Appreciating Nature through Gardening

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Springtime in Virginia

After 4″ of snow dumped on the daffodils on April 19, I escaped a Michigan spring for a week with friends and plans to visit key nurseries to source plants for clients.

Just south of Cleveland, Alison has a lovely formal herb and perennial garden.  Plants were about a week ahead of mine, but temperatures still hovered in the low 40’s, so we didn’t get out much.  I look forward to a visit later in the summer to see this place in full bloom.

Bill and Barbara live in the Appalachian foothills, tending 65 acres of woodland.  Bill’s family has been in the area since the early 1800’s, farming and operating a mill on the creek that crosses their property.  Barbara graduated from medical school in the 1950’s, hailing from rural New York.

Bill loves woody plants — this Silverbell (Halesia  ____?) bloomed on the slope overlooking the old mill foundation.

The long drive to the house is a private arboretum, with choice specimens of natives and introduced cultivars.

Stunning azaleas burst into bloom across the landscape.

Barbara introduced me to her extensive collection of epimediums — many from Plant Delights Nursery, a later stop on this trip.

On a woodland hike, this couple in their 80’s tramped up and down steep slopes and forded rocky streams.  I admire their energy and ambition in caring for their property and each other.

Tucked into leaves along a path, this box turtle closed up tight as I took its picture.

One of my favorite natives, sweetshrub, Calycanthus floridus, bloomed profusely across the property.  New cultivars featuring yellow flowers (Athens) and larger red flowers (Hartlage Wine) are on my wish list for this trip.

Crimson Queen Japanese  maple and a huge holly form the backdrop to the long stairway behind the house.

A weathered log cabin stands precariously along the drive — one of several old structures on the property.

There was so much to see, and delightful company to enjoy, but the road beckons onward to North Carolina.  I hope to walk these woods again with my friends at North Fork Farm.

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Hakone: Part II

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Hakone Botanical Garden of Wetlands features over a thousand species of wild herbaceous and woody plants. Our visit in early November coincided with a display of alpine plants, but few other things were in bloom.  Gorgeous blue gentians grew freely even beside the parking lot — an object of envy for a Midwestern gardener.  The stunning pitcher plants would be an unique addition to my stream area…