Thursday, October 17

From Traditional to Tropical: October Foliage Follow-Up

As always, visit Pam at Digging for more of this month's fun foliage posts - and to share your own!

It's a mixed bag this month for the October Foliage Follow-up!  I have everything from late season vegetables:

A golden variety of Swiss chard
To forgotten-in-the-summertime plants that reveal themselves in themselves in fall's slanting sunshine:

Glossy-leaf European ginger
Grape hyacinth foliage and the last of the coleus
'Little Zebra' dwarf miscanthus
To the hot foliage of tropicals (like this red cordyline/Ti plant) that are bright enough to put the tree leaves to shame:

Okay, I'm currently in love with this cordyline and I can't pick just one photo to share... so here are a few more:

Soon, the cordyline will have to come inside, joining the other tropicals and non-hardy succulents on a windowsill:

Mother-of-thousands, tillandias and orchids
A close-up of one of the current crop of "thousands"
The cordyline might get a few companions this winter. I have a dish of rescued tillandsias that are taking up too much valuable space on a pedestal... surely a few of them can be tucked into the cordyline branches?

The green air plants are rescues from a trashed tillandsia ball... but the fun red tillandsia is my souvenir from Naples this spring!
Speaking of my winter plans, has anyone started moving in their plants yet this fall?  If so, do you have any space-saving hints on combining and displaying them in your house?  I--I mean, a friend of mine--could always use a little help in that department... ;-)

Wednesday, October 16

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - October 2013

Most of what's blooming around here in October... was also blooming in September! I don't think that I got a good picture of my ivy geranium last month, so I decided to lead off with it this GBBD:

It's been blooming off and on all summer, in spite of my neglect and lack of feeding. The silvery foliage behind it is helichrysum (aka licorice vine) and they're both planted beneath a tree yucca of some kind. All too soon, I'm going to have to figure out what to do with all of them for the winter.

But for now, I'm enjoying the bright pop of color provided by the last of the honeysuckle vines against the blazingly blue fall skies:

The berries (above) are definitely something new.  The vine is covered with them, and it's kind of fun to see the berries and flowers coexisting.  Since the pyracantha (aka Firethorn) blooms just once in the springtime, there's no chance to see blooms and berries together on it.  But the berries come in so thickly that there wouldn't be much room for the flowers anyway:

Their orange color reminds me that my blue-pot cannas are both still going strong.  Here are a couple of nicely backlit (in the early morning light) shots of the orange one, blazing above silvery-blue 'Berggarten' sage:

Last but not least, the waxy bloom cluster of a hoya.  It started blooming outside and had to finish up its show indoors:

Pretty soon, indoor blooms are the only ones I'll get to see.  But in the meantime, I'm enjoying the last blast of fall!

For more of what's in bloom around the world, check out Carol's October Garden Bloggers Bloom Day post.

Tuesday, September 17

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - September 2013

This is yet another better-late-than-never edition of Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day. I do know that I say that most months. But since I didn't seem to manage to post anything for July and August, I think this is a step in the right direction... no?

Above you see a one of my few new blooms.  It's a generic salvia guaranitica - NOT a named 'Black & Blue' plant like I usually buy.  I think that I will try to stick with the unnamed version in the future, as this plant has greatly outperformed B&B  in spite of a coolish summer when I would have expected it to do much less.

Yes, I'm still in love with the native (to the U.S., if not to here exactly) honeysuckle, lonicera sempervirens. (I blame the wonderful Annie in Austin for introducing me to this object of my obsession.) My hubby has been working on propagating it for me, so it can bring a baby of this plant with us whenever we go.  

Instead of propagation, I'm just flat out going to dig up one of my 'Albury Purple' St. John's Wort bushes before we put the house on the market. There are two reasons for that:  1) It's patented, AND 2) The front yard is getting a little crowded anyway. I just love it when the yellow flowers and red berries appear together like this:

Speaking of the crowded front yard, there are quite a few things in bloom there right now.  Blue caryopteris and 'Hameln' pennisetum are vying for attention:

And the whole mess of Japanese anemone (mostly hidden by the now-huge Japanese maple and random miscanthus) were almost finished blooming before I even noticed them:

The bright side of having to go to the neighbor's yard to take their picture?  I realized that there IS a good side to this ill-planned hanging basket of fuchsia and philodendron.  Check it out now because I am NEVER planting this fuchsia again:  (Next year, I'm going back to 'Bonfire' begonias!)

