the parterres – a one year update

by Sharon Santoni


The parterres in front of the house were first created 18 months ago, so this is their second summer.   If you are interested you can read the back posts about creating the parterres and choosing the planting schemes, here , here and here

It feels like my readers have been closely involved with these parterres, and with the design of the bed in front of the terrace  I was amazed at the response when I asked for planting suggestions, and tips for maintenance.


A year on, I thought you may like to hear how things are going, and maybe share your own experience with similar projects.   Have you noticed how gardeners love to share?  Be it seedlings, fruit from the potager or simply advice on what to do, I love this gardening community.

Having hummed and haahed about the edging for the parterres for ages, I finally chose not to put in the box hedging.  There is a big problem with box blight in our area and I was afraid of importing young plants carrying the disease, and seeing it spread to the mature box that we already have here.

Instead I went for variegated lamium (an ornamental nettle), mostly using small cuttings from a plant here.   Was this a good idea?   Well, if you like an unruly, slightly invasive but nevertheless pretty and romantic edging then yes it was.  If you prefer the stricter more formal outline that traditionally accompanies a parterre, then no!  lamium is to be avoided at all costs!


In the centre of each parterre I planted a weeping white rose called White Dorothy.  They flower in July through to the first frosts and they look great, but I have discovered that they get very top heavy, especially in the rain, and need some serious support

At the end of last summer I was over generous in scattering Nigella and Jacobs Ladder seeds over the parterres, so this year we got a blue jungle of flowers that was pretty but tended to hide the careful grey and white colour scheme beneath

I think this is what gardening and garden design is all about.  Choosing our plants with love and care, encouraging them to do their best, and then stepping back to see how our plans work out.


 If you have a garden planning story to tell us, please feel free to share in the comments below – thank you for reading me, I hope you are enjoying your garden or window planting wherever you are.


Victoria Savu July 11, 2016 - 1:15 pm

I have a love/hate relationship with my gardens like I am sure other gardeners do. I have been working and dreaming garden designs since moving here 15 years ago. We live on 5 acres and I was so excited with all the possibilities until I realized the soil was awful. After a lot of compost, I have enough flower and vegetable beds to make my back sufficiently hurt. And I love them and will add more. My husband and I built a small greenhouse this year and after enriching the soil around it, I planted dahlias, hydrangeas, morning glories, zinnias, and lavender. I even had a little room for green peppers. An unexpected bonus because I feed birds I have beautiful sunflowers. Thank you for your ideas on borders for flower beds. I like romantic flowers. My suggestion to any gardener is to enrich your soil, have it tested and don’t get too upset when your first plan doesn’t work or your second. Love Victoria x

Sharon Santoni July 12, 2016 - 10:37 pm

great advice Victoria, thank you for sharings


Taste of France July 11, 2016 - 2:36 pm

Your parterres have turned out beautifully. A nice variety of colors and heights. I’m very impressed!
I had the prettiest line of boxwood topiaries on one terrace, very Avenue Montaigne, which all died from the blight. It wiped out most of the boxwood at the neighboring château, as well. Sigh.
I recently wrote about looking to public plantings for inspiration, especially for hardy plants that don’t require maintenance. Not applicable to green-thumb gardening enthusiasts.

Terri Arbutina July 11, 2016 - 3:18 pm

Your gardens are gorgeous! What kind of roses do you have climbing up and around your house? And, how many rose bushes are there?

Susan Collard July 11, 2016 - 5:07 pm

I always enjoy reading about your gardening journeys. The Parterres are lovely and have a lovely cottage garden style. ps.. I am crazy about Lamium! It is so perfect for soft edges and underplanting. My garden story is far too long to go into! I have created cottage gardens around our home in the middle of 5 acres. There are picket fences, arbors and boxwood hedgings along with flagstone and gravel walkways. All of my plants are typical of cottage gardens and as I am sure you know cottage gardens are very high maintenance. It has taken me 15 years to get these beds semi established. I am currently re-doing 3 of them and creating another one (I am trying to eliminate an area of grass). Already I have my eye on another area outside of the picket fence that might need to be shade garden. I have ruined my hands, back and neck. haha I honestly can’t help myself. I am no expert and to be honest the beds typically are on the messy side (there are always weeds present) But it brings me a sense of peace and tranquility in this hectic and stressful thing we call life.

franki July 11, 2016 - 5:34 pm

The photos are lovely…and I know…a LOT of hard work!!! franki

Kate Dickerson July 11, 2016 - 5:39 pm

Sharon, I just love that you have a charming English border garden look to your parterrres in France. What a wonderful way to combine your own gardening heritage, into the French gardening style!

