A New Path Through the Forest …

August 31st, 2011 Comments Off

Water Falling in a Brook Near My Home

A new path has been cut through my forest, and I couldn’t be happier. As of today, my previously marooned community has a new –primitive, but very functional– four wheel drive access road. Words can not express how grateful and relieved I am, both for my neighbors –including a couple with a brand new baby– and myself, for a way in and out of our woods. We knew that a tropical storm was headed our way, and we were all prepared for Irene’s wrath, but none of us anticipated the level of damage caused by the 8-11″ of rainfall and subsequent flooding from the storm.

Here in southern Vermont, the response to our need during this time of crisis has been swift and strong. Within hours of the disaster, professionals and volunteers sprang to action, helping us gain access to critical services and begin the long task of cleaning up and rebuilding. And for the tireless work of the Vermont National Guard, construction crews, machine operators and many volunteers –working around the clock here to restore our roads and electrical service in the wake of flooding caused by Tropical Storm Irene– I am deeply grateful. Thank you, from the bottom of my welly-clad soles!

Wild Mushrooms Cling to Emerald Moss

It’s strange how different I felt about my forest home over the past few days; knowing I had no way out, except by foot. I grew up in a very remote location –the nearest gas station and country store was a half hour away by car— so isolation has never frightened me. In fact throughout the long winter –when I am painting in my studio full-time– sometimes a week or two will pass before I make a trip into town for groceries or to share dinner with a friend. When my seclusion is by choice, it feels liberating. But while my road was completely inaccessible by car  (the bridge to the main road is still out, and will be for quite sometime) I suddenly felt trapped and isolated, even after just a few days. The mind has a way of playing tricks. It’s not that I was scared or worried. No, I’m quite comfortable alone in the forest and  knew help was on the way. I can only describe my uneasy feeling as restless agitation; like a wild animal pacing in confinement. I’m so glad to finally be free …

Many communities in New England and Upstate New York were devastated by flooding from Tropical Storm Irene. If you would like to help with Vermont’s recovery, click here for a reputable listing of relief organizations. The coming weeks and months will be challenging for all affected by the aftermath of these historic floods. We thank you for your support!

xo Michaela

Photographs and Text ⓒ Michaela Medina/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 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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Sunlight & Rays of Hope After the Storm

August 30th, 2011 § 2

The Light of Hope: Sunset After the Storm

Just a quick note to let all of you know that I am OK and working to clean up in the wake of Irene.  Flooding from more than 8″ of rain has devastated my community, much of Vermont, New England and many other areas along the east coast of North America. Currently, the bridge leading to my home, most local roads and power are all out. But I am fortunate: I have plenty of food and water, as well as a tiny generator and fuel to power batteries, cell phone and satellite. My neighbors are not so lucky. Many have lost homes, crops and businesses. It will be a long time before things go back to normal here.

Many thanks to all who have sent kind words of support and care via email, or on this site’s Facebook and Twitter pages. I am very grateful for all of your sweet messages. It means so much to know that you care!

Aerial View of Flooding Over the Connecticut River Valley. Image ⓒ W. Bonnette

I will be OK, but my fellow Vermonters –as well as many in Western Massachusetts, upstate New York, New Hampshire and elsewhere along the east coast– are in serious need of help. Vermont has been hit particularly hard by flooding: bridges, roads, powerlines, houses and entire towns have been destroyed. If you are able, and looking for a way to pitch in, Vermont Life posted this link to a listing of relief funds (click here) which I feel confident sharing with you. The coming weeks and months will be challenging for all affected by the aftermath of these historic floods. We thank you for your support!

xo Michaela

Photographs and Text ⓒ Michaela Medina/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 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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Gathering Beauty Before the Storm …

August 27th, 2011 § 2

Riding the Storm Out: Fragile Pots & Plants Gathered Safely Inside {plants, clockwise from bottom left: Verbena canadensis with Stobilanthes dyerianus (Persian Shield), Asclepias curassavica ‘Silky Red’ (Butterfly Weed), Angelonia angustifolia ‘Angelface Blue’ with Lysmachia nummularia (Creeping Jenny) and repeat}

Sunlight & Calm Before the Storm {Asclepias curassavica ‘Silky Red’ and Verbena canadensis. Campo de’Fiori pots available at Verde Garden & Home and Walker Farm in VT and online at Terrain.}

