As you approach the gate Tansy (tanacetum) grows along the path. The English pastor Hilderic Friend, writing from Brackley in 1883, notes that medeival peasants put Tansy in their shoes to cure a number of ailments.
The shrubs in the next bed to the left are Abutilons.
After you pass through the east gate there’s a stretch of Jasmine polyanthum along the fence. The vine entwined with the jasmine is the wild Clematis from Portugal, C. Campanulata, its delicate bell shaped cream flowers with the ends of the petals curved back, a blue shading on their very edge as if faries had worked overtime with their pastels.
The Comptesse Bouchaud
Gliore de Dijon
Lonicera nitida aurea
"It climbeth aloft
and taketh hold with its crooked claspers upon everything that standeth near it."
- John Gerard,
16th century herbalist
The bed to the right of the path to the gate is planted with Dichroa febrifuga, the Hydrangea relative from Nepal. Its roots can be fried with wine and used as a cure for malaria. “It should be used with caution.” (This advice could apply to anything fried with wine.) White Astilbe, Claytonia (a California native), Abutilons grow farther on toward the gate, with Impatiens mengtziana from China as an understory.( Extremely rare. Soft, golden orchid like flowers brushed with pale apricot. Go ahead, steal a cutting.)
macropetala clematis Bluebird (1962)
Across the driveway in the front bed the Hybrid Musk roses Cornelia (1925) and Daybreak (1913) grow with Teucrium and Salvia "Waverly", a winter favorite for the hummingbirds in January.
The vines in the alcove with the ferns are Parthenocissus. The cyclamen below the ferns are Cyclamen cuom, a wildflower from pine woods near the Black Sea, that can form colonies from seedlings if it's in just the right place.
You may notice lilies growing under the vines at the right of the path. These are Arthropodiums from New Zealand.
The grey feathery stuff in the bed to the right as you pass the arbor is Artemesia "Powis Castle". The small siberian iris that border this path has flowers with the most powerful blue purple in the plant world; strong enough to rival the famous Clematis Jackmanii (1858) on the arbor across the path. Aristea inaequalis, a South African Iris grows in the artemesia with Pasithea caerulea , a rare member of the lily family from Chile. (Pasithea was one of the three graces.)
Against the stucco wall at the back of this bed is Mdme. Alfred Carrier, a tea noissette rose from 1879 that grows at Sissinghurst, the Tudor garden of Vita Sackville-West, England's best garden writer. I'm sure that Vita had this rose in mind when she wrote this poem to Virginia Woolf.
A tired swimmer in the waves of time
I throw my hands up: let the surface close:
Sink down through centuries to another clime,
And buried find the castle and the rose.
There are three clematis entangled with Mdme. Carrier, The Comptesse Bouchaud, Gipsy Queen, and Mary Rose. The Comtesse grows in Monet's garden at Giverny. The Comtesse and the Gipsy are large flowered varieties, and their pruning requirements often make gardeners nervous. Christopher Lloyd had the last word on this: "If you are daunted as you approach a clematis with your shears, think of surgeons, who, no matter what horrible mistake they may have made, retain their jolly schoolboy sense of humor."
(A note for any Clementarians who may have strayed down this path. Mary Rose is an old variety, going back to 1550 at least. As with any old variety, there are many forms out there. Purpurea Plena elegans, the one raised by Morel in 1899, is the best of them. I bought it from Kaye Heafey and Murray Rosen at Chalk Hill Clematis, growers who always hunt for that elusive, long lost form of an old clematis.)
The branch over the gate ahead is from a California Live Oak. The gate opens onto a stone paved courtyard with Camellia Lutchuensis growing in the far corner. It's a rare form of almost wild Camellia from the the Lu Chu Islands south of Japan. It has tiny, cup shaped vanilla scented flowers.
The small gold green grasses are Hakonechloa macra Japanese forest grass.
"There is a mountain called Hakone which is covered with thick woods. We could have only occaisional glimpses of the sky and Mount Fuji. Along the dark trail uraha gusa grew from the stones to light our way. We lodged in a hut at the foot of the mountain."
- Lady Sarashina, 1045.
Back on the path at last, on the way to the patio, facing the house, on your left is a bed with Lady Hillingdon, the tea rose from 1917, and the Hybrid Musk Bloomfield Dainty (Beverly Hills 1920). The grey leaved border along the path is Salvia perovskia , Siberian sage.
