Sunday, June 30, 2013

More on Color Combinations

Color is everywhere in my garden at this time of year.  A combination that I find enjoyable is the bee balm pictured above and below with the soft blue blooms of the Chaste Tree.  New this year in this area of the garden is the addition of the orange common daylily.  The daylily blooms seem to be looking up at the bee balm almost as though they were speaking to them.


Another combination that is new in my garden this year centers around the addition of Elephant Ears 'Illustrum'.  In the photo above 'Illustrum' is in a shady area under a maple tree.  Look how the green and chartreuse speckled Acuba to the right of 'Illustrum' and the chartruese colored Spirea 'Ogon' under the bird house pick up on the bright green veins of 'Illustrum'.  Interestingly enough, the same variety of Elephant Ears is in the photo to the right, but in a full sun environment.  The leaves are much darker, achieving almost a full black color.  This paired with the silvery white lambs ear makes for a shocking contrast.  I intentionally planted one of the Illustrum in the shade and one in full sun.  Before planting them I read that they tend to change color based on the light conditions that they are offered.  I enjoy both variations and color combination equally!

Shasta daisies get my garden though the summer adding a strong form and color for a long period of time.  It contrasts well with the deep purple of this Veronica.  The difference in shapes also work well together.  I am still waiting for the Veronica to fill in more in this area.  Once it does, the impact should be really beautiful.

I showcased this log turned into a planter in the spring when it was first planted.  I have never had such an easy planter! I have not had to dead head it and because of the consistent rain fall this year it has barely been introduced to a watering can.  The rain fall has neither caused mildew issues nor yellow/brown leaves.   The chartreuse green of Gold selaginella plays so well with the purple 'Catalina Midnight Blue' Torenia.  A Japanese Maple behind it also shares in the soothing color combination.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Bring Your Garden Inside

Every year starting in February I resolve this year I am going to cut flowers every week and bring them inside. I start out with cutting the daffodils and forsythia.  Somehow time escapes me though and I never get around to many more floral arrangements.   I guess it's due to the unending spring garden work that overtakes me.  Once I have mulched and pulled and divided, I am too tired to cut as well.  By this time of the year however, it is too hot to do much in the garden, plus the chiggers are in abundance.  So this week I had more time to think about flower arranging. 

My new resolution is that when it gets too hot to spend much time in the garden then I will bring some of the garden back inside to admire.  Even a simple display like the one above my fireplace mantle, brings me joy, not to mention quite a few compliments.  Oh, by the way, all the glassware in the picture came from The Dollar Store.  The candles also came from there, so the total cost for the display was $14!  You can also use this arrangement on a dining room table and it looks amazing.

This picture is not the best.  Yes, I know it's a little blurry, but you can still grasp the idea that cutting a few Acuba leaves, three daisies and a hydrangea blossom can make for a pretty and simple display.  Hydrangeas, once cut will last for about a week and daisies will last even longer.  So when it get too hot for you, do what I did and bring some of your garden inside!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Creative Combinations



 In my last post I wrote about color combinations being important for a visually pleasing display.  This is not easy for many people including me, so I have found that it helps to always be aware of my surroundings for ideas on color combinations in the garden.  My family spends time each summer at amusement parks around Virginia.  One in particular, Busch Gardens is an amusement park that has beautiful floral displays throughout their grounds.  We were there in the spring and I was looking around to see what I could copy in my own garden.  The pot in the pic to the left is one example of what I found and copied.

I get excited about plant combinations that I see in garden magazines, however trying to find those varieties of plants in my local garden centers can sometimes be impossible.  If I see something local, then I know I can probably find it in the garden center down the road versus a magazine where the picture of the plant combo was taken in another state.
Garden Centers have also become good sources for creative combinations as they frequently have pre-made flower pots. I was at a local garden center this week and saw their combination of 'Stella d'Oro' daylilies and an orange/gold Lantana. Like most gardeners in Virginia, I have 'Stella d'Oro' daylilies in my garden. I loved the way the daylily picked up on the gold in the lantana. It was a stellar plant combination, so I picked a couple of the lantana up and planted them in front of the 'Stella d'Oro' daylilies which are in full bloom right now. 

A sea of Shasta Daisies
I don't keep track of daylily varieties!

Daylilies and Coneflowers

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Tips for a Perennial Garden

Common Orange Daylily, Buddleia 'Black Knight', Pink Coneflower, Verbena bonariensis
I was reading an article this week about patience in the garden.  The author was saying that a gardener requires this attribute because a garden takes time to fill in and come together.  I completely agree.  My current garden has been growing for ten plus years now and it has taken a long time for the plants to fill in.  Through trial and error though I have some tips that might help speed your garden along if you have just recently caught the gardening bug. 

TIP #1:  There are two types of plants to buy - those in large quantities for impact and single plants that will be your statement plants.  Buy plants in large quantities in odd numbers (3, 5, 7, etc.).  In my garden daylilies, bee balm, sedum, and shasta daisies make the grade for large quantity impact plants because they tend to spread out a little more each year, but still stay in their respective areas.  Your statement plants are going to be a single plant purchased that may have something unusual about the form (color/variagation, leaf size/shape, flower shape or size).  I like having a few statement plants (like the Buddleia 'Black Knight') because it allows your eye to stop and really take the plants form and color in before continuing to view the waves of color that the quantity/impact plants give to the garden. When I first started in this garden I made the mistake of buying one or two of everything I set my eyes on.  My garden was a visual mess! It's so hard to focus when you go into a garden center and most gardeners want to try just about everything!  Which leads me to TIP#2

TIP #2:  Make a list of of what you want to purchase and where you want to put it before you leave your house for the garden center.  It's too easy to lose focus when you are face to face with hundreds of potential plants to take home. A list will help direct you to what you really need and have space for in your garden.  Use books, magazines and websites to help you build your list. 

