I started this garden many years ago in an attempt to beautify a spot once overrun with old shrubs and weedy growth. Mainly unattended for a few decades this area was in need of a complete makeover. It started out as a potager with high hopes of growing wonderful things, but was too dimly lit for such expectations, now it is pure flowers and a place of wonder.

I once heard that a garden takes twelve years to feel like it has become. Plants grow, they die and with many changes that has gone on here that is probably true. After eight years transforming this area the garden is starting to show its maturity.

One thing that has eluded me in the art of the perennial garden is the sense of architectural design. Not so much the use of structures but the architecture of herbaceous plants that add texture and depth of character to a garden. If you view the garden in terms of black and white you will see how this design concept makes sense. Take photos of your garden and put them into black and white. When you take out the color distractions you will see the bones of the garden.

A whole world of plant possibilities and combinations are better understood this way. Hostas and astilbes are a great example, each with their own unique forms and foliage textures.  With digitalis blooming in the mix a black and white photo would look stunning. Flowers are important as they are beautiful, but the foliage of herbaceous perennials and shrubs are the workhorses of a garden.

The end of May is when the garden shows off the glories of spring. Blooming abundantly are the alliums and tree peonies. Such an explosion of bloom, the garden is transformed literally overnight and for a short week the blooms will have vanished as fast as they have appeared.

Here are the views of the garden at this time of year. Some of the shots were taken at dusk when the colors of the garden are richer and a bit mysterious.


In anticipation of bloom, allium ‘purple sensation.’

Horticultural ufos.

The Korean Lilacs are about ready to join in.

Golden Bleeding Hearts


Tree peony blooms. A color choice that was unexpected, but still beautiful.

Tree peony in full bloom.

Vines quickly overtaking the stonework with amazing vigor.

This garden was designed to have two large flower shows, one in the spring and later in the fall. Ever see gardens so full of flower power that it really is a wondrous sight, and then spends the rest of the summer devoid of excitement? It does take a large garden to have masses of blooms going off like clockwork for the entire season, annuals help, but I prefer perennials because next year the garden will be filled with even more flowers. Decide on the times you are most likely to enjoy your garden and plan accordingly. I like to be out in the garden in the spring and in the fall, just as the garden is flourishing.