2021 Formal Garden Updates: June 23
June 23, 2021
Iris: A new species of iris has been interplanted among the traditional irises in the bed surrounding the lily pool. In coming years, these Japanese irises, Iris ensata, which are a later blooming species, will offer color and interest as the spring blooming Siberian irises retreat.
Plume Poppy: Oriental poppies are waning, but the large plume poppies are growing in earnest, although right now they’re only about half of their potential height for the growing season! The plume poppies flank the lily pool, hugging the elbow of the staircase leading to the lower terrace and balustrade.
Carolina Lupin: This bright yellow perennial plant is uncommon in Vermont gardens, but a favorite among native bee species! More shrublike in its proportions, this somewhat drought tolerant native of the South Eastern US is perfectly hardy in most of Vermont. It is a clump-former that grows to 3-4’ in height and width.
Evening Primrose: The yellow flowering evening primrose now blooming is called “sun drop.” While the vast majority of evening primrose flowers open in the evening (hence the name), this particular variety opens during the day.
Korean Fir: Have you noticed the unusual conifer on the lower terrace, peeking over the wall adjacent to the pergola? This unique Korean Fir, called Hortsman’s Silberlocke, was sited in this location by Horticulturist Paul Wieczoreck for its horizontal branching structure and slow vertical growth rate. Ornamentally, the tree shows an interesting new growth habit: the individual needles curl up and form a spire-like shape to reveal the frosty blue underside of the needles. As with all other firs, the beautiful spiraling cones stand upright on the limbs in contrast to their coniferous cousins, the spruces, which have cones are pendulous (hang down); this is one good way to separate these two different types of conifers.
May 25, 2021
Antoinette Tulips: Remember the pale yellow tulips in bud from our last update? Well, their amazing color transformation has taken place! The pastel lemon hues have shifted to a combination of deep salmons and oranges. Find these bouquet tulips — tulips which have several flowers per stem — in the central portion of the Grand Allée.
Alpine Troughs: The alpine troughs were recently moved from their wintering spot tucked behind the wall at the very north end of the allée where they are protected from the wind and winter sun. Now, they sit atop the north wall where they’ll spend the remainder of the spring and summer. Alpine troughs were initially popular in the early twentieth century, particularly in Great Britain, and display a variety of Arctic or alpine perennial plants from around the world that can withstand harsh climates and poor soil conditions. Originally, the troughs were often repurposed, hand-carved stone livestock troughs. Modern day versions are made from hypertufa: a mixture of cement, peat moss, and either sand or perlite poured into wooden forms and cured for several weeks before planting. The plants are grown in a very lean and (most importantly) well-drained soil mix that mimics the environment of their ancestral haunts. The troughs in the Formal Garden have their plants nestled among stone collected on the Farm, set vertically to entice roots to follow the stone deeply into the planting mix just as they might in their native environment.
First Peonies: The Early Scout and Athena varieties opened the weekend just before last. The Early Scout have deep magenta/crimson petals with a deep yellow center, and the Athena are the palest of pink. Peonies will continue to bloom, with many likely to open within the next week or so with the warming temperatures.
Lilacs: All lilac varieties are blooming, and their perfume is in the air!
May 13, 2021
Bleeding hearts: These shade-loving plants feature heart-shaped flowers cascading from leafless, arced stems. While hummingbirds love them, bleeding hearts are toxic to most animals, and therefore a deer-resistant option for home gardens. These early blooms last until summer heat ushers in dormancy.
Tulips: Many public gardens dig up and replant tulips year after year, since their bulbs can be short-lived, but some bulbs at the Formal Gardens have been going strong for several years now! Pinks and reds align the brick walls on the north end of the Grand Allée, and a red and yellow variegated variety encircle the statuary standing in the Rose Garden (and still other varieties can be found in that area!).
Catmint: This aromatic plant can be found all along the wall surrounding the North Pergola, nestled in with bleeding heart. Later in the season, small lavender flowers will emerge.
What’s next: Peony buds are forming, and lilacs are budding and beginning to bloom!