Sunday, November 20

The Ninebark (and Carex) in Fall

I love my purple ninebark in all seasons, but it's especially endearing in the fall. It's like the LBD (little black dress) of shrubs--it seriously goes with everything!  I adore how it picks up the cherry hues of the self-sown 'Lady in Red' salvia, plays off of the carmel tones in the carex buchannii, grabs some gold (when backlit) to match the edge of the 'So Sweet' hostas at its feet, and still remains cool enough to play nice with the blue caryopteris.

Speaking of carex buchannii, I know that brown-leaf plants are one of those love-'em-or-hate-'em things, and many people find them hard to work with in the garden. But I can't imagine my front yard without them!

Saturday, November 12

Oakleaf Hydrangea Corner in Fall

So I never got around to adding words to a few of these posts in the fall.  Instead of trying to do so--which would probably just cause further delays--I'm posting them mostly as is.

Please ignore any stray weed you may happen see (one of my favorite parts of this garden is the low-maintenance aspect--I barely ever bother to weed it) and concentrate on the oakleaf hydrangea in color, the pretty blue caryopteris, the chunky blue sea kale leaves, the grasses, and the golden variegated yucca:

Autumn Light & Color - Part 1

The past few weeks have gotten away from me even more quickly than usual. Between launching a new website at work and trying to plan at least the basics of our wedding, the days have completely flown by. (And yes, we finally have a date! August 4th!)

I haven't spent much time outside this fall, which is a shame. I love the slanting rays of light that pick up all of the beautiful reds, like the brightening maple leaves and the flower stalks of the nearby miscanthus:

Light colors at their feet, like the 'Frosty Curls' and 'Beetlemania' carexes, and 'Purple Dragon' lamium, really highlight the reds:

As I bent to find another view of the low-angled light playing in the maple leaves, I discovered a bonus:

'Party Dress' Japanese anemones are still blooming! I just love this messy yet delicate mix of anemone, miscanthus, and a veil of red Japanese maple leaves, all anchored by the yellowing foliage of 'Northern Halo' hosta:

A few more posts of fall color are yet to come... before it all disappears under a blanket of snow! Any of my other northern neighbors have things that are still blooming in your garden?

Sunday, October 23

October: Big News, Little Blooms (GBBD)

Hard to believe that I took these photos more than a week ago already... and yet the garden looks so different now, just 7 days later. Cold weather and chilly evenings have started to take their toll, but all of what you see in these next few photos is still in bloom:

Blue caryopteris and 'Black & Blue' salvia provide a nice habitat for George the Giraffe

When backlit, the flower spikes of 'Hameln' pennisetum positively glow

Acapulco agastache is a reliable late-season bloomer for me... if only it still looked this vibrant!

A larger (re)bloom on my African daisy (Gazania) 

Cool-toned Russian sage flowers separate the self-sown 'Lady in Red' salvia, front, and 'Hopi Red Dye' amaranth

VERY late this year: First blooms on the pineapple sage

Cool+Wet=Reblooming 'Sweet Kate' spiderwort

A surprise rebloom on my (unnamed, but probably Jackmanii) clematis

Last but not least, the big news: Steve and I are engaged!  We had gone ring shopping together more than a month ago, but I was still very surprised.  I wasn't sure which ring he had ultimately chosen out of the 2 or 3 antique rings I liked best... and I definitely had no clue that he had already spoken to my parents to ask for their blessing.  I didn't quite comprehend when he dropped down on one knee on the beach and reached into his pocket during an afternoon walk at a beachfront park... but, luckily, I recovered in sufficient time to stammer out a "Yes!" and a huge smile.  Needless to say, we are both very excited!!!

