African Garden + water

A Collector's Garden with Style

In my garden dreams, this is what I see, a lush shade garden. I walked into my dream last Sunday when I visited Park Place, a private, 3-acre Barrington Hills garden open for the first time for the Garden Conservancy's open days program. It was clear and sunny when I arrived at the garden at 10 a.m. (I apologize for the quality of the images in such harsh light).

The garden exists due to a big, honking deer fence that completely surrounds the 6-acre property. On walking through the gate, I knew I was entering somewhere special.

Yes, those are rhododendrons blooming like that in Chicagoland

The first thing the visitor notices is the the color bursts of rhododendrons, azaleas, woodland phlox and flowering dogwoods.

Azalea in bud with Tiarella
This border of Fothergilla major and Rhododendron screens the detached garage,

Then one notices the towering mature trees

as well as young new trees. Most of the garden is woodland, but there is also a large prairie garden. I hope the owners opt to open their garden again in the fall so it can be viewed in its full glory. There's also a pond with waterlilies and huge, very loud frogs

and a couple of large rock gardens filled with tiny treasures.

The Plants
In addition to the common woodland natives, the garden boasts some choice gems I didn't recognize.

This cute little plant looks like a cross between a Geranium and a Corydalis.

This plant could be an Aquilegia.

Then there were familiar plants with a twist, such as this diminutive Stylophorum

and this Geranium maculatum on steroids.

the hand is the girl's, which is smaller than mine, but still, the plant was 3 feet tall with blooms about twice as large as the norm

I admired this color combination of Japanese maple, Rhododendron, Primula, Corydalis and Phlox divaricata,

The colors of the primrose and the Japanese maple echo the red of the Rhododendron and the yellow of the Corydalis.

but this is the combination I'd most like to copy.

Faded Eranthis, Saruma henryi, Trillium lutea and Primula and the foliage of what I believe is a Uvularia, with a purple Geranium in the background and variegated pagoda dogwood (Cornus alternifolia 'W. Stackman' (Golden Shadows)).

And then there were the tree peonies.

note the reddish tint to the foliage

I asked the owner the name of this one, as it is even more beautiful than mine. She couldn't recall its name, but having a half dozen different varieties, she's excused. She got all of her tree peonies from Song Sparrow, so I emailed Roy Klehm to find out. He believes it is 'Guardian of the Monastery', a rockii type. I'm going to order one, then figure out where to put it. I have to have it.

Sculpture and Accents
The gardener has used sculpture and accents throughout the garden to tie it all together. The photo at the top of the post shows the first of several owls tucked around the garden to be found by the observant visitor. This one was hard to miss.

I found myself thinking of my friend HelenYoest when I saw this sculpture of a mother carrying her baby on her back.

Hakonechloa macra 'Aureola' and Hosta

It looks like something she'd put in her North Carolina garden.

Greenman behind a Japanese maple

I was particularly enamored of the kinetic sculpture,

the Park Place prairie garden

but this mosaic fox was the girl's favorite.

Euphorbia species

There were also birdhouses used as a repeated design element,

and old watering cans

and other rusted sculptures

something like this would look at home at Squirrelhaven

and objects

beautiful and functional

including a bread box (useful if you need to compare something to the size of one).

Some rock garden plants were displayed in hypertufa containers,

which also reminded me of Helen and of Frances of Fairegarden. I even saw a small Japanese maple in a hypertufa container.

I wish I could show you more of this wonderful garden, but we must obey the sign.

note the deer fence in the background

P.S. I forgot to mention that I paid attention to my feet too. A primrose path had a flagstone walkway, and the wilder part of the woodland garden had mulch paths lined with logs, like at Squirrelhaven.

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A Collector's Garden with Style + water