Monday, August 29, 2016

DIRTIER ....The Monthly Garden Memoir
AtDianneB_Logo_wHead02 5
Dianne B                                                                                  Volume 71, I Feel So Lucky                         
Header-P1150026 2


I sat – or stood or knelt – in amazement watching glorious spring combinations unfurl from hellebores to fritillaria, tree peonies picking up the spectacle when the magnolia petals fell and then that subtle but breathtaking slide from allium to iris


from spring’s new growth to summer’s extraordinary colors

And then Life in The Hamptons whirled by, so I have been remiss in this reportage since May.
Ergo, I will try to deftly edit and only delight you with the very best floral combinations of this fly-by season:

I planted 50 Allium karavatiense in the sunniest spot
and nearly every one made lush fat blue leaves 


The fiery growth of Andromeda (Pieris 'Mountain Fire') jousts with chartreuse new growth of the Sunnylands spruce 

Not a Japanese maple, but Acer japonica
coming into its own


Abies koreana outdid itself in cone-bearing and the
white-tipped Thujopsis dolobrata behind it is growing like mad 


Probably suffering from too-early and too-late planting
(remember that Paris voyage dans Novembre) tulips were definitely lacking this year,
but the Tree Peonies were Out of This World 


Particularly proud of the expanding Trillium because
dividing it is a really hard job


Several variations on circles and triangles elicit
my naming it The Geometric Garden


My absolute favorite dwarfish multi-layered
Japanese maple from another of our great nurseries,

Lynch's in Southampton

And no one got to see the Fringe tree (Chionanthes) but me and the monkey, it came and went so fast —
by mail from the great Forestfarm


and I know these Calla Lilies don’t look real, but I swear they are Zantedeshia aethiopica and are blooming
in our disputed Zone 6b/7a for the 5th year –

I do cover them in a burlap blanket for winter,
but they stay in the ground

The Asiatic lillies are admittedly stiff, but this
Netty’s Pride makes a good bridge between the allium
and the real lilies


The old-fashioned martagon lily
(the original Turk’s cap, I think)
beguiles in front of the Crape myrtle
and Cornus controversa

P1150264 P1150262 (1)

The serendipitous simultaneous bloom of the Korean dogwood, purple Iris and Clematis ‘Silver Moon’
 from Donahue’s Clematis Nursery


And this graceful Clematis (I think tangutica) billowing from the top of the funky lionshead maple doesn’t have big garden impact but it turns me on

Five blooms on one Acanthus is pure heaven

 and, of course, there were myriad amazements
 uncapturable on this screen



This gathering basket can be had from Sur la Table.
It has received the seal of approval from my wonderful (step) sons Marc and Charles who seriously gather
on their 5 acres in Sonoma

Image 5

Don’t underestimate the fecundity of the fragile but most beautiful Japanese Iris ensata...P1150282
If you cut them at first bloom they last for weeks as there are many hidden underflowers in what looks to be a one-shot bud

Perseverance... this variegated Hydrangea paniculata from Forestfarm has been limping along since 2010 with
no sign of a flower till this year

It probably hasn’t helped that it is in the shadiest
part of the garden


I alluded to this trip outside of Philadelphia in the last DIRTIER — my first with the wonderful
Horticultural Alliance of the Hamptons —
but neglected to show you even one gorgeous image.
Here are some crowning moments...

Mind you, this is mid-April and it had been
unseasonably warm

Scott Arboretum at Swarthmore.
Really – had I gone to school there I’m sure I would have taken up gardening long before my fifth decade began...


and surely I would have done my acting turn
in this thrilling amphitheater

The next stop was the private garden of Charles Cresson,
a manic gardener with lots of heritage  with several quirky
details that, of course, turned me on:

a gorgeous mossy barn roof


and a penchant for my beloved Arisaema

Mount Cuba – actually in Northern Delaware
 Many simple, restrained and elegant acres.  

A preservation garden full of natives that was graceful
and classy - not weedy and ordinary - and
stately buildings speak highly of the DuPont  taste level


Oh the trillium - zillions and many kinds

Oh the uvularia

Our group of devotees

We also went to Longwood Gardens, where I had twice been before and was once impressed.  But now, with gathering sophistication and after seeing more refined and exquisite gardens, it looked positively vulgar.  More like a gigantic commercial park, packed to provide sensation after sensation, than a garden.
We did have a nice lunch there though
(choose the private dining room, not too pricey and good)

How many pink hyacinths does one really need?

P1140306 2

P1140310 2
...and this is not Christmas

Fortunately, that was followed by the second private garden stop and was it a beauty...

Somehow my radar had never picked up on David Culp,
his partner Michael Alderfer and their gorgeous garden named Brandywine Cottage. David’s book, The Layered Garden,
is the sort that would seem indispensible to me.

We pulled up to a cliff-like entrance that was skirted in Sasa veitchii which is the wierd but divine bamboo pictured earlier that they have and I have,
but is rarely seen elsewhere...

here is mine with its papery-edged old growth
in divine contrast to the freshness of primrose
and shiny leaves of baby Black Mambos


so I was impressed from the first moment.
In mid-April this terraced rise was covered,
and I mean covered absolutely,
in Hellebores of every size, color and kind - bar none


you can’t really see them here – but it was startlingly munificent.
And in this two acres (maybe not quite) they had the ultimate in everything the way I like it including rocky troughs


All sorts of eccentric little (and big) touches

Wild with a little bit of taming
P1140341 2

The pictures are lousy but these guys were real, had a good sense of humor and didn’t even care about some whopper dandelions, which
would have driven my Lys Marigold crazy

 I hear Dave is going to show up in East Hampton to speak... at which time I plan to snag them to visit here because if anyone ever would appreciate my attitude – it would be them –
I'll let you know when they come

