Family Heirloom Garden
A look into a family's garden that dates back to the late 19th century.
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Will and Michelle Goodman live at Oakton, a house built in 1838, in Marietta, Ga. The gardens surrounding the home contain boxwood hedges that date from the late 19th century.
Will, a landscape architect, Michelle, a floral and garden designer, and their three children, live in the house which once belonged to Will's grandfather and then his parents. While much of the original land has been sold, the family has retained three acres.
A formal rose garden was originally directly in front of the house, but the area is now shaded by mature trees and has been transformed into a small lawn where weddings are often held. On the side of the house, Michelle has made a sort of potager, containing square beds of herbs, vegetables and flowers. A covered well overlooks the area, and gravel pathways and stone steps lead down to a 19th century outbuilding that is festooned in hops.
A large perennial border on the opposite side of the kitchen wing contains peonies in May and lilies in June. A shaded brick patio is surrounded by oakleaf hydrangeas.
The dwarf English boxwood hedges, which originally surrounded six formal vegetable gardens, are now five feet tall and are clipped into an undulating form. The Goodmans have planted an apple orchard, an Italian garden and large vegetable parterres in the expansive area. At the bottom of the garden is a swimming pool with an outdoor kitchen.
English Boxwood (Buxus sempervirens 'Suffruticosa')
The plant: This very dense, small-leaved evergreen shrub has medium green glossy foliage. Very slow-growing, this boxwood can be kept pruned to a few inches tall. Left to grow on its on, it will reach four to five feet over several decades. Hardy in USDA Zones 6-8.
How to use it: One of the most popular evergreen shrubs for hedges and borders. Grow conical or rounded shapes in containers or in ground for an accent plant. Great for knot gardens and parterres.
Cultivation: Plant in fertile, well-drained soil in sun or shade.
Source: Bloom River Gardens
Germander (Teucrium chamaedrys)
The plant: This evergreen perennial herb, known as "the poor man's boxwood", has small, glossy aromatic leaves that are serrated around the edges. Grows to a height of 18 inches high. In summer, purple or white flowers appear. 'Prostratum' is only four to six inches high, spreading to three feet or more. Hardy in USDA Zones 5-8.
How to use it: Excellent for creating a tiny hedge around an herb garden or a shiny border along a walkway. Also a good bonsai candidate.
Cultivation: The soil must be well-drained; plant in full to filtered sun. Can be sheared repeatedly to keep in a hedge form.
Source: Mulberry Creek Herb Farm
Green Rose (Rosa chinensis viridiflora)
The plant: A most unusual rose, which has been in cultivation since 1743. The strange blooms are made up entirely of sepals instead of petals. The color is a medium green. A very twiggy shrub, it branches freely, forming a small bush that is three feet high. Hardy in USDA Zones 7-9 and with protection to Zone 6. Blooms last a long time on the shrub.
How to use it: Plant in a border with other shrubs and roses. A great conversation piece.
Cultivation: As with other roses, provide well-drained, rich soil and full sun.
Source: The Antique Rose Emporium
Nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus)
The plant: A popular annual that is native to the New World (from Mexico to Peru) and produces orange to yellow to red, funnel-shaped flowers with a long spur. The distinctive leaves are round and vivid green. Double forms exist and some types climb while others grow in a mound.
How to use it: Nasturtiums are charming in a cottage garden, spilling over a low stone wall, in containers or in a potager. The leaves and flower petals can add a bitter tang to salads. Use flowers for a garnish.
Cultivation: Grow from seed in a sunny, well-drained spot. In hot and humid summers, nasturtiums may not perform well. In these areas, enjoy the plants in spring or fall.
Source: Swallowtail Garden Seeds
Red Okra (Abelmoschus esculentus)
The plant: Okra has its roots in northeastern Africa and has been used for thousands of years. A member of the mallow family, the blooms closely resemble a flowering hibiscus. One of the earliest accounts of okra was recorded by Spanish moors that visited Egypt in 1216. The plant was introduced to Brazil in the mid-1600s. The red varieties have burgundy-colored stalks with soft yellow flowers followed by glossy red pods. Height five to ten feet.
How to use it: The vegetable is especially popular in the southern United States, where it is often served breaded and fried. In Louisiana, okra is an essential ingredient for gumbo and other Creole dishes. Red okra is especially beautiful for fall decorations and arrangements.
Cultivation: Okra likes well-composted, fertile soil and full sun. Soak seeds overnight before sowing in the garden.
Source: The Victory Seed Company
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