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!

Wednesday, October 27

End of October Project Week (and Garden Photos)

At work, we have to finish up our vacation time before November 1st--otherwise we lose it!--so I took this week off.  My plans were to relax toward the end of the week, and get lots of projects completed during the first part of it.  Dad came up Monday to help me finish walls, fix a broken storm window, repair some flooring, fix my garbage disposal, seal up some cracks in my front porch posts... the list goes on and on.  There's so much I wanted to get done that I knew I would have to be as busy as this guy:

Since he was driving up his new truck, Dad also brought me this old hutch (rescued and refinished by my grandfather decades ago) that has lived in their basement for many years.  I painted the inside "Gentle Sky" blue, and was amazed to see how nice all of my pottery, thrift store finds, gifts and antiques look together in it:

The glass in the other door is broken, and I'm on a mission to find some old glass (with the lovely rippling and the occasional bubble that the other one sports) to replace it.  But I'm still enjoying it in the meantime!  Dad left yesterday, after getting most of the "expert work" finished and teaching me many things along the way.  He left me with the follow-up work, like priming and painting the newly caulked and repaired porch posts, that I could handle alone.

As you can see, today was a beautiful fall day, and the garden was lit up with fall color that made the primer coat look even more pale and boring by comparison!  So I gave into temptation and took a bunch more photos to share... you can see them below.  I hope you all enjoy them, while I go back to even more painting.  (This time, the kitchen/cabinets and trim around the big picture window... argh!  :)

From the front steps, the feature corner bed is obscured by 'Rotstrahlbusch' switchgrass

From the other side, the slanting sun brings out the warm greens and silvers of this same bed. This "elephant ear" kalanchoe will have to be dug out and brought in soon.

So will this Mexican/Cuban oregano, which has happily sprawled across miniature carexes.

More of the miniature carexes (left) with the fall tones of a peach heuchera and 'Purple Dragon' lamium.

Turning slightly south, the bright spears of 'Golden Sword' yucca pick up the fall colors of 'Hameln' pennisetum and 'Blue Ice' amsonia nicely.

And I love the color and textural contrast between 'Hameln' and my oakleaf hydrangea in the fall.

Last but not least:  A pineapple lily update.  In the past month, my 'Sparkling Burgundy' eucomis has put up some new foliage... which will soon die back until it emerges again (I hope!) in the spring. As long as this doesn't stress the plant too much, I hope it does this every year--I love the fresh burgundy rosette against the older, greened leaves.  :)

Sunday, October 17

A Late and Tired October Bloom Day

It has been busy--very, very very busy--at work lately.  All work and no play leaves this gardener feeling as washed-out as my poor passionflower seems in the cool pre-dawn light:

She probably feels a little overworked, herself, because she's carrying that side of the driveway bed almost single-handedly in the bloom department for the month of October.  Further down, the chocolate eupatorium blooms against the yellowing 'Sioux Blue' sorghastrum nutens:

A few stray alpine strawberries and self-sown verbena bonariensis are blooming in that little strip, but the majority of the interest there is in leaf shape, texture and color... and most of that is as cool as the temperatures have been lately.  There are a few exceptions that warm up the garden, though.  Like this hot-blooded canna lily:

And the amaranth, which looks cool in the shadows, ignites with warm reds when touched by sunlight:

Pretty soon, the only shades of color in the garden will be grays and browns... which will make the indoor blooms seem even sweeter:

That's all of the photos for this Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day (and Foliage Follow-up)... for more posts on these great topics, visit the links!
Also blooming in my October garden:  Random tomatoes, various basils, Russian sage, tall yellow snapdragons, calendula, my variegated tall sedum, two other cannas, native honeysuckle, two kinds of pink anemones, two kinds of agastache rupestris, caryopteris, pennisetum, 'Black & Blue' and 'Lady in Red' salvias, cimicifuga/actaea racemosa, brugmansia, 'Vista Purple' salvia, 'Rotstrahlbusch' panicum virgatum, my Meyer (improved) lemon, 'Bonfire' begonia, 'Dragonwing' begonia, and more than a few weeds...

Sunday, October 10

A Red October

A few weeks ago, I cut some browned flower stalks from my 'Lady in Red' salvia with the intent of sowing seeds from them in the spring.  As I read more about saving seeds from this particular salvia, I was a little bothered by the mentions of the color not coming true from seed... particularly because multiple gardeners commented that their seedlings bloomed in some shade or another of ugh, pink the color I like least in my garden!

I decided to table my decision on the salvia seeds until this spring, but I wondered if the plant would just reseed on its own in my garden.  This week, I noticed that 'Lady in Red' has already given me a few answers to that question!  Here, a properly red seedling mingles nicely with 'African Blue' basil, sweet potato foliage, and brussels sprouts:

This was a great spot for a pop of red--I'm going to have to remember how good these guys look together next spring!  A few more seedlings that haven't yet bloomed chose this less fortunate spot under the peach tree, where my double bloodroot has recently retreated back into the ground:

It looks like at least the one on the right in the grouping above will be a slightly lighter color, unfortunately.  I may just have to sow the salvia seeds I saved in pots, and then let them grow large enough to see the bloom color before I plant them. 

