Saturday, June 27, 2015

New England Gardens: Blithewold Mansion, Gardens and Arboretum Rhode Island

On a recent trip I had the pleasure of visiting the picturesque and serene Blithewold Mansion, Gardens and Arboretum located on the Narragansett Bay in Rhode Island.  The area was developed in the mid 1890's when Pennsylvania coal magnate, Augustus Van Wickle and his wife Bessie purchased the land and built the first Blithewold mansion.  After Augustus's death in 1989, Bessie re-married William McKee in 1901 and after a disastrous fire in 1906, the original home was replaced with the mansion that exists today.  Bessie and her older daughter Marjorie Van Wickle proved to be talented horticulturists and Marjorie carried on her mothers legacy by developing the remaining 33 acres of Blithewold into the gardens that exist today. The mansion and grounds are listed on the National Register of Historic Places and are enjoyed by visitors.











As part of an ongoing art exhibition " Sculpture Embraces Horticulture", several artists were featured in the gardens at the time of our trip using the elements of sun, rain and wind to power their creations. The above sculpture is a sunflower spiral solar powered creation from artist George Sherwood.  Sherwood’s sculptures are based on movement that is a combination of both subtle and obvious. At times it appears his sculptures do not move at all, and at other times the colorful stainless steel reflective discus twinkle with each breeze, integrating art with nature. 
Charissa Brock creates art with bamboo and was intrigued by the gardens and bamboo grove at Blithewold which is quite large for New England with its cold winters. Brock integrates the motion of the wind with bamboo and has created large “feathers” out of bamboo canes. Each feather has a skirt of short bamboo pieces and when the wind blows the feathers play with the wind creating music.


These gardens were certainly an enjoyable visit.  I was happy to read that in order to preserve the integrity of Blithewold a small group of concerned citizens banded together and raised funding to keep it open to the public. They became known as Blithewold, Inc. and in 2010 along with Preserve Rhode Island, an amended lease for a period of 99 years was created with an extension option, so that Blithewold would be protected for the future. Today it is considered to be one of the finest gardens in New England and received a certificate of excellence in 2014.

 I hope you enjoyed the visit.  As Always...Happy Gardening!

For more information visit Blithewold.

Linking with Tuesday Garden Party

Author: Lee@A Guide To Northeastern Gardening, © Copyright 2015. All rights reserved

Monday, June 15, 2015

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day & Foliage Follow-Up June 2015 - Ready...Set...Color!

June 2015 Garden
Welcome to my Long Island garden.  Something can be said for two record cold winters in a row and the way perennials perform.  It could be my imagination but the blooms seem to be an intense explosion of color like I have never experienced before. The late arriving, cooler than normal spring brought a slow start to the garden, followed by a sudden rise in temperatures into the 80's over the past few days, leading to an array of abundant color.  Come take a walk with me to see what is blooming during the wonderful month of June! 
Allium Globemaster
I have always admired Allium in botanical gardens so I planted these Allium Globemaster bulbs last fall and waited with great anticipation all winter long to see their magnificent eight inch in diameter blooms on top of 30" high stems this spring.  I can say It was definitely worth the wait and their blooms have exceeded my every expectation!
Allium Globemaster:  A Close up View

Perennial Border
In the perennial border I added these Allium 'Mont Blanc' for some taller interest in the backdrop and they are fun as well. In the foreground are Astilbe, Daylily, Salvia and Lamb's Ear. 
Allium Mont Blanc
Allium 'Mont Blanc' is earlier to show its foliage and gets a little taller than Globemaster, topping off at about four feet in height with its pure white blooms that are approximately 4-5 inches in diameter.
Perennial Border with Salvia and Itoh Peony 'Bartzellla'

