Camellia sasanqua 'Setsugekka' at Woodland Cottage

Camellia sasanqua ‘Setsugekka’ at Woodland Cottage

Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Holidays! Here is a link to my Holiday 2015 Newsletter, full of garden tips and information on our travels this year. Enjoy!

Posted under Garden maintenance, Garden Tours, Garden Travel, Holidays, Newletters, Random garden thoughts, Southern Gardens, The Fall Garden, The Winter Garden, Travel

This post was written by Jeff Minnich on November 28, 2015

Greetings from Wilmington, NC

Loropetalum beginning to bloom in our front yard

Loropetalum beginning to bloom in our front yard

After what always seems like an eternity (in other words, getting through January), I made it down here to Steve’s in Wilmington.  I’ve been here a week and, already, I feel the relaxation and calm streaming into my body and the stress and tension slowly draining out.  The air is not all that much warmer down here–though I don’t sense the chill that emanates from the ground in Arlington at this time of year–yet the sun is much, much brighter, warmer, and intense.  It’s done wonders for my outlook!

We’ve had lots of rain.  That’s a good thing since there have been many years of drought and heat down here and the soil is practically all sand.  Great for digging (compared to the rocky clay in Arlington); not so great for holding moisture or nutrients.

With the rain and warmer sun, the plants are responding with bloom.

Carolina Jessamine around our front porch

Carolina Jessamine around our front porch

Camellia 'Taylor's Perfection'

Camellia 'Taylor's Perfection'

Cheerful Daffodils in the bright sunlight

Cheerful Daffodils in the bright sunlight

Carrying over from Winter, Tea Olives powerfully fill the garden with a deep, sweet fragrance

Carrying over from Winter, Tea Olives powerfully fill the garden with a deep, sweet fragrance

One of Wilmington’s crown jewels is the annual Azalea Festival.  This year, it’s happening April 10th-14th.  The entire town is filled with blooming Azaleas, gorgeous gardens (there’s a big fundraising tour) and glamorous belles–yes, in hoop skirts.  I was asked to write an article on a couple of the featured gardens for the April issue of Wrightsville Beach Magazine. Today, I met my charming contact and she took me by two of the gardens.  They are all that and some change, and I can’t wait for you to see them…but for that you’ll have to wait.  Meantime, I did snap some close-ups of flowers in these two gardens, and I’m sharing those here.

Camellias...

Camellias...

Forsythia...

Forsythia...

Variegated Winter Daphne

Variegated Winter Daphne...

And a lovely, canopied street here in Wilmington--appropriately called Live Oak Drive

And a lovely, canopied street here in Wilmington--appropriately called Live Oak Drive

Tomorrow, we are heading South for a week in the Low Country:  Charleston and Beaufort, SC, and Savannah, GA.  We can’t wait to get to our beloved Low Country and savor the gardens, history, architecture, and surprises along the way.  We want to explore the Sea Islands and see as many plantations and gardens as we can.

Photos by the blogger; if you copy, please link back.

Posted under Fragrance in the garden, Garden Tours, Garden Travel, Gardeners, Southern Gardens, Spring Flowers, The Spring Garden, The Winter Garden, Travel

Nancy Goodwin’s Montrose Garden in Hillsborough, NC

I noticed Anne Raver wrote a piece in the New York Times recently about Nancy Goodwin and her garden in Hillsborough, NC, “Montrose”.  Here’s a link. Nancy wrote a book about her garden and her experiences there, Montrose: Life in a Garden.  It’s a lovely, informative read.

The garden at Montrose in late Summer

The garden at Montrose in early Fall

Steve and I visited there two Winters ago, and we had a personal tour through the garden with Nancy.  It was magical.  I wrote about it here.

The garden at Montrose in late Winter

The garden at Montrose in late Winter

Hillsborough, NC, is the American home, also, for Frances Mayes, (“Under the Tuscan Sun”) and her husband, Ed.  They’ve just completed a new cookbook, The Tuscan Sun Cookbook, which will be released next week, on March 13th.  Can’t wait!  Following the book’s release, they’ll start their book tour.

Posted under Garden Tours, Garden Travel, Gardeners, Media, Southern Gardens, Writers

A Man Named Pearl

The wonderful documentary, A Man Named Pearl, shows on Oprah’s network, OWN, this Sunday, December 18th, during the ‘Super Soul Sunday’ block from 8-11am.  Check for TV schedules here.  See here for more information about the documentary.  Thanks to Amy Stewart at Garden Rant for the heads-up.

Steve and I had the pleasure of visiting Mr. Pearl’s garden in Bishopville, SC (near Florence, SC), in the Winter of 2010.  Mr. Pearl was there and we got a chance to visit with him.  What a nice guy.  His garden is exquisite.  We hope to go back for another visit this Winter.  Here are some photos from our visit in late February of 2010:

Photos by the author.  If you copy, please link back.

Posted under Garden Tours, The Winter Garden, Topiary

This post was written by Jeff Minnich on December 15, 2011

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Montrose

Sometimes, things just work out for the best. Like last Thursday. Steve and I got in the car in Wilmington, on a rainy, nasty, cold morning at 7am. We were headed to Montrose in Hillsborough, NC, to tour the gardens. Hillsborough is northwest of Durham, so we went through Raleigh on the way. It’s really a straight shot up I-40 from Wilmington. When we got close to Raleigh, it started to snow…the snow was covering everything but the road…and I started to fret that I wouldn’t be able to see anything in this garden we were traveling almost three hours to see. But then, on the other side of Raleigh, things opened up and the snow magically just disappeared.