As I came back around to the front porch, I saw that the 'Sparkling Burgundy' eucomis, which sprawled alarmingly in August at the height of its bloom, had bravely thrown up another smaller bloomstalk:

Inside, one of Steve's sensitive plants (mimosa pudica) is in bloom. Strangely, the ones that went outside never flowered at all this year. Just the inside plants:

In the back yard, the 'Hopi Red Dye' amaranth, recently cut back orange butterfly weed, and Brazilian verbena are all in bloom.  But the highlight of the garden right now is this hot dwarf canna at the edge of the blue pot.  I picked it out for its purplish leaves (now looking a little worse for the wear) but love these in-your-face blooms next to the silver sage. If you look closely, you can see streaks of orange on the insides of these red flowers:

Outside of the highlights above, other September bloomers include 'Matrona' sedum, 'Rotstrahlbusch' panicum, 'Sioux Blue' sorghastrum nutens, 'Whiskey' wax begonias, 'Hab Gray' sedum, 'Red Rocks' penstemon, 'Purple Dragon' lamium, and a few hostas that I have yet to hack.

For more of what's in bloom around the world, check out Carol's September 2013 Bloom Day Post as May Dreams Gardens.

Friday, July 5

Early July Garden Notes: Weedy Orchids, Burnt Fig Leaves & More

Fourth of July fireworks: Red Asiatic lily (name unknown) blooming among the amaranth.

Sometimes I long for just one good old childhood summer. Remember those long stretches of sunshine, bike rides, and building "dirtbike" trails in the woods behind the neighbor's house?  Now that summers have (d)evolved into 40 hour work weeks, cleaning, grocery shopping and other adult tasks, it feels like it's July before you can even blink.

The wild (as in, not yet tamed) back garden.
Since the garden has been feeling looking pretty neglected, we decided to forego cookouts and play in the yard today. We filled up ELEVEN of those Costco yard bags, so you know we got a lot done. 

We limbed up the cherry tree, created a proper wood pile, transplanted a couple of tomatoes, and did a TON of weeding.  Amongst the casualties?  More of the weedy orchid that I first wrote about a few years back:

Epipactis helleborine, naturalized here since the late 1800's.
I also finally clipped off a few of the sunburned/wind burned fig leaves that looked the worst. I had thought I was so careful this year when I brought them outside... but the leaves say otherwise:

And this is one of the ones I kept... you can imagine how awful the others were!
On the bright side, in spite of all the sun damage I somehow still have baby figs.  And in spite of not cleaning up the broken-birdbath-turned-succulent-planter yet this year... 

Lots of dead leaves strewn throughout this planter, no?
... I'm anticipating a bloom on a succulent that has never flowered for me before!

This future crassula perfoliata bloom looks cute and fuzzy in bud!
And with that, I'm going to hit a hot shower before I roll into bed... hopefully, that will help keep some of the aches away so I can get up on time!  (Yet another thing we never had to worry about as kids... ;-)

"What a man needs in gardening is a cast-iron back, with a hinge in it."
- Charles Dudley Warner

Thursday, June 20

Good Work If You Can Get It...

I was thoroughly amused to find this solicitation taped to my front door today:

Excuse my finger - it's hiding their contact information.
I have a tiny urban hellstrip (tree lawn) and a little square (around 10 x 20 ft in size) of lawn in the backyard. Steve and I figure that at their quoted price, they would be making around $2.50 per minute!

Note: I appreciate that people who are enthusiastic about getting their business name out there. But, really... 

Tuesday, June 18

A Winning Combo: Bloom Day + Foliage Follow-Up

I do love my combinations... but what's "winning" about these is that I can use them for both Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day and Foliage Follow-up! Since I'm late on both counts, these front yard garden pics are definitely a win in my book.

Clearly, I am incapable of taking a straight picture in my front yard. Oops.
Above you see my view when I pull into the driveway... now that I usually get the second spot. 'Red Rocks' penstemon, the short but flower-covered lemon thyme, the last fragrant sea kale blooms, and the first white torches of the oakleaf hydrangea. The faded purple ninebark blooms are my favorite of their many stages--a rich crimson pink.

