Sweetly Fragrant Lady of the Evening: Delighting in Angel’s Trumpet Datura

June 15th, 2013 § Comments Off on Sweetly Fragrant Lady of the Evening: Delighting in Angel’s Trumpet Datura § permalink

Angels_Trumpet_Datura_in_Bloom_(Datura_meteloides)_michaela_medina_harlow_thegardenerseden.com She Flies by Night Upon Perfumed Clouds: Angel’s Trumpet Datura (Datura meteloides ‘Evening Fragrance’)

At nature’s golden hour —as the sun begins her daily, departing dance along my hilltop— evening creatures and shadow-spirits begin to stir. I love strolling through the garden with a glass of wine at this time of day; watching as backlit flower petals transform to brilliant stained glass. Lingering long in the deepening twilight, eventually I make my way back to the breezeway where I find evening drama unfolding beside the door.

Greeting me with a sweet, olfactory aperitif at sunset, Angel’s Trumpet Datura (Datura meteloides ‘Evening Fragrance’, aka D. inoxia), makes a show-stopping entrance and continues to enchant, late into the evening. With her enormous, silken, white petals and intoxicating perfume, delightfully fragrant Datura is my absolute favorite among the night-blooming flowers. Mysterious, exotic and dangerous —flowers, leaves and seed are all highly toxic— this hypnotic beauty resides in a protected spot beside my entryway door. A tender, sun-loving, summer-blooming shrub with a preference for evenly moist soil (3-4′ tall and wide at maturity, hardy in USDA zones 8-11), I often feature Angel’s Trumpet Datura ‘Evening Fragrance’ on patios, balconies and terraces as part of my annual, container arrangements. But beware: this show is an adults-only pleasure. Like all poisonous plants, Datura meteloides should not be included in gardens where children or pets wander unsupervised.

For more information about night blooming flowers and moon gardens, please click back to my previous post, here. Datura meteloides ‘Evening Fragrance’ seed may be purchased from Johnny’s Seed and Thompson and Morgan online.

Photography & Text ⓒ Michaela Medina Harlow/The Gardener’s Eden. All images, articles and content on this site (with noted exceptions), are the original, copyrighted property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be reposted, reproduced or used in any way without prior written consent. Contact information is in the left side bar. Please do not take my photographs without asking first. Thank you! 

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A Trio of Central American Beauties: Hot House Queens from the Tropics . . .

March 26th, 2013 § 3 comments § permalink

Heliconia vellerigera 'She Kong' ⓒ 2013 michaela medina harlow - thegardenerseden.com JPGNative to the tropical Americas, Heliconia vellerigera’s (cultivar pictured: H. vellerigera ‘She Kong’), yellow blossoms are accented by  fuzzy, red bracts that remind me of the glamorous, fluffy shrugs worn by Hollywood starlets. An important food-source for hummingbirds, the Heliconias require constant moisture, warmth, partial to full sunlight and rich soil.

Flower gardening in the Great White North is a seasonal affair. Unless you have your own greenhouse or access to a large-scale conservatory, there are few flowers to be enjoyed in New England during the months of winter and very early spring. For a hortimaniac, it’s hard to live life without flowers. Like many northern gardeners, I suffer from zone envy and I often spend my snowy evenings fantasizing about a heated glasshouse and dreaming of all the exotic beauties I’d invite to my housewarming party.

In the meantime, there’s always travel. And over the past few weeks, I’ve been meeting some of my favorite, hot house beauty queens up close and personal, in their natural, tropical habitat at the Tree of Life Wildlife Rescue and Botanical Garden in Cahuita, Costa Rica (learn more about this special place in upcoming posts). Here are three of my favorite, hotties from the tropics; brilliantly colored plants I adore, and regularly visit in my dreams. But although they can be enjoyed outside during New England’s growing year, these tender lovelies must have a warm, moist  habitat year round. Large conservatories can grow large tropical plants without trouble, however most average, cold-climate homes can host only one or two. I can’t make a proper home for Heliconia or Etlingera , but the Crimson Passionflower Vine (Passiflora vitifolia), having long ago twined her way ’round my heart, will once again find a home at my front door this summer . . .

