Monday, September 24, 2012
Happy Autumn, Everyone!!!
Yes, since the last post was a photo of the the sun setting on the final day of summer...this is a photo of the first morning of Autumn. The light during sunrise & sunset has been stunning for the past week or so...sometimes warm & golden, other times suffused with pink (as it was the morning of this shot). Aside from the wonderful light we get during Autumn (my favorite season!), there are so many reasons I love this time of year.
1. It's cooler!
Yes, this is the best part! I find that now I spend so much more time outside, sitting in the back, or on the front steps...or just wandering around in the morning with my camera and the cats. It's especially invigorating in the morning & evening, when there is just a slight chill in the air.
2. Comfy clothes!
I get to wear hoodies and flannel again! Ok, I admit, it's not quite cool enough yet for those things...but SOON!
3. Open windows!
I LOVE having our windows open as much as possible, so it's kinda sad during summer when I have to close up the house. I have MONTHS now to enjoy having the windows open...yeah!
I really like it to be cool while I sleep...and now that I get to have the windows open, I get to sleep better...BOOM!
5. The garden looks great!
Truly, this point is subjective. It might look a little tattered in spots...but I love it. The borders are vibrant, lush and full to bursting. The grasses are starting to really peak. Much like spring, each morning is exciting, as I can't wait to see how things are changing. The changes that a garden goes through during the year are fascinating to me...and this season of senescence is full of bittersweet drama.
6. I get to work outside!
Aside from watering, I don't do much in the garden during summer...and since I'm not keen on sweating, don't spend much time outside except for early morning & evening. Now that the weather is cool, the sun has lost its harshness and I can work outside as much as I like.
7. Planting is easier!
Spring is undeniably the time of year that I itch most to get out and planting...but I have to admit, where the plants are concerned, Fall is better for planting. Our mild winters and abundant rain make for relatively stress-free conditions for the plants. They focus on putting down roots, not making leaves & flowering...so come spring, they are healthy and well-established. I always do some editing in fall, and find that I don't have to worry much at all about the plants surviving...whereas plants that are planted/moved/divided in spring have to be coddled more to ensure they are able to make it once summers heat & drought set in.
8. Using the oven!
Not wanting to heat up the house during summer, we don't use our oven at all (and the stove, only sparingly), thank goodness for our grill. Also, I've been craving things like soup & pot roast for the last few weeks...but who wants soup when it's 90°...no one, that's who! Guess what...it's Soup Season!
9. Harvest Season
Autumn is harvest time...and who doesn't love fresh apples, pears & pumpkins (and all the delectable goodies you can make FROM them)! Visions of pumpkin pie with a warm cup of spiced cider dance before my eyes ;-)
Of course, after months, I am so relieved to see the rain again! We had a very brief sprinkling last week, just enough to lightly mist over the garden...but oh, that wonderful smell...and so refreshing.
Happy Autumn, everyone, I hope you are able to enjoy the splendour of the season!
Saturday, September 22, 2012
Saturday, September 15, 2012
Happy Bloom Day everyone! I hope September is going well for all you out there! I have to admit, I've barely been able to enjoy the garden these past few weeks...work has been crazy...and I often don't get home until it's already dark :-(
I'm officially OVER summer now...and I think the garden feels the same. While things are still looking pretty good, I can definitely see the effects this prolonged heat and dryness have had on the garden. Actually, just driving around Portland, I see it everywhere. It's dry, dusty and in need of a good shower!
Anyway, without further ado...here's what's going on right now in my garden...I'll keep my chit-chat to a minimum to speed things along :-)
The blooms of Vernonia always take my by surprise...they are wonderfully intense...so welcome at this time of year!
Verbena rigida 'Polaris'
Verbena rigida is a great, easy-to-grow plant...I can't recommend it enough.
Of course, if you've ever grown Verbena bonariensis, chances are you now have more than you could ever possibly use...but I never tire of it's cheerful, carefree blooms.
|Salvia 'Black & Blue'
My Selinum have become some of my favorite plants...and truly exceptional umbel...graceful in every way. I probably shouldn't have put it in the hell-strip (as it's about the only plant I begrudgingly water).
Rudbeckia 'Goldsturm' & Panicum 'Shenandoah'
A classic prairie-inspired combo...especially lovely in afternoon light.
Persicaria 'Red Dragon'
The flowers of 'Red Dragon' are small...but very numerous. Luckily, this Persicaria doesn't seem to reseed.
|Sedum 'Bertram Anderson'
This Persicaria is such a great plant...but I learned this summer that it is not quite as able to resist heat as others in it's family. It scorched badly, but is now looking pretty good again.
A wonderful standby...and so easy to please. I adore those long, wispy red tapers...such a nice contrast to the Geranium 'Rozanne' at its feet.
Anemone 'September Charm'
I remember the first time I saw Japanese Anemones after moving to Portland...I thought they must be VERY delicate. HA! As anyone who has grown them knows...they are tough as nails...and bloom generously at a very good time!
Anenome 'Honorine Jobert'
The standard white Anemone...such lovely, pure white blooms.
I found out that while these Lobelias definitely aren't what I'd ever call "drought-tolerant", they can get by on far less water than you'd think. Plus...they bloom for MONTHS!
|Knautia 'Melton Pastels
|Geranium 'Ann Folkard'
Helenium 'Mardi Gras'
This little Helenium has not had an easy year...getting totally swamped by the plants around it...but it still keeps blooming!
I can't say enough good things about Knautia...if you aren't averse to a plant that weaves all over...you simply must try it!
While the display on this Geranium isn't quite as heavy this month, it is still quite something to see. Such a nice cooling influence on the garden...which is very welcome when the temps start to rise!
|Astrantia 'Ruby Wedding'
Eutrochium (Eupatorium) 'Gateway'
While the Eutrochium in the rest of the garden have been blooming since July, the ones that I cut to the ground in June are just now blooming...what a nice surprise!
