Monday, December 7, 2015

Wells Japanese Garden, Newberry, SC

Torii, Wells Japanese Garden, Newberry, SC

Be silent my dear, and enjoy the scene 
as we walk in this Japanese Garden serene.
- From Walking In A Japanese Garden, Joyce Hemsley and John William McGrath III 

The Wells Japanese Garden in Newberry, SC is a fine place to rest the mind and refresh the senses if traveling through town. It’s small, occupying about one half acre. You might have to ask directions. Then you might have to ask again.

It once belonged to the Wells family. W. Fulmer Wells (1903-1980), a young student of architecture, was captivated with the Japanese Tea Garden that he’d visited near San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge. So, he designed this small oasis for his family’s estate in Newberry. His father, Henry Burton Wells, Sr. (1874-1940), had it built in 1930.

The senior Wells was well-known in town, having joined the local fire brigade at the age of 14 as a coal cart boy. He served the Excelsior Fire Company in several capacities, including Fire Chief from 1905.

Tea House, Wells Japanese Garden, Newberry, SC

The garden is entered through a side entrance off the street, above which a sign explains a bit of its history. Main features include a stone temple, a torii, cast lanterns, small ponds planted with lotus and Japanese iris, and spanned by bridges in a Japanese style. A teahouse provides a quiet place to rest. Indigenous and exotic species include Japanese maples, crapemyrtles, bamboo, ferns, hostas, gardenias, Japanese euonymus, nandinas and bald cypress.

Garden maintenance apparently occurs when someone from town notices that the place looks a little run-down. It’s about time. Nevertheless, it’s worth visiting to enjoy a few minutes of serenity.

Wells Japanese Garden was donated to the City of Newberry in 1971 and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980. It is open daily.

Historic Newberry, SC
Historic Newberry is a good place to enjoy a few hours browsing antique shops and other locally-owned stores. Its architecture, typical of many small towns, is charming.

Newberry Opera House, Newberry, SC
The Newberry Opera House features many seasonal productions. Restaurants nearby, such as Figaro, are ideal for dinner before or after the opera.

Follow me now to see more of Wells Japanese Garden in Newberry, SC.

Entrance, Wells Japanese Garden, Newberry, SC
"Temple", Wells Japanese Garden, Newberry, SC
Lotus blossom, Wells Japanese Garden, Newberry, SC
Woodwardia ferns, Wells Japanese Garden, Newberry, SC
Wells Japanese Garden, Newberry, SC
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Thursday, December 3, 2015

A question about using landscape fabric.

Q. My lawn maintenance man wants to put down landscape fabric to stop weeds from coming up around my shrubs. Do you think that’s a good idea?

A. I’m not a big fan of landscape fabrics and similar weed barriers, for the following reasons:
  • They might prevent weeds from germinating beneath them, but permeable ones don’t prevent seeds from germinating on top and growing down through them; 
  • Weed barriers on slopes might not let water perk down through them fast enough, instead letting the water drain where it shouldn’t; 
  • Edges of weed barriers can become exposed and tangle in lawnmower blades. 

I much prefer applying plenty of organic mulch.

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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Must-Have Plants: Japanese Painted Fern

Japanese Painted Fern - Athyrium niponicum 'Pictum'

Must-have plants are among the best for appropriate garden situations. When you need great garden plants for ground cover, naturalizing, wildflower gardens, perennial borders, butterfly gardens, hummingbird gardens, herb gardens, heritage gardens, cutting gardens, woodland gardens, shade gardens, bulb gardens, container gardens, bog gardens, water gardens, rain gardens or xeriscaping, look for the best among our must-have plants.

Name(s): Athyrium niponicum 'Pictum', Athyrium niponicum var. pictum, Japanese Painted Fern

Flower Color: None

Bloom Time: None

Foliage: Herbaceous, metallic gray, reddish/bluish blush

Height/Spread: 12 inches to 18 inches x 12 inches to 18 inches.

Climate Zones: 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

Sun Exposure: Partial shade to full shade.

Soil Condition: Moist to well-drained, loamy, pH 6.1 to 7.5

Features: Colorful foliage, deer resistant, insect resistant, disease resistant.

Uses: Massed planting, naturalizing, fern collections, woodland gardens, shade gardens and borders.

Comments: Athyrium niponicum 'Pictum', also known as Japanese Painted Fern, is one beautiful perennial. Emerging fronds are metallic gray with reddish/bluish blush. Mature fronds hold their color well and contrast nicely with the emerging fronds. Japanese Painted Fern is winter dormant. It forms clumps.

Japanese Painted Fern is deer, insect and disease resistant. Mature height is 12 inches to 18 inches. Performs well in USDA zones 4 to 9. Japanese Painted Fern requires moist soil, but take care not to over-water. It does well in partial shade to full shade. Space 18 inches to 24 inches. Recommended pH is 6.1 to 7.5.

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Tuesday, October 20, 2015

FAQ: How far should I plant hollies from the house?

Photograph of Ilex cornuta shrub

Q. How far should I plant hollies from the house?

A. Typically, foundation plantings are installed too close to structures making building maintenance and pruning difficult. Humidity between the plants and buildings encourages mold and mildew on windows and walls. Tall plants growing too close can rub and damage soffits. Furthermore, ornamental trees and large shrubs can undermine and compromise the integrity of foundations.

To figure planting distance, determine the mature height and diameter of the species you intend to install. At minimum, determine the height and diameter you intend to keep it. Divide the diameter by 2 to figure the radius. Add at least 3’ to the radius. That point should be the center of your planting hole.

