Thursday, September 16, 2010

Aesculus parviflora seed update!

On July 27th, I posted about Elizabeth Lawrence's experience with Buckeye seed from June of 1962.  Her luck almost 50 years ago did not produce much by way of seed, thanks to little critters, but this year luck has been on our side!  I've been watching the few remaining pods and this week they have split, some even falling to the ground.  I collected a handful and planted them right away.  A few more remain on the tree and my hope is to collect them too.  They are really just spectacular! 

Stop by and visit the Aster tartaricus that is just opening and soon, the Helianthus angustifolius will be too!

Yours in the garden,

Katie Mullen

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Lycoris sp.

"In midsummer, when heat and drought have drained all color from leaf and blossom - in spite of all of the city water that is poured on them - the surprise lily rises mysteriously from the ground. One day there is nothing, and the next there is a tall, pale stem that grows to about three feet and then produces, at the top, a circle of flowers of the most luminous and delicate pink. The surprise lily is not really a lily. It is a lycoris, as lovely as the nymph it was named for, and belongs to the amaryllis family."

Elizabeth Lawrence
August 18, 1957

Fifty three years later, almost to the day, the lycoris are here again. The garden has been showing different species the last two weeks, and the one pictured above is the latest to emerge. Truly a surprise in such hot, dry weather we are having right now.

See you soon in the garden,
Katie Mullen

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Aesculus parviflora

"The dwarf bottlebrush buckeye, Aesculus parviflora, is not really small flowered. The specific name applies only to the individual flowers. The inflorescence is an impressive slender spike, like a foxtail lily, from twelve to sixteen inches long, with apricot-tipped stamens standing out beyond the white flowers. They bloom punctually the first part of June, almost always beginning on the eigth... In spite of the fact that the flowers are so plentiful, there are very few buckeyes, and those few disappear before I can gather them. Last summer I found out where they go. I caught a chipmunk lugging one into his tunnel. Lacking seed, propagation is by division."

Elizabeth Lawrence
June 24, 1962

The Buckeye has long since flowered and now there are a few remaining seed pods. I thought it was interesting that Elizabeth Lawrence made note of the disappearing buckeyes and I believe her thought remains true today. I'm sure in a few days the handful that are left will be gone too. Summer is moving quickly and other things are passing by including the daylily, Cestrum, and Rose Campion. However, the Eupatorium, Physostegia, Chelone and Lobelia will be in full color before long.

Come see our end of summer flowers soon,

Katie Mullen

Saturday, July 24, 2010

"[Cyclamen] neapolitanum is a fall-flowering species, but I have had bloom as early as the Fourth of July. Last year the first flower came at the end of August, and buds continued to appear until early December, in spite of a series of hard frosts that put an end to all other flowers except Chinese violets. The first flowers come before the leaves, resting as lightly as butterflies on their short, stiff stems and looking as if they had settled but for a moment between flights... The common form is very pale with the faintest shimmer of lilac, and at the mouth are even marks of magenta rose, two to a petal."

Elizabeth Lawrence
The Little Bulbs

A visitor last week pointed out that a lone Cylcamen flower had come up and I had missed it in my usual hurry through the garden. Even more enjoyable, the visitor had a lovely english accent and pronounced cyclamen with two short 'i' sounds, like 'siklamin'. She went on to reminisce about her family's gardens and it made me wonder how many people come to the Lawrence garden and recollect previous garden experiences? I often hear about "Grandmother's garden..." when visitors are in the garden. Are our children and grandchildren going to remember our gardens when they are older? We are fortunate to be able to relive Lawrence's garden experience in her books and garden, and reminiscing about little plants such as the Cyclamen.

Learn to create a memorable garden by visiting ours at Wing Haven!

Katie Mullen

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Hemerocallis sp.

"In early summer southern gardens come into a glory that has come to them only in recent years with the development of the day-lily. It is seldom that the perennial of the day proves the perennial of all others for the South, but this is one that thrives in all climates. We are particulary fortunate in a long season that allows for a second, and even a third crop of flowers from some of the persisitent bloomers. These tall hybrids begin to bloom late in May. By the middle of July they are on the wane. In my garden they are gone by the first of August. The flowers range in color from the palest canary, through peach and apricot, deep yellow and orage, to rich reds."

