Garden Tour: Three-Part Harmony
Fragrant blossoms spill from crabapple trees in the spring garden of Ohio garden designer Bobbie Schwartz. Bobbie, an accomplished soprano, draws correlations between gardening and music to create three-season interest utilizing a plant's height, shape, color, foliage and texture, as well as the flower. "There's an artistry to putting it all together," says Bobbie, who has sung with the Cleveland Orchestra Chorus and has performed in Carnegie Hall and Europe.
High notes of spring
Tulips provide color and shape repetition. Creeping phlox and rockcress 'Spring Charm' (front) blanket the stone edging with purple. "You want to create a rhythm in the garden using color, size and shape," Bobbie says. "Think about any musical composition in which the orchestration is a melding of different instruments, tempi and ranges. Instead of those elements, I combine plants in the garden, choosing some to create crescendos and decrescendos, others to speed up here and slow down there." Tall plants or large groupings create the top of the crescendo while short or one-of-a-kind plants form the bottom of the decrescendo. See more of Bobbie's spring favorites ahead.
Nodding bell-shape flowers (Leucojum aestivum) on 9- to 14-inch stalks bloom all of April in Bobbie's garden. "This is an underused but wonderful bulb," she says. "It thrives in wet spots, accepts shade or sun, and naturalizes beautifully."
Bobbie plants both species and hybrid tulips, such as this graceful lily-flowering ‘Mariette'. To offset the fact that many hybrid tulips die like annuals, Bobbie plants new varieties each year in similar hues to ensure a compatible, ongoing mix.
Six-inch white, blue or pink anemones (Anemone blanda) act as a skirt for taller bulbs. "They're terribly underused," Bobbie says. "The more you plant, the better." Deer- and rabbit-resistant, these tiny bulbs prefer well-drained soil and full sun or light shade.
This no-fuss plant (Euphorbia polychroma) offers different appeal each season. "It's a favorite because it blooms early with bright yellow flowers, adds nice mounding contrast in summer and turns red in fall," Bobbie says. Site this hardworking beauty in full sun or partial shade.
Shade-loving ‘Red Racer' (pictured) is considered a winner for its color and upfacing bloom. ‘Green Corsican' and ‘Blue Lady' are also notable performers. But Bobbie singles out sturdy, early-rising ‘Cinnamon Snow' as her all-time favorite. This hybrid sports gorgeous blushed white flowers and even beats crocus as the first to bloom.
This vigorous, clump-forming woodland native retains attractive leaves once its white flowers have faded. "It's a much tougher plant than I would have ever guessed," Bobbie says. "It even thrives in shady areas that don't get much moisture."
Hits of summer
A wave of various coneflowers creates movement by drawing attention to the repeated colors and shapes. See more of Bobbie's favorite summer plants on the following slides.
Bobbie favors the thistlelike flower form and steel-blue color of sea holly blooms, particularly the variety ‘Blue Cap' (shown). "It is a terrific plant for hot, dry, well-drained sites," she says. "The plant adds interesting texture to the garden, too."
This perennial's unique form and 5-foot height stirs intrigue. "It has a different shape, almost like a candelabra, and the whorled leaves around the stem are unusual," Bobbie says. White or pale purple blooms last midsummer to early fall. Plant in full sun or partial shade.
"I love the whole clematis family," Bobbie says. "I let them grow on fences, up trellises and in shrubs and trees. Clematis integrifolias don't have twiners; I let them crawl on the ground." Though most clematis need full sun, partial shade works for ‘Comtesse de Bouchard' (shown), a reliable climber with nonstop 3- to 4-inch flowers that bloom from June to September.
Nine to 12 months of attractive foliage launched heuchera to the top of Bobbie's plant list. "I'm a big fan of Heuchera villosa," she says. "They're tough and very drought-resistant. 'Georgia Peach' (shown) and 'Southern Comfort' have been two of the best for me. The colors are just amazing."
Japanese painted fern
Highlighted with silver or maroon markings, this elegant fern grows 1–3 feet to brighten shady spots.
One of the longest bloomers, hardy geraniums tolerate various soil types and can take full sun or partial shade. Bobbie considers 'Azure Rush' (shown) and 'Rozanne' top choices because they bloom into fall.
Overflowing window box
A window box overflows with tall purple angelonia, pink pentas, verbena 'Homestead Purple', sweet potato vine, calibrachoa 'Sweet Tart' and creeping Jenny 'Aurea'.
Fall’s grand finale
Ornamental grass 'All Gold', creeping Jenny 'Aurea' and juniper 'Eternal Gold' carry bold yellow through the garden. The next slides show more of Bonnie's favorite fall plants.
A cross between heuchera and Tiarella, this easy-care groundcover jazzes up shady spots with strong leaf color spring to fall. The ‘Stoplight' variety (shown) is one of many colors available.
Sun-loving flowers add orange and yellow hues from summer through late fall. Bobbie's favorite is ‘Short and Sassy' (shown), a compact, 12- to 18-inch dwarf that provides profuse blooms.
"This plant is gorgeous, but you'll need a big clump for impact because the orchidlike flowers are relatively small," Bobbie says. Grow in partial shade.
There are so many positives about this low-maintenance plant, including that it can grow 1–3 feet in part sun or shade, is deer resistant, blooms spring through fall, attracts birds and has lush foliage.
Graceful sprays distinguish this ornamental grass, which is particularly attractive from midsummer until frost when its soft plumes turn white, pink or red (depending on variety). Selections range from 1 to 5 feet tall. Plant in full sun or light shade. Be aware that this perennial can vigorously self-seed.
Wonderfully fragrant, this sun-loving annual (Nicotiana sylvestris) can reach 5 feet with clusters of white trumpet-shape flowers.
A happy addition to the autumn garden, anemones bear cheery poppylike flowers from late summer until frost. Plants prefer light shade, but tolerate full sun given sufficient moisture. Some grow to 5 feet, but many are shorter like this 18-inch ‘Pretty Lady Emily' that Bobbie mixes with fall chrysanthemums.
Sedum 'T Rex'
This sedum ages to a red-orange and retains strong stems.