Lovely Lavender Haze: Verbena speciosa ‘Sterling Star’ Beside the Door

With voluptuous hydrangea blossoms gathered by the armful, and fragile pots all collected safely inside, there’s little left to do but wait out the storm. It feels a bit eerie, looking out at the summertime terrace –dining table and chairs folded neatly away–  the empty expanse of grey stone, naked without its bright riot of floral color. But here inside –nestled in every nook and cranny– potted plants and freshly cut blossoms fill the house with beauty and fragrance. At the moment, I feel like a guest in an extravagant hotel conservatory, which gives me all sorts of delightfully outrageous ideas…

Freshly Cut Hydrangea from the Garden (H. paniculata ‘Limelight’)

Photographs and Text ⓒ Michaela Medina/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 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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Stormy Weather …

August 26th, 2011 § 5

Wind Driven Rain

Looks like we’re in for some stormy weather. Hurricane Irene is tracking up the eastern seaboard, and though we’ll likely experience more of a tropical storm here in Vermont, Sunday is sure to be wild and wooly. I’ve been preparing my home and garden for the tropical storm —pulling outdoor furniture inside, moving lightweight pots to the cellar, tying down anything that might smash windows or blow away— and harvesting as many flowers and as much produce as possible. Once I’ve finished securing the outside, I think I’ll start cooking up my own storm inside … Can’t let all that fresh produce go to waste!

If you’re on the east coast, please take good care.

Inside Out Storm

Viburnum Screen

Hydrangea Droplets

Halesia Rain-Blur

Photographs and Text ⓒ Michaela Medina/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 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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Renovate! How the Garden Next Door Went from Just Grass to Just Gorgeous …

August 23rd, 2011 § 3

A Prim & Proper Arbor Goes Drop-Dead Gorgeous in a Sexy New Shade of Sangria

It’s been awhile since I last featured one of my residential garden design projects on The Gardener’s Eden. And to be completely honest, I’ve been too busy planning and installing gardens to do much writing these days. But over the next couple of weeks, I hope to showcase more real, residential gardens which I designed or redesigned and helped to revamp this summer; all located in everyday, suburban neighborhoods. I love planning and planting all kinds of gardens, but my most rewarding projects usually involve collaborations with do-it-yourself homeowners —regular people with average gardening skills— ready and eager to roll up their sleeves and get to work. I get a great deal of pleasure from helping others by designing beautiful, low-maintenance gardens which make outdoor living more enjoyable …

Durable and Beautiful Fountain Grass (Pennisetum alopecuroides ‘Hameln’) Catches the Late Afternoon Light at the Edge of the Driveway

A Garden of Mostly-Native, Lower Maintenance Plants, This Section Features a Screen of Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Summerwine’, Liatris ‘Floristan Violet’, Asclepias tuberosa, Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’, Rudbeckia subtomentosa ‘Henry Eilers’ and Pennisetum alopecuroides ‘Hameln’

Ornamental Grasses are Great Problem-Solvers for Hot, Dry, Sunny Locations. Fountain Grass Softens Hard Edges and Works with the Riverside Setting of the Property

The front entry garden featured in this post —home of Geri and Stan Johnson in Western Massachusetts— was a particularly fun project this summer.  The couple recently renovated the interior of their sweet, riverside ranch home, and this year they decided it was time to take action on the outside. When I first met with them to discuss revamping their front landscape, I asked them about project scope, goals, style and budget. Geri is a successful real estate professional and she clearly understands the value of a well designed landscape, but a home is more than just an investment; it’s a place for family, friends and relaxation. Geri and Stan took the time to think about what they wanted from this landscape renovation before calling me for a consultation, making my job much easier! But even more important, working with open-minded clients like the Johnsons —who were willing trust my design recommendations and guidance, and take imaginative leaps at every turn— makes designing gardens fun and rewarding …

Front Entry Before, and After …

After coming up with  a master plan, I broke this front yard landscape renovation into three distinct areas for ease of installation: the entry garden, main walkway/foundation border (I’ll talk about this section in a future post) and retaining wall/arbor garden. Geri and Stan wanted several things from their new landscape. Because both homeowners are busy people, low-maintenance design was right at the top of their list. Creating a buffer from the road, and adding a bit of privacy was also important to them, but they wanted the first impression to be welcoming and attractive as well. Thoughtful neighbors, they requested that the new plantings not block the view of the river from the rest of the community. An existing, mature hedge of hemlock directly in front of Geri and Stan’s house provides protection from radiant road heat and the sound of passing cars, as well as a safe-haven and nesting space for local birds. I’m quite fond of our native hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) —a great choice for creating a soft, feathery garden backdrop and living privacy fence (click here for more info about my favorite conifer)— and used it as a jump-off point for a new garden design featuring mostly native plants. The backbone of the new entry garden is formed by a relaxed grouping of Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Summer Wine’, which extends the line of the existing hedge with a soft curve. To this anchor, a low-maintenance grouping of pollinator-friendly, long-flowering perennials and ornamental grass was added …

