Month: March 2013

Profiled by Author/Writer Rona Simmons: An Artful Gardener – Brenda Addington | Women @ Word




An Artful Gardener – Brenda Addington

  by rona simmons


A Discriminating Eye and a Garden Trowel

(An Essay by Rona Simmons)

I visit gardens when I travel, whether they are public gardens, private gardens, arboretums, nurseries (not the box stores but the old-fashioned kind, the ones owned by people with rough hands and dirt under their nails), garden exhibitions, or even local enthusiasts’ plant sales. These venues are marvelous places, full of beauty and inspiration and often a kindred, sometimes eccentric, spirit, or two, meandering about. Rarely do I leave without an idea to implement in my own garden.
As you might expect, I’m smarter now than when I first began my garden journeys.
At the outset, like other novices, I’d return from a foray with a new plant in hand and sink it into what I deemed to be its rightful place in the garden. With a minimum of effort (including those tiresome but no less important things like weeding, watering, pruning and fertilizing), a modicum of time, and a large dollop of good fortune, nature rewarded me when she chose with wondrous blooms.
My garden awakening came with the purchase of my third or fourth treasure. Suddenly I realized I had to take a step back and consider the larger picture—the canvas, you might say.
Did the color of the new rose, or camellia, or azalea compliment the established ones? Would they bloom at the same time, exploding in one single burst of riotous color but leaving me with nothing but dried leaves and bare boughs in the long winter months ahead? Would they surprise me with something new each time I ventured into the garden, heralding the circle of seasons? Was the arrangement defying the principles of design or did it adhere to the tyranny of triangles?
Sinking further into my self-imposed form of madness, I began to obsess over textures, scents, and associations. Was there variety in my garden—magnolias with their wide, glossy leaves and boughs studded with lemon-scented summer flowers that spoke of the old south as well as pines, three and five-needled cultivars with cones to collect and toss on a winter night’s fire? Were there pathways through my garden that drew the visitor’s eye, teasing them to take a first step then another, tantalizing and engaging them?
I came to realize that I wasn’t merely gardening. I was creating a work of art–a painting on a canvas of earth, a short story in colors and textures and living things. For inspiration, I sought role models from a different sort of gardener, those with a discriminating eye and experience with a trowel. Artists who garden.



Fortunately, I have had the privilege to come to know one particularly artful gardener, Brenda Addington. Brenda approaches her garden as an artist first. She brings to it both an inherited sense of grace and craft from her father, a highly skilled artisan in another media, and her own eye for color and line.

She is not one to sit inside and admire her garden through the window. I know. On one of the coldest days of the year, I found her planting a few of the thousands of bulbs she had special ordered, just the right colors for just the right spaces. In the spring, if she’s not tending to the dozens of containers that accent her garden, she’s photographing them for her website or blog. And, in the fall, she’s likely to be constructing a cascade of pumpkins on the stairs leading from her front door to her garden.


Brenda’s garden embodies all of the aspects of an artful garden. It is a delight for the senses. Her colors flow, huge white blooming Annabelle hydrangeas yield to beds of pink Angelique then mutate again to a stand of mauve tulips. Her textures weave together seamlessly—a burnished iron frog sits above delicate tendrils of a Mandevilla vine in one corner, peach-colored roses soften the blue needles of a deodar cedar in another, and, in a far recess, a stone bridge carves a path to the graceful threads of a lime-green conifer.


Try as I might, my garden just never quite measures up. Thankfully, Brenda does not live too far away allowing me the opportunity from time to time to view what she has created and see where I’ve gone wrong.

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Note: All photos courtesy of Brenda Addington.

via An Artful Gardener – Brenda Addington | Women @ Word.

My ‘Fantastic Foliage’ Container–a Finalist winner for Fine Gardening’s 2012 Container Design Challenge….


For the second year in a row, one of my containers has been a finalist in Fine Gardening’s – ‘Fantastic Foliage’  2012 Container Design Challenge.

Please check out my container and many other beautiful containers created by other finalists, as well as, the winner in Fine Gardening’s May/June 2013 issue .


My container selected as finalist for Fine Gardening's 2012 Container Design Challenge 'Fantastic Foliage' .
My container selected as finalist for Fine Gardening’s 2012 Container Design Challenge ‘Fantastic Foliage’ .


Here’s more of my containers :






Painting my Garden with Beautiful Roses ( Part I)…. ‘My Pretty in Pink’ Roses

Over the years, I have planted many, many roses in my garden, painting it in a rainbow of colors. My rose collection consists of several Climbers, Floribunda’s, Hybrid Tea’s, Noisettes, Polyantha’s, Bourbons, Hybrid Musks and Shrub roses. Most of these roses have been in my garden for several years, while some I’ve just planted recently. My inventory topples well over a hundred roses which is quite a challenge for I live in deer territory. Weekly spraying of deer repellant is a necessity to keep my roses from becoming their smorgasbord! This weekly technique seems to be working, even though the deer repellent does leave an unsightly residue on the foliage of my roses, but at least I have an abundance of blooms.

David Austin- ‘Huntington Rose’

Since I’ve been growing and tending roses for over 2o years, I have learned a few things regarding the selection of roses for my garden:  They must have good disease resistance (I don’t spray chemicals, organic girl here), they must be tolerant of my hot and humid Zone 7b climate, and if possible, they must give me lots of blooms during their growing season (there are a few exceptions of course for the must-have one time bloomers). Sometimes, my roses are selected for their color, as to blend into my existing landscape.

I use only organic fertilizer’s on my roses during their growing season. My favorites are: Mill’s Magic Mix, Fish emulsion and Haven Brand Manure Tea which I brew in 5 gallon containers. I also occasionally use mushroom compost and horse manure .