TIP #3:  Buy large containers of plants.  When I go in to the garden center I look at the prices (YIKES!) and then head to the small quart size perennials.  Experience takes hold of me after a minute and I go back to the larger containers.  Why go big?   Larger plants get established much faster in the garden because their root systems are larger.  Those quart size perennials can not handle the droughts and heat of Southeast Virginia come July because they have small roots.  Additionally, the color impact is better with the larger size perennials.  As much as it hurts your wallet to go big, in the end you won't have so many plants fail to thrive in the heat of the summer.

Scientists and artists are typically polar opposites.  In the case of the gardener to really have an exceptional garden, I think you have to be both.  Science for determining the soil, water and light conditions.  Art for being able to put together color and pattern in a way that is visually pleasing to the eye.  I know a gardener that has the science part down perfectly.  His plants are lush and large.  He took care to have good soil and install a drip line for his plants.  However, he has not mastered the art of color combination.  Lavenders with neon pinks are not eye candy!  TIP #4:  Before purchasing a plant consider the neighboring plants and how they will visually work together.  If the color or pattern combo is not going to work then don't buy it!  Some of my favorite combinations are pinks and lavenders in the spring moving in to more oranges, golds and purples in the summer. 


Wednesday, June 12, 2013

A Day Without Rain...Finally

I think all creatures great and small in Williamsburg were happy to have a day without rain yesterday!

Verbena bonariensis makes a wonderful resting place for yellow finches.  They can pick the seeds out of the flower heads as well.

  Catch the sunlight while you can.  It's supposed to rain again tomorrow!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Tropical Storm Andrea

Tropical Storm Andrea rolled through Williamsburg on Friday evening.  I knew that this was going to be a key opportunity for the deer to feast on my daylilies.  With so much rain water pelting down on the daylilies, the deer repellent that I spray on each week wears off quickly. 
Saturday morning I went out to inspect and my friend had been in the garden munching away as suspected.  It's taken years, but my daylilies have multiplied to such an extent that the deer only made a small dent in his destruction.

I knew after such a large storm like Andrea that the wildlife would be out in full force.  I was on the look out for snakes in particular.  I don't like to be surprised by them in the garden and it has happened several times.  We have had Black Racer Snakes and Virginia Brown Snakes in the garden and yard before.  We are fortunate not to have seen any Copperheads, although other people on our street have found them in their back yards.  The only snake I found this morning though was a little Virgina Brown Snake which I don't mind at all.  It was draped up on my pea vines, probably in an attempt to not get swept away by the torrential rain.
My kids love snakes.  They came running outside in eager anticipation, as soon as I said there was a snake in the garden.  One of the best things about gardening as a mother is that it tends to pull your kids outside too, away from the TV and video games.  Anytime I find something interesting in the garden I always tell my kids and they coming running out to take a look.  They end up staying outside for hours then investigating other features of the great outdoors. 
I added a new perennial to my garden this spring called Verbascum 'Banana Custard'.  It's flower form is similar to hollyhocks.  It is a wonderful back of the border or along a fence perennial, adding height without taking up a lot of space. Mine are planted in between a row of peonies.  I love peonies, but their bloom period is so short, so this should give a little more color to that area for a longer period of time.  It was an easy plant to tuck in between the large peony plants. I love the light yellow color.  It would look really nice planted next to hydrangeas with their deep blue and purple blooms.  Their forms would also complement each other, one being round and the other being tall and narrow.  I will have to pick some more of these up next year!



Friday, June 7, 2013

Full of Surprises

The birdhouse is a new edition this year.  My husband helped anchor it in early Spring and I have been patiently waiting for a bird to make it into a home.  Finally, this past week while out in the garden, I noticed a twig sticking out of the entrance. 

Here is the inside of the birdhouse.  Looks like I have a visitor.  I am so excited!  I have noticed a blue jay this week in the backyard.  I am not a bird aficionado, so I have no idea if blue jays would take to this type of home.  Stay tuned....


 I have a new woodland path in my garden. The only plants that have been added thus far are three Ligularia 'The Rocket' plants.  I have wanted 'The Rocket' for many years.  I have seen them in magazines and on garden shows and they look amazing with their huge yellow flowering stalks dancing high above their leaves.  Naturally, this was the first plant that I purchased when I finally had a bit of deep shade to garden in. We were recently gone for a weekend.  There was 5 1/2 inches of rain while we were away.  Upon return, I took a walk down the woodland path and could see the deep canals that the rain had made through the woods.  What I didn't see was any sign of my Ligularia plants.  Two were completely missing!  I don't mean gnawed down to the ground by some irritating fuzzy creature.  I mean completely gone.  You can see in the picture to the left that there is clearly a hole in front of the stone head.  That's where my Ligularia used to be.  Another one further down the path was also totally gone. Now, deer have pulled my plants out of the ground before, but they have always been kind enough to leave the plant or at least part of the plant (with rootball in tact) nearby.  Not this time...I looked all over for the Ligularia with no luck.