 Below, the view from the sidewalk:

Oakleaf hydrangea blooms dominate here, but you can also see the first few amsonia blooms in the shade at left.
I ADORE the bright spiky yucca leaves... the flowers will be a bonus.
A close-up of the penstemon, and the fat hens-and-chicks at its feet:

Okay, you got me. I just wanted to show that stipa/nassella tenuissima again.
(The beauty and gras of that grass just floors me.)
Another poorly disguised shot of the stipa--but, really I was trying to show the bright-hot green in the light blue sea kale leaves. These photos look a little burned out, but the colors really do look this bright in real life, so I didn't bother to correct them at all:

Shaded from the light, the burgundy eucomis leaves, peachy-wine heuchera leaves and brown carex buchanii add a calming, anchoring effect:

And that's all I've got for now.  For more flowers, visit Carol's June 2013 Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day post.  For more fantastic foliage, check out Pam's Potted Plants and Stripey Foliage post--and click through the comment links.

What else is blooming in the garden right now:
'Vodka' wax begonias, golden creeping jenny, salvia lyrata, 'Caradonna' salvia, verbena bonariensis, lonicera sempervirens, 'Zweiweltenkind' goatsbeard, mom's passalong pink lamium, 'Purple Dragon' lamium, red snapdragons

Tuesday, June 11

Alternative Harvest: When to Cut Your Cherries

Yes, you read that right. To harvest my first tart cherries of the year, I used a novel tool:

When would you want to use a garden scissors to harvest your cherries?  Well, there are actually a few drawbacks to its use, so I would really only recommend it when you have to deal with this: 

Look closely, top center. There's a telltale tangle of twigs...

Mama Robin (I think) is hanging out in the nest that you can barely see above, while Papa Robin visits intermittently. He will "yell" at me incessantly - usually from the safety of a nearby wire - if I'm hanging out near the tree when he arrives, but she prefers to ignore me as long as I don't get too close. Or shake the tree.

That last thing is the reason for the scissors. When I harvested the first few cherries, she rose up out of the nest and squawked at me in a high-pitched tone that I think made me just as distressed as she seemed to be. I beat a quick and hasty retreat.

Today I grabbed the scissors and took them outside with me, thinking that I might be able to at least get a handful or so of cherries before I upset Mama. Surprisingly, she didn't seem to care one bit about my presence, just so long as I was cutting instead of pulling and rustling. So I'm thinking that I will need to continue my harvesting-with-scissors approach for the rest of this season. It seems like a win-win to me!

Wednesday, May 29

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday: Thai Pink Lipstick Plant

Aeschynanthus 'Thai Pink'
I managed to capture the bloom (ridiculously outsized compared to the foliage) before it faded, as promised... but only because Greenbow Lisa expressed some faith in me. I couldn't let her down!

Saturday, May 18

May 2013 Foliage Follow-Up

I love my front yard garden.  I know that it's not good for house resale to have so much garden, and I also know that when we do finally move the person who buys the house will likely get rid of most if not all of the plants here.  But when I come home, seeing this garden makes me happy:

(Excuse the slant. I clearly had trouble standing up straight and taking a picture on this day!)

With this front yard garden, I was aiming for 3 things:
  1. Year-round interest through texture, form and color contrasts.
  2. A drought tolerant, low-maintenance garden.
  3. Taking advantage of the backlighting that I would get every evening as the sun set.
I am very happy to say that I mostly managed to hit on all three counts.  Here are some detail shots:

Japanese maple. Its fiery burn eludes the camera, unfortunately.
Mexican feathergrass and sea kale is a favorite frothy combo.
I like to think that the oakleaf hydrangea grounds them a little.
Grandma's variegated iris, brown carex, 'Bressignham Ruby' bergenia, heucheras, sage and grasses.
The view as I exit my car.
The front yard isn't the only place with good foliage interest, though. Here are a few shots from the backyard:

Heucheras might be my favorite plant to view backlit.
I thought the little-leaf-shadow inside the blazing bigger leaf was cool here..
Another heuchera, this one nestled at the foot of a just-emerged chocolate eupatorium.
My newly planted urn, featuring a softleaf yucca in the center. (You can see it hanging down from the top of the frame.)
Ivy geraniums, heucheras (dug up from the garden), and white licorice plant ring the outside.
 That's probably enough for this month's foliage post! For more foliage links, visit Pam's May Foliage Follow Up post and check out the comments.  :-)