Take a step back in time at Hillwood Gardens…

It felt as if we stepped back in time when we toured the lovely grounds of Hillwood Gardens at the 2017 Garden Bloggers Fling in the Northern Virginia/D.C. area.  The grounds of the estate offered something for everyone.  From the formal areas to the cutting garden, Japanese garden and the pet cemetery, the patchwork of styles was delightful.

Filled with traditional and eclectic statuary, the grounds were dotted with whimsical touches.  This pair of sphinxes, half woman, half lion, drew many stares from visitors.

Across the lush lawn from the mansion, a flagstone patio marks the edge of a balcony overlooking the hilly lawn below.

I did not venture down the hill; my dog took me down on the street in our neighborhool 9 weeks before the Fling and I spent the entire trip hobbling around with a broken foot in a boot!

It was very manageable almost everywhere.  There were only 3 hilly gardens that I either couldn’t or chose not to navigate.  And I brought baggies to make ice packs for my foot every night.  The kindness of my fellow bloggers was astounding.  I believe that every single person asked me at least once or twice about how I was doing and asked if there was anything they could do for me.  It really touched me how kind and generous every one was.  Thank you all for your help and support.

In the midst of many formal garden elements, I found this border dotted with tropical plants and bold color contrasts a delightful surprise.

The Japanese garden lies down the path to the right of the patio.  The hillside garden winds through rocks and holds an extensive collection of Japanese style statuary. The stunning color combinations almost take your breath away and the varying textures and forms create fabulous contrasts.

What Japanese garden would be complete without a water feature, a pagoda and an arched wooden bridge.

The water feature brought an element of calm and cool to the garden, in spite of the heat of the day.

Down the path to the left of the patio a pet cemetery honors the furry family members of Marjorie Merriweather Post.

We enjoyed a delicious lunch and then I found my way to the cutting garden.  Filled with beautiful blooms of every size and color, the flowers were also given a helping hand with stakes and a a full length grid.  About a foot high, the grid allowed the flowers to grow straight up through it from early on, ensuring nice, straight stalks.

One of my favorite plants for its exotic look and structural shape, there was a big patch of Eryngium.

And, a few more whimsical statues to close out this blog tour.

Back to the work at hand, we shoot each other at the same time!

Another wonderful garden experience on our Capital Region Fling.

A must-read for gardeners and wannabes: The Layered Garden

In my spare time, I’ve been devouring the The Layered Garden, by David Culp with Adam Levine.  The title jumped out at me when I got the latest email promotion from Timber Press, so they sent me a copy and I’m reviewing it.

As part of their fall promotion, Timber Press is giving away an amazing deal – 5 books, a tote bag and a signed print by Brooke Weeber.  Just go to Timber Press to enter and win. 

All the books look great, but an entire book on layering in the garden, the history of David Culp’s garden and then, the icing on the cake, Rob Cardillo’s photographs — well, I just couldn’t resist.  And I’m glad I didn’t.

The Layered Garden is an inspiration for experienced and new gardeners alike.  Filled to the brim with beautiful photographs — especially long shots with detailed design components — it offers a full pallet of ideas.

The book chronicles the creation of the gardens of David Culp and his partner, Michael Alderfer, at Brandywine Cottage in Pennsylvania.  Purchased in 1990, the cottage itself was built in the 1790’s and the original farmland subdivided into 2-acre lots.

Both a garden designer and a plant collector, Culp writes, “I express myself in two distinct ways: as a plantsman who enjoys collecting specimens…and as a designer who enjoys playing with plants to achieve a desired effect.”

The first section of the book weaves the tale of each of the distinct gardens and how they came to be so lush and full.  The gardens are designed to be layered in many ways — layers of sizes and textures and colors and layers that peak at different times of year, allowing different waves of bloom.  Other elements like pots and antique stone troughs add interest and more layers, and they plant them with seasonal accents and plant displays.

The garden includes layers of tall plants and man-made elements to provide vertical interest in the garden. 

Then I got to the third chapter of the book, “Signature Plants Through the Seasons,” where he admits, “Hello, my name is David, and I am addicted to plants.”  That really spoke to me!  Full of beautiful photos and detailed information about the focal point plants of each season, his collector’s passion is evident here.

He closes with a list of his favorite garden books, which I’ll definitely be checking out, too.

Layers and layers of plants and colors and textures — gardens waves of blooms that peak throughout the year — that’s what I want in my garden.  And I’ll be going back to this beautiful book time and time again for inspiration and ideas.

If you’re looking for some inspiration for layers in your garden, check out the Timber Press promotion at Garden Outside the Garden – maybe you can win it!