Saturday, July 31, 2010

Joe Pye Weed, how I love thee


I adore Joe Pye Weed! I have 3 different varieties, and really look forward to adding a few more. I have "Gateway" planted in front of the porch (above photo) and it is pushing 8' this year (its 2nd year) and is just now starting to bloom. Right next to it (in a bit more shade) I have 'Chocolate' Joe Pye Weed (which I think some people call White Snakeroot. It has wonderful foliage, and gets about 3-4' tall. Last year, mine didn't really bloom until late August or September, I think. I also have 'Little Joe' along the side of the house, which has also just started blooming and gets maybe 5 1/2' - 6' tall. I really want to add more of the, as they are lovely even when not in bloom and are such architectural and dramatic plants. I really love Joe Pye for its long season of interest, the red stems look dramatic all season long, and they fact that they are so big makes them a dramatic statement in the garden. As an added bonus to their beauty, bees and butterflies go INSANE for the blossoms!

By request, below is a pic of the 'Chocolate' Joe Pye...I must have forgotten to post it originally!


Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Garden Photography and the Importance of Light

There was a post recently on another blog (I can't remember for the life of me which blog it was) about when was the best time of day to take pictures of a garden. Overall, when shooting on a sunny day, either sunrise or sunset are the best time to shoot. The side lighting produces interesting shadows and the warmer light produces richer, more saturated colors, much like the image below of some geranium 'Rozanne', which, during the day look very cool blue. At dusk, though, the warming effects of the light tint the flowers more of a mauve.

SidelitGeranium copy

These times also give opportunities for interesting backlighting effects (below). Backlight has the interesting effect of highlight any little hairs and things on plants, making them seem to glow.
Backlighting copy

Honestly, though, I think that the best time to shoot gardens is during an overcast day. For an illustration of this, see below.

This first image is shot right around noon on a bright, sunny day. Notice how flat and harsh the image is. The shadows are hard-edged, and when paired with the glare off the leaves, create a very "busy' image. Colors are washed out in some places and too "hot" in others.

Now, compare to this image. Colors are rich and saturated and the overall tone is even and balanced. The light is soft and calming and there is very little glare to distract the eye. Overcast days act like a natural diffuser and soften light and lessen the presence of hard shadows and glare. If you find yourself faced with a foggy day, rejoice! This is my favorite time to take garden pictures. You can create a really amazing sense of mystery and depth with fog, making smaller gardens seem larger. You can also do yourself a favor and get a polarizer, which can help by cutting glare even more.

Friday, July 23, 2010

The Full Spectrum


Just a little sampling of what's blooming now in the garden...I'm surprised that every color is represented!

Representing each color are as follows:

RED - Monarda 'Jacob Cline'
ORANGE - Helenium 'Mardi Gras' - I think this is the was unlabeled :-)
YELLOW - Sunflowers...who doesn't love sunflowers!
GREEN - Oxalis Oregana...otherwise knows as Wood Sorrel or just clover
BLUE - Savlia 'Black & Blue', you can't get closer to true blue than this plant
INDIGO - Geranium 'Rozanne', indigo is a tricky color...all the blue shades tend to run together. I think of indigo as cooler than violet (which has more red) and warmer than blue.
VIOLET - Salvia 'Purple Majesty', is there a richer, more luxuriant purple to be found?!?
WHITE - technically the presence of ALL colors in the represented by the shasta daisy.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Days of Wine and...Raspberries?

'Raspberry Wine' Monarda adding some sizzle to the front garden.

If I actually HAD any roses in the garden, I could have said Days of Wine and Roses, but, alas, I do not. I've never really like most roses. They seem fussy and generally are awkward and unattractive plants, except for the flowers. Anyway...this post isn't a rant against roses, but a (sorta) rave about Monardas. I've grown to really adore these tough and wily plants. They seem to just WANT to grow so badly! Over the course of last season I acquired 2 different varieties, the red Jacob Cline and the deep reddish-pink Raspberry Wine. They were both planted as tiny little starts last fall and didn't really do much...not that I expected them to...just to put down good, healthy roots so they could have a head start for the following season. Well, this spring, they both exploded out of the ground, being pretty much the first plants to emerge. They grew rather quickly and are now blooming. They are both quite tall, with Jacob Cline being a bit taller. They are about as different in habit as can be.

