Garden Photo of the Day

Jeff’s dreaming of blue hydrangeas in Tennessee

Today's photos are from our friend Jeff Calton down in Tennessee, who says, "Wednesday was a gray and rainy day and I was trying to think about the season ahead. Nothing says summer like hydrangeas and I have one client who REALLY likes hydrangeas–fifty shades of green and lots of blue on a summer day….I'm ready for that." Me, too, Jeff. I've finally reached my snow limit. Luckily, it seems to be melting FAST up here in Connecticut! I can't wait til everything starts to green up. Yippee!!

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  1. User avater
    meander_michaele 03/13/2015

    Lovely property, Jeff, and all those gorgeous hydrangeas speak to the inner romantic in all of us. Do you or your clients do any tweaking to the acidity of the soil to achieve that robin egg blue color of those bountiful blooms. They certainly are lovely as are the accompanying plantings . Is the speckled leafed plant a pulmonaria? If so, do you know the variety name? Kudos to you and your all looks impeccably maintained and has a very tranquil atmosphere.

    1. user-1020932 03/13/2015

      no, we don't do anything to manipulate the acidity it's mostly hickory trees on the property so maybe the billions of nutshells make a difference. that is a pulmonaria,, can't think of the variety but will look when i'm up there today and let you know. this is kind of a large property with several different and varied "rooms"

  2. user-1020932 03/13/2015

    strangely, we don't really have deer damage on this property and even on properties (just out the street) with LOTS of deer damage they never munch the hydrangea

  3. user-4691082 03/13/2015

    Beautiful Jeff! I too love the pulmonaria, but I am most jealous of your ability to grow Chinese Podocarpus. What I wouldn't give to have that in my PA yard...

    1. user-1020932 03/13/2015

      Rhonda, i don't know what a chinese podocarpus is,,,,,,,,,,would that be the Sciadopitys verticillata (Japanese Umbrella Pine) in the 2nd photo? it's a very hardy plant , easy to grow just somewhat pricey

  4. User avater
    Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 03/13/2015

    Beautiful, Jeff. Love them hydrangeas. Hacked my last H. macrophylla to bits a couple of summers ago: took up too much precious real estate for something that froze 4 out of 5 years, so no blossoms. H. quercifolia is a stunner here, though. Opus plants has some very interesting H. aspera cultivars with super cool leaf color. Might be worth finding room for one. Thanks for sharing some hopeful images!

    1. user-1020932 03/13/2015

      Oakleaf does well here too, Tim, but that is one that the deer LOVE to eat... macrophylla and paniculata not so much. Ruby Slippers is a good one that has performed well here as the oakleaf go

      1. perenniallycrazy 03/13/2015

        Think you would like podocarpus...

  5. NCYarden 03/13/2015

    This is an awesome property with a beautiful garden. Love the Umbrella Pine - great specimen. All the rain, late ice and wind toppled mine recently (rolled it right out of the ground almost), but fortunately it is a tough plant, and I have it triple staked while it settles back in. I, too, am taken with that cluster of long leaf lungwort - that's a great display. I am amazed the deer have not descended on this garden fortunate. Wish I knew the "secret." The signs of Spring are upon here in NC, and I'm getting excited. Thanks for sharing.

    1. user-1020932 03/13/2015

      the only secret i know concerning deer is that they decimate properties just out the street and are full before coming to this one. they don't touch the curly leaf ligustrum in the woodland border and at the end of the street they strip it down to nubs

  6. user-4691082 03/13/2015

    Thanks for the clarification, Jeff. The plants look alike in photos!

  7. CTpat 03/13/2015

    That's a great dose of green (and blue) for those of us still staring out at mostly white. My blue hydrangea mostly freezes every winter, but I have a hedge of the oakleaf ones that started as one plant--and I still dig up new shoots from the original site. What is the large-leafed plant in the second from last photo? Thanks for brightening the day, Jeff.

    1. user-1020932 03/13/2015

      those are Ligularia ,,,,,,,leaves are green on top/purple on the bottom and we are rewarded with giant scapes of bright yellow daisy like flowers

  8. greengenes 03/13/2015

    Ive got the blues today! I love the color against the dark shade. It all looks wonderful and oh so healthy! Your liguilarias are slug free for sure! Do you have slugs back there? Arent there so many different kinds of hydrangeas! I seem to really enjoy them all. These are stunners, Jeff. Iam so glad for you guys back there on the east coast area that it is finally starting to get warmer and heading to spring. It was so sad to see the weather daily and always hearing more snow and ice and cold, cold temperatures. Now all the work begins! What would we do without dirt, plants, rocks and the love of gardening! Hope you enjoy the weekend, Jeff. Thanks for brightening up my day!