Elizabeth Lawrence
A Southern Garden

I am constantly amazed by the Hemerocallis in this garden. While I don't know all the cultivars, there is one in the garden that reaches over 5'. It seems taller cultivars are harder to find in today's industry, but some heavier research may hopefully prove my thought wrong. I counted the stalks on this particular daylily and there are seventeen! In another of Elizabeth Lawrence's writings she notes of one daylily with thirty-two! The daylily is definitely a southern favorite.

Other items in flower in the garden include Crinum, Salvia, Phlox, Gloriosa Lily, Kalameris, and Rain Lily, to name a few. Come see this wonderful garden in summer color, before the heat fades our flowers!


Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Yucca gloriosa and others flowering soon...

"I cannot think why the yuccas are so little used. Once in midwinter I went into a little garden that had no claim to distinction in any season, but acquired the charm of simplicity when it was reduced by frost to a pattern of brick-edged walks accented by stiff rosettes of yuccas and framed by a clipped hedge."
Elizabeth Lawrence
A Southern Garden

There are many things about to bloom in the garden and this Yucca is one of them. Many visitors are amazed by the height of this flower stalk. Also soon to flower, below, is Stewartia pseudocamellia.

Below, also is Agarista populifolia.

And last, Aesulus parviflora.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Elizabeth Lawrence's Study View

I thought a quick picture of the garden through Miss Lawrence's study today would be of interest. I often wonder how many hours Elizabeth spent sitting in front of this window watching and writing. The garden view has changed since I started the fellowship, mainly that the Cherry Laurel Allee has been removed and started over, and the stone walls refurbished. I hope you have windows to your garden that offer inspiration, wonder, and adventure just as Elizabeth's did for her!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Cydonia oblonga

While carrying branches from Lawrence's Chaenomeles 'Apple Blossom' that I've been pruning this week since it's finished flowering, I noticed another Quince at the curb shedding it's bark. This tree form is actually Cydonia oblonga that Elizabeth Lawrence planted while living here. It has also finished flowering, which is often missed since they are tiny, and above eye level. The bark is hard to miss and I thought I would share this interesting picture. I briefly researched my collection of Elizabeth Lawrence books for a Cydonia comment, but could not find one. For now, we'll just have to thank Miss Lawrence for leaving us with this spectacular tree.

Thanks for visiting,


Monday, April 12, 2010

Creatures Add to a Garden

"Last summer I never saw my toad - or toads. I have never been sure whether it is the same or several. He usually startles me hopping out from under a plant when I am weeding the border, and I think he lives in the rock wall. If toads are really so valuable I think something should be done to attract them, but I have never known what they like."
Elizabeth Lawrence
Beautiful at All Seasons

I have had the opportunity to see some toads sitting on the edge of the pond this past week and can't seem to get close enough for a picture without scaring them. All I have for evidence is a body print! I had a hunch Miss Lawrence has had experience with all forms of creatures in her garden. The excerpt above is from a Charlotte Observer article dated February 5, 1961. Forty-nine years later, the toads are still busy. Just in the past week, I've seen a long black snake, the toads, and a few chipmunks drinking from the pool while perching on Miss Lawrence's frog fountain. There are always creatures in the garden!

Thanks for visiting,
Katie Mullen
2009 Marco Polo Stufano Fellow

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Elizabeth Lawrence's Gate

"This is the gate to my garden. I invite you to enter in; not only into my garden, but into the world of gardens - a world as old as the history of man, and as new as the latest contribution of science; a world of mystery, adventure and romance; a world of poetry and philosophy; a world of beauty; and a world of work."
Elizabeth Lawrence
The Charlotte Observer, August 11, 1957

Being a focal point to the garden, we recently had the gate refurbished and today it was returned to the garden. Over the years, the top scroll had disappeared and we thought it was important to bring it back. One of Lawrence's iconic picture is of her inviting people through the gate. I'm excited to have it back and hope you'll come see it too.

Enjoy the weather!

