Zen of Shade

Zen garden

On my final day in the Raleigh area I had the treat of visiting three more wonderful and unique gardeners. I finished the day in the garden above, created by Phil Hathcock. He’s a stone sculptor and Japanese garden designer on the outskirts of Cary. His is a working garden, really the showroom for his garden design and construction business. In addition to this portion of the zen garden there are meandering paths through a moss garden, a tea house, water features, and good use of both specimen plants and groundcovers.

Colorful Coleus

Charlotte Presley and her husband downsized a few years ago into a suburban house in Carey. They have about an acre with the back yard mostly in woods. This is the view they have from their kitchen and dining room windows. The rock walls are sandstone brought in to the site since there was no native rock on their lot.

This garden is very much a shade garden, receiving only brief and ever-moving patches of dappled sun. It makes for a restful view and the woodland provides ample bird habitat. Their cat, Oreo, likes to sit on a chair by the window looking out at the garden. Charlotte is an artist with plants. Her husband is an artist with stained glass and several paper media.

Woodland GazeboThis woodland gazebo is in the front yard of Jean Mitchell’s home in Carey. They’ve been in their home since the early 1960s and have gardened since their kids grew up. Now nearly 80, Jean still has a playful attitude toward gardening. There’s a trail (one of many) with a sign that says “Diamondback Trail.” Along it Jean has painted some large tree roots to look like colorful snakes.

The Mitchell garden is large, almost entirely wooded, and backs up to Straight Creek, which is anything but straight. Down in the woods Jean was excited to show me a large clump of orange mushrooms that had sprouted on an oak stump.

Jean told me the gazebo is a favorite place to relax with a cold beer at the end of the day. That sounded like a good plan to me, except that I visited first thing in the morning. My end of the day beer was shared with Phil Hathcock looking out over his garden.

It’s been a great week in the Raleigh area. I’ve lost count of how many gardens I’ve visited and photographed. I shot more than 3100 frames, which with bracketing means about 1000 unique photos. Most were made with my trusty 24-105mm lens, a very versatile and sharp piece of glass. I carried a couple of other lenses with me, but didn’t use them much. Each night I downloaded files to my laptop and an external hard drive. The blog images were processed in Adobe Lightroom.

Thursday I get to spend most of the day in airplanes as I fly back to Bellingham. Friday is an office day. Then on Saturday I have a couple of portrait sessions. It’s also the national solar tour and our home is on the tour again this year.

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