Welcoming but Protected: The New Garden Provides a Pretty and Durable Screen from the Road without Blocking the View to the River Beyond (Natives like Rudbeckia, Veronica and Sedum combine with Perovskia atriplicifolia and ornamental grasses to support local bees, hummingbirds, butterflies and other pollinators and seed-seekers throughout the seasons)

With a Meadow of Wild Bluestem Grass and Oaks Across the Street, It Seemed Right to Use Mostly Native Plants When Designing this Welcoming Garden

Viewed from Inside, this Garden of Mostly-Native Plants is Soft, Cool and Colorful (Heuchera ‘Palace Purple’, Agastache ‘Blue Fortune’, Echinacea purpurea ‘Magnus’ and Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Summer Wine’ provide food for pollinators at different times of the year)

Once the Plantings Fill-In (most designs take about three years before they begin to hit their stride) This Garden Will Provide a Soothing Drift of Low-Maintenance, Season-Long Color

Stan (who, among other things, owns and operates Songline Emu Farm with his wife Geri and her sister, Dee Dee Mares) was such an enthusiastic and hard worker (with the muscle and speed of three twenty year olds and far more attention to detail), I wish I could take him along on every landscaping project! Work began about one week after I marked out new beds with spray paint, cut English-style edges, and applied two doses of Nature’s Avenger (a non-toxic, organic herbicide used to kill crab and turf grass). Once the soon-to-be replace lawn turned orangey-brown, Stanley, his brother and nephew spread 6″ of loam/compost mix on top of the dead turf to build up raised planting beds; feathering the borders to meet the edges I’d pre-cut. I find this method of creating new garden beds to be both easier and less disruptive than manually removing sod and tilling soil.

While I went about the work of selecting and shopping for new, low-maintenance, native plants and installing the first garden, Stanley and his nephew removed an undesirable grouping of scraggly Spirea from the retaining wall garden and prepared the other beds for planting by moving existing plants, weeding and spreading fresh loam/compost. Once planted, the guys came back through and spread a 2″ thick layer of natural (un-dyed) hemlock bark mulch. The end result was a complete transformation of the front yard. But perhaps the most dramatic change in the garden happened near the very end, when Stanley brought up the refinished garden arbor from his garage. Although the original white color of the arch was perfect for niece Meagan’s wedding, this romantic landscape feature went bold and sophisticated in a fresh, vibrant shade of deep maroon; a much better match for this colorful, contemporary new garden. Amazing what a difference a few cans of spray paint can make!

Left-Over from Their Niece’s Wedding, This Garden Arbor Makes a Great Argument for Spray Paint Makeovers in This Dramatic Before (above) and After (below) …

Without Hesitating at My Suggestion, Stan Painted the Garden Arch a Deep Maroon (Which Seems to Change Hue with the Light) to Better Blend with the House and Enhance the Colors of Their New Garden. It’s a Real Knock-Out …

Plantings Surrounding the Maroon Arbor Flatter in Similar Hues and bold Pops of Color (Including this Liatris ‘Floristan Violet’and  Eupatorium rugosum ‘Chocolate’)

Fine textured maiden grass shimmers in the afternoon sunlight, accenting either side of the arbor and leading the eye down the garden path (Miscanthus sinensis ‘Gracillimus’). Nice work on that paint job, Stanley!

A Bold, Mass Planting of Fountain Grass (Pennisetum alopecuroides ‘Hameln’) Glows on the Opposite Side of the Richly-Colored Arch

Between the two mirroring sides of this long, road-side screen is a sunny to semi-shady walkway garden running the length of the house. I filled this last section of the garden —which I will cover in an upcoming post— with bold new perennials and a few colorful, season-spanning shrubs. I’ve many more projects to share, but in meantime, if you have any questions about the how-to end of this project, please feel free to post them in comments!

