An unapologetic plant geek shares advice and opinions on gardening, the contrived and the natural landscape, as well as occasional topics from the other side of the gate.

June 25, 2013

The Garden at Eyre Hall

     The road to Eyre Hall is a long dusty lane lined with ancient eastern red cedars and crape myrtles. The first members of the Eyre family settled here beside Cherrystone Creek in the 1660's, and about 100 years later, construction began on what was to become the family seat. Around 1800 a parterre garden was planted behind the house, and it is considered the oldest continually maintained ornamental garden in the state, and one of the oldest in the country. Today Eyre Hall is still occupied by descendants of the same family, and they graciously open the garden to the public without charge, and without appointment.

Photo in the public domain, from the Library of Congress

     The garden has a central axis that starts at one of the home's back doors, runs through the garden, out the back gate and becomes a wide woodland walk leading to the creek. On either side of the axis are several parterres formed from ancient boxwoods and crape myrtles. The garden is enclosed by a brick and wood fence with gates at regular intervals. There are many unpaved, swept-earth pathways throughout the garden, and the beds are maintained without any mulch, both of which I suspect are traditional treatments. In one corner of the garden is the family graveyard and the ruins of an orangery.  

Eyre Hall (Central Axis) (2)

Eyre Hall (Central Axis)

Eyre Hall (Back Gate)

Eyre Hall (Woodland Walk to Cherrystone Creek)

Eyre Hall (Orangery Ruin) (2)

Eyre Hall (Crape Myrtle Allée)

Eyre Hall (Cemetery Gate)

Eyre Hall (Cauldron)

Eyre Hall (Out Building)

     Lest you think this is just another boring collection of linear green blobs, each parterre is planted with a variety of flowering shrubs, perennials, evergreens, bulbs and annuals. Years ago I got to know garden designer Donna Hackman who was hired by the family to bring new life into the garden, and she had a very careful eye with the plants she chose. Donna would call me with a wish list, and I would get what I could for her, plus when she came to pick up her plants, she would always find something else she did not know she needed.  She is a consummate plantswoman. Now the gardens are maintained by Laurie Klingel of Appleseed Nurseries. Appleseed is owned by Laurie and her husband Jeff and the company includes a visit-worthy garden shop, a landscape design firm, and a growing operation as well. Laurie's work at Eyre Hall has the venerable garden in the best shape I have ever seen. I think John and Ann Upshur Eyre, who added the original parterre garden and the orangery, would agree.

Eyre Hall (24)

Eyre Hall (30)

Eyre Hall (Back Border) (2)

Eyre Hall (Centaurea and Coleus)

Eyre Hall (Fatsia and Crape Myrtle)

Eyre Hall (Gold Leaf Hydrangea)

Eyre Hall (Hosta)

Eyre Hall (Magnolia grandiflora)

Eyre Hall (13)

Eyre Hall (14)

Eyre Hall (17)

Eyre Hall (20)

Eyre Hall (22)

     If you would like to visit Eyre Hall's garden, it is open year round, and is about half a mile off of US 13 in Northampton Co., VA, between the towns of Cheriton and Eastville. 

June 22, 2013

Sylvan Heights

     Since sometime last winter, two friends and I have been trying to match our schedules to visit Sylvan Heights Waterfowl Park in Scotland Neck, North Carolina. The 18 acre park houses a collection of birds from around the world, more or less grouped by continent. You can walk through most of the displays, enabling you to get up close and personal with the birds. Sylvan Heights is not just a zoo, it is also a breeding center for many species of waterfowl, including several that are critically endangered.  The price of admission was only $9, and it was worth every penny.

American Flamingo
  American Flamingo (5)

Budgerigar Parakeet
Budgerigar Parakeet (2)

Demoiselle Crane
  Demoiselle Crane

East Indian Grey Teal
  East Indian Grey Teal

Indian Blue Peacock
Indian Blue Peacock (4)


Wreathed Hornbill 
Wreathed Hornbill

Scarlet Ibis
  Scarlet Ibis

Toco Toucan 
Toco Toucan

Abyssinian Ground Hornbill (How about those lashes?)
Abyssinian Ground Hornbill (2)

June 19, 2013

What Sexy Is

When you think about it, a flower's sole purpose is procreation, or to use another word, sex. But some flowers are sexier than others.

Nelumbo (3)

Nelumbo (4)

Nelumbo (6)

Nelumbo (5)


Nelumbo (7)

June 15, 2013

Bloom Day - Light and Shadow

     Despite the many flowers blooming in my garden right now, this Bloom Day post was difficult, mainly from deciding which photos to show and which to toss.  I took my pictures yesterday in the harsh afternoon light, which is not the best time to photograph your garden, unless it is the only time you have.  However, given the destructive weather others are having, I will take any bright day I can get and be glad of it.

     In June my garden is mostly about hydrangeas and daylilies (which we will get to), but there are other things going on, like an annual I am trying for the first time, Stachytarpheta mutabilis (Porterweed).
Stachytarpheta mutabilis 'Coral'

Cuphea ignea 'David Verity' and Canna australis
Cuphea ignea 'David Verity' and Canna australis

Gardenia jasminoides 'August Beauty'
Gardenia jasminoides 'August Beauty'

Acanthus mollis (Grecian Pattern Plant, Bear's Breeches)
Acanthus mollis

Delosperma copperii (Hardy Ice Plant) and a daylily I have yet to ID
Delosperma cooperii and Hemerocallis '

Hemerocallis 'Smoky Mountain Autumn and Canna australis
Hemerocallis 'Smoky Mountain Autumn'

Another Awaiting ID
Hemerocallis (2)

Hydrangea macrophylla 'Frau Kinue' and Jasminum officinale 'Aurea'
Hydrangea macrophylla 'Frau Kinue' and Jasminum officinale 'Aurea' (2)

Hydrangea macrophylla 'Frau Kinue' and Jasminum officinale 'Aurea' (3)

Hydrangea macrophylla 'Amethyst'
Hydrangea macrophylla 'Amethyst'

Hydrangea macrophylla 'Bluebird'
Hydrangea macrophylla 'Bluebird'

Hydrangea macrophylla 'Ayesha'
Hydrangea macrophylla 'Ayesha'

Hydrangea macrophylla 'Penny Mac'
Hydrangea macrophylla 'Penny Mac'

     If you would like to see what kind of day other gardeners are enjoying, then you should pay a visit to Carol of May Dreams Gardens. She hosts Garden Bloggers Bloom Day on the 15th of each month, rain or shine.