Search This Blog

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Christmas in July

While it might be July, this is the time of year to think about making those stunning bouquets of Lunaria (aka Money Plant, Honesty Plant).

Lunaria is a biennial that self sows itself quite nicely in my garden. It's actually one of the very few plants that I already found growing here when we first moved to this property.

In spring Lunaria has lovely purple blooms but now it has dingy brown seed heads.

The seed heads are actually three paper thin, translucent pieces. Only the two outermost layers are dingy in color.

If you gently rub your thumb and forefinger back and forth over the seed head the outer sheath will slide right off, exposing the seeds. There are seeds on both the front and back so make sure you get them all.

After you've removed both outer sides and collected the seeds you are left with a wonderfully luminous pod.

This photo was taken two years ago. It's so simple to just gather up a bunch of dried Lunaria stalks and put them in a vase for a flower arrangement.

The reason for my title "Christmas in July"? These arrangements will hold for a long time and look lovely with your holiday decorations.

For a similar post with more information you can visit me at Old Country Gardens and type in Lunaria in the search bar at the top.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Eye Candy

Today's post doesn't have a specific theme. As I was going through my photos I found a few that I just wanted to share with you.

This is a close up of Ricinus communis (Castor Bean), a highly poisonous plant but oh so beautiful!

A shot in the herb garden at Bridge Gardens in Bridgehampton NY. Don't know how I missed this one when writing about it the other day!

Another close-up shot of an herb, this time it's Borage which I've grown in my own garden many times and miss desperately now!

What a great color combination! The bean is a Hyacinth bean (to see what I'm going in my own garden with Hyacinth beans hop over to my Old Country Gardens blog). The other flower is a Clematis but I don't know the variety name.

Final shot, another great color combination! I love the dusky purple Sedum combined with the hot bloom on the daylily 'Open Hearth' and the foamy chartreuse blooms on the Alchemilla mollis (ladies mantle).

Ok, out to the garden to water some more...wouldn't it be nice to have gentle showers from 2:00am until 4:00am? A gardeners dream :-)


Sunday, July 18, 2010

Crop & Stop

Ok, this is going to be fun!

Now some people might think I'm a total nerd but I had such a blast sitting here playing with photos I took this past Thursday at Bridge Gardens. I usually just clean my photos up a bit, rarely do I play with any special effects. My favorite tool is crop, it's just too cool to be able to take a photo and make it something totally different by eliminating something and highlighting something else.

For instance, this first shot is a mass of Echinacea (one of my favorite flowers for photography). The color variations in this planting takes my breath away.

My first crop attempt was a simple horizontal one, it brings more cones into view and some nice bees too.

A vertical crop can be extremely exciting. I've made a number of bookmarks out of vertical shots like these. I know I had a post about it somewhere but just can't seem to find it...duh, I just remembered I have a search box.

If you want to see how I make bookmarks out of garden photos just go to my other blog Old Country Gardens and type in bookmark in the search box.

Echinops ritro is another great flower for photographs. I shot a few of them while standing in front of this clump.

Here's a crop from one of those photos...I'm so in love with this that I made it my screen saver! I think that's the rear view of that bee but doesn't it look like it's smiling?

Other plants are harder to photograph. This teasel was a toughie and cropping it made all the difference in the world.

Sometimes while cropping you find something totally unexpected. Years ago I took a photo in the Carolinas of a really cool looking insect. Although I didn't notice the insects while I was taking this photo, I found them while playing with my crop feature. Anybody know what these are?

Ornamental pepper blooms are lovely, I had to get down on my hands and knees and shoot upwards here.

Finally, I just had to add another Echinacea (cone flower). They are just so magical much fun to photograph! If you want to see more photos that I took at Bridge Gardens you'll find them at Old Country Gardens.

Today is sunny and HOT so no photos today...think I'll go jump in the pool instead.


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Eat Bran...

