Saturday, November 28, 2015

The other autumn snowdrop (Galanthus elwesii ssp. monostictus)

Closeup of Galanthus elwesii ssp. monostictus
 The bulb in question: photographed last Sunday at Montrose Gardens--Nancy and Craufurd Goodwin's exquisite estate in Hillsborough, North Carolina. There are several species of snowdrops that bloom in the fall--all of them rather rare in commerce. This species was little known until Nancy accidentally purchased twelve bulbs many decades ago. She and her staff have divided these faithfully ever few years, creating several enormous patches on the 69 acre Montrose property.

A view from slightly further away

A river of autumnal snowdrops!
 There are several more naturalistic patches, thousands of square feet in extent. I was charmed by this vast river of snowdrops that was planted on a terrace winding through the woods (this is just a short piece of that river, by the way)...

Nancy (on the left) and me on the right to state the obvious
 I was a faithful customer of Montrose Nursery in its heyday, many years ago. It--along with Holbrook Gardens--were among the leading mail order specialty nurseries when I began my professional career. I remember how disappointed I was when Nancy stopped shipping (about the time Tony Avent started up if I remember correctly! The Triangle City area has been leading the charge!).

And here we are on the path leading to the wonderful house
It would be hard to express my respect and love for Nancy and Craufurd in words: their home is filled with treasures (probably the largest treasure trove of art of the Bloomsbury circle, and much much more). Although the snowdrops often steal the limelight when it comes to the garden, believe me they are but a very small part of the grandest private garden in America: there are untold treasures in vast sunny borders and woodland gardens that I can't begin to capture--especially in late November! Suffice it to say, Nancy was a North American pioneer in the cultivation of Cyclamen, and has the finest spreads of these as well that I know in any American estate. She hosts several open days a year, including the first Sunday of December (the 6th: you may call 919-732-7787 for details). The snowdrops should look pretty good then--in fact, there will be a parade of snowdrops from now to March!

If you can't make that, join me on a field trip to Cherokee Ranch: Just click on the link and you can sign up right there! 

Thursday, November 26, 2015

The Stireman perplex

Hellebore and Puschkinia
Why perplex? It's perplexing to me how two brothers in the Salt Lake City area figured out how to grow the best plants in the best possible ways. The Stireman gardens, in Sandy and Salt Lake City proper, are featured below: I took pictures on several occasions: the sparse pictures taken in March, the lusher ones in late April--two or three years ago now. I just uploaded these for a talk--and realized I've not shared them properly, although I did a cryptic blog about John once...with horrible pictures taken in winter--but that pretty much sums it up. Obviously, this jumble of pictures from two gardens taken at different times (both a bit early for many of the best plants) doesn't begin to capture their magic--you really have to be there. They epitomize "Shibui"--the Japanese concept of quiet, perfect elegance, only in steppe mode--with flamboyant colors. I'll not comment much in this, except to point out a few great plants here and there.
The pond at Tony's

I believe these are Draba polytricha

Probably Draba dedeana

Troughs full of African succulents!

That's Delosperma sphalmanthoides in the bottom trough!

Out of focus Lewisia bed--sorry!

Ranunculus gramineus and Aethionema grandiflorum run amok

Also check out the great piece about John Stireman in the Deseret News. And do check out John Stireman's account of his building his front berm in this old NARGS journal (his piece is towards the end of the .pdf. And finally, to see Tony and John's gardens at the height of June bloom (which I have yet to do--maybe next year?) check out "Sierra Rain Shadow's" wonderful album on Flikr. If you haven't guessed yet, the URL's are embedded in the paler gray text above...

Perplexing my eye: if they weren't so nice they'd be annoying!

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