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.