Andrew Bunting has worked at all the best places in the horticultural world – Chanticleer, Morton Arboretum, Chicago Botanic Garden, not to mention gardens in England and New Zealand – and has been the curator of the Scott Arboretum for 10 years now. All of which makes him sound old and he’s not. (This photo looks current, so see for yourself.) He also runs a landscape design/install business, so he has to know what works. The photo above is of his front yard in Swarthmore, PA, and scroll down to see the “before”.
I first met Andrew when I visited the Arboretum to hear all about lawn replacement, but got to hear the story of his own garden more recently when he spoke at a local public garden. The highlights are the photos, of course, plus these notes:
- He says a “pretty good garden” cost 10-20% of the value of the home. Shocked? He’s spent MORE on his than he paid for his house, but that includes redoing his garage into a $130K “summer house”. The back flagstone patio, done in his first year there (1999) cost $10K. And so it goes. (Click here for photos.)
- He loves Japanese holly as a fast-growing alternative to boxwoods and great hedge plant, especially ‘Nigra’. Another great hedge plant is the Osmanthus heterophyllus ‘Gulftide,” which has fragrant white flowers in fall.
- He’s very pro-sod because it gives an instant look, doesn’t cost much more than seed, and can be partied on 10 days after installation.
- He loves Thuja ‘Green Giant’. (Me, too.)
- When a gorgeous old Japanese maple died he chose the American yellowwood to replace it. Why? It’s fast-growing, has a good winter habit and lovely silver bark, great yellow foliage in the fall, and a profusion of pendant white fragrant flowers in the spring.
- He uses lots of bananas, cannas, other nonhardy tropicals that winter over in his basement. Favorite banana? Abyssinian ‘Maurellii,” which grows to 15 feet.
- A fantastic cheap patio surface is one-half-inch granite gravel.
- The surface of his summer house is concrete but stained a really, cool color – like a dark brown leather.