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Last Virtual Garden Tour of the Year: Rachel Channon’s Collector’s Garden

posted in: Home and Garden

The final video garden tour of the season walks the viewer through the plant-packed garden of a true plant geek – Rachel Channon. She knows ALL the Latin names of her plants.

I’d admired Rachel’s garden for years. I’ve also admired the blues music of Ed Crowley (of Fast Eddie and the Slowpokes fame), and was thrilled when he agreed to record a sound track for this video. So a big thanks to Rachel and Ed both!

Description on YouTube

Greenbelter Ed Crowley is frontman for the band Fast Eddie and the Slowpokes.

Greenbelter Susan Harris is editor of the nonprofit GreenbeltOnline.org. She filmed this garden in September of 2020.

Here’s what Rachel writes about her garden, outside her historic, cooperatively owned rowhouse in Greenbelt, Maryland:

My garden began in late 2001 with the planting of some clethra alnifolia ‘Ruby Spice,’ viburnum ‘Mohawk’ and hydrangea quercifolia, all of which have died over the years except the clethra. It is primarily a photography and walking garden, with little turfgrass. It tends to be on the wild and woolly side. There are paths but no seats.

I like unusual plants although they don’t always like me. I usually buy one of a plant I like. If it likes where I put it, it often multiplies, so I ended up with a lot of callicarpa, perilla, aster tataricus and others. If I like a particular shrub or perennial that doesn’t multiply, I will try to buy another cultivar.

So I have many varieties of hydrangea paniculata. Perhaps my favorite is ‘Vanilla Strawberry,’ which has enormous flower heads and seems to stay red much longer than the other varieties I have.

Likewise with crape myrtles (lagerstroemia). One corner of my yard is an experiment in crape myrtles and hydrangea paniculatas, which have similar blooming times and similar flower shapes. So far, I’m very happy with it.

Another corner of the yard is a “woodland path” with various trees and large shrubs, creating a fairly dense shade – a davidia, vitex, ilex, viburnum plicatum, clethra, itea, callicarpa. Underneath I am planting different ferns, pulmonaria, carex, heuchera, tiarella.

I am also very fond of baptisia, and I have a number of them in the yard.

Lately I have been adding some variegated or dark-colored shrubs. One of my favorites is physocarpus ‘Center Glow.’

I love adding vines to the shrubs to let them scramble up them – mostly clematis but also some passiflora. Bignonia has taken over the front-yard deck.

I like to see plants combining and intermingling. I rarely cut flowers except for my friends, because I like to see the natural plant bouquets in the garden better.

Some of the plants live and some die. This year I have about 450 different varieties of annuals, bulbs, ferns, grasses, perennials, shrubs, trees and vines.

I bought many of my plants online, at Behnke’s Nursery, or at the USDA and Brookside plant sales. My sister Irene and my aunt Jeanne gave me plants (for me, aster tataricus is Aunt Jeanne’s aster). My friends and neighbors have given me so many – Montrese’s primrose, Katrina’s polygonatum, Camilla’s verbena, physostegia, and many other plants, Wendy’s rose and clematis and many others, Mary’s chrysanthemums, Rose’s lisianthus, my first hydrangea paniculata from Joyce, Isabelle’s rudbeckia, Hattie’s sweet woodruff and spirea. An Indian neighbor shared perilla with me – we had no common language, but we both enjoyed looking at her garden.

Follow Susan Harris:
“Susan started blogging about Greenbelt soon after moving here in 2012, and that first blog has grown into this nonprofit community website. Retired from garden writing and teaching, she continues to blog at GardenRant.com. In 2021 Susan joined the Board of Directors of Greenbelt Access TV.

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