Friday, November 18, 2011

Beauty along the driveway


One particular editor at the Atlanta Journal and Constitution admonished me, "You are writing about Margaret Moseley way too often.  What's the deal?"

One visit, and he understood, and pretty soon, he was writing about her as well.

Truth is, I had trouble not writing about Margaret.  First of all, she was eminently quotable, but mainly her garden was a treasure trove of good subjects.  She collected camellias, sasanquas, hydrangeas and viburnums.  She also had a variety of ground covers that included epimedium, ajuga, lamb's ear, hosta, yellow creeping jenny, and selaginella, just to name a few.  All sorts of ferns were mixed in among hundreds of hellebores.  She had about every shrub I could think of, and she was always adding the newest selections.  If she heard or read good things about a vine ( Schizophragma hydrangeoides 'Moonlight' comes to mind), tree, shrub or perennial she didn't have, she called around until she found one.  Thus, her garden was also a sort of laboratory for figuring out what would grow well in our area.  If  something didn't work, she got rid of it.

In addition, the photo ops were great.  Granted, you could never capture the incredible beauty of her garden as a whole, but you could always zero in on individual flowers or a path here or there.  Margaret is also a master at plant combinations, so you could marvel at a row of deep blue iris growing in front of a yellow Exbury azalea.  One of my favorite slides (wish digital had been back then) is of a purple jackmanii clematis blooming in a maroon colored smoke tree.  Stunning.  Another combination I loved was a clump of dark maroon hellebores next to a daphne with dusky pink flowers.

Margaret, who is now 95 and who called this afternoon to tell me how beautiful her garden looks today (it was 32 degrees this morning and in mid-afternoon, it's 48), has scheduled things to bloom all year.  Of course, most years we can get away with that in Atlanta.  But even with setbacks with drought or early freezes or below zero temperatures (haven't had those since the 1980's), her garden bounces back and keeps blooming.

One thing I've taken for granted is the fact that when you pull up into Margaret's driveway, there's usually something in bloom.  I took the above photograph in late October.  In the foreground is Abelia chinensis.  Why this plant is so unknown in Atlanta, I don't know.  It starts blooming in July, attracts butterflies like crazy, and then fades to green in fall.  The flower panicles are shaped like lilacs.  In this photo, it is shown with Camellia sasanqua 'Pink Snow' in the background.

So, here I am writing about Margaret again, something I've done over and over on this site.  But, I can't help it.  There's always a new or old variety you haven't seen, the newest "Hosta of the Year" to check out, a miniature ajuga to admire that came from her friend Lindy, or a great combination to copy, like this cascade of flowers along her driveway.