Summer By The Bay — Lower Double Borders
In the middle-distance as you look out at the ocean, the gigantic lower borders beckon. To stay in scale with the deep, horizon-wide water view, they are nearly two hundred feet wide & forty feet deep. Plants won’t show from the house if they aren’t at least three feet high & in colonies ten feet wide. The solution? A bed largely of colorfully-foliaged shrubs & pollarded trees, only lightly garnished with the largest of ornamental grasses, perennials, & annuals.
- The lower double borders flank a huge gate: six feet high & ten feet wide. In this enormous garden, normal-sized details would be laughable.
- In the distance, the lighthouse of Beavertail Point is prominent. It is the natural vista to which the pair of double borders & gate are aligned.
- The scale of the enormous lower double borders is challenging to capture. They are nearly two hundred feet wide & forty feet deep!
- In late May, "summer" in New England can still be chilly & rainy. Finally, it's time to plant the pots of purple-leaved Wyoming cannas: see the red-slickered gardener?
- Giant elderberry in riotous flower. At its left, the electric foliage of one of the pollarded Kelly's Gold maples.
- The lower double border is a vast sea of colorful foliage, which provides unflagging spring-to-early fall display for gardens that are seen only during the brief New England summer. The only flowers immediately visible are the huge white heads of giant elderberry are out but, thanks to the full spectrum of burgundy, white, & gold foliage, the scene is anything but boring.
- Smoldering acid-yellow foliage of gold Siberian dogwood partner with white-grey of Quicksilver elaeagnus, variegated tree angelica (which is also in flower) and, at the left, yellow flowers of one of the few hardy sennas, Cassia hebecarpa.
- One of the pollarded gold-leaved catalpas, flanked by feathery cut-leaf sumac.
- Flower clusters of giant elderberry mature to showy berries that change from green to black. One of the pollarded yellow-leaved catalpas towers at the back. That's purple-leaved smokebush at the right.
- Clusters of giant elderberry flowers with intriguing pink stems. The showy berries mature from green to black.
- Gold-leaved pollarded catalpa back-center, with gold-leaved Frisia locust at the back, & electric Kelly's gold maple at the right. The colors are incendiary in the summer mist.
- The shockingly dark young foliage of "black-leaved" catalpa is in huge contrast with the cut-leaf sumac in the center, & the yellow-leaved catalpa at the right.
- One of the pollarded gold Frisia locusts at the back, with gold Siberian dogwood & variegated aralia.
- Purple-leaved smokebush, variegated tree angelica, gold-leaved siberian dogwood.
- Eerie purple flower spikes of Wyoming cannas front the frothy huge flowerhead of variegated aralia. Giant cup-plant daisies can be ten feet tall. At the back, a pollarded gold-leaved Frisia locust.
- Datisca cannabina—otherwise known as false hemp—is a massive, even architectural presence. Happy colonies such as this one can be eight feet high & wide.
- False hemp in full flower.
- Horticultural humor: The drooping racemes & feathery foliage of datisca are a near-dead-ringer for marijuana. This enormous perennial is entirely unrelated.