Last week, my friend Pam, who blogs at Digging, and I embarked on a garden adventure unrivaled in my garden travels. Nestled in the Brandywine Valley region of Pennsylvania, we toured three public gardens, Winterthur, Longwood and Chanticleer.
I took thousands of pictures (in part because the hot summer sun kept me adjusting my light settings). I’m sure I collected enough photos to blog about for several months!
As a lover and collector of tropical and exotic plants, the Longwood Conservatory is high on my list of the gardens within the gardens of our trip. It includes 20 different gardens (yes, all inside this giant conservatory), and more than 5,500 types of plants. It was spectacular. While it included all the typical plants you’d find in most conservatories, there was so much more — an amazing array of plant combinations, beautiful design, and attention to detail at every step. I can’t even fit all of it into one post, but I’ve decided to just jump in and cover part of it as my first post of the trip.
The Conservatory was built in 1919 by Pierre S. du Pont, and was designed to be an indoor eden. The collection of conservatory buildings covers 4.5 acres. (The entire garden covers 1,077 acres.) Yes, 4.5 INSIDE acres of stunning gardens, including the Fern Floor and Alcoves, seen here, the Patio of Oranges, Waterlily Display, Silver Garden, Orchid House, Mediterranean Garden, Bonsai Display, Palm Garden, Desert House, Cascade Garden, Banana House, Camellia House, Green Wall, Indoor Children’s Garden (so amazing that this will get its own post soon!), Rose House, Tropical Terrace, East Fruit House, Garden Path, Peirce-du Pont House and the Exhibition Hall.
The grand entrance, pictured above, provides a preview of this massive sest of structures. Beautiful and unusual bromeliads are given a place of honor in this section of the garden.
Many of the water features were surrounded by bromeliads, as well.
I have a number of bromeliads in my house and in the cabana in pots, but the volume and diversity of these was astounding. Clearly I have a way to go in the collecting department!
And then there were the ferns. I was taken by the Mexican Tree Ferns, delicate and ephemeral, yet strong and sculptural, all at the same time.
And then there were these stunning Staghorn-like ferns.
Of course, no prehistoric journey would be the same without cycads.
This male cycad was sporting a new cone.
I love this grey species. It’s a shame that the light prevents me from reading the tag that I photographed — I’d like to find out if I can grow this one in my Zone 8b-sometimes 9 garden.
This gigantic Sago palm (though not a palm at all) dwarfs the sizeable Sansevieria below it.
I believe that these elephant ears are Colocasia amazonica – which means they are sure living up to their name here under the black bamboo.
I can’t name this one, but I love the black stems which mirror the black bamboo as well.
Great color combinations under this bamboo.
And, who can resist the appeal of this black bamboo? It’s so striking and exotic.
With 4.5 acres of conservatory gardens to cover, this will have to be it for your first peek. Thousands more photos and lots of blog posts to come, about the conservatory and Longwood’s other 1,000+ acres of outside gardens!
It’s a treat to get together once a month with other Austin garden bloggers to share stories, enjoy each others’ gardens, eat, drink and pass along plants at our plant swap.
On Saturday, we were treated to double the fun. In addition to our monthly gathering at the stunning garden of David and Jenny of Rock Rose, we also ventured nearby to their neighbors and were given a guided tour of another beautiful garden.
Located on approximately one and one third acre, this garden’s hills and vales are interwoven with ribbons of rock and drainage solutions that blend into the landscape.
As we walked into the back yard, I was immediately drawn to this line of dramatic whale’s tongue agaves. They sit perched atop a river rock berm, surrounded by softer foliage that draws the eye far out into the garden.
Here’s a longer shot of how they are incorporated into this first layer of the overall landscape.
A closer look at the other plants reveals a cottage-like aesthetic, complete with a bird bath, gazing ball and obelisk to serve as focal points throughout the space.
The blend of sun-loving plants crosses traditional garden style boundaries in some areas, making the garden more intriguing.
Then the path evolved into a more desert-like garden, filled with sculptural cacti and agaves and garden art.
As dry as the garden appeared, it was hard to imagine the torrential rains that must have swept through these beds only days before.
As you keep meandering through the back of the garden, you wind your way through a shadier, wooded pathway.
Just as the garden becomes sunnier again, so does the garden decor. Brilliant pops of orange and cobalt blue are sprinkled throughout this section of the landscape.
Hot garden plants fill the brightly colored planters.
A single orange slice of wall acts as a backdrop for this dramatic planter, home to either a sago palm or a dioon edule.
More beautiful tropicals.
This is a view from the garden back to the house and a covered patio area.
Another painted wall houses this creative trellis displaying an array of cacti in terra cotta pots.
Just past the driveway, this colorful rooster seems to be peering through the salvia to spy on our group of gardeners.
This chocolate mimosa makes a striking statement against this dark wooden gate the the bright limestone.
This Asian-style bench welcomes visitors as they near the front door — and just beyond — this imposing soldier seems to be guarding the entry area as well.
The garden was spectacular — I loved not only the collection of plants, but also the fascinating garden sculpting to address drainage issues.
Special thanks to the homeowners for inviting us to share in their beautiful space.
I think most of these plants are simply damaged and not actually dead.