Sherry in Virginia July 11, 2016 - 5:44 pm

Sharon, I was fortunate to create a garden at my church, where it had been bare bones
for 150 years. It has matured after ten years and now there is a small group of knowledgeable women caring for it… back appreciates it! There is nothing comparable for serenity…..I wish I had been interested when my grandparents were
available to teach me. How can we convey this to our grandchildren in hopes some of
them will share this passion?
As always, thank you for your lovely posts… are gifted indeed.

Nancy July 11, 2016 - 5:57 pm

My garden has evolved quite a bit in 26 years….In the front last year we placed four large boxes for gardening (mainly for tomatoes) and the beds around have slowly gotten bigger and the lawn(if you call it that) just a bit smaller. Even with our drought all has survived for the most part…and this year my beds grew a bit larger…at Hubby’s suggestion! Gardening is never done…always evolving….It has become the one house on the block with more flowers, birds and butterflies than any other….such a joy!

Renee Thompson July 11, 2016 - 6:12 pm

They have really filled out so much since we were there last summer. They are beautiful!

Wendi July 11, 2016 - 6:13 pm

Gardening in Southern Ontario, Canada is not for the faint of heart or the weak of plants! Our plants need to be able to cope with temperatures from the high 30 degrees Celsius to the same in the minus category! I envy you your weeping roses…that is just a dream here unless you have somewhere to over-winter them. I am also dealing with a neighbouring stand of mature Black Walnut which are magnificent but as you know, not plant friendly to many of the varieties that we love to see in our gardens. It has been a bit of a lesson to learn which plants can cope with the Walnuts (purple leaf sand cherry, spirea, dwarf Korean lilac) and which won’t (clematis, most types of hydrangea, ninebark) over the years. The parterres are looking lovely and I really like the unstructured look (which I know requires a lot of structured planning to achieve!) Congratulations on your vision Sharon and thank you for sharing it with us!

Cheryl Johnson July 11, 2016 - 6:16 pm

This is a wonderful VLOG…one of my favorites! You give me stylish advice and encourage me to expand my wardrobe to better quality. My closet is losing excess weight and only joyous items remain. It is about time really…I’m retired and don’t need to care for or have the stress of clothing that doesn’t inspire me. We recently moved to Nashville TN from Seattle WA to be near our children & grands. Even they are noticing that Grandma has style…love it! Thanks! Blessings!

Marie-Hélène Bélanger July 11, 2016 - 6:23 pm

I live in Vermont and the winters can be very harsh. You never know what will survive year after year. Bee balm is always a sure value in my area. Your parterres are beautiful and I love your choice of variegated lamium for edging. I hope to see an update of your parterres every year!

Elana Donovan July 11, 2016 - 6:44 pm

I want an update every year too.

carol July 11, 2016 - 7:00 pm

I LOVE how this looks, just beautiful! The colors of the flowers and the design of the whole garden is stunning!
I have a small front yard in front of my home. I have designed it with colors of blue and white. My flowers are white carpet roses with tall climbing ones, ornamental grasses, beautiful sage which is a green gray color with gorgeous blue flowers. I have two large white flowering crepe myrtle trees and huge palms by the house. I just bought lots of lavender plants, but every single one of them has died due to the heat and sun. I have 2 older plants which get some shade where they have managed to survive from plants a few years old.
In the middle I have an ornate birdbath, with broken up cement pieces surrounding it, and a path circling it of slate and tumbled stones. A white curved bench is on one side in a special area. The whole one side of the yard has a huge trellis that is painted white to use for climbing plants, though all my grape vines died. We are now painting our home a light green gray with white trim. The blue color from the sage will be used as accents in tile/a window box/pots or the door. Our front wall and bottom half of our home is covered with river rock and there are black wrought iron gates and different levels of side walks, with a low thick curved stone wall at the street and other stone covered hard scape. I figured I love to decorate so why not take it outside. I keep working on it to create the total look I want.
Fantastic job on your home! Amazing!

