Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Nil, nada, nothing!

This is the only garden in Columbia, North Carolina! Seriously. I walked around one evening and half a day and this is all that I could find. There are a number of small homes in town and a number of small businesses, but apparently no one has time, energy, or perhaps interest to create anything else that approaches the status of "garden" - and you know I ain't too picky! This was a fountain just off the downtown warf that was planted in red annuals [name escapes me at the moment], but which was in poor health.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Gardens in Edenton

If Albemarle Plantation was a dearth of gardens, Edenton is an ample sufficiency! Nearly every yard has a little spot tucked in next to a fence, or a porch, or down the driveway. If I had felt comfortable tramping thru lots of backyards I could have filled an album. Since I was not happy with that behavior, I'll show you some and tell you about others.

Since this is initially an English colony town, there are many formal plantings. The most interesting (and easiest to photograph) was the Cupola House. This is a 1780's house being restored, but someone has taken pretty good care of the gardens - both front and back. From the front it's a series of fenced in sections. The first one is mostly lawn with planting around the edges at the fence - mostly boxwood and crepe myrtles. I'm sure there are azaleas mixed in, too. The second one is a formal garden of triangles and squares, planted in a typical English manner of annuals and perennials. It's a bit over-grown, but clearly someone is taking care of it while the building is undergoing a face lift.

In the back is a mixture of formal and informal. Can you see the lovely arbor on the far side? It is nearly hidden under the vine that lives there. As much as the formal is not my cup of tea, this has a nice feel. I think the crepe myrtles help soften the formal feel. They have not done crepe murder here, so the trees are soft and vase-shaped. They have also trimmed many of the boxwood as cones, instead of balls as we normally see in Virginia. I wonder if they are creating "conifers"? Whatever the reason, I liked the result.

A block or two away I found this pretty fence row (right). It was a planting that appears to separate two properties. The white picket fence ran the full length from house to house, but about half way there was this planting that juts out at 90 degrees and is filled on both sides with exuberant perennials. There is a yucca near the sidewalk and then something fluffy and white that I did not know. The border on this side is hosta with blooming flowers behind it. The trees to the right are actually behind the fence on the "near" property. This is the type of planting I saw lots of places nestled up against whatever was available. There are many Queen Anne style homes with big porches and the hexagonal pavilions on the corners, so there were lots of spots to tuck a little planting.

But my favorite planting was along the street by a bed and breakfast. This is clearly a work of love. The street side of this raised bed is granite blocks that look like those used in the foundation of the building. The ends and inside of the bed are brick. It it about four feet wide [but unlike my new bed, can be worked from both sides!] and runs the entire length of the side of the building. There were three sections, and the plants seemed to vary according to light. Garland would have loved the section that was all white blooms - impatiens, white Gerbera daisies, baby's breath, and several things that I did not recognize. A second section had hosta, lavendar angelonia, heliotrope [ah, the smell!] and a gorgeous coleus. The final third was the sunniest and had multicolored flowers including daisies, more Gerberas, black-eyed susans, and more hosta. I find it interesting that there are hostas planted lots of places that are very sunny.

The "mound" of green about midway in the photo is actually a small arbor over the B&B sign that is covered with the fall blooming clematis that is just starting to bloom. The whole effect was lovely. I kept hoping the gardener would come out of the house so I could ask about the planting, but I finally had to move on to keep from loitering.

Overall, this is a lovely little town. Lots of old buildings from the 1700's, 1800's, and some interesting one from the early 1900's. It's a great place to dawdle.

Albemarle Plantation

As gardens go Albemarle Plantation was a disappointment. It was all so "groomed" - every blade of Bermuda grass [you already know my feelings on that] cut to 3/4-inch, and native grasses everywhere, with a crepe myrtle every 27 feet to break it up. It was pleasant to look at, but no imagination anywhere, and apparently no "personal" gardens at any of the homes.

The setting, tho, was another story. This is water cypress territory. Along all the swampy edges one could see cypress knees and here and there an intrepid tree growing out of the water like a triumphant king of some lost civilization of trees. The cattails were beautiful and often filled with birds. Mitchell saw two deer early one morning, and we saw a raccoon one afternoon. There were plenty of shore and sea birds, too, of course.

In Hertford I did not not many gardens accessible to us along the main streets, but the tea room did have a pretty little one. On a cooler day one could have eaten breakfast of lunch at a little table "out back" in a pretty setting.

Let's hope for more in Edenton - it's not named for the garden, but one can hope.

PS: About that mystery plant from Eastville Inn. I found another quite like it in Manteo. Beverly - the shop owner - said it was an "old rose" with a heavenly scent. I forgot to ask what color it bloomed, so am not sure it was exactly the same variety as the mystery plant, but it did have similar crinkly leaves and similar - altho smaller - hips.