By working with a garden designer —who can help you create a site plan and shop for and perhaps place or even install plants— but doing the bulk of the physical labor/hardscaping yourself, you can save a tremendous amount of money on landscaping projects. Before you call in a professional, take the time to think about a few things; including your goals (how you hope to use your outdoor space, and your project time frame/deadline), your personal as well as your home’s style (formal, informal or somewhere between), your budget (remember that professional landscaping can add 10-20% to your home’s value, and immeasurable curb-appeal), and how much of the work you are willing and able to do yourself (experience and muscle matter here, so be brutally honest with yourself). Many landscape designers and garden coaches enjoy working with do-yourselfers. Need help finding a garden designer? Word-of-mouth is one of the best ways to find a landscaping professional (if see a garden you love, send or leave a note for the owner asking the designer’s name), but local garden centers/greenhouses, building contractors, stoneworkers, realtors and garden clubs are great sources of information as well.

A Big Thank You to Geri and Stan Johnson for All of Your Enthusiasm, Support and Hard Work! I Hope You are Enjoying Your New Garden!

Photographs and Text ⓒ Michaela Medina/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 reposted, reproduced or used in any way without prior written consent. Contact information is in the left side bar. Thank you!

Do you enjoy The Gardener’s Eden? You can help support this site by shopping through affiliate links (including Amazon book links). A small percentage of each sale will be paid to this site, helping to cover web hosting and maintenance costs. Thank you so much for your support!

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The Magic of Morning Light …

August 20th, 2011 Comments Off

A Web of Diamond Dewdrops, Left Dangling on the Balcony …

Early morning light is magical in the late summer garden. Soft and warm, the gentle rays illuminate fine textures and shimmering dew drops. I love to stroll the garden paths at this time of day. Sometimes my best design ideas come in the early hours, and when I observe a sunlit spot —an opportunity for backlighting texture— I make note of it in my journal. Later, when I spy a delicate, near-transparent colored flower or cloud-like plant —and I’m particularly fond of ornamental grasses— I will pick it up to accent the luminous space. Later in autumn and especially in winter (click here for photos of January light in my garden), the textures of the garden become even more pronounced as color fades back and detail takes center stage …

The Tips of This Feather Reed Grass (Calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’) Sway and Glow as the Sun Rises Behind Cranberry Bush Viburnum (Viburnum trilobum ‘Bailey Compact’)

This Aptly Named Maiden Grass, ‘Morning Light’, Shimmers and Shines Like Spun Gold at Sunrise (Here with Viburnum trilobum ‘Bailey Compact’ and fading blossoms of Rudbeckia hirta)

When Backlit by Early Sunlight, the Golden Bands of Porcupine Grass (Miscanthus sinensis ‘Strictus’) Stand Out in Bold Contrast to the Deep Wine Color of the Ninebark Beyond (Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Diablo’)

Photographs and Text ⓒ Michaela Medina/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 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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Late Summer’s Bold Crescendo …

August 19th, 2011 § 2

The Large Drift of Native Cutleaf Coneflower (Rudbeckia laciniata) in my Garden Glows Bright as the Late Summer Sunset

After the recent rain –almost overnight it seems– the gardens have exploded in a new wave of bloom. Stepping out with my morning coffee, I am seduced ’round the corner by the sweet and spicy fragrance of Summersweet (Clethra alnifolia) and the intoxicating perfume of exotic lilies. It’s time for the garden’s late summer crescendo; a bold and flamboyant show in shades of gold, chartreuse, brilliant orange and flame. As if painted by a wild-eyed expressionist, the beds and borders have taken on a jazzy new rhythm; bold color bands and vibrant drifts so full of exuberance, they sometimes spill right out onto the lawn. I am particularly fond of the maroon and gold combinations –a prelude to September– and the new shapes and textures emerging in the form of seed pods and fluffy inflorescences. Here are a few of my favorites and favorite pairings —with links back to previous plant profiles– from the mid-August garden…

Hazy Color Drifts in Maroon and Gold in the Long Border: Cutleaf Coneflower (Rudbeckia laciniata) Shimmers Before Shadowy Ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Diablo’). Beyond the Bands of Color, Spikes of Miscanthus strictus Catch the Last Light of Day. (I love the taller forms of Rudbeckia; particluarly R. lacinata ‘Herbstsonne’)

With so Many Late-Summer Blooming Perennials in the Garden, Sometimes I Take the Daylilies for Granted. And Then –Suddenly– One Just Knocks Me Out. This Unnamed Cultivar is Part of the Woodside Daylily Mix from White Flower Farm. The Daylilies Always Provide a Warm Welcome at the Edge of My Drive

A Fresh Fountain of Green & White, Striped Beauty: Eulalia Grass (Miscanthus sinensis ‘Variegatus’) at the Edge of My Wildflower Walk (read more about ornamental grasses for perennial gardens by clicking here)

Heliopsis helianthoides ‘Sommersonne’ & Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Summer Wine’ (click here to read more about one of my favorite native shrubs: Physocarpus opulifolius)

Kirengeshoma palmata (Yellow Wax Bells) with the Leaves of an Acer palmatum (click here to read more about Kirengeshoma palmata)

Echinacea purpurea with Eupatorium rugosum ‘Chocolate’ and Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’

One of My Absolute Favorite Late-Summer Combinations? Kaleidoscopic Cushion Spurge (Euphorbia polychroma ‘Bonfire’) with Dark-Leafed Joe Pye Weed (Eupatorium rugosum ‘Chocolate’). They Make Beautiful Music Together. 