Sabrina Durkee July 11, 2016 - 7:04 pm

Another Vermonter here, and a very new gardener as well. I’m trying to learn to balance my love of cottage style gardens with my hatred of weeding, with minimal success. I like planting and even pruning, but I hate weeding! I guess because it’s like laundry or dishes-you can work all day and the next day you have to start all over! Anyway, its the wild lupines that really seem to thrive in our garden. I dug them up by the side of the road years ago and they keep reseeding and spreading, to the point that now they are crowding out the other plants (bad) and even some of the weeds (good, very good). Your parterres are wonderful and an inspiration- maybe it would be easier to keep the weeds down in a number of smaller beds instead of one big one…….

Susan July 11, 2016 - 7:28 pm

Gardening has been my passion for 40 years–and I am still hard at it. Nothing gives as much pleasure. My property is an acre, with a wide curving border around all the back perimeter, where there are trees and shrubs as well as woody perennials. Nearly 40 trees in there! A crab-apple bed that is a sight to behold in spring. My front has a garden bed 40 feet long, thickly planted with bulbs in spring, day lilies , pokers, and lilies in summer, phlox, dahlias, and sages in late summer, and tropical cannas, perennial mums, and sunflowers in the fall. It is truly a delight and so much pleasure for the walkers in the neighborhood, who often stop to just stare or photograph it.There’s lots of lawn as well as another wide perennial shrub bed–witch hazels, deciduous hollies, hydrangeas, rhodies and mature trees out front too. I love to look at it and dream about–always next year!

Steven Yancey July 11, 2016 - 7:40 pm

We have Lamium Rampant Maximus (my affectionate term for it) all through our back yard (Marietta, GA – actually East Cobb but that only means something to locals) – yellow flowered and pink. It started as edging in front of Indica azaleas (ubiquitous to the South) but long ago escaped it’s borders. It seems to delight in outrunning my wife – she is the self appointed orderly police and prefers to color within the lines. She seems to be constantly fretting about the ones that have jumped the fence. I’m usually just proud of whatever will take hold and grow. Periwinkle is another one that taunts her.

Every year I tell myself “next year this will be great” – too often it seems the progress is one step forward, two steps back. This year our part of Cobb County was the focus of what has been termed “The Big Dig” – all of the aging services are being replaced – water, gas, internet fiber, etc.. The problem has been that one crew sweeps through, creates disturbance, then moves on. A few days or weeks later another crew will show up – sometimes re-digging a hole in the same spot, but more often digging a fresh one. When I say hole these things are four feet by four feet by six feet deep. They have caution tape around them to ward off children and pets. Most times you can’t see the workers who are down in them. Earlier in the season I planted, on a Sunday afternoon, six expensive-ish nursery perennials in a bed along the drive way. Monday evening when I got home from work four of them had been dug up and laid to the side to dry out. I’m not a fatalist by nature and having a sense of humor helps. But next year will be great!

Your beds are lovely. The whole aspect of the property is lovely. It is wonderful to see it and kind of you to share it with us!

david terry July 11, 2016 - 7:42 pm

Oh, Good Lord, Sharon….what to say?…..I’ve gardened my entire life (yes, I distinctly recall the day when I was five, and my father taught me how to sow radishes), and I’ve had at least one very fine garden (it took me nine years, including the first year of simply tilling/improving the soil, building walls, etcetera), in addition to establishing two large gardens at houses where I lived during my early, peripatetic, young-adult years.

As of now? I keep telling folks, all too regularly, “I don’t need a gardener. The FIRST thing I need is a forester”.

This house is 220 years old and sits in the middle of an ancient (by USA standards) pecan grove, planted by the state’s first colonial governor (his house, “Heartsease”, is the one next door to us). This house had a famous (or so I’m told) garden for at least 100 years….culminating in everything that was done by the professor who owned this house in the 1970’s. Tht was, however, forty years ago……

I’ve been here for three years as of this just-past June, and the garden’s a pure MESS now. That’s not entirely my fault—-The first summer was all-too taken up with the grimly predictable consequences of a tawdry (even by my standards) affair (Goodbye, I hope, to the errant French husband…..). Last Summer began with some unidentifiable (at least I was told so; I can’t recall any of that time) viral infection in my aortic valve; suffice it to say that, for about four months and following a week in the ICU, I couldn’t even walk upstairs without sitting down mid-way…..and this went on for three months. In the meantime, two of the enormous old trees simply fell down for no reason…..and any energy/time/money I had was spent just clearing up and keeping up. All in all?….it’s not been a fun three years…….although I have managed to keep the acre-wide lawn mowed. As you’ll have noticed, I haven’t been inclined to maintain much of a public profile during these times.

