Summer leftover: Asian-inspired garden

While doing the initial scoring for the East York Blooming Contest, I saw some high-scoring gardens that didn’t make it into the final round, including this Asian-inspired front garden.

The tall tree is a standard form of weeping mulberry (Morus alba ‘Pendula’). In horticulture, standard doesn’t mean “run of the mill”, but refers to the long-legged tree form. Often, standards are created by grafting a plant with a desired characteristic (such as a weeping habit) onto the trunk of a plant with a strong, single stem. On the other side is a compact weeping Japanese maple.

Surrounding the individual specimens, the gardener has used relatively inexpensive, vigorous AKA rampant growers such as mother of thyme (Thymus praecox), variegated ribbongrass (Phalaria arundinacea) and good-old, bad-old goutweed (Aegopodium podagraria). Even Japanese blood grass (Imperata cylindrica) is said to be a little too greedy for space in some mild climates.

Say what you will about aggressive plants, though, they have the virtue of covering a large area in a small amount of time (or thyme, as the case may be). When transforming a lawn into a garden, these might be reasonable choices, if you have more energy than bucks. The energy will be required in constant vigilance to keep them within their bounds. Some, such as goutweed, usually fall into the “Don’t ever, ever (ever) plant this” category.

Nevertheless, the placement of the plant materials here makes a pleasing arrangement, and the accents of the stone lantern, river stones and low, bamboo fence are perfectly in keeping with the style of the garden.


  1. Hi Helen, I love the plants that were chosen for this Asian garden. No flowers either, all grasses and ground coverers of interesting and soothing hues. Sometimes we need those thuggish plants, like when there is a drought. Different areas have their own nightmare plants, the blood grass is not one where I live by any means. 🙂

  2. Love me an Asian-inspired garden. Could I do it? Not sure I have the restraint.

    To answer the question you commented on my Asian garden post, It's looking like Spring Fling will be the weekend of July 9, 10 & 11 (a Friday, Saturday and Sunday). Elizabeth and I are sitting down this week to sketch out an agenda and start planning how to get the word out. We already have a hotel lined up for the group and I'm sure Elizabeth has some sponsors either already asked or to be considered. We've also already mentioned the bloggers' visit to the Convention & Visitors Bureau and they'll be looking at ways to help us.

  3. Frances, I agree. We should probably never say "never" but at least know the attributes of a plant in a region to make an informed choice.

    Jim, Thanks for the Spring Fling update. I've put it on my calendar.

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