Walnut Hill Splendor A.C. and Penney Hubbard’s Ruxton Garden Shines in Fall

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Previous Pages: An original Quercus palustris towers above a yellow Acer palmatmum ‘Sango Kaku.’ They embody the variety of autumn color among the deciduous trees on Walnut Hill.
Previous Pages: An original Quercus palustris towers above a yellow Acer palmatmum ‘Sango Kaku.’ They embody the variety of autumn color among the deciduous trees on Walnut Hill.

Fall has come as one of the biggest surprises,” says Penney Hubbard. Over 46 years, the Ruxton resident and her husband A.C.—with the late, renowned plantsman, Kurt Bluemel—have transformed a two-acre hillside into one of Maryland’s finest gardens.

Like any gardener, Penney appreciates her garden in all seasons. But she has come to cherish its months before frost most fondly. “Fall,” she says, “is one of the most spectacular times in the garden: the pods, the seeds, the color. We get so much growth in the fall here—a resurgence after the heat and humidity that seem to stall things during Baltimore summers.”

Near the steps to the pool, a stand of turning Amsonia hubrechtii surrounds bird-attracting Sedum ‘Autumn Joy.’
Near the steps to the pool, a stand of turning Amsonia hubrechtii surrounds bird-attracting Sedum ‘Autumn Joy.’

For Penney, who has always preferred a natural look in her garden––tidy, but not formal or overly manicured––the relaxed appearance of the fall garden comes as a special reward at the end of the growing season.

Before the first frost, a final burst of roses offers blooms and new height. Colors of annuals become almost fluorescent. Grasses waft across the hill. A stand of Amsonia hubrechtii by the pool turns feathery gold. Arcs of yellow Solomon’s seal shine by sweeps of still-green ferns. Pods on perennial begonia dangle in the woodland garden. Leaves fall into a rich mosaic around everything.

On the lawn, rare Disanthus cercidifolius (top) simultaneously shows multiple fall colors and resonates with the native, yellowing Cercis canadensis and Ilan Averbach’s 1992 stone In the Cradle of Civilization.
On the lawn, rare Disanthus cercidifolius (top) simultaneously shows multiple fall colors and resonates with the native, yellowing Cercis canadensis and Ilan Averbach’s 1992 stone In the Cradle of Civilization.

“Things that are still green and had turned slightly dull or brown have a resurgence of vibrant green again, says Penney. “That green contrasts with the changing color, making it all the more dramatic.”

canadensis and Ilan Averbach’s 1992 stone In the Cradle of Civilization. Dahlia ‘Jaden Charles’ is one of many dahlias in the Hubbards’ collection in the cutting gardens, where the family first grew vegetables.
canadensis and Ilan Averbach’s 1992 stone In the Cradle of Civilization. Dahlia ‘Jaden Charles’ is one of many dahlias in the Hubbards’ collection in the cutting gardens, where the family first grew vegetables.

 


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