Sunday, February 5, 2017

Vista and vignette...a heavenly garden just this side of..........Hell?

Mary and Don Lafond
Google informs me that the small town of Pinckney is just 3.4 miles from Hell (Michigan that is)--well I'd gladly trade some Badlands out west for the little piece of Heaven that the couple above have created--even if the map places them a short drive from Hell.... Three years ago, when the North American Rock Garden Society scheduled an Annual General Meeting at Ann Arbor, I had little idea what was in store for us: I have reported already on Anton Reznicek's extraordinary garden, and I think I managed several blogs about Jacques and Andrea Thompson's extravaganza. By the time I'd reported on the Thompson's Ypsilanti garden, a lot of time had elapsed...I unjustly passed by the chance to feature this garden...or so I thought.

 I'd moved on...but now, several years later as I've labeled slides and revisited Michigan through them, I realize that my pictures turned out well enough that I really had to share them. Hindsight 20/20! This remarkable garden feels enormous (and you will think it had to comprise many acres to encompass all these shots)...and it's not small. But Don (the primary gardener) has an amazing knack at creating vignettes and microclimates--so every view seems harmonious and different. The enormous collection of plants is comfortably ensconced in a garden of supremely elegant, natural design. There's never been better proof that you can be a world class collector, and a great artist all at once! (Thank you, Don, for letting me show your garden, and for providing me with many names of plants in the blog: any mistakes are my own, however!)

Alyssum oviense and Phlox subulata pink,
The pictures will swing back and forth, from views to intimate views. I spent several hours here, and could have spent more. If you are not utterly enchanted by the Lafonds, I have some excellent therapists to recommend to you. I will not have a lot of commentary...There will be a few comments from Don in dark blue...This garden speaks very well for itself!

Chaenomeles japonica 'Alpina' in the trough
One last bit of kibbitzing on my part: the many Michigan gardens I've visited over the years are elegant testimony to the fantastic power of community: each of these gardeners is unquestionably superior: they are heirs of great 20th Century Gardeners no longer with us: Fred and Roberta Case, Betty Blake, Kay Boydston (who founded Fernwood Garden in Niles), Bob Stuart and Jim Punnett associated with Arrowhead Alpines.  The present-day talent in the Great Lakes Chapter today is standing on their shoulders...this has resulted in gardens second to none.

 Potentilla nevadensis

Viola pedata
Notice this is in an authentic stone trough: probably one obtained with the assistance of Jacques Thompson I suspect!
Daphne cneorum 'Alba'

Iris pumila hybrid purple, Phlox subulata 'Temiskaming' pink . Tulipa batalinii
Yet more Thompsonian troughs! And notice the juno iris just finished? These pictures were all taken in one day--this garden has a parade of color for months...would I could depict that!

Anemonella 'Shoaff's Double Pink' , Anemonella thalictroides semi-double white I found, Anemonella thalictroides light pink double I found (D.L), Epimedium davidii, Corydalis turtschaninovii, Trillium grandiflorum 'Multiplex'

Cardamine pentaphyllos

 Trillium pusillum, Thalictrum kiusianum,Tsuga canadensis 'Bacon Cristate'

Mukdenia rossii and Phegopteris hexagonoptera

Daphne x hendersonii

Iris odesanensis

 Anchusa undulata in bloom and a Salvia sp.

 Daphne 'Benaco' (dark pink), Daphne 'Marion White' (white), Daphne 'Meon' (pale pink),

Daphne 'G K Argles'

Pinus banksiana (broom), Amsonia tabernaemontana 'Short Stack', Acanthus hungaricus, Hymenoxys herbacea or Tetraneris-[damn botanists :) D.L.], Phlox borealis

Amsonia tabernaemontana 'Short Stack'


Hymenoxys (Tetraneuris) herbacea

 Mertensia virginica


Tulipa chrysantha and Berberis thunbergii 'Bonanza Gold'

Iris 'Betty Boo'


 Glaucidium palmatum and Cardamine cf. pentaphylla

 Trillium maculatum (Hybrids from Fred Case" D.L.)and T. luteum

Trillium luteum

Anemone ranunculoides fl. pl.


Corydalis nobilis & Bellavalia foeniculum

32 Anemonella thalictriodes

Rhododendron  'Olga Mezzit', Rhododendron 'Cunningham's Blush'

Ranunculus ficaria

Anemone nemorosa cv?
Primula kisoana v. alba Foreground, Anemone nemorosa behind

 Iris cristata

 Weigelia sessilis 'Canary'

Weigelia sessilis 'Canary'

Picea glauca 'Dent'

Maianthemum (Smilacina) stellatum

Uvularia grandiflora

Trientalis stellata

Cercis canadensis 'Alba'

Hydrastis canadensis

Halesia tetraptera

Taxus baccata 'Aurea'

Daphne 'Maisey Larae'

50 Epimedium ? pubigerum

  Trillium grandiflorum

 Iris cv.

Daphne x burkwoodii 'Silver Edge'

54 Narcissus 'Sun Disc'

Caragana sp. ign.

Daphne ' Bramdean'

Darmera peltata

58 Epimedium wushanense (lower left, spiny leaf form), Disporum flavens, Trillium kurabayashii

Menyanthes trifoliata

Trillium maculatum (hybs. ex Fred Case)


Trillium flexipes, Disporum (Prosartes) maculatum, Cardiocrinum cathayanum, Lilium martagon

Trillium grandiflorum 'Roseum' and Arisaema nigrum

Osmunda regalis

65 Primula mistassinica?

A last lingering view...
One of many garden tours (with Don presiding center left)

Mary and Don
A final glimpse of the proud owners of the garden: one of Don's missions at present is to help promote the North American Rock Garden Society, which he and I love so much. If you don't already belong, join gardeners like him and me in celebrating the fabulous art of growing wildflowers, high mountain plants, steppe plants and bulbs as well as woodland plants: the specialties of members of this group! You can get more information at


  1. Wow! That almost puts DBG to shame! ;-) Congrats to the owners and thank you for sharing a little of this amazing garden.

    Now, if I may be picky: Daphne is feminine, so it should be 'Alba'...

  2. Thank you Anonymous for the compliment and the correction--both are happily accepted (and entetred)!

  3. Magnificent … garden, display and blog. Many thanks.

  4. So much to learn from in the long series of photos, truly an inspired and inspiring garden. The first eye-opener was the magnificent stone trough with Viola pedata in bloom. Love the many vignettes and plant combinations, such as Anemonella doubles & semi-doubles, growing with Corydalis and Epimedium (it's not davidii, most likely it is franchetii), and the miniature frolic between a patch of Trillium pusillum and Thalictrum kiusianum, wonderful. Then I encountered a heart throb, that photo listed simply as Iris odaesanensis, but it'n not typical white odaesanensis, it's a particularly fine blue-shaded form, with a bold brownish halo around the yellow signals, showing more clear blue than the form named 'Ice Whisper' selected and named by Garden Vision Epimedium nursery, now I lust after this beautiful form. Bookmarking this edition of your blog, for future reference. :-)


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