Backlogged! After being a total computer idiot, I'm finally back on-line here only to find that I'm totally backed up with images and thoughts I'd like to post (hence the title of this missive).

Here on Long Island we've been experiencing a brutal summer. Too much heat, too little rain (almost none for that matter except for the little coming down right now). Not even enough cloud cover to shoot many photos.

But having said all that, there's always something about the garden that just takes my breath away.

Hydrangeas are incredibly happy here on Long Island. My soil is very acidic so the blues are what I get. Who's complaining? Not me! By the way, the yellow bloom is Lysamachia japonica.

Skies so blue and a few wispy clouds. Great pool weather but we need rain! cool, so white, so pristine! The lavender variety hasn't even budded yet, something to look forward to.

Don't forget, even if the light conditions aren't perfect to take great shots, keep taking photos and add your notes on them. I always forget that this clump of Liatris is white. Now if I want to dig it up next spring and I actually have the forethought to look through my photos I'll be able to identify which clump is the white one.

Hope to be back regularly now ;-)

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Computer Woes

Hi all,

Wish I could show you some lovely photos of my garden...yes, I've been taking them. Just having some computer woes with my laptop (where I have my photos stored).

Only able to post right now from such an old desktop computer that I have to pedal it like a bicycle to keep it going ;-)

I'll be back as soon as somebody comes and rescues me!


Saturday, June 26, 2010

All the difference...

Today I had the pleasure of visiting my friends Gianna & Rich up the street. Gianna is the most talented container designer ever. Rich is the most knowledgeable plants person ever. Together they've created a garden that tugs at my heartstrings every time I visit.

If you ever need some top notch garden advice you can go to Main Street Nursery in Huntington to talk to Gianna about container plants or to Rich at Zaino's Nursery in Old Westbury for info on the best shrub/tree/perennial for your Long Island garden.

What is most amazing about their garden is the way they showcase their collected pieces, accents, accessories and containers and use them as jewels to display their amazing plants.

Gianna has ducks and swans tucked into many spots, bunny rabbits too (even a few live ones).

See the swan in the larger container? It's so incredibly elegant I just wish this photo did it more justice.

This shot is my favorite, I'm going to try to recreate it exactly with my better camera and hope for more clarity and color saturation. If it works out I'd like to have it printed out and framed.

While the above containers were Gianna's, Rich has a few knockouts too. How's this trough? I'm in love :-)

Just the way it's set up on the boulder is enough to keep me salivating for days. I love gardening on this scale but let's be honest, you need a man if you want to do something like this!

This last container isn't even a container, it's just a wonderfully textured rock with pockets that are perfect for planting. I had to include this photo for my other dear gardening friends Kim & Paul because they are into many of the same concepts.

I've posted a number of other photos from this garden on my other blog at Melanie's Old Country Gardens...stop by and take a peek :-)


Monday, June 14, 2010

Thalictrum flavum subsp. glaucum

Today's perennial spotlight is on a plant that not too many people grow. Thalictrum flavum subsp. glaucum (commonly called meadow rue) has been growing in my garden for at least 10 years. It's one of those treasures I bought many years ago at Franks nursery.

I have it in a lousy spot, extremely dry, shade for most of the day except two hours of direct sun right around noon.

One of the mistakes I made with this lovely perennial is planting it at the edge of a border. In a shaded spot like this it wants to lean towards the sun and there's nothing much there for it to lean on.

I did put a metal structure there and have a few wires to help it stay inside the form but it really isn't the right spot at all for this perennial. The piece I've moved to a sunny area is much happier but too small to photograph right now.

Unlike the other Thalictrums I grow, this variety has blue foliage, hence the word "glaucum" in it's name. The blue foliage and the sulphur yellow blooms are a great combination!

If you leave your Thalictrums alone (that means leaving those ugly dead blooms on them for awhile), they will scatter a few seedlings. For some reason I've got a bunch of little babies growing right out of the cracks of the belgium block border of my driveway. The foliage is in the bottom left corner, the bloom is in the top right corner.

