The 2012 Raleigh area Open Days took place last weekend. I popped in to three gardens and, of course, found them all quite lovely. Each displayed a dazzling assortment of sensational plants, many of which I had never seen in person. Each had picturesque architectural elements – fountains, trellises, gazebos - and each was impeccably maintained. My favorite, though, was Dennis and Georgina Werner’s garden.
Described in Garden Conservancy literature as “an informal collector’s garden,” the Werner garden was overflowing with plants ranging from the familiar Salvia “Hot Lips” to the kooky and unusual vigna caracalla (aka corkscrew or snail vine). I coveted the tall gomphrena, a deservedly trendy annual that is a vast improvement over the compact “Gnome” gomphrena, its ubiquitous, boring brother. I was also bowled over by the garden’s sheer abundance, and by how healthy and lush everything looked, despite the miserably hot weather that had devastated my garden only three miles away.
Fortunately, there was more to the day than the mortification of offering my stamp of approval to one of the world’s leading horticulturists. I got a free buddleia (a Dr. Werner creation, needless to say), courtesy of nearby Campbell Road Nursery. I got answers to some longstanding plant mysteries (my Winter Red winterberry holly needs a new male pollinator; Apollo just isn’t doing the job). And I got ideas (tall gomphrena and celosia spicata as next year’s annuals; try them from seed to save money). Taken all together, not a bad day’s work. Thank you, Dr. Werner.