Planning and Collecting
With just a one-third-acre lot and an ever-growing wish list, however, Andrew makes a point of practicing restraint. "I'm constantly torn between being a collector and wanting my garden to look nice," he says. But unlike many collectors' gardens, where plants come first and design second, his garden has a carefully conceived plan. When he bought the property, in 1999, the house had been a rental and the yard was overrun by shoulder-high weeds. He spent most of that first season pulling out ivy and pachysandra, lugging away old firewood, and removing dying trees. "I kept two Japanese maples, several Norway spruces, a couple of lilacs, and a dogwood," he says. "Everything else came out." The garden's current layout closely resembles the original sketch Andrew did years ago. His rectangular lot is divided into a series of five garden rooms, screened from one another by hedges, walls, or the house itself. Each garden has its own theme, as well as its own sun exposure and soil conditions, which helps limit plant choices. His woodland garden, for instance, lies beneath tall trees that suck most of the moisture from the ground, so the plants in those beds must all tolerate dry shade.
Shown: Tropical plants, such as ruffled 'Portodora' elephant's ears and the giant 'Musifolia' canna behind them, add interest to the border along the summerhouse. Such tender exotics are overwintered indoors or simply replaced each year.