Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Ultimate Garden Chic

DIRTIER ....The Monthly Garden Memoir
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Dianne B                                                                                  Volume 67   early August 2015                      


Oh Hello Everyone

Dianne portrait by Jack Ceglic now on view at Ille Arts, Amagansett

I rarely let a whole month of garden action go by, let alone seven weeks, without a word nor a glimpse into lovely life  lived here.  Though I do tend toward more is more, as you know, it is my aim to keep this little reportage of the bounty of the season within bounds and so I begin with a rapturous report on my absolute flowering favorite:
the Japanese Iris.

Rarely is something graciously elegant and dazzlingly glamorous -- traits that can often clash --  but in the case of Iris ensata it is not so.  Because of the myriad show-offy iris, from the diminutive early Iris reticulata,
through the Siberians and right on up to those
blowsy beauties,
the fancy-to-almost-psychedelic Germans,
 the sophisticated and tasteful Japanese Iris
can get overlooked.  

Which is a big mistake on many levels:
-consider that they need no staking or fussing
-the buds seemingly appear out of nowhere
-the slender, blade-like foliage is
neat and doesn't overwhem
like those big fans


and they are  erect but soft,
harmonious but tantalizing,
and the colors -
well, they just never clash

even this closest to magenta compliments everything:
old  allium, new lilies,  Proven Winner hydrangeas


But then, of course, I only garden with colors I like anyway

A few years ago, I decided  I didn’t have nearly enough of these beauties, just a few faithful clumps here and there


and so I went on a Japanese Iris acquiring jag and found, without a doubt,  the best selection at
Mt Pleasant Iris Farm.
They have all sorts of Iris – they are real people – they ship gorgeous tubers AND you have to print the order form and fill it out and mail it to them,
which I  find somehow more endearing
than time-consuming

the bicolor one is called Ol’ Man River

which just happens to be my father’s favorite song,
I like to imagine him taking a twilight stroll with Lys

‘Heklun Blue’ is  really blue in real life

 and Look at this one  - with subtle stripings
and barely
-there color variations

Though everything can't be as cool as the Japanese iris,  here are a few other indispensables of
this summer’s garden:

the first flush of the Voodoo lily Sauromatum
popping up among a touted-by-Abby Jane Brody
lime green Heuchera called
(one in sun has withered, this one in
shade has thrived)


the gargantuan size of this particular Allium schubertii,
which gets bigger every year


following on its heels, the droopy swan-necked
Allium ‘Forelock’ –


‘Forelock’ perking up – getting ready to ‘bloom’

‘Forelock’ standing straight and freshly opened

and starting to fade a bit

On Gossamer Wings
Now two weeks past, the LongHouse gala was a glorious success and I just know that you are dying
to hear about it....

We wanted a fragile theme that would convey the immediacy of the evening and evoke the other-worldliness of our treasured honoree –
the artist, thinker, feminist, sculptor Kiki Smith

                                                                                                          Pam Herbst Design

Lys Marigold came up with On Gossamer Wings
(attribute to Walt Whitman and Cole Porter)
and our fabulous LH team came up with piles and piles of wonderful ideas to convey the singular, sylph-like specialness of the evening...

The Brooklyn Peaches imbued the atmosphere...
they are our favorite synchronized swimmers/dancers turned nymphs for the night


They were dressed in billowing garments imprinted with Kiki's design, courtesy of Nicole Miller and
Mary Jane Marcasiano


and finally couldn’t resist the water

The live music throughout the night was made by the fabulous art/sound troupe SOUNDWALL

beautiful LongHouse looked even better
than usual



we did our best to layer Kiki Smith’s special universe into LongHouse for the night.
Guests arrived through a magical mist-like cocoon/portal

Image 1b

and changed colors as the night progressed

We projected her delicate universe everywhere we could

 We had the good fortune to nestle Kiki's life-size Women and Sheep in our LongHouse gardens. 


You might have noticed the black gossamer
wings on my head


Our inimitable founder, Jack Lenor Larsen wore
what he calls his best Korean "business Suit"

Lots of wonderful people came
it's great how they love to
dress up for us

Sharjeel and Margaret Kashmir


It was a great night...wish you all might have come


Favorites of the 2015 Garden Open Days

This huge Petasites leaf standing alone

It's quite incredible how stupefied many gardeners become in the presence of this indomitable too-easy-to-grow
lotus-pad-like beauty

which is why I give it away like mad...