    1. user-1020932 03/13/2015

      Jeanne, chased home by rain today and i think i can actually HEAR the grass growing. we do have slugs here and they can be ravenous but for some odd reason i have never had a problem with them in this particular bed. we do have a lot of wild turkeys,,,,,,,,,,do they eat slugs?

      1. greengenes 03/13/2015

        Get ready to mow some grass! I mowed almost 2 weeks ago and it needs it again... its good exercise though. That's great that you have wild turkeys around there. Do they do any damage to landscaping? Iam not sure if they like slugs but that would be great! Have you ever seen the video of, "My Life as a Turkey"? Its worth watching. Just enter it online and it will direct you to it. I have a whole new outlook on thanksgiving! Ha but they are quite smart birds. Well gotta go ...

      2. eddireid 03/15/2015

        Yes, Jeanne, turkeys,chickens, ducks geese and many birds feast on slugs. Encourage all the birds, restrict pest control and the slug clearance will be done for you! Well, most of it. Good luck.

  9. user-7007428 03/13/2015

    This is a beautiful garden, spacious, where you can put your ideas into practice. I have some ideas for garden design:

  10. MichelleGervais 03/13/2015

    Hey look! Spring is on the way--I can see my gnome's eyes outside my office window!!

    1. MichelleGervais 03/13/2015

      He's been completely buried for weeks, if not months....

    2. Nurserynotnordstroms 03/13/2015

      Yippee,that is actually a very funny photo. I am so happy snow melt is happening on that coast. I won't mention what the weather is like on this coast but it is making everyone very happy here.

    3. sheila_schultz 03/13/2015

      Michelle, you may think the sighting of your gnome indicates that spring is on the way, but the reality is that he is a Top Secret gnome and he's spying on you!

    4. user-3282241 03/13/2015

      I can just see the head of my garden turtle . He has been buried for months in Pawling , NY.

    5. user-1020932 03/13/2015

      i couldn't take it this late in the year. i'll be cutting grass next weekend

    6. greengenes 03/13/2015

      Cute Michelle! May you guys over there have the best spring and summer ever!

    7. User avater
      Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 03/16/2015

      This is hysterical!

  11. annek 03/13/2015

    I'm lusting after the arbor and beautiful, rocky stream. Ahhh, Jeff you work in paradise (well, when it's not icy, snowy and cold!)

    1. user-1020932 03/13/2015

      Lemme know when you're ready and we will build you a stream, i could use some time in Montana :)

      1. User avater
        HelloFromMD 03/13/2015

        Hi Jeff, I have been thinking about doing a disappearing waterfall in my rock garden. I worry about algae though and how to prevent it. That stream/waterfall is gorgeous. Is that your design?

      2. greengenes 03/14/2015

        Did you make that stone grotto and waterfall? How fun that would be! It take a few times of working with rock to get the right rock and placement! Love it!

  12. Nurserynotnordstroms 03/13/2015

    Hi Jeff,it's so nice to see this garden again,the Pulmonaria is so healty and beautiful,mine suffered last year,our gardens have changed so much since our neighbors took down two giant trees that helped shade us on the west side. One of our Japanses maples burned last year so we are hoping it will be better this year. The hydrangeas on this property are lovely,oak leaf are especially nice and these photos make me wish I could pop one in somewhere. I love the lone pot in the third photo by the little waterfall ,nice vinyette.I hope everyone has a great day and you Easterners are safe during the snow melt.

    1. user-1020932 03/13/2015

      try Ruby Slippers it's a nice smallISH oak leaf with outstanding leaf color,,,,,flowers well too and isn't such a coarse texture,,,,easy to use without a lot of space. for me standard Oakleaf look much better from a distance but a little too bold upclose

      1. Nurserynotnordstroms 03/13/2015

        Thanks Jeff,that just might work.

  13. GrannyMay 03/13/2015

    Thanks for sharing, Jeff. The hydrangeas, and everything else, look gorgeous and healthy, so you must be doing all the right things for this client. What is your pruning schedule for the hydrangeas? And how much do you prune them?

    I would have sworn that deer didn't touch any of the hydrangea species; I grew them for years without a single nibble. Then I planted a couple (H. macrophylla and H. paniculata) into a different location and discovered them shorn of both flowers and leaves.

