week we visit Columbia, South Carolina and learn a little
about the history of this Capitol city. Columbia was South
Carolinas first planned city and unlike Charleston, which
meanders like an English city, is laid out in a grid pattern.
It was established in 1786 when the Capitol was moved to
the middle of the state. It is located on the fault line,
where the river ceases to be navigable. Columbia's history
has spanned 3 centuries, yet many link it to the civil war.
The state house bears marks of six artillery shells that
hit the building February 16th and 17th, 1865. Columbia
was not destroyed during the war, only about one third was
burned to the ground. Primarily the commercial district
was burned, the annabellum buildings largely remained as
did many of the gardens. Columbia during that time was considered
a social mecca and its' gardens were regionally acclaimed.
There are 4 historic house museums, some with wonderful
gardens, still in existence and many private homes with
One home on many garden tours is that
of Hannah Rogers. Hannah has taken a relatively small piece
of property and turned it into a spectacular garden. It
has hundreds of different plants, yet is unified, it's cohesive.
She has utilized form, color and texture and created a masterpiece
that has outdoor rooms that can be used 365 days a year.
Hannah moved from the Northeast and wanted to make the most
of the Southern climate.
Originally the house had many Pine Trees.
They removed 15 Pines in the back and two from the front.
The front beds were originally lined with Liriope, Hannah
pulled all of that out and created a bedline. She wanted
more flower beds and bricks between the grass.
Bedlines refers to the space or edge between
the planting bed and the turf. From a visual standpoint
bedlines are very important components in any composition.
Wherever there is a change in color, texture or form that
is where our eye naturally lingers. An in-curve, the part
that goes into the planting bed and the out-curve, the part
that goes out from the bed, work together. When working
properly there is a sense of synergy. A design tip: Stones
or brick utilized in walkways or garden borders ideally
emphasize, mimic or are sympathetic to the architecture
of the house. It creates a harmony, a cohesiveness. The
bricks in this garden are similar to those in the house,
it ties it all together. Hannah's garden is relaxing, very
restful because she has placed her plants in drifts, a nice
bold mass of plants that tail off. The plants are grouped
in a sinuous, gentle curve that creates a bold, very informal,
relaxing group of plants. When trying to create a sense
of relaxation and meditation never place plants in a straight
line, particularly when the curvilinear approach has been
utilized, as in this yard. These bedlines are sweeping and
curving and when combined with drifts of plants that move
back and forth it creates a relaxing feeling, a sense of
movement. Another important feature - the plants are grouped
in mass, providing a bold look. The Euphorbia is an example,
their cluster consists of 50 to 75 plants. From a distance
or from inside the house it creates a strong block of plants
and helps tie all the garden parts together.
Variegated plants are often difficult
to use in a landscape. They are so striking they jump out.
One of the best ways to utilize variegated plants is all
by themselves or in a shady area or an area that is dull
that needs brightened. In this environment, a dark area
on the side of the house, they work well. An entrance is
another good spot, they draw attention, add punch.
Another choice for entrance areas would
be Evergreen plants. Euyonomous is a great choice and lasts
One challenge with Evergreens is they
grow year round, thus need fertilization. Consider a slow
release fertilizer, it generally will last 3 months, depending
on temperature and moisture. If it's 90 degrees it may only
last about 1 month.
Combining colors is one of the most challenging
aspects of garden design. Hue is important. An intense pink
Geranium and a pink Camellia work well together because
they are the same color. One is low intensity, one is high
intensity. A low intensity Camellia goes well with a low
intensity Pin Cushion, both have white added. On the other
hand an intense, almost florescent Geranium goes well with
high intensity Pansies. They both have very clear, very
bold, powerful colors. Think about hue, think about intensity,
both assist in combining colors effectively.
Hannah likes for people to explore the
garden on their own. That way they're not distracted by
talking and they inspect areas that interest them. This
garden has a nice atmosphere, it's romantic, the wind chimes
and plants move together. Her favorite areas are the seating
areas, by the pond, the little summer house. When the afternoon
sun hits these they're pleasant and warm.
Hannah has planted a lot of interesting
plants in and among the slate walkway. To pull this off
one will need a good base, one that drains well, Hannah
used sand. Once the sand is in place tamp the slate in place
leaving it even and compressed. Leave two to three inch
spaces between the slate pieces, then use a good 25% organic
mix, possibly manure or compost, with the rest sand so that
it drains well but has nutrients. Install many different
plants between the slate. Thyme works well and mint will
creep. This is a good way to green up a paving area, especially
if your traffic areas aren't highly traveled, a main thoroughfare
wouldn't be ideal. It's a great way to create something
beautiful, something alive, yet functional.
This garden is about 11 years old. As
gardens get older, plants get bigger. That causes problems
because they create more shade. One technique to get sunlight
into the garden, yet not destroy plants, is to create high
shade. Hannah has limbed up a lot of her plants. From a
design standpoint this creates a treelike effect, a strong
vertical element in the landscape and because the foliage
is high it allows the eye to move back and forth in the
garden without creating an obstruction.
A pruner with an extension helps limb
these plants up. Dr. Rick likes for 2/3 limbs exposed and
1/3 canopy or foliage. It's a nice proportion between green
For plants that are Evergreen, plants
that don't have flowers, the time to prune is whenever the
pruners are sharp. It doesn't bother the plant if pruned
anytime. It's best however, to prune when it's real cold
and the plant is dormant, but they can be pruned in the
heat of the summer as well.
