A Michigan quartet, part one...the Harris garden

Charlene Harris
There are people one meets that play the game particularly well. Charlene was the official convener of American Conifer Society meetings for a number of years a decade or so ago: she was assigned to "shepherd" me as her co-host of the A.C.S. meeting held in Denver in 2003. She came out a year or two ahead of that meeting to line up gardens and monitor facilities: we had great fun and the meeting was a spectacular success. I got word about Charlene over the succeeding years--hard to believe I hadn't seen her or her husband for 12 years, until early this month when I tracked her to her lair: a home and garden worthy of a woman of enormous charisma, ambition and accomplishment. Here you can see her admiring the new growth on one of the innumerable coniferous treasures strewn around her gorgeous garden.


But we're not just talking conifers: the Harris' garden is quite large, and much of it is steep hillside falling into a nearby lake. The whole thing is full of naturalized wildflowers--mostly Eastern American natives, and many of these were in full bloom, like the common white Trillium (T. grandiflorum) and the giant dark one (which I believe is T. sulcatum). The Harrises had drifts of these here, there and everywhere (said he enviously)..

Here..

There....


Everywhere...

And how about miniature forms of Trillium grandiflorum (groan...)


Chamaecyparis obtusa cvs.
As a long time leader of the American Conifer Society, as you would expect, conifers held center stage: they came in all shapes and sizes from these tiny false cypress (looking quite good after two extremely cold winters)


Hosta sampling
But Charlene has also been active in the Hosta society, so as one would expect, hostas are everywhere in these woods.

And hellebores...

And lots of Epimediums...

I loved the rustic walls.
Charlene informed me these were made from the sidewalks of Dearborn (I believe): her house was part of one of Henry Ford's vacation home retreats--and Mr. Ford had a flair for recycling a century ago!

The woodlanders were legion and lush

Iris cristata coming into bloom.

Sanguinaria canadensis 'Multiplex'
Vast swaths of what is apparently mostly double bloodroot--I was a few weeks late for THAT spectacle (thank Heavens!)

More awesome vistas...

Wonderful combos everywhere, and nary a weed.


Some Jack in the Pulpits make an appearance....


The last Spring Beauty of spring
The hill was blanketed with these a few weeks earlier, and there was one still blooming to remind us...

More vistas...what can I say? I'll let the garden speak for itself!


Metasequoia on the right, and a wonderful selection I've forgotten center...
The conifer on the left was identified as  Thuja plicata v.atrovirens by my friend Bill Barnes. I believe it isonly twenty years old (as long as they've lived here)!


All of our dawn redwoods in Denver were killed outright in November with our disastrous temperature drop--or at least severely damaged. I recall that Paul Maslin's specimen (which would have been one of the original ones) in Boulder was killed in our late October freeze that year. Not for us...
Thuja plicata v, atrovirens

Knees on bald cypress planted next to the lake...

Decorative knees they'd purchased in the South...


A contemplative garden filled with spectacular plants near the house.

Another view: what can one add?

One of the many superb specimen plants there...

And minmiatures on a rock garden

Arabis karduchorum, I believe...
One of the best specimens of a compact Arabis I've ever seen...

Wow!

Cacti being protected from herbivores...
Charlene even grows CACTI! Love that lady...

The potting area was to die for...

With lots of little treasures clean and lovely to look at.

The obligatory skull: she'd be allowed to garden in Colorado.

And here they are, the Power couple...
I pursued botanic gardening because of my love of plants, but people like Charlene and Wade manage to budge me from my plant obsessiveness and realize that there are indeed people worthy of the wonderful plants they grow, who give one hope for humanity.

Comments

  1. Thank you for sharing these wonderful things with us.

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