Monday, September 28, 2009

A Day To Reflect: Seeds

Grasses & Tree Peony...

Thursday, September 17, 2009

A rose is a rose is a rose...

Except that Gertrude Stein lived in Paris, not Chicago.

On one of my rare Facebook visits, a childhood friend asked me about overwintering her Parade Rose on a balcony. I had never heard of this rose, so I did a little net-surfing. It turns out the rose is really bred to be a cute centerpiece, not a long-term investment. That being said, a few people on-line said they did manage to make this rose last. For my friend's sake, I will say a few things that may help overwinter roses in general:
1.) Plant your rose in a container at least 18" by 18."
2.) Line the pot with insulation material (that pink, coiled styrafoam from Home Depot works).
3.) During the growing season, give it plenty of ventilation. But during the dormant season, bunch the rose pot up with your other plants close to the building wall in order to retain heat.
4.) Mulch the base of the rose with hardwood mulch.
5.) Pray.
6.) Look at it as a science experiment.
7.) If it doesn't make it, next year get a Knock Out shrub rose (they come in several colors now.)

I've pictured some of the original Knock Out. Above, see it in-context at a client's garden yesterday. Unlike most roses, Knock Out is not fussy or disease or pest attracting. It was bred in Milwaukee and blooms from June to frost. However, this year's swarm of Japanese beetles ate many plants they hadn't paid much attention to before. Image below tells you why we have so many of these shimmery green insects: everytime I photographed it this year, the beetle was (to mix a metaphor) making hay while the sun still shines.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Veggies: Reconnecting (Part II)

This is a follow-up to my post of July 1st. In that, I described a bit about an engaging (and now garden-engaged) client who was trying her hand at growing veggies for the first time. We met last week to discuss the future of her family's veggie garden. Not only had everything grown since my last visit, but she recounted some stories that embody why I love doing what I do. Below I quote her words. The pictures are hers as well.

"This is definitely a before and after situation, I will send Julie some photos of our lush veggie and butterfly garden as it is now. I said way back in February if I was able to cultivate even ONE vegetable from our seedlings I would be happy, it was beyond that: many snap peas, squash and cucumbers have been harvested. Today my grade schoolers had friends over and did a MYOS (make your own salad) playdate picking cherry tomatoes, mixing mint and basil and the little stinkers prematurely picked my Chinese eggplant@! I will admit I cheated on the tomatoes and peppers and bought the plants from the Farmers' Market, but there is always next year. We are so grateful to Julie for issuing us the passport for this journey, it has been exciting and restorative all at the same time."

I saw those lovely Chinese eggplant and have their intense purple coloring my memory...

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

More Madison Gardens: Part II

What strikes me about Mark's & Linda's garden is how careful maintenance is part of the whole...sometimes accompanied by the mutterings we gardeners can make, but mostly practiced with loving kindness and self-knowledge. This garden & its gardeners are a testimony to process. After all, isn't that the real joy of gardening?

Mark does most of the hardscape, Linda is the plants person.

Marvelous Gardens in Madison Part II

Well, I have finally kept my promise and can show you a few photos of Linda Brazill's & Mark Golbach's special garden in Madison. The reasons I rave about it are those qualities that are implicit in them and made manifest in their garden. This space is the sort of garden that makes me so content, I don't want to leave. It's subtle and yet endless intriguing. It forces me to pay attention and I am rewarded by myriad details that enchant and provide contrast so the whole resonates more than the sum of its parts.

They sometimes document their garden process in their marvelous blog for which Linda writes and Mark photographs: Each Little World.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Fun, Funky & Fuzzy Arum italicum

So the gardener part of me loves this plant. I cheat and grow it in dry soil when it wants rich. (Maybe that's why I don't have to worry about it being invasive). It wants to be protected in our zone 5 so at least I provide that. The fantastic foliage [large, veined, boldly shaped] isn't even in these images since the leaves are dormant this time of year. But I confess I had to show the fruit here because it is striking. I have seen many people passing by and being awed. Grown-ups and kids. Our friend, Steve (who is in from San Diego to paint our new energy-efficient windows) tells me that as he stares out the window while painting he has seen tons of folk stop and photograph. I have tried to take a good picture several times and have been defeated by the light conditions and my own artistic shortcomings. So, since I promised I would document for Mark & Linda in Madison, here are two fuzzy shots that at least give a sense of the red red berries on the how-can-you-ignore-it stalk.

It's companion plants are Hydrangea 'Annabelle,' Vinca, some Valerian I cut as soon as it flowers, Christmas Fern, a Toad Lily whose species I've forgotten and Variegated Solomon's Seal. It all survives a lot of shade from the evil Bradford Pear on the city parkway and continuous dog pee. And winter salt.