Linda Swanson’s Adopted River Birch Garden Named Curator’s Choice at Brunswick County Botanical Garden
Michelle Cousineau, curator and primary caretaker of Brunswick County Botanical Garden, says the garden has had much more Master Gardener participation in 2016 than in recent years. Several gardeners have come forward to design and install gardens. For her spring Curator’s Choice, Cousineau chose Linda Swanson’s River Birch Garden.
In 2015 Swanson began to adopt the River Birch Garden, which is over the bridge and off to the left.
“As I have watched the intentional and slower development of this garden, I have grown to appreciate Linda,” says Cousineau. “Rather than the typical pattern of many gardeners who shop and purchase by the carload what they happen to see in front of them, Linda has researched, planned, combed through Dirr’s and then has sought out the specific plants that she wants for a particular reason.”
Cousineau says Swanson has “an eye for subtlety and an appreciation for unusual plants and for foliage variation in color and texture”
Two larger trees flank the ends of the bed, a river birch, Betula nigra, and a Doublefile viburnum, Viburnum plicatum tomentosum. The Betula has shaggy, papery bark, and the Viburnum has deeply veined and crinkly leaves.
“Even when not in bloom, viburnums are spectacular, but it takes a special person to appreciate them,” Cousineau says. “This one has leaves of bright, spring growth right now that will later turn deeper.”
Perennials in Swanson’s garden include native Columbine, Chrysogonum or Green and Gold, Bear’s Paw, Polymnia uvudalia, and many ferns. Flowers when blooming are the subtle and smaller ones of a native woodland and they give a rich, wild atmosphere to the area.
“The most striking foliage combination among the perennials exists in the lemon yellow Heuchera that is probably accidentally placed right next to the blue green leaves of a native Columbine,” Cousineau says.
She chose the garden for her curator’s choice because of its “captivating essence of spring, and for the careful plant choice exercised by the designer.”
“A Botanical Garden should first be beautiful,” Cousineau noted. “Then, it should be full of plants deliberately chosen for unique qualities and educational benefit. This area has accomplished both. Kudos to Linda.”
Brunswick County Master Gardeners can be reached at (910) 253-2610.