Welcome to Rooting for Ideas

My Name is Don Statham and this is my garden blog. (Seasonal Photos of Don’s Garden)

I am mad about plants, some might say obsessive! One of the points of this blog is to connect with other passionate gardeners who also like to talk about plants, garden design, garden writing and all things horticultural.

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Shifting plantings

In late June and early July, there is the first wave of flowering perennials, mostly a variety of tall geraniums, Campanula lactiflora, Dracocephalum sibiricum (the back bone of the garden) in different shade of blue. The salvias Amethyst and Midnight blue also begin to bloom.  A few splashes of bright orange trollius compliment the over riding theme of the blues. In mid July, an explosion of Lauren grape poppies come into flower shifting the palette of the garden up a notch along with the warmer temperatures. Drumstick alliums quickly follow along with the almost black flower of the landenii Lilies.  The orange accents are replaced by red accents of the shrub Calcanthus Aphrodite, Persicaria Fats Domino, and Crocosmia Lucifer. The geraniums set seed and require a lot of cutting back and eventually I just cut them to the ground.

At this time of year, I start taking lots of notes about plants to move in the fall or new plants ideas to add some height to the boarder. I‘ve decided to take out some of the tall geraniums because they are self seeding all over the garden crowding out many smaller plants.  I am thinking of adding some little blue stem grasses at the front of the boarder and for height adding some different blue panicums, like Dallas blues and  Panicum Shenandoah.  Last winter, was hard on plants and I lost many well established perennials including Nepeta six hills giant, salvias, geranium dragon’s heart and some native monarda fistulosa. The garden is never static and I find it’s important to keep adjusting the planting to strike the right balance. Here’s a few photos showing the shifting palette of the garden from early July to late.

Late June, early July boarder. Mostly blue flowering perennials.

Kalemeris, trollius, goats beard and geraniums.

Lauren’s grape poppy comes into flower

Salvia amethyst and Lauren’s grape poppy

Knautia macedonia begin to flower

Landinii Lilies

Acanthus spinosus

Posted in Design Ideas, Perennials | Tagged | 9 Comments

Garden Edit

Three years ago I had the good fortune to be invited by a Dutch friend to visit her childhood home in Holland and tour some Dutch gardens.

At the top of my list were the gardens of one the twentieth century’s greatest landscape architects, Mein Ruys. Ruys died in 1999, but this being Holland her gardens have been beautifully preserved. Over seventy years on 6.18 acres she created thirty garden rooms. And while I had seen photos of the place nothing prepared me for the beauty of being there. Ruys’s use of strong architectural foundations: hedges and walls and paths – provide contrast to the looser softer plantings; a perfect balance of the controlled and the willful. Nearly twenty years after her death her gardens live on expressing an acute sense of design, her playfulness and daring. The Gardens Of Mien Ruys

Piet Oudolf designed the planting of the Highline in New York and the Laurie Gardens in Chicago. Loving both of these, I was excited to see what he had done at Hummelo, his own garden in the Netherlands. A Wild Idea -The Gardens of Piet Oudolf

Using many native North American meadow perennials and grasses over large prairie like spaces with backdrops of tall hedges, Oudolf has artfully tamed what would otherwise be wild and let what would usually considered tame to take on a haphazard wildness. His gardens are like mysterious memories; summer prairie where the designer/gardener has worked to make his touch lightly visible.

As with any really enriching garden experience this profusion of beauty caused me to reflect on my own garden; specifically what’s not working!
In hindsight three years after that trip, I can see the influence those two gardens have on my own garden.

After returning from the Netherlands I began to viciously edit my fourteen year old garden ripping out overgrown shrubs and exposing huge gaping holes. After this clever burst of gut like certainty the overriding feeling was one of panic! But over the following years I was given or bought perennials to fill those gaps, moved things to different spots and waited. This year, perhaps for the first time, I really like my garden.

