Napa Designer Garden
This unassuming 1930's cottage is home to one of the most sophisticated and magical gardens in the country.
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The dazzling garden created by corporate-dropouts-turned-garden-designers, Sabrina and Freeland Tanner, occupies a long rectangular acre of land that was once part of a plum orchard. Bordered on one side by a straight driveway leading to the Tanners' house at the back of the property, the garden is chockfull of skillfully blended foliage and flowering plants and an array of interesting structures and ornaments.
Several entrances — some covered with vine-laden arches — lead from the driveway into the garden, which is divided by fences, hedges and pathways, so as to conceal what Freeman terms the "crackerbox" shape of the garden. Berms and raised beds have been created to camouflage the flat terrain and to showcase plants.
The designers have made sure that only part of the garden is revealed at a time. The elegant potager, which contains geometrical plantings of designer vegetables and flowers, is hidden by a high fence festooned at one point with red roses and lined by espaliered fruit trees in another. Gates and arches are used to frame other views, and split-rail fencing and tightly clipped, curving boxwood hedges divide the lawn from exuberant planting areas.
The plant combinations in this garden are masterful and feature unusual variations of well-known plants.
The striking herb Golden variegated Russian comfrey (Symphytum x uplandicum 'Axminster Gold') has giant golden leaves with creamy white variegation and blue to pale pink flowers in drooping clusters. The habit is mounding and quite large, growing to four feet tall. Very showy. USDA Zones 4-8.
How to use it: Plant as a centerpiece in the vegetable garden. The pale yellow variegation in the leaves is also beautiful against a dark green backdrop.
Cultivation: Provide even moisture and dappled sun or partial shade.
Source: Cistus Nursery
Blue hosta (Hosta 'Eola Sapphire Blue'): This large clumping hosta features thickly textured, rounded bluish leaves on plants that are three feet high with a similar spread. The puckered foliage attains a bluer coloration with age. Clusters of pale lilac flowers appear on 30- to 36-inch spikes in early summer. This blue hosta holds its color well into the warmer season. Hardy in USDA Zones 3-8.
How to use it: The heavy corrugation of the leaves makes 'Eola Sapphire Blue' an excellent plant to add texture to the garden. Place it at the base of a weeping green conifer or next to a hosta with golden leaves for contrast.
Cultivation: Hostas appreciate good morning light and shade in the afternoon. Plant in well-drained, rich soil. Divide in early spring.
Source: Jim's Hostas
Shrub rose (Rosa 'Marjorie Fair'): This rose is a spreading shrub four to five feet tall that is almost constantly in bloom. The single flowers — rose red with a white eye &3151; measure one inch across and are borne in thick clusters. The foliage is disease resistant.
How to use it: Grow where you want a punch of red in the garden or along a white fence. Just one cluster of these roses makes a lovely bouquet.
Cultivation: Roses need full sun and rich, well-drained soil. Feed often during the growing season. Any pruning should be done in February or March, just before the plant breaks dormancy.
Source: Countryside Roses
Golden western coltsfoot (Petasites palmatus 'Golden Palms'): Native to the western United States, this perennial features large, umbrella-like leaves that are chartreuse and measure a foot wide. In early spring, pink flowers precede the emerging foliage. A wild sport of the solid-green western coltsfoot, 'Golden Palms' spreads by rhizomes. Petasites palmatus is native to stream banks in low-elevation forests of the western U.S. Hardy in USDA Zones 5 to 9.
How to use it: The bold, almost neon-chartreuse leaves of 'Golden Palms' light up a garden. This is an excellent plant for a contained bog area.
Cultivation: Do not allow this plant to dry out. Although it can be grown in ordinary garden soil, it will not tolerate drought. In the southern United States, grow in part shade. Be aware: this is an invasive plant.
Source: Cistus Nursery
Jerusalem sage (Phlomis fruticosa): This shrub-like perennial is native to the Mediterranean basin and produces bright yellow flowers that are arranged in ball-like clusters along stout stems. The gray-green foliage has a fuzzy texture. The flowers, which occur in late spring and early summer, are attractive to bees, butterflies and birds. Jerusalem sage is large and spreading, growing five feet high with a six foot or wider spread. USDA Zones 4-8.
How to use it: Because of its bold form and color, this is excellent as a specimen plant for a sunny location. A good choice for a Mediterranean-style garden. Blue nepeta combines well with Jerusalem sage.
Cultivation: Grow in a warm, sunny site, and provide excellent drainage and moderately fertile soil.
Source: Joy Creek Nursery
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