‘A garden that merged with the woods around it’

Pictures of beauty from a Chatham County labor of love

BY KIM HAWKS, News + Record Staff
Posted 5/29/20

PITTSBORO — I moved onto this land in Chatham County in 2000. My parcel sits high, on six beautiful wooded acres. I had just sold my dream business, Niche Gardens, and was ready to start …

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‘A garden that merged with the woods around it’

Pictures of beauty from a Chatham County labor of love

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Posted

PITTSBORO — I moved onto this land in Chatham County in 2000. My parcel sits high, on six beautiful wooded acres. I had just sold my dream business, Niche Gardens, and was ready to start over.

Here, I began to build my personal garden, informed often by the land.

I purchased woods that grew right up to the house. I evaluated existing vegetation and started opening the canopy by thinning and removing trees to bring in more light.

Many trees remained and are the elders of this thriving garden: Dogwoods, Japanese Maples, Camellia sasanqua and japonica cultivars planted by previous owners. My sister and I spent days collecting small, medium and large stones on this land and started laying out beds in a free-form style, following the lay of the land.

A year or so later, I began planting understory shrubs, a few more trees and wildflowers and perennials. Today there are small patches of grass; just enough to highlight the beds. This garden has been described as a garden that merged with the woods around it.

Fast forward 20 years.

Today, in the spring of 2020, here are a few favorite plants that bring me much joy. My favorite tree on this property is native Magnolia macrophylla, Big Leaf Magnolia, planted 20 years ago. It’s a native deciduous Magnolia with huge goblet shaped flowers in mid spring among large 2-foot by 1-foot wide floppy leaves. Iris virginica, “Contraband Girl,” the Blue Flag Iris inhabits swamps, stream margins and swamps.

My land is on a dry hill, so I created a small water lily pond and this is where the lovely “Contraband Girl” Iris resides. I planted a gardenia right next to the front steps to my porch. It’s in full bloom right now. The fragrance is lovely! I was drawn to this particular Salvia because of its name: Salvia microphylla “Hot Lips.” Numerous spikes of white and red flowers that somewhat resemble lips, bloom for weeks in sunny, dry gardens. “Hot Lips” is very drought tolerant; the humming birds enjoy her nectar.

This morning when I was in the garden taking this photo of my white flowering Asian Lily, two hummingbirds flew around my head, sort of like horse flies. While a bit annoying, it was much more endearing.

Can you see why I love living in Chatham County, North Carolina?

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