Pink Tulip Ginger (Nicolaia elatior) ⓒ 2013 michaela medina harlow - thegardenerseden.comjpg Native to Java, but cultivated throughout the tropics, Etlingera elatior or Nicolaia elatior (Pink Tulip Ginger) reminds me of the magical wands carried by good witches in fairytales. The torch gingers are large plants (up to 20′ tall) and require  ample space, moisture and sunlight.

Passiflora vitifolia (Crimson Passionflower Vine) ⓒ 2013 michaela medina harlow - thegardenerseden Native to Central America and Northwestern South America, Passiflora vitifolia (Crimson Passionflower Vine) is a hummingbird favorite that blooms on and off throughout the growing year. A great choice for vertical garden spaces, this vine can grow 20′ or more and requires ample sun, moisture and a trellis, pergola or arbor for support. Northern gardeners can grow this beauty as a tender perennial in protected spaces, and bring her inside to a bright, warm, sunny room to overwinter. This may be the perfect tropical companion for tropical lovers in the great white north.

Photography and Text ⓒ Michaela Medina/The Gardener’s Eden. All images, articles and content on this site (with noted exceptions), are the original, copyrighted property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be reposted, reproduced or used in any way without prior written consent. Contact information is in the left side bar. Please do not take my photographs without asking first. Thank you! 

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Tip-Toe Through the Tree-Tops: Monteverde Cloud Forest, Costa Rica …

March 7th, 2012 § 3 comments § permalink

Selvatura Park, Santa Elena, Costa Rica: Suspended Bridges Span Verdant Valleys & Lush Canopies of Mist-Covered Tree Tops

When describing a great adventure, sometimes the hardest part is knowing where to begin. Such was the case when I returned from my recent travels in Costa Rica. Because I truly fell in love with one particular area —the Monteverde Cloud Forest Region— I knew right away that I would find it impossible to tell the tale in chronological order. So I skipped right to the middle, and I hope you won’t mind!

Getting to Monteverde Cloud Forest —4,662′ above sea level— is quite a journey in and of itself. Miles and miles of narrow, dusty dirt roads twist and turn up, around and through the rugged mountainous terrain in the Puntarenas region. The travel is slow-going, with tourist-filled busses and supply trucks popping up around perilous corners. Although I love to drive, for once, I was very happy to be in the passenger seat!

The View from the Mountains Leading to Santa Elena, Looking Down to the Coast and Nicoya Peninsula 

The Monteverde area sits high above sea level, spanning Costa Rica’s continental divide, and encompassing a variety of microclimates.  The Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve is a protected, natural area founded by American Quakers when they settled the area and began farming in 1951. Since that time, more Cloud Forest area has been devoted to parks and preserves …

Mist-Covered Tree Tops at the Edge of the Continental Divide, Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve

Cloud Forests are truly some of the rarest, most magical places on Earth. Only 1% of the world’s wooded areas are cloud forests. While staying in Santa Elena de Monteverde at the beautiful Arco Iris Lodge, I visited two of these mysterious, mist-covered forests within minutes of each other: Selvatura Park and Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve.

Michaela in the Monteverde Cloud Forest

Selvatura Park alone boasts 8 suspended bridges, carrying hikers through and above the cloud-shrouded forest canopy. We spent approximately 3 hours hiking in Selvatura Park, and a similar amount of time in Monteverde Cloud Forest; listening to the sounds of tropical birds, breathing in the moist, warm air and ogling countless botanical beauties. There are far too many photographs and stories to share in just one post, but here’s a first glimpse at some of the incredible flora I observed at ground level. I truly felt as if I were roaming a gigantic terrarium …

Slender Threads of Mucuna Vine (there are seven different species in Costa Rica) Drape Between the Trees Like Emerald-Hued Web

Delightful Combinations of Hart’s Tongue (Elaphoglossum eximium) & Tree Ferns Mingle Upon & Between Moss-Covered Trunks

Begonia convallariodora, a cloud forest native, blooms in the shadowy, blue mist

This gorgeous, pink-tinged Blechnum occidentale, stands out amid her lush, verdant neighbors

Another Native of the Monteverde Reserve, This Beautifully Pink-Tinted Begonia involucrata Shimmers with a Fresh Coat of Raindrops

Familiar, Yet Strange: It’s Always a Pleasure to Stumble Upon a Common Houseplant —Like this Leathery Philodendron— Growing in Its Native Environment.

