Sunday, July 23, 2017

Teresa's Garden

I am always delighted to hear from readers. On occasion, I even get an invitation to visit their gardens!

Teresa is regular reader and passionate gardener who has managed to fit an amazing array of plants, trees and shrubs in a modest urban garden. We had a pleasant morning strolling through her garden talking about plants.

The garden starts in the front yard and continues all the way around her red brick home. In this picture you can see the garden that runs the length of the driveway and a glimpse of the patio area.

One of my personal favourites is this little vignette with a table and two chairs.

I also love the simplicity of the variegated ivy and the beige urn.

Adjacent to the front door is a small patio area with an umbrella providing shade. Plantings at the front of the house make the area private. 

Teresa has added color with cheerful blue accessories and restricted the plantings to a quiet palette of green and white.

The fountain was a welcome gift. 

 A table adjacent to the front pathway.

Next on our tour is the backyard. At the corner of the house is a very pretty hydrangea. The blooms start off magenta-pink and slowly fade to a soft beige.

'Invincibelle Spirit' has magenta-pink flowers that fade to soft beige. 'Invincibelle Spirit' prefers full sun, but will tolerate part shade. It blooms on new wood, so prune in late winter/early spring. Height: 4-5ft inches. Spread: 4-5ft inches. USDA zones: 3-8.

On the left is the pathway to the backyard. On the right is a detailed look at the begonia you see in the hanging baskets.

Tucked into a corner at the back of the house is a dining area with seating for six. There is no fence between neighbouring properties, so Teresa has used a tall metal shelf to add some privacy. The shelf is also the perfect excuse to create a display of plants and favourite collectables.

Tropical indoor plants spend their summer's outdoors in Teresa's container plantings. Just before the first frost in the fall, she cleans them up and brings them back indoors for the winter.

Oakleaf Crotons have become popular indoor plants.  They have leathery leaves that start out green and become accented with yellow and orange as they mature. They can grow as large as 5-6ft. Full sun.

Right next to the dining area is more comfortable seating. In the lower left of this picture, you can see more of Teresa's collection of hydrangeas.

Oakleaf Hydrangea, Hydrangea quercifolia gets its name from its foliage which is shaped like the leaves of an oak tree. Oakleaf hyrangeas like hot summers and can tolerate dry conditions much more than many other types of hydrangeas. They like rich, well-drained soil. There are both single and double blossom varieties. They bloom on old wood, so prune just after it flowers. Note: they are not as cold hardy as some other types of hydrangeas. Full sun or part shade (depending on the variety). USDA zones:5-9.

A few cultivars to watch for:

'Spikes Dwarf' is a dwarf variety with a compact, rounded shape. The flowers are white and fade to pink. Full sun to part shade. Height: 2-3ft, Spread: 3-4ft. USDA zones:5-9.

Proven Winner's 'Gatsby Gal' has white flowers on a smaller shrub. Height: 60-72 inches, Spread: 60-72 inches. USDA zones:5-9.

Monrovia's 'Ruby Slippers' has white flowers that quickly turn pink. The foliage turns mahogany in fall. Part shade. Height: 3-4 ft, Spread: 4-5ft. USDA zones:5-9.

Proven Winner's 'Snow Queen' has white flowers that turn pink. Part sun. Height:4-5ft, Spread: 6ft. USDA zones:5-9.

Monrovia's 'Alice' is one of the larger cultivars. The flowers are white. In the fall, the foliage turns crimson. Part shade. Height: 12-15 ft, Spread: 12-15 ft. USDA zones:5-9.

This is the flowerbed that runs along the back fence. A row of cedars forms a backdrop for the planting that takes advantage of every square inch of space.

1. Tree Peony, Paeonia suffruticosa 2. Ligularia 3. Maiden grass, Miscanthus 4. Lavender 5. Agapanthus (summer flowering bulb that is hardy USDA zones: 8-10. They can also grown elsewhere with some winter protection or by overwintering the bulbs indoors.) 6. Weigela

I am not sure of the identity of this hosta, but here are several cultivars that have a green leaf with a stripe of butter yellow:

Hosta 'Stripease' has green leaves with a golden-yellow centre. Height: 45-50 cm ( 18-20 inches), Spread: 90-120 cm (35-47 inches). USDA zones:2-9.

Hosta 'Touch of Class' has blue-green leaves a central streak of pale yellow. Height: 30-40 cm (12-16 inches), Spread: 45-60 cm (18-23 inches). USDA zones:2-9.