Containers are always a great addition
to any garden. They're changeable, portable and offer instant
presence for anything placed in them. For example, the Verbena
in a hanging basket is a good way to add color higher up,
versus down in the garden soil. Containers in the patio
bring your garden into the hardscape. Hannah has placed
2 hanging baskets under 2 windows. These can be enjoyed
from the garden, the walkway or the house. These baskets
have a symmetrical planting with a wild and asymmetrical
group of plants. It creates a nice balance.
Corridors are important parts of any garden.
They allow one to get from the front yard to the back. These
areas are often left over spaces and many times forgotten.
There isn't a lot of thought that goes into creating them
or making them interesting. A GARDEN SMART tip: Use interesting
pavers, Hannah has used pavers the shape of a cat. They
create a little whimsy, something interesting and cause
our eyes to look down. When one does, they create surprise,
delight and they cause one to notice the interesting plants.
For example, Hannah has used Strawberry and Geranium Begonia.
The Begonia is a great plant, it fills in well as it grows
and it tends to be lush, not allowing weeds to pop up. She
has also used Primula. It adds spice, punch to the garden.
They come in a variety of colors, most have 5 petals and
almost always have a yellow center. It gets beat up in the
heat, thus doesn't work well in hot summer conditions, but
in areas with milder winters and a cooler summer it's a
A great plant for shade is Japanese Acuba,
Acuba Japonica. Once mature it will be 6-10 feet tall. In
the shade it's relatively slow growing. It has a shiny,
really broad leaf adding texture to the garden. It's red
berries add interest throughout the winter, providing 12
months of fascination.
Holly Fern is a great choice for adding
interest to a dark, shady area. It has bold features and
very large, shiny leaves. They create a real textural quality
differentiating themselves between other ferns. Use them
along a border in a shady place where there is a lot of
organic matter and plenty of moisture. It acts like a focal
point, especially in a small garden.
What once was called Ligularia and now
is called Farfugium Japonicum or Leopard plant is another
great way to brighten a shady area. It is from China, has
glossy bright, green foliage, the leaves are about 6-12
inches across. The plant grows to between 1-2 feet in width.
From fall into winter, flower stems rise 1.5-2 feet tall.
Each carries several yellow daisy-like flowers. Hannah has
planted this plant next to a small Yellow Primula providing
a nice color echo. In other words, some of the colors from
the leaves are present in surrounding plants. This provides
a sense of marriage and creates a stunning combination.
If you're a serious and frugal gardener
Dr. Rick has some advice. According to research, buy small
plants, they will catch up to the larger ones within 2 or
3 growing seasons, especially if you have Herbaceous Perennials
or shrubs. Buy a 4 inch versus a 5 inch plant, possibly
a 1 gallon plant. Granted they will look a little small
when installed but within 2-3 years the difference won't
Hannah has a large number of new and unusual
plants. A favorite is Lorapetalum Chinese, also know as
Chinese Fringetree or Chinese Witch-Hazel. It actually isn't
a tree or shrub but can be used in a variety of ways. If
the top is continually pruned it will stay reasonably short
and full, more like a shrub. If one prunes the base and
removes the lower branches it will develop a tree-form.
It will grow to 8-16 feet tall, depending on the variety
and growing conditions. It's drought tolerant and does well
in warmer parts of the country. It has a purple version,
with purple leaves and a brilliant, almost florescent pink
One way to get color into the garden other
than with flowers is to add interesting foliage, Borage
or Rumex does that. It's grown for its' foliage, will grow
only a foot or so tall, typically we see it in early spring,
it lasts until the temperatures start to get really warm
in late spring or early summer. It has nice, strong veination
in the middle, is an upright form, yet rounded. It adds
a lot of interest as a filler, especially around plants
or other elements that have some purple or light green.
Borage adds a little spice to your garden, especially before
flowers emerge in your garden.
Sillybum Mariana, Mary's Thistle is related
to Thistle and is unusual in the garden. It will grow to
3-4 feet tall, it's an annual and reseeds. In some parts
of the country it's a bi-annual. That means it grows vegetatively
one season, then flowers the next season. It tolerates poor
soil, but likes a well drained environment. It has a rosette
of leaves, all emerge from the center of the plant and it
tends to get tall throughout the season. It has a spectacular
look in the Spring.
If you're looking for something with a
strong, deep purple leaf look at Persecaria. It is invasive,
so keep it under control, plant it next to a walk or next
to a solid element to keep it from spreading. It's Stoliniferous
meaning it grows from Stolens or underground stems. It's
an excellent foliage plant, if kept moist it grows quickly,
if wanting a more compact plant keep it on the drier side.
Clematis Aramandii is a wonderful vine.
It is a native of China, is a very fast grower and can reach
25-50 feet tall. It has beautiful white fragrant flowers
with an orange blossom scent. Plant it next to a kitchen
window or an outdoor room and the smell is lovely. It's
not a heavy feeder and does need support because it will
get large and quite heavy. Use it where shade is present.
Thank you Hannah for showing us your garden.
It is lovely.
SC Homes & Gardens magazine
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