I have really really good news, and I know many of the customers we shared with the late renowned horticulturist, Allen C. Haskell, will be especially delighted to read this: Allen’s 6 acre New Bedford MA property will once again be open to visitors. The Massachusetts land trust organization, the Trustees of Reservations purchased the property from the Haskell family in 2013. Under the Trustee’s stewardship, with Kristen de Souza at the helm as Superintendent of the Haskell property, the gardens and grounds are being restored and reinvented as the Allen C Haskell Public Garden. The official opening day is Oct 26, 2014.
I spoke with Ross Moran, Southeast Engagement Manager for the Trustees, about what has transpired since the transfer of ownership and what is planned for the future. Utile Inc along with Reed Hilderbrand Landscape Architects of Boston were brought in as design/planning consultants. The gardens at the front of the property remain as they were. Gone is the nursery area and several of the big greenhouses. In their place is an expanse of newly planted lawn, known as the Common, which will be an area for children’s play, picnics, and performances. Some of the space will be allocated for parking. The glasshouses are still there, but it has not been decided yet how they will be used.
The gardens were in need of an overhaul (as any gardener will tell you, it doesn’t take long for plantings to get out of control) and there was much pruning, pruning, (did I say pruning?), thinning, transplanting, and weeding. In less than a year, Kristen de Souza, along with her seasonal staff and volunteers, accomplished so much. Many wonderful aged specimens remain on the property, including Metasequoia (Dawn Redwood), Acer palmatum and griseum (Japanese and Paperbark Maple) and pruning has given them new life. The bluestone walks, cobble and stone work still provide excellent bones for the landscape.
The charming small brick buildings, covered with Ivy and Parthenocissus, will be repurposed as a visitor center, the superintendent’s office, and much needed rest rooms. The Hathaway House, where Allen last lived, will serve as the superintendent’s residence, and the other home on the property may be rented. Plans are to use some of the greenhouses for teaching gardening techniques.
You will also be delighted to know that Gene Bertrand, Allen’s long time partner and nursery manager, has been brought on as an advisor. The engaging Gene will be on hand on Opening Day to give one of several guided tours.
More about the Opening Day festivities: Date/time: Oct 26, 2014 from 11am-3pm. The ribbon cutting ceremony will be at 11:30 am and the staff , volunteers, donors and stakeholders will be recognized for their contributions. The afternoon promises music for varied tastes: performances by the New Bedford Symphony Orchestra (classical), the Jethro’s, (lively, feel good music), and even a local hip hop artist. Gourmet food trucks will be on hand. There are numerous children’s activities planned.
The Allen C Haskell Public Garden will be open year round, although winter hours may be more limited. If you can’t make it to the opening, plan to visit another time. For those of you who have never been, it is located at 787 Shawmut Ave. New Bedford MA. Contact email@example.com for the latest information.
Each year I take pictures of container combinations in June (see post) and then again in late September, to document and evaluate for good looks and ease of care. No 2 growing seasons are alike here in New England, so its difficult to say for sure that plants that showed off this year will do so next. What started off being a moist summer ended up quite dry here in Dartmouth MA. We haven’t had measurable rain now for 6 weeks or more, and August was particularly cool. A few of the containers in the June post did sell, and I’m hoping they fared well. I added a few combos planted with late summer and early autumn in mind.
How did your containers do? What were your favorite combinations?
Little Bluestem is an often over looked native yet very ornamental grass. This may be due to its intimidating Latin name but I suspect its because it is hard to document its charm in photographs…perhaps a video could capture its grace in motion. We’ve grown the selection ‘Blue Heaven’ in our garden (seen above) for a half dozen years, and it continues to impress us with its upright narrow foliage that transforms in color: almost powder blue in spring and summer, changing to plum wine tones in early fall, and becoming a stunning amber gold in early December. We’ve been impressed with how well it holds up to snow loads, springing upright as the white stuff melts away.