Hosta 'High Society' has a warm yellow centre that brightens to white mid-summer. Height: 20-25 cm (8-10 inches), Spread: 40-60 cm (16-23 inches). USDA zones:2-9.

Hosta 'Thunderbolt' has thick, rubbery leaves with a gold flash down the centre. Height: 60-75 cm (23-29 inches), Spread: 75-90 cm (29-35 inches). USDA zones:2-9.

Big Leaf hydrangea, Hydrangea Macrophylla

A re-blooming daylily with yellow flowers, a red Bee Balm, Monarda, a variegated Dogwood shrub and Smoke Tree, Cotinus in behind. 

A few Re-blooming daylilies to watch for:

Hemerocallis 'Sunset Returns' forms a compact clump of grass-like foliage and has fragrant golden-apricot flowers. Height: 30-40 cm (12-16 inches), Spread: 45-60 cm (18-23 inches). USDA zones:2-9.

Hemerocallis 'Red Hot Returns' has orange-red flowers with a lime-colored throat. Semi-evergreen. Height: 50-60 cm (20-23 inches), Spread: 45-60 cm (18-23 inches). USDA zones:4-9.

Hemerocallis 'Rosy Returns' has rose-pink flowers with a dee-pink eye and a yellow throat. Height: 30-35 cm (12-14 inches), Spread: 45-60 cm (18-23 inches). USDA zones:2-9.

Hemerocallis 'Stella de Oro' has fragrant golden-yellow flowers. Height: 25-30 cm (10-12 inches), Spread: 30-60 cm (12-23 inches). USDA zones:2-9.

A grass pathway leads into a little alcove where Teresa has a collection of hosta, miniature hosta and other shade loving plants.

A Buddha watches over a tiny hosta.

Hosta 'Blue Mouse Ears' is a miniature hosta with blue-green foliage and lavender flowers. Good slug resistance. Part shade to full shade. Height: 10-15 cm (4-6 inches), Spread: 20-30 cm (8-12 inches). USDA zones:2-9.

The plantings continue right around the side of the house. A grass path leads you back to the patio area at the front.

Thank you Teresa for a lovely visit!

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Glorious Shade Book Review & Giveaway

This summer I am tackling a neglected flowerbed under some mature lilac bushes. Sadly it's a task that has long been overshadowed by a litany of other more pressing projects. I've cleared away the weeds and removed a big patch of ditch daylilies that were mostly green due to the lack of sunlight. What I have now is basically a clean slate.

The possibilities are limited only by my imagination and the growing conditions–which I would describe as dry shade. My wish list is ambitious–I want some color, attractive foliage and year round interest.

What are my options?

It's an exciting project to think about, but if I'm being honest, a blank canvas can be a little intimidating even for an experienced gardener like myself. Hostas are versatile and dependable, but there are other more interesting and unusual options I'd like to consider as well. And that's where having a great reference like Glorious Shade has come in handy. The book is well researched and packed with valuable information. It's been fun to be able to pour through the plant listings and begin to plan.

From the book Glorious Shade. Photo by Jenny Rose Carey. © 2017 Jenny Rose Carey. Published by Timber Press. Excerpted with permission of the publisher.

I want to start out by commenting on the book title: Glorious Shade. So often gardeners think of shade as a disadvantage and not as an opportunity. But the descriptive "glorious" is well within the realm of possibilities for a shade garden. Shade gardens tend to be greener spaces that rely more on foliage than flowers, but that is not to say they are without color.

From the book Glorious Shade. Photo by Jenny Rose Carey. © 2017 Jenny Rose Carey. Published by Timber Press. Excerpted with permission of the publisher.

Shade seems like a simple enough term, but light changes with the passage of the sun and the shifting seasons. Author Jenny Rose Carey defines "full shade" as areas of a garden receiving less than 2 hours of sun and "part shade" as 2-6 hours of sunlight, but even so, within these parameters there are varying degrees and qualities of light.

The number of hours of shade, and the time of day it occurs are important considerations when choosing plants. Morning sun/afternoon shade is the most gentle type of light. The opposite, morning shade/afternoon sun, requires tougher plants that can take the heat. Plants with delicate leaves, and those that like moist soil are better planted where there is some protection from the sun.

The flowerbed I am reworking is in shade in the early morning. As the sun climbs in the sky, the area gets some sunlight, but this period of light is interrupted twice as the sun passes behind two big trees on the opposite side of the garden.