“But I don’t want the plants to be that far out in the yard,” you might protest. Well, choose smaller plants.

“I’ll keep them pruned,” you might convince yourself. Maybe you will; maybe you won’t.

“My neighbors’ foundation plantings are closer to their homes,” you might exclaim. Well, that’s their problem.

Design your foundation beds to a generous size. Your foundation plants can realize their potential. Your landscape will appear fuller and richer. 

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Monday, October 12, 2015

What is this growing in the back of my yard? Someone said it's a "Devil's Walking Stick."

Aralia spinosa - Devil's Walking Stick

Devil’s Walking Stick (Aralia spinosa) aka “Hercule’s Club” and “Angelica Tree” – is a mighty impressive native American plant. Six words – devil’s, stick, spinosa, Hercules, club and Angelica – should complete the picture. It grows in USDA climate zones 4-9 in slightly acidic to neutral soil with full to partial sun exposure.

There are some fascinating facts you should know about Aralia spinosa.
  • It should not be confused with False Aralia (Dizygotheca elegantissima) - pronounced "dizzygoTHEEKa" - though it might compare with the inelegant Dizzygoths some raise in their homes;
  • It is covered head-to-toe with nasty, fiery spines;
  • It is frightening, in its own way;
  • The name “Hercules Club” was probably given by some literate person who knew the awesome legend of Hercules and of the sculpture of Hercules with his club;
  • Species in the Angelica family often bear flowers with heavenly fragrances;
  • According to Wikipedia, “The sprinkling of it all around the outside of the home is meant for protection”;
  • If you cultivate Aralia spinosa around the perimeter of your garden, few trespassers will dare to enter;
  • Aralia spinosa is maintenance-free, needing no pruning;
  • Dizzygoths, however, should be pruned low and very often.

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Monday, October 5, 2015

Will Epsom salt kill an unwanted tree trunk?

Photo of Epsom salt crystals

Q. Will Epsom salt kill an unwanted tree trunk and keep it from re-sprouting? I was told it will.

A. You were told correctly. Epsom salt does this by drying out plant tissue. If you use enough, it will dry out the tree stump and kill it.

With a ½ inch or larger spade drill bit, drill holes at least 4” deep at 4” intervals into the top of the stump. Pack the holes with dry Epsom salt. Moisten the salt in the holes, being careful not to wash any out. Cover the stump with plastic, anchoring it down with a few bricks. In due time, the stumps will dry and rot.

The advantages of using Epsom salt are that it is inexpensive, natural, and arguably "eco-friendly." The disadvantage is that enough run-off can damage nearby plants, too. Use carefully.

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Wednesday, September 16, 2015

When should I dig my gladiolus bulbs?

Picture of a gladiolus corm

Q. When should I dig my gladiolus bulbs?

A. As you probably know, "glads", as they are sometimes called, are native to Africa, Asia and southern Europe. Though cold hardy from USDA climate zone 7 through 11, they can be grown practically anywhere in the United States. In northern zones, they can be grown as inexpensive summer annuals, or they can be dug, stored over winter, and replanted in spring when danger of frost is past. In southern zones, they can be left in the ground and should come back year after year.

Gladiolus corms should be left in the ground until their leaves turn brown. Frost might brown them, or they might brown all by themselves by late summer.

Begin digging by loosening the soil on both sides of the row. Lift the corms gently. Take care not to dig too closely to the corms so as to avoid damaging them with the spade or garden fork.

Remove the foliage, leaving very little if any at the tops. Spread the corms in a dry location exposed to full sun for a day, then remove them to an airy location out of the sun to dry further. You may spread them on layers of newspaper. Some gardeners construct tables or trays with mesh bottoms for drying. Such structures can serve to dry other bulbs and corms after harvest. Stir the corms to allow all sides to dry, especially during damp weather. You may even expose them to an electric fan. Dried soil should fall away during the process. Remaining soil should be brushed off before final storage.

During cleaning, the corms may be inspected. Those that are damaged or diseased should be discarded.

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Must-Have Plants: Achillea filipendulina 'Coronation Gold'

Achillea 'Coronation Gold'

Must-have plants are among the best for appropriate garden situations. When you need great garden plants for ground cover, naturalizing, wildflower gardens, perennial borders, butterfly gardens, hummingbird gardens, herb gardens, heritage gardens, cutting gardens, woodland gardens, shade gardens, bulb gardens, container gardens, bog gardens, water gardens, rain gardens or xeriscaping, look for the best among our must-have plants.

Name(s): Achillea filipendulina 'Coronation Gold', Fern Leaf Yarrow,

Flower Color: Golden yellow

Bloom Time: June to September

Foliage: Herbaceous, gray-green, fragrant.

Height/Spread: 30 inches to 36 inches x 18 inches to 24 inches.

Climate Zones: 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

Sun Exposure: Full sun

Soil Condition: Well-drained to dry, average to poor, pH 6.1 to 7.8

Features: Drought tolerant, deer resistant, fragrant.

Uses: Xeriscaping, massed planting, naturalizing, cutting gardens, butterfly gardens, herb gardens, borders.

Comments: Perennial Achillea filipendulina 'Coronation Gold', also known as fern-leaf yarrow, produces long-lasting golden yellow blooms from June to September. Foliage is herbaceous, gray-green and fragrant. Plant height is 30 inches to 36 inches.

'Coronation Gold' is recommended for USDA climate zones 3 to 9. Plant it in full sun to partial shade. 'Coronation Gold' prefers soil pH 6.1 to 7.8. Space plants 12 inches to 15 inches apart.

Achillea tolerates poor soil and drought conditions.