Tag Archives: Trachelospermum jasminoides

Trellises!

The made-to-order trellises have arrived and I’m tickled with their style and quality, as well as the cottage appeal they lend to the house.DSC_9918

It took me a long time to decide what type of structure would look best, but when I discovered Jim Warren of Ornamental Steel Designs at the Greenville Gardening Symposium earlier this year, I knew I had found the right person to guide me through the process. I gave Jim a handful of photos I had taken, or found on the internet, and we played with several ideas before I made a selection. The final design is an updated version of a trellis on the historic Seibels House in Columbia, South Carolina, where many weddings are held.

The first trellis to go up replaces a plastic model that provided support to a Confederate jasmine.

The first trellis to go up replaces a plastic model that provided support to a Confederate jasmine.

I love the bold and graphic simplicity of the final product. Jim’s superior workmanship is evident even from a distance and the custom trellises do the house proud.

Careful measuring and installation ensured a perfect fit.

Careful measuring and installation ensured a perfect fit.

Jim’s careful measurements ensured an absolute fit. And since his day job is with GE, where he tests turbine engines, I wasn’t a bit surprised that he took such care to make sure they were perfectly installed. As Jim noted, “these trellises are going to be here as long as the house is standing!”

The last screw goes in place!

The last screw goes in place!

There’s only one thing left to consider…and that’s to make a decision about the Confederate jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides) which covered the previous trellis. The choices are either to cut it back within a few inches of the ground and encourage it to regrow, or to thin the vines and weave them into the new trellis.

What do you think?

Voila!

Voila!

You can contact Jim at ornamental.steel@gmail.com.

End of Month View–April 30, 2013

This post, by suggestion of Helen at The Patient Gardener’s Weblog, is a fine example of what a difference a few weeks can make in the spring garden. Just compare these two photos, taken on Thursday, April 4, and today, Tuesday, April 30.

Thursday, April 4

Thursday, April 4

Tuesday, April 30

Tuesday, April 30

Acanthus 'Summer Beauty'

Acanthus ‘Summer Beauty’

I have to admit, however, all the credit goes to Mother Nature. I’ve been so busy in the past month, you can see I haven’t even managed to blow away the catkins falling from the oak trees.

Of special note are the growing bloom stalks of the Acanthus ‘Summer Beauty’, with the tallest standing roughly two-thirds of their mature height of six feet. A few among the two dozen spikes are just beginning to display a peek of white flower under a blushing hood.

Autumn fern (Dryopteris erythrosora)

Autumn fern (Dryopteris erythrosora)

New foliage on the autumn fern and fatsia are also worth admiring. And lucky for me, and any visitor who drops by in May, each tip of the Confederate jasmine holds the promise of flowers that will soon perfume the garden with their spicy, sweet scent.

Fatsia (F. japonica)

Fatsia (F. japonica)

Confederate jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides)

Confederate jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides)

Revamping the Foundation Planting

It’s been a week since I said I would show the new garden, so I guess you’ve noticed I’m dragging my feet. To tell the truth, it’s been a lot harder to pull my thoughts together than I expected and I’m not sure why. Perhaps it’s because shade gardening is a new medium for me and I’m not confident in my vision.

In fact, more than anything, I’m flying by the seat of my pants. After spending a lot of time reading about shade gardens and going through my photo library to pinpoint what I like about them, I’ve put all that aside to follow my instincts.

So, here we go!

Foundation planting before renovation, September 2010

Foundation planting before renovation, September 2010

As you can see, the areas on either side of the front door are relatively small because the sweeping driveway adjoins the front stoop. As you look to the right of the door, the “before” planting included Trachelospermum jasminoides (Confederate jasmine) on the wall, Loropetalum chinense (Chinese fringe) under the windows, a Hibiscus syriacus (Rose of Sharon) and a hodgepodge of roses and sun-loving perennials at the front of the bed, an Acer japonicum (fullmoon Japanese maple) in the right corner, and an abundance of weeds, especially pokeweed, which I soon discovered has a very long tap root.

After renovation, April 2013.

After renovation, April 2013.

In the revamp, I chose to focus on texture, rather than color or bloom. I made this choice, in part, because my gut told me the hardscape needed to be softened and the house, which looked like it floated on a sea of asphalt, could be better grounded. Since lawn was impractical, Ophiopogon japonicus (mondo grass) was the logical solution.

Two of the original plants, the Confederate jasmine and the fullmoon Japanese maple, were utilized in the new design and give it instant maturity. In addition to the ornamental grass, a pool of Dryopteris erythrosora (autumn fern) was planted under the maple, three stately Buxus sempervirens (common boxwood) were added in front of the windows, and a Fatsia japonica (fatsia or Japanese aralia) was planted at the corner of the house.

Finally, for feature interest, Acanthus ‘Summer Beauty’ was added near the stoop. This hybrid grows well in the South and will bloom in summer with 6-foot tall stalks of white flowers with hood-like purple bracts.

Last month, I commissioned two identical metal trellises for either side of the windows. One will replace the plastic support under the Confederate jasmine and the other will provide a frame for ‘Applejack’, a shade-tolerant Buck rose that can be grown as a short climber. ‘Applejack’, lightly fragrant with the scent of apples and cloves, has perky pink single blooms.

Though the garden is shady, this area does get some hot sun in the middle of the day. I’m not sure the rose will be a success, but figure it’s worth a try.

Initially, I planned to add Aspidistra elatior (cast iron plant) behind the boxwood shrubs. Now, however, I’m afraid they would be sunburned. (What do you think? Do you have a suggestion for an alternative?) If I don’t come up with something interesting, I may plant more mondo grass.

Dry creek bed, in progress, March 2012.

Dry creek bed, in progress, March 2012.

One other thing that may have caught your eye is the dry creek bed. When I cleared the bed, I found a drainage grate in the center of the space. Knowing I would always struggle to keep the grate open if storm water flowed over a mulched bed, I decided to make life easy by channeling the water. The dry creek works like a charm, adds an extra point of interest, and relaxes the formality of the planting scheme.

Left of stoop prior to renovation, September 2010.

Left of stoop prior to renovation, September 2010.

Similar changes were made to the left side of the front stoop. There is one noticeable difference, however. A ‘Jane’ magnolia, too large and spreading under the eaves of the house, was replaced by an upright Stewartia pseudocamellia (Japanese stewartia).

Front stoop, April 2013.

Front stoop, April 2013.

The stoop itself is ornamented with a collection of ceramic pots that are planted with seasonal ornamentals, a birdbath, and a wicker rocker.

September 2010

September 2010

Glorious spring, 2012.

Glorious spring, 2012.