Thursday, March 15, 2012

SPRING FEVER

With this winter's unseasonably warm temps, the garden is greening up earlier than usual. We have several garden areas at Ashton House but my favorite is the arbor garden, which my husband and I planted shortly after arriving at Ashton House. We chose a location for it just off the house because both the kitchen and dining room enjoy a view of it. I took this photo of my arbor garden just before it was shot for Country Gardens magazine a few years ago. The arbor was brand new at the time, so the clematis had not yet had time to establish itself. That's why the magazine brought in these beautiful potted rose topiaries.


The arbor garden is a small, intimate enclave that envelops our home's silhouette. To save money, we installed all the brick-lined beds, plants, and pea gravel ourselves. Considering this area started as a bland patch of lawn, it has filled in nicely. Since this photo was taken, the 'Green Velvet' boxwood has formed a lush hedge. We chose that variety because it performs well in our Midwestern climate. It's a cross between the gorgeous English boxwood and the hardier Korean boxwood.


Most of the plants in the arbor garden are herbs and perennials but we mix a few annuals in for visual impact. This old-fashioned stock reminds me of my grandma's garden. You might have noticed some rose foliage mingling with it; we plant very tightly to discourage weeds.


We usually mulch with a simple layer of black compost, but for the shoot, we mulched with cocoa hulls for their texture and color. When it's freshly applied, it has a wonderful chocolatey aroma. However, you should not use it if you have dogs because it is harmful to their gastrointestinal systems.


There is a quilt-related connection to this story. A few years ago, a quilt book used the arbor garden as a backdrop for some of their photography. The photo team brought in this lovely quilt and props. Unfortunately, I didn't shoot this photo at a good time. It was afternoon and that's a bad time to shoot outdoor photos unless it's an overcast day. All the professional photographers I've worked with say the best time to shoot a garden is early morning before the sun's garish rays overpower it. I've learned a lot from them over the years. They all say that the key to good photos is NOT using a flash. Who knew?! Now I never use the flash when taking my photos! Hope you enjoyed this little garden tour.

13 comments:

  1. I certainly enjoyed the tour. Your garden is beautiful. I wish ours looked like that!

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  2. Beautiful garden. Pioneer Woman also advocates not using a flash when taking pictures. I turned mine off, and have enjoyed the pictures so much.

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  3. Your gardens are so pretty! Its so good to see some flowers, I am tired of dead grass. I have been thinking of doing our backyard with just flowers and maybe one little square of grass. Thank you for sharing your lovely garden with us! I love the soft yellow color of your home too....

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  4. Thank you for sharing your garden! I am a garden-lover, but I have too much of a brown thumb to be a successful gardner. Yours is beautiful and I'm happy to have visited virtually!

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  5. Your beautiful garden is an inspiration to me to get busy in my garden!

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  6. These gardens are gorgeous! I can't wait for spring here! Thanks for the pics!

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  7. Your gardens are very beautiful and the arbor I am in love with! Happy spring days to you.

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  8. I am enthralled with your cottage garden!

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  9. What a beautiful garden! I must look for Green Velvet boxwood, I am not familiar with it.....Your photos are perfect...I am still learning on getting that elusive moment in the garden on my camera. N.xo

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  10. Great garden Kimber - so neat and tidy! Thanks for the photo tips too! If the phoos are old ones I'd love to see an update in June...?

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  11. Oh, be still my heart! Your garden is fabulous, and I so appreciate the armchair tour!

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