Today we’re visiting the garden of Syd Carpenter in Philadelphia.
My 20-year-old garden surrounds the house on three sides with semi-shady garden rooms. Plantings focus on leaf colors, shapes, and textures, with flowers an added bonus. As a sculptor, my garden is an extension of my studio work because I view plants as potentially expressive as clay, steel, or any other three-dimensional medium. I plan what might happen, but I understand that the plants and I are willing collaborators. I am always surprised as the season progresses. Some of my best plant collaborators are coleus, caladiums, heuchera, Asiatic lilies, and hosta. Daylilies bring high drama and some flash during the hottest days of July. I combine the entire scheme with lots of large ceramic pots filled with annuals, succulents, and perennials. Including various tropicals with the perennials and annuals adds another layer of unpredictable interest when moving from garden room to room.
Glorious peony (Paeonia ‘Bowl of Beauty’) flowers take center stage in the spring.
A place to stop and enjoy the garden in a cool, shady nook. I love the mirror window mounted on the wall above the bench because it gives the illusion of another garden hidden on the other side of the wall. That bench is almost too beautiful to sit on!
Bright annuals bring color in containers, cooled down by a bowl full of rich blue ceramics.
A daylily (Hemerocallis hybrid, Zones 3–8) so dark red it is almost black.
This complex planting of shrubs and perennials is highlighted by intense orange cosmos (Cosmos sulphureus, annual). The orange flowers look all the brighter for being surrounded by dark foliage and purple flowers.
A narrow path through the garden, under towering lilies, leads to a brick wall decorated with beautiful sculptures.
This mosaic tile in the paving adds a note of color to a cool, green planting.
With so many wonderful coleus varieties to choose from, why not mix up a bunch of different ones?
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