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.

November 21, 2014

Another Visit to Federal Twist

     After attending the Perennial Plant Conference back in October, I was able to enjoy some of what fall offered in the Delaware River Valley. One of the things I did was to visit James Golden's garden as part of The Garden Conservancy's Open Days Program. On my first visit to Federal Twist the white glare of a blazingly hot summer afternoon made photography nearly impossible. On this trip the light conditions were much friendlier, however, word has spread about this remarkable garden, and I often had to wait for people to walk out of my viewfinder to get a good shot. James' garden is one of the most unique private spaces I have ever seen. The architecture, carefully chosen pieces of art, a blend of native and exotic plants - all seem to arise naturally from the surrounding landscape. I could attempt to describe it further, but the gardener is much better at that then am I.
Entrance Path (1)

The Terrace

Rhus glabra 'Lanciniata' and Hakonechloa  (2)

Rhus glabra 'Lanciniata' and Chasmanthium latifolium

     On the day of the tour, the look-at-me plant of the day was Viburnum plicatum sporting its red autumn blazer, and I heard more than one visitor inquire to its identification. The viburnum looks over the reflecting pool, which is one of the few bits of rectilinear formality in an otherwise naturalistic informal garden. The contrast elevates both.
Viburnum plicatum with Miscanthus

Viburnum plicatum Overlooking the Reflection Pool

Reflecting Pool

Cotinus with Grasses (1)

Cotinus with Grasses (2)

Sanguisorba fronts Viburnum

Sanguisorba with Miscanthus

Sedum'Autumn Joy'

Aster tartaricus ‘Jin Dai’

Hydrangea paniculata 'Limelight' (1)

Lindera glauca 'Angustifolia', Miscanthus and Rhus

Lindera glauca 'Angustifolia' with Hosta

Fern Light (1)

Boxwood Path

Arborvitae and Sculpture

Albizia 'Summer Chocolate' with Grasses and Arborvitae

     I was surprised by how much I admired the dormant form and structure of Inula racemosa 'Sonnenspeer', which was all over James' garden, weeks past its prime.
Inula racemosa 'Sonnenspeer' (3)

Inula racemosa 'Sonnenspeer' (4)

     I also admire my mother and brother for many reasons, but on this day for putting up with my photo-snapping, garden-obsessed self. BTW, don't you love these Wave Hill chairs? I think we may have to see some of these a little further south.
Mater et Frater

     Speaking of photo-obsessed, if you would like to see all of my photos from my visit, my complete set can be found here.


  1. I would love to visit this garden. That V. plicatum has the best fall color I've seen on any Viburnum.

  2. Thanks for sharing your visit with us!

  3. Gorgeous and unpretentious. Thank you so much for this beautiful shots of James's creation. I hope to visit it myself one day. xoPeggy Lutz

  4. I don't know where to start. There are so many lovely, tasteful combinations of plants there. And the seed heads are as fascinating and graceful as anything else. Thanks for sharing some highlights from your visit.

  5. He has some fabulous fall color in that garden! I would have asked about that viburnum too. Although now that I think about it, I think I have the same species of viburnum and it doesn't change color at all. :/ I wonder how much of the difference is genetics and how much cultural/ climatic. The (smooth?) sumac is fantastic as well.

    Gorgeous picture of the viburnum, among others.

  6. I can only imagine what this looks like during the spring and summer.

  7. Whatever came of your Peve minaret bald cypress? Do you have a local source? I cannot find any :(

  8. Fantastic! I could not get the link at the bottom to work.

    1. Neither could I, Phillip, but I found it via Google. Try:

  9. An added pleasure seeing it through your photographs.

    Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family, Les.