Montrose

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Rosa 'All Ablaze' blazes cherry red in Burke Brothers' Tuscany exhibit, accenting classic Italian elements with bright flowers. (Ron Tarver / Staff photographer)

Salvias like this one were but one of the glorious features in the gardens at Montrose, in Hillsborough, N.C., which I visited with other garden writers late last month. They were everywhere, in vivid shades of pink and red, blue and purple, and in such masses that they appeared wild. Montrose is the home of Nancy and Craufurd Goodwin, and the grounds cover 61 acres. Now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the property, its buildings and gardens, are under the auspieces of the Montrose Foundation, which means they'll be sustained as they are after the Goodwins can no longer care for them. No chance of that at the moment. Nancy is in her 70's and has only two employees to help. I liked this garden, which is quite famous and not as formal as most. Woven around the house, which dates to the mid-1800's, are a rock garden, a scree garden, acres of woodland plantings, sunny perennial gardens with color schemes like blue and yellow or red, black and white, a tropical garden, a purple garden with more colchicums than I've ever seen in bloom. I liked the idea that each part of the garden had its own time to shine and once it passed, that was that. No one is running around plunking pots of mums in the ground to add instant color. But wasn't it great to see the salvias still in bright bloom, in late September.

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