We got to Montrose at the stroke of 10, right on time. Our hostess (and owner of the property), Nancy Goodwin, was just then swinging open the gate (I almost ran into her, I was so excited to get in there!). She said, “I was almost ready to give up on you all. Everyone else canceled.” Lucky us! We got a private, almost two hour tour with this delightful, energetic, and amazingly knowledgeable plantswoman. To say I was in heaven is an understatement. What a treat.

In late February, Montrose is loaded with hardy cyclamen, hellebores (Lenten Roses), and snowdrops (Galanthus)–all of which are Nancy’s passion and favorites. She has and does breed them all. As much as I hate winter, I really do love the late winter/early spring crossover for all these same plants. There is nothing like walking through the garden and seeing these signs of life suddenly appear amidst all the dead leaves and bare branches, and despite the cold. So cheerful and hopeful.

Looking through the woodland at Montrose

Through the woodland at Montrose

I had vaguely heard of Montrose, and Nancy Goodwin, and I am ashamed to say the horticulturist in me didn’t put two and two together when I read about her in Frances Mayes’ blog. Frances (who wrote Under the Tuscan Sun and sequels) lives in Hillsborough, also, when she is not in Tuscany. She recommended Nancy’s book, Montrose: Life in a Garden (Duke University Press). I ordered it right away, of course, and then sat down and read it in Wilmington the week before we went to visit the garden. It is a wonderful intro to the garden, and Nancy, and I felt like I was visiting an old friend as I walked around the gardens at Montrose.

I later found out from Nancy that she and Frances are now friends. I wrote to Frances, via her blog, to thank her for her recommendation and tell her we had visited Montrose. She responded back that we should definitely go back and see the gardens when the roses are in bloom and “see [them] arching into the trees.” She said she had “fantastical dreams for a week” after visiting the garden. She’s oh so right.

If you are ever in the Triangle area of NC (Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill), you must visit Montrose. It is open for tours by appointment. For more information, check out this link.

Posted under Garden Tours

Blooms Garden Tour

How I wish I could go! I hear Donna Dawson, Master Gardener and tour guide par excellence, gives a great tour through her company, Gardening Tours. Check it out.

Adrian Bloom’s Celebration of English Gardens Tour
July 3-11, 2010

For more info, go to www.gardeningtours.com and click on “Blooms2010″.

There is no finer example of using plants to inspire both intellectually and emotionally than English garden design. Steeped in history, English design styles, from formal gardens to cottage gardens, have lead the way in both Europe and the Americas since the 18th century.

This special Celebration of English Gardens Tour for garden writers and those in the horticultural industry will feature visits to some of the finest gardens, horticultural facilities and shows in England, personally selected by Adrian Bloom. Enjoy valuable networking and social opportunities as well.

Blooms of Bressingham has been famous for its selection of herbaceous perennials for more than 80 years. The father and son team of Alan and Adrian Bloom are the creators of Bressingham Gardens, whose 16 acres we will tour in a one-day visit. This is a unique opportunity to not only view the six distinct garden areas at Bressingham up close, but to meet and socialize with other garden writers from the UK, North America and Europe at a special Press Day event. Adrian’s latest book should be out by the time we are here.

UPDATES FROM LONDON

This year the 21st Hampton Court Palace Flower Show will look unlike any other, with a new layout. For the first time the Floral Marquee will be on the North side of the showground as a dramatic 225m long feature with over 90 stunning displays. On the South side of the canal the popular grow your own theme will be even bigger, with a major, Home Grown feature. The Gardens Illustrated marquee is another new highlight where plant and gardening accessories will be combined in gorgeous displays.

Hampton Court Palace Flower Show offers over 600 shopping opportunities, ideas for growing in small spaces or large gardens, features bursting with fruit and vegetables, a Cookery Theatre and traditional, modern and contemporary ideas. For 2010 a Shakespearean theme will provide entertaining, and quintessentially British, gardens. The show is also a popular destination to enjoy and purchase hundreds of varieties of the nation’s favourite flower in the Festival of Roses, which is also the launch pad for the Rose of the Year.

Finally, the vast setting of the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show, which encircles the Long Water canal, has the Palace as its backdrop, and is surrounded by acres of park land, makes it the perfect place to escape and find everything you need to make the best of your life outdoors.

Blooms of Bressingham – exclusive Press Day Event

Hampton Court Palace Flower Show – full day ticket

King’s Privy Garden – at Hampton Court Palace, view the Great Grape Vine – planted in 1768

Beth Chatto – acclaimed gardens of drought, water and woodland, based on sustainable planting

Thompson & Morgan – tour through their facilities and see the latest

Old Vicarage – this ‘hidden garden’ is a must see!
Will Giles Exotic Garden – tropicals are his passion

Cambridge Botanic Garden – over 10,000 labeled plant species set in beautiful landscape

RHS Hyde Hall – a visit to the 360-acre Hyde Hall estate is unforgettable in any season

Guided tour through the beautiful Abbey Gardens at Bury St. Edmunds Botanic Gardens, established in the 1800’s

plus more…

Highlights:
* 4 Star Hotel Accommodation 8 nights
* English Breakfast Daily
* Welcome Dinner
* Farewell Dinner at Pub
* Entrances to Cambridge Botanic Gardens, Beth Chatto Gardens, RHS Hyde Hall, Will Giles Exotic Garden, Old Vicarage, Bressingham Gardens, and RHS Wisley
* Special Press Day Event
* Punt on the Cam
* Tour of Abbey Gardens in Bury St. Edmunds
* Entrance to Hampton Court Palace Flower Show
* Entrance to HC Privy Garden
* Ride on London Eye
* Coach Driver tips
* Stay tuned for more to be added!

Posted under Garden Tours

This post was written by Jeff Minnich on February 22, 2010

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