gardenphyllisophyBy Phyllis Galowitz

Dahlias are still blooming and are they gorgeous! I thought we should have had frost by now, ending their bloom. Looking back at my garden journal for last year at this time, I see that they were at the same stage as they are now. I’m waiting for the first frost before cutting them back to six inches and letting them sit for a few weeks before digging up the corms and those of the canna tropicana. I’ll store them in peat moss, in a dark closet, under the basement steps for the winter, to be planted again in the spring.

It’s time to put the garden to sleep and bring in the plants that I want to keep over the winter. How can I decide what I must discard for want of space. I love them all!

Sometime at the end of September, on a beautiful, sunny, fall day, I visited Marlys Hann’s garden. The tall white cosmos, with their delicate light green foliage, growing in front of the high white fence along one side were waving goodbye to summer. On the opposite side of the long, narrow village property, was a screen of columnar arborvitae. Along the back, one could hear the stream running by while seated in a secluded area behind a planting of hydrangea and wild asters. To the left, above a low stone wall topped with flat slabs of flagstone that were inviting to sit on, hung decorative lanterns that could be lit at night. The stone wall also served as a buffet at a party we attended. A huge Norway spruce divided the more native part of the rear garden from the carefully tended lawn and perennial garden.

On the back porch of the house were huge pots of flowering plants: each one selected for its unusual beauty; each one a conversation piece on its own. The brugmansia (or angel trumpet) that Marlys told me grows wild in Ecuador, with its cream colored, turning to peach, pendular flowers, was a magnificent backdrop to the surrounding pots of different species of oxalis in dark red and shades of green. Tubs of arugula, rosemary, lettuces, thyme and basil were conveniently placed to be picked for dinner.

“What will you do with all of these beautiful container plants when the weather turns cold?” I asked. “I’ll bring them inside,” she replied.

Just inside the back door is a garden room that Marlys, a talented architect and landscape designer, has just finished adding to her house. Sun comes streaming into the long glass windows and door. With its bright yellow tile floor, glossy white woodwork and white covered daybed, it looks sunny even when the day is not.

“I’d like to come back in two weeks to see how you’ve managed to arrange them indoors,” I said. I left her beautiful, end-of-summer, outdoor garden, looking forward to visiting the indoor one…

Two weeks later, I returned to see the new room, filled with plants that needed to be protected from the cold and kept in a warm, humid environment to survive. The brugmansia and the tibouchina (princess flower), with its large purple flowers resembling the clematis,”jackmani”, are still the focal point of the indoor garden, just as they were on the back porch. An asparagus fern reached out its arms, pointing to its neighbors, all planted in a collection of beautiful clay pots.


Marlys’s new garden room, showing brugmansia plant.

There were huge pots of flowers that were coming to the end of their season; cosmos, dahlias, and iris that had rebloomed. The house, furnished simply, makes a perfect background for this explosion of plants.

Marlys obviously loves her garden and spends much of her time nurturing it both indoors and out. She is planning next spring’s display of lilies and will be planting the bulbs, digging and storing dahlia corms, and preparing a manure-enriched compost for the new plants. Just when everything looks perfect to me, her artistic mind sees how she will improve and redesign different areas, and I have no doubt that her vision will make it even more beautiful than it already is. I look forward to a visit again in the spring. ~


Brugmansia flower.