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Showing posts with label Curating. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Curating. Show all posts

February 7, 2010

Curating Annuals-Some odd, but stylish choices


There isn't much that I don't grow, but I always make room for annual flowers. I suppose it's partly because they are some of the first plants my mother let me grow, for I remember sowing seeds at a very young age, and learning quite early, well before I was 10 or 11, what a Cosmos seed looked like vs. a Zinnia. Dad would dig compost from the large compost pile out back, and I imagine that the soil was rich with all of the chicken manure from our hens. The whole process would start in late February, and by mid March our glassed in front porch was full of these large wooden flats, about 4 inches deep and about 30 inches square, I think my father brought them home from the Newspaper, where he worked the night shift as an illustrator.

Annuals can be stylish, and this is the time of year to curate your collection so that you can start your own, and not be at the mercy of your garden center.

We never sterilized soil, or fussed with much or anything other than carefully planting seeds into tiny rows. No bottom heat, for the sun would heat the porch to nearly 70 degrees during the day, and at night, temps would drop to about 40. Still, mom had flower bed everwhere, and I can remember the entire scheme, for at that age, the zinnia and scabiosa were taller than I am. I think that's one reason why I love the scent of snapdragons and marigolds, they were at nose height. Apparently, moms flowers were well known in the neighborhood, and she would pick and make arrangements all summer long, clearly, I got my love for plants partly from her.

Amaranthus 'Dreadlocks'
But annuals hold a dear place in my heart even today, and each year, although I limit myself to what I will gro. Beyond the Proven Winner's series, which I admit, really preform well, I do cycle through the classics every few years. A certain bed along the walk of the greenhouse may hold a few dozen Scabiosa one year, and another, miniature Zinnias, or China Asters, such as last year. Mom always grew tall Asters, and I remember their unique blend of violet, lavender and pink. This year, I think I may plant Four O-Clocks here, not sure yet. But I know that I will grow Marigolds, for I skipped them last year, and I missed their scent too, which particularly reminds me of the first frost of autumn, when mom would pick most every flower in the garden to save them from the frost.
Celosia Spring Green, a new crested green form.
Some new varieties this year I want to try are the many double Cosmos bipinatus, which are available from a few sources, but I will order mine from Johnnys Select seeds. Then, at Harris Seeds, there is a beautiful green Celosia called Celosia Spring Green, which will add interest in arrangements since there is nothing like apple green, magenta and orange.
Gold colored Craespedia is one of the most stylish flowers on the wedding trend sites. The gold mixes well with magenta's, violets and silver foliage, and is very stylish indeed.

Instead of showing the new annual introductions, I am sharing what I am growing. If you want to see some really stunning-but-not-for-me varieties like Zinnia Zahara Rose, go check out the other blogs. It's nice, but it just won't fit into my schemes. But Sweet peas always do, and after seeing the Sweet Peas in England last year, and at the Chelsea Flower Show, I am addicted again, as I was as a kid. I think I will limit myself to all of the violet and periwinkle shades, for together, they make ones heart skip. Check out these are a fine English blog.

Park Seed Company has an interesting Amaranthus, called,'Dreadlocks'. I am thinking about growing it, since it is 3 feet tall, and that appeals to me. They also have a Zinnia called Candy Mix, which is pretty, if you can choose the odder color combinations.
The vine related to Morning glory, Mina lobata comes in a sweet yellow form, available at Summer Hill Seeds. I grew the orange to red form one year, and it was in full bud when I accidentally tore the stems from the roots while moving a large urn in front of the greenhouse, so I may try this one this year.

The Lisianthus plants from Burpee are always worth the money they cost, for I can't think of any other annual that has the long lasting quality as a cut flower, and the color palette, which rivals the Spencer varieties of English Sweet Peas.
One hot humid evening last July, Joe and I went to eat at a local seafood restaurant in the city. Planted around the parking lot in a strip of soil between the hot concrete and the sidewalk was planted Tithonia, the "Mexican Sun Flower". They were so beautiful, and bright persimmon in color with healthy thick green stems and broad floppy leaves, I noted to myself that I should grow some this year, so they are on my list. A dwarf variety is available from Johnny's.Tithonia, Fiesta del Sol, which I will grow with Redbor Kale, a purple kale that will make the Purple leaved Sweetpotato vines and omnipresent black Coleus everyone else will grow, green with envy.Redbor purple Kale, a refreshing option to all of the other purple leaved plants, and you can eat it.

July 24, 2007

About Color and Planning


OK....I admit it....I really never, ever took the time to either create color palettes or plan any garden in my life before. I'm not really a planner, more of an, well, artist, I guess. I like to believe that I act spontaneously to influences....that brilliance just will happen, as if a devine creative gift such as being a designer, allows one the freedom to create....randomly. But I was wrong. With age, I have to admit that this theory of simply spewing out stuff generally results in, well, spew. Maybe that theory worked before there was SO MUCH to influence us...maybe it worked, let's say, in another period...like victorian, or arts & crafts, or even modernism in the seventies......but today, when jsut about anything goes, and when most everything is available to most everyone, all at the same time, there is a much greater risk of chaos, visually speaking, anyway. Random influence is dangerous, we all must stop it.


So welcome to some of the beds this year, where I am excercising restraint. I'm calling it ' practicing thoughtful research' ...and yes...it's still, quite creative, and even artistic since now, I am actually following a well-thought out and well researched color palette, but experimenting with various plant materials that may or may not be combined together normally. There are fine lines between such rules, since one must follow a foundational structure that limits plant material such as exposure, hardiness, etc....but since I happen to have a greenhouse, and I am more than willing to let a tropical plant die in the garden, as well as choose to dig it up in two months and lug a tub into the greenhouse for the winter, I might as well play with what new options I really have. I also considered, or tossed aside such things as texture and provenance - (i.e. tropical plants may or may not work with temperate evergreens, for instance). This experimentation doesn't come easy, it helps, I feel, to have a horticultural knowledge as well as an artistic one....yet these rules are ment to be broken at time, it sometimes is painfully clear when one experiments without prior knowledge. (in chef-speak- the whole cilantro may or may not go with cinnamon sort of thing).

So I made some color rules. First, I wanted to go beyond what I was seeing in the trendy gardening magazines, or what was being suggested for combination at my local garden centers. SInce I am first, an artist, color, naturally comes, well, naturally to me. Now, granted, not everyone likes my style and taste. But I wanted to also avoid the BIG rules that one often see's women following simply because it's all they know....."I want blue hydrangeas at my wedding"...."I can only plant blue and silver in my english garden" or "I must have sunflowers since I saw them on a cover of martha Stewart Living". Now, chill out, believe me, I am porbobly a greater fan of Martha Stewart that any of you could dare to be, but you must also understand that most likely, Martha herself is beyond sunflowers and blue hydrangeas at this moment....instead, most likely, she is experimenting and discovering such new plant trends as Crocosmeas and Corydalis. One shoud choose a plant because of more peprsonal reasons that how your neighbors will think of you.....sure, I love blue hydrangeas, as a beach house, in front of a bungalo, they have thier place. Choose plant material for the location.