A little further down in the border you can see the Bartzella Peony I added last spring.
Itoh Peony 'Bartzella' Second Season
I am really enjoying this new hybrid Peony which has a longer bloom span than other varieties. Itoh 'Bartzella' is a cross between a herbaceous peony and tree peony and the blooms are just breathtaking!
Peony 'Karl Rosenfeld' and 'May Night' Salvia
Here are my Peony 'Karl Rosenfeld' which are going on twenty years now in the garden, along with Salvia 'May Night' in the foreground.
This is "Dafney". She and her mate for life "Donald" visit our pool every summer when it first opens and think it is their own private wading area.  We love having them and they have good manners as far as leaving anything behind!  Instead of the well known Donald and Daisy, she was immediately given the name "Dafney" at first glance!
Backyard Island Bed
Now follow me around to the left side of the backyard to see what surprises lurk around the corner!
Around to the Left Border
This garden is one of the more recent additions developed a few years back when I planted these Nepeta 'Walkers Low' along with Spirea 'Goldmound', 'Summer Snowflake' Viburnum and several varieties of Heuchera in addition to the existing rhododendron, azalea and hosta.  My husband and I call this one of the secret gardens on the property that cannot be fully seen until you actually walk back there as we are now.
Rhododendron and Azalea

Aliium Globemaster and Spirea 'Limemound'
Back around in the pool garden the Spirea 'Limemound' is now in full bloom along with the 'Globemaster' Allium and the 'Stella D Oro' Daylilies should be joining in any day now.  After that the Stargazer Lillium will come into bloom in July.
Red Double Knock Out Roses and Nepeta
Here are Double Knock Out roses along with Nepeta 'Walkers Low', which will both bloom all summer long.
Viburnum 'Summer Snowflake'
Viburnum 'Summer Snowflake' has such lovely dainty blooms which last several weeks throughout spring and summer.  These are located in the back "secret" garden.
Hydrangea Buds
Well, it looks like we will be having hydrangea blooms again this year after losing them all last year from the harsh winter before. I missed their bountiful blooms last summer so this is a very welcomed sight!
Full View of Left Backyard
Here is a long view of the back left gardens where we just came from...and now to the front.
Front Walkway Gardens
Welcome to the front gardens!  Here you can see what foliage and blooms are along the walkway...
Front Driveway Gardens
and to end the tour we are now at the gardens that border the driveway.
June 2015 Garden
Thank you to Carol at May Dreams Gardens who makes it possible for us to have blooms on the 15th of every month with her meme Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day and Pam at Digging for hosting Foliage Follow-Up.  I am also linking with some other wonderful hosts and hostesses at Tuesday Garden PartyToday's FlowersFloral FridaysMosaic Monday at Lavender Cottage, I Heart MacroMacro Monday 2, and Nature Notes at Rambling Woods.  I am so glad you came along for the tour and hope that you enjoyed the visit to my June garden. If you leave a note I will know you dropped by, and will be sure to visit you as well. 

  As Always...Happy Gardening!

Author: Lee@A Guide to Northeastern Gardening, © Copyright 2015. All rights reserved

Friday, May 29, 2015

Design of a Long Island Native Garden Part II

Long Island Native Planting 

Two years ago I was given the opportunity to design a Long Island native planting and was delighted to be back to design the other side of the property this past summer of 2014.  As mentioned previously in part I of this post I do enjoy a good challenge and this was yet another fulfilling experience.  As in the first round I was determined to create a native garden that was environmentally sound and aesthetically pleasing.  As you may know...this is not an easy task when it comes to planning natives.

Long Island Native Planting Before

The grounds started off as a heavily wooded area with an existing asphalt roadway leading from a back gate to a bridge that gave access to the other parts of the property.  The area was densely blanketed with heavy foliage mainly including non-native trees (some expired), numerous vines and weeds.  In addition to a native planting, the non-environmentally sound asphalt driveway needed to be removed and replaced with a permeable paver walkway that was environmentally friendly.
Long Island Native Planting After (with Permeable Paver Walkway and Planting)

After a full day of demolition and removal of asphalt and debris, the area was graded and the permeable walkway was constructed leading a path through the gardens to be.  This was the start of my design becoming a reality followed by a new fence and the plantings which were on the way.  Come stroll along and view a series of before and after photos of the gardens as they are transformed into what they are today.
Long Island Native Planting Before
Long Island Native Garden After with Permeable Paver Walkway and Planting