Not nearly as excited is this old girl... can't you tell? Sister knows that once we get married and Steve moves in, she's going to have to endure his torture... but secretly, I think that they both enjoy running each other around the backyard, chasing the little yellow tennis ball and tugging at sticks. And, although he doth protest with a, "Really, dog?" here and there, Steve scratches Coco's belly readily enough when she rolls over at his feet and presents it. 
So I'm thinking that they will be just fine.  :)

Sunday, September 25

A Few September Highlights

Okay, so it's not all bad in my garden... there are a few areas that I am enjoying, now that they've been a little cleaned up. (4 GIANT bags' worth of cleanup, and counting!)  

First and foremost are the two chimney tile planters--these chimney tiles were my best garden trashpick ever, by the way, and I think that my back still twinges with the memory every time I look at them.  Both were planted with 'Vodka' wax begonias and other complementary colored and silver plants.  The sunnier one features a combination of lantana and 'Silver Falls' dichondra:

'Hopi Red Dye' amaranth and Japanese bloodgrass make nice surrounding companions, along with various small-textured herbs.

The shadier planter is much tougher to photograph, due to the unnamed brugmansia, 'Black Lace' elderberry, and peach tree that tower above it.  (Okay, and due to my lack of camera skills.) But it features 'Gartenmeister' fuchsia and this silver lotus vine:

That silvery leaf encroaching on the lower right side of this picture is collard greens, by the way. I didn't realize that collards would be so pretty, or I would  have placed them a little more prominently among the veggies!

Speaking of veggies, I kind of wish that someone had warned me that tomatillo plants have genetically ingrained plans for garden domination.  My SINGLE plant is scrambling over 2 different tomatoes, a blueberry bush, an elderberry, a rhododendron, eggplant, and much more. You can see it above--and hovering over the sunny tile planter in some of those shots, too.

Last but not least is my native honeysuckle, lonicera sempervirens.  I can't talk enough about how awesome this plant is, how long it flowers, and how carefree it is.  And every time I stop to admire it, I think about how I first admired it in the garden of the lovely Annie in Austin... which makes me smile.

I'm trying to be more positive about the garden, so if I can successfully dodge raindrops I promise to find a few more photos and post them later this week. (Thanks again to everyone who left kind words of encouragement for this cranky gardener!)

Monday, September 19

At Least Someone Enjoys a Messy Garden

Confession time: My garden is a total, absolute WRECK.  I'm neither kidding nor exaggerating... it's so bad that I refuse to take photos to post on this blog. Rather like how, when I was 60lbs heavier than I am now, I refused to let anyone take any pictures of me... I prefer to have no documentation of my shame!

How bad is the garden?  Well... lets just say that yesterday I filled up 4 of those supertall brown paper garden waste bags with stuff that I didn't want to compost. (I also refilled both compost bins with things that were OK to compost, plus the last of the shredded leaves from the previous autumn.) 

And, after all that effort... it's still not photo-ready.  *sigh*

Well, at least this guy likes a messy garden.  More places for him to hide--and, ultimately, to find dinner:

(He didn't seem to be too excited about my cleanup, by the way. Or maybe he, like my garden, just doesn't like the camera right now, either!)

More blogging soon... after a little more cleanup!

Thursday, August 25

The Best Watermelon I (N)Ever Grew...

Isn't it a beauty? Bigger than any of the ones I grew last year, and still growing!  I didn't have a hand in planting it, however, I was just smart enough to let it grow.  Ma Nature decided to seed this watermelon next to the driveway and remind me who's really the top gardener around here.  (As if I could forget!)

In the end, I still win--I will get to enjoy its deliciousness in a few weeks.  :)

Friday, August 19

Color vs. Texture: Which is Your Favorite Type of Contrast?

I posted a LOT of silvery shots yesterday for the August Foliage Follow-Up, so I thought that it might also be interesting to show the only two non-silver photos that ended up on my hard drive after my foliage-focused garden tour. After uploading the photos, I realized that they illustrate two very different types of contrast that I play with in my garden: Color contrast, and texture contrast.