There are now a number of selected forms to choose from. ‘Standing Ovation’ is a bit shorter (3’-4’) than ‘Blue Heaven’ (closer to 4’). ‘Standing Ovation’ turns a very rich coppery red in the fall, later aging to a warm caramel color in winter. ‘Carousel’ is more compact and wide growing, growing 3’ x 3’, and its light blue green foliage takes on pink to wine tones in mid summer, with a multi color effect, of pink, wine, and mahogany tones in the fall. We are excited about offering two new forms in 2015: ‘Schizachyrium ‘Smoke Signal’ and ‘Twilight Zone’. ‘Smoke Signal’, maturing at 3-4’ begins to turn red in late summer, but as the fall unfolds the color becomes a dark purple. ‘Twilight Zone’ gets a bit taller 48-54”, with a narrow upright form. It holds its silvery blue color longer, developing dark purple highlights in autumn. These new forms reportedly share the same non flopping characteristics as ‘Blue Heaven’ (aka MinnBlue).
Do you need more convincing to grow this grass? Here you go: Little Bluestem is drought tolerant once established, deer resistant, tolerant of windy sites, adapts to a wide range of soil types except very wet soils, and is exceptionally cold hardy…zones 3-9.
I spent the weekend in western CT, participating in the plant sale at Hollister House Garden. Garden structures, walls, walkways, rills and other water features are the backdrop (or focal points) for exuberant plantings in the English Garden Style. It’s formal and casual at once. It’s the garden so many of us wish we had.
Thank you George Schoellkopf for creating this masterpiece and sharing it with so many.
For more info on visiting the garden, follow this website
A must have plant for the late summer/fall shade garden is Tricyrtis hirta, commonly known as Japanese Orchid or Toad Lily. There are numerous cultivars; one I am especially fond of is the selection ‘Tojen’ , with has unspotted lavender, orchid like flowers held in loose sprays on sturdy stems above large lush foliage.
Toad Lilies enjoy a soil that is rich welled drained soil that stays adequately moist in the growing season. ‘Tojen’ is more forgiving or drier soils than other cultivars, but I recommended keeping the soil irrigated to keep plants at there best in late summer when they really show off. ‘Tojen’ grows 24-30” tall by 30” wide and is hardy in zones 5-8. Some great companion plants are Kirengeshoma palmata, Begonia grandis and late blooming Hosta such as ‘Red October’.
Bees, butterflies and hummingbirds are getting excited. It is August and the Scarlet Sage are beginning to bloom.
Tall Scarlet Sage is a form of Salvia splendens but should not be confused with the short bedding plants that are popular annuals sold in 6 packs. Native to tropical Brazil, this Dutch selection was named for the nurseryman Louis Benoit Van Houtte, known also as the father of Belgium horticulture. Leafy plants grow 3-4’ tall and display dark red flowers accented with deeper red calyces from mid August to frost.
S. splendens ‘Van houttei’ enjoys a rich yet well drained soil in full sun or partial shade but requires adequate watering during dry spells. It is a tender perennial and will suffer when temperatures go below freezing. (hardy to zone 10). Plants will need to be dug and wintered over in a frost free area for the winter if grown in colder zones. For fresh stock, propagate by cuttings taken on new growth in the spring.
Only a couple of years ago this form of Salvia splendens had almost disappeared from cultivation after having been rediscovered twenty years ago. We forgot to save a stock plant a few years back, and this form does not come true from seed. At first we thought we could obtain new plants from other growers but to our dismay the only forms of tall Scarlet Sage being sold were impostors. The ordered plants would turn out to be either the orange red ‘Faye Chapelle’ or the red/purple form known as ‘Paul’. Both are good plants but they lack the beautiful coloring and looser form of the true ‘Van houttei’. We were able to beg some cuttings off a gardener in western MA who had kept plants going from plants he had saved for years. We now have a healthy supply and will be sure to take measures so we don’t lose it again.
One look at Kniphofia and you might be able to guess its native habitat is Africa. Commonly called Torch Lilies, or Red Hot Pokers if you prefer, this member of Xanthorrhoeaceae family (not Liliacea or the Lily family) forms upright grass like clumps of foliage from which rise spires of beautiful multi-toned tubular flowers beloved by bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. There are over 70 species, some of which are not hardy in northern climates. Most species bloom during northern hemisphere summers, but there are a few forms that will bloom when summer arrives in S. Africa, that is to say, December.
