30 Sep 2012

Rock Gardens and Fossils: Whistling Gardens [Part Two]

DSC_0091After lunch [thanks to traveling companions Pat and Peter] it was time to seek out and investigate the rockery. Truth be known I was a little apprehensive and intimidated with what I might find. As a shady character by nature, I’m not terribly well versed in rockeries and the plants that grow there. Little did I know that it would be my favourite section of the entire property! [on this visit in particular!]

DSC_0092True garden creators always ensure that there are hidden jewels, hidden surprises guaranteed to elicit gasps of delight from visitors and in this case Darren succeeded beyond my wildest dreams. Meet Albizia julibrissen ‘Summer Chocolate’, a sublime creature that I first crossed paths with two years ago in Chicago at the Independent Garden Centre Conference. There I was told that it was highly unlikely to over winter in my Zone 5 garden. I pulled Darren over and questioned as to how long it had resided in his garden. ‘It was planted last year!’ Magic to my ears. This is definitely part of my 2013 Wishlist which I will be emailing to Darren in the coming days. Alas….. where were we? Ah yes, the Rockery! Onward we go.

DSC_0101Absolutely breathtaking is it not? I kept having to pinch myself, reminding myself that the entire property has only been planted in the last five years! I don’t know that I have the words to describe the sense of awe, wonder and amazement that overpowered the senses as I strolled the Rockery. Methinks its best to let the photos speak for themselves:

DSC_0102DSC_0103DSC_0106 Abies concolor ‘Kinki’

Darren struck on something earlier, and as I traversed the Rockery I began to understand what he meant. ‘There is always something newer, something bluer than the one before. It seems that the blues are the current rage!’ At the time I wondered if it was a light dig at the fact that for me blue is the penultimate garden colour, but as the day progressed, it dawned on me that there was an abundance of this mesmerizing colour!

DSC_0109DSC_0110Sweet Jesus! Resistance was futile. I found myself furtively scribbling down the name on one ‘dwarf’ after another, having enjoyed an epiphany earlier in the day that were I to dig up a narrow strip along the length of the drive, fill it with interesting stones and perhaps coloured glass, I might be able to introduce some of these very treasures to the property!

The following three photos were taken by Peter. In the photo with me is my wonderful friend, in and out of the garden, Pat, whose generosity allowed for me to make this visit. It was most reassuring to be in the company of two other like minded, plant aficionados like myself! How else does one explain six and a half hours strolling through 18 acres of gardens?

Whistling Gardens 037 Whistling Gardens 038 Whistling Gardens 058 Though I haven’t been able to get a more candid shot, the person on the left in the photo above is in fact Darren Heimbecker, mastermind creator and custodian of this amazing mecca.

DSC_0114DSC_0115   It was Pat who first noticed the fossils. A large group of them seemed to be clustered in one specific area. Upon further examination, they too proved to stop any visitors with a keen eye for even the most subtle of textural changes dead in their tracks. We spent the next five or so minutes photographing them. Later Darren informed us that an acquaintance was scheduled to come and indentify and label these archaic stones that had been found at the back of the property and had painstakingly cleaned and preserved in order to add a degree of mystery and intrigue to the Rockery.

DSC_0117DSC_0119 DSC_0123 We likely could have continued with photographing our discovery were it not for the fact that it was close to five and we still had the Conifer Garden to explore, not to mention the garden nursery itself!

DSC_0127 While at first appearance they appear to me moss covered stones, in actuality this is the most requested perennial at Whistling Gardens: Dianthus freyii is indeed a dwarf with demure, diminutive lavender flowers!

DSC_0128 Earlier in the day Darren had said that he was awaiting the arrival of some 12000 Tulipa bulbs in the coming week. With one of his assistants leaving in the coming weeks, we all wondered who would be planting this astronomical number of bulbs. One of my companions suggested a multiple augered tool, one that could plant a dozen bulbs at once. Here in the Rockery he actually showed us where the newly emerging foliage of Muscari was already making an appearance. In between some of the island beds he’d planted what he hopes will be a virtual ‘sea of blue.’ It makes one want to be there next Spring to witness it, does it not? With the sun setting fast, it was time to head for the Conifer Garden…… that’s coming up in the concluding post to this amazing adventure: The Conifer Collection: Getting to the Heart of the Matter! Stay tuned!

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