Tag Archives: J. R. R. Tolkien

How My Garden Grows: Five

Dear Readers,

[After you read this entry, click: How My Garden Grows: Six.]

This is Part Five of a series on Margot’s Get-Real Guide to Gardening in North West Florida.   


I said previously, “When designing your gardens, think of a lofty and enchanting dwelling space, containing five stories or levels.”

Notice the enchantment of the visually captivating assortment of vertical levels or stories of the gardens, in the photos above and below.

I draw inspiration from enchanting English country gardens, especially the gardens of British authors of classic literature:

Northmoor Road:  Home of J. R. R. Tolkien, Oxford.

The Kilns:  Home and Garden of C. S. Lewis, Oxford

Hilltop Farm:  Home of Beatrix Potter

However, before you get “carried away,” by English Gardens, please remember:  this is Garden Design in North West Florida!

Previously, I described Stories or Levels Five through Three, in descending order.

Today, we begin with Story or Level Two.

However, first, I will offer some Terms & Definitions:

Annuals bloom for only one season.  You must re-plant them every year.

Perennials re-emerge, every spring, after lying dormant all winter.

Tender perennials may not re-emerge, after a hard frost during the winter.

Each perennial has its own life-cycle:  Usually, they  thrive for three to fifteen years, after which you may have to re-plant.

Evergreens: the foliage stays green all year.

Perennial Evergreens:  the foliage stays green all year AND it provides seasonal blooms and interest.

A Note on Evergreens and Evergreen Perennials:

To me, there is nothing more depressing than walking out to my garden, in the winter, to view vast blank spaces where plants hide dormant.

So, I plant plenty of evergreens and evergreen perennials:  They provide the “canvas” upon which I “paint,” when I add the color of annuals and perennials.

 The Second Story:  THE FOIL
In literature, the foil is:
“One that by contrast underscores or enhances the distinctive characteristics of another:  ‘I am resolved my husband shall not be a rival, but a foil to me’ (Charlotte Brontë).
“. . . a character that has traits which are opposite from one of the main characters, in order to highlight various features of that main character’s personality.”  [wiki answers]

Every garden needs a FOIL:
These plants, usually a hedge, form a “backdrop” for the plants in front of the foil.   These foil plants, attractive in their own right, contrast with those plants placed in front of the foil.  The contrast  is very visually pleasing.
In my garden, the foil is a hedge of evergreen perennials:  Viburnum tinus ‘Compactum’ [Spring Bouquet Laurustinus].  
These are my “foundation plants,” placed in front of the foundation of my brick home.  However, I  staggered the young plants, to avoid the look of “little soldiers.”  Also, I planted them with plenty of space away from the foundation.  The open area between the brick and the staggered hedge of viburnum allows for “breathing space” and provides an allee:  a walkway for gardeners and a hiding place for children.

An Allee
[Photo Credit:  “through the hedge,” from the blog: “morning sun rae”]
View the photos and read the description below, to appreciate the four-season  interest of the Spring Bouquet Viburnum:   

  Spring Bouquet Viburnum:  Winter
 Spring Bouquet Viburnum: Early Spring
 Spring Bouquet Viburnum:  Spring
 Spring Bouquet Viburnum: Summer
Spring Bouquet Viburnum is an evergreen shrub with small, leathery, dark, green leaves. The new stems flush wine-red then fade to green. Viburnum tinus ‘Compactum’ has dense fragrant white to light pink flowers in the spring. The fruit is a blue black berry in the fall. This Viburnum has a round compact upright growth habit and can get 5-6′ tall by 5-6′ wide making it perfect for small hedges or screens. [magnoliagardensnursery]

Hardiness: USDA Zones 7-11
Plant Use: Shrub
Exposure: Full Sun
Water Requirements: Medium

In front of the hedge, I have planted contrasting textures of Story or Level One evergreen perennials.  
I will cover Story or Level One in How My Garden Grows:  Part Six.

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Two Valentines from “Tollers”

“Nearly all marriages, even happy ones, are mistakes:

in the sense that almost certainly

(in a more perfect world,

or even with a little more care in this very imperfect one)

both partners might be found more suitable mates.

But the real soul-mate is the one you are actually married to.”

~~J. R. R. Tolkein, “Tollers,”

from a letter to his son, Michael Tolkien, March 1941.

And here is an excerpt from a letter, written by J. R. R .Tolkien to his son, Christopher Tolkien.  In the letter, the father explains to the son why he wishes to include the name “Luthien” on the tombstone of his wife, Edith:

“She was (and knew she was) my Luthien.  I will say no more now.  

But I should like ere long to have a long talk with you.

For if, as seems probable, I shall never write any ordered biography — it is against my nature, which expresses itself about things deepest felt in the tales and myths — someone close in heart to me should know something  about things that records do not record:

The dreadful sufferings of our childhoods,  from which we rescued one another, but could not wholly heal wounds that later often proved disabling;  the sufferings that we endured after our love began — all of which (over and above personal weaknesses) might help to make pardonable, or understandable, the lapses and darknesses which at times marred our lives — and to explain how these never touched our depths nor dimmed the memories of our youthful love.

For ever (especially when alone) we still met in the woodland glade and went hand in hand many times to escape the shadow of imminent death before our last parting.”

John Ronald Reuel Tolkien,  [3 January 1892 — 2 September 1973]

He was an English writer, poet, philologist, and university professor, best known as the author of the classic high fantasy works The HobbitThe Lord of the Rings, and The Silmarillion.

P. S.

My son-in-law, Daniel, was born on Tolkien’s birth day, 01.03.1985.

My Professor and I were married on the exact day and year of Tolkien’s death:  09.02.1973.

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