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.
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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’s eerie, mysterious Ruin Garden


Just before our picnic on the comfy stone sofa (no, really!), Diana and I explored the Ruin Garden at Chanticleer, a “pleasure garden” in Wayne, Pennsylvania.

The Ruin is a folly resembling an old, crumbling house that’s being overtaken by sapling trees, vines, and shrubs — the triumph of nature. But of course it’s all an illusion (the structure was built in 1999), enhanced with clever allusions. A ruined library with stone books entitled Woods, Thank Flora, and Moss reminds us of nature’s ultimate dominance. A dining hall is anchored by a water feature that evokes a banquet table and, disquietingly, a sarcophagus. Marble faces float just underwater in a small fountain, like drowned ghosts. It’s all a bit eerie, but in a magical, fairy-tale-forest sort of way.


Here’s the description from the garden’s website:

“Minder House, built in 1925, is where Adolph Rosengarten, Jr. lived most of his life. In 1999, under the vision and direction of Chanticleer’s Director Chris Woods, the house was razed and construction of the Ruin Garden began. Originally the plan was to use the partially dismantled house as the ruin, but for safety reasons the only part left of the original house is the foundation and the tile ‘rug.'”


Stepping inside, I entered the dining hall. A stone-and-slate mosaic “rug” lies beneath a watery banquet table…or is it a coffin?


A fireplace mantel at one end drips with succulents.


All that’s needed is ‘Sticks on Fire’ euphorbia in the fireplace grate.


The long view across the reflective table


Turning around, you see a room being swallowed by encroaching oaks, vines, ferns, and other opportunists. I wonder how much pruning the staff does to keep the space looking like it’s never been pruned, while still keeping the room somewhat open. Are sapling trees removed when they grow too large? I have questions.


An open window overlooks a sunny meadow.


On the opposite wall, a window frames a visitor strolling by.


It’s impossible to resist these framed views.


But the close-up views are pretty too, like this clematis climbing a stone pillar.


In the next room, a cluster of upright boxwood shrubs fill an open spot in the paving.


Snakebark maples (Acer davidii) sprout from two more paving gaps. At their feet and scattered around what seems to be an old library are stone books and tablets. Berkeley artist Marcia Donahue sculpted the stone artifacts throughout the Ruin.


Reminder reads one. Ex Libris, the other.


Woods — yes, soon


Fossils, Moss…and a curious, leafy face…


…looking right back!


One open book appears to be the story of an oak tree, with stone “acorns” pressed into the pages.


Another leafy face, with purple clematis scampering along the wall


Some engravings are more of a mystery, like Partial Polishment. Huh?


A small fireplace is tucked into one wall of the library, where Agave attenuata and other plants spring from crevices like living art.


A stone arch…


…leads out to a patio with more wall agaves and a tiered box planter filled with succulents.


‘Sharkskin’ agave, bulbine, aeonium, and other succulents fill the boxes, which appear to be made of slate.


A wider view


An old broken pot and metal stand are still serviceable as a succulent planter — a lesson in not throwing anything away.


A third room contains a small fountain and pool (in the corner). On two wooden posts, salvaged chains with buckets are planted with small succulents.


I bet those chains are heavy. Good thing they have sturdy posts on which to hang them.


Rusty metal and succulents are like peanut butter and chocolate. They’re made for each other.


The fountain draws your attention next.


Looking into the water, an unnerving sight…


…marble faces in the water. Smiling, seemingly in repose, they still kind of creep me out.


These two little girls took a good long look.


Just outside the wall, are those shambling ghosts, coming to visit their old home?


No, just weeping Norway spruces (Picea abies ‘Pendula’), but I feel sure they were chosen for their eerie, humanesque appearance.


A mass planting of prairie dropseed (Sporobolus heterolepis) softens one side of the Ruin.


At its edge, flame azalea, pond cypress, and ‘Dallas Blues’ switchgrass (I think) make a pretty combo.


A water fountain with a leaf-shaped basin continues the woodland theme of the Ruin.


On a pillow of prairie dropseed, a large sculpted head slumbers peacefully.


Zzzzzzzzzz


On the folly’s opposite side, a trio of straight-trunked pond cypresses (Taxodium distichum var. imbricatum) frames paving that breaks up into stepping stones as it leaves the Ruin. The path leads into Minder Woods, which I’ll show in my next and final post about this visit to Chanticleer.

Up Next: Chanticleer’s shady Minder Woods and a few parting scenes. For a look back at the gorgeous Gravel 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

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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