From the book Glorious Shade. Photo by Jenny Rose Carey. © 2017 Jenny Rose Carey. Published by Timber Press. Excerpted with permission of the publisher.

Glorious Shade also addresses the seasonal changes that take place in a shade garden. Every season has its delights, a calendar of tasks and a list of plants that provide interest.  Other chapters cover soil improvement, choosing the right plants and designing a shade garden. The chapter on design includes notes on different types of gardens; rock gardens, xeric gardens, and water and moss gardens–just to name a few. There is even a brief section dedicated to container gardening in shade.

The part of the book that I think you'll refer to again and again is the reference of plants, trees and shrubs for shade. Each type of plant has a photo, a point-form list of growing conditions and notations on size and zone. This lets you know at a glance wether a plant is what your looking for. A detailed plant profile follows with more key information.

I also think you'll find that the lists peppered throughout the book are super handy; plants for moist to wet soil, native plants, plants for well-drained soil, fragrant shade plants, plants for seasonal interest, etc.

Just to give you an idea of how useful a reference this book might be, I thought I'd highlight a few of the recommended shrubs for shade conditions.

One thing I want to include in my flowerbed redesign is a shrub to hide the rather ugly trunk of an evergreen tree. I always default to a yew, which has the bonus of also being evergreen, but how boring of me when there are so many other shrubs I should consider!

Let's take a look at a few of the many options suggested in the book.

From the book Glorious Shade. Photo by Jenny Rose Carey. © 2017 Jenny Rose Carey. Published by Timber Press. Excerpted with permission of the publisher.

Philadelphus x virginalis
Sweet Mock Orange
Part shade
8-10 ft tall and wide
USDA zones: 4-8

This is a shrub that's been on my wish list for a while. The white flowers have are scented like orange blossoms. Prune it after it flowers.

From the book Glorious Shade. Photo by Jenny Rose Carey. © 2017 Jenny Rose Carey. Published by Timber Press. Excerpted with permission of the publisher.

Itea virginica
Virginia Sweet Spire
Bright or Part shade
3-5 ft. tall and 3-6 ft. wide
USDA zones: 5-9

Virginia Sweet Spire is native to eastern North America. It's adaptable and will grow in a wide range of soil conditions from fairly dry to quite moist. Long white flowers appear in summer and are quite fragrant. The foliage turns red in the fall. The leaves of cultivar 'Henry's Garnet' acquire a vibrant reddish-purple hue in the autumn. 'Little Henry' is a smaller cultivar.
Update: One reader in Alabama has warned me that this is a shrub that suckers and spreads– something to keep in mind.

From the book Glorious Shade. Photo by Jenny Rose Carey. © 2017 Jenny Rose Carey. Published by Timber Press. Excerpted with permission of the publisher.

Kalmia latifolia
American Mountain Laurel
Bright to full shade
4-8 ft. or more tall and wide
USDA zones: 4-8

This is a slow growing shrub that likes moist, somewhat acidic soil. It flowers in late spring/early summer with blooms that are white, pink or dark red.

Korean Spice Viburnum, Viburnum carlessii (my own image)

Private garden Toronto, Ontario (my own image)

Virburnum plicatum tomentosum
Doublefile Viburnum
Part shade
8-12 ft tall and wide
USDA zones: 5-8

Viburnum are a group of deciduous or evergreen shrubs that grow best in dappled shade. 

I'm showing two examples: Korean Spice Viburnum, Viburnum carlessii has waxy, pink flowers that fade to white. The flowers are followed by bright red berries that become black as they ripen. Virburnum plicatum tomentosum or Doublefile Viburnum has non-fragrant, white flowers in late spring. Red fruit follow the flowers. 

Private garden Toronto, Ontario (my own image)

Bottlebrush Buckeye (my own image)
Aesculus parviflora
Bottlebrush Buckeye
Part to full shade
8-12 ft tall and up to 15 wide

Aesculus are deciduous trees and shrubs with palmate foliage. 

A Bottlebrush Buckeye has upright flower panicles in mid-summer that butterflies love. In autumn, the leaves are bright, golden-yellow. This shrub likes moist soil especially when it is getting established. In ideal conditions, it will spread to form a colony (something to bear in mind).

Smooth Hydrangea
Hydrangea Incrediball Blush
4-5 ft tall and 5 ft wide

Incrediball Blush is one of the new introduction. It has thicker stems than classic smooth hydrangeas and massive pink tinged with magenta flowers. It flowers on new growth, so prune it in late winter/early spring.

There are many more ideas in the book. I'm still looking through them all and trying to decide.

