Visiting Layanee’s ledge and garden in Rhode Island


Wherever I travel these days, I seem to know a garden blogger who lives there. That’s partly because I’ve been blogging and reading blogs for a decade and partly because I’ve gotten to know lots of bloggers in person through years of attending the annual Garden Bloggers Fling. (I just got home from the Minneapolis Fling and will have posts about it soon.)


So a couple of weeks ago, when my daughter and I flew up to Providence, Rhode Island, to visit Brown University, I was excited to realize we’d be just a 40-minute drive from blogger Layanee DeMerchant’s home. Layanee’s been blogging at Ledge & Gardens for about 10 years, and I was thrilled to finally see her garden in person. Getting to meet her adorable granddaughter, Hailey, was a bonus! The occasion called for a silly photo, although Hailey wisely remained dignified.


And then there’s Gibbs. Gibbs! The biggest loverboy of a chocolate lab you’ve ever seen. He wanted to be in our laps every time we sat down and give us hugs every time we stood up. Who could resist that face? Not me.


Although I’d read about Layanee’s garden many times on her blog, its rural location somehow caught me by surprise. Layanee and her husband — “The Equipment Manager,” as she’s dubbed him — live out in the country on a gravel lane.


Surrounded by woods, with old fieldstone walls marking the property line…


…the garden is a burst of color and texture in a large clearing around their contemporary home. The eggplant-purple of the front door is repeated in a cast-stone leaf on the wall…


…and in containers and even a bowling ball set amid lush perennials.


A fun purple trio


Daisies and variegated Japanese forest grass


Daylilies and clematis


A swimming pool sits in the center of Layanee’s lawn, but you’d never know it was there at first glance. A wire fence surrounding the pool is layered with climbing vines and flowering perennials, making a colorful long border that leads your eye to a big barn and shed.


Daylily and coreopsis


‘Lucifer’ crocosmia


Another cast-stone leaf adorns the shed wall, where pink and red hollyhocks echo the upright lines of the battens.


Tissue-soft, pink-veined petals


At each end of the pool, a half-moon gate invites you to enter with a terracotta face planter wearing a hot-pink flowery crown.


The lady on one gate…


…and the gentleman on the other.


This potted yucca surprised me! Not what I expected to see in a New England garden. It would be at home in Austin.


Delphiniums, on the other hand, are exotic to these Southern eyes.


We can both grow daylilies though.


Verbena bonariensis too, although I expect it’s an annual for Layanee.


The butterflies had found it, of course.


I haven’t yet mentioned the moths. Rhode Island had experienced an unfortunate plague of gypsy moth caterpillars in June, and Layanee’s garden was hard-hit. The caterpillars stripped the trees bare, turning a summer vista into a strange pantomime of winter when you looked up.


Not even conifers were spared. Layanee had lost a few beautiful trees and shrubs.


By the time I visited in early July, the caterpillars had become moths, and the air at ground level danced with their fluttering wings. As we walked through the garden, the moths bumped into our heads and bodies.


We snatched a few out of the air and tossed them to the goldfish in Layanee’s pond, who snapped them up. It was small revenge for all the damage they’d inflicted on her garden. But she was philosophical about the losses, and already the first glimmers of new green leaves were appearing amid the branches.


It’s a testament to the variety and lushness of her garden that, had it not been for the stripped trees, I wouldn’t even have noticed the damage. As the gardener, she could probably see nothing else.


One of the things I love about Layanee is her wry sense of humor, and even a plague of gypsy moths can’t keep her down. We enjoyed a lovely long talk under the umbrella on her patio.


And homemade refreshments too: lemon bars and lemonade. Delicious!


Thank you, Layanee, for the delightful garden visit! I loved meeting your family and Gibbs and seeing the magical place you’ve created. And it was fun to see you again the following week at the Minneapolis Fling!

Up next: The magical WaterFire festival in downtown Providence.

I welcome your comments; please scroll to the end of this post to leave one. If you’re reading this in a subscription email, click here to visit Digging and find the comment box at the end of each post.
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All material © 2006-2016 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

Stock-tank pond garden is cool even in summer’s heat


Mid-summer is all about foliage in my garden. The spring flowers are long gone, but evergreen plants like ‘Winter Gem’ boxwood, ‘Color Guard’ yucca, bamboo muhly grass, and squid agave look good even when the Death Star’s on full blast. The stock-tank pond helps the garden feel cool, with a trickle of water spilling from a faucet pipe in the center.

Even my pond plants are largely about foliage — a dark-leaved crinum and sparkler-headed dwarf papyrus, plus rounded water lily leaves — since my garden doesn’t get enough sun for the lilies to bloom as much as I’d like.


To the right, Adirondacks by the pool are a good place to sit and let a lazy summer day float by.

