Last week I joined a couple of gardening friends to tour four gardens owned by members of the Wisconsin Hardy Plant Society. These summer tours of members' gardens are one of my favorite benefits of membership in this organization. I'd visited three of the gardens before, but so long ago that I only had a few memories of them. Some things were still beautifully the same — as much as they ever can be in a garden. But there were new things to see and enjoy everywhere we looked.
It's high summer here in the Midwest and this garden was awash in flowers. In particular, this gardener created spectacular color combinations. I immediately wanted to add golden Tansy to my garden when I saw this pairing because it was such a perfect solution to hiding the long leggy growth of lilies.
If you need to stake a big plant, this was a clever concept: a red cage that picked up the stem color of this castor bean plant. I was so taken with it that I never noticed the equally visible but less interesting peony cage.
I have not grown phlox for years and had forgotten what a punch of color it brings to a garden.
Throw in some golden yellows and you need to put on sunglasses!
This garden had lots of beautiful flowers but I was most taken with their trees, shrubs and vines like this dramatic climbing Hydrangea that almost obscures the garage. Note how the Hakonechloa grass and the Hosta both hold their own in this grouping because they are of an equal visual scale.
On the other side of the door in the above photo, there is a contrasting vine that looks like Virginia Creeper growing. I found the unclothed stems as attention-getting as the leafy mass on top.
As soon as we pulled up in front of this garden, I remembered these wonderful cloud-pruned yews from my last visit. Mark and I saw these early in our gardening life and were very impressed, especially because this is something we so rarely see in the Midwest. People tend to pull out big old shrubs like this rather than realizing they have a potential treasure.
This gardener has pruned them masterfully, keeping them in bounds and adding drama and scale that can only be achieved over the long haul.
They are also a clue that there will be more wonderful things to enjoy in the gardens on the other sides of this house (below).