I'm going to give the final words of this post to the author. Jenny Rose Carey writes:

"As you develop your own shade garden, choose trees that you love, fill your space with plants that inspire you, and arrange them in ways that please you. Your garden will be an outdoor space that is as unique as you are, and will provide pleasure for you, your family and your guests."

Certainly this is a book that shows you that shade can indeed be glorious.

Thomas Allen & Sons has kindly given me a copy of Glorious Shade to give away. Because this book will go to a winner through the mail, I will have to limit entry to readers in Canada and the USA. 

Please leave a comment below, if you would like to be included in the book draw. The draw will remain open until Monday, July 31stIf you are not a blogger, you can enter by leaving a comment on the Three Dogs in a Garden Facebook page (there is an additional link to the Facebook page at the bottom of the blog). You are also welcome to enter by sending me an email (

About the Author:

Jenny Rose Carey is a well-known educator, historian and author. She is the senior director at the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society's Meadowbrook Farm in Jenkintown. She is an avid, hands-on gardener who has gardened in both England and the United States. Her victorian property, Northview, contains diverse plant spaces, including a shade garden, moss garden and stumpery. Jenny Rose and her gardens have been featured on the PBS series The Victory Garden, in the Wall Street Journal, the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Pennsylvania Gardener. Glorious Shade is her first gardening book.

Photo by Rob Cardillo

Friday, July 14, 2017

The Little Stonehouse Garden

Most people try to avoid bringing their work home with them, but for Carrie Brandow, some of the plants she grows for a wholesale nursery business happily come home with her to fill her summer planters and enhance her garden's flowerbeds. 

"I love making combinations and seeing how plants work together," Carrie says. 

Even so, there is a big difference between her day job and playing with plant combinations at home. "Gardening is different from working in the mass growing and selling.  It's peaceful and it is mine without caring what anyone else wants," she continues.

Growing plants for a living was not always a future Carrie saw for herself. 

"My parents started a wholesale greenhouse in 1967.  I grew up in that greenhouse," she says. "I went to university for environmental science, but after graduating, came back to the nursery. Working in the family greenhouse allowed me to bring my children to work - the greenhouse hired a nanny during the peak growing times.  I had my daughter in a sling on my hip from 3 months old for her first year.  Now my son would not have any of that and he had a playpen attached to a moving flower rack."

While a small business offers some flexibility, it's also a lot of hard work. The days are long. Usually Carrie is out the door a little after six in the morning and she often does return home until six in the evening. 

The work is rewarding though. Watching tiny seedlings grow and mature into something beautiful is a task Carrie enjoys. "Most rewarding is having combinations I design work out just as I imagined - they don't always.  If I'm being honest, I did not know what many plants looked like at maturity and how they performed in the garden until I started gardening.  The goal in the greenhouse is to get them big enough to sell and then ship them out."

Having a ready supply of annuals gives Carrie's garden a distinctive style and a definite flamboyance. Great drifts of annuals are not something you often see in a private garden. 

Their growing lives are short, so annuals give a single gardening season everything they've got. With the right care, they provide ongoing color in a way that slow and steady perennials never can. 

The red flower is Nemisa 'Nesia Burgundy' and low growing annual by the mushrooms is Oxalis Burgundy.

1. Maiden grass, Miscanthus 2. Bearded Iris 3. Baby's Breath, Gypsophila 4. Red Hot Poker, Kniphofia 5. Delphinium 6. Oriental Poppy, Papaver orientale 7. Lilies 8. Hollyhocks, Alcea rosea 9. Sedum

A rose and a dwarf form of Campanula.

This rose was a clearance item."It was from the discount area at Zehrs–I think I paid a dollar for it 😋 ", Carrie says.

Flowerpots punctuate the garden and are generously packed with plants. The oversized containers lift the plants up and bring the flowers closer to eye level. Mixed in among the big pots are little gems; small containers with textural arrangements of dusty-green and grey succulents. 

For Carrie, creating a container that will look great well into the fall season begins with the soil. "Potting soil (not garden soil) is what I use and it is the only soil I would use," she says. 

As to any additional nutrients, Carrie tells me,"Liquid fertilizer is just too much work, so I use a soil that has slow release fertilizer in it. I also topdress with a 14-14-14 granular slow release fertilizer."

