My mother-in-law was a wonderful gardener. She planted the most amazing gardens around their beautiful stone home in Chestnut Hill, PA, just north of Philadelphia. Of course I didn’t really appreciate them until I started working at Viette’s and began learning more about plants and horticulture. I had always had a vegetable garden but until then, I had never really developed an interest in flower gardening and landscaping.
I remember how delighted she was when I first started working at the nursery 26 years ago. We would often stroll through her gardens and talk about perennials and gardening in general. We went to the Morris Arboretum several times and also spent a day at the Philadelphia Flower Show one year. It was really nice because it helped create a very special bond between us.
Gardening tends to do that – don’t you think?
Most of her gardens were shade gardens because there were lots of beautiful mature trees surrounding the house. Several grand old rhododendrons were planted around the big wrap around porch and these provided a spectacular show in the late spring.
Instead of grass, the front yard was mostly covered with a beautiful purple-leaved Ajuga and patches of velvety, bright green moss because there just wasn’t enough sun for a lawn. I remember thinking how cool that was!
Her perennial gardens were full of really interesting and unique shade loving plants that she had collected over the years. I remember being excited that I was able to identify most of them and even give the botanical names for them. Thanks, Andre – she was quite impressed!
I would often bring her a bunch of Viette perennials when we went up for a visit. She would get so excited and we would walk around the gardens to find just the right spot for each one and then we would plant them together.
One of her favorite things to plant, though, was ‘Heavenly Blue’ morning glory. She always had some of these beautiful twining vines growing in a patch of sun somewhere in one of the gardens. They were so pretty! When they moved out of the big house and into a smaller place, she moved a lot of her perennials as well so she could start a new garden there – and still, every year, she always planted some ‘Heavenly Blue’ morning glories!
When she eventually moved into a small apartment on the ground floor, she planted her Heavenly Blue’s in her patio garden off the living room. Eric always had to pay a visit to the upstairs neighbor so he could lower strings down from her deck to the garden below to give the morning glories something to climb on. Her neighbor never minded though because eventually the morning glories made it up to her deck and provided beautiful flowers for her to enjoy!
The flowers of this vining plant are a glorious deep sky blue and as their name implies, they open early in the morning and fade by mid afternoon. But even as they fade, they add interest because of the unique way that they melt away with the petal tips slowly curling into themselves. Even the flower buds add an interesting touch with their unique spiral shape.
Eric’s mom is no longer with us and we miss her dearly. But this year, in her honor, we planted some ‘Heavenly Blue’ morning glories on our deck. They have been blooming beautifully all summer and are actually still blooming now even though the foliage has completely died back. The vines have matured to a beautiful red and every morning several brilliant new blue flowers open up reminding us of a wonderful mom and lifting our spirits as we have breakfast.
Until next time – Happy Gardening!