Other Thalictrums grow here too. Next to my telephone pole is a large clump of Thalictrum
'Elin'. I just did a quick search on this plant and was surprised to see that it is a cross between Thalictrum flavum subsp. glaucum and Thalictrum rochebrunianum (hmmm, a thalictrum I don't grow!).

Now this is a case of the right plant in the right location. It's at least 8 feet tall right now and stands up perfectly straight.

At the total opposite spectrum is the teeny tiny Thalictrum kiusianum. This dwarf Thalictrum is so small that if you didn't know it was here you'd mistake it for clover or some other little thing. Last year I planted a piece in a dish garden and it did better there than it does in the garden. Maybe it finally feels it has room to grow without any thugs taking over?

Oops, looking at the photo I see exactly that, a little piece of clover snuck right in the middle :-)

Most likely the most well known Thalictrum is Thalictrum aquilegifolium. As the name says, the foliage looks just like an Aquilegia (columbine) and many people mistake it for one, that is, until it blooms.

I find Thalictrums easy to grow, they have no pests that I'm aware of and require little extra care. Try one out, I think you'll love them!


Thursday, June 3, 2010

Oh Baby!

This morning as I walked around the garden I noticed that the Hellebores are still looking quite nice. Wow, here it is June and I'm still looking at the Hellebores. I started photographing the buds on March 16th and by March 31st was taking shots of full blown blooms.

Upon closer inspection I realized that these babies are actually chock full of seed pods! If you look closely you can see that many of these have already released their seeds. I sure hope I find some little babies around later this summer.

The Hellebore foetidus near my shed is also full of seed pods. This plant is actually a baby I moved from one of my front beds. They seed very nicely, not invasively. One thing I've learned is to move the seedlings when they are young, once they are older they become leggy.

This dusky purple Hellebore still looks good, especially now that the Athyrium nipponicum (Japanese painted fern) has filled in next to it.

Last but not least, you can see the newest seeds in the garden. Only difference here is I have no intention of planting these seeds... I love peas. Today will be my first harvest, yum!

For those of you who like to stop by, please note that my garden will not be open this Friday (June 4th). I've broken my own rule and have been planting an English perennial garden for somebody else. She's given me free rein to choose the plant material and I so love the creative challenge.


Friday, May 28, 2010

Play Day

This afternoon I have a play date. Some garden friends are coming by with their children and we are going to split and replant the Sempervivum (Hens & Chicks).

We'll be selecting all the pots that are chock full, pulling the plants apart and giving them homes in new pots with room for those little chicks to spread out.

If you came by my house right now you'd see that I've been doing this splitting all month long. My front walkway has a number of these flats filled with all kinds of beautiful succulents.

Yesterday I picked up a few more trough containers. The place I get them from has very few left so I will only be able to get 3 or 4 more this season. These hypertufa containers are quite a bit more expensive than clay pots but so much more durable.

I have such fun looking for things to plant in the troughs. You'll always find a Sempervivum in the mix, this one on the left here is one of my favorites, it's name is 'Oddity'.

It's important to also step outside of the box and mix in some other material. The golden chartreuse of the Lysimachia nummularia 'Aurea' (creeping Jenny) is going to be fun to work with.

One non-succulent that I've had wonderful success with is Allium senescens glaucum which is the blue flat leaf foliage in the top corner of this trough. It was planted last year and came through the winter with flying colors, doubling nicely in size.

There are a few containers here for sale. They make excellent gifts, they are low maintenance and will live much longer than any cut flower arrangement.

For less money, there are some that are planted in clay pots. I planted a few of these last year and surprisingly the pots all survived the winter without any chips or cracks but I can't guarantee that will always be the case.

Here's a shot of my front stoop. These three troughs were planted last year and are not for sale. I have them slightly raised and they look like this all year long except for when they were covered with snow.

We are going to have such fun this afternoon!