Carrie cautions that it's important to remember that different annuals can have varying requirements: 

"Petunias are very heavy feeders and can not really be over fertilized, while if you fertilize nasturtiums, you will get lots of foliage and no bloom. How much to fertilize is a balancing act depending on the contents of a planter. I also stop fertilizing fall planters after mid August - kale will not colour (white kale will go back to green) and mums will send up new growth instead of becoming an even round ball of bloom."  

The containers she makes for clients sometimes have design or color restrictions, but in her own garden, Carrie can be as creative as she likes. The design process begins with a series of questions:

"When I plant my own containers, I always start the same way. What colours will work in the area? If there are reds and oranges around, I am not doing pink. Is it full sun, full shade or in between? What container am I am using?  The general principals of flower design is container 1/3 height to the flower height 2/3–which I try for, but do not always achieve."

"The other thing I look at is where the container is located compared to the water source.  I have over 40 container planters throughout my garden - if the container is less than 14 inches in diameter, it needs to be close to water or must be able to live without water on a regular basis."

"That being said, in my main 'showcase' planters I usually start with a plant I want to try out or a colour scheme and run from there."

The pergola was teamwork. Husband David did the construction while Carrie served as design consultant and painter.

David is a blacksmith and made many of the pieces of artwork you see in the garden. The chair to the right of the container planting is one of his creations. 

At the back of this container planting is the"thriller"Giant Reed, Arundo Donax 'Variegata'.

Giant Reed, Arundo Donax 'Variegata' is a warm-season grass that has grey-green foliage streaked with bands of cream. It likes moist soil and will even grow in standing water. In frost-free areas, it will remain evergreen (USDA zones 9-11), but in more northern zones, it will die back to the ground in winter (zones 6-7). Height: 12-15 ft (3.6-4.7 m), Spread: 8-10 ft (2.4-3 m). USDA zones: 6-10.

A closer look at the container shown in the previous picture: Lantana 'Evita Red', Petunia 'Littletunia Purple Blue', yellow Mercardonia and Coleus 'Redhead'

From the flowerbed right beside the container planting shown above:

Dwarf Bee Balm, Monarda 'Pardon my Purple' has magenta-purple flowers on a low, compact plant. Monarda is best grown in rich, medium to wet, moisture-retentive soil. Deadheading the flowers will extend the bloom time. Spreads by rhizomes and self-seeds to form colonies. Mildew resistant. Full sun or light shade. Height: 25-30 cm(10-12 inches), Spread:(10-12 inches). USDA zones: 4-8.

A raised bed at the back of the house.

1. Nasturtium 'Jewel Mix' 2. Coleus 'Redhead' 3. Golden Pineapple Sage, Salvia 'Golden delicious' 4. Fountain Grass, Pennisetum purpureum 'Princess Caroline'

A few of the containers filled with succulents.

A pretty table centrepiece from the patio area. Place a glass vase in the centre of a bowl and fill the 
bowl with fruit and vegetables.

1. Angelonia 2. Verbena 'Aztec Violet Blue' 3. Lantana 'Evita Red' 4. Petunia 'Littletunia Purple Blue' 5. Mercardonia 'Gold dust'

Summer snapdragon, Angelonia (perennial that can be used as an annual in northern garden zones) comes in colors of white, pink, lavender and purple. They like sun and tolerate heat and humidity well. Height: 8-12 inches.


A section of garden adjacent to the pergola. A pathway leads to the garage 
at the back of the property.

1. Russian Sage, Perovskia atriplicifolia 2. Tickseed, Coreopsis 3. Japanese Forest Grass, Hakonechloa macra 4. Euonymus  5. Daylily 6. Ostrich Fern, Matteuccia struthiopteris 7. Giant Fleece Flower, Persicaria Polymorpha

1. Lantana 'Evita Red' 2. Coleus 'Marble Red' 3. Floss Flower, Ageratum 'High Tide Blue' 4. Nemesia Nesia 'Sunshine' 

Floss Flower, Ageratum houstonianum (annual) has clusters of soft flowers in shades of blue, lavender and pink. There are both tall and shorter varieties. Full sun (with afternoon shade in warmer garden zones). Height: 10-18 inches.

When it comes to containers, most gardeners (myself included) focus on the flowers, but Carrie advises differently:

"My one word of advice would be do not forget the contrast in foliage colour.  If you want to keep your planters looking good all season, keep the different foliage colours in mind. Blooms can be in and out. The foliage will always be there. Some combinations work, some do not -  if you don't like the results - don't do it again next year."

Lots of great advice to put into practice!

Part 2 will focus on some of the other flowerbeds and will take further look at some of the more than 40 container plantings!