This summer, though?……friends and family have banded together to buy this house and property for me (that legal matter was concluded just this past month), and I’ll very-gratefully be here for the rest of my life. This place was wonderfully and completely restored to be a B&B twelve years ago (and will be one again by this Fall)…, it seems that I’m to be an innkeeper/artist/gardener. As friends have told me?…..”David? you’ll just start getting paid to do what you’ve been doing for free all these years”.

A friend left here twenty minutes ago, after I had sketched out the how and where I intend to begin restoring these gardens (do you want to talk about 150 year old boxwood parterres?….we got ’em). I do want to get rid of the foxes that have taken up living in the chicken coop in the back-forty. There’s a historical marker out front by the road which reads “The Webb House, circa 1800”; at times, I want to replace it with one that simply reads “Entropy Acre”.

I still need a forester, though. There’s a very good reason that, for my birthday this past month, friends bought not only this house, but also a chainsaw and a power-washer for me.

Wish me luck and keep sending your inspiring pictures of your own garden.

A neighbor of mine, Nancy Goodwin (google her; she and her gardens at Montrose, right up the road from me, are rather famous) wrote to me, a couple of years ago: “Just go back out into your garden. It’s a great restorer”.

And, yes……I immediately thought of Voltaire’s “Il fait cultiver les jardins” from Candide…..

Thank you for your almost daily-dose of (for lack of a less over-used word) inspiration,

David Terry

Nancy Tirk July 11, 2016 - 7:57 pm

I do like your lamium, I have alyssum as a border in my beds, it selfseeds and comes back faithfully each year. My friends envy it and I share it, but it doesn’t take for them. I have nigella running rampant through the beds too, its lovely, but rambunctious! This time of year, I am ripping it out along with the California poppies to make room for dahlias and gazanias as they can handle the heat. I do love your posts, they energize and inspire me, thanks for sharing!

Emm July 11, 2016 - 7:58 pm

The parterres are beautiful, soft edges and all. Or, especially.
When you first mentioned them, I was rather afraid they’d be all sharp and formal, but these are simply glorious. Well done.
It’s clear from your second picture that Ghetto likes them, too.

Vicky from Athens July 11, 2016 - 8:08 pm

Sharon- everything is lovely. I love the looseness of the parterres. It looks like everything just walked in, found a place, settled in and grew happily. The lamium really softens the borders. Great choice, I think.
By the way . . . I thoroughly enjoyed the video of your whirlwind book signing trip!

P.S I enjoy reading David Terry’s comments on your blog as much as I enjoy Stephen Andrew Jones’s comments on Have Some Decorum. They would make a wonderful (hilarious!) pair!!

david terry July 11, 2016 - 8:16 pm

Well, Vicky, that is sweet, I suppose, of you to say, but I’m afraid that it’ll be a very long time before I’ll be entertaining any suggestions of making a “pair” with anyone (although I’ve already made firm arrangements for new puppy, to fill at least one unregrettedly empty spot in this household).

Consequently, I hope that this “Stepehen Andrew Jones” is extremely young and has the luxury of waiting around…

I’m not likely to be of much use or amusement to him (or anyone) for a very long time.

Advisedly yours as ever,

David Terry

Vicky from Athens July 11, 2016 - 8:39 pm

David, you must check out his blog … Stephen Andrew Jones. I love his wicked sense of humor. Witty, sarcastic… just fun to read. I love your sense of humor, too, especially since your distinct Southernness is ever present. Is that a word-Southernness? Any way I’d love to be in a room with y’all together!
Best to you and the new pup…

david terry July 11, 2016 - 11:11 pm

Dear Vicky,

I did, indeed, just “check out” (so to speak) this “Stephen Andrew Jones”. He does, indeed, seem very amusing. I particularly enjoyed his comments about Hilton Head; I have a sister-in-law who, for some reason that remains utterly inexplicable to the rest of my family, actually enjoys going there each year. As far as I (and the rest of the family; we’re from Tennessee) are concerned, Hilton Head (along with 98% of modern Atlanta) is exactly what over 300,000 Confederate soldiers died trying to prevent.

