IN EARLY AUGUST, when Geranium ‘Roseanne’ (above) is in bloom, and the air is perfumed with Budleja and Clethra, I enjoy taking Lily the Beagle for afternoon walks. Would you like to see what we see as we stroll the various gardens here? Join us.
Sancerre, if you have not yet made its acquaintance, comes to us from France’s Loire Valley. It’s a white wine that offers subtle hints of lime, lemon, grapefruit, flowers and herbs. It’s absolutely delicious.
Swoosh! Here we are in the Rose Garden now. This 50- by 100-feet plot, was previously an asphalt parking lot. The garden is framed with 190 yews (Taxus hicksii), and 320 boxwood. I grew most of the boxwood from cuttings.
I cut the roses back hard in mid-July, just as the dreadful Japanese beetles arrived. And guess what? Denied their favorite food (rose blossoms), the beetles abruptly departed. Frankly, I’d rather have rose-less roses than beetle-battered roses.
On our right, where they help to screen the swimming pool, is a long row of arborvitaes. I planted these 8 years ago, as 6-foot-tall specimens. Today they are 15-foot-tall skyscrapers. Tiny birds love the shrubs as much as I do. The evergreen boughs offer winter shelter and spring nesting quarters.
At the end of the path is a statue of Venus de Milo. As most of you already know, Ms. Venus lost her head in a lawn-mowing accident.
Three years ago we enlarged the pool area, and framed it with 40 hemlocks. The hemlocks provide a green backdrop for the statues who reside year-round in the garden. One statue — a Satyr — is wearing a petunia-hat.
Tip: If you love petunias, do what I do, and take cuttings in August. Then you can enjoy the scented flowers indoors in winter. The details.
The zinnias in the narrow central beds are (finally!) in bloom. However, to my utter annoyance, they are not the ‘Royal Purple’ variety depicted on the packet of seeds I bought from D. Landreth. They are in fact a mixture of pink singles and doubles. Still, it’s better to have the wrong zinnias than no zinnias.
And the leeks I planted in dibbled holes are growing fatter by the minute…
Ready to walk? Let’s head back to the house, via the Serpentine Garden.
As we stand at the edge of the Kitchen Garden, we can see the house with its many rooftops. The long wing on the right is the Music Room (pictures here), with a small, formal Herb Garden behind. The tallest structure is the “Main House”, which most of you have already toured. The two-story building nearest us is the old Kitchen Wing, with servant-quarters upstairs. Oddly, all of the servants are named “Kevin.”
I designed the Serpentine Garden on a hillside that was too steep to mow (story here). We are descending the top terrace now.
Also perfuming the air just now is a giant purple Budleja (or “Butterfly Bush”) that grows on the lower terrace. The honey-scented cones are attractive to every flying insect you can imagine. It’s fun to sit on the bench in the Serpentine Garden and watch the butterflies, bees, and hummingbird moths that visit the shrub.
Well. I hope you enjoyed this little walk-about. In the comments field below, tell me what’s blooming in your own early-August garden. As always, I love to hear from you.
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