The very last stop was

Rare Find Nursery

what would a garden trip be if you couldn't buy something -
 my Redbud

But before we left the Main Line, the final stop was
the fabled Chanticleer.
I have heard so much about this garden, even raves
from the highly-discerning Jack Larsen,
that I thought it could never live up to my expectations
or its own elevated reputation...
I was wrong  - this is a garden for the ages

Look at this idyll for example


and now a close up of one little corner,
easy to see why this garden is right up my alley
with its preponderance for moody colors, many fritillaria and that wonderful Melianthes major –  Antonow’s Blue 


It is 30 acres of heaven imagined and kept by
8 quasi-head gardeners,
each with their own vision and area
(Compare this to LongHouse, which is half the size it's true,
operates with one wonderful Horticulturist,
Alex Feleppa, and a bare-bones garden staff of 4)

Chanticleer is endowed to the hilt and employs
many people to keep it perfect. The great thing is, perfection in their estimation is not measured by repetition or manicure.

A few more views:

P1140415 2


Yes, there is a stately house one can pass through too

It’s gorgeous – plan to spend hours and hours there

Not a Japanese tea house, but one of the rest rooms – they each have art inside and startling flower arrangements

and there are even charmingly presented explanations
and plant descriptions in each area


This is John Thomas – he runs the place magnificently

Everywhere you turn there is another good idea
or something to take your breath away



But arriving home to April here on Davids Lane —
I felt quite happy




Saint Luke’s held a fabulous exhibition of ecclesiastical
textiles and objects from the 13th to 18th C.

Image 4

With Lys and the amazing collector, Jill Lasersohn,
to whom the gorgeous garb belonged.


SacredThreads-8-7884-medallion detail

ST LUKES-news-6443



This sumptuous raiment and regalia looked ravishing in our Romanesque Church, though it is only 110 years old –
it too was made in a time when craft and art were utmost
and it housed this collection
like a velvet gloved hand

The Best Now-You-See-It---Now-You-Don’t
Trick of the Season was
definitely this life-size giraffe that mysteriously
appeared in the Nature Trail...

                                                                           Durell Godfrey Photo

Unfortunately the Village of East Hampton didn’t get the joke and it was swiftly removed.
I thought it added a lot to our sometimes stoic village

My rugged godson Jordan, spending weeks
in Nicaragua building houses
... that outstanding guy on the left is him


I had a wonderful visit from 46 smart gardeners from the
Hardy Plant Society and of all the things they seemed to commend – the long-needled Yew in the bottom right
seemed the most impressive to  the most erudite among them
... go figure...


And the event of events, which happened to fall on the same weekend as my wonderful birthday, was our
SERIOUS MOONLIGHT 25th Jubilee Benefit Gala
at LongHouse.

Bloomberg News gave it a good summary,
so see this if you can -
and here are a few more HighLights:

             Nico Muhly Performs

Lys Marigold, Dianne Benson and Angela Mariana Freyre

Nico Muhly and Cindy Sherman

When we say Serious Moonlight at LongHouse we mean it


Cindy Sherman’s divine contribution to our Great Auction
in an Issey Miyake bathing suit,
an outtake from our collaboration in the 80's

116701-1467386914-Sherman 2-xl

Another great piece of art by Michael Combs
Image 3

Jack Larsen, our founder, and Ayse Kenmore
in a magical outfit.

Image 1

And of course, we couldn’t say Serious Moonlight without a nod to David Bowie – so the great Nona Hendryx paid tribute and Matko put on his red shoes and danced
Matko and Dianne-Image 2

And when Jack surprised me with an award, they flashed several pictures on the screen, including this sweet one
and now she’s 21!

Image 15 3

It was a wonderful night...
LHR Benefit-Amanda Gordon Bloomberg 2

But perhaps the most long-term exciting event of the gardening season is this:
Lys Marigold has till now only found immediate gardening satisfaction in rooting out dandelions
but the Twilight Battle Against the Slugs has intrigued her
and now we are winning!




You probably think this is going to be about
my beautiful dog Flora,


but no
It is the cognomen for the Language of Flowers
developed in the more romantic Victorian era
...and it was quite precise
Red roses for passionate love
Purple for seduction
White for purity, of course




The Arisaemas, Jack in the Pulpits of 2016


A. sikokianum in 'bloom'

the simple, most common A. triphyllum happy
in a neglected corner

This tender A. amurense is a heart stopper, no?
From Plant Delights


A. sikokianum when the bloom has petered out but the variegation in the leaves becomes more apparent


the ethereal and romantic A. candidisima from Odyssey

A. consanguinem coming into its own
and forming its drip tips

A. ringens Black Mambo in all her glory

An inveterate retailer at heart,
I have decided it is time to sell
a few Arisaema ringens ‘Black Mambo’

They are totally hardy, in East Hampton anyway

For you takers, I will dig them in the next week or so.
Not equipped to ship,  they can be called for on
Davids Lane in East Hampton Village.
Plant Delights has them for $24.00 but, as usual,
they are out of stock.
Please respond and let me know how many you would like at $20.00 each.  First come, first serve.


Anyway – I do feel so lucky living such a beautiful life
in such gifted circumstances

Some people feel the rain.  Others just get wet.
Bob Dylan

This is not The Nature Trail – this duck prefers our pool


Oh Magnolia 

keeping me company while delicately weeding the moss



Till next time...stay happy


Yoko Ono Wishes from LongHouse to Her repository in Iceland

Yoko Ono Wishes from LongHouse to Her repository in Iceland-6355


Visit Dianne B Gardens

Visit Our Website     Find us on Facebook     Forward this message to a friend