But I’m going to cross my fingers for a little good luck, anyway.
I didn’t cover anything this year. Too many years of running around on dark and blustery nights with sheets and blankets and rocks, trying (mostly unsuccessfully) to cover plants.
First of all, the freezes this week were to hard and too prolonged to benefit from any covering.
And, frankly, I’m tired of running around on dark and blustery nights with sheets and blankets and rocks, trying (mostly unsuccessfully) to cover plants!
So, come on a tour with me — and send some good karma my way as you look at my sad specimens.
The first one is an umbrella plant, (Cyperus alternifolius). Like many more tropical plants, like Sagos (cycads), the cold weather turns it pale and papery.
This big blue Agave is sad on the bottom, but the firm and standing center is an excellent sign.
This variegated agave will be getting a haircut for sure.
For the first time, the Society Garlics are all looking miserable. I know they will revive, but expect to sheer them after the danger of frost has passed.
This Mangave looks pretty squishy to me…
See, here’s a Sago (Cycad) that’s lost almost all of its pigment. It’s a pale version of its former self.
Two more squishy Agaves (that’s the technical term). The top one is a passalong – variety unknown.
This Agave celsii took a hard pruning last winter, but eventually came back. And now, it’s back to square one. Do you think they are tired of this? I sure am.
But I know my garden blogging friends anywhere north of here have it far worse in the winter. And, this is not our official whining season, it’s theirs. Ours is reserved for August and September.
How squishy is your garden these days?
I missed Garden Bloggers Bloom Day and Foliage Follow up. But I have a note from my doctor…
But I was doing something important — my 7 year-old daughter and I were at a Mother-Daughter camp in the mountains for the weekend, hiking, swimming, horseback riding and enjoying nature. It was so fun.
But I feel the need to get back to blogging! So here are a few new things from my garden this week:
These are the first blooms of my ditch lily — brought back to me from Wisconsin personally from The Gardener of Good and Evil. What a friend! In a bucket in her car, no less!
This is my first bloom on my first Lamb’s Ear. I know, I know. I didn’t like them before, but I love them in the garden with the Katy Road Rose and Indigo Spires Salvia. And who knew that they bloomed? Not me!
Early Larkspur popping up — given to me by Zanthan Gardens two years ago. They are such amazing colors. Love that deep purple, especially.
The variegated Eureka Lemon is making a strong comeback after the hard freezes this winter. (Maybe it’s because I talk to her!)
The Sagos that are going to be fine are all happily adding new growth. I did lose one, though, a very young one in an unirrigated bed. Too much stress, I guess. This one is happy as can be.
The Plumeria is about to burst forth with yellow, lemon-scented blooms any day now.
Several of my Coneflowers are in bloom, but some sneaky bug has been eating on this one.
The Autumn Joy Sedum must also be Spring Joy, because it, too, is about to bloom. Go for it!
Another immature Coneflower bloom. It’s so compact before it opens up.
Artemnis got a new hairdo last week. Since she looks out over the deer water bowl, I have to be careful what I plant in there. I think this Squid Agave will do well in dry conditions and the deer won’t be interested in it, either.
And this is the first of my Day Lilies to bloom in the Day Lily bed. This is the Spider Miracle Lily — from Olallie Daylily Gardens. Last year it bloomed first on April 18th. So we really are almost exactly a month behind with garden growth — at least that’s been my experience.
We’re getting a wonderful, soaking rain and summer storm tonight. Sat on the back patio with my folks who were over for dinner tonight and smelled the fresh air and let it mist on us a little. It was so refreshing. And we need the rain — looks like we might get it well into the night.
Caladiums are popping up in the shady beds in between other things.
This tiny Lobelia is a volunteer that decided to grow in the crack on the edge of the steps to the rock bed.
This is a salmon/pink Gladiola that is growing with a cluster of others behind the greenhouse and in the cutting flower bed. It’s the first one to open and I can wait to CUT it!
Here we have a cluster of Larkspur, given to me by MSS of Zanthan Gardens. In spite of my late planting of the seeds, they have proven to be winners and are so pretty — the first seeds to bloom in the cutting garden.
Here is a new bloom on my Carefree Beauty rose, also known as a Katy Road Rose.
Another shot of the amazing and HUGE display of Winecups in the rock path. They are growing so much that they have obliterated the entire pathway! I am happy to step out of their way and into the grass, though my DH thinks it’s quite foolish.
This Sago palm is very excited that it’s spring and that summer is on its way. This male is producing its cones, which are torpedo shaped and produce pollen. In the wild, the male pollen is spread by wind or insects to the female cycads, which produce a cabbage shaped reproductive organ with seeds that receive the pollen. Cool, huh?!
The Mexican Oregano is blooming profusely. It loves our sunny climate.
The black Elephant Ears are happy right now, but they may have to be babied some in the heat of the summer.
I love the orange bloom on this purple canna that showed up this week.
And these daylilies are lining one side of the pool bed with their deep, burgundy, velvety blooms.
Some Esperanza or Yellow Bells, have already been blooming around town, and mine have caught up. But it’s still pretty early for them.
My Rock Rose is showing her pretty flowers, too — next to the Indigo Spires Salvia.
These little Veronicas are growing nicely in their second year.