Recently Terra Nova Nurseries introduced a line of dwarf hybrid Kniphofia which they affectionately called the Popsicle Series. These dwarf selections have foliage that grows 12-15” tall, with flower stems reaching 18-24” depending on the cultivar. Blooming begins in mid July (for us), with flowering stalks continue to emerge right through September. We planted a half dozen of the form ‘Creamsicle’ last summer, with its bright to pastel yellow orange coloring and they wintered over well, so this year we tried 2 new selections… ‘Orange Vanilla Popsicle’, with a toffee orange to cream tones and ‘Pineapple Popsicle’ with its tart pastel lemon to chartreuse coloring.
Plant Kniphofia in a soil with good winter drainage and in full sun. It provides a 2’ exclamation point to beds when used in small groups, or would be stunning used en masse in a larger setting. Kniphofia is a great companion to Euphorbia such as ‘Ascot Rainbow’ and almost any Sedum. It can be sited in the foreground of a mixed shrub border…we have it coming up through a sea of steel blue Shore Juniper.
One more thing you might appreciate: deer do not like it!
I design containers using uncommon plants which will look great all season with a minimum of care. Here are the early summer images of containers for sun, shade, and of course succulents, our favorites! Check back for the September report to see how well they performed
Plantiful, the term Kristin Green coined for the title of her new book, should be entered in the New York Times Magazine’s “That should be a word” column. In a word it perfectly describes the lushness and exuberance that the best gardens display. Plantiful’s byline, “start small, grow big with 150 plants that spread, self sow and overwinter” is especially encouraging for new gardeners on a budget, yet it provides worthy information for seasoned gardeners too.
In just over 200 pages, Green, an interpretive horticulturist at Blithewold Mansion Gardens and Arboretum in Bristol RI, describes how to make more plants from what you already have. She packs in all types of propagating tips for home gardeners and answers the important questions on what to do when, where and how to do it. She goes on to list 150 plants that will easily multiply in your gardens.
Green espouses a give and take philosophy on gardening, allowing for the garden’s abundance when plants spread or self sow, but cautions that when you have too much of a good thing, you must edit. This is an important lesson once you’ve created a garden, and it is often a tough decision for the new gardener who is still so thankful that plants survive. Take heart that there are alternatives to tossing surplus plants when your garden gives back too much: plant swap with friends, or place in a holding bed until you find a new home for this progeny (hmm…reminds me of how our nursery got started).
There are many good photographs to illustrate Green’s prose, taken in various gardens including her own, the beautiful grounds of Blithewold, and there’s even a few images taken here at Avant Gardens. (Disclosure: Kris and I have been horticultural chums for at least a decade.)
Plantiful will inspire you. It will make you a passionate plantsman (woman) if you’re not already one. Use it as a primer for creating your intimate haven, where the generous nature of the garden will be your partner in its serendipitous design.
Plantiful. By Kristin Green. Published by Timber Press, available online or better yet, ask your local book seller. If it’s not in stock, I’m sure the proprietor will order a copy for you, and stock the shelves with additional copies. Kristin also posts amusing and informative garden essays on her blog Trench Manicure.
You won’t think funeral parlors when you see this lovely species of Hardy Gladiolus. That’s right…I said hardy. For the past 6 years ‘Gladiolus dalenii ‘Boone’ has not only wintered over, (including our recent epic one) but has multiplied, producing many bulb offsets in one of our raised planting beds. Elegant 3′ stems display apricot yellow blossoms make lovely cut flowers in early-mid summer. It thrives in full sun and for the record, I will state it is hardy in zones 6-9 when grown in a soil that is well drained in winter. Add a few shovels of sand and mix in your soil when planting, and for insurance it would be a good idea to lay a protective mulch of sterile hay or evergreen boughs in zone 6.
In colder climates (zones 1–5) you could easily lift the bulbs for winter storage in a cool dry space that stays above freezing. Gladilolus dalenii ‘Boone’ can easily be grown from seed, and we have noticed some variation in color from seedlings…ranching from the softest of yellows to slightly deeper pale oranges, sometimes with darker orange highlights.