Those seedlings that do not show up red will get composted, because I typically don't light too many lighter colors in my garden... but I have to admit that the light yellow snapdragons that I planted this year were the perfect way to brighten up this spot:

They are mingling with the purple-tinged foliage of eggplant, left, and the bright gold of 'Golden Delicious' pineapple sage.  I grew the golden sage in a much shadier spot than normal this year, because it was touchy for me in full sun in the past, and it has responded by putting out tons of lush, bright leaves.  (No blooms, but that's okay--I don't like the red-yellow combo there anyway.)

Another plant that is typically thought of as full sun, but that does better for me in more shade, is the canna lily:

I'm very stingy with the watering, so it's no wonder the moisture-loving cannas are happier in more shade.  I think that kind of balances things out for them.  Behind, you can see one of the self-sown 'Hopi Red Dye' amaranth that self-sow here every year.  I always let the amaranth sow where it wants, and never bother to move the seedlings when they show up... but I'm kind of hoping that these two mingle again in the future. The colors play off of each other very nicely.

As you can also see in the photos above, there's still plenty of sunlight to enjoy this afternoon... so it's time to go back outside and take advantage of it!  Hope that everyone across the country is having a similarly beautiful, sunny fall weekend.  (Everyone except Gail that is--she keeps saying how much they need rain there in middle Tennessee, so I'm hoping that some found her!)

Thursday, October 7

Late Fall, Evening Sun

I love the way the late day slants of light pick up different hues in my front yard as the sun retreats westward. I feel kind of funny labeling this as "Evening Sun," though, since I took these photos right after work and it was more than an hour before sunset. Ambient light is nice and all, but all of my direct rays are blocked by the houses and trees across the street at a certain point in every sunshiney day... so this is my version of evening sun.

In the backyard, it reaches just to the edge of the house, stopping where the succulent-planted broken birdbath, plumeria, and potted bamboo spent their summer. (All were meant for other locations, but never made it further than this while I was evicting the houseplants. Oops!)  Sometimes, a few rays sneak through this loose arrangement and ignite the Japanese bloodgrass:

But the main evening sun show is in the front yard, in the very topmost corner where the driveway meets the sidewalk up to the front porch.  Here is where chunky, undulating sea kale leaves burn a warm bright green AND a cool light blue:

And dance dizzyingly with ponytail grass:

(And nicely divide the fine textures of grass and agastache, when viewed from the porch steps:)

It's also where the "blue" in 'Black & Blue' salvia shows up... but only in the slanty light.  Otherwise, the "black" hues would prevail here:

It's supposed to be a gorgeous, sunny fall weekend here in Northeast Ohio, so I'm looking forward to taking more than a few sun-kissed photos!  Hope that you all are able to enjoy a lovely weekend as well.  :)

Tuesday, October 5

A Rainy October

Even the bright riot of colors in the backyard...

... can't hide the fact that it's been a rainy, dull, drab October.  There are still some flowers--and lots of interesting textures--going on in the garden, though, so I feel as though they warrant a post.  Here's a rundown of what's still putting on a show:

Variegation on this ginger brightens up the front porch. It's been so windy that even the ginger hasn't escaped the rain.

The rain has been rough on the in-flower grasses. Here, a panicum in bloom bends all the way down to kiss the miniature sage at its feet.

The pennisetum has fared a little better.  Probably because it's smashed in between the caryopteris and oakleaf hydrangea, and they help prop it up. (Yay for my laziness--it was supposed to be moved into a more spacious home this spring!)

Passionflower vines haven't seemed to notice the chill.  But they're the tropical variety, so I'm sure that they will soon begin to complain.

Looking tropical, but not, is the spent eucomis flowerhead. I think Craig or one of my other favorite bloggers mentioned liking the spent flowers better than the blooming ones... and I agree!

Another round of 'Red Rocks' penstemon blooms lights up the silvery foliage of sea kale.

The stipa/nasella tenuissima (pony tail grass) his turned brown at the ends, but is still a fairly fresh green in the middle.

Last but note least:  The citronella geranium and the blue agave look like they're huddled up together for warmth on this rainy day. It's the end of summer, and I STILL haven't gotten tired of the texture of this agave against the old brick of the porch.  I think this is a record for  me.

Hopefully I will have a few better, warmer photos to share with you all at the end of this weekend.  It's supposed to be 70 and sunny,  and we won't get many more weekends like this so I definitely plan to enjoy it!  Hope you all have a wonderful week ahead of you, too!