Visitors to the garden enter a driveway lined on each side with purple osiers (Salix purpurea ‘Nana’), whose arching, reddish stems contrast beautifully with feathery, grey-green foliage.
To the right of the driveway, Betty Lou has placed three metal spheres that echo the curved shape of an old hay rake located nearby. In this area, colour and form create a striking effect. Beautiful shades of red are repeated in the blooms of the double-petalled ‘Linda Campbell’ rugosa rose and the leaves of Acer palmatum ‘Bloodgood’ and ‘Burgundy Lace’, while the 30-centimetre-tall pink spikes of gas plant (Dictamnus albus var. purpureus), a rare perennial that Betty Lou started from seed, provide an element of drama.
Nearby, the large, blue flowers of ‘Variegata’ Japanese iris (Iris ensata ‘Variegata’), the lavender-blue spikes of Russian sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia), the brilliant white flowers of Magnolia stellata ‘Royal Star’ and the pale yellow blooms of wolf’s bane (Aconitum lycotonum ssp. neopolitanum) add contrast. The hay rake provides support for ‘Josephine’ clematis, a cultivar with interesting blooms of pinkish mauve rosettes with dark striping. Other clematis that wind their way along the hay rake are carmine-red ‘Ville de Lyon’ and fragrant, white, fall bloomer ‘Paniculata’.
Across the driveway is an assortment of plants positioned to resemble a pool of water. Betty Lou calls it her thyme pond. Creeping (Thymus serphyllum) and woolly (T. pseudo-lanuginosus) cultivars simulate water, while the fleshy foliage of Primula auricula represents an oxidating plant, such as water lettuce. Blue flag irises (Iris versicolor) resemble cattails, and some strategically placed stones and driftwood complete the effect.
In the same area, an old beater potato digger stands among a variety of plants and shrubs, including the hardy, blush white ‘Snow Pavement’ rugosa, which is tolerant of salty air and extremes in temperature and is equally at home in full sun (as it is in Betty Lou’s garden) or in partial shade. Another beauty, the reddish violet ‘Hansa’ rugosa, blooms among forsythia and a number of peonies. A witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) provides yellow fall bloom, while the delicate hairs of purple smoke bush (Cotinus coggygria ‘Nordine’) create a cloud-like effect. From this section of the garden, a blue spruce leads the way into the 23-by-3.5-metre hosta bed—featuring ‘Blue Arrow’, ‘Striptease’, ‘Queen Josephine’, ‘Birchwood Parky’s Gold’, ‘Robert Frost’ and ‘Alex Summers’—that runs along the southern perimeter of the property.