Declaration of independence from English-style gardens


April 21, 1991|By Linda Lowe Morris

There's a revolution -- long overdue -- stirring in the America garden, says garden writer Carole Ottesen.

For the past 200 years, we've been slaves to the mown grass lawn and the evergreen shrubbery that we copied from the then-popular look of the English landscaped park.

But now, she writes in "The New American Garden," "gardening on this side of the Atlantic is coming into its own with a style that is fresh and new -- and distinctly American. Emerging all over the country, American-style gardens brim with soft, full, relaxed -- often wild -- plantings that complement the local landscape, adapt to regional growing conditions, and respond to seasonal change."

This new style ends the tyranny of the lawn and foundation plantings and brings us drifts of flowering perennials, ornamental grasses, native species.

Perennials in the new American garden will be the subject of a talk by Ms. Ottesen at 8 p.m. Thursday at Towson High School, 200 Aigburth Road, as this year's Robert Lewis Baker Memorial Lecture.

Ms. Ottesen, who lives in Potomac, is a prolific writer on gardens and gardening, the author of two books, "The New American Garden" and "Ornamental Grasses -- The Amber Wave," plus articles in Flower and Garden, Washington Gardener and American Nurseryman. She also took most of the photographs for her books and the lecture will be illustrated with her slides.

She has just returned from a monthlong trip around the country photographing gardens and plants for her two current projects -- a calendar on regional gardening for Starwood Publishing and a book on native plants.

The lecture will begin with an overview of current garden styles; then Ms. Ottesen will describe regional differences in landscaping and end by focusing on native perennials -- "very good-looking, garden-worthy plants," she says.

"In a group of photographs, I'll be following the garden through the year stressing how the plants behave," she adds.

Ms. Ottesen does garden design for selected clients and teaches a course in planting design for the U.S. Department of Agriculture Graduate School.

Tickets to the lecture are $7 and will be available at the door.

* Johns Hopkins University will be holding its annual Hopkins Garden Days -- a sale of historic and modern plants, flowers, bulbs and seeds -- Thursday to Saturday at Evergreen House on North Charles Street.

Several plants have been obtained from the Thomas Jefferson Center for Historic Plants at Monticello, including roses, geraniums, English daisies, wallflowers and herbs -- some quite different from their modern counterparts. Also available, in their present-day forms, will be geraniums, impatiens, asters, begonias, variegated ivies and snapdragons.

Gardening books, seeds, potting soil, clay pots and other accessories will also be offered.

The proceeds from the garden sale will go toward restoration work on the historic formal gardens located behind Evergreen Mansion and toward projects at Homewood, the historic house and museum on the Johns Hopkins University Campus. Visitors will be able to tour the 26-acre grounds during the event.

Sale hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. Lunch and tea will be available in the Carriage House. The sale will take place rain or shine.

Evergreen House, built in the 1850s, is located at 4545 N. Charles St. For more information, call 338-0895.

* The fifth annual Howard County Garden Festival will take place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at Howard Community College in Columbia.

The event, which is sponsored by the Howard County Garden Festival Committee and the Howard Community College, will feature lectures, exhibits and demonstrations by garden experts. Lecture topics will include lawn care, composting, rose care, perennials, designing the home landscape and planting trees.

Organizations who will set up exhibits and be available to talk to visitors include the Orchid Society, the Iris Society, Columbia Gardeners, Cylburn Arboretum, the Audubon Society, the Howard County Beekeepers and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. There will also be commercial displays by local landscape companies, lawn care companies, herb growers and deck builders. A wide selection of herbs, perennials, bedding plants, ornamental plants and garden equipment will be for sale.

There will also be events for children including talks, craft projects and handouts.

Refreshments will be available. There is no admission charge.

Howard Community College is located on Little Patuxent Parkway across from the intersection with Harpers Farm Road.

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