As any gardener knows a garden is never static and I will continue to make changes as plants mature, but I am closer now, much closer, to the vision in my head. Watch this space! (More beautiful Dutch Gardens) Dutch gardens


Lily Landini and drumstick alliums mingle in the borders


Nepeta sibirica ( blue) Stachy Hummelo (pink)


Agastache blue forntune


Moon garden Aralia sun king, white cosmos


Moon garden


Echinacea, veronicastrum virginicum, monarda grand parade, crocosmia lucifer


Grass Calamagrostis brachytricha


Garden July 2018


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Posted in Design Ideas, Perennials, Photos of Don's Garden, Piet Oudolf's Gardens, The Flowering Border, The Gardens Of Mien Ruys, Variegated Plants | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Spring Projects 2018.

Spring is the season of the big clean-up after winter. Weeks are spent cutting back perennials, dividing, transplanting plants, moving plants, shaping shrubs, edging paths, and weeding, Once the initial cleanup is done, I usually begin a few new garden projects which always puts me behind with the weeding. This year was no different. Below are a few of the new additions to the garden.

I have been admiring a bench on Pinterest and decided to copy it. The two benches are for a transition area that is just down from the pond and leads to a new shade garden behind the house. A landscaping friend put me in touch with a local sawmill and I was able to get these rough milled hemlock timbers which are 6’ x 8”x8” costing me $50.00 a bench. My wife helped me with the fine chiseling of the notches that fit the seat timbers into the legs. I like the simple design for its practicalness and it’s sculptural look. They will just get better with time and will eventually turn grey.

The other project we tacticled was the path that leads from the parking area to the front door. It was made of irregular fieldstones which over the years had heaved from frost and had become very treacherous to walk on. I have a pile of large bluestone treads from a fallen down staircase and decided to use some of them to make the new path.  We added some small stones between the large slabs as a decorative element. There are other hardscape projects I have planned but I am not sure they will get done this year.


Hemlock benches in new transition area.


hemlock benches at the bottom of long perennial border.


New bluestone path with Climbing hydrangea.

One of the spring projects was re laying a new bluestone path.

Planting near door.


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Adding Color to the Mid-Summer Border

Early flowering perennials begin in May and early June and flower intensely until the beginning of July when the late flowering perennials begin and continue into late fall. I find there is often a lull in the border as the early perennials wind down and set seed and the late flowering perennials begin to do there thing. So last year, I planted three plants that add a punch of color to the borders between the two stages.

Allium spaerocephalon– drumstick alliums have a crimson purple bottlebrush flower that spike above the surrounding plants adding a rocket of color and lots of texture. Drumstick alliums are small bulbs that are planted in the fall. The other plant that flowers for a long time is the annual poppy Papaver somniferum ‘Lauren’s grape.’ The purple- opium poppy reaches a height of 24″-40″ and rises above its pale lettuce- like green foliage. I throw the seeds into the border when the last snow melts- early April in my part of upstate New York. I now want to experiment with a few more colors of poppies and plan to add next year Papaver somniferum -Black Peony and a pale lilac colored poppy. Depending on your color schemes there’s a large variety of poppy colors to chose from. The third plant I added is the Asiatic lily – Landini which is the closest to a black lily available. I planted twenty five bulbs randomly through the border and the rich dark color punctuates the border adding contrast to all the other plantings. The randomness of the three plantings adds a wilder more painterly look to the garden. I am very pleased with the result.


August border

Asiatic lily Landini and Drumstick alliums in July Border

Papaver somniferum ‘Lauren’s grape’

Mid summer border

Asiatic lily Landini with Salvia amethyst

Lauren’s grape poppy with Betty Corning Clematis

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Late Spring: the Benefits of Large Foliage Plants

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The plants that are grabbing my attention at the moment are the large leaf plants. Large shapes of green color in contrast with smaller more delicate perennials create a pause and slow you down as you view a large planting. … Continue reading

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Fieldstone Path Planted with Woolly Thyme

Around the 1870’s bluestone quarries were booming in the Catskills providing large cut slabs of slate for the sidewalks in New York, Washington DC, Boston, Toronto and many towns and cities in the northeast. My wife and I were waiting … Continue reading

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Living without Yew

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When I first started laying out the garden I created an allee of a six Taxus cuspidata. I bought the plants already quite large, six foot tall by five feet wide, perfect pyramidal shapes that added a formality to an … Continue reading

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