágenes, es un jardín espectacular!!
    Un abrazo grande.

  5. I can imagine how beautiful it must be to visit this garden. Helas a little bit to far away for me.
    Have a wonderful day Jennifer.

  6. Beautiful shots of a beautiful garden!!! I love the Acanthus mollis- we have those here as well. Everything looks spectacular! Nice little vacation- thanks!!

  7. All I can say is WOW, WOW AND DOUBLE WOW!!! This is absolutely breathtaking. I love how full the beds are and I love all of these flowers. These gardeners are so talented!! I didn't know that there are Clematis that remain smaller. I would love to find one for my garden. I sure wish I could visit this garden. Thanks for taking me along on your visits. (The next time you visit here, please send my regards as I truly think this garden is magnificent!!)

  8. So very gorgeous! :-)

  9. A very lovely garden, and I especially love the clematistypes you show.
    Also the Verbascum and the Astrantia are among my favorite plants.
    You always show some wonderful gardens. Thank you.

  10. Beautiful garden and photos. Love the arbors, poppies, clematis, Verbascum, and general layout.

  11. A charm indeed!
    What a beautiful series of photographs this is, Jennifer.

  12. I just love when you post your garden visits. The photos shared are always so inspiring and this post...makes me think of the summer months ahead..once spring relaxes and settles in that is ;-) First robin today!

  13. Beautiful! These days I'm almost shocked when I see anyone plant campanula because it is a rampant weed out here. I've never seen anything reseed like campanula, it's the most enthusiastic plant I've ever grown! lol

    Have a great night!

  14. How wonderful! I was really taken with his design of this garden! i like the idea of rooms because I feel like you can then incorporate many different styles into one space. Some days I like formal and other days I like cottage...this concept gives you the freedom to celebrate many styles in one space! Your photos are just exquisite Jennifer! Wow! I can't wait to see the rest of the garden rooms!

  15. I do like gardens which have different areas in them and are planted up accordingly, that's probably because that is how mine has been designed!! So many plants like different habitats, far better to give them separate areas than to put everything in together. Some of the clematis shown could be herbacious types which don't climb or they could be varieties of Clematis texensis which have lovely little nodding bells.

  16. Wonderful photos Jennifer, what a beautiful place to visit. The raindrops on the clematis and columbines give such a pretty effect. I am inspired to fill my garden with poppies again.

  17. Thank you for this walk through a magical garden. So many ideas and tips - like the tomato cage for the clematis. I wonder, do you think they cut back the clematis every year to contain it so neatly?

  18. What a fantastic garden. I loved the columbine and the poppies.xxxxx

  19. I love their design! What a gorgeous garden, and I can only imagine what pleasure it gives to them. Love the bell shaped clematis, and I like that it's a focal point.

  20. A lovely walk through a beautiful plantsmen garden. I too love the design with 4 different parts.

  21. Healthy, well grown Clems are always a delight to the eyes! The tomato cages work great-especially for the non vining varieties. I also use tomato cages upside down to support some of the taller Dahlias I grow. Great garden!

  22. Clematis are one of my favourite plants and you have captured them beautifully in the wonderful (high maintenance) garden - my garden always seem slightly inadequate after seeing some of the gardens you post about.

  23. I think the dark pink clematis is Princess Diana. I just added one to my garden. The blue bell shaped one is Roguchi. I grow that, too. What you're calling fleeceflower looks to me like aruncus, also known as Goat's Beard. What an incredible garden! How wonderful to see so much green!

  24. I can see why you're splitting this up into numerous posts. There is so much to look at here! I too loved the numerous clematis. They're like chips, can't have just one!

  25. I'd love to visit this garden too :))
    Pretty arcs, I love the photo (in may) with tulips and blooming magnolia. The clematis es are gorgeous!
    Have a nice weekend!

  26. This one of the most beautiful gardens I have seen with the flowers and so many I love.

  27. Scrolled through many of your latest posts... playing catch up. Love the hosta/heuchera combinations in the shade gardens, a lot! Your photos always blow me away, just outstanding.
    The golden poppies are beautiful and you showcased them so well. Lots and lots of great plants in this all the clematis.


I love to hear from you. Thanks for leaving a comment.