Garden Diary - October 2015

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Beth Babikow's Garden
Saturday, 17 October 2015

With two lectures on the same day at different locations in Maryland it is obvious that this will not be a day trip. In fact, the drive is long enough that even one lecture would have required an overnight stay. So yesterday I set off to spend the night with Beth Babikow, my Friday night hostess. And this morning there's time for a pleasant saunter around her garden.

The first thing I'd noticed upon arriving yesterday early evening were the very attractive clusters of hypertufa troughs that embellish the forecourt between parking area and the low, roofed deck that acts as a transition to the house. There are 22 of these trough gardens, where everything from rock garden plants to small evergreen shrubs, even an elegant small tree grow and thrive. They were created and positioned by Baltimore landscape designer Dejan Ernestl.

The property slopes from front to back and side to side. In some places the contemporary house has decks with steps that lead down to the garden. Down at grade, the slope is sometimes mild enough that it is barely noticeable. Elsewhere

larger boulders were carefully placed to stabilize the soil as stone steps provide the transition.

It's autumn. Plants are ripening their seeds. This woodland peony, Beth said, has pink flowers. Aha! Mine have white ones. Some seed came home with me. And I'll send her some of my Paeonia japonica 'Alba' seedlings in exchange.

There's an attractive island planting of mingled red and yellow berried viburnum. Beth got the idea from Ladew Gardens, where she seasonally volunteers in their butterfly house.

There are flowers in the garden, some now in bloom and others for different seasons. Not mixed perennial borders but massed plantings of a single kind: the vivid blue of monks hood, Aconitum carmichaelii, paired with the soft purple freckled flowers of a nearby colony of toad lily, Tricyrtis hirta. A huge swathe of hellebores, sure to be stunning in Spring. And along the driveway and parking area the bold foliage of prairie dock, Silphium integrifolium.

While Beth "doesn't do" annuals, there are some potted begonias on the deck outside the dining area of the kitchen that clearly have been around for a more than one summer. And a wonderful electric blue Salvia guaranitica.

Fire in the garden. Do you perhaps have a chimenea? A fire pit? This garden has a sturdy tipod of metal pipes that support an open grate over a stone base set into the fieldstone patio. Nice.

And this contemporary sculpture. Designed by a young German intern, then made by a local Maryland metalworker. Fascinating.

Oops, Beth is calling me. It's time to go if we're to have time to visit Ladew on our way to Norrisville where I'll give my lecture. Maybe, sometime, I'll be invited back, to see the garden with more time to enjoy it, perhaps at a different season. This morning was just enough to catch my attention and know there's more to see.

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