My rose collection adds an aura of Southern charm to my garden with their endless combination of colors— from the lovely pinks and charming peach and apricots, to the the purest whites and creams, to the brightest reds, oranges and yellows which add an explosion of drama to my landscape.

Here are some of the roses that I grow in my garden that I have categorized by color and in multiple posts:


 My ‘Pretty in Pink’ Roses

(Pink, pale pink, deep pink)

‘Queen Elizabeth’- medium pink Grandiflora. Size: 5-10’h x 3’w. Zone: 5-9.

‘Queen Elizabeth’– medium pink Grandiflora. Size: 5-10’h x 3’w. Zone: 5-9.

‘Queen Elizabeth’  has won more awards than most modern roses, including, in 1978, the World Federation of Rose Societies ‘World’s Favorite Rose’. I have two of these and they stand majestically in my garden reaching 7 or 8 feet .  The flowers are hybrid tea in shape borne in large clusters in a warm pale pink color . Great for the back of the border.  Beautiful rose that repeats well.

‘New Dawn’ Climbing rose

‘New Dawn’ pale pink Climbing Rose.  Size: 10-20h’+ x up to 8’w. Zone: 5-9

‘New Dawn’ is one of the easiest climbers to grow. Few Climbers can surpass ‘New Dawn’ for its hardiness, disease resistance, and profusion of light pink blooms. I love this rose. It conveys such a romantic feel in my garden. ‘New Dawn’  is very vigorous in my Zone 7b garden, even in part sun where mine is planted, so make sure you provide a sturdy structure for ‘New Dawn’ to grow upon and do her gracious climbing. This climbing rose is a one time ‘show-off’ in my garden, but so worth it!

‘New Dawn’ Climbing rose

 Ideally, ‘New Dawn’ should be planted in full sun, but it will also thrive on as little as four or five hours of sunlight a day that it gets in my garden.

‘Grande Dame’ Hybrid Tea

‘Grande Dame’ deep pink Hybrid Tea. Size: 4-5’h.  Zone: 5-9

I absolutely adore this rose and its old-fashioned blooms. I even dedicated a post to her- ‘The Old Romance of the Grande Dame’ An exquisite hybrid tea rose.

Two ‘Grande Dames’ grace my garden. This rose has great disease resistance and is a good repeat bloomer.

‘Grande Dame’- looking lovely in my crystal vase.


Bourbon rose 'Mystic Beauty'
Bourbon rose ‘Mystic Beauty’

‘Mystic Beauty’ light pink Bourbon rose. Size: 2-4’h. Zone: 6-9.

I acquired this rose from Roses Unlimited. Having purchased three of these bourbon roses; two are planted in large containers and one in my flower border. The blooms are beautiful and it has a lovely fragrance that teases your nose to smell its blooms. New to my collection and so far a very good performer.

David Austin ‘Huntington Rose’ –  deep pink shrub rose. Size: 4’h x 3’w. Zone: 5-10.

David Austin- ‘Huntington Rose’

 The beautiful pink blossoms are quite fragrant and it’s a non-stop bloomer in my garden so far.  I love David Austin roses and and this one is a keeper.

David Austin rose link describing this rose :

‘Distant Drums’ Shrub rose

‘Distant Drums’ – Brunette buds opening to orchid pink/tan. Hybridized by Griffith Buck. Size: 3-4’h x 3’w. Zone: 5-10.

 ‘Distant Drums’  is one of my favorite shrub roses because of it’s amazing color. The blossoms start off in a ochre-toned color which then turns into a mauve pink. A real performer in blooms and flowers repeatedly. A beautiful rare and unique rose colorwise. Grows much like a Floribunda in habit. It is rather thorny though and has occasional black-spot which I control by picking off the infected leaves.

‘Distant Drums’ Shrub Rose


‘Chicago Peace’ – Hybrid Tea

‘Chicago Peace’ pink blend Hybrid Tea. Size: 3-4’h x 3’w. Zone: 6-10.

This Hybrid Tea has lovely huge vibrant pink blooms with lavender overtones in almost perfect form. A sport of the ever popular Hybrid tea “Peace’ rose. Wonderful fragrance and excellent repeat bloomer. Mine is grown in a large container and is very healthy. Gorgeous rose and great for cutting.


‘Pink Double Knockouts‘- Size: 3-4’h x 3-4’w . Zone: 4-10.

Pink and Red Knockout roses

My Knockout Roses are a definite blooming factory in my garden.  They have great disease resistance, are easy to grow, are low maintenance and bloom from spring until frost. Having planted a few dozen in my front yard landscape, on a difficult hillside , I must admit they provide long-lasting color in that area of my garden.

‘Pierre de Ronsard (aka Eden)  pink large flower climber. Size: up to 8-10′ h x 4-6’w. Zone: 5-10.

‘Pierre de Ronsard rose (aka- ‘Eden’)

Newly planted in my garden, this rose is the epitome of romance with it’s romantic old fashioned pink blossoms. I just planted four climbing ‘Eden’ last spring next to several 8′ Rose Obelisk’s and can’t wait for them to grace these pillars. At the moment, all four climbers are about 6 feet tall and very healthy, one bush actually produced several blossoms.

My new 2013 pink rose additions are:

2- ‘Frances Meilland’– light pink hybrid tea

2- ‘Peter Mayle’– deep pink hybrid tea

‘Perfecta’– pink blend Kordes hybrid Tea

‘Cupcake’- medium pink miniature rose

2- ‘Laguna’– deep pink Kordes climbing rose

‘Jasmina’– violet & pink large flowered Kordes climbing rose

Next Post: Painting my Garden with Beautiful Roses (Part II)…My ‘Sultry Red’ Roses