Autumn Lives at Brent and Becky Heath’s Display Gardens

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We visited Brent and Becky Heath’s gardens at their Bulb Shop in Gloucester, Virginia, today.

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Their gardening staff maintain several acres of themed display gardens where one may wander and view thousands of plants growing under various conditions.

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Of course the many different bulbs they offer are featured players in these garden designs.  But a rich tapestry of shrubs and trees, annuals and perennials frame the many garden beds.

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And everywhere there is a whimsically light touch to delight the visitor.

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We found an observation hut filled with humming beehives.

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Bees come and go freely at a safe distance from garden visitors.  Worker honeybees collect nectar alongside many other species of bees and small wasps.

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These gardens were composed to support many different pollinators, birds, frogs, toads and fish.  They are vibrantly alive even as autumn pushes summer into memory.

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Vivid Dahlias, Chrysanthemums and Asters dominate many of the beds now.  But the autumn flowering Crinum lilies, Colchicum, and fall blooming Crocus bloom throughout.

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Camellia sasanqua have begun opening as the many Hydrangea cultivars finish for another year.

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Lazily wandering the paths of these gardens, one absorbs a rich education in how plants respond in our climate and in the various microclimates where they’ve been planted.

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One may encounter the same cultivar again and again in different exposures and paired with different companions.

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Many of the catalog offerings are planted up front in long rows, where one may compare them side by side.  This more regimented display is a quick study for gardening newbies selecting one variety or another.

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But the quiet display gardens behind the bulb shop draw us ever deeper into their orbit.

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Benches beckon one to sit and watch butterflies lazily drifting from flower to flower.

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The music of flowing water draws one further on to explore elusive paths among the rocks and conifers.  There is always just one more garden to explore, one more mass of blossoms to admire.

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A gardener approached as we were leaving, and named the particular Asters blooming today.

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He told me where to find interesting Salvias next spring.  We discussed the winter coming and shared hopes that tender perennials might survive it.  He knows and loves every inch of these gardens, and is happy to share a bit of what he knows with curious visitors.  We’ve chatted before, and I look forward to learning more from him on future visits.

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Grasses glistened in the afternoon sun.  Bare, berry covered branches stood out vividly against a deeply blue sky.

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Patches of orange and red blazed in the surrounding trees.  Gigantic spiders spin sparkling webs between shrubs.

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The breeze was fresh, and almost cool.

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Winter will have visited before we return.  We plan to come back in early December for Amaryllis just before bulb sales end for another season.

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By then the garden will have transformed, yet again.  It may be quieter, in winter, but the woody bones of this special place and the many evergreens will ensure it remains interesting and beautiful.

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We’ll look forward to viewing hardy Cyclamen and perennials which shrug off our cold.

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And there will surely be more gardening lessons to absorb from these special gardens.

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Woodland Gnome 2015

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About woodlandgnome

Lifelong teacher and gardener.

5 responses to “Autumn Lives at Brent and Becky Heath’s Display Gardens

  1. These gardens look marvelous! There used to be colchicums here, but they got shaded out. I should get some more – the ones in your photos are lovely! Two hundred bulbs arrived the other day, so I got my work cut out for me for the next few days. Maybe next though… 😉

    • What fun! I picked up an order of 300 today for friends to help me plant in our community. Then just for good measure, I bought a few bags of assorted bulbs for our own garden, too! So, you and I will both be digging in the dirt planting our spring bounty! The Colchicums are on sale still at 10% off from this supplier. I purchased some ‘Waterlily” today and am excited, as I’ve never grown them before. Can you move your shaded out bulbs to a better spot?

      • I doubt they are there anymore. They were under a quince hedge that was small bushes when we moved here 25 years ago and has since grown large and quite thorny! Much easier just to get new ones.

  2. What a wonderful place! I enjoyed your tour of the enchanting gardens. Looks like lots of insects and other animals are quite at home there, which is the ultimate compliment. I loved that wire frame frog. I hope you are having a wonderful autumn. Blessings, Sarah

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