Showing posts with label Containers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Containers. Show all posts

August 20, 2012

Curating Vintage Palettes - Containers Inspired by 1940's tablecloths

 I can't help myself, the designer in me loves to explore, and I am constantly looking for  interesting color combinations with plants. It takes some confidence, and guts, since a few of my experiments have been down right ugly ( as in my 'man garden' of brown foliage plants), but I've been working with many black- foliage plants this season, mixing them with silver leaved plants or variegated plants, with very good results. Now, I am adding pure golden-leaved plants to some of these mixes, which are really starting to shine, especially now that some red and gold berries are starting to show. It's bit like Christmas in August here in central Massachusetts.


 This black, gold and red combination reminds me of vintage bark cloth, or screen printed tea towels from the 1940's , you know the type - the ones with flamenco dancers or Mexican hats on them. This color combination is somewhat inspired by mid-century optimism. Lake houses, camp furniture, 1940's motels and souvenir plates.  With all of the new colors available today, it's been fun to try and eliminate green foliage, which helps when one wants to create a new motif.

July 25, 2011

Peruvian Daffodils

Ismene 'Sulfer Queen', and named hybrid of the more specific genus now called Hymenocallis, a collectible genus for those who like to collected things that are similar, but still organized withing a genus - see here at the Pacific Bulb Society Web Wiki. Looking for something different to collect? Try growing some of the more unusual species, for the rest of us? Try the easy-to-grow and bloom hybrids that one can find at any garden center in the spring. 

Ismene get better each and every year, so save your bulbs, and since they are in the family Amarylidaceae ( the Amaryllis family) allow the bulbs to go dormant, but the roots will prefer to remain fleshy and thick, deep in the soil. Every year, upgrade the pot size significantly while dormant, without disturbing the roots, and in a couple of years, you will have a tub full of these Peruvian Daffodils.

I upgraded the pot size on this Ismene in February, when I noticed that the pot was full of roots. Now, I can see that I needed to upgrade to a much larger container, which I will do next week, carefully. These are tender sub-tropical bulbs, and they cannot handle freezing, so containers must be brought in after a light frost and allowed to dry out.

July 25, 2010

Agapanthus save the summer garden

Agapanthus 'Storm Cloud', photographed, after a severe thunderstorm yesterday.

As the heat and humidity ravage the US, forcing lilies to burst and rot, and wilting even the most sturdy of garden perennials, I know that I can rely on the stronger African species to carry through the summer color, for they love this intense weather, and none perhaps more than the The Blue Lily of the Nile, or Agapanthus. Grown in pots and large tubs, our collectios is growing, which means more summer color to enjoy, and the hummingbirds aren't complaining at all ( although, they are fighting over the best, most nectar rich blossoms).
Three Agapanthus cultivars are blooming in large pots in the garden right now. This large, un-named white form which we've had for ten years, and which I've divided into large four tub, and two blue, or violet varieties - A dark, tall cultivar 'Storm Cloud', (at the top of this post), is our darkest form in bloom right now.
 Agapanthus 'Blue Globe'
This African native genus with its strap shaped leaves, and tall, magic wand like floral stems, might be a common landscape plant in warmer climates, such as in Los Angeles and Florida, here in New England, it must be kept as a pot plant, grown in large tubs and containers, which must be brought into the cellar, or, as we do, dragged each autumn into the protection of the cold glass house for the winter. 

July 13, 2010

A hardy gloxinia -Sinningia tubiflora

I think I have finally mastered growing Sinningia tubiflora, one of the many new 'hardier' gesneriads, those plants in the African Violet family, which are getting more and more collectable by those in-the-know. This week, my gravel container garden has been overcome by a magnificent specimen, which, I have to admit, was an accident. This Sinningia tubiflora  is growing in a deep terra cotta pot, and its become essentially, a giant lemon scented air freshener, yes, its evening fragrance lingers across the garden in our hot, humid summer weather.

Thanks to fellow blogger, reader and friend, Brian Morely, who shared this plant with me last year. He had send me a few tubers in the mail, wrapped in newspaper. Thanks Brian!  I've tried Sinningia tubiflora twice before, with little luck. Apparantly, I am not alone in finding this species difficult to bloom. Lots of foliage, ( which often spotted and became sloppy) and when flower stems finally did appear, they flopped over before blooming, leaving them twisted and deformed. Last year, I only had three stems with a few flowers.
This year, it's a whole other story. I can only guess that a few changes in how I treat my plants may have helped, I can say, that I have not fussed with the plant, if anything, I have ignored it. First, I didn't divide the tuberous mass of potato-like tubers, instead, I dragged the overgrown pot into the greenhouse on a cold, frost-threatening day in October last year. Yes, it says 'hardy' but it is not deep-freeze hardy here in New England. I grow Sinningia tubiflora in containers. Once in the greenhouse for the winter, the plant stumbled along at near freezing temps. Once in mid-winter, I had decided to toss the plant, but I decided not to since Joe would see the rootball on the snow ( he hates that, and I am too lazy to drag my butt out to the compost pile. Once I unpotted the mass of tubers, I was impressed, and a little overwhelmed, so I like any guy who is lazy, I shoved the mass under a bench and forgot about it. There it spent the entire winter, never looking worse for the wear.

August 24, 2009

Late August Containers, and Daphne

Tis the season for Fuchsia's, and these upright forms are my favorite for displays since they can be used in pots, and staked vertically. Their hanging blossoms are like asian lanterns, dropping. I was reminded of my first job, as a gardener, at a private estate while in high school, and I would have to water the standard fuchsia's every day, or twice a day, if the weather was hot. Now, 30 years later, I am doing the same (maybe I should hire some high school kid?).

