In celebration of the Garden Club of Virginia’s 80th Historic Garden Week, I’m giving a sneak peak of three very special gardens on the Richmond tour by three talented women. Susan Robertson, Laura Valentine and Moonie Etherington have created gardens that reflect their passions and personalities. This first blog post focuses on the the Robertsons’ garden. Tomorrow I will post a blog on the Valentines’ garden and Wednesday I will document the Etheringtons’ garden. The Robertson and Valentine gardens are on the Tuesday tour and the Etherington garden is on the Thursday tour.
THE ROBERTSON GARDEN
Susan and Walter Robertson’s beautiful spot of earth is nestled in the woodland that sits just above the historic Kanawha Canal. Susan loves nothing more than digging in her garden — weeding, planting, pruning — it really doesn’t matter, as long as she is surrounded by the plants she has nurtured and nourished over the years. Her yard is her laboratory, whether experimenting with different plant combinations or trying new pruning techniques. She’s generous with sharing her vast knowledge and the bounty of her garden. Susan’s mom, Page Fitchett, instilled in Susan and her sister Mary a love of gardening. Mary and Page will be in town to help arrange flowers in Susan’s house this week.
Akebia (Akebia quinata), a native vine, scampers up the front porch posts. A Passion Flower vine is growing in the urn.
A Robin takes a bath in the shade garden.
The pool used to be separated from the house by a fence. Susan and Walter reconfigured the space, moving the fence to the perimeter and adding broad steps leading directly to the pool.
The pool house has been a relaxing refuge for many friends and family (to my knowledge, George Washington did not sleep here).
The back porch of the pool house overlooks the backyard sloping toward the canal.
Stormwater drains from the terrace through the weep holes in the wall, then filters through the river rock and is absorbed by the water-loving hydrangeas. Capturing the storm water in the garden has the double benefit of channeling it toward plants who need it and preventing it from entering the river through drains.
Perennials and hydrangea will be blooming in the next few weeks in the pool garden.
It is so hard to find this classic pale lavender shade of Bearded Iris (Iris germanica) in the nurseries. I can’t promise I won’t come dig this up someday when nobody’s around.
Susan planted an herb garden just outside her kitchen. She uses crushed stone as a mulch to help keep the weeds at bay (the stones also make it easier to remove the weeds).
Coral Honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens) twines around the tuteur.
No, this isn’t the 14th hole at Augusta — but hey, wouldn’t that be an entertaining challenge!
Lady Banks Rose (Rosa banksiae) floats above the Eastern Bluestar (Amsonia tabernaemontana, better known simply as Amsonia).
This is where Walter goes to be alone with his thoughts after the Nationals spank the Braves.
The deer love the Robertsons’ yard. Most of the plants in their garden are deer resistant, but Susan can’t help planting a few beloved plants that are tasty to the deer. She is my go-to girl on the latest deer deterrents. She’s tried them all.
No crape murder in this yard.
The white Azaleas and the Doublefile Viburnum (Viburnum plicatum var. tomentosum) are both at their peak right now.