I’ve Planted Hummingbird Clethra/Dwarf Summersweet (Clethra alnifolia) Beside My Studio Steps. Here the Spicy/Sweet Fragrance Gently Wafts in the Window and Perfumes the Garden Path. When Morning Light Illuminates the Spiked White Blossoms They Glow Like Candles. I Grow a Number of Clethra cultivars (click here for a profile of this beautiful and beneficial native plant)

A Favorite Spot for Morning Coffee, the Steel Balcony –Enclosed by a Golden Hops Vine-Clad Cable– Sits High Above the Secret Garden Room. Here, I Enjoy the Early Light of Day, as It Dances on the Garden and Forest Below

Golden Hops Vine (Humulus lupulus ‘Aureus’) Brings a Chartreuse Glow to the Steel Balcony Throughout the Summer. And in August, the Blossoms Catch Light, Raindrops and Lots of Attention (click here to read more about this glorious, perennial vine)

Photographs and Text ⓒ Michaela Medina/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 reposted, reproduced or used in any way without prior written consent. Contact information is in the left side bar. Thank you!

Do you enjoy The Gardener’s Eden? You can help support this site by shopping through affiliate links (including Amazon book links). A small percentage of each sale will be paid to this site, helping to cover web hosting and maintenance costs. Thank you so much for your support!

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Summer Lost and Found …

August 18th, 2011 § 3

A Red-Spotted Purple Butterfly (Limenitis arthemis) Visits Queen Anne’s Lace (Daucus carota) in the Wildflower Meadow

Where is summer? Has she flown? No, not yet. The days of this sweetest of seasons may be sliding by, but butterflies still float in meadows and ripe berries fill sunny hillsides. Though a touch of cool melancholy can be felt in evening’s air, there’s time yet for summer daydreaming; sprawled out in fragrant fields, filled with wildflowers …

A Serene Sea of White Lace

And Dusty Rose Hues: Queen Anne’s Lace (Daucus carota) Curled into a Blushing Pom Pom

Light on the Tawny Tones of Tufted Hair Grass (Deschampsia flexuosa)

Wild Blackberries on the Western Hillside

Summer Lost and Found

Photographs and Text ⓒ Michaela Medina/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 reposted, reproduced or used in any way without prior written consent. Contact information is in the left side bar. Thank you!

Do you enjoy The Gardener’s Eden? You can help support this site by shopping through affiliate links (including Amazon book links). A small percentage of each sale will be paid to this site, helping to cover web hosting and maintenance costs. Thank you so much for your support!

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After the Rain …

August 16th, 2011 § 2

The Vibrant but Subtle Detail of this Beautiful Leaf (Cotinus coggygria ‘Grace’) is Even More Striking when Sprinkled with Water Droplets on a Rainy Day

Ah, soft, sweet showers! At last, gentle grey clouds have delivered a long, cool drink of refreshing rain! I can almost hear my drought-parched garden singing a joyful song. And with silvery raindrops sparkling on trees, shrubs and vines, it’s a wonderfully romantic time for a stroll along the misty garden path, beneath a wide umbrella. Won’t you join me for a spell?

Hearts and Teardrops: The Leaves of This Old-Time Favorite, Dutchman’s Pipe (Aristolochia macrophylla), Look Fresh and Lovely After the Rain …

I’m Pretty Crazy About ‘Bonfire’ Euphorbia Any Day of the Week (Euphorbia polychroma ‘Bonfire’), But I’m Particularly Smitten with the Jewel-Toned Leaves on Rainy Days, when They Sparkle and Shimmer Like a Vintage Brooch

The Ripening Berries on this Tea Viburnum (V. setigerum) Dangle Like Diamond-Studded Chandelier Earrings

Delicate New Inflorescences on this Switch Grass (Panicum virginicum ‘Heavy Metal’) Shimmer Between Showers (Backed up by Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Diablo’ aka ‘Diabolo’/’Monolo’)