In any case, I’ll read more of SAJ’s blog tomorrow. Thank you for the tip.

—-David Terry

P.S. To answer your question?…..I’ve never heard anyone use the term “Southernness”. I assume that, in the circles/class in which I grew up, being Southern and white is taken for granted as the default position; we have PLENTY of names (not necessarily all complimentary) for all the things other people are, but we regard ourselves as something to be taken for granted among ourselves…, we don’t call ourselves anything. I know…’s all too much like those indigenous Amazon-Basin or Kalahari Desert folks who have names for everyone else, but whose name for themselves translates merely to “THE PEOPLE”.

Steven Yancey July 11, 2016 - 11:29 pm

we do all have “American by birth, Southern by the Grace of God” tattooed on some secret part of our body……..if not our soul…………… as for the handshake………

Vicky from Athens July 12, 2016 - 3:22 am

Please forgive us, Sharon but this is so much fun! Yes, Vicky from Athens, GA. Thank you, Steven Yancey- well put! And David Terry . . . you nailed it! Hillsborough? My 7xgreat grandfather Thomas Ansley lived there for several years after leaving Monmouth Co., NJ for the South and before taking up with a group of Quakers and travelling to McDuffie Co.,GA, where he resided from the mid 1700’s til his death. David and Steven, I hope you enjoy SAJ’s wit as much as I do – and BTW, he has no idea who I am; I’ve never commented on one of his responses to Ellie of Have Some Decorum . . . I just know, from his comments on that blog, that we are kindred spirits, as are you and I because of our devotion to Sharon and My French Country Home!

Our French Oasis July 11, 2016 - 8:14 pm

Hi Sharon, they look fantastic, wow what a difference a year makes. We created a new bed against one boundary of our property this spring, at the moment it looks relatively sparse, but looking at yours I just know that given a year it should multiply rapidly. I too was keen on box, but like you say, there have been so many problems with blight here too, we have lost two topiaries which were either side of the front door last year. I decided to plant lavender as an edging plant instead, it absolutely thrives here in our hot summers and I just love the smell when I run my hands through it. Susan x

Steven Yancey July 11, 2016 - 11:20 pm

So, I’m insinuating myself here. Not my typical M.O. but it’s a public forum and I thought “why not?”.

I looked up Stephen Andrew Jones. You’re right, Vicky from Athens (Georgia?!) – a fun read. I have (had) a dear friend (now long deceased unfortunately) who had a similar irreverent and acerbic but somehow clear-visioned attitude. He made me laugh like no one before or since. I’ll enjoy following the blog. I’m not a blogger, although I follow a few. My younger daughter has one on tumblr ( if you want to have a look) that I check occasionally. I don’t want to stumble upon too many secrets – I blush easily and my ears glow bright red – and I really don’t know when or how she finds the time. But she’s pretty savvy and witty too.

I also scoped out David Terry. Hello, David. Not because I’m a creeper or a (particular) voyeur but just to see what there was to see. Love the artwork! Interesting that Hillsborough is only 29 miles from Yanceyville! I don’t live in Yanceyville (unless you want to call that dirt road in South Alabama where my bunch ran out of gas or the mule died or the wheel fell off the wagon or whatever and ended up Yanceyville). I live in Atlanta (environs). We have a place in Black Mountain, NC that we try to visit once a month or so, partly to make certain someone hasn’t walked off with part or all of it. Hillsborough looks like an interesting place – although it is 212 miles from Asheville (3 hours 20 minutes without traffic per Google). My wife is obsessed with Vivian Howard (Chef & the Farmer) who lives and feeds people in Kinston, NC (if you haven’t seen her PBS series catch it on Netflix) but that’s another 118 miles from Hillsborough (2 hours 13 minutes without traffic per Google). That’s a long way to go for blueberry barbecue. North Carolina is a big state! Maybe I’ll agree to an extended excursion one extended weekend.

