Woodland Cottage’s Gardens on Tour

Looking through the woodland on a Summer's day

Looking through the woodland on a Summer’s day

I had the pleasure of opening my garden a couple of weeks ago to the Garden Bloggers Fling, which meets annually in cities around the country. We had an international group visit the garden. It was great fun. I’d like to share with you a marvelous article by Pam Penick, who has the blog Digging. I think she captured the garden here at Woodland Cottage very succinctly. Thanks, Pam, for a nice remembrance of your visit here! We love to welcome visitors! Here’s the link:

http://www.penick.net/digging/?p=43943

 

 

 

 

 

Posted under Blogs, Garden Tours, Garden Travel, Gardeners, Media, Southern Gardens, The Summer Garden, Water in the Garden

This post was written by Jeff Minnich on July 9, 2017

Tags: , , ,

The Winter That [Seems Like It] Will Never End…

…but we know it will, of course–eventually.

From this (Bluffton, SC, February 2014)...

From this (Bluffton, SC, February 2014)…

...to this (Arlington,  VA, March 6, 2014)

…to this (Arlington, VA, March 6, 2014)

It’s good to be back home in Arlington, though not to this cold and snow! Except for the ice storm that occurred when I first arrived in North Carolina last month, the Winter weather down South this year was gorgeous.

Winter Damage

The lowest temperature got to 5F in my garden this Winter. Plus, there were several stretches of below-freezing temperatures for several days at a time (including this past week).

Almost all broadleaf evergreens have, at least, some leaf burn on them, as we head into late Winter and early Spring. Some have severe burn. Some leaf burn is very obvious; some not so obvious, yet.

In my travels this Winter, I have seen damage as far south as South Georgia. It has been a cold Winter in the eastern part of the U.S.

Winter damage, Bonaventure Cemetary, Savannah, GA, February, 2014

Winter damage, Bonaventure Cemetery, Savannah, GA, February, 2014

Ice storm, Wilmington, NC, early February, 2014

Ice storm, Wilmington, NC, early February, 2014

In my own garden, I grow some things that I would not plant in clients’ gardens (before years of testing in local conditions) because their true hardiness in the metro D.C. area is still uncertain. Believe it or not, I welcome a Winter like this one–at least in terms of testing the limits of hardiness for some of the plants in my garden.

The usual suspects have moderate to severe leaf burn: nandinas, loquats, cast iron plants, windmill palms, chindo viburnums, ligustrum, Carolina jessamine, fatsias, loropetalums, camellias, gardenias, mondo grass, liriope, etc.–even aucubas. With the exception of loquat (which is a hardiness zone 8 plant), all are listed in hardiness zone 7 (the predominant hardiness zone in the D.C. area, which covers average lowest temperatures 0F-10F), or lower/able to  take even colder temperatures. I’m even expecting some bud loss on my beloved camellias which, since I’ve had my garden here at Woodland Cottage, have always put on a spectacular late Winter/early Spring show.

Crapemyrtles can be adversely affective by severe cold, too, though we’ll have to wait until they leaf out (often not until May) before we know if they were damaged or not.

Winter damage on Sago Palm, Savannah, GA, February, 2014

Winter damage on Sago Palm, Savannah, GA, February, 2014

The difference this year, I think, is a combination of very cold temperatures and long stretches of below-freezing temperatures. Plants’ leaves dried out and burned because they could not get water into their systems to help prevent the dessication.

I’m expecting most, if not all, of these plants to drop/lose all their burned leaves before putting out new growth when the weather is, finally, reliably warm. They may have some stem/branch loss, as well, from the tips back.

Frozen pond/waterfall, Woodland Cottage, Winter 2014

Frozen pond/waterfall, Woodland Cottage, Winter 2014

The best thing to do–as I say every year–is nothing, now–WAIT. It would be a shame to cut back or remove a plant when it appears dead when, actually, its wood is still very much alive. Even if part of the top of the plant is lost, the roots may still be alive and strong, able to push out lush, new growth when the weather warms.

The other reason to wait, from a cost perspective, is that loss from Winter damage is not covered under the plant guarantee.

Spring can be fickle after a very cold Winter (and Easter is not until April 20th this year), so we may have to wait awhile until the weather settles down and balmy weather returns.

Please wait, and please try to be patient. Allow Mother Nature to work her magic. In most cases, it will be well worth the wait.

Here’s hoping for real Spring–soon!!

Camellia japonica, Savannah, GA, February, 2014

Camellia japonica, Savannah, GA, February, 2014

 

 

 

Posted under Southern Gardens, The Winter Garden, Water in the Garden

Holiday Newsletter

My annual Holiday Newsletter is up on my website–here’s a link,

Here at Woodland Cottage, the last of the leaves are just about to fall after a gorgeous, colorful Autumn.  The Japanese Maples were exquisite, and they still have a few red leaves.  I’ve really enjoyed them.  They took my breath away every time I looked out the back windows!

