Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Olbrich Botanical Gardens

My husband recently took on the task of ripping out some ancient, huge yews that surrounded out home. The yews and hostas had to come out, partly because they were old and overgrown (yews), but also because after the city removed a huge willow from our front yard, the hot intense afternoon sun was killing the hostas and browning the yews.

I was excited about the possibility of building a new mixed bed into the place of the yews, but confronted with severa issues, including a small budget, and inexperience.

I knew a few things: I wanted variety, bold color, and 4 season interest. A few evergreens mixed in to somewhat protect our 116 year old house from the winter elements. Some fragrance beneath the front window. Drought tolerant plants. All of it would need to hold up to some intense afternoon sunshine.

I sketched, browsed the sales, budgeted, sketched more, colored in pictures, and browsed more sales. I also went around the yard and yanked out overcrowded plants I've put in over the years. Made lists. And more lists. And drew more pictures. I have a loose image of what many of the plants I wanted looked like fully grown, but I also knew I would be buying tiny plants that would take years to fill in. Challenging, to say the least.

Perhaps the most helpful thing I did was visit Olbrich Botanical Gardens in Madison. I found so many of the lovely shrubs and perennials I wanted in my landscape, at varying stages of maturity, paired with other shrubs--some of which I thought of, and some of which sent lightbulbs off in my head. I brought along my camera to capture the mature size and shape of things, as well as the killer combinations.

I stole this combo! The combination of dark red ninebark behind the 'wine and roses' weigela can now be found under my front window. I also took a cue from the well-pruned green shrub in the front right, but subbed in a blue globe spruce in it's place.

Love how the red peony is in this bed with the shrubs and low growing front perennials. I also stuck one overcrowded peony in front ninebark, to the left of the weigela.


I love climbing roses, and plan on incorporating one into the front bed when I can afford to pick one up. I left room behind a yellow smokebush.
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I wanted to take the boring line of patriot hostas out, and mix in some blue and yellow hostas... this bed was very inspirational to me, also.

Love this whole bed. Bought some salvia like the purple one's here to fill some of the front space of my beds.

I have yet to put this into action, but I love the combination of a pillar of barberry with small blue hostas.


White peonies captured my attention at the gardens as well. They seem to "pop" even more in front of a evergreen hedge.





I did not know 'wine and roses' weigela got so big! Well, I knew, but I hadn't visulized it. I will leave room for mine. I love it with the silvery blue color, so I made sure to put a few of that hue in my bed as well.

I love this whole shady scene as well. I have some ligularia and yellow grasses paired up in similar fashion, but mine are much to young and not as numerous. The power of planting things in 3's is evident here.

I find myself falling more and more in love with hostas each day. This combination is no exception. The fern just makes it, too!
The front left red plant is 'crimson pygmy' barberry (beside several very red, unlabeled heuchera). I snatched one up my local Menard's for $6. I love the look of the golden shrub behind it, so I made sure to plant mine somewhat in front of the yellow smokebush. I also put a blue flowered shrub clematis in between the two, creating a similar effect as the blue iris does in this image... eventually. I also think I may divide my siberian iris and put some of them somewhere behind the barberry.
Thanks for the inspiration, Olbrich! It's always a delight to visit.
Next time you are wondering what to do with your landscape, visit your local public garden with a camera, and pen in hand.
Happy Gardening!

2 comments:

Shady Gardener said...

What a great place for inspiration!! And it sounds as though you took this assignment seriously. :-) I hope you post photos of YOUR gardens when you've finished! (You have a lot of work ahead of you, but what fun!!)

Jamie said...

I will! It is hard to look at now, with everything being so small and undeveloped. :) So much work, but so fun.