Sunday, June 20

Edible Eclectic: My "Form AND Function" Design Aesthetic

Usually, form and function are thought of as being mutually exclusive in the garden--unless you're talking about one of those gorgeous, elaborately planned kitchen potager gardens that the French do so well. But a few things came together this week to make me think more about form and function working together.

The first puzzle piece was a photo I took of this part of the garden:

Looking at the photos while I was posting, I realized that the reason I don't love this little part of the garden more is that it needs some chunky texture at the entrance (above) to liven it up.  Maybe the 'Sagae' hosta that is now all but hidden behind the salvia and underneath the blackberry at left.  Maybe the trashpicked soon-to-be gazing ball.  I don't know, but it needs something.

Once you get into that area, the view gets better.  'Sum & Substance adds some chunky relief.  "Probably Jackman" clematis pops in some beautiful purple color as it hangs off the cherry tree...

... and rambles along the ground, amid the blackberries and plumbago:

It even keeps the stubbly (recently cutback) oregano look okay against the similarly textured 'Purple Emporer' sedum:

Inside the arbor are flat, spaced stones that provide some good textural contrast with ghost ferns, and even with the self-sown ruby orach.  But the entrance garden has no such relief.  Here's the ultimate proof of its boring-ness, the photo turned black and white:

Enough said!

As I was thinking about how to make this area of fruit production a little bit more friendly in the eye-candy department, I opened my quotes of the day email and found some gems from Frank Lloyd Wright.  (Van does a nice job of selecting a daily theme, and emailing out appropriate quotes--you can check it out and sign up here if you're a fellow quote fiend.)  One quote in particular stood up and smacked me in the face:

"Form follows function - that has been misunderstood. Form and function should be one, joined in a spiritual union.
- Frank Lloyd Wright, 1867 - 1959

If Frank says so... who am I to argue, right?!  So I guess that mixing herbs and veggies into my landscaping isn't really so crazy after all?

Elsewhere in the garden, I think that I do okay with combining form and function while working my veggies into the landscaping.  Here, a tomato ('Great White') starts growing up past the chunky-textured 'Othello' ligularia, with a dark purple heuchera at its feet:

'Gretel' eggplant is just starting to settle in and take off, but you can see that she's going to be a nice bit of chunky relief to the grassy drumstick allium and the golden thyme that you can barely see behind the soon-to-be-harvested ruby orach:

It adds little textural difference, but there is going to be a huge color and height difference once the 'Black Krim' tomato (lower left in the space--and as of yet without its cage) grows tall and starts to bear fruit:

The chimney tiles themselves provide a chunk of solid color in the mostly-vegetable garden, as does the lady's mantle that appears in the oft-shaded area behind the one I'm showing below.  To the right is my recently thinned peach tree, and to the left you can barely make out the red tomato cage that I showed in the photo above:

This year, it's planted with a hot red salvia, 'Scarlet' Yubi portulaca, and various other portulaca.  (chuck b., I'm with you--and I did NOT intentionally plant that yellow portulaca in there with the red! I thought I had grabbed all reds and oranges.  Boo!)

As I was pondering the above, I also came across an old blog post of mine in which I tried to find a cool terminology to describe my garden's design aesthetic.  And I thought about how, when asked this week, Steve described my garden as, "Eclectic... just like your house, and their owner!"  (I know, he says sweet things, no?)  Anyway, the phrase "Edible Eclectic" popped into my head, and it was one of those things that finally felt just right.

So from now on, any time that someone asks me what my garden design aesthetic is (because you know it comes up all the time in polite conversation--ha!) I am going to say:  "Edible Eclectic!"  And yes, I'll be prepared to explain...  :)

Saturday, June 19

A Berry Fruitful Year

I know, bad pun... but it got stuck in my head while walking around the garden this weekend.  I've been picking (everbearing) strawberries for a couple of weeks now, and they're about to hit one of their lulls.  Good thing there is an AMAZING amount of fruit in my backyard, in some stage of ripeness!