Echinacea purpurea 'Magnus'
Another classic of the late-summer garden...what would I do without their cheery blooms?
|Agastache 'Purple Haze'
As much as I love this vine...it's CRAZY! Not only has it grown all over the house itself, but it's growing out into the garden itself, ensnarling any plant that gets in it's path. I think a showdown is overdue ;-)
Agastache 'Blue Blazes'
Such a great Agastache...I can hardly believe that I don't need to water these...and they can still keep growing and blooming like they are on steroids!
Agastache 'Desert Sunrise'
A lovely cross with Agastache Rupestris...inheriting it's delicate growth...but with flowers that are more on the pink side of the spectrum. These look AMAZING backlit.
I'm sure I've forgotten a few blooms (actually, now that I think of it...of course I did), but that's the bulk of it...see below for some wide shots around the gardens. The light at this time of year is just amazing...if not a little tricky to work around. For a look at what's blooming around the world, check out May Dreams Gardens...and happy GBBD!
Front Garden From South
Front Garden From North
Back Garden from South
Back Garden From North
Side Garden from West at Mid Day
Side Garden from East at Sunset
Wednesday, September 12, 2012
The Trouble Area
September is a cruel month here in Portland. After our long, dry summers...I really start to long for the rains of autumn. These past few weeks, we've been teased with cooler temps...but today and tomorrow are going to be pushing 90.
The worst part, for me, is that this is the time where I can really take stock of what is and isn't working...and I REALLY want to move things around! Even though I know better, I actually took a shovel out this weekend...just to test the waters, so to speak. It was like trying to drive a shovel into cement...that is, not happening!
Same area, from other direction
In any case, it doesn't stop me from wandering around, trying to figure out what to move where...and in many cases, what to swap it with. Case in point, the area above. This part of the garden looked great for the past two years, however, the Agastache 'Golden Jubilee', which acted as a nice vertical anchor was very weak this year. It was actually that way with all my 'Golden Jubilee', which I can only attribute to our lack of good winter chill this past winter. I've decided to move it somewhere else, and have been trying to decide what to put in it's place.
The Trouble Area with Eutrochrium
The spot has bizarre light conditions (like so much of the garden). It gets part-sun (about 5-6 hours) from June-August (the hottest part of the year), but is pretty much full shade for the rest of the time. So, the plant needs to be tough enough to stand the sun during summer, but able to grow in shade until then...and not flop like a drunken sailor!
The first plant I considered was Eutrochium rugosum (Chocolate Joe Pye Weed). I already have several of this plant in my garden, and it performs admirably...coping with varying light levels and looking smashing. I like the idea of it acting like a nice, dark visual "stop" in the area, and it even has decent fall color. The only real downside, really, is that it has very little winter presence.
The Trouble Area with Calamagrostis
Another plant I've been considering is Calamagrostis brachytricha (Korean Feather Grass). When I originally considered what to plant in this spot, my first thought was of grasses...however, I think the shade early in the growing season would lead to floppy growth from most of them. This particular grass, however, does fairly well in quite a bit of shade. It doesn't bloom as early as most Calamagrostis...but makes up for it with spectacular spear-shaped blooms in early autumn. The biggest selling-point is that it will provide good winter presence. Even before blooming, the linear quality of the foliage will be a nice calming influence.
What do you all think...do you like either of these options...neither of them...or do you have something even better!!!???!!! Let me know...I'd love some more input. I should mention that the area is only about 2' wide...so plan accordingly ;-)
Of course, being me, I reserve the right to be completely contradictory and plant something totally inappropriate anyway ;-)
Sunday, September 9, 2012
It's no big secret that I kinda love Sedums...especially the taller varieties. In the past, my go-to Sedum was 'Autumn Joy'. Now, don't get me wrong, I still love good old 'AJ', but last year I discovered the joys of one of the "newer" varieties of Sedum, Sedum 'Matrona'.
While similar in over habit to 'Autumn Joy', the foliage of 'Matrona' is richly flushed with red. The amount of red in the foliage seems to increase if the plants is more stressed...and, generally, plants in more sun will have deeper coloring to the foliage as well.
There is a bit of variability in the amount of red on the leaves, especially in new leaves, which sometimes have jut a picotee edge of red.
Even more striking that the foliage are the stems, however, which are almost always a wonderful ruby-red, looking almost like pieces of red licorice. By the time 'Matrona' blooms, the stems are a fabulous red, frosted with silver and purple.
Like most Sedums, 'Matrona' is beloved by bees...they seem to be a magnet for honeybees, in particular.
One of the best things about 'Matrona' is that it's quite a bit taller than 'Autumn Joy', which tends to get swamped in my garden as larger plants grow over them (which is pretty much my fault). Luckily, with 'Matrona', my tendency to crowd plants doesn't overwhelm them as easily.
'Matrona' gets around 2-3' tall and about as wide. It's very tough, hardy from zones 3-9. I have to admit, since I've moved mine around a bit, I still don't have any clumps that are really well-established, but I'm hoping next year they'll be really settle in and will bulk up. Like most taller Sedums, they have a tendency to flop open if their soil is too wet, of if they get too much shade.
At first, I thought the coloring of 'Matrona' would make it a little tougher to use than 'Autumn Joy', but honestly, it looks good with everything. It contrasts wonderfully with cooler colors and really plays up the intensity of brighter ones. It plays well with other perennials, and looks fabulous with grasses, especially those in the blue color range (like Schizachyrium).
So there you have it, Sedum 'Matrona', if you are thinking of planting a tall Sedum this year, give it a try!