Beautiful 'Bloodgood' Japanese Maples in the back garden at Woodland Cottage

Beautiful 'Bloodgood' Japanese Maples in the back garden at Woodland Cottage

I’ve started decorating the inside of the house for the holidays, and I put up the outside lights this afternoon.

More soon–I hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving!

Posted under Holidays, Newletters, The Fall Garden

This post was written by Jeff Minnich on November 26, 2012

Tags: , ,

Early Autumn Garden To-Do List for the Magical Mid-Atlantic

After the Summer’s heat, it’s time to get back out in the garden and put it to bed for the Winter.  Here’s a link to your chores!

Camellia sasanqua 'Setsugekka' at Woodland Cottage

Camellia sasanqua 'Setsugekka' at Woodland Cottage

Posted under Garden maintenance, Houseplants, Insects in the Garden, Pruning, The Fall Garden

This post was written by Jeff Minnich on October 3, 2012

Tags: , , , ,

Arlington Magazine Features the Garden at Woodland Cottage

The waterfall at Woodland Cottage

The waterfall at Woodland Cottage

Here’s the link to the article about my garden in Arlington Magazine‘s July/August issue.

www.minnichgardendesign.com/pdf/WaterWorld.pdf

Posted under Media, Southern Gardens, Water in the Garden

This post was written by Jeff Minnich on July 25, 2012

Tags: , , ,

Weeds, Mossy Paths, and Bliss

Looking through the woodland on a Summer's day

Looking through the woodland on a Summer's day

Weeds.  Ugh.  And yet.

Years ago, I went on a landscape tour to Richmond with the Landscape Designers Group to which I belong.  It was led by a designer who took us by his aunt’s house.  She had the most glorious mossy pathways–thick and spongy–and I was moss-green with envy!  “I must have those paths!”, I thought (vowed!).  This tour fell around the time I was first developing my garden here at Woodland Cottage, oh, maybe 15 years ago.  Perfect timing.  (Isn’t it funny how the answers often fall right into your lap, if only your antennae are up and you are attuned?  I have a secret:  it’s a tool that many designers use.)

I’d read all the prescriptions for creating mossy paths:  buttermilk and moss mixture, lay sheets of moss, etc. etc.  The truth is, I did nothing.  I marked and cleared my meandering pathways, lined them with green Liriope, kept them weeded and raked, and just went on living.  Over time, the moss began to grow on its own.  I do know that moss grows well on compacted (the soil on my pathways compacts from my walking on them), moist, shady soil.  I have all the above.  I will say that the amount of moss skyrocketed after I got my sprinkler system and the moisture was suddenly applied evenly and regularly, as opposed to waiting on Nature and yours truly to supply it.

Our host with the mossy paths in Richmond (going back to that) told us that we must keep them cleared of debris and weeds.  She had a blower and used a yardman to accomplish these tasks–I don’t have a blower and I am the yardman, so I rake softly, with a soft, lawn rake (FYI, the thin-tined metal works better on moss than those wooden/wicker/whatever-they-are-made-of ones, IMHO), and hand-weed.

Ugh.

I have prodigious amounts of Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis) and Toadlily (Tricyrtis hirta) in my woodland.  I love them both, but I didn’t realize how prolific they would get in my garden (I don’t want to say invasive, because they are desired, but yeah, you could say that).  Last year, I had thousands of both in my pathways.  It was, for the Cardinal Flowers and Toadlilies, a good year.  And Cardinal Flowers, I learned, have a stubborn tap root, to boot.  Snap off the top without getting the root, and the darn things leaf out again.  And pull up the baby Toadlilies, and you get a big chunk of moss, too.  Not good for the moss, on either count.

Anyway, the weeding became a monumental bore/chore, especially with the high heat we had in the Mid-Atlantic last summer.  I’d start early, or wait until late evening to weed, but by the time I had to quit, I had weeded maybe two square feet.  It was that bad.

I decided, finally, to spray the weeds with Roundup (curses! horrors!).  I know, I know…have at it–I am guilty as charged.  But here’s something to know about me:  I will spray chemicals as a LAST resort.  I’m a busy guy, and I don’t always have time to pull every weed and pick off every bug.  When they get way ahead of me, I have to make a decision whether or not to spray.  And–rarely, I must add–I do choose to spray.  In this case, I used a backpack sprayer with a wand so that I could very specifically (and painstakingly) target each weed/patch of weeds.  It took me forever, and I did it again 10 days later–and I did lose some moss–but I can tell you, a year later, that I am so glad I did.  Because I weeded all my mossy pathways in about three hours yesterday.  A miracle.

Two things about me and weeding:  I dread it, and then I love it.  True, today I am intimately involved with Mr. Bengay and Alleve for my lower back (at age 54 the lower back does get stiff, even if I am in great shape).  I dread it because of the monotony.  Then I love it for the same reason because it’s that very monotony that allows my brain to stop its craziness, focus on one thing, then relax and drift.  I’m telling you, I solved many design quandaries and got more ideas during those three hours yesterday.  I got quiet, listened, and the answers came.