One of the Great Beauties of Late Summer: Blushing Tufts of Smoke Bush (Cotinus Coggygria) Gleam and Glimmer Like a Cluster of Pale Pink Sapphires

The Simple Beauty of a Single Leaf: Silverbells are so-named for their beautiful white flowers, but after a summer shower, this over-turned Halesia tetraptera leaf also conjures a metallic finish

Near the End of the Walkway, Calluna vulgaris ‘Silver Knight’ Glows Like Lavender in the Mist

Photographs and Text ⓒ Michaela Medina/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 reposted, reproduced or used in any way without prior written consent. Contact information is in the left side bar. Thank you!

Do you enjoy The Gardener’s Eden? You can help support this site by shopping through affiliate links (including Amazon book links). A small percentage of each sale will be paid to this site, helping to cover web hosting and maintenance costs. Thank you so much for your support!

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Hello There, Wayfaring Stranger: Viburnum lantana ‘Variegatum’ Greets Migrating Birds with Bright Red Fruits

August 15th, 2011 Comments Off

Viburnum lantana ‘Variegatum’ – Variegated Wayfaring Viburnum with Fruit in August

At this time of year —with migrating birds flocking to shrubs and trees, feasting on seeds and berries— the garden is alive with color and song. I love watching cedar waxwings and rose-breasted grosbeaks as they harvest ripe red fruit from branches of the woody plants surrounding my home. The annual visits of these winged, wayfaring strangers are so delightful, that I find myself continuously adding fruit-bearing plants to attract them to my hilltop (click here for previous post on berry producing shrubs)

Although the Fuzzy, Green & Gold Foliage is Lovely Throughout the Growing season, Variegated Wayfaring Viburnum’s Bright Red Berries —Attractive to a Wide Variety of Migrating Birds— are the Real Prize

Of course shimmering orange, blue, red and purple berries add delightful, late-season color to gardens, and my favorite group of shrubs —the viburnum— tend to be particularly fruity at this time of year. All of the Viburnum plicatum and Viburnum trilobum cultivars in my garden are already loaded with ripe, red and orange fruit, and the technicolor nannyberries (Viburnum lentago) are just beginning to shift from green to pinky-purple hues.

With season-spanning interest —including blossoms, beautiful summer foliage, berries and fall color— the Viburnums are true workhorses in my gardenAttractive to bees, butterflies and birds, Viburnum lantana ‘Variegatum’ is a perfect example; gracing the garden with green/gold foliage, creamy white blossoms and bright red fruit. I have positioned V. lantana ‘Variegatum’ along the entry garden walk, beside gold and green juniper which bring out the gorgeous variegation in this shrub’s fuzzy foliage. Hardy in USDA zones 3-7, the Wayfaring Viburnum (as Viburnum lantana is commonly known) is one tough shrub. In fact in many states, the species V. lantana —but note, not this particular cultivar— is considered an invasive plant. Although the species itself has spread by seed and become weedy, V. lantana ‘Variegatum’ (pictured here), has proven to be a non-agressive selection. While the mature height/width of V. lantana is generally listed at 6-8′, the Variegated Wayfaring Viburnum growing in my garden has reached only 4′ high and wide in 7 years. As this particular V. lantana cultivar reportedly does not set viable seed, propagation is by soft or semi-hardwood cuttings in spring.

Photographs and Text ⓒ Michaela Medina/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 reposted, reproduced or used in any way without prior written consent. Contact information is in the left side bar. Thank you!

Do you enjoy The Gardener’s Eden? You can help support this site by shopping through affiliate links (including Amazon book links). A small percentage of each sale will be paid to this site, helping to cover web hosting and maintenance costs. Thank you so much for your support!

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Sturgeon Moonlight on the River & Magical Meteor Showers …

August 13th, 2011 Comments Off

The Full Sturgeon Moon Rises Over the Connecticut River

Clear summer evenings are always wonderful for star-gazing, and one of my favorite ways to enjoy the night sky is sprawled out on a great, big blanket on the back lawn. The Perseid meteor showers have been spectacular this month, and although the Full Sturgeon Moon (which I caught rising over the Connecticut River last night) will interfere with viewing when meteors reach their peak August 12-13th, the shooting stars will still be visible –though less abundant– as the moon wanes. Click here –or on the image below– for more 2011 meteor shower information on the EarthSky website.

