We’re visiting with Chad and Seyra Hammond in Woodbury, Connecticut, today. We stopped by their beautiful garden last week (Chad and Seyra’s Garden), and I’m happy to be back there today. They love growing and collecting unusual plants, and the result is a beautiful and fascinating garden.
We started water gardening after the koi pond proved too emotionally taxing for us. (Many of you know the heartache of losing your fish to predators.) So now we grow water lilies (Nymphaea species and hybrids) and lotus (Nelumbo nucifera, Zones 5–10) . We fertilize them with pond tabs every couple of weeks in the summer and divide them every three to four years. They survive the winter in the pond with no extra protection. I would consider them very low maintenance except that you do have to get wet now and then, and lifting waterlogged pots full of clay and roots can be challenging. Keeping the pots small and using lightweight media instead of clay would probably help if I got around to taking my own advice.
We love visiting gardens wherever we go. Many years ago I saw a combination of Schizachyrium scoparium (Zones 3–9) and Rudbeckia triloba (Zones 4–8) at the National Arboretum in Washington, D.C., that I could never get out of my head. It manifested itself here in our garden many years later. I love it so much that I think I’ll always have some iteration of it. This photo shows Schizycharium scoparium ‘Standing Ovation’ and Helianthus salicifolius (Zones 4–9) in the foreground, and the fall colors of Viburnum nudum ‘Brandywine’ (Zones 5–9) pick up the pink tones of the grass.
We have started collecting primulas also. There are so many species and variations within the species. Many are easy to grow from seed and spread well in the right conditions. These dainty little blooms are Primula japonica (Zones 4–8), with Tiarella cordifolia (Zones 4–9), growing in a shady, moist bed. Both spread eagerly and create exuberant displays in spring. I have been spreading them around any other hospitable patches of land I come across because I can’t get enough of these two together.
As you can tell, we have many plant addictions. Begonias are one of them. They seem to thrive in the bright shade of the patio on the north side of the house. Their endless leaf shapes, textures, and colors along with their ease of propagation makes them so collectible. This photo includes Begonia luxurians and B. parviflora, and the hybrids ‘Pigskin,’ ‘Marmaduke,’ ‘Connie Boswell,’ ‘Little Brother Montgomery’ (Zones 9–11 or grown as annuals or houseplants), and some unnamed varieties.
These begonias, along with about a million other plants, need to come inside in October during the Great Plant Migration. Here is Chad, the proud plant dad, carrying them down to the basement for their long winter’s nap. He is 6 ft. 4 in. for scale.
Here is a favorite plant combination of mine that we can take no credit for. This is Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Little Honey’ (Zones 5–9), Impatiens omeiana (Zones 6–9), and Lobelia cardinalis ‘Black Truffle’ (Zones 3–9).
Yet another plant addiction of ours is redbuds, particularly the ones with colorful foliage. We love their big heart-shaped leaves. It just so happens that the species is native to much of the country, offers flowers for pollinators in early spring, and even has a bit of fall color if you’re lucky. Our favorites include Cercis canadensis ‘Alley Cat’ (Zones 4–8; pictured), which is a bright beacon in the dark woods. To the left is Calycanthus floridus ‘Burgundy Spice’ (Zones 4–9).
I am so enamored by the freckles on Cercis ‘Rising Sun’.
Here are some leaves of Cercis ‘Ruby Falls’ frosted by an early October snowfall.
One annual we love for adding bulk and interest to understocked and boring borders is Ricinus communis ‘New Zealand Purple’ (Zones 9–11 or as an annual) on the left. Panicum virgatum ‘Northwind’ (Zones 5–9) and Chrysanthemum ‘Rustic Glow’ (Zones 5–9) are in the foreground.
Yes, conventional wisdom says to leave the lady slipper orchids to the experts. They are expensive and finicky. But you won’t know until you try. And we just had to try. This is a Cypripedium japonicum (Zones 4–7) we planted in the woods in the native soil with wood-chip mulch about three years ago. This spring we had two blooms! During the week or so it was in bloom, you better believe I was out there gawking every moment I could. And it is a good thing I soaked it in as much as I did. The drought was terrible this year, and the foliage withered away in late summer despite our attempts at watering. We won’t know until spring if we’ve lost it for good or if it just decided to go dormant early. Wish us luck. We cannot wait to find out if this one will be coming back.
To see more of this garden, visit their instagram: @s2szahme
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