Garden Diary - September 2010

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Saturday, 11 September 2010
Open Days - the Hardie Garden

Open Days. It's a program organized by The Garden Conservancy that opens the garden gates of hundreds of private gardens across the United States. Not all on the same day, or even the same month, but scattered across the seasons from early April to October's end. I crossed the Delaware River into Pennsylvania's Buck County on two days in May 2009. This year I remained in the Garden State, spending a wonderful September afternoon visiting three gardens in the company of two friends.

Conveniently, we need only stroll across this Nutley street to wend our way from the Mountsier garden to the next one, the Hardie garden. Neighbors, also friends. Different in scale, different in design, different - and yet with an equal passion for gardens, places where plants come together so they look better than they do individually.

One link, right out in front of the house we see yet more caladiums exuberantly spilling out between
shrubs and perennials. This might be Caladium 'Fantasy' and if not, very similar.

The back garden is a modest 40 feet by 60 feet, blue walled along the neighboring driveway and
a building along the back. It (the garden) is jampacked, wedged full, crowded full of plants.

A somewhat closer look. Plants permanently in the ground. Plants in the ground but just for the
summer. Plants in pots, perhaps permanently but needing shelter for the winter. There's a path,
and there's sculpture. Bold sculpture, to say the least. In the back corner there . . . .

Hands and feet and other portions of male anatomy.

Another sculpture might be called yin and yang. No, hermaphrodite is more suitable.

Common plants in striking combination. Two large pots spilling over with terra cotta coleus
and dripping with chartreuse leaves of Ipomoea 'Margarita'. How nicely the coleus
complements the brick inlay in the bluestone terrace. Simplicity with powerful effect.

And again, with Coleus 'Alabama Sunset' and purple Setcreasea playing off
the mottled color of the brickwork. Note, please, that I refuse the taxonomic
revisionism shifting coleus to solanostemon. These changes, often more difficult
to pronounce, frequently awkward to spell, provide material for a doctoral thesis
but I fail to see any usefulness for the common gardener. Fortunate indeed that
plants know who they are irregardless of our naming, as they don't read the books.

Everywhere are wonderful details such as the sculptural fence that keeps us from tumbling down
the steep slope on the garden's opposite side to the blue wall. Today it is as filled with people
as with plants. How peaceful it will seem when 4:00 p.m. arrives and the visitors depart,
carrying away memories and possibilities, leaving our gracious hosts with their gardens to themselves.

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