Showing posts from 2018

Electric Blue Gecko Elephant Ears - for a Bold Touch

Want to create a bold statement in your garden this summer? Elephant ears (Colocasia esculenta) sport large, colorful leaves and give your garden an instant tropical effect. They like sun, moist soil and warm weather (zones 8-11). 
The Gecko series from breeder Brian Williams of the mail order nursery, Brian’s Botanicals in Louisville, KY is vigorous and change color like a true gecko. 'Electric Blue Gecko' grows 3 ft x 3 ft and has foliage that can look deep purple, black or even metallic-blue in different light.  It has maroon undersides.  It looks great against coleus and colorful annual flowers! 

Deep blue stems hold the foliage high which makes it look great in a container or in mass plantings and in the front or middle of the border. It likes moist but well drained soil - not too soggy.

Collect the ashes in your fireplace now.

Now that winter is coming to a close you can utilize a valuable soil amendment from your fireplace: Wood ashes. They are rich in Potash which “sweetens” the soil by raising the pH (more alkaline). Sweet soil is the balm of lilacs and other flowering shrubs. If your lilacs produce too few flowers, Potash can help.  Composting ashes is an ideal way to put them to use in the garden. Decomposing materials in the compost pile can become acidic and wood ash is more alkaline and helps offset this.
Apply regular wood-ash applications on soil beneath your shrubs in fall, winter and early spring.  You cannot apply too much; rain and snow dilute the concentration of Potash considerably. Empty thoroughly cooledfireplace ashes into a large container and then pour a large amount in a wide circle beneath the drip line of  mature lilac shrubs. For small ornamental, herb and vegetable plants,  pour about a cupful beneath them.
Here are plants that prefer sweet soil: Ornamentals:
Clematis, Gypsophila,  Japane…

Hellebore - An Unsung, Enduring Charmer

What is evergeen, deer resistant, thrives in shade, has flowers and comes back every year?

You could answer Andromeda (Pieris) - but it doesn't really like shade. Perhaps you answered Hakonechloa (Japanese Forest Grass) but it doesn't have flowers. Daffodils are not evergreen. Grasses, Boxwood and sedges don't meet this criteria either....

The problem free, shade loving Hellebore is the answer. They are a perfect plant for your garden.

The Perennial Plant Association's Plant of the Year for 2005, Hellebores bloom from winter to early spring across the United States, depending on zone and variety. They are hardy from Zone 5 - 9. 

They like light to moderate shade, especially an area shaded by deciduous trees, and protection from summer heat.

Hellebores sport drooping, buttercup-like flowers colors of pink, mauve, white, green, burgundy, yellow, black-purple, bi-colored, speckled and more. These flowers last into the summer, becoming greener or darker with maturity.

They make a s…

Happy Valentines Day and Musings about the Color, RED

Valentines’ Day is synonymous with RED - red roses, red hearts and red carnations. Red, the hottest of the warm colors, is the color of love, romance, passion and energy.... (and of Target
Brides wear red in China, India and the Islamic countries. Audrey Hepburn wore it in Funny Face:

Red arouses, excites and evokes strong emotions. In fact, studies show that seeing red can stimulate your body to pump out more adrenaline and increases blood pressure, respiration and pulse rate.
I remember the first time I saw how powerful red could be - it was in the movie GiGi by Vincente Minelli. I was very young and I sat in the movie theater looking at the magnifent red salon in Paris, thinking how dull our little rooms in my Queens, NY apartment were.  

Minelli, a film director, was a master of color, saying, 
 "I use colors to bring fine points of story and character. " - Vincente Minnelli
I think Minelli got the red room idea from the French artist, Henri Matisse, another …

Buttercup Winterhazel (Corylopsis pauciflora) - An Early Spring Beauty

What blooms earlier than forsythia, has a delicate fragrance and is an easy-to-care for  compact delight ?  That is also hardy to USDA Zones 6-9 and native to Japan and Taiwan?

Buttercup winterhazel  (Corylopsis pauciflora)
Toward mid April (depending where you live), the bare branches of buttercup winterhazel hang with inch-long clusters of soft yellow flowers that appear as little lanterns.  The fragrance is noticeable, making it perfect near a sitting spot.

  It was awarded the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit (AGM) in 1993. 

Winterhazel is good in a small city garden or as a woodland underplanting in open shade.  It glows in front of evergreens and is a perfect pairing with purpleRhododendron mucronulatumsince they flower at the exact same time. 

And winterhazels look wonderful with snowdrops and hellebores!

Some Great Seed Catalogs

“In Hindi, seed is bija or ‘containment of life." Vandana Shiva
Ah, so true.... One of the most alarming films I have seen in a long time is Seed the Untold Story.  Please get your library to get it! It is not to be missed!

So where should we buy our little 'containments of life' these days? Here are a few seed companies that are worthy of a look:

Renee’s Garden
Check out their Basil collection of seeds and their "Rainbow Kitchen Garden",  5 packets of colorful vegetable varieties that are easy to grow and great for anyone starting a garden from seed. Includes:
Farmer's Market Lettuce Mix: rainbow of colors and texturesGarden Candy Cherry Tomatoes: red, orange, yellow and sweet as sugarTasty Duo Scallions: red and green skinned, savory and crispTricolor Bush Beans: purple, yellow and green podsTricolor Zucchini: gold, light and dark green, with buttery flavor

Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds - This group offers heirloom and open pollinated seeds. This will be so impo…

Eeyore's Garden Advice

Plants are always talking - you just have to take the time to listen. Eeyore is very wise.

They peek their heads out and say, 'Hey look at me!'

They hang over the edge of a planter and look up saying, 'Happy Summer!"

And they grow in a bunch holding forth to anyone who hears them....

Thank you, A.A. Milne.


This is from Proven Winners

Feng Shui Your Garden - Diagram


Simple Sizzle - Lemon Daddy Hydrangea

'Lemon Daddy' Hydrangea lights up a soggy scene in one of my gardens.  The theme is rounded forms. The colors are green, yellow and beige. The mood is slightly damp. The lighting is muted, as are the sounds. It is a precious moment and Lemon Daddy adds a simple sizzle.

A Snowy Full Moon in January

Two evenings ago, driving along a road in open farm country, I watched as the January full moon rose over a snowy landscape...
The large white disc shining brightly in a liquid gray sky was spectacular!
 I now understand why animals howl at the moon - it must be a sympathetic show of appreciation and awe. The grandeur of the full moon made me reflect on moon gates, the traditional Chinese circular entryways that lead into contained gardens and cities. The rounded opening alludes to the full moon and the Chinese adage that says, 'Flowers are more beautiful when the moon is full.'
Stepping through a round portal is symbolic of so many things. Like our entrance into this world, an enveloping enclosure calls to us to see what is on the other side. This sort of entry speaks to us of mystery and delight - no soaring Calatrava-like bridge or ornamented portico -  a moon gate beckons quietly, saying 'all is well, come see for yourself..."

photo by Jan Johnsen
One of the most lovely…