Sunday, September 10, 2017

Late Summer at The Ruth Bancroft Garden

  This weekend was the big fall plant sale at The Ruth Bancroft Garden-an event that has typically occurred in October. However this year the nursery sales area must be moved out of harms way as the long-awaited new visitors center is beginning construction at last, and the fewer plants that had to be schlepped across garden to the temporary nursery the better. I decided at the last minute to go on Saturday, which was the 35% off day , and was not surprised to find Gerhard there just ahead of me. He has already posted about the sale and as usual has provided much more detail , including an inventory of his purchases-be sure to check it out ! After I finished shopping I wandered off into the garden to take a few photos . It was a yukky hazy summer day, and not ideal photography conditions at all, in fact downright crappy. I took far fewer photos than I usually do but I felt ok with how some of them came out all things considered.

 It was best to stick to areas with bit of dappled shade. This is one of my favorite pathways through the garden.

 Thanks to Alison over at Bonney Lassie, I now have my very own pair of Yucca 'Bright Star' , though they are still in their recovery holding area. I think I take a photo of this plant every time I visit the Ruth Bancroft Garden.

 When the light is bad sometimes a close up is helpful.

There was a little bit of back-lighting to be had still.

 This Agave is in it's end times, but is certainly going gracefully.

I made several loops through the garden, watching the changing light and shade patterns. This is really one of my favorite gardens to photograph, and even when we enter the worst part of summer there is always something that merits a photo. I did enjoy the challenge of trying to work around the conditions. Since garden tours usually take place in summer, and usually take place after 10am , it's useful to practice making images in similar circumstances.

 The Ruth Bancroft Garden is in Walnut Creek California and was the first preservation project of the Garden Conservancy.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Tower Hill Botanic Garden, Boylston Mass...Part 2

 Last week I posted the first installment of my visit to Tower Hill. I took a fair amount of photos and decided to break them up into two posts. Today we will visit the Systematic Garden, the meadows and the Orangerie courtyard among others.
The Systematic  Garden  segregates plants by family, to display plant taxonomy in a live setting. Here you see the garden transitioning from the grasses to the conifers, with the Golden Larch as a focal point. I'm a sucker for conifer gardens; there are so few we can grow well here in inland Norcal.

I took most of my photos here in and around the grasses -they were beautifully grown and the only thing missing was back-lighting. 

Check out this cool chenille plant container-it had a few companions anchoring benches and the corners of the beds.

Many east coast/cold winter botanical gardens have conservatories where they may shelter some of the plants that live outdoors in summer . It also provides a garden for greenery- starved residents to visit for a winter plant fix. Tower Hill has two small conservatories, the Orangerie and the Limonaia which are connected by what I refer to as the turtle courtyard.
In years past, this area was packed with lavishly planted containers-including the understory of the palms you see in the large green planters. With a few exceptions, this year these plantings were quite modest . My friend who accompanied me is a long time member of Tower Hill. She  lives nearby and is able to visit often.It's her feeling that everything in this area was just pulled out of the two conservatories this summer and remained un-arranged or staged in any way and perhaps somewhat neglected. This to me seemed to be a resource issue, both human and otherwise.Other areas of the garden were well maintained and one could sense a struggle with priorities. 

This imposing urn would have looked better empty-the sad little planting within was way out of scale.

There were still a few drama combos in this area.

...but it was generally low key.

The meadow area (I believe the official name is the Wildlife Garden) was new to me , and very well done, full of pollinator plants with a large pond to stroll around.

And here is the 'real' greenhouse where the work goes on behind the scenes.

I'll finish this post with a few random shots from around the garden, and urge you to be a member of botanical gardens in your area if you have the means to do so. These are the places that can inspire people of any age to make a garden.

In spite of my mild complaints about the courtyard, I do recommend a visit to Tower Hill if you find yourself in the area west of Boston. I can also give a thumbs up to the food in the cafe , and the beautiful view from the al-fresco dining patio.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Tower Hill Botanic Garden, Boylston Mass... Part 1

 Business trips can be painful and exhausting, but the  benefit is the ability to add a personal extension on to company paid transcontinental airfare. I had business in Boston last week and was able to spend a few days with my New England friends visiting gardens and eating lobster.
 The primary goal was a sojourn to Coastal Maine Botanical Garden . I last visited in 2013 , which I blogged about here and here. It remains, in my opinion one of the best public gardens in the US. And as I mentioned , there is copious fresh caught lobster nearby. A post will be coming soon on this garden.
  I was flying back to SFO on Wednesday, so I decided to visit Tower Hill Botanic Garden on Tuesday which is a reasonable driving distance from  Boston airport lodging.  This was I think my 3rd or 4th visit to Tower Hill; the first being a quick walk-through in 2009. Tower Hill was developed from farmland by the Worcester Horticultural Society and still remains the headquarters for that organization. The property is approximately 130 acres but much of it is allowed to remain as preserved woodland .

  The entry area has some new features since my last visit , but has always featured plenty of robustly planted containers .The intricately etched steel screens and the raised planting areas adjacent to them are a new feature, a welcome addition to what was just basically a nondescript patio with containers staged about.

Near the entrance door was a wall planting that featured both scented and fancy-leaved Pelargoniums, among other tender plants.

 The vegetable garden has been one of my favorite features at Tower Hill; the color theme is changed annually (this year it's aubergine) and it perfectly demonstrates the potential for edible gardens to be beautiful too.

These two photos show previous color schemes in the veg garden, a blue year and a yellow year.

 Moving on we head towards the pergola that anchors an overlook to the lawn gardens below.

 Here is where you will find splendid and colorful containers artfully arranged , with foliage as the star attraction.

 The overlook as seen from the lawn below.

 The perimeter of the lawn features densely planted borders with views to the hills and woods beyond.

 Stay tuned for Episode 2 from Tower Hill.