Bright Red, Tubular Cuphea appendiculata Flowering on the Forest Floor

Pathway Through the Monteverde Cloud Forest Floor, Lined with Senecio cooperi

At the End of One Trail, a Waterfall Spills Into a Fern-Lined Pool, Carved into Earth and Stone

Photographs and Text ⓒ Michaela Medina and WB for The Gardener’s Eden. All photos, articles and content on this site (with noted exceptions) are the original, copyrighted property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be reposted, reproduced or used in any way without prior written consent. Contact information is in the left side bar. Thank you!

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Field Notes from Costa Rica …

March 4th, 2012 § Comments Off on Field Notes from Costa Rica … § permalink

Arenal Volcano, Costa Rica

Where in the world is Michaela? Yes, it’s been a long time since my last blog post, of this I am well aware. But, if you have been following The Gardener’s Eden page on Facebook, you’ll know that I’ve been hiking all over beautiful Costa Rica. With warm, moist air and lush, tropical cloud forests filled with begonias, epiphytes, moss, ferns and so much more, this country is a hortimaniac’s dream-come-true!

I have so much to share with you! Now that I have returned to snow-covered Vermont, I have many photos to sort through and stories to tell. I’ll be back with more soon, but here are a few photos to wet your appetite!

Michaela Standing in the Wet Winds at the Continental Divide – Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Preserve – Costa Rica

Enjoying a Hike, Surrounded by Lush Moss, Ferns and Epiphytes of Every Kind Imaginable in the Costa Rican Cloud Forest at Monteverde

Enjoying a Canopy-View of the Cloud Forest & Strolling the Suspended Bridges in Selvatura Park, Santa Elena, Costa Rica

Photographs and Text ⓒ Michaela Medina and WB for The Gardener’s Eden. All photos, articles and content on this site (with noted exceptions) are the original, copyrighted property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be reposted, reproduced or used in any way without prior written consent. Contact information is in the left side bar. Thank you!

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Dusting Off, Cleaning Out, Taking Stock & Getting Ready for Gardening Season… Plus Another Giveaway!

April 18th, 2011 § 33 comments § permalink

The bright gold of Kalanchoe blossfeldiana is a cheerful welcome in a chair beside my front door. I like using natural baskets as decorative covers for inexpensive, recycled plastic flower pots. I do a similar thing with plants placed outside in summer, using everything from wooden crates and baskets to tin cans and flea market finds to add color, texture and interest to plants with less-than-attractive interior containers.

Ah, fog, mist, sunshine and April showers. What a mixed jumble the forecast is this week! My schedule seems to be at the mercy of the elements lately. But, undaunted by the moody weather, I’ve decided to take advantage of the unpredictable situation and use any rainy days or hours this week to sort through and give a spring cleaning to the growing collection of baskets and pots in my Secret Garden Room.

I love accenting my garden with colorful pots and overflowing baskets, but moving containers in and out every season results in a bit of wear and tear. Each year a few woven baskets are retired to the compost pile, and I lose one or two clay pots to a ‘whoopsie’. For the most part, I’ll replace those containers with new ones found at flea markets, tag sales, curb-side freebies and recycling centers. But sometimes a special handmade vessel catches my eye and I will add to my collection of beautiful clay pots, ceramic urns and stoneware containers. Right now I am admiring a few gorgeous pots I spotted at the lovely online garden store, Terrain, and last fall I also spied a bunch of fabulous pieces at Virginia Wyoming’s pottery studio in Westminster, Vermont. There are so many wonderful handmade pots on Etsy and local craft fairs. I like supporting independent artists when I can, and I always encourage others to do so as well…