Thank you, Sharon, for the forum you provide!!

david terry July 11, 2016 - 11:46 pm

Yes, Steven, Yanceyville (a very small, very old town right next to the Virginia border)is just about 29 miles north of Hillsborough. Hillsborough, itself, is, indeed, a very interesting, equally small town…..very historic, very insulated (we’re between Durham, and Chapel Hill, but have taken proper precautions to insure the terrarium-like atmosphere for those of us who can afford the property taxes and don’t particularly need to care whether the elementary school is decent), etcetera. Having lived in the South for my entire life (29 of those years in Durham)?….I have to say that it’s very deeply-weird to live in a town where I’ve yet (after four years) to meet a black person who didn’t either work for the town or mow my lawn. Weird….but true.

We do have lots of writers though……Allan Gurganus and Lee Smith both live in houses around the corner from me. Frances Mayes (she of “Under the Tuscan Sun” fame) lives on the edge of town…..and the list goes on and on. Predictably enough, magazines seem to love this aspect of the town, so we end up in them a lot.

I know Black Mountain, of course (I grew up on the Tennessee side of the mountains). It was notorious as a nest of communists/reds back in the day. I gather that the fuss has all settled down since then.

And isn’t Vivian Howard a delight? I’ve never eaten her food (I haven’t been east of Raleigh for at least a decade) or watched her television show, (I don’t have a television set) but I’ve heard her interviewed several times. She’s smart, hardworking, AND funny……….which is a markedly rare 3-4-1 deal in this world.

—–david terry

P.S. Poor Sharon……we seem to have hijacked her little blog-plane. Will it ever get back to France?………

Vicky from Athens July 12, 2016 - 3:30 am

I left a reply for you both but it’s attached to David’s and Steven’s earlier comments.

david terry July 12, 2016 - 1:53 pm

P.S. It just occurred to me (almost 24 hours later) that it’s markedly inaccurate of me to have written I haven’t been east of Raleigh in over ten years. given that I’ve gone through the Paris airport at least fifty times, I suppose it would be more truthful to say that I haven’t done anything more than look at Eastern Carolina from the relatively safe vantage-point of an airplane window…..

advisedly yours as ever, david terry

Sharon Santoni July 12, 2016 - 10:49 pm

Hi David, I love being hijacked! Feel free and enjoy the ride 🙂


Jeannine July 12, 2016 - 1:55 am

Just beautiful! I see many others really like the lamium idea for the edges – I am not a lover of that particular plant, but it certainly looks lovely in your garden. I’ve been gardening for many years as well – I love herbs both for cooking and those that just have a beautiful scent, like lavender (I know people do eat it, but I’m not much for eating lavender). I also love peonies and roses and myrtle and hosta and ferns and . . . so many others. Weeds I do not love – if only we could garden and not have to weed so much. The bane of my existence sometimes!

Steven Yancey July 12, 2016 - 3:50 am

Vicky – I had the pleasure of meeting Sharon a few weeks ago in Marietta. I think anyone who would launch herself a third of the way across the world and drop down in Tallahassee, Thomasville, 30A, Cashiers and Marietta must trust some higher power to clear a path. And isn’t bothered at all by the friendships she may foster through her blog. All of those places are close to my heart so I’m in no way casting aspersions.

Our older daughter is a Dawg, as is her husband. They met the first week of her freshman year at UGA – he was the fencing master in the club she joined. We love Athens. Friends of ours used to own the old Presbyterian manse on Hull Street, an elegant classical structure. Our younger daughter opted for GSU – her main criteria was that it allowed her to live in downtown Atlanta. But what do I know, I’m a Gator!

david terry July 12, 2016 - 5:31 am

Oh, good Lord…….I can’t help but wonder what Sharon Santoni (a British woman married to a Corsican and living in Normandy) is going to make of all this talk about gators and bulldawging down at UGA.

In short?…I think the Southerners on this blog have made themselves sufficiently incomprehensible. We do have a reputation to uphold, after all.