And this ground orchid, Bletilla striata, startles them when they look close enough to see that it really is an orchid

(came through hard winter better than ever)

...and here is a recent theory of mine on which I have tried to elicit opinions from those  in the know,
but no one – so far – has a clue:

My Tree Peony Hypotheses:

Could it be true that my two bountiful and beautiful old Tree Peonies (old for me, they came here from my first garden a dozen years ago) are producing  herbaceous peonies from their decidedly woody roots?

Because this summer there are herbaceous peonies  growing in places I have never planted them

right next to the Tree Peonies
and in suspiciously similar coloring – more or less – as what might be the “mother”plants


So – could this be?
 Gnarly old tree peonies are giving off a second flush of herbaceous bloom?

All opinions welcome...


DIANNE'S  Do's and Dont's

Masses of Mock Orange are beautiful
but should be enjoyed on the bush.
These lasted less than one day after
arduous cutting and arranging.

Hard to pin down anything really the color of wine except the real thing...

Here is one sweet Burgundy Anemone coronaria meant to swathe the ground under new leaves of  weeping Beech ‘Purple Fountain’, of course, the idea was to have
many  anemones...
DO plant a lot of them
DO soak them in water overnight before planting


Don't - I mean Never - allow a slug that you can see to stay on a bloom, leaf, trunk or stem
Squash it - drown it in salt or beer or whatever you fancy - but Don't Ever Ignore One

I'm convinced it's then that they take over


White on white on white on white

on white on white

This forerunner of all the Peonies, tree or otherwise,
is the quiet special species Peony obovata


It has its own leaf shape, its own timing

And this massive classic Acanthus produces
only one precious flower,
but that's enough



and what is there to say about the architecture of the Onion, well, at least – this onion Allium Summer Beauty

And  summer’s end begins

It is now stiflingly hot here.  Happy to have just gotten a welcome reprieve from the Connecticut Horticultural Society, 30 of them did not come a few days ago,
thank God.
Although my omnifarious layers are fascinating to me in this nearly all-green time, we know those garden-tourers like to see flowers.  

Now I am busy trying to figure out how to multiply my fabulous Jack-in-the-Pulpits.  My  knowledgeable friend Jim Zajac told me I needed one of each sex and gave me the quintessential tome for my library to study up; but between Arisaema being extremely difficult to find and gaspingly pricey when you do ...
it is not an easy chore

I think this is an ‘attenuata’ kind, but it's hard to know.
  It has bloomed steadily and fabulously for 5 – 6 years
to almost 5 feet...
people are used to looking down for
the moody seceretive Jacks - but for this one -
It is UP -  Look Up

P1120452 2

The too pretty-to-be-a-Jack, Arisaema candidisimum thrives again,
but just one


And to close for now, a few last combinations of which
– I must admit – I am proud:

This Clematis with the dark center bursting forth among the bewitching growth of the fastigiate purple beech


The utter domesticity and fecudity of Clematis
Mrs. Betty Corning


and the sheer freshness of the prolific bigger-flowered blue Mrs.Chomondeley bursting through several layers of green and white and green
I love the flowers named Mrs. This and Mrs. That...
it's so gentile

The fabulous golden growth of Cryptomeria ‘Sekkan’ behind the summer color of Japanese maple
‘Orange Dream”


her own progeny...it’s a Baby ‘Sekkan’


The last to bloom (right now) Allium pulchellum mixing
with the Callas


Oh yes, and then there was my birthday
capping off July...always
a  wonderful occasion in the Marigold-Benson household.
I'll keep the very biggest present a secret for now,
but promise to treat you to another travelogue
in the not-too-distant future.

But this select  tree came from  Matko,
now in
 a prize place in the Japanese Maple Grove.

Subtle and gorgous Acer palmatum ‘Manyo No-Sato’ from the brilliant Broken Arrow Nursery.

Oh my God...it’s a psychedelic Wood Duck
Unfortunately it was not seen next door
in our Nature Trail, but
was actually seen by a friend in upstate NY –
not a phototrick

                                                                                                               Judy Fulmer

The Sweet dogs cuddled up inside, much too hot for them outside
even with their summer cuts

One last thing...you may have noticed that I am not trying to sell you anything because it is too hot to garden and  there is little left
Please note...Mt. Pleasant Iris Farm is not taking any more orders for 2016
on Japanese Iris...
They still have a fabulous selection of many others
So Shop Now - They only ship in August and September.

We’ll get to the lilies in the next issue


In between time have a gorgeous summer’s end


There is magic happening every Saturday and Sunday from noon to 5 at East Hampton's Mulford Farm - gorgeously situated between our Church and Guild Hall.  Susan Wood's photos are intimate beyond belief
and having them exhibited in this enchanting 17th C. barn is beyond the beyond.  Don't miss it.

Right On - evite


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