'Jacob Cline'
Jacob Cline is thin-stemmed and a bit spindly, being about 5 1/2' tall and about 18" across. It's blossoms are a glorious deep, pure, rich red (a color I limit in my garden).

Raspberry Wine (pictured at the top of the post) is thick-stemmed and robust, having spread to a good 3' across and being about 4' tall. with many more blooming stems and overall a much bushier appearance, it has numerous, large blooms in an almost indescribable shade of fuschia-pink. This despite the fact that they both seem a little stressed, their lower leaves are yellowing and dropping...who knows why...they both get a decent amount of water.

This spring, emboldened by the rapid growth of the first two, I purchased 2 more strains of Monarda. I got very small (4" pots) of Aquarius and Blue Stocking. They were pretty forgiving of the fact that they spent their fist month at my house in their nursery pots as I tried to decide where to put them. Once in the ground, they just took off. Neither has grown any wider, but

Aquarius is pushing the 3' mark and has started to bloom. I was afraid their pink would be a little to precious after seeing some pictures online, but they are actually the lovelies rose-pink you can imaging and really work well with the various shads of pink and purple already in the garden.

'Blue Stocking'
Blue Stocking is my favorite Monarda so far, at least in terms of color (not to mention that it's the only Monarda so far in my garden that hasn't succumbed to PM). It's not blue in the slightest (makes one wonder about the liberties taken in naming plants these days) but is a beautiful and serene sort of lavender-purple.

Now, unfortunately, I seem to always attract the dreaded powdery mildew, and this year was no exception. The Raspberry Wine was the first to show symptoms and the Aquarius followed soon thereafter. I've plucked the lower leaves as best as I could and sprayed the dickens out of the plants with some "organic" spray from the local nursery (despite the fact I hate spraying with anything in the garden) and it seems to have gotten things under control...for the moment! Sadly, as a result of the earlier leaf-dropping and my PM plucking, the plants look a little the worse for wear...but are flowering bravely. I'm waiting impatiently for the Little Bluestem in front of the Raspberry Wine to grow UP to cover the bare stems of Raspberry Wine.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

A First and a Last for 2010

Well, summer is upon us, with last week's horrendous heat wave and some strong winds that really did a number on the garden :-(

Nevertheless, things in the garden are still moving along (despite a case of powdery mildew on the Raspberry Wine monardas :-( and a suspected case of aster yellows on one of the Magnus coneflowers). So much is happening now that the garden is in full swing, that I thought I'd share a first of the year an last of the year happening today.


A last...last of the columbines (unless they surprise me with a 2nd flush of blooms). This is 'Tequila Sunrise'. I bought a trio of these plants early this spring and they have bloomed for months...really earning their keep. Alas, the time seems to have come for them to take a break. I'm hoping the foliage at least stays nice-looking, unlike 'Lime Frost' which has pretty much died back to the ground, luckily, it is hidden by the rapidly expanding patch of rudbeckia triloba in front of it.


And here we have the first coneflower of the year. This one is 'Prairie Splendour', which is supposed to bloom much earlier than regular coneflowers, but since my 'Magnus' is probably only a day or 2 from blooming right now, that isn't totally least not in my garden. Then again, my garden is hardly their preferred situation, getting only 3-4 hours of direct sun a day, which goes from about 11-3 or so. Unfortunately, one of the Magnus is showing what I can only assume is the first sign of aster yellows...UGH. I have been reluctant to plant coneflowers in my garden, as I ALWAYS seem to get aster yellows. So far, it's only the one flower, so I'm hoping it's just a fluke...i'm keeping an eye on the plant, which otherwise seems totally healthy...but if I see any more shenanigans, I'll yank it out.