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A Rare Black Hills Garden

Posted Aug 03 2010 12:12pm
Last Wednesday was a good day! This year I had not bought any perennials. Our garden was in the garden tour this summer and I didn’t want to make any “holes” in the plantings. You know what they say about perennials: “First year they sleep, second year they creep, third year they leap”.  But Wednesday we went to Rapid City and I got to visit the nursery and they had a perennial sale. I have been dreaming of some change. So, the sale was buy 12 little 2 1/2” pots, I bought 13!  But, the day got better. On the way home Ted and I got to visit for the first time the garden of fellow Master Gardeners Tom and Rob.  My garden is in the lower hills at an elevation of a 3450 feet. Their Black Hills Garden is at about 5000 feet, nestled in a lovely woodland gulch.  Their garden is filled with rare and unusual plants. But it is more than just fabulous plants. As you will see there are design ideas that are worth imitating.  As you turn into their drive you go through a short grassy meadow. Our first attention was to the house and the wide granite-rock raised garden borders that totally circle the house.  I saw an arbor arch to the left of the door and I could hardly wait to walk through it and discover what might be hidden there. 

This is what I saw. A woodland with a babbling stream running through it.
Two old bathtubs were left on the property. They buried or camouflaged them with stone, filling them with the right mixture of soil. The tubs help create the deep soil and moisture that these plants need.  You would never know the tubs are there. Instead they created the feeling of an outcrop of rocks and plants.
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This first plant is an impatiens. It was tall! 4ft, 5ft?  The middle is a Campanula Pink Octopus Yea! I took home a start of this lovely. I googled it and was happy to read that it is tolerant of any type of soil.  This third plant is Actaea rubra, Doll’s Eyes which grows in wet woodlands
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This Thalictrum is taller than people. The middle flower is Lychnis calcedonica, Dusky Salmon and it was tall. The third beauty is a Variegated Comfrey. Again tall. By tall I mean about 4ft?
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Ligularias of different varieties all healthy with big leaves
But wait! There’s more! To the left of the house on the way to the enclosed vegetable/herb garden AND to the enclosed orchard there is the outdoor living space. We sat in a circle of Ponderosa Pine trees.  This area originally was filled with chokecherry bushes and brush. Rob had the idea of clearing out the circle and making a truly relaxing living space. If my yard had a grove of pine trees, right now, I would put on my shoes and hat and go out and  look around to see which trees I could thin out to make such a space!

Clematis tangutica. Tom also gave me a couple of starts of this beauty.
This is the arbor that leads to the vegetable/herb garden. You are standing in the garden looking out.
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The vegetable garden is beautiful. Leeks and onions look big!  Tall, tall poppies. I love this picture of a Lychnis and a variegated grass.  We also took home a start of Inula gigantea.  Did you notice the thread of gigantea through this post. Ted and I enjoyed a yummy rhubarb cake that was served with edible flowers. When we  left about 9pm the car thermometer was reading 69 degrees.  Forty five minutes later when we pulled into Hot Springs it was 78 degrees. 
Ok, here comes my insect picture. Christine B. from Alaska and Kimberly from Florida be warned it is a garden spider picture. A red orb spider. I did some research and found that orb spiders make a new web every night and are very effective mosquito eaters. She makes a magnificent web. This spider is bigger in this picture than in person.
A perfect web, remade everynight! Wow - what design!
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