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Show #18/3605
Two Great Gardens - One With English Inspiration, One With French Inspiration

Summary of Show

Garden Club Tour
For over half a century one of the nations oldest garden clubs has SPONSORED A TOUR of some of the most amazing gardens in the region. In this Episode GardenSMART takes the audience along as we visit 2 very different, standout gardens. Wilmington, North Carolina is a coastal town that was founded in 1739.
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1st Home

Front Yard
The home was built in 1940 just before World War II. A landscape architect designed the home but Mrs. Gertys, the owner worked on the grounds for 10 years. So, this garden was inherited, it was a somewhat established garden, but Sylvia looks at this as a canvas and has made changes. She CHANGED THE FRONT, all along the wall, into a garden that suits her. Sylvia wants the front to be a little more formal but in the back she likes cutting flowers, she wants it to have more of an English cottage garden look.
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Middle Garden
They move on to an area Sylvia calls the MIDDLE GARDEN. She wants this to be like an English garden and would like some ideas as to what she might do in this garden. The area is mostly shade but does have morning sun. Eric thinks about it. This area has a mixed light situation. There are plants growing here that could grow in some pretty heavy shade and then other plants that typically are more happy growing in full sun.
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Dry Shade Garden
This is one of the most challenging sites in this garden. It not only has shade but DRY SHADE because it is surrounded by several very large oaks. The dry shade makes it very difficult for plants to grow underneath. Eric would first add some good soil amendments, additional compost blended with topsoil would be most helpful. But selecting the correct plant will be super important.
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2nd Home

Front Yard
They start in the FRONT YARD. Eric thinks it would be an understatement to call this a yard because this is a beautiful garden. They start by talking about the formal aspects of this design and what Debbie has done with those plants. They use clipped boxwoods as a fence around the front of the house. She trims the boxwood ends in a round pattern for interest.
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Beds That Break Up The Turf
They next talk about some of the beautiful PLANTED BEDS THAT BREAK UP THE TURF. Debbie's husband, Hank, works tirelessly on this great looking Bermuda turf. But Debbie wanted to bring the beds out into the yard rather than have them piled up around the house and it does look fantastic. On either side of the yard they added paisley beds which is a very French shape with mass plantings of crimson pigmy barberry bushes and a deadora cedar tree in each one.
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Courtyard
They next move to the COURTYARD and it is lovely. Here they wanted a garden that could be viewed from most of the living areas of the house. It's also a place to come out and relax and be away from the world, it's a wonderful place to read and for quiet contemplation. And they have done some really neat things with plants here. Eric notices the creeping fig and how Debbie has trained it in a tudor type diamond shape to add accents to what would otherwise be long white stucco walls.
For More Information Click here

Back Garden
Last but not least they go to the BACK GARDEN, which surrounds a large patio. It is very pretty yet a different design from what we've seen in the front. This is a more cottage style, more informal. It was designed primarily for entertaining large groups of people. Eric notices all the large entryways into the patio as well as the wonderful vines trellised over the arbors.
For More Information Click here

 

LINKS:

Cape Fear Garden Club
Cape Fear Garden Club, Inc.

Wilmington And Beaches CVB
Wilmington And Beaches | Cape Fear Coast | Pleasure Island | Wilmington & Island Beaches

Article Wilmington Newspaper
Lumina News - Your Coastal Community Newspaper Since May 2002

Plant List

 

 

Show #18/3605. Two Great Gardens - One With English Inspiration, One With French Inspiration

Complete Write Up

For over half a century one of the nations oldest garden clubs has SPONSORED A TOUR of some of the most amazing gardens in the region. In this Episode GardenSMART takes the audience along as we visit 2 very different, standout gardens. Wilmington, North Carolina is a coastal town that was founded in 1739. It is home to just over 100,000 people who live and work between the Cape Fear River and the ocean. It is a center for film, music and the performing arts and much happens in their renowned River Walk District. It is a place gardens abound and each year the Wilmington Garden Club hosts a tour of some of the finest gardens in the area. In this Episode we visit the gardens of Sylvia and Debbie, both women fell in love with gardening under the tutelage of their mothers and over the years have imprinted their own personalities on the land they tend and love. Sylvia's garden is influenced by the free-spirited gardens of England with lush, vine covered walls and perennial plantings that are loose and whimsical. Debbie's garden draws inspiration from the architecture of their recreated French farmhouse and does an incredible job of melding formal design with vibrant color. Both gardens are amazing in their own right and in this Episode we benefit from the decades of experience that went into creating these masterpieces.

