It can be said that I read too many blogs and websites when I can't remember who coined the term OPG (Other People's Gardens) so that I can't give them proper credit here. Let's just rest assured that when I remember, or when that person pokes me to remind me, I'll make the correction.
Anyway. The point is that I love visiting Other People's Gardens almost as much as I love puttering in my own. If you scooped up a dozen people from around the province--or a hundred from around the blogosphere--we might grow some of the same plants but interpret how to plant them in very different ways.
A couple of weeks ago, I went to visit the garden of a woman I've corresponded with intermittently over the past number of years. For a while we had lost touch with one another, but I actually met Betty back in the spring, and finally got to visit her garden in mid August.
In a word, Betty's garden is spectacular. She lives in a rural spot and has plenty of space, and actually began building the garden long before she moved there to a permanent dwelling. She used to have a small travel trailer on the site, where she camped out to do her gardening, while working and living in another community.
When you have plenty of room, you can create broad, sweeping gardenscapes of colour, texture, form...and Betty has done that masterfully here. She has the art of creating 'drifts' down to a fine science, incorporating wildflowers, perennials, ornamental grasses, shrubs and even some annuals into this (to my mind) perfectly created garden.
She uses a huge variety of perennials, including many with colourful foliage, such as 'Golden Jubilee' agastache, which has become one of my favourite perennials for its long bloom period as well as its luminous foliage.
She also has a wickedly fun sense of humour, with amusing and charming bits of garden art and other accents throughout the property. How do you like her 'lawn chair', made of sods?
Of course there would have to be a photo of one of her several drifts of coneflowers. This garden is awash with colour, and also with life, with bees buzzing through the flowers, butterflies winging around on the mild summer breeze, and birds chattering in the shrubs and trees.
Long perennial borders incorporate plenty of new cultivars along with old fashioned favourites and more than a few native plants.
For example, her bed of chicory both delighted and caused great envy in me. She laughingly said some people ask her why she's growing 'weeds' (chicory grows along the roadsides throughout several counties in Nova Scotia). I understand perfectly. Pale blue flowers, wildly attractive to pollinators...what's not to like? (My chicory drift has a long long way to go to be as fun as this).
Betty has several perennials that I love but that don't do well for me. In a photo above, there's an impressive drift of Gaura, which is often best used as an annual or tender perennial in our province. But Betty has good drainage and other conditions that suit it, and it has come back beautifully for her. She also has several fine plantings of various balloon flowers, which I have given up on. They're late breaking dormancy here, and I've probably dug them up half a dozen times, thinking they were weeds or dead. So I just enjoy other people's balloons now.
I was delighted to see a big drift of Mexican hat, Ratibida, another type of coneflower, in one of Betty's borders. She also has a lot of perennial grasses, but most of them were just preparing to put up flowerheads, so as I've lamented before, they're a challenge to photograph well and look appealing.
Some people get intimidated or even discouraged by visiting OPGs. I do not. I love to see what other people are doing with their plantings, how they cope with weather or other growing challenges, what they like for plants...it's a treat and a joy for me to visit gardens like Betty's, and I plan to put up more posts of OPGs in the coming weeks.
What about you? What happens when you visit OPGs? What's the best inspiration you've taken away from visiting a fellow gardener?