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Horse Lover's Garden

Garden designer Sally Reynolds has gardening in her genes. Born in Cambridge, Mass., she had two great-grandfathers on her father's side in the gardening business.

Sally Reynolds has gardening in her genes. Born in Cambridge, Mass., she had two great-grandfathers on her father's side in the gardening business. One of her great-grandfathers came from Ireland in 1870 and founded Mackland Conservatory, while the other had a floraculture business.

Reynolds' own green thumb led to her present occupation as a garden designer. She first became fascinated with hybrid tea roses traveling around to shows with her prize-winning blooms. Then, she went into the indoor horticulture business and was the owner of an interior landscaping company that supplied and maintained tropical and indoor plants for malls, corporate offices and hotels.

After selling her business in 1989, she finally had the time to tackle a garden of her own. Set in the rolling hills of Brentwood, Tenn., her garden is all built uphill. In fact, the large, rectangular lot flows from street level up to the top of a wooded hill. She is undaunted by the topography, instead she thinks having a slope can present opportunities. She has planted to enhance the beauty of the site rather than changing it by terracing.

While a 100-foot shrub and perennial border lead up to the house, the main part of Reynolds' garden is in the back. After entering through a rose-covered arch on the left side of the house, a large sunny garden continues uphill to a horse pasture and then finally to the wooded top of the mountain.

Close to the house, a conifer-studded berm overlooks an oversized koi pond. In May, Siberian irises, peonies and roses star in the garden, along with hostas, baptisias and the new growth on conifers and Japanese maples. A fenced in potager contains vegetables, herbs and berries, and further up the hill is a fruit orchard, a stable and pasture for her beloved horse.

Roses clamber up a garden house and spill over arches, walls and fences. A beautiful dawn redwood and ornamental trees like Styrax japonica and Chinese fringe tree (Chionanthus retusus), all artfully combined with perennials and flowering shrubs.

Here are some choice plants from Sally's garden. All look their best in May in Brentwood, which is just outside Nashville.

Siberian Iris (Iris sibirica 'Caesar's Brother')

The plant: This popular beardless iris produces rich, deep blue flowers held above narrow, sword-like foliage. Blooming in late spring to early summer, the 36-inch-tall perennials remain attractive until frost. Hardy in Zones 3-9.
How to use it: Very effective planted in clumps and especially beautiful in combination with pink or white roses and peonies. A good cut flower resembling Dutch iris.
Cultivation: Siberian iris is tolerant of many soil conditions, but thrives in slightly moist conditions at the edge of a pond. Vigorous and very easy to grow. Best planted or divided in September.
Source: Bluestone Perennials

Chinese Fringe Tree (Chionanthus retusus)

The plant: Native to China, Korea and Japan, the 20-foot tree produces fluffy white terminal flower panicles in spring. The blooms are somewhat fragrant and extremely prolific. Narrow, oblong leaves are leathery and lustrous in summer, turning bright yellow in fall. Dark blue fruits appear in late summer on the female plants. Hardy from Zones 6-10.
How to use it: This can be a specimen tree or an under story tree in woodland with a high canopy.
Cultivation: Best in fertile, well-drained soils with ample watering. Prune after flowering if necessary to encourage branching shape.
Source: Clifton's Flower & Garden Center

Climbing Rose (Rosa 'Dortmund')

The plant: The lovely cherry red rose has single blossoms highlighted by a white eye. The flowers bloom in clusters, which are heaviest in spring and fall, and then off and on throughout the growing season. Bred in Germany in 1955.
How to use it: Can be trained as a climber up a tree or trellis or over a fence as a rambler.
Cultivation: Roses like full sun and rich, well-drained soil. This particular rose is highly disease resistant and is highly recommended for the novice rose gardener.
Source: Roses Unlimited

Virginia Sweetspire (Itea virginica 'Henry's Garnet')

The plant: A fast-growing shrub native to the eastern United States where it can be found growing along streams. A month after the dogwoods and azaleas, they produce lightly fragrant flower clusters borne in racemes in mid to late spring. 'Henry's Garnet' has six-inch-long flowers and beautiful fall foliage that is a showy reddish-purple. The leaves hang on the plant until winter and sometimes until the following spring.
How to use it: This is an excellent shrub for semi-shade and for moist conditions. Plant where you can enjoy the fall color; a great choice for an informal garden.
Cultivation: 'Henry's Garnet' will grow in sun or semi-shade. Prefers moist, fertile soils.
Source: NatureHills

Bourbon Rose (Rosa 'Zepherine Drouhin')

The plant: This thorn-less climbing rose has a rich, raspberry fragrance and produces long pointed buds that open to gorgeous dark pink, semi-double blooms. Introduced in 1868, the rose, which reaches a height of 10 to 12 feet, blooms heavily in spring and fall and sporadically throughout the summer.
How to use it: Grow along a fence or on a trellis on the side of the house. Great for a pillar in a cottage garden to grow on a porch railing. Very old-fashioned.
Cultivation: Although 'Zepherine Drouhin' can take a bit of shade, it is best planted in full sun in rich, well-drained soil. Keep evenly watered during drought.
Source: Roses Unlimited

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