To your right against the cabin wall will be the rose Meg and Gloire de Dijon (the cuttings are rooted). Jane Austen and Robert de Diable grow there now. Clematis Louise Rowe will soon join them.
The hedge in front of them is Grewia caffra, the lavender star flower. The shrubs in front of them are Westringia. A colony of Iphion, the blue star flower, is laboring to fill the border along the path. Three or four more springs and we'll have a large colony.
Phyllostachys aurea, the notorious golden bamboo that can tear up a sidewalk, serves as a hedge on the west side of the garden. The small leaved shrubs in front of the bamboo are Lonicera nitida aurea, a member of the Honeysuckle family. Alchemilla pectinata from Western Hills rare plant nursery covers the ground in front of these, adding its chartreuse flowers to the gold in the hedge. Its larger cousin, Alchemilla mollis, grows in the bed of pectinata.
The South African mallow Anisodontea capensis is surrounded by Westringea rosmariniformis from Australia to frame the patio. The California coast is one of the five coastal deserts on earth. Australia and South Africa are also coastal deserts. That's why the Anisodontea and the Westringea are so happy to be here.
The shrub with dark green leaves is Cistus ladanifer. (Very sticky leaves in the summer, but beautiful white flowers that have dark velvet centers.) Halimiocistus wintonensis, a bi generic hybrid created by plants from two different genus, Halimia and Cistus. The small tree in this group is a Leptospermum. (I'm not sure which one it is.)
Against the west wall of the house bordering the patio is a trio of indestructible beauties, the 1926 Hybrid musk Moonlight, Clematis Alba luxurians, and Jasmine polyanthum.
Alba luxurians has a way of draping itself over a rose like Gloria Swanson on a staircase. It will upstage everything in this bed.
Another dangerous character inhabits the large pot on the right side of the deck stairway. Ipomea indica, a morning glory from India. This vine could cover the house if a tendril were allowed to escape the pot.
A lace cap viburnum,(Viburnum plicatum) is tucked in the space behind the morning glory. Exquisite flowers, with a white rarely seen in the plant world.
The bed on the left side of the path has lace cap and oakleaf hydrangeas with Campanula posharskiana, from the Carpathian mountains where Count Dracul once walked. This bed will get lots of white Scilla next fall.
The sticks across the top of the gate are Yew branches. A neolithic iceman from 6000 BC found frozen in the Alps had yew branches in his pack fo be made into bows. The Druids used Yew branches for Divination sticks and the yew was one of the letters in their sacred alphabet.
Beyond the gate the pots on either side of the path are planted with the Hybrid musk Ballerina, (1937), the floribunda Nearly Wild (1941), and Freyoman, a German shrub rose.
The macropetala clematis Bluebird (1962) grows with the roses, as well as a few hard to get violets: Merlin, Rebecca, Duchesse de Parma, the fragrant flower that Edwardians wore on their lapels, Etain, yellow with a blue shading on the petal's edge, and a single white I obtained in 1987 from the legendary but cranky English Violet collector Richard Cawthorne, who sent me a packet of 500 seeds with a warning: "Due to the promiscuity of bumblebees, I refuse to guarantee the authenticity of any of these violets."
Despite my inability to stick to the subject we've finished the tour. I hope that you've enjoyed it.
Gardener at The Brick Path Bed and Breakfast
- Mdme. Alfred Carrier 1879 Tea Noisette
- Vita Sackville- West grew this over the cottage on the grounds of Sissinghurst castleMdme.
- Berard 1870 Tea -Noissette
- Bloomfield Dainty
- Phyllis Bide UK 1923 (grows entwined with Clematis Betty Corning )
- English Rose
- Jane Austin
- English Violets
- Cawthorne white
- Comptesse Bouchard
- Gypsy Queen
- Mary Rose C purpurea plena elegans 1550
- Prince Charles 1975
- Alba Luxurians veitch 1900
- Betty Corning 1933
- Macropetela Bluebird 1962
For bird enthusiasts, the following species have been identified in the garden at The Brick Path Bed & Breakfast:
- Mourning Dove
- Anna's Hummingbird
- Western Kingbird
- American Crow
- California Thrasher
- Cedar Waxwing
- California Towhee
- White-crowned Sparrow
- House Finch