This is my July post for Foliage Follow-Up. Fellow bloggers, what leafy loveliness is going on in your garden this month? Please join me in giving foliage its due on the day after Bloom Day. Leave a link to your post in a comment below. I’d appreciate it if you’ll also link to my post in your own — sharing link love! If you can’t post so soon after Bloom Day, no worries. Just leave your link when you get to it. I look forward to seeing your foliage faves.

I welcome your comments; please scroll to the end of this post to leave one. If you’re reading this in a subscription email, click here to visit Digging and find the comment box at the end of each post.
_______________________

Digging Deeper: News and Upcoming Events

Do you review? Have you read my new book, The Water-Saving Garden? If you found it helpful or inspirational, please consider leaving a review — even just a sentence or two — on Amazon, Goodreads, or other sites. Online reviews are crucial in getting a book noticed. I really appreciate your help!

All material © 2006-2016 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

Chanticleer rocks a Gravel Garden


I’m excited to show you the Gravel Garden at Chanticleer, a Philadelphia-area “pleasure garden” I visited with my friend Diana in early June, as it’s one of my favorite spaces. Planted on a long, open slope overlooking the Pond Garden, the Gravel Garden reminds me of Austin in many ways, although the surrounding lush scenery and tall conifers remind me that I’m not in Texas anymore.


Tennessee coneflower (Echinacea tennesseensis) with upturned pink petals flourishes here.


A few droopy, white-petaled purple coneflowers add variety — maybe Echinacea pallida?


I love them all.


The hillside is planted like a wildflower meadow, a pollinator’s paradise.


I didn’t find ‘Husker Red’ penstemon on the plant list, but I believe that’s what this pale-pink, burgundy-leaved penstemon is.


It looks wonderful with the purple coneflowers.


A living bouquet


One more


Bees loved the penstemon too.


As you climb the slope, you’re at eye level with the flowers, surrounded by their beauty. Turning around, you get a nice view of the Pond Garden.


But let’s keep going up, climbing granite-block steps…


…and stopping every foot or so to admire blooming plants.


At the top, a gravelly meadow opens to view on the left — incongruously bordered (to my Southwestern eyes) with a golden-hued Japanese maple (Acer palmatum ‘Osakazuki’). Japanese maple and desert-friendly Yucca rostrata — the tall, spherical-headed plant in the background — don’t usually appear together in Texas gardens, after all, but here apparently anything is possible.


The meadow in early June was frothy with white lace flower (Orlaya grandiflora), crimson poppies, and Mexican feathergrass (Nassella tenuissima).


One of the yuccas was sporting a bloom spike.


Feathergrass and white lace flower


Prickly pear cactus and orange poppies, a classic dry-garden combo


A narrow path leads through the small meadow to a pair of stone-slab benches tucked under a redbud. On the left, a silver-blue Agave americana is surrounded by blue fescue ladies-in-waiting.


American agave, ‘Elijah Blue’ fescue, autumn sage (Salvia greggii), and Mexican feathergrass — all familiar to Austin gardeners except the blue fescue.


From the benches you can admire the agave’s muscular form and steely blue color.


Diana got a few shots of it too.


A bright blue sky smeared with white clouds, Yucca rostrata, feathergrass, and poppies — gorgeous!


Another meadowy garden spreads out at the feet of a big old shade tree. The Ruin looms behind. Constructed on the site of the estate owner’s house, which was torn down after his death (it was one of three houses on the property; two remain), the Ruin is a folly “overgrown” with young trees and vines and evoking a sense of mystery and history. I’ll show it in my next post.


Like furniture that’s been dragged outdoors to air out, a stone sofa and two armchairs sit just outside the Ruin and make surprisingly comfortable seats.


Diana and I enjoyed our picnic dinner here (on Fridays in summer, the garden stays open late and allows picnicking), having the couch and chairs all to ourselves — and the glorious view.


Occasionally a few other picnickers wandered over to admire the stone seats and exclaim over the stone remote control on the sofa’s arm. What’s on TV tonight?, joked more than one person.


I lifted my arm at the surrounding garden. This.

Up Next: Chanticleer’s mysterious Ruin Garden. For a look back at the Cut Flower/Vegetable Garden and magical Bell’s Woodland, click here.

I welcome your comments; please scroll to the end of this post to leave one. If you’re reading this in a subscription email, click here to visit Digging and find the comment box at the end of each post.
_______________________

Digging Deeper: News and Upcoming Events

Do you review? Have you read my new book, The Water-Saving Garden? If you found it helpful or inspirational, please consider leaving a review — even just a sentence or two — on Amazon, Goodreads, or other sites. Online reviews are crucial in getting a book noticed. I really appreciate your help!

All material © 2006-2016 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

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