Anita Stamper is a retired professor of family and consumer sciences from Lambuth University and now lives and gardens in Paducah.

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Serenity Gardening from Shade to Light
by Anita Stamper       #Design   #Landscaping

In an entrance to the garden via the house, an arbor is adorned with huge blue clematis in the summer.

Carol Farrington’s garden in Paducah, KY, is a study in light and shade, peaceful monochrome greens and rioting colors. Some of the design inspiration came from nature’s random intervention, but it was the eye and hand of the gardener who translated those interventions into a garden that offers peace and serenity but, at the same time, is filled with interest in every season.

When Carol Farrington began the garden, the large lot was filled with mature trees that created almost total shade. Grass refused to flourish, so she eradicated the few traces of it that snaked through the filtered sunny spots and concentrated on a velvet lawn of moss. Large stretches of lawn still undulate under the soft green cloak punctuated with beds, borders, specimen plants, stone walkways and a creek bank at the garden’s edge.

Farrington filled the areas close to the house with beds of shade-loving plants. From the deck, the front entrance or the side entrance, dense plantings welcome a closer inspection and offer relief from the expanses of shady moss. Vertical plumes of pink, white and red astilbe are massed in one large bed bordered with mounds of hosta. Variegated Solomon’s seal erupts all over the yard in early spring, the cream and jade foliage holding out until a final brilliant burst of yellow ends the cycle in fall. Hydrangea dots a large area where the shade gives way to more sunlight. Mopheads predominate, but there are also some lace caps and doubles. Toad lilies (Tricyrtis) are a relatively new addition to the shady beds and add both color and fragrance in October when little else is blooming.

Hosta blooms open up at the astilbe’s finale, keeping the interest going.

In March, when many of these photographs were taken, the garden was bursting with potential, with many of the stalwart performers still awaiting warmer days before starting their season. But even in the chill of early spring, the garden was a haven for walking, sitting and viewing. Garden paths, arbors, sitting areas and sculpture are beautifully arranged into an integrated totality that is actually more easily appreciated before the masses of plant material begin competing. In one long stretch, early forsythia, some yellow narcissus and masses of blue vinca are already awake and blooming. In much of the garden it is moss, the bare skeletons of the deciduous trees, and the many conifers that fill in the bones of the hardscaping. Intricate walkways of flat, irregularly shaped stones give sure footing on damp days.

The deck overlooking the backyard offers an expansive view of the garden.

In summer, the sunny aspect of the garden becomes apparent. When the loss of several large trees created an area of bright sunlight in what had been a totally shaded garden, Farrington trumped nature once again and installed curving beds of architectural stone that hold seven truckloads of potting soil and an unbelievable riot of perennials and bulbs. Here, the plants she couldn’t grow before dazzle visitors and passersby. Asters, Oriental and Asiatic lilies, goldenrod, angel trumpets (Brugmansia and Datura), flowering maples, veronica, stokesia, iris and daylilies are just some of the many perennials grown in the long curving beds and in matching half circle beds that connect two arbors that lead visitors into the garden. The arbors nearly burst with huge clematis flowers in summer.

In early spring, the flat pavers stand out and provide ample space for strolling.
A wrought-iron bench offers a place to sit and enjoy the beautiful garden.

While perennials, shrubs and trees make up the majority of the garden, Farrington also uses annuals for splashes of color, especially around the deck in the backyard. Containers of impatiens and begonias add punch to the calm green during summer hours.

The house has many windows, and Farrington has developed her garden with an eye to views from the inside out, as well as from the many vantage points outside. The garden divides easily into rooms with similar plantings and unique situations but, taken as a whole, the garden and house form a beautiful unit that shows the whole is much greater than the sum of the individual parts.

In summer huge masses of hosta, astilbe and boxwood weave the garden together seamlessly.


(From State-by-State Gardening June 2006. Photos by Anita Stamper.)


Posted: 02/08/12   RSS | Print


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