Saturday, November 20

Foliage Follow-Up: Moody (Indoor) Greens and Mellow (Outdoor) Yellows

Sometimes, design happens by accident. You leave a stray red fleece on the arm of the couch, walk by later, notice it, and find yourself thinking, "Huh. I could really use something with warm colors over there, couldn't I?"

Plants are not immune to these happy accidents, either, as evidenced by these photos showing how much fun my tillandsias are having perched in this ficus. They had to be moved last week when the plant shelf above my sink finally broke after 5 years of holding weighty plants and pots.

I really like how the colors and textures contrast, and how the placement makes the tillandsias look more like creatures than plants.  (Scroll back up--doesn't that first photo look like the tillandsia is crawling up the leaves?)  Since they're now good buddies, I think that these guys will be allowed to hang out together for the rest of the winter!

Outside, the Japanese maple is still flaunting lots of (now bright red) leaves, but I know that those will soon be gone.  Most of the front yard is slowly but surely blanching out to a ghostly, papery beige... but I quite enjoy how the yellows mellow out along that journey.

The 'Blue Ice' amsonia is a cool, electric yellow earlier in the fall, but now it's warm and bright against the caryopteris.

'Rostrahlbusch' was billed as the showiest of the red-foliaged switchgrasses, and has been a great disappointment in that regard.  But it's still a gorgeous grass in its own right, and its fresh fall yellows are welcome in the front garden with its tapestry of color and texture:

As always, check out other foliage highlights from around the world via Pam's Foliage Follow-Up post!

Friday, November 19

November GBBD: Late Post for the Latest Bloomers

Life is again getting in the way... and soon, winter will be putting an end to the bloom display outside my windows.  But I do still have a few things blooming in the garden, like the 'Party Dress' Japanese anemone, various grasses, tall yellow snapdragons, a few remaining calendula, and these:

'Black and Blue' salvia guaranitica

Various agastache, still blooming at the tips--although I like the spent flower color just as well.

Caryopteris continuing its airy fall show

I'm keeping an eye on all of the flowers in my yard this fall, to see whether I end up with one lone survivor who finally succumbs to winter long after the others have given up for the season.  Given the photos and the short list above... anyone want to make a guess as to which flower, if any, ends up being crowned this fall?  I'll let you know what happens, either way!

Saturday, November 13

Dining Room Window 2010

In the Spring, when I think of my garden, I think about areas with names like, "The Driveway Bed," "The Grape Arbor," and "The Front Yard."  Through the wintertime, my live-plant areas have very different names.  Names like, "The Landing," "The Studio," and--my current favorite--"The Dining Room Window."

In spite of the back strain, I really enjoy bringing my plants in for the wintertime, because I feel like I'm getting a chance to redecorate my entire house without spending any additional money.  The pot colors, the plant colors, and the actual house decor all kind of flow together in a mishmash of color and texture.

A few of the plants are a little easier to tuck in here or there, but this year the Dining Room Window ended up getting all of the show-offs.  Like this cissus discolor that I picked up for a few dollars on clearance:

When the morning light streams through the window, the cissus positively smolders.  I could look at it for hours...

...but it's only in the early morning sun briefly before it slips into the light shade it prefers.  For those few moments, though, the cissus is so bright that even the nearby variegated hoya kerrii, which should be a star in its own right, is eclipsed.

But both of these fun-foliaged beauties are taking a backseat right now to something a whole lot more... edible: 

My first Meyer lemon! And it's almost ripe!  I can't wait to taste it... and I'm happy to see that the plant is setting a few more buds, too.  I was worried about the shock of bringing it inside a few weeks ago, and was almost certain that I would lose the then-green lemon, but it seems to have recovered fairly well.  (Whew!)

Also adjusting well is the dark-leaf ficus that I brought in, dusted off, and set up on the "front" of the plant table, along with one of my two potted amaryllis, a paddle-leaf kalanchoe, and several other plants:

The kalanchoe spent the summer swathed in shades of silvery blue and the lightest of greens, but it colored up nicely once the cooler temperatures hit.  I like seeing its bright contrast peaking through the screen of large but relatively sedate ficus leaves.

And to anchor this vignette of crazy, bold foliage?  One (huge, amazing) jade plant:

Oh, I know.  It looks like an ordinary jade plant... but it's not.  That green pot is 13" tall and wide, and the plant itself is almost 3ft wide (branch tip to branch tip) at its longest diameter.  This jade, who I affectionately call Buzz, was a gift from my friend Freddie, a retired teacher.*  Buzz and his pot are very heavy, and I'm not sure how much longer I can continue to move them outside for the summer... but, luckily, he's very secure overwintering on the sturdy table base that I painted to match the plant table.  (Both are trashpicking finds, by the way.) 

I'm happy that I don't have to worry about that for a while... and I'm also very happy about how nice the Dining Room Window "garden" looks right now.  We'll see how well it fares this winter--I'm keeping my fingers crossed!

*Buzz grew up from a cutting Freddie rescued when the greenhouse at Geauga Lake (where she worked part-time in the summer) failed in the middle of her winter break.  As she was helping with cleanup and salvage duty, Freddie found a few fresher leaves underneath the collapsed remains of the 80-plus-year-old jade plant.  Her supervisor told her to take them home and try to root them if she wanted, and she was surprised to find that her efforts were successful.  

Freddie took the little plantling to school with her the following year, and Buzz enjoyed winters in the classroom and summers out on her deck until she retired a few years ago. Since she knew that I have a soft spot for stray plants--especially one with "bad hair days" that rival my own--Buzz ended up coming to my house instead of to a classroom at the end of her first summer of retirement.  He's been a wonderful addition to my plant family!