Monday, June 18, 2012

What you didn't see in Southern Living

The cliffs at Whiteside Mountain are 390 to 460 million years old


One of the unexpected pleasures of writing this column is I get a chance to see who in the world is taking a look.

According to Blogger audience statistics, I have a healthy following in the UK, the Netherlands and as of yesterday, Romania.

So to all the readers in far-flung places, let me begin by telling you Southern Living is a classy magazine that covers culture and travel in the southeastern United States. It also features a variety of mouthwatering recipes.

Now on to the subject at hand.

The foxgloves are volunteers
A recent issue of Southern Living includes a very nice article about a lovely mountainside garden in western North Carolina.

“Grow Roses with Ease” talks about the creation of the garden, which included schlepping 2,500 bags of cow manure and mushroom compost down a steep slope to build the walled terraces that are now home to his 300+ roses. I wondered how easy it could be to take proper care of all those bushes as well as an untold number of perennials.


Hardy, non-grafted shrub roses thrive on high
My husband Chris and I visited the owner* Doug,  last Friday and discovered what we already suspected: caring for this garden isn’t exactly like laying back and eating bonbons. There is always something to be done; the deadheading chores alone take hours.

But the hard work actually becomes a labor of love, especially when the result is this amazing garden.

A treasure trove of plants and ideas

Both Doug and his wife Shari warned me the roses were a bit past their best but believe me, they were still impressive. And there were many other treats aside from the Queen of Flowers to be savored in this ¼ acre garden showplace.

For example, to help keep the weeds down, Doug has cleverly planted all manner of groundcovers under the roses and other tall perennials. Sedum spurium ‘John Creech’ (named for a past director of the US National Arboretum) forms dense mats of scalloped green leaves that will be covered with mauve pink flowers in the fall.
Sedum John Creech

It’s taken many years for this weed-smothering sedum (also known as Stonecrop) to spread, but it was definitely worth the wait. John Creech will tolerate drought and poor soil but it doesn’t like wet feet.

Lamium White Nancy
Lamium maculatum ‘White Nancy’ (Spotted deadnettle) is another tough plant that makes an ideal spreading groundcover. Nancy is also a showoff -- her eye-catching silvery white leaves are edged with a dark green margin, and she sports clusters of white flowers beginning in the spring.

Evergreen Lamium is tolerant of dry shade and spreads easily without being overly aggressive. Plants can be divided in spring or fall.

Hens and chicks ramble when planted in rock crevices
Doug has also planted several varieties of creeping thyme that spill over his walls and line paths. Sempervivum live between the cracks of the stones. I was so taken by this idea that I rushed to the local garden center and have started my own brood of Hens and Chicks in our newly created rock planters.

Amazing photo ops

The Gifford’s garden faces Whiteside Mountain. The cliffs there are the highest in Eastern North America rising to an elevation of 4,930 feet.

When Doug first built his house and expressed an interest in starting a cut flower garden for Shari, he was told roses wouldn’t grow there. Undaunted, he started out with six bushes and through trial and error discovered non-grafted roses could take the wind and cold.

Now hundreds of bushes live happily on high, some in partial to full shade.

But the truth is, you can’t take in the entire panorama in one visit.

 Shari's studio
I understand the photographer for Southern Living came down from New York and spent an entire week capturing the garden in different lighting at different times of day.

Not wishing to take up too much time (both Doug and Shari are artists), we stayed for just over an hour.

I can’t wait for a return visit.


* I am not disclosing the last name of the owner since they have had uninvited guests, including a busload of people wanting to see the garden.

19 comments :

Phillip Oliver said...

I remember seeing this in SL a few weeks ago. How wonderful to see it in person!

The Dirt Diaries said...

Yes, it was gorgeous, Phillip. The view alone was worth the trip!

Skeeter said...

I just cannot get enough of those mountains! Spectacular views you show us. That is a lot of bags of poo to haul. Yikes, my back hurts from reading that.

I would have loved to see all the boats from the Jubilee filled with beautiful rose. Wow, that must have been something else…

I hope I do not get pigs in my yard as I recently added the Blue Eyed Grass AKA Iris, to my garden. I noticed them still blooming a few days ago but did not see any blooms today when I watered them...

I picked up 2 new roses this past weekend. Just a simple Knock Out and a Double Knock Out as I dont have a green thumb where rose's are concerned. I should as my grandmother had a beautiful Rose Garden. She spent lots of time tending them but I dont have that kind of spunk as the humidity kills me in the Summer months in GA. Knock Outs are better then nothing....

Les said...

What a spectacular view. I enlarged your photos and really like the hyrangea shot and the rose shot with the cliffs in the background. If I did not know this was North Carolina, I would have guessed some far off land on the other side of an ocean.

Janet, The Queen of Seaford said...

I am so glad you went to this garden, I read the article and was in awe of his roses. Like the idea of using groundcovers to keep the weeds down.

The Dirt Diaries said...

Skeeter, those Knock Outs will do you proud! And perhaps if you are happy with them I can recommend one or two others to add to your garden that won't mind the humidity.

I am hoping to add some photos of the Royal Barge. Just thinking of all the work that went into it makes my head spin.

If you are ever near me come by and we will go look at some of those gorgeous mountain views together!

The Dirt Diaries said...

Les, you are so right. One of the things I've learned since living here is that these mountains are some of the oldest in the world. That's why we have such an abundance of wildflowers. The views are amazing. So glad you enjoyed the posting!

The Dirt Diaries said...

Janet, I must not be too impatient because it has taken Doug Gifford many years to get those groundcovers to look like they do now. But one has to start somewhere, and I am inspired by his results.

The Redneck Rosarian said...

I think I could def live in Shari's studio... I know this garden is a dream....

The Dirt Diaries said...

I'm with you, Redneck Rosarian, I loved that studio. What inspiration for an artist!

cinthia said...

I read that article. It was lovely. Thanks for the further peek into a beautiful place. Love the stonecrop idea.

The Dirt Diaries said...

Thanks Cinthia. As I said, there were a ton of ideas in that garden. I hope to go back and see what other gems I missed!

Casa Mariposa said...

If the copywriter had carried any of those bags of compost, he would have picked a different title. :o) I don't usually read Southern Living but will check out that issue. The garden is a beauty.

The Dirt Diaries said...

You said it, Casa Mariposa! Will be interested in your thoughts on the SL article. That garden is amazing.

Randy said...

Wonderful blog! I’m just finding you. I would be interested in knowing about the other roses you mentioned to Skeeter. Blackspot is absolutely horrible in my area so I’m always interested in new hardy roses. I had a small rose garden once before and it did very well, but the weekly spraying was just too much for me to stay on top of…

The Dirt Diaries said...

Hi Randy! Thanks so much for your kind words! I have just returned from a rose judging seminar and talked with folks about some disease resistant varieties. Belinda's Dream and Quietness are two that were very popular.

I know Quietness was ranked #1 by the Peggy Rockefeller Rose Garden in NY for disease resistance and overall performance. They quit spraying several years ago so their recommendation is important. I'll try to track down more goodies for you!

Randy said...

Lynn,
Thank you soooo much! I'm on my way to look them up now!

Anonymous said...

Your photos are wonderful! I enjoyed the article in southern living. I love your blog! Thanks for sharing. Bonnie

The Dirt Diaries said...

Thank you Bonnie! Glad you are enjoying the blog.

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