Thursday, July 14, 2011

Cantigny Garden Ideas

Recently the Hubby and I were out enjoying the weather.  Our weather this summer has consisted of monsoon rains, hotter than comfortable humid days or colder than seasonable weather just about all summer, so when a day presents itself as warm, but not hot and sunny we head out to enjoy the out of doors.  Our travels took us to Cantigny Park (that's Can-tea-knee) in Wheaton, Illinois.  I like to stop there to look at the roses, formal gardens and herbs and my husband likes to enjoy the Tank Garden.  This place has something for men and women!

The Idea Garden was where I spent most of my visit this time.  I've been feeling uncreative about gardens recently.  Since moving to an apartment, my 3/4 acre herb garden has become a production garden with everything in rows for best abundance and accessibility, I have not designed a "pretty" garden space in several years.  Missing this, I decided to take a look at their ideas and see if that might cause me to drag out the garden design book once again.

I liked both the ideas presented here in this space.  The Wheelbarrow "dumping" the flowering plants and the Trellis.  See the teacups.  They are growing Teacup Vine on this trellis. 

I think in my own space I would use more cascading plants in the wheelbarrow so it looked like plants were falling out of the sides as well as the front.  Maybe a nasturtium or a prostrate rosemary or even a low growing mint like Cuban Mint or Pennyroyal.

The possibility of making a walkway with thyme or chamomile as the main plant has always been part of my design.  I liked the idea here of using lattice brick laid on its side in the ground because you could put in just a single plant.  It would make winter kill so much easier to fix in the spring rather than having to fill in a square of plants where some are mature and others are young.

I have always been a purist and a perfectionist, so this little garden plot they created with Yarrow and some red foliage plant I did not recognize (a little help here?) is hard for me to design on my own, but seeing the combination of yellow and red here I was captivated.

 I love all things thyme and at first I thought this was a thyme bed from a distance, but then I realized it was Corsican Mint surrounded by a variegated grass.  I liked it so much I got out the sketch pad to jot down the dimensions.  It was a bed of a perfect square 4 feet on each side.  There are slabs of stone that are well hidden too.

They also had some general ideas for groupings.  They had a scent garden with spaces for each of the five senses.  I might have chosen different plants and in fact I started to sketch out my own senses garden in the car on the drive home.  They also had a Children's garden filled with colorful and playful plants as well as those that encourage touching.

I also found a couple amusing ideas for edging and plant patterns.

This one is wine bottles pressed into the ground

A salvia tic tac toe board!

Farm implement filled with Hen & Chicks

Now I also obtained ideas for water features, markers, composting and water conservation too, but I will share those with you tomorrow.

We could not leave without looking at the roses which were just at peak in most cases.  This is a water fountain with slate edging surrounded by different shades of red roses.  The gray slate was a stunning backdrop for the reds and yellow foliage plants.  I guess they were on a yellow and red kick this year!

And no trip to Cantigny would be complete without a stroll through the tank garden!  The promise of this was what made him linger long enough for me to take all these pictures.

I shared more ideas from Cantigny here.

If you want to learn more about the gardens, mansion and military museum which are all part of the 500 Cantigny Park (former estate of Robert McCormick), check out this link

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