Sometimes an Empty Vessel is as Lovely as a Container Filled with Plants. Here, a Cracked, Old, Clay Pot Adds Character to a Shady Nook Filled with Perennials (Including Kiregeshoma palmata and Astilbe) in My Garden

I Like to Create New Container Garden Vignettes Every Year. Here in Front of My Painting Studio, a Collection of Pots, Urns and Vessels Brings Color and Life to the Stone Terrace and Tobacco-Stained Barn Siding. All of these pots came from local, Vermont sources like Walker Farm and A Candle in the Night

Here’s Another Empty Vessel in the Walled Garden. I Love Contrasting a Smooth Surfaced Pot with Intricately Textured Foliage. Here, Indian Rhubarb (Darmera peltata) Provides a Lacy Skirt on this Beautiful Piece of Pottery.

Like many gardeners, I’ve recently become enamored with succulent container gardening. And why not? Succulents –and their close relatives, cacti– are so easy to care for. Last year, my studio’s steel balcony was filled with all sorts of dramatic pots (including the one pictured below), crammed with outlandish, colorful beauties and textural curiosities. Like ornamental grasses, succulents make great container plants for hot, dry spaces; think stone terraces, decks and windy balconies. Of course not all succulents are cold-climate hardy, so they must come inside if you live in a wintry region. But some cacti and succulents –including many sedum, sempervivum and others– are quite tough, and can be overwintered outdoors. Most of these fleshy, shallow-rooted plants are easy to propagate, and in cold climates, cuttings can be taken indoors before the frost in autumn and saved for next year’s container display. If you live in New England, I recommend signing up for Walker Farm’s free, succulent container gardening seminar on May 7th (click here for details). Daisy Unsicker, who will be leading the seminar with owner Karen Manix, propagates some incredible succulents at Walker Farm. Daisy creates gorgeous and inspirational succulent containers. Click here —or on the photo below— to see my previous post on “Un-Flower Pots”, for more unconventional, lower-maintenance, container gardening ideas.

A Collection of Plants (including Sempervivum and Haworthia) From Last Year’s Succulent Container Garden – Click Here for Post with More Details, Photos and Plants

A few years back, The Jewel Box Garden, one of my now-favorite container gardening books by Thomas Hobbs (author of the also gorgeous garden book, Shocking Beauty), inspired me to look at unconventional ways to use pots and vessels in my landscape. And more recently, I’ve found some fabulous ideas in Debra Lee Baldwin’s book Succulent Container Gardens from Timber Press. If you’ve been following this blog for awhile, you may remember that I’ve mentioned this title before; both here and over at Barnes & Noble’s now-archived Garden Variety. This is a fabulous book, and a real must-have for any cacti/succulent lover or container gardening enthusiast.

Order Succulent Container Gardens by Debra Lee Baldwin from Amazon.com image courtesy of fabulous publisher, Timber Press

Because I love this book so much, I’ve decided to purchase one to give away as part of this blog’s second anniversary celebration. To enter, simply leave a comment on today’s post, and in your comment, tell me what you like to grow in containers: ornamental plants, vegetables/herbs, or both. Be sure to correctly enter your email address so that I can contact you if you win the giveaway (your email won’t be visible to others, nor will it be shared or sold). Your entry must be received by 11:59 pm Eastern Time, Friday, April 22nd. A winner will be randomly chosen from the entries received in comments, and announced 4/25 here, on this site’s Facebook page, and also on Twitter. Due to shipping restrictions, this giveaway is open to readers in the United States and Canada only.

Good Luck! xo Michaela

The Winner of Debra Lee Miller’s Succulent Container Gardens is Lisa N. Congratulations Lisa!

Thank you to everyone for playing. If you didn’t win, please stay tuned for another chance this month!

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Article and Photographs (with noted exception) ⓒ Michaela at The Gardener’s Eden

All photographs, articles and content on this site, (with noted exceptions), are the original, copyrighted property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be used or reproduced or reposted without prior written consent. Contact information is in the left side bar. Thank you!

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