I don't remember when or why Erin Schanen of The Impatient Gardener and I first connected. Perhaps it came about because we are among the few garden bloggers in Wisconsin. Last year Erin visited my garden when she was in Madison and I finally made it to her garden this summer.
I probably would have visited sooner but I got confused: I thought she lived in Brussels (Wisconsin) up near Green Bay, when she actually lives in Belgium over near Milwaukee. You can see why I got mixed up, especially since our relationship is mainly on-line. My husband walked the garden — camera in hand — while I peppered Erin with questions.
Initially I had the same experience that I think many of us have when we visit a garden in person that we only know from on-line. No matter how many wide views and maps you look at nothing quite prepares you for the reality. There were a few things that I was expecting to see, like her blue front door and curving steps, that felt familiar.
And annuals! She does pots and window boxes and had this hot sunny border filled with gorgeous annuals. I am strictly a perennial gal except for a few herbs so I am always fascinated with her blog posts about seed starting and such. We also chatted about her hose (curled up in the black container) as Erin always knows about the latest and best tools and garden products. Though she is a member of the Troy-Built Saturday Blogger Group I think she is quite honest in her evaluations of their products. And I especially like the fact that I am getting a woman's viewpoint on all the products and tools she tries.
Unlike me, Erin is a veggie gardener. That garden is set off from her house and flower gardens and part of it was protected from marauding critters, including deer. She's hoping to build a greenhouse in the future so I will be very excited to watch that happen as it is something I dream about.
The next two pictures give you a better sense of where her house sits in the midst of her various gardens. The front door is at the far left side of the house. What I loved most about Erin's garden is that she mixes shrubs and trees in with her perennials.
This view (below) is similar to the one above but gives you a better sense of how Erin's enveloped her house in gardens but then they expand out into the property as you move away from the house. You can also see that the gardens are divided with stone and grass paths. Look at what a terrific sense of color, texture and scale she's created in these long views. So much to see without ever getting close to specific plants.
Looking from the other direction at the garden that is to the left of where Erin and I are standing in the picture above. I love all the blue touches, whether flowers, furniture cushions or doors. Those spots of blue let Erin use a variety of other colors without the garden seeming unfocused.
The other side of the above border feels completely different since it has a swath of one kind of plant in the foreground. Having enough space to create borders with distinct sides is one of the benefits of having a garden as large as Erin's.
This is the short side of Erin's house with a very simply planted border. The Hakonechloa grass draws your eye to her gorgeous stone chimney. There's a Witch Hazel planted in pride of place in front of the chimney but it is not doing particularly well. Whether it's related to soil, light or even heat from the chimney is the big question. That and whether she should swap the Witch Hazel for another plant. No matter how perfect things look to us garden visitors, it always seems like the gardener sees something different!
I was particularly taken with Erin's repetition of blue evergreens with the yellow-green perennials on either side of the path. I believe that is Picea engelmannii 'Blue Magoo' in the rear.
I'm growing Aralia 'Sun King' and am in love with it. So perhaps it's not surprising that I completely fell for Aralia 'Silver Umbrella' when Erin pointed it out to me. It's a new one for me but one I will be searching for. There's nothing like seeing a new specimen in place in a garden and getting to hear firsthand about the gardener's positive experience with it.
Last but not least I love Erin's found art creation on her septic mound. Septic systems are a fact of life in rural areas and it amazes me that more people don't somehow take advantage of this natural platform for art.
Now when I read about what Erin is doing in her garden I will know exactly where and what she's talking about!