Potted patio where succulents rule


Shaded by a big live oak, our back patio stays relatively cool, even on hot days. That shade also makes it a good spot for a variety of potted plants, especially succulents that prefer bright shade in our blistering climate.


Agave parryi var. truncata is one of my favorite small agaves, with those striking black spines and round blue leaves. It cozies up in a galvanized tub with a Texas tuberose (Manfreda maculosa) and Artemisia stelleriana ‘Quicksilver’.


Another blue beauty, but much bigger, is my new whale’s tongue agave (A. ovatifolia), which replaced Moby after he bloomed last year. Skirted by silver ponyfoot (Dichondra argentea), it’s a cool, silvery vision of agave loveliness.


‘Macho Mocha’ mangave and datura grow in the lower level, adding some green along with a glass gazing ball.


For fun — a Tentacle Wall. Wiggly-legged pots from Tentacle Arts hold wavy-armed Xerographica tillandsias spring through fall; in winter they live indoors. Metal octopuses add a few more tentacles to the mix.


Steps leading up the back door host a colorful array of pots containing purple oxalis along with more succulents.


And of course the cinderblock succulent wall is here too. (Here’s how I made it, including how I kept the soil from falling out of the holes — everyone asks!)


So how about you? Are you into potted plants on your patio?

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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Get on the mailing list for Garden Spark Talks. Inspired by the idea of house concerts, I’m hosting a series of garden talks by talented designers and authors out of my home. Talks are limited-attendance events and generally sell out within just a few days, so join the Garden Spark email list for early notifications. Simply click this link and ask to be added.

The whimsical woodland garden of Ellen Ash: Capital Region Garden Bloggers Fling


Although the tree-shaded entrance to this Great Falls, Virginia, garden was elegant and restrained, I knew the owner would be a gardener with a sense of humor. How? Because at the driveway’s end I spotted, atop a pilaster, a statue wearing actual sunglasses. It was the first sign of a playfulness with garden art on display throughout Ellen Ash’s 2-acre garden.


The bus I was on, during last month’s Capital Region Garden Bloggers Fling, was running a little late, and other bloggers were already exploring the back garden’s extensive paths. I had the serene front garden nearly to myself. It must be a riot of color in spring, when the now-quiet azaleas, rhododendrons, and flowering trees are in bloom. Following this intriguing stone-and-moss path…


…I entered the enormous back garden, which, near the house, slopes gently down to a swimming pool and a swooping, mod pool house and patio.


A closer look at that fabulous pool house and large swimming pool. You could throw some big pool parties here!


In the garden between the house and pool, a small pond shaded by a parasol-like Japanese maple is home to a school of flashy goldfish…


…protected from raccoons and herons, I imagine, by a panel of crisscrossed wire laid on the water’s surface.


At one corner of the house I spotted this aluminum chaise in the shape of a lounging, space-age woman — a futuristic odalisque? A crossroads-style sign points toward cities that perhaps have special significance to the owner.


But to my mind, here’s where the garden really starts: with a sweeping, curvy lawn bordered by a stone strolling path and wood’s-edge garden beds.


From the lawn path, mossy woodland trails wind under the trees in all directions, offering a boggling number of choices to the visiting blogger with limited time to see everything.


At every turn, Ellen’s whimsical garden art coaxes a smile or a laugh.


She has a special affinity for cats, which appeared in all guises throughout the garden.


One-of-a-kind found-art pieces…


…or kitschy flamingos — Ellen doesn’t discriminate with her garden art and clearly is having fun with all of it.


One of the most stunning pieces of art in her garden is this stone moon gate, which welcomes visitors from along a back stretch of the driveway. It perfectly frames a focal-point statue, which draws the eye across a mossy glade as you enter.


Looking through from the other side


I was fascinated by all the beautiful mossy paths, and wondered about their fragility while walking along them.


Most, however, were laid with large stepping stones…


…or a combination of cut stones and brick…


…or even footprint-shaped steppers!


One path led to a stone monolith fountain in a small clearing…


…with benches placed around a circular cut-stone patio around the fountain. Flat, gray beach pebbles neatly skirt the fountain and “flow” along the edge of the patio like seeping water.


I heard that Ellen does almost all of the gardening herself, which is impressive considering the size of the place. I really enjoyed wandering the paths and discovering the surprises, like this cloud of blue hydrangeas, and fun garden art along the way.