Eric joins Sylvia on a rainy Wilmington day and thanks her for being with us. Sylvia is glad to show Eric around. Eric wants to know a little about Sylvia and how she got involved in gardening. She actually became interested in gardening because this house had a beautiful garden. Previously she had lived in Connecticut and Virginia and both had very small gardens. When they came to Wilmington they saw this house and fell in love with it. They love the fig vine that covers the house, thought it precious, but when they went into the backyard and saw how beautiful it was they were sold. So, in some respects she started gardening here. She enjoys the exercise and likes to have flowers in the yard. Eric wants to see more so they're off.
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Sylvia tells Eric about this home and garden. The home was built in 1940 just before World War II. A landscape architect designed the home but Mrs. Gertys, the owner worked on the grounds for 10 years. So, this garden was inherited, it was a somewhat established garden, but Sylvia looks at this as a canvas and has made changes. She CHANGED THE FRONT, all along the wall, into a garden that suits her. Sylvia wants the front to be a little more formal but in the back she likes cutting flowers, she wants it to have more of an English cottage garden look. Obviously one of the most prominent features is the vine covered walls of the home. They do a wonderful job of softening the brick architecture. How did this get started? Mrs. Gertys got clippings from Brookgreen Gardens in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina and then started all the vines around the house. Sylvia isn't sure when that happened but in 1984 the vines died and they turned beige. But apparently the roots were still alive and it came back. It does create maintenance issues but is certainly attractive and there are other advantages. It is popular with wildlife. Before they have it trimmed there will be lots of cobwebs and birds get bugs from the vines. She's noticed hummingbirds gathering cobwebs to make nests and that is exciting.
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They move on to an area Sylvia calls the MIDDLE GARDEN. She wants this to be like an English garden and would like some ideas as to what she might do in this garden. The area is mostly shade but does have morning sun. Eric thinks about it. This area has a mixed light situation. There are plants growing here that could grow in some pretty heavy shade and then other plants that typically are more happy growing in full sun. So, it's a very unique kind of garden. It offers a lot of flexibility. Eric has a similar type space in his garden. There he has plants that aren't quite garden bullies but do like to spread. Because of that you need a plant you really like and one that fits your goals and objectives as a gardener. Some of those he sees here - Rudbeckias, do a wonderful job of reseeding. It has a beautiful, yellow flower, a daisy-type plant and it can take up quite a bit of space. She also has columbine which, too, is a nice re-seeder. There are also some interesting natives popping through, for example, the Jack In The Pulpit. Eric suspects that is not something Sylvia planted. That is correct, it was a surprise. It is a beautiful, little native. The Day Lilies make a good cut flower and a plant that in time can either be divided or could just spread. Sylvia did bring in the Foxglove last year but didn't realize that it was a biannual plant and kept looking for it this year but couldn't find it. Eric comments that often they don't make it back in year 3. Eric has a tip - Many like to buy plants when in full bloom, sometimes that's important, it's often critical to know what color a plant blooms. But keep in mind with biennials, like Foxglove, if you're buying a fully mature plant that is in full mature bloom, and is basically season 1. You are likely only going to get one more season of bloom from that plant and that's not guaranteed. These plants are typically good re-seeders so he would speculate that in time Sylvia will potentially see small Foxgloves popping up. Sylvia planted some Phlox last year and they are starting to come up. Eric notices some plants in this area that some might think are weeds but from a structural standpoint are contributing. Not every plant that some may call a weed may actually be a weed. After all a weed is just a plant that happens to be growing in a space that you don't want it to grow. For example some gardeners might consider the ferns a weed. Some might consider the dog fennel a weed but it too really adds interesting texture. A garden can be a wonderful pallet to be creative, it's worth considering - let your garden evolve in the way you want it to. Sylvia feels Eric has changed her whole outlook on weeds, he's let her off the hook.
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They next visit the pond area. It is one of Sylvia's favorite spots in her garden. They put this pond in. The boxwoods are from the front of the house and they moved them here. They come to this area every morning with their coffee. She loves the sound of the waterfall, it's so soothing. But she has tried several different plants and they haven't grown here. Last year she planted Bleeding Heart and they didn't even break ground. Sylvia would like Eric's advice on plants she can put here that will be pretty. Sylvia is in luck, Eric has brought some plants. This is one of the most challenging sites in this garden. It not only has shade but DRY SHADE because it is surrounded by several very large oaks. The dry shade makes it very difficult for plants to grow underneath. Eric would first add some good soil amendments, additional compost blended with topsoil would be most helpful. But selecting the correct plant will be super important. He feels the Lady Banks Roses are probably not in the right space. They would be a good candidate to move to a sunny part of the yard. Plants that should do particularly well here would be hellebores or linten rose or something like epimedium, which is a wonderful little perennial and a champion in dry shade. Some other annuals he brought along and will leave behind for Sylvia to try are some New Guinea Impatiens which should do very well in this space. Eric likes coleus here as well, they are champions of shade. But Sylvia will need to make sure the soil is well aerated in order for them to be successful. Red Judy is a favorite, this is a nice taller form and mixed in with some variegated coleus will provide a lot of fun and color. Ipomeas, basically a sweet potato vine, have great ornamental qualities. This is called Bewitched. Eric likes it because of the leaf structure, it has pointy, jagged edges. Lamium maculatum works as well. It has nice, soft, pink flowers, wonderful silver on light green variegation. It's a dainty, beautiful plant. These are excellent candidates for shade. But get in here, turn the soil if possible and add some compost. Use the coleus as a background, then intersperse the sweet potato vines and then let everything kind of grow together and she should have a wonderful shade garden. Sylvia thanks Eric for the suggestions.