    1. user-1020932 03/13/2015

      May, i trim off the dead on the macrophylla after they start to bud out so i won't take too much off, oakleaf i trim right after flowering so they will flush out and fill in before fall, arborescens i usually cut to the ground in the fall or late winter, paniculatas i cut the whiz out of those so they will branch out fully giving me LOTS of color...........H. Phantom is a GREAT one to use,, i much prefer it over Limelight and i'm a little underwhelmed by Vanilla Strawberry

      1. User avater
        meander_michaele 03/13/2015

        Have you found 'Phantom' at your local nurseries or have you only ordered it via mail order? It isn't a name I'm familiar with but you just sent me off on a google search to read more about it. As proof that I am plant starved, I just finished watching a short video on it where the camera simply panned in and out on a bush...and I watched the whole thing...transfixed...I'm pathetic, huh?!

        1. user-1020932 03/13/2015

          Mike, i get it thru one of my suppliers here locally. i normally get 7 gallon ones so i get immediate gratification, first year the flowers are knock outs but oh my the following years,,,,,,unbelievably HUGE. i have only been using it for 3 or 4 years and it has never failed me. get you some and i guarantee you won't be disappointed

          1. User avater
            meander_michaele 03/13/2015

            I will definitely be on the look out for it, Jeff. It sounds amazing. Are any of the 'Phantoms' that you've planted in full sun or mostly afternoon sun?

          2. user-1020932 03/13/2015

            they are all planted in full all day sun

          3. User avater
            meander_michaele 03/13/2015

            "Veddy" interesting and encouraging. and these are of the type that you prune back pretty severely in late winter/early spring...right? How tall do they get with this pruning approach? Hope you don't mind me picking your brain.

          4. user-1020932 03/13/2015

            trim just as you would a Limelight,,,,, they get 6 to 8 ft tall , very sturdy stems so they support those giant flowerheads. i do not like floppy stems so these are great

      2. GrannyMay 03/13/2015

        Thanks Jeff! I knew you must have a good plan for taking care of all those hydrangeas. I'll try cutting back my paniculatas more, if the deer keep out and don't do it for me (I was just out putting more deer fencing up with my garden helper). The Phantom sounds like a lovely one to try, but I think I may have run out of room for another hydrangea.... unless I remove more lawn.

  14. sheila_schultz 03/13/2015

    Mornin' Jeff! I have always loved this property. There's something magical about the shot with the arbor and stream, it's so peaceful, and with the sun peeking through the leaves, I can almost feel the heat of summer!

    1. user-1020932 03/13/2015

      sheila, i have had many many many lunches by that stream,,,, it's a great place anytime but in the heat of summer it's just about a perfect picnic spot

  15. perenniallycrazy 03/13/2015

    Some of the most of beautiful gardens I've seen are shade gardens, and hydrangeas, in any variety, are a staple of these gardens as with pulmonaria, ligularia (and these look fantastic and pest free), hostas, ferns, japanese maples among many others. Japanese Umbrella Pine has been on my wishlist for awhile now.

    Your photos make me even long more for spring and summer Jeff. Can't wait to get digging! Have a great weekend everyone.

    PS Speaking of Podocarpus, here is my only one in a container early fall last year. It's the blue trailer in the forward pot.

    1. user-1020932 03/13/2015

      Cherry, this property is large enough so that we have the full range,,,,,,,from deep shade to full sun, adequate water, good soil and a healthy budget. it's a great spot to work and the family living there is wonderful

      1. perenniallycrazy 03/13/2015

        You forgot to mention that they are very lucky to have you as well Jeff! Don't think the property would look like that without you, your talent and expertise.

        1. user-1020932 03/13/2015

          Cherry, what is that podocarpus? i have never found one that is hardy here

          1. user-1020932 03/13/2015

            zone 7,,,,,,would be dicey for me some years and in a pot,,,it would never survive. i might try some in ground this year just to see what it does

          2. perenniallycrazy 03/13/2015

            You can always bring it in the house like the entire lot that you already have. One more wouldn't matter. =) Or rather, "there's always room for another one!"

          3. user-1020932 03/13/2015

            if i brought one more in i fear i could be moved out

          4. perenniallycrazy 03/14/2015


          5. Cenepk10 03/15/2015

            Or your house would flip over.

    2. greengenes 03/13/2015

      Oh so nice Cherry! You do some wonderful pots!

    3. [email protected] 03/14/2015

      Beautiful! I love podocarpus.

  16. janeeliz 03/13/2015

    Such a wonderful garden, Jeff! Love the gorgeous hydrangeas, the lush stand of ligularia, the natural looking stream and rocks, etc. What is the vine climbing on that handsome arbor/pergola? You've done a beautiful job on that property; it must be fun working there Jeff. We still have several feet of snow in Maine. Won't be seeing snowdrops for awhile , I'm afraid, but I did see a couple of chipmunks chasing each other around my backyard ...a hopeful sign!