Meteor Shower Photo: ⓒ 1985 Jimmy Westlake via the EarthSky Website

August’s Sturgeon Moon is full tonightso named by Native American tribes for the plentiful fish found in the Great Lakes region this month– and our closest celestial neighbor will rise at 7:35 pm EDT in the night sky. The August moon is also known by other Native American names; including the Green Corn Moon and the Full Grain Moon. I just love lunar lore, don’t you? Enjoy the moonlight tonight my friends, I hope you have a beautiful, late summer evening. Hard to believe that our next full moon is the Harvest …

August’s Full Moon –Pictured Above– is Know Variously as the Full Sturgeon, Green Corn and Grain Moon

Photographs and Text (with noted and linked exception) ⓒ Michaela Medina/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 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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The Loveliest Ladies of August: Summer’s Beautiful, Late Bloomers are Well Worth the Wait …

August 10th, 2011 § 4

Blush-tinged blossoms and gorgeous, season-spanning foliage make Hydrangea quercifolia one of my favorite native plants (shown here with Juniperus squamata ‘Holger’ and the lingering blue flowers of Adenophora confusa) . Check out this shrub’s autumn coloration here!

After last night’s much-needed rain, I awoke to the sound of hermit thrush, sweetly singing in the hemlock stand beyond my bedroom window. Slowly the morning symphony of songbirds is subsiding; soon-to-be completely replaced by the cacophony of crickets and squawking blue jays. Late summer migration is already beginning, with geese flocking in fields and nearby lakes. Many songbirds will take flight this month; starting their long journeys south by the light of the August 13th full moon. Indeed, late summer is upon us, and even the garden is relaxing into vacation-mood; with lazy-day looseness replacing the tightly uniform patterns of early summer …

When Other Shrubs Look Past Their Prime, Hydrangea paniculata ‘Limelight’  Shines in August Spot; Here Beside Co-Star Fagus sylvatica ‘Riversii’, (read more about this dynamic duo here)

Of course for those of us staying on in colder climates —to weather all four seasons— there’s still much fair weather yet to be enjoyed. I so look forward to these golden, halcyon days of summer; work slowing down, days on the river, dinners from the garden and long flights over the valley at sunset. Of course, if you’ve been following this journal for awhile, you already know that the late season is my favorite time of year in the garden. Many of my garden’s largest beds and borders are planned for a late August through November color crescendo. I love the play of rich purple, maroon, chartreuse, fuchsia and saffron in the last weeks of summer and early days of autumn. And now that we’ve arrived in the second week of August, some of my favorite plants are budding up and coming into bloom. Included in this post are some of my all-time favorites. But really, the show is just beginning. Stay tuned for more late summer show-stoppers. But for now, to travel back to this post for a few late summer garden-design and plant combination ideas (click here). Or, for more past-posts and late-season plant profiles, click on the August through November archives; listed in the sidebar along the right side column …

Actaea simplex or Cimicifuga racemosa/simplex? Matters Not How She’s Taxonomically Categorized, Fairy Candles (favorite cultivars include the above: ‘Hillside Black Beauty and also, ‘Brunette’) are a Season-Spanning Delight with Swoon-Worthy Late Summer Fragrance! To read more and see Fairy Candle photos: check out this plant-profile (click here)

Tricyrtis formosana ‘Dark Beauty’ with Ucinia egmontiana (Click here to learn more about the Spotted toad lily, shown here in my garden with Orange Hook Sedge)

Read more about Bi-Colored Bush Clover, Lespedeza thunbergii ‘Edo Shibori’, in this post (click here

With Her Emerald Gown and Stunning, Late-Season Blossoms, Kirengeshoma palmata (Yellow Wax Bells) Will Always be a Shade-Garden Star (see more photos and get details on this lovely perennial by clicking here)

I adore this time of year in my garden, and keep adding more and more late season perennials and shrubs to expand and enhance the show. What are some of your August blooming favorites? Do you prefer the cool tones, the muted colors or the eye popping brights? Hope you will enjoy the glorious days of late summer while they last!

Photographs and Text ⓒ Michaela Medina/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 reposted, reproduced or used in any way without prior written consent. Contact information is in the left side bar. Thank you!

Do you enjoy The Gardener’s Eden? You can help support this site by shopping through affiliate links (including Amazon book links). A small percentage of each sale will be paid to this site, helping to cover web hosting and maintenance costs. Thank you so much for your support!

