Here comes my annual salute to the real Parterre, the behind-the-scenes realities that few visitors think about. Given this provoctive, tell-all title, this is always a readers’ favorite (no surprise). But this year, I’m equivocating, calling it an “Oops, or an Opps;” not exactly an “oops,” but more of a “did I know?” Which, of course, in some cases, I didn’t.
This is also about fun at Parterre! One must always keep a sense of humor.
Few visitors to the garden can answer my question — what is this shape meant to be? (No, not a ginger jar.) Hint…this is a French garden (so it’s a brioche). Did I know? The box blight would rear its unfortunate head (although spraying has saved us so far.
Did I know? ‘Autumn clematis’ will envelope anything in its path (like the rose containers and holly hedging along the pergola where it is planted). The solution…turn that reality into a pretend bride’s train for a garden party. Coincidentally, ‘Autumn clematis’ is also known as bridal veil.
Did I know? Wrapping young growth (a deed carried out by moi, a young, novice gardener at the time) around wire will soon kill the expanding tendrils. We’re now doing it the proper way, training them along the top of the original cotoneaster’s deadwood branches.
Did I know? The trunk of a grafted cherry standard will increase in thickness with each pruning (this set of four was put in 20 years ago). But guests are intrigued with the trunks, now the size of an elephant’s leg.
Years ago, I fell in love with an image of ‘May apples,’ so unusual and they come up when the daffodils have passed and nothing else is yet in bloom. Did I know? They spread like wildfire in our moist woodland, and look a bit like a sci-fi scene. And that their lovely, little white flower is hidden under the oversized leaf, not to be seen.
Each year, we try to come up with an amusing vignette of succulents — here the well-named plant ‘fish hook’ cascading from an antique metal urn. Did I know? I would fall in love with one or two over the years, and then not be able to find them locally the next year. A one-off, as they say.
Did I know? When this holly hedge was put in with the original planting plan twenty-one years ago, what pruned shape I would ultimately decide upon. I finally took inspiration from the back design of the solarium bench, reversing the arc in the center.
It’s even more amusing in the winter…
Did I know? We would be proud grandparents of a pair of Great Horned Owlets in 2020. We’d barely ever heard an owl down at our end of the island, and this winsome pair were hatched a month ago in an old ginkgo tree on our front lawn. We’re certainly going to miss them; it’s difficult to believe that they will soon have a 4 1/2 foot wing span.
Be as wise as an owl and take care of yourself.