April 14, 2010

European Garden Envy

It's for the sake of research. At least that's my rationalization for adding new plants to the deer resistant garden. To be perfectly honest, I have a case of "European Garden Envy."

There's a subscription card to BBC Gardens Illustrated sitting in my kitchen, waiting for me to give in to the temptation. That's one of my favorite garden eye candy magazines. Several times a year, I purchase a copy off the rack. I also pick up The English Garden when I can find it. If the French had equivalent magazines available in this country, I'd pick those up, too. Maybe it would help with my understanding of the language.

The reality is that I live in North Carolina, not Europe. Gardeners living in the Pacific Northwest have suggested that those with my affliction move there if I want to grow an English Garden. To be clear, North Carolina gets more measured rainfall than Seattle, we just have more sunny days. We have humidity and hot summer nights—the usual reasons why some of those plants won't like living in my garden.

There are a few plants that I just couldn't resist trying this year. I may be violating the rule of "right plant, right place." However, I'm willing to gamble. Perhaps these are the right plants for my garden?

After my visit to France last year, I started lusting after the French Blue ceanothus (California Lilac). I had dreams about this gorgeous blue shrub.

Imagine my delight to find a mail-order nursery, Lazy S'S Farm in Virginia, that carries several varieties of ceanothus! Ceanothus thyrsiflorus 'Victoria' is now planted in my garden.

English lavender 'Vicenza Blue' and stipa 'Ponytails' (purchased from a local nursery, Multiflora Greenhouses) are the companions to my ceanothus.

All of these plants have low water requirements, prefer well-drained soil, can withstand hot sun and are deer resistant.

Ceanothus thyrsiflorus 'Victoria'
zone 7-9
height 6-9 feet

Lavandula angustifolia ‘Vicenza Blue’
zones 5-9
height 10-12 inches

Stipa tenuissima 'Ponytails'
zones 7-10
height 24-36 inches

Stipa, or Mexican Feather Grass, was featured in several stories in the English magazines and caught my attention. The swaying softness, the short size for an ornamental grass are desirable traits. I decided to give the grass a try here after reading about gardeners in similar zones using stipa. It is possible for this grass to be invasive in some states, so check the invasive species list in your region before planting this grass. Deadhead to prevent seeding.

Several varieties of lavender are grown here in my garden, but the 'Vicenza Blue' is supposed to be short (10-12 inches). Finding a compact size is the big attraction as I have grown monster lavenders in my garden! If this one is easy to grow and is short, then I have more uses for this lavender.

Only time will tell if I am successful with my "research" to satisfy my European Garden Envy.

Words and photos by Freda Cameron, Defining Your Home, Garden and Travel. All company or product or patented names mentioned are registered trademarks/copyrights/patents owned by those respective companies or persons.

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Defining Your Home, Garden & Travel

Home, garden and travel tips by Freda Cameron

Freelance travel writer. My current fiction writing projects include a completed manuscript and several works in progress.

By the way, my name is pronounced fred-ah, not freed-ah. Thank you.

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