Well our time in this garden has come to an end, we have another garden to visit. Eric thanks Sylvia for sharing her garden, it is beautiful. Sylvia, in turn, thanks Eric for the tips and ideas. She feels she has learned a great deal and looks forward to implementing his ideas.
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Eric next visits the garden of Debbie and Hank. Debbie has done an amazing job. When driving up it looks like a fairy tale, it's awesome. Debbie thanks Eric and welcomes him to their garden. Eric asks what got her interested in gardening. It was her mother, she was her mentor and inspiration. At a young age Debbie worked with her side by side, it's always been a love and passion. She taught school for 20 years in Cincinnati and spent all of her summers gardening; so to come to Wilmington, which is a great place because one can garden all year because of the warm weather, has been a joy and she now spends most of her time tending the garden. This home and garden have an old world European design feel. And of course components of the garden mirror that. The house was inspired by a family home in Terny, France, which is in the Burgundy region. Their cousins still live there today. They took elements of that home and incorporated them into the design of this house. Eric notices that the garden design mixes a lot of formal design elements with the more whimsical and carefree perennial borders. He assumes that is a reflection of their personality. Debbie actually did study a bit of French design and then incorporated formal with informal. The use of boxwoods and topiaries and espaliers is of course, the more formal, then perennials, shrubs and grasses more the cottage style. By incorporating both together it really looks great. Eric wants to see more so off they go.

They start in the FRONT YARD. Eric thinks it would be an understatement to call this a yard because this is a beautiful garden. They start by talking about the formal aspects of this design and what Debbie has done with those plants. They use clipped boxwoods as a fence around the front of the house. She trims the boxwood ends in a round pattern for interest. She also uses spiral leland cypress in large French urns to define the entrance walkway which leads to the front door. She has also used espaliers on the walls. Debbie likes to do a lot of vertical gardening and espaliers do add a lot. She uses pyracantha and sesanqua camila, then confederate jasmine espalier around the front window. Around the front gate she used confederate jasmine.
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They next talk about some of the beautiful PLANTED BEDS THAT BREAK UP THE TURF. Debbie's husband, Hank, works tirelessly on this great looking Bermuda turf. But Debbie wanted to bring the beds out into the yard rather than have them piled up around the house and it does look fantastic. On either side of the yard they added paisley beds which is a very French shape with mass plantings of crimson pigmy barberry bushes and a deadora cedar tree in each one. Eric likes the way Debbie has the more formal boxwood hedge, then the nice, soft grasses behind, blended in a lot of flowering perennials, annuals and shrubby plants. Debbie was striving for a French county look which blends formal with informal. So when they made the fence using boxwoods she used curved lines which makes it more informal. Then to soften the edges of the boxwoods she used karley rose grasses. She also used some small window boxes on the front of the house. In these, inspired by Hank's recent visit to Switzerland, she planted swiss balcony geraniums. On the other side of the house she added an 8 foot long window box. During this past year they noticed that the weight of large window box was pulling stone off the house so they used large beams, set up a table on the beams next to the house and they think it looks better than before and solves the problem. Eric likes the window box, it has a very happy, cheerful design with bright colors and becomes a main focal point in the front of the house. It certainly adds to the cottage charm of the house.
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They next move to the COURTYARD and it is lovely. Here they wanted a garden that could be viewed from most of the living areas of the house. It's also a place to come out and relax and be away from the world, it's a wonderful place to read and for quiet contemplation. And they have done some really neat things with plants here. Eric notices the creeping fig and how Debbie has trained it in a tudor type diamond shape to add accents to what would otherwise be long white stucco walls. Debbie measured the walls first, put up wire as guides, then just let it grow in a pattern. She is up there weekly on a ladder clipping away to keep it under control. As they say, in the first year it sleeps, the second year creeps, the third leaps - and it's in about it's third year.

