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. He also runs a landscape design/install business, so he has to know what works.
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.
- 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.