When I walk out my back door in the morning, the first thing I notice are the jewel-like currants:

Next door (across the artemisia, passionflower vine, hosta, etc.) the 'Canby Red' raspberries--a favorite of my four-legged Garden Assistant--have been giving me handfuls of ripe fruit for the past few days:

At the far end of the yard, 'Concord' has overgrown the grape arbor and its unripe clusters spill along all sides of the structure.  This pic shows the cascade of vines at the end of the arbor:

Next door (just past the clematis-and Bing cherry combo from this month's Bloom Day post) the thornless blackberry is so laden with fruit that some of its canes have drooped down into the 'Newe Ya'ar' culinary sage:

Nearby, past the fence-espaliered apple, 'Himrod White' grape has finally taken off on its smaller arbor.  I'm really excited to see green clusters here, because I haven't tasted any of these grapes yet:

The cherries have no viable fruit this year, and the peach tree did not want to be disturbed at the moment (still pouting from my thinning of its fruit, no doubt) so we'll conclude this post with a photo of almost-ripe blueberries, taken yesterday:

Which reminds me, it's almost time for a mid-morning snack.  I think I'll go see whether some of those blueberries aren't finally ready, before the birds beat me to them!  Happy Saturday...  :)

Tuesday, June 15

And a Cool Foliage Follow-Up

I had planned to continue the purple theme today (I definitely have enough of it in my garden!) but while strolling around with the camera near nightfall, the blues caught my eye instead:

Powdery blue sea kale leaves, cozying up to my blooming oakleaf hydrangea

The bluish silver of an unnamed artemisia (similar to a 'Powis Castle') that will soon grow to meet the hosta leaves over the peachy heuchera. (That's a lettuce to the left, "behind" in terms of sunshine, that will be harvested before the artemisia gets much bigger.)

Silvery and fuzzy, the kalanchoe brings out the cooler tones in the achillea and heuchera leaves, and plays off of the achillea buds, too.  I had left the pot in this spot last year, but this summer I just went ahead and planted it here, to see what would happen over the growing season.

This time, it's the silvery leaves of 'Frosted Violet' heuchera that are bringing out the blue tones in the nearby, unnamed hosta.

Bronze fennel makes for a cooling, intriguing background to the red coleus, sweet potato vine, blue eucalyptus, and bright yellow lysimachia.

When can gold take on shades of blue?  When you surround a 'Sum and Substance' (I believe--but this is unconfirmed) hosta with ruby orach, silvery painted ferns, Greek oregano, and top it all off by painting the nearby arbor with a blue-hued burgundy stain!

Hope you enjoyed my Foliage Follow-up for June 2010!  To see what's catching the eye of fellow foliage freaks around the world, visit Pam's Bloom Day & Foliage Follow Up post, and click through the comments.

A Very Purple Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - June 2010

It's a very purple Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day this year, led off by this rambling, unnamed (but probably Jackmanii) clematis that has a few blooms with six petals, and others with just four:

The original plan was to train the clematis on the branches of the dead 'Bing' cherry tree, but you can see the problem with that plan in this photo:

Yup, 'Bing' sprung back to life!  I haven't had time to de-leaf him yet this year, but I am definitely going to do so.  He's been nothing but trouble, and the nearby 'Concord' grape (on the arbor) and the blackberry (sprawling in front with their canes weighed down by a ridiculous amount of fruit) need his space anyway, as you can see in the photo below.  Also notice that the 'Newe Ya'ar' culinary sage and the 'Caradonna' salvia nemerosa are both pretty much done blooming already, along with the chive whose spent blooms are dragging on the ground by the sidewalk:

More signs of an early summer arrival can be found all around.  Like in the brazen blooms of verbena bonariensis, which last year was my starring bloom for August not June:

In fairness, it's not all purple in the garden this month.  I have a curious large proportion of whites flowering right now--curious because I don't particularly like white flowers.  But I love the oakleaf hydrangea, and this little 'Chubby Fingers' sedum album:

But really, the June show is all about the purple.  So here's one more photo of the lovely clematis before I get to the list:

The rest of my official June 2010 bloom day list:

Shrubs, vines and tall grasses:  Oakleaf hydrangea, 'Albury Purple' St. John's Wort, lonicera sempervirens, the unnamed purple clematis, the blackberry (Yes, again. Really.  It's insane!)
Perennials:  'Caradonna' salvia, various thymes, 'Summerwine' achillea, 'Zweiweltenkind' goatsbeard, eryngium, 'Hidcote' lavender, digitalis parviflora, passalong lamium and dianthus, 'Purple Dragon' lamium, and various heucheras and hostas (until I see the stalks to cut them down!)
Annuals:  Outside of the 'Bonfire' begonias in hanging baskets and my veggie plants, only a few little portulacas have been allowed to bloom!  They are all so recently planted that I have been pinching out the blooms in order for the plants to put down good roots and get through the promised heat of summer.

That's all for this Bloom Day--for me, anyway!  To see what other colors abound in gardens around the world, visit the Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day Post for June 2010, hosted by Carol at May Dreams Gardens!

