28 August 2010

Drifts in the garden...Other People's Gardens.

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?


  1. I get inspiration from visiting other peoples gardens. I come away with ideas for my own.

  2. I wouldn't say I'm intimidated by other peoples gardens, but I do sometimes feel as though I don't do as well planning things out as others do. Somehow I usually feel others gardens are more "put together" than ours is. But I just keep reminding myself our garden is only three years old. We are still gardeners in infancy. :-)--Randy

  3. Love the term OPG and also love visiting them! The drifts of blooms are glorious, but my favorite picture is the sod chair. Such whimsy! :)

  4. I will start using this OPG phrase now. It's all your fault :) I love visiting OPG's! Of I have my camera with me than I'm in heaven. There's still so much I'm learning, and a visit to OPG is a surefire way to gain some knowledge, tips and possibly a few splittings! OPG's rock!

  5. Dear Jodi, I cannot agree more strongly with the theme of this posting - Other People's Gardens - for they are indeed such a source of new ideas and inspiration. One may not always like all that one sees, but there is more often than not something fresh to be gained, whether a combination of hard and soft landscaping to be copied, a particular new cultivar, or simply an interesting colour scheme. And if it is not possible to visit other gardens, then reading about them is, in my view, the next best thing.

    Here I love Betty's great sweeping drifts - oh to have the space to copy!

  6. I love to visit OPGs. I do so every chance I get. I usually see something that gives me an inspiration. Seeing this sod chair reminds me of a seating arrangement that once was an inspiration from OPG. Usually it is a single plant that calls me to plant it in my garden.

  7. Hi Jodi - great post. It is true the larger the garden the more you can have big drifts of color and different drifts. Such an artistic way to groundcover. Her garden looks like a park - thank you

  8. Inspiring, and I am a big fan of those drifts. A lovely garden, thanks for taking the time to show us.

    Jen @ Muddy Boot Dreams

  9. Jodi: You must have had a lovely visit to Betty's garden It has matured beautifully over the last few years. I expect you have captured the essence better than Canadian Gardening did in their recent feature. Of course, no one captures it as beautifully in pictures as Betty herself!
    OPG are always interesting.
    Cheers.....Sharon & Bill

  10. I love visiting opgs and botanical gardens for the same reason, they always have something I don't have, and if they're in my area, I get a chance to check out something I might be considering, almost like a test garden.

  11. I adore visiting OPG's and usually go home to my sad little garden and realize that I really have a blank slate with which to play! This is one lovely, fine garden you've found here.

  12. Betty's garden sure is lovely. Such a lovely lay out, I would love to wander through it, in a way I just have!

  13. Hi Jodi,
    You couldn't remember who coined the term, "OPG". Well, I can't remember whether I've even read that in a blog before. LOL I enjoyed your post and awesome photos. I enlarged some to see the details. I would love to grow gooseneck loosestrife, but don't have room for it to spread.

    I visit OPGs whenever I get a chance to. I love the garden club and gardening for wildlife tours that are in the spring here. The wildlife ones are always on Father's Day, so I know when they are, but then, I don't always get to go to them because of family plans. The club ones I miss most years because I am not a member and don't hear about it ahead of time.

    I have some friends who visit each others' gardens a few times during the growing season. We give each other starts of plants. I don't want any more from the closest friend's, because she has a double lot, and lots of room for spreaders. What's funny, is that she always carries on how great my yard looks, and says she needs to thin some of those spreaders.

    I don't think I am ever perfectly satisfied with my flower beds. I'm thinking I want to have larger drifts of plants, and less of a hodge podge.

  14. Visiting OPGs is one of my favorite pursuits. I never miss an opportunity that presents itself.

  15. OPG'S... lately the only OPG's I've visited are those neighbors who wish my advice. I love doing so and gladly offer my suggestions. My kids tell me that payment is in order and I should become a garden coach. Not sure that is in this gardeners veins to ask money for something I so love to do!

  16. You've got to like a gardener who grows chicory as an ornamental. It's so much fun to poke around, I mean visit, another garden. I've been trying to simply experience the garden, rather than seeing it through my camera lens. It's made a huge difference in my appreciation of a garden. (But yes, I like to get inspiration, especially from gardens that have telephone poles in them, like mine does.)

  17. I have been non-existent, more or less, in the blogosphere of late - but have been following the track of Hurricane Earl and worry that it might head towards your lovely garden. All of us coastal folks need to stick together during hurricane season, and I just wanted to say that I'm hoping for a quicker northerly turn and it going out to sea and leaving you and your cats and your garden alone! Take care, Pam

  18. Thank you, jodi, for this inspirational garden tour. I so love visiting others gardens to see the soul of the gardener and how they tend their piece of heaven.

  19. Your friend does have inspirational sweeps of color! I can imagine all the bees and butterflies enjoying her bit of paradise. I love visiting OPGs. I am always on the lookout for new ideas, but even if I can't adapt any of their plantings to my own site, it's just great visiting all sorts of gardens, large and small, just for the joy of it!

  20. I love the "lawn" chair! I think unique items like that one really sets her garden apart and shows her personality. LOVE IT! Thank you for sharing.:)

  21. Hi, Jodi, I agree with you that visiting OPGs is a great way to get wonderful ideas for ones own garden. I guess I am a rather nosy person, too, and love to see what other gardeners are up to. That's probably why I enjoy blogging so much. Your friend's garden is an inspiration! Pam

  22. As a garden walker, it is my duty to visit O,P,G's. Joking of course, but I sneak in where ever I get a chance, but it is best to be invited. Betty's garden is spectacular.

  23. I love seeing someone who has figured out how to handle a lot of space. Every once in a while I long for a nice urban garden plot. But not today.

  24. What a beautiful garden! I love to visit other people's gardens; oftentimes I come away feeling a little intimidated and thinking how my tiny garden doesn't measure up, but mostly I come away inspired with some ideas to incorporate in my own garden. I have lots of space, like Betty, so she has made me think--drifts!


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