Warily yours as ever,

The Rev. Dr. David C. Terry

Vicky from Athens July 12, 2016 - 1:19 pm

I, too, had the pleasure of meeting Sharon in Marietta. I was so glad that she was stopping so close to Athens. I was also thrilled that the signing was on a Sunday since I detest that hideous Atlanta traffic on weekdays. Sharon was every bit as gracious and lovely as I thought she’d be and I’m so glad for the opportunity to meet and speak with her in person. I found her blog just over 3 years ago and have been a devoted follower ever since. I’ve tried many of her recipes and they’ve all been met with applause from family and friends.
Go Dawgs!

Sharon Santoni July 12, 2016 - 10:53 pm

It was such a pleasure to meet you Vicki and you Steven, and such a shame that I didn’t get close to David, after so many years of corresponding and the occasional chat ….

My US tour was nothing but joy, fun and the overwhelming impression of being in a very privileged position to have so many wonderful doors opened for me – I’d do it again in a heartbeat!


Andrina Treadgold July 12, 2016 - 5:07 am

Sharon your parterre is fantastic! I have loved the slow evolution of the garden and suddenly its there, larger than life, as if it’s always been a part of your environment.
Congratulations for all the hard work.
I have been a gardener for many years and designed a few for friends and the secret is the soil. I usually recommend (Perth has shocking sandy soil) taking out a meter and replacing it with rich new soil, My garden looked like it had been there for years after only five.
Your sight has been hijacked by some very amusing bloggers, I’ve been in fits of laughter by the banter
. Thank you for such a wonderful forum xx

Maria July 12, 2016 - 11:25 am

Congratulations, so wonderful “hard work, to lovely parterres”.

Rowdy Sheila July 12, 2016 - 1:32 pm

Hi Sharon
I wish I was able to walk around your beautiful garden right now it’s blowing a gale here tonight and I came home to find a gum tree smashed down in my yard. Adding to that we are going to have an overnight low of about 5. About an hour from here it’s snowing and we have been told to expect snow tomorrow in the outer suburbs. Ah roll on summer.
The Lamium you mentioned, is that what we know as lambs ear here in Australia? I love the balance of colours and textures in your beds, oh how heady the fragrance must be on a warm winters night.
To the others that supplied the witty banter, thank you, enjoyed it greatly and laughed all the way home on the train.

Sharon Santoni July 12, 2016 - 10:56 pm

Hi Rowdy Sheila, thank you for your comment, and no lamium is not Lamb’s Ear.

Lamium is nothing more than a decorative and non-stinging nettle, with a tendence to stray!

So glad you are enjoying the chat between David, Vicki and Steven … I am very lucky to have such amusing readers and to have had the opportunity to meet them in person 🙂


Bebe July 16, 2016 - 5:01 pm

We stumbled upon lamium because my husband especially liked the soft gray green-white variegated leaves. It does tend to run wild, but so prettily. And it gives up without a fight when encouraged to leave an area where it isn’t wanted. One additional benefit: The bit of white makes it visible at night. A time when many other plantings disappear.

Steven Yancey July 12, 2016 - 3:03 pm

it’s the heat…….and the inbreeding

Sandy Jones July 19, 2016 - 2:47 am

Sharon: Hope all of us Southerners did not scare you off. Had a lovely conversation with you at the Atlanta Book Signing. What a magnificent venue – it felts like acres and acres of treasures to peruse!!! Hope the little gardenias made you smile, as it was the end of the season for us. Our hydrangeas have been glorious since we had spring rains, but hot summer has taken its toll on them. So sad to see them wilt each day, but they return the next if not too dry!! Anyway, you looked gorgeous in the lace dress and high heels to boot! Our prayers to all in France and the US who have been affected by senseless carnage these last several months.

