|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|
“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|
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.
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|
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.
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.