    1. user-1020932 03/13/2015

      Jane, that is a wisteria on the arbor,,, should flower mid april,,,,,,,,i hope! i can't imagine having snow still, , i almost went all Jack Nicholson on the family in February

      1. janeeliz 03/13/2015

        Hope you'll send in photo of that wisteria when it is in bloom, if you haven't already done so.

        1. user-1020932 03/13/2015

          Jane, i will do but some years it's a knock out others,,,,,,,,,,,,,,not so much

          1. [email protected] 03/14/2015

            mine does the same.

  17. schatzi 03/13/2015

    Wow! Love blue in the garden. and ferns and waterfalls and...the Ligularia is awesome. What an idyllic space. Overall gorgeous. Great work, Jeff. Cherry, your Podocarpus is beautiful, especially in that blue pot. I love cobalt blue pots, especially with wine and white Martha Washington geraniums. Great color combination with some blue and white trailers. Isn't it interesting what deer will eat - or not - in different areas and at different times. I have always had woods full of deer but no damage until 2 years ago when they suddenly decided that everything was yummy, even hardy geraniums. I have read that if hungry enough, they will eat almost anything. Bad deer! Stay in the woods! Cute, Michelle. Happy Spring.

  18. GrannyCC 03/13/2015

    thanks Jeff. I always think Hydrangeas are wonderful. Not much bothers them an they keep going through all types of weather. They seem pretty care free an there are lots of new varieties but for me blue is the best. Hope your weather warms up soon!

    1. user-1020932 03/13/2015

      Catherine, it's feeling like spring and looking like it as well. are you recovered now and ready for the spring marathon? :)

      1. GrannyCC 03/13/2015

        I have my new hip which is 2 weeks old so I think my Spring marathon will be delayed by about 4 weeks. I will have to take it slow an rethink things for this year. I do have a lovely young woman who helps me out. She is very vigorous so I think I will be sitting on my front porch directing her for awhile. i have been dreaming up some changes and hopefully May and I can go to some nurseries, It is definitely Spring here in the PNW.

  19. User avater
    HelloFromMD 03/13/2015

    Hi Jeff, beautiful gardens. I'm loving the ligularia. Any tips on how to grow them? Love those mop head hydrangeas, but after this cold winter I don't expect to see any blooms again in spring. I planted Fire and Ice hydrangea and it' only okay so far, not great. Maybe in a couple of years. I do grow Vanilla Strawberry and the blossoms haven't been as good as the online photos. I will keep Phantom in mind. Do you like Pinky Winky? I can't believe you're be cutting grass so soon. What temperatures are you having? So far it's gotten up to 50 a couple to times. Still below freezing at night. The snow is gone and the rake is coming out soon as the mud goes away.

    1. user-1020932 03/13/2015

      our lows have been in mid to upper 40's with highs to mid 60's,,,,, today a bit cooler but upper 60's to low 70's next week,, , , 75 yesterday so grass is growing. i have not grow pinky winky but i went overboard with Bombshell a couple of years ago believing all the hype. they did NOTHING,,, not one single flower all season . Ligularia,,,,,,,,,,,deep rich soil and LOTS of water and i mean LOTS. i'm not sold on vanilla strawberry,,, i'm thinking it's marketing genius but a performance fraud,,,that's just me. Phantom is wonderful all season

      1. User avater
        HelloFromMD 03/14/2015

        I looked at Bombshell but found Bobo for sale and it has been blooming. I hear the' lots', does that mean they get hand watered twice a week? I can give some extra water while I'm watering containers. I have been successful with the liguaria that's spotted yellow, although it got hit hard last winter and was tiny this season. The dark one I had for awhile was always decimated by slugs so I think I need to work on location too.

        1. [email protected] 03/14/2015

          I put my Ligularia in taller pots so the slugs don't get them them as much.

  20. [email protected] 03/14/2015

    Love your Ligularia! I can't put mine in the ground anymore. Everytime I do, the slugs eat them to the ground overnight. One day they are there and beautiful and the next day gone! You have a beautiful piece of property Jeff and you've done a spectactular job with your landscaping!

    1. user-1020932 03/14/2015

      thanks, Jen BUT this is not my house, it's a client property. i couldn't pay the taxes on this place :) slugs don't bother these ligularia but that dark leaved one (can't remember the name) they eat almost immediately

  21. eddireid 03/15/2015

    I'd watch that gnome carefully, Michelle! He looks sneaky.
    Jeff, I love this garden - you have created another beautiful retreat with your usual panache. I particularly love the hydrangea in front of the red Japanese maple and the bubbling stream is on my wish list, and the arbor and,and, and ..................

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