Mega-watt color contrast:
Green 'Chubby Fingers' sedum, dark 'Chocolate Chip' ajuga and golden creeping jenny mingle amiably on the edge of the driveway garden.  In a closeup photo like this, you can see some textural contrasts as well... but in the grand scheme, when you are viewing the garden from normal height, these small-scale groundcovers all provide a similar, fine texture for the garden floor.

Textural contrast:
'Hameln' pennisetum, sedum spurium* and oakleaf hydrangea. All three plants feature a medium shade of green, with reddish/brownish accents in their flowers, stems and leaves... but the oakleaf hydrangea leaves are bold, and the fine-textured sedum and grass differ in leaf shape for additional textural interest.

Foliage contrast is much more obvious, of course. It's like the tight minidress that flaunts a woman's assets and leaves little to the imagination. Textural contrast, to continue the fashion analogy, is more like the dress that looks demure from the front but is (surprise!) completely backless and drop-dead sexy.  I enjoy using both kinds of contrast in my garden, along with some plant form contrast thrown in for good measure. (And a few areas of low contrast, too, to give the eye a place to rest.)

So what kind of contrast do you all employ in your own gardens? Do you tend to steer clear of all contrast, or do you find that one type of contrast is more pleasing than another to your eye?  I'd love to hear everyone's thoughts on this... particularly as a have a few garden areas to revamp in the coming year!

*Note: At various times, I have purchased 'Voodoo', 'Fuldaglut' and 'Dragon's Blood' sedum spurium, and each has been moved and transplanted so often that I have no idea which one(s) are in any particular area of the garden. They are much easier to tell apart in the springtime when their foliage colors are strongest--during the summer, as you can see above, they mostly fade to green. 'Voodoo' tends toward a chocolate or grayish red color, 'Dragon's Blood' to deep red, and 'Fuldaglut' often has a glow of bright green on the centers of its red leaf tips in the spring. I would recommend any or all of them for planting, if you are so inclined.

Thursday, August 18

A Silvery Foliage Follow-Up - August 2011

Each month, when the Foliage Follow-Up rolls around, I walk around in my garden and take pictures of anything and everything that catches my eye. Back inside, I scroll through the new photos to look for a common thread--and sometimes make a second trip out for even more photos that fit my chosen theme.

This week, no additional trips were necessary: The "Silver Foliage" theme came through loud and clear, with frosty plants making an appearance in all but two of the pictures! Silver-foliaged plants are usually hardy, drought tolerant, and shrug off the heat of the summer... so it's no wonder that they are putting on a great show right now. Here's a quick roundup of a few favorites:

 One of two silver lotus vine I have planted. This one (also shown in the first photo) began life in a hanging basket and now lives in the urn along with purple alternanthera, 'Vista Burgundy' salvia, celosia and a red spike.

Powdery blue sea kale leaves hold their own against the bold foliage of the oakleaf hydrangea.

'Silver Falls' dichondra bridges the gap between 'Bandana Cherry' lantana and the red Japanese bloodgrass.

 You knew this was coming: A photo of my latest obsession, salvia argentea (a.k.a. silver sage).

I like dusty miller in general, but my inner plant snob only seems to remember the many ways it is usually abused in yards around here... and urges me to buy something (anything) else.

This year, we were able to compromise and plant 'Silver Cascade' (above) along with 'Blue Daze' evolvulus, a feathery magenta celosia, and a coleus that looks an awful lot like 'Wizard Pineapple' but came as part of an unnamed multipack.

Two silvery plants in this photo, to end the silver streak: 'Purple Dragon' lamium sprawls out from beneath the Japanese maple, and short fountains of 'Frosty Curls' carex comans froth up between 'Beetlemania' carex, 'Ivory Prince' hellebores, and various heuchera.

Hope you enjoyed the silver rush here in the August Foliage Follow-Up. For more great foliage from around the world, check out Pam's August Foliage Follow-Up over at Digging!