Do you have a severe slope on your property? That is, a hill so steep that it can’t be mowed, let alone gardened? I had to address this problem, too, in my own yard. And that’s how the Serpentine Garden was born.
Here’s the back-story: One summer, our former lawn-man – I’ll call him “Kamikazi Keith” – toppled his tractor on my property’s steepest slope not once, not twice, but three times. Although Keith was never injured, my partner and I realized that such an incline would have to be corrected. A winding path, we agreed, would be the best cure; it would also provide us with an easy access to the kitchen-, woodland-, and pool-gardens, located at the top of the hill.
The Serpentine Garden was carved into the hill the old-fashioned way: entirely by hand. The only tools used were a pick-axe, a shovel, a leveling device, and a very strong man named Paco, who completed the job in about six weekends.
The Serpentine Garden in early May (photo: R.H. Blackburn)
The path has an extremely gentle contour, each rise no higher than five inches, so that garden-lovers both young and old can climb it with ease. I designed a seating area at its midway point, beneath a Yoshino cherry tree, where one can stop, rest, and enjoy the view before continuing the winding ascent.
Beds between the path’s many twists and turns are planted with hundreds of major bulbs, including tulips, daffodils, and hyacinths. Puschkenia, a minor bulb with lovely clusters of purple flowers, forms a circle beneath one of several crabapple trees in the garden. Vinca minor, which you can scarcely see in the photos, will, with nature’s grace, produce a thick, verdant ground-cover for each of the beds.
Tulipa ‘Carnival de Nice’ (photo: R.H. Blackburn)
And that’s how my steep, dangerous hill became a slice of heaven called The Serpentine Garden. I’ll show you more photos of this enchanting path as the summer progresses.
Do you have your own “hell-hill”…or something like it? Do tell us about it in the comments section below.
See you next time.