Katie Mullen
2009 Marco Polo Stufano Fellow

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Garden Structure

"How beautiful it is when the garden becomes clear again; when no leaves blur the long straight line or gentle curve, or the restful circle laid on the square; when levels are sharply defined, and intervals between steps have the rhythm of falling water...
Gardens in Winter
Elizabeth Lawrence

After coming across some old photos of the garden during Elizabeth Lawrence's tenure, we realized how much the stone walls and accent piers had deteriorated. Since the structure of this garden is such an integral piece, we decided to refurbish the accent walls, to clear "the restful circle laid on the square." It has been exciting to watch the stone masons make this transition, one that will improve the garden all the more. The first picture is a 'before' and the other two are 'after.' I look forward to enhancing the walls with perennial plantings during April.

Later this week I will publish some exciting flowers that are coming out in our first week of spring. Until then, enjoy the wonderful weather.

Katie Mullen
2009 Marco Polo Stufano Fellow

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Adonis amurensis

"Adonis amurensis is a very difficult plant to get into one's possession. Sought out and ordered at last, it did not come until May, and the weak growth soon died away. I thought I had seen the last of it. But the lovely, lacy leaves began to unfurl the following February, and among them was a flower the color of buttercup and with a buttercup's sheen."
Elizabeth Lawrence
A Southern Garden

Just recently I came upon the returning Adonis amurensis, which truly is one of the best gems in the Lawrence Garden. Today, it is still difficult to find in the trade, making it all the more precious. I will certainly post other pictures as it progresses. Many other bulbs are starting to progress and I look forward to them with much anticipation as well.

Our Hamamelis 'Jelena' is still providing wonderful color, as is the Prunus mume. Crocus are popping out everywhere and so are the Hellebore. While the garden is going through a tough transistion, there are still wonderful things to see, even in February!

More pictures soon,

Katie Mullen

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Hamamelis x intermedia 'Jelena'

"And now I have to confess that my choice for the first month of the year, the Chinese witch hazel, Hamamelis mollis, has none of the things I look for - except that it gives no trouble and stays in bloom for weeks. Its flowers, though utterly charming, are not spectacular; its habit is not graceful, its bark is dull, and its leaves are coarse... In spite of these failings, I consider this one of the ten or twelve best flowering shrubs and one that I cannot be without. I like it because the flowers, thin shreds of gold bunched in wine-red cups, are able to defy the furious winter's rages and bloom on and on through frost, cold, ice, and snow."
Elizabeth Lawrence, Beautiful at All Seasons

It's been a little while since I've touched base, so I thought I would take a minute to give a few updates. This week, the Hamamelis x intermdia 'Jelena' is in full bloom and it really is spectacular. I realize the plant pictured is not the species, mollis, that Miss Lawrence refers to in the qoute, but the mollis has been removed from the garden for the time being because of its bad health. There are plans to return another to the garden. In the mean time, the 'Jelena' Witch Hazel is just as fascinating. The flower color is probably not the best part of this particular plant, but in this garden, it's the size. It truly has a 12' span. It is a small tree.

February will be busy with continued Winter Lecture Series from Wing Haven, as well as a little bit of construction. The gate is scheduled to be refurbished, the stone walls reconstructed and driveway replaced to address some drainage issues. I will keep the renovation progress posted...

Currently flowering in the garden - some Crocus, more Chaenomoles, a few Prunus mume buds, one lone Daffodil, several forms of Hellebore, and the ever hardy Galanthus. The Fritillaria are poking their heads and so are many more Daffodils. Can't wait!!

Until next time,

Katie Mullen

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Returning Flowers in January 2010

"It seems to me that there is never a time when some living thing is not pushing up from the ground, and that at the beginning of the year there is a more vital stirring. Canon Ellacombe said, "The garden is never dead; growth is always going on, and growth that can be seen, and seen with delight."
-Elizabeth Lawrence
Gardens in Winter

Since returning to the garden after a wonderful holiday break, things are still stirring in Miss Lawrence's garden. The Prunus mume buds are swelling, the Helleborus are pushing buds, and Narcissus are inching higher above the soil. Pictured above, Arbutus unedo is still in flower and holding its berries from last year. We have had continual freezing temperatures all week, and the pool is frozen. Bird and chipmunk activity is constant. Indoors, we are continuing with our Winter Lecture Series which can be found on our website at Wonderful lectures are being offered about vegetable gardening, owls in the city, botanical water color painting, and many more. The gardens are also still open for our regular hours, also posted on our website. Come see us in winter!

Stay warm until next time,

Katie Mullen
2009 Marco Polo Stufano Fellow