Friday, June 11

Procrastination & Finishing Touches

It's well after midnight, and I have ads to submit to a couple of different publications first thing tomorrow.  I should be working feverishly on ad design, or maybe going to sleep with a plan (admittedly, an unrealistic one--I'm not a morning person) to get up and finish them bright and early.  So instead, I'm going to post a few photos of my brugmansia urn.

The brugmansia overwintered pretty well in the basement, and is just starting to really leaf out again, now that it's warm and sunny outside:

The iresine and the bronze sweet potato vine overwintered in the container along with the brugmansia, but the 'Vancouver Centennial' geranium--and, of course, the petunia--from last year's urn combo did not.  The iresine can be seen at the back left sprouting new leaf buds, and the SPV looks better than most of the pots I see in local garden centers.  I finished off this year's urn with a variety of coleus, eucalyptus, and 'Walkabout Sunset' lysimachia congestiflora:

I love these colors against the deep purple-green of the bronze fennel behind.  When the brugmansia fully leafs out, there should be enough shade for most of the shade lovers, and hopefully enough sun for the eucalyptus--although I'm considering moving that plant already.

One "finishing touch" tip for those who are fairly frugal gardeners, like me:  Instead of adding enough plants to this urn to make it look full right away, I took some of the groundcover sedum that I have in a few different places and used it in the urn.  It creates a sort of living mulch that also adds a bit of green to the ensemble and makes the reds and yellows really pop.  It's easy, cheap, and gives it a little bit more of a "finished" look... I'm going to have to remember this, myself, for future container plantings.

Okay, I've procrastinated enough for one evening--er, morning.  Time to get back to the graphic design work... but please feel free to leave some inspiring frugal gardening tips of your own here for me to check out tomorrow.  I'm going to need something to look forward to after my long night tonight!

Sunday, June 6

FINCHLETS!!! (... and front yard snapshots)

To say the least, THIS has made watering a bit of a challenge:

I discovered the purple finches' nest in one of my two 'Bonfire' begonia hanging baskets a couple of weeks ago.  I was setting the basket out into the garden on a rainy day when the first (and only, at the time) egg rolled out of the nest.  OOPS!  I used a leaf from my oakleaf hydrangea to gently move it back to the nest without getting my scent all over it, then kept watch.  Five eggs were laid in total--including the one I might have inadvertently ruined--and it's amusing to see mama and daddy finch put on the brakes and turn around in midair when they are en route to the nest and see me on the porch.

Is anyone reading this skilled at baby bird counting?  Steve and I figure that there are probably four, based on the bird parts we can ese and the overall amount of fluff and finchlet piled up in the nest... but we're amateurs.  Click on the photo to look at the nest in super-large size... and PLEASE feel free to weigh in via comment if you have a better count!

Time to get back outside and resume planting, post-dinner.  But first, a few quick glimpses of the front yard, where the spires and sprays of flowers are stealing all of my attention:

A peach heuchera, 'Purple Dragon' lamium, 'Solar Flare' bergenia in its flat green summer color, 'Northern Halo' hosta, and golden oregano mingle beneath the Japanese maple

 Same combo as above... slightly different perspective

 Around the corner of the Japanese maple is a small ring of digitalis parviflora (aka Spanish foxglove)... the lamium spills over the side of the raised bed above them.

From further away, you can see (bottom to top): unnamed purple heuchera, 'Ivory Prince' hellebores, 'Beatlemania' carex, digitalis parviflora, 'Amber Waves' heuchera, all the plants you saw in the photo above, and then Miscanthus sinensis 'Gracillimus' 

From even further away (I'm down by the sidewalk now) you can see all of the plants in the photo above plus: 'Diablo' purple ninebark, more golden oregano, the newly planted 'Sun Power' hosta, clover and other assorted weeds that grew up because I didn't mulch after planting the hosta, more digitalis and an unnamed bergenia.

Taking a good photo of the "fruits" of the purple ninebark always seems beyond me for some reason, but I prefer these to its too-pretty (for me) flowers.

Heading back up to the porch, you can see the other stand of digitalis parviflora that is beginning to bud up as well.  Its rusty orange colors pick up the shades of the bronze sedge that you can barely see in the lower right corner, and also work well with the golden oregano and peachy heucheras.  Steely, powdery blue ('Blue Ice' amsonia, and the leaves of sea kale) cools down the heat a little here.

More photos later--for now, it's time to get back outside and plant!  ('Tis the season... :)