Debbie talks about some of the plants in this area she's used to make everything come together. She used four two balled ligustrum topiaries in large pots to add height to make everything come together. Then 2 spiral ligustrum topiaries add height and more formality to the French courtyard. The courtyard is really a more French parterre form with gravel paths and boxwoods surrounding the plant material. She used pinta along with victoria salvia and sunpatiens which do well in the heat. This year she's trying to add a pop of lime green color with duranta along the edge of the beds. In the center bed she used germander instead of boxwoods, they're clipped like boxwoods to make use of the somewhat limited space. In the center of the courtyard stands a beautiful, stately, 2 tier fountain - "coup de grace." And it all looks great.

Eric notices that many of Debbie's designs are plant intensive and for many gardeners they are able to achieve that by propagating their own plants. Are there some she likes to propagate? Debbie has propagated day lilies, niko blue geraniums and cat whiskers which she has in the courtyard. Around most of the beds she has liriope which she has divided. If a plant can be divided she will divide it, she is a very frugal gardener and dividing is easy to do. Eric thinks it's a fun thing for gardeners to figure out what plants they can propagate easily with stem cuttings or through mound layering. Of course division is a tremendous way to make the most of the plants we have.
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Last but not least they go to the BACK GARDEN, which surrounds a large patio. It is very pretty yet a different design from what we've seen in the front. This is a more cottage style, more informal. It was designed primarily for entertaining large groups of people. Eric notices all the large entryways into the patio as well as the wonderful vines trellised over the arbors. Each arbor has confederate jasmine so there is green all year, as well as new dawn climbing roses for color. In the center arbor she has amythist falls wisteria which blooms all summer in a deep purple to almost maroon color. Some really nice choices. Debbie talks about the containers, and she has a number of large containers around the patio. One plant she discovered this year at Williamsburg was variegated ginger lily. The yellow and green striped leaves are stunning and really add to the brightness of the pots. Another plant she likes is walking iris, it almost looks like a little orchid when it blooms. And it's been blooming almost every day. They call it walking iris because after the flower blooms the stem falls to the ground and starts a new plant where it touches the ground. It's very interesting.
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Eric notices the water feature. It is a really nice pondless waterfall and a great installation. Debbie had wanted to hear the sound of soothing water from their screened in porch but there were crepe myrtles in that spot thus didn't think they could put in a waterfall. But they found some creative landscapers who worked their way around that obstacle. Around the waterfall Debbie used existing plant material, from the garden, that had more texture, shape and form rather than color to make the area more peaceful. It's a wonderful spot and they're really enjoying it.

Well our time has come to a close. Eric thanks Debbie for sharing her garden and for spending time with us. She has done a tremendous job. Debbie has enjoyed the experience and thanks
Eric for visiting.

For most people their first toe in the water of gardening comes through a family member or dear friend. The seasoned gardener relishes the experience of trying something new everyday and just getting their hands dirty. We've met two very engaged gardeners in this show who both have provided gardening ideas and inspiration. Be sure to visit with us next week as we travel the country and GardenSMART.

 

LINKS:

Cape Fear Garden Club
Cape Fear Garden Club, Inc.

Wilmington And Beaches CVB
Wilmington And Beaches | Cape Fear Coast | Pleasure Island | Wilmington & Island Beaches

Article Wilmington Newspaper
Lumina News - Your Coastal Community Newspaper Since May 2002

Plant List

 

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