Up next: The harmonious garden retreat of designer Barbara Katz. For a look back at the natural log and twig art of designer Debbie Friedman’s garden, 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.
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Digging Deeper: News and Upcoming Events

Book Giveaway! I’m giving away a copy of a fun new book, Potted, that’ll inspire you to DIY your own uniquely cool garden planters for porch, patio, or deck. Just leave a comment on my giveaway blog post to enter (click the link and comment there), and good luck! The giveaway ends Friday, July 14, 2017.

Get on the mailing list for Garden Spark Talks. Inspired by the idea of house concerts, I’m hosting a series of garden talks by talented designers and authors out of my home. Talks are limited-attendance events and generally sell out within just a few days, so join the Garden Spark email list for early notifications. Simply click this link and ask to be added.

All material © 2006-2017 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

English garden in Virginia horse country: Capital Region Garden Bloggers Fling


Attending Garden Bloggers Fling is always a whirlwind of garden touring and socializing with other bloggers. I come home with ideas bouncing around in my head, as well as a sense of new connections made and friendships renewed — not to mention hundreds of photos to sort through and share here at Digging.

This year’s Capital Region Fling was hosted in the Washington, D.C. area (including Maryland and northern Virginia) by the indefatigable Tammy Schmitt of Casa Mariposa. I’m going to share the gardens in reverse order, starting with a rural estate garden near Middleburg, Virginia — the last private garden we visited, and a vision of English-country relaxed elegance.


The estate consists of 180 acres, if I recall correctly, and a historic home dating to 1790 — which boggled my mind. That’s ancient for a young country like the U.S. As we walked up the drive, we first passed a fenced vegetable garden (top photo) and a handsome black-stained barn.


This is horse country, as Tammy told us, although if horses live here I didn’t see any.


The home itself is well proportioned and inviting, and the owner welcomed us here and gave us a little history of the place. She and her husband bought the property not long after they married in the 1970s. When she decided to make a garden, she traveled to England to visit and study as many gardens as she could before starting her own.


As you enter the left side yard, you pass a white stucco garden shed with a standing-seam roof and classical wall fountain framed by twin trellises, clipped boxwood, and bronze heuchera.


And then the back-yard lawn opens before you, flowing out from a raised terrace off the back of the house. The house overlooks a long perennial border (not visible here), past which rolling green fields spread out to a wooded horizon. Walking toward the white arbor at left…


…you enter a formal side garden with boxwood-lined gravel paths.


A birdbath acts as a focal point along one path, with white hydrangeas blooming beyond.


At the end of the path, two hare ornaments face each other atop a low stone wall…


…one of several charming animal figures I spotted in the garden.


The path curves around a flowering white hydrangea to a sunny border anchored by a semicircular pond.


Its formal edge softened with a line of variegated grasses and geranium, the pond contains lotus, waterlilies, and other water lovers.


A banjo-playing frog adds a humorous note.


For humans who love getting wet, a swimming pool beckons, with a row of chaises and striped towels that echo the orange and gray patio stones. Fence-lined fields stretch off in the distance.


A tilted verdigris urn cemented into the patio spills water into the pool.


Past the pool, a sunny parterre garden is backed by a picturesque, hip-roofed garden shed.


At its center, pink sweet peas clamber over a rooster statue.


The shed is nestled amid shrubs and perennials.


As the lot slopes gently downhill, the garden steps down into a sunken lawn framed on one side by a stone wall and row of trees.


Chinese Chippendale-style chairs make conversation areas at each corner of the wall.


Atop the wall, a bronze fox slinks past.


A stone birdbath with carved koi adorns another part of the wall.


A pair of weeping trees guards a white gate leading out to the horse fields.


Purple drumstick alliums stand tall in a sunny perennial border.


Bees were busy at their work here.


Hydrangeas, however, were the stars of the early summer garden. Here a white hydrangea overhangs a blue lacecap, with cleome filling in below.


Heading back through the white arbor toward the house (note the compass carved into the stone paver)…


…I stopped to admire more alliums in a long mixed border of perennials, shrubs, and trees.


A stone path cuts through the border, under arching tree limbs, to an inviting black gate overlooking sun-washed fields.


A pastoral view


What a treat it was to visit this beautiful, English-style rural garden in northern Virginia’s horse country.

Up next: The colorful garden of designer Linda Hostetler.

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

Get on the mailing list for Garden Spark Talks. Inspired by the idea of house concerts, I’m hosting a series of garden talks by talented designers and authors out of my home. Talks are limited-attendance events and generally sell out within just a few days, so join the Garden Spark email list for early notifications. Simply click this link and ask to be added.

All material © 2006-2017 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

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