Marian from England July 25, 2016 - 3:52 pm

Hi Sharon. A late reply so you probably won’t see it! But we were away in France on my first trip to Giverny and Monet’s garden – wonderful! And the weather was superb. Can’t wait to go back and see it in Springtime!
We have been re designing our garden for the last couple of years. Lots of hard work moving soil around, digging up a small lawn and building log stores and sheds. But this year I started the planting! How exciting it has been, but as you say, I’ve put in what I love, but am now learning that this needs to move there and the other plant should sit behind that one etc. But just to have colour – it’s the first time in my life I’ve had a flower garden and I love it! I have actually planted some tiny box plants. We dug up a small labour-intensive lawn that you could do nothing on and decided that in our later years it might be best not to have one atall. So I planned a meandering gravel path which essentially gives us 4 planting areas and in order to still have that lovely green contrast with the gravel and the plants, I decided a small box hedge around each curved planting area, would give just the right touch of green but with a softness that prevents it being too formal. One of our planting areas has a small wildlife pond, the other is what I’m calling my ‘Autumn’ border and the largest one next to the patio is the summer herbacious one! We have a pretty henhouse in situ and are soon to take possession of our 3 hens – two bantams and one standard. So, as you can tell, such a lot has been done, but so much more to do – vegetable beds for one thing. It’s such a joy planning and planting and then seeing one’s beautiful flowers blooming and to cut them to make a pretty arrangement for a table at which to dine is the icing on the cake! Your parterres are lovely as they are and seem to suit your home and what I can tell of your character, very well. Thank you for sharing your garden.

Nancy Cain August 18, 2017 - 9:11 am

I’ve just found you through Shanon Ables podcast ‘simply luxurious life’ & I’m obsessed! Your photos are beautiful. Just a thought on your parterres, have you thought of edging them with lavender? I love the soft, formality it creates. Happy gardening!

Terri August 18, 2017 - 2:01 pm

I have to tell you that I LOVE your gardens. In fact, I love them so much that I have tried to copy. Some success, some not so much! But, it keeps me busy and out in the fresh air! I really love to garden! You have been a really big inspiration to me! Thank you!

Steven August 18, 2017 - 5:11 pm

I have spent the Spring – and now this unusually humid and sweltering Summer (Atlanta) – reworking the beds in our front yard. I very much enjoy the work – a nice break to do physical labor, especially when it is by choice! We also have a place near Asheville, NC and I am always impressed by the varieties of hosta that fill many beds there so I’ve tried to emulate that in ours. So far so good. I’ve never been a particular fan of chartreuse plants but our yard is heavily shaded and the yellow-green varieties really stand out.

I found a nursery in Hendersonville, NC that propagates lily-of-the-valley and buy them out every time we are up that way. Those “old-timey” plants are harder and harder to find. [A side story if you’ll indulge me – several years ago when our older daughter was married she wanted her bridesmaids to carry a simple bouquet of lily-of-the-valley tied with a periwinkle ribbon. I winced at the $10 per stem price so we special ordered stems of Star of Bethlehem. Those arrived but were not in flower – they either had been picked too early or kept too cold – or both. So her bridesmaids carried what appeared to be bouquets of asparagus stems! We took some of the bouquets home after the service and put them in vases – a week later they burst forth in full display. We all have a fairly well developed sense of humor so that small irritant on the day has become a favorite story. Our younger daughter is to be married next Summer. She vows her attendants will carry hydrangeas!]

There are several persistent scourges in our patch of ground (not lamium) that I can’t seem to get rid of – wild trumpet vine, honeysuckle, wild grape vine and Virginia creeper. All can be glorious when controlled and intentionally planted – those in our yard volunteer aggressively. I think they must pop up from runners underground because I am diligent about not letting anything flower and I typically dig out the roots with a trenching spade (a favorite tool). I keep thinking they will eventually take the hint and give up. Hasn’t happened yet.

One nice surprise this year was the Homestead verbena I planted last year over-wintered and took off with a bang – it covered a small hillside in a wonderful deep purple mat for several months and has continued to bloom sporadically. It isn’t typically a perennial for us. Another favorite are the mullen that I allow to wander through the beds – I love the tall yellow and white flower spikes and the large, lush deep green leaves. We don’t have much luck with foxglove or hollyhocks so those are a nice alternate. And we have a “Miss Huff” lantana that would grow to the size of a small outbuilding if I would let it.

From one of your past posts about favorite roses I searched for a couple of months for two Ghislaine de Feligonde. The local suppliers went crossed eyed and said “whut?!”. I contacted several on-line suppliers – all were out of stock. I found a new cultivar with very similar habits at a wonderful nursery (The Mustard Seed) in Boone, NC. I’m training them on a coated wire lattice across the front porch. Fingers crossed – they seem happy so far.

Sorry to rattle and ramble – obviously you’ve hit a nerve. I’ve commented on your beds before. I like formal but I enjoy the relaxed nature of yours equally. Thanks, as always, for sharing!


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