May 8, 2011

Breaking Color Rules

Few people exploit red in spring gardens, but reds can be less hard when combined with other tints of red, maroon, coral and scarlet. When mixed together, they make a unique statement that really captures attention.
 These spring weekends are very busy, but unfortunately we had to spend much of this one at the Tuft's Vet Hospital with our oldest and sweetest Irish Terrier, Margaret, who has Pneumonia. Tonight she is home with us, on antibiotics and still not eating, and we, are just keeping our fingers crossed.
 In the garden, I was able to thin the turnips, spread manure on the lettuce, and I started to attempt grafting the tomatoes before I realized that the grafting clips I ordered were too small....now, fifty bucks later, more are arriving by this Wednesday, when I will attempt grafting again.

These mustard yellow dwarf German Bearded Iris make a brilliant addition to the alpine border.

True blue is rare enough, but gentian blue, as seen here in the tiny blue alpine flowers of Gentiana verna, a high-elevation alpine plant growing in one of our troughs, make a morning coffee on the deck, very special.

Brown tints in Iris are not uncommon, but in this cultivar called 'Spot of Tea' it becomes a color that still stands out in the alpine broder. Tan, chocolate and tea all together in one gorgeous iris. Maybe a little butter and scones, too.

Purples and violets somehow look prettier when combined with variegated foliage, like this Disporum. Dark violet can disappear in most garden situations. Dark purple tulips may look great in a glossy catalog closeup, but on a rainy May day, they can seem invisible in the border. Try framing them with brighter foliage.

The Australian Mint Shrub or Prostanthera rotundifolia needs to spend our color winters in the greenhouse, and under the protection of glass, it usually blooms in late February, but in some years, it blooms later. This year, our large shrub is just starting to come into bloom, outdoors, where the plant shares the border in front of the greenhouse with other unusual small tender shrubs. It has a unique violet haze about it while it is in bloom, the bees love it, and so do I.

May 5, 2011

A Giant Amongst Geraniums

It's hard to believe that this giant is a true geranium ( not a Pelargonium), but this is a plant that even surprises the plant geeks, for it is one that we all rarely see in bloom, since it is notoriously fussy about flowering. Geranium maderense is a giant in a genus where most plants live in window boxes, for this is a plant that will require an old bath tub, or a big spot in the garden if you live in California ( it is tender, and must be brought indoors where there is frost). A Biennial, this plant takes some time to mature, perhaps two or three years, then it will bloom, if you are lucky, in a massive display of 6 foot tall stems and hundreds of flowers. The type plant is magenta, this one is a white ( alba) form that I started from seed.

Geranium maderense gets its name from where it grows, on the island of Madieira, an island off of the coast of Portugal. Like many plants that find their way to isolated islands, like Lobelia, the evolutionary changes that occur in these situations can take a tiny plant, and evolve them into trees. Although G. maderense is no tree, it sure comes close with a thick, woody trunk, and three foot long leaves and petioles radiating out. This is a one-of-a-kind geranium species. Looking for one? Try Annie's Annuals, I believe that they offer the pink form. My seed for G. maderense alba 'Guernsey White'  came from Jelitto seed.

The flowers on G. maderense are large, like silver dollars with just a touch of pink, which was surprised me, but you really only notice the tint in photos.

The leaves are large, with the leaf petioles extending two to three feet out in all directions. My plant is potted in a large clay tub, 40 inches in diameter.

May 4, 2011

A whole lotta spring

So much is blooming in the garden right now, that I thought that I would just cluster a lot of images randomly. With so much going on at work right now ( big design projects which require more attention and time from me), that I don't arrive home until after dark, so I will share some of the highlights of what is happening this week, with images I took last weekend. 


'Gavota', a brown and gold Triumph tulip blooming in my new border of Lavender and Polyanthus Primroses.

Our Indian Runner Ducks are laying eggs everywhere, even our neighbors brought over a basket full. They were afraid to eat them! Eeew, duck eggs!

Unusual ground covers in newly emerging foliage. The plants in the rear are our native Mayapple, while in front, a variegated Petasites japonicus.

Ooooo, a messy deck, but in the camera, magic happens, the garden always looks good in photos! I could have Photoshopped the telephone pole and wires out, though! Someday I will move, and live in the country and not in a city.

Topiary's. I really should do a post on my topiary. I may save it for a June post.

We all know Sweet Peas, but this perennial Lathyrus vernus is charming, and long lived in the alpine border. It's three years old, but just starting to make an impressive show.

Yellow Magnolias! This one is 'Goldfinch'