Gardening, for me, is like that.  Sometimes, when I am in the thick of trying to figure out the answers, I just open the door and take a turn in my garden.  My head clears; the answers come.

And what a sense of accomplishment to look out on the paths and see moss, and only moss.  In my mind, I can see the moss expanding already into the voids opened by my weeding.

Happy Father’s Day and Happy Gardening.

Posted under Garden maintenance, Random garden thoughts, The Summer Garden

This post was written by Jeff Minnich on June 17, 2012

Tags: , , , , , ,

The Lady Banks is Abloom

She is stopping traffic right now, literally…people are jumping out of their cars with their IPhones and snapping pics.  I don’t blame them.

Here she is, climbing an arbor in my yard, and the adjacent plants.

Ain’t she pretty.

She is the Lady Banks Rose, Rosa banksiae.  Also known as the Lady Banksia Rose, depending on from where you hail in the South.

In my experience, it is the earliest blooming Rose in my area of the magical Mid-Atlantic.  I think it’s the northern limit for her, as well, in terms of hardiness.

Look closely and you’ll see a red/orange Honeysuckle vine mixed in with her butter-yellow flowers.

My dear neighbor, Mr. Jimmy, gets to see this view from his kitchen window:

He’s originally from the Deep South, and he says it brings back memories.  I like that.

Here’s The Lady climbing my Weeping Yaupon Holly:

Oh, isn’t this a Spring to end all Springs?  Ain’t life grand…

Posted under Southern Gardens, Spring Flowers, The Spring Garden

This post was written by Jeff Minnich on April 16, 2012

Tags: , , ,

Spring Continues to Dazzle

As in all gardens, each Spring day brings something new.  Here at Woodland Cottage, we are passing from early to mid-Spring.  Soon, we’ll be in what I like to call “full Spring”–when the Azaleas and Dogwoods are really kicking.  It occurs usually when the mid-season Azaleas come into bloom.  That will be soon.

We landscape designers have been hopping double-time this Spring!  I haven’t had much time to sit down and write to you–I apologize.  I hope these photos will make amends for my slacking off!

Happy the Buddha is glad it's Spring!

Happy the Buddha is glad it's Spring!

Epimedium rubrum next to the waterfall

Epimedium rubrum next to the waterfall

I love the new growth on Fatsia japonica.  I have several.

I love the new growth on Fatsia japonica. I have several.

This is my favorite Camellia japonica.  I’m not sure of the variety.  Does anyone know?  It is one of my latest blooming varieties…just finishing up now.

Camellia japonica, unknown variety

Camellia japonica, unknown variety

An old-fashioned favorite, Calycanthus floridus, is a native here.  I call it Sweetshrub; some call it Carolina Allspice.  My dear friend, Catherine, has it encircling her screened porch–heaven.  She calls it Spicebush.  Here it is, the dark brown/maroon flower in the foreground.  It has a sharp, spicy scent.

Calycanthus floridus, foreground

Calycanthus floridus, foreground

Chinese Snowball, Viburnum macrocephalum, just coming into bloom.

Chinese Snowball, Viburnum macrocephalum, just coming into bloom.

I have an unknown Variegated Pieris, Pieris japonica, with spectacular red growth in the Spring.  It fades to the variegated, green leaves over time.  With a background of Bloodgood Japanese Maple, Acer palmatum ‘Bloodgood’, the pair is a real show-stopper.

Wow! Variegated Pieris, foreground, with Japanese Bloodgood Maple in the background.

Wow! Variegated Pieris, foreground, with Bloodgood Japanese Maple in the background.

Spring bursts forth on the back hillside...

Spring bursts forth on the back hillside...

...as Ralph, my wise old gnome, oversees it all with happiness.

...as Ralph, my wise old gnome, oversees it all with happiness.

Posted under Spring Flowers, The Spring Garden

Bearded Iris in Wilmington, NC…on March 2??

Tornadoes over much of the East today as we enter meteorological Spring.  Terrible and sad.  It’s the season for unsettled weather.

We had temperatures in the mid-80sF here in Wilmington, NC, yesterday.  I had some surprises on my ‘coffee walk’ this morning around our garden.  The most astounding bloom is the Bearded Iris (Iris germanica) that popped into flower overnight in the thick, humid air.  Here’s what I saw this morning:

Even the Azaleas are confused.  I saw a bud showing color–this bush is on the South side of the house, against a brick wall, so it does bloom earlier than others.  But March 2?  The Azalea Festival in Wilmington is not until mid-April.  And this is a mid-season bloomer, the Indica variety ‘Formosa’.

Sunday, I head back to Arlington, VA, for my Spring season.  I understand much is blooming in my garden at Woodland Cottage.  Can’t wait to see it!  But always sad to leave Wilmington behind.

Posted under Climate Change, Southern Gardens, Spring Flowers, The Spring Garden, Weather vagaries