A Sinningia tubiflora blooming on the terrace stairs. (Look Brian.....it bloomed!!)

This plant was send to me in a on-line plant trade, by me new friend and gardener , and blogger friend Brian Morely,

Some blog postings by others, showing their gardens, and tours, such as MSLO alum Margaret Roach, visit her fab blog here, inspired my to rearrange some of my containers, or at least the shade loving ones, for we have far too in the garden. I don't have as many Begonia as I has last year, but then again, I am not trying to. Here, Begonia, Fuchsia, treeferns and other shade loving plants like some orchids and mounted antlerish ferns, are all enjoying the steamy, damp weather brought on by the remains of Hurricane Bill.

Fall is coming! This Cyclamen graecum is starting to bloom while in the hot and dry greenhouse, so I brought it outdoors to begin enjoying the rain. I will move many of the other early species out this coming weekend, since they are anxious to begin growing, and I just can't hold them back any longer, even though the night time temps are still hot. Somehow, ( day length, temps, etc) they know it is time to grow, and I must release them to the autumnal rains earlier than expected. Already, the C. africanum, C. cyprium, C. trocopteranthum and C. hederafolium are all beginning to show signs of growth. I'm afraid the the greenhouse will continue to be too warm for some of these species, or, too moist and warm, a recipe for disaster. Outside, the air movement will be better, I think.

Campanula x 'Mai Blyth'
A new Alpine Campanula blooms in one of the new stone troughs, along the studio. I thought it might be too shady here, but last fall, I planted 12 new troughs, in various sizes, most with primula, saxifraga and tiniest alpines in Tufa rock. These are rather modern, black terrazzo troughs I bought at a sale in Boston, and they are all rectangular, or round, and all contemporary in form. I felt it best to arrange them all together rather than with the hypertufa troughs near the greenhouse walkway, since these have a completely different feel, style wise. They are set on granite gravel, and interplanted with Japanese maples, dwarf evergreens, Japanese Tricyrtis cultivars, and Japanese River Grass, Hakonechloa varieties. It all sounds much better than it looks.

The Daphne are all blooming again, especially the ones in the alpine gardens. Daphne arbuscula, D. cneourm,'Pygmy Alba', d.alpinium, D. x thauma ( my fav,), and all of the D. 'Laurence Crocker' crosses. This is new for me, but it is surely a result of my ignorance combined with new knowledge obtained from plant explorer Josef Halda ( who introduced into culture, many of the Daphne we alpinists know today). Josef, when staying with us on his NARGS tour this spring, to my horror, took sheers and cut all of my Daphne, back, harshly. I freaked, since I had been told to never prune Daphne, for fear of viral infections. "No' he said. ' Cut them all back after bloom, and you will get a second flush of bloom and more characteristic, dense growth, as one see's in the wild". And since he had just been collecting in Burma for 5 months, and introducing new Gentians and Daphne to Kew , National Arboreta and many to Harvey Wrightman Alpines, he would know!

BTW, order your Daphne species now from Harvey, his are the BEST.

A late evening shot of the Daphne alpina

Daphne x thauma, a pale pink Daphne, is blooming as dusk sweeps in, and when I really shouldn't be taking a photo. This early spring bloomer, was cut back in April, it is reblooming now. Daphne season for me, begins with some species in late February as the earlier species bloom while snow is on the ground, and it is safe to say that when considering the entire Daphne family, it is the only plant family where I can find a blossom each and every month of the year, even in January.

In August, there are many flowers on many of these shrubs, but it is easy to not notice them amongst the stronger flush of bloom around them, for, after all, this is August. But it is in the very brown month of February and March, when the Daphne blossom reigns. In much the same was a single Crocus flower or a single Forsythia is lost, if seen in July, a single petal of violet or golden yellow in March, stands out remarkably from the dormant world around it, like a jewel colored parrot in a bland, green jungle. August, had many parrots, and the Daphne is lost.
Some very poor shots, but the sun had long set, and the mosquito's were biting! But you get the general idea.

August 2, 2009

Mid Summer Photos

An August evening

Drumstick Allium, Allium sphaerocephalon.

Blue Hydrangeas in an urn, a test photo for my new magazine project ( soon to be announced, here!)

My friend Jess at work, a designer at Hasbro, was advising me about what I might add to my magazine that I am working on. She said that she felt that ideas about good color combinations for containers would be appealing to her demographic ( under 30 females who read Dwell, etc). So I decided to assemble some containers and, since I am an artist and designer, see what I could come up with. I particularly like this one.

And this one.

Fergus sleeps while Margaret goes and checks what's on in the kitchen.

Some topiary Myrtus communis on the steps of the deck after a mid summer trim

Verbena bonariensis shot on a summer evening

Gentiana septemfida in a trough

Tulbaghia capensis in the gravel garden

Leycesteria formosa var. glandulifera

Brillantasia subulugarica, a new plant for me, not certain about the taxonomy on this name, but with 6 - 8 foot stems this slavia-like mint is very impressive, surely it is invasive in warmer climates, but as a tender tropical, it is perfect for northern gardeners. Will need to have cuttings taken and then brought indoors over the winter ( like coleus).

Iochroma cyanum, another tender tropical shrub we keep in pots.

Oriental-Trumpet cross lily, 'Conca dor'

Another view of the Lilies towards the house in the evening in late July.

Joe's nephew Curtis ( we still call him Curtie) with one of our over-watered Petasites japonicus gigantem leaves.

Lilies and Crocosmia in the front River Rock garden ( our front entrance)

Yellow Oriental lilies in the River Rock Garden with a Japanese White Pine cultivar.