Today’s post comes from Betsy Thompson of East Greenbush, N.Y.
My garden is located in front of and behind a suburban townhouse near Albany, N.Y., situated in the middle of a six-home building. I shared pictures of it on this site some years ago, but all gardens evolve into a somewhat new look, so I thought it may still be of some interest.
I have lived here for 37 years. There are ongoing problems with the site: I am not permitted to raise a fence, so battles with wildlife increase every year, as deer and other populations increase and tell all their friends about the particular delights of the unique buffet available here. Also, when I arrived there was virtually no topsoil on the ground and no access for vehicles to provide it, so it all had to be carried through the house. Underneath, I found rubble from an era when a glacier had retreated—rocks of all sizes and shapes, round and sharp, cemented together by sand that yielded only to a pickaxe.
Until recent years, most of the work was done by me alone, except for the patio and pergola installations. Now I require a little help with mulching, pruning, and transplanting.
My garage has been partly converted to an office, so I can use the space in front for a few planters.
Behind the house is a pergola and patio (not seen here) from which one can see steps leading up to the back garden. The pine is a dwarf white pine (Pinus strobus, Zones 3–8) about 30 years old. The little tree at left is Acer japonicum ‘Branford Beauty’ (full-moon maple, Zones 5–8).
The back garden (22 feet wide by 100 feet deep) is divided into rooms. The second I call the Silver Gold Garden. It features a center island planted with yellow, gold, and white daylilies (Hemerocallis hybrids, Zones 4–10), Eryngium (sea holly, Zones 5–9 ), Achillea (yarrow, Zones 3–8), white Allium (ornamental onion), gold jonquils (Narcissus jonquilla, Zones 4–8), lavender (Lavandula sp., Zones 5–8), and a variety of complementary groundcovers. The gold flowered shrub at right is Hypericum (St. John’s wort, Zones 6–9).
A path leads from the Silver Gold Garden through the Dogwood Garden to another patio. The dogwood is Cornus kousa (kousa dogwood, Zones 5–8) and is one of the first trees I planted here, growing behind a Japanese tree peony ‘Leda’ (Paeonia hybrid, Zones 4–9).
Almost constant watering in recent summers means the hoses are never completely put away! The iris in front here is ‘Baltic Star’.
A small recirculating waterfall borders the steps leading up to the shady ridge at the back of the garden. The Japanese iris is ‘Gracieuse’ (Iris ensata, Zones 4–9). The shrubs at left are highbush blueberries (Vaccinium corymbosum, Zones 5–7).
The Ridge Garden is shaded by a black oak planted about 25 years ago. It features hostas and wildflowers. Last year, the browning shrub at right was replaced by a boxwood hedge. I have to spread milorganite in spring to keep the deer from eating the hostas and trilliums to the ground.
Close-up of a planting of Trillium viridescens (Ozark trillium, Zones 5–9), Jeffersonia dubia (Asian twinleaf, Zones 4–7), Sanguinaria canadensis (bloodroot, Zones 3–9), Hosta ‘May’, and Pulmonaria ‘Trevi Fountain’ (lungwort, Zones 3–8).
Betsy’s beautiful garden features many different varieties of plants that are brought together with a clear design plan. Though her location presents certain problems, such as hungry deer and trees that block sun, she has worked to mitigate the damage done by wildlife and has chosen plants that work for her local environment. She also blends plants and trees native to her area, like dwarf white pine, and ornamentals, like Japanese maples, to help create interest.
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