A Garden for All Times

A historic garden has a blending of the old and the new.

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Rick Crown and Richard Simpson in their garden

This part old-fashioned, part new-fangled garden surrounds an 1890's clapboard house at the edge of the historic town of Madison, Ga. The road that passes by the house carried Union troops during the Civil War.

The homeowners, Rick Crown and Richard Simpson, have let the period house dictate the layout and ambience of the garden. The acre lot is divided into distinct sections; having separate garden "rooms" was a common way of landscaping in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Crown and Simpson are in the garden design and installation business.

One enters the garden from an upper parking area, passing by a grove of black bamboo and an arch made of camellias from Crown's grandmother's garden. A wide stone walkway leads to the middle of the gently terraced garden. A rose-covered arch marks the entrance to the white garden (inspired by visits to Sissinghurst in England). Here, white violas and tulips in early spring are followed by white iris, white hesperis and white liriope in late April and May.

To the left of the main walkway (which used to be the driveway), an informal garden room is anchored by tall, clematis-laden tuteurs. Near the front porch, which is draped in old-fashioned Dutchman's pipe vine, is the "hot garden." Here, bold colors of orange, yellow and red predominate.

In the more informal shady areas beyond the white garden, paths lead past a giant wisteria vine, around a shady glade and onto a path bordered by unusual, layered-form boxwoods and other shrubs and small trees.

In late April and early May, the designers enjoy a variety of shrubs, trees and annuals in bloom:

Dutchman's pipe (Aristolochia durior)

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Dutchman's pipe

The plant: Native to the central and eastern U.S., this deciduous, twining vine is an old fashioned favorite long used by Americans to protect porches from the summer sun. Growing 30 feet in one season, the vine has large, heart-shaped leaves measuring from six to 14 inches long. The flowers, which are mostly hidden by the foliage, are shaped like a small Meerschaum pipe. Dutchman's pipe is hardy in USDA Zones 4-8.
How to use it: The vine will cover a 15' by 20' area in one season, so this is an excellent screen that will give an old-fashioned flair to a porch. Another way to grow the vine is on an arched entrance to the vegetable garden.
Cultivation: Plant in sun or part shade in moist, well-drained soil. The leaves may wilt in very dry conditions. Propagate from cuttings in July, using a rooting compound. Seeds should be stratified at 40 degrees and take about three months to germinate.
Source: Dayton Nurseries

Fuchsia (Fuchsia 'Koralle')

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Fuschia 'Koralle'

The plant: 'Koralle' is an upright, shrubby fuchsia that can grow to three feet tall. The plant has burgundy foliage and orange flowers, which are made up of elongated, tubular bells. An annual flower that blooms all summer. Not hardy north of USDA Zone 10. Attracts hummingbirds.
How to use it: This is an excellent container plant. Place 'Koralle' in an area where you need bright color and can enjoy watching the hummingbirds.
Cultivation: 'Koralle' is very heat-tolerant, but needs moist, fertile well-drained soil. Do not overwater. Move the plant indoors or into a sunroom or greenhouse before frost. Grow in part shade.
Source: Avant Gardens

Cestrum (Cestrum aurantiacum)

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Cestrum

The plant: Native to Guatemala, this climbing shrub or small tree (to 10 feet) has yellow-orange flowers in late spring and early summer, followed by white berries. While the plant is deciduous in cooler areas (it is hardy only to 30 degrees), it is evergreen and blooms continuously in warmer places like southern California. A former Victorian favorite, the plant is attractive to bees and butterflies when it is in bloom.
How to use it: This is an excellent candidate for the hot-color border.
Cultivation: Although it is drought tolerant, orange cestrum flowers best if it is given regular waterings and a good mulch. Prune every year after flowering to shape the plant. Give plants winter protection in marginal areas.
Source: Almost Eden

Chinese mayapple (Podophyllum pleianthum)

The plant: This perennial has leathery, umbrella-like green leaves that can measure up to 18 inches across. The clump forming, herbaceous plants produce tropical looking foliage, with two opposite leaves on a single stem. Odd, dark purplish malodorous flowers hang down from the leaf axils in spring. Unlike the native American mayapple (which disappears during the summer months), the Chinese mayapple holds its large, glossy leaves until the first freeze cuts them down. Plant is 18 inches wide and can grow to three feet tall.
How to use it: Grow this plant for its spectacular foliage, which lends a tropical look to the garden. Combines well with ferns, toad lilies and Solomon's seal. Beautiful in woodland gardens.
Cultivation: Provide partial shade and humus rich, moist soil that is well-drained. Use a complete organic fertilizer in spring, and topdress with compost during the growing season.
Source: Asiatica International Rare Plant Resource

Chinese sweetshrub (Sinocalycanthus chinensis)

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The plant: This is a very rare, medium-sized shrub that was introduced to Great Britain from China in 1989 and caused a sensation at the Chelsea Flower Show in 1992. The deciduous shrub, which blooms in May, produces three-inch-wide, white flowers that are tinged with pink and yellow centers. The flowers appear on the end of the stems. The leaves can vary in size, from two to eight inches long, on the same plant.
How to use it: Since the habit is rather loose and open, this is a good shrub for an informal woodland garden.
Cultivation: Plant in filtered sun or semi-shade in rich, well-drained woodland soil.
Source: Heronswood Nursery

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