Long Island Native Planting and Walkway Before

Long Island Native Planting After with Permeable Paver Walkway and Planting

Long Island Native Planting After with Permeable Paver Walkway and Planting
Here are some of the plantings that were used in the garden.   I used a combination of shade tolerant native evergreens, flowering shrubs and perennials to achieve a garden that would provide interest throughout all seasons and serve the function of providing an inviting pathway from one entrance of the property to the next. Below are some descriptions of each selection.
American Holly Ilex opaca (Native Holly)

Hardy in zones 5-9, American Holly is a native evergreen to the eastern United States.  It prefers to be grown in partial to full shade and matures to a height of 15-30 feet tall by 10-20 feet wide but can be maintained at a smaller size.  Inconspicuous greenish-white flowers appear in spring followed by red berries which ripen in fall and persist throughout the winter and are enjoyed by wildlife.
Juniperus virginiana (Eastern Red Cedar)

Eastern Red Cedar is a hardy coniferous evergreen native to the northeast.   It is hardy in zones 6-9 and prefers to be grown in full sun to partial shade.  Juniperus virginiana grows to a mature size of 15-25 feet tall by 6-10 feet wide in a columnar habit.  Foliage is a desirable feathery blue-green and the plant makes an attractive screening in the landscape. 

Ilex glabra (Inkberry)

Inkberry is a hardy mid-sized evergreen shrub with glossy green leaves hardy in zones 4-9.  It prefers to be grown in full sun to partial shade and reaches a mature height and width of 4-6 feet. Small white flowers in spring are followed by black berries in fall.  This plant is known to be tolerant of a variety of conditions.

Kalmia latifolia (Mountain Laurel)

Mountain Laurel is an excellent shrub for shady areas and is hardy in zones 4-9. It is noted for its leathery glossy evergreen leaves that are dark green above and yellow green beneath along with attractive pale pink blooms in spring.  Hardy in zones 4-9, Mountain Laurel prefers partial to full shade and grows to a mature height and width of 3-10 feet.

 Arrowwood Viburnum dentatum (Native Viburnum)

Viburnum denatum is native to the eastern United States and hardy in zones 3-8. It is a useful medium-sized to large deciduous shrub that is tolerable of many growing conditions and soil types.   Flattened clusters of creamy white blooms appear in late spring into early summer and when planted in groupings with other viburnum cultivars flowers develop into blue-black berries that attract birds.   In fall, foliage turns to shades of yellow, burgundy or purple-red for additional interest.  Arrowood Viburnum grows to a height and width of 6-10 feet and prefers to be grown in full sun to part shade.
Eupatorium dubium Little Joe (Dwarf Joe Pye Weed)

Joe Pye Weed. also known as White Snakeroot or Mist Flower is a native perennial displaying enormous umbrella-like rosy-purple blooms in mid-summer throughout early fall.   Hardy in zones 4-9, Eupatorium grows in full sun to full shade to 36-42 inches tall and 30-36 inches wide and will tolerate moist soil.  The variety 'Little Joe' is the first compact form of this plant.
Solidago sphacelata Golden Fleece (Goldenrod)

 Solidago (Goldenrod) is known for its desirable and outstanding display of golden-yellow blooms appearing in late summer into early fall.  Hardy in zones 4-9, Goldenrod prefers to be grown in full sun to part shade and displays an attractive clumping compact habit growing to 18-24 inches in height and width.  Solidago should not to be confused with the common allergen ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia)!
 Iris versicolor (Blue Wild Iris)

Hardy in zones 4-8, Wild Iris (Iris versicolor) is a marginal aquatic plant that forms clumps of sword shaped, blue-green leaves with stalks of violet blue blooms in late spring throughout early summer. Wild Iris grows to a height of 30-42 inches tall and 30-36 inches wide and prefers full sun to part shade.

Whereas the first native planting was mostly in full sun this one had its own challenges in that is was in a woodland shaded area.  Having done massive research for the first project it was easier to select the plantings for this one and I was pleased with the results as was the homeowner.  If you are planning a native garden the moral of the story once again environmentally sound garden can also be aesthetically pleasing!

As Always...Happy Gardening!

Author: Lee@A Guide To Northeastern Gardening,© Copyright 2015. All rights reserved.


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