Realtors like to talk about curb appeal, how a property “shows” from the curb. On arrival, this garden writer pays not as much attention to the appearance of a house as to its plantings.
So it was a few weeks ago, when I joined my sister, my niece, and some lifelong friends in Virginia for the 90th anniversary of our camp, Camp Mont Shenandoah. Before we reached the gate, I spotted plants on the stone pillars at the entrance. When turning into the driveway, I saw not only a medley of flowering plants in the tops the pillars but a well-designed bed around the camp sign. Filled with rhododendron and nandina bushes, Japanese painted ferns and heuchera, this entrance garden bespeaks the care current owner Anne Warner and her family take of this 45-acre camp recently listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Inside the camp, gardens fill the campus. Black-eyed Susans, butterfly bushes, and boxwoods flank the tennis and basketball courts.
Containers, once planted with leggy petunias in my camp days, show a variety of plants. Some have zinnias; others have asters.
Old rhododendrons still tower by the dining hall. Statuesque, native oakleaf hydrangeas border the new office.
Grasses, native echinacea, bayberry, Prince Edward iris, even a cut leaf maple fill islands and borders.
From the fancy new riding ring and stables to the familiar waterfront and auditorium building where generations of young women have gathered, fine plantings enhance the rich traditions and rustic architecture of Camp Mont Shenandoah.