Saturday, May 26, 2012

Design Lessons from Mother Nature at The Gentling Garden

The hilltop home of Jasmin and Peter Gentling in Asheville, North Carolina has a wondrous garden that was developed by them during the 40 years they've lived there.  There are many lessons to be learned from these master gardeners that have used Mother Nature as their landscaper.
The flowers in the landscape are very natural looking as if Mother Nature herself had planted them.  Master gardener Peter emphasized his philosophy of considering texture and placement of plants over color. 

What could be more soothing on a hot Carolina day than this cool glade ?
An exbury azalea fits right in the woodland garden. 

Poppies are everywhere and add to the backdrop of evergreens seen throughout the garden. 

The placement of evergreens through out the garden guarantee year round interest.

A tranquil setting sans color is reminescent of a tranquil Japanese garden.

Water is so soothing and the seat next to the pond is a favorite spot to relax. 

A spectacular way to frame a view.

A vine covered arbor over the terraced steps to the garden below provides a strategic focal point.

An outcropping of stone and a natural stream look as if Mother Nature placed them there.

Again, with very little flower color, the textures and foliage are effective all season.
Yet another design from Mother Nature. 
Posted by PicasaThis wonderful path leads to a beautifully designed Asian-style gate and fence.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Hilltop Oasis in Asheville-The Gentlings Garden

A feeling of tranquility and harmony was my first impression of the garden of Jasmin and Peter Gentling.   No glitz, no prominent sculpture , no beds of bright, bold colorful flowers to dazzle the eyes - just Mother Nature in all her glory, the garden merging seamlessly into the forest beyond. 

It has a very impressive history -the Who's Who of society has owned the property or slept there.  But more impressive to me was what the Gentling's did during their 40 years of living here.  Except for the large trees they have selected and planted everything in the garden.  And what Mr. Gentling said was very dear to my heart - he plants with an eye for texture more than color, which is a philosphy I've always believed in.  A garden that  looks good when it's not in bloom is to me a great achievement.

Hearing the singing of the birds and breathing in the cool mountain air added to the serenity of this hilltop paradise.   As Jasmin Gentling said just going out in the morning with a cup of coffee and sitting on the back patio  ( lower right ) listening to the birds singing brings her more joy than just about anything else. 

Peter Gentling is a native Texan who attended college in Chicago and we talked a little about his days there as a student.  We're both artists and talked also about art.  His late brother is a very prominent Texas artist .  The Gentlings are just like their garden -down to earth, natural and very enthusiastic about welcoming over 80 gardening geeks to view their paradise, for which I'll always be grateful.  I've seen Versailles, the Biltmore, the grand gardens of Europe and Asia, but I've never seen anything lovelier than the Gentling's garden .

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


 A gardener's legs aren't always the prettiest -as evidenced by mine above.  Those aren't nicks from shaving, they're bug bites-Chiggers to be exact and those North Carolina chiggers are meaner than a billy goat in a pepper patch.

Getting all gussied up to attend the 2012 Garden Bloggers' Fling in Asheville, North Carolina this week and meet with 80 or more garden bloggers that are just as crazy, if not more so, that I am about all things garden.   Some of the garden bloggers' I've exchanged "howdys" with albeit all too briefly at the 2009 Chicago SpringFling when they visited my garden . I look forward to seeing them again, as well as meeting those I haven't had the pleasure to .

Although I respect and admire historical places like the Biltmore Estates I'm much more intrigued with the mountain home of Christopher C in NC where Mother Nature is the best garden designer of all.  I'm thinking too that he just might have some Carolina moonshine hidden out in the woods that he might want us to do a taste test on.

So I've packed enough stuff for the Queen's entourage, had a manicure and pedicure, and yes, I've shaved my legs for this, so it had better be worth it .   I'm about as excited as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs. 

See Y'all in Asheville !

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


This Civil war era rose has been passed down from generation to generation.  If only it could talk what tales it would tell.
It's May 15 and that means its Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day in which garden bloggers from across America post what's blooming in their gardens.  I know it's  not June - the traditional month for roses but the roses are blooming nevertheless all across Chapel Hill.

Much like England where even the simpliest of cottages have roses, so Southern gardens are seldom without them.  The old fashioned roses that once filled Southern gardens are difficult, if not impossible , to find.   But the good news is that new, improved varieites are now available, many of which are disease and mildew resistance and  repeat bloomers .

For an impressive border, plant the shrub rose 'knockout' which blooms from May until whenever -in North Carolina, which translates to  " whenever, if ever, cold weather kills it . "

Meanwhile in my little deck container garden the flowers are in full , glorious bloom.  I planted flowers that were attractive to hummers -lantana, petunias, geraniums and mandevillas and they came.  I have my camera at ready in an attempt to snap a picture but haven't succeeded so far.    

Visit Carol at May Dreams Gardens to see what's blooming across this great country.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

I've Got my Eye on a Red Buckeye

                                                                     Aseculus pava
                                                                   A Carolina Native

I spied this beautiful tree along the Carolina highway and instantly recognized it because its one of few Southern trees that thrive in Chicago.   It can be a shrub or small tree reaching 10-15 ' and I love its natural form and  showy red flowers that are attractive to birds, especially hummers.  It's native habitat is the coastal region of North Carolina but it has made its way here to the Piedmont.

I saw it growing near the Paul Green ( famous local writer )  cabin at the N.C. Botanical Garden in Chapel Hill and loved the way it looked so natural in the woodland setting that is so popular here.

As I study the botany of this area I am making a list of must-haves when I get my own garden.  The Red Buckeye certainly merits a place.
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