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Helianthus: Radiant Halo of Gold …

August 8th, 2011 § 2

Helianthus annuus ‘Double Quick Orange’ in the Kitchen

Sunflowers: welcome, radiant, golden beauty of the late summer garden! Is there anything quite so uplifting as a vase filled with their bright, nodding faces? I’m a big fan of annual sunflowers, and every year I grow a wide variety of Helianthus annuus in my potager; both for cutting and for simply enjoying while I work. Giant flowering types like ‘Double Quick Orange’ and long-stemmed cultivars like ‘Sonja’, ‘Sunrich Orange’ and ‘Autumn Beauty’ are some of my favorites for cutting. I also adore the darker sunflowers, such as ‘Moulin Rouge’, ‘Chocolate’, ‘Velvet Queen’, ‘Little Becka’. If you are short on space or gardening on a deck, terrace or balcony, dwarf varieties like ‘Sunny Smile’ and ‘Big Smile’ are great for even very small containers …

Helianthus annuus ‘Lemon Queen’ on the Dining Table

Provided full sun (8 hours a day is best) and good, compost-enriched soil, sunflowers are easy to grow, and a fun way to introduce children to gardening. When growing small numbers of sunflowers, some gardeners like to germinate seed indoors between damp paper towels. However starting sunflowers too early will often result in long, spindly, weak stems. I prefer to direct-sow sunflowers in my potager after the danger of frost has passed and the soil is thoroughly warmed (sunflowers require heat to germinate well). Wide spacing is important —particularly for large varieties like ‘Mammoth’— and providing a means of support —such as fence, wall or other structure— can help prevent toppling in high wind. When planted in May, I usually apply an organic fertilizer to my sunflowers —such as fish emulsion— mid-way through the gardening year.

Common sunflower pests include aphids, caterpillars and powdery mildew. Aphids can often be controlled with the blast of a hose or spot applications of insecticidal soap. It’s best to hand-pick caterpillars when possible, or target munched leaves with Btk (caution: Btk kills all caterpillars, including butterfly caterpillars, so use with discretion and in a targeted manner only). Powdery mildew can be treated with a homemade remedy (click here for previous post and scroll down for instructions on how to mix a home-made, anti-fungal treatment). Because fungal infections can be a problem for sunflowers, it’s a good idea to rotate their location in the garden each year. In addition to their stunning beauty as cut flowers, sunflowers also attract beneficial insects —such as bees and butterflies— to the potager. See a sunflower you like at the farmers market this year? Make a note of the variety and give it a try in the garden next year. I love growing a wide range of colors and sizes, planting early and late-maturing Helianthus annuus to span the entire growing year…

Helianthus annuus ‘Sunrich Orange’ Beside My Potager Seat

Helianthus annuus ‘Teddy Bear’ in the Cutting Garden

Photographs and Text ⓒ Michaela Medina/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 reposted, reproduced or used in any way without prior written consent. Contact information is in the left side bar. Thank you!

Do you enjoy The Gardener’s Eden? You can help support this site by shopping through affiliate links (including Amazon book links). A small percentage of each sale will be paid to this site, helping to cover web hosting and maintenance costs. Thank you so much for your support!

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Snip, Snip Here & Snip, Snip There: Mid-Season Container Taming Tips …

August 4th, 2011 § 3

Pots Filled with Vibrant Annual, Tropical & Tender Perennial Plants Accent the South-Facing Stone Terrace. The Sun & Moon Urn is a Long-Time Garden Favorite I picked up in Mexico. Empty Pots Make Great Accents Between Lush Plantings.

Having recently completed a whirl-wind maintenance tour of the Wildflower Walk and Secret Garden, my critical gaze took note of some annual containers in need of deadheading on the stone terrace, and tiny little weeds popping up between the decorative stone mulch in my succulent pots out on the steel balcony. By mid-season many containers and hanging baskets in the garden begin to look a little worse-for-the-wear. A phrase used by my friend Daisy earlier this year —at Walker Farm’s container garden seminar— immediately sprang to mind: “You control your plant, your plant doesn’t control you”. Well, then! Out come the garden scissors, fertilizer, and work tote. It’s time to bring those annuals back in line with their containers!

Calibrachoa ‘Callie Orange’ Tops the Terrace Dining Table

Although I don’t have hanging baskets in my garden this year, I do have cascading Calibrachoa ‘Callie Orange’ spilling from a table-topping pot on my front terrace. Much like a hanging basket, this tightly planted container requires weekly fertilizing, pruning and daily watering to look its best. By mid-summer, dense root systems in pots and baskets can create an impenetrable, water-resistant web. When root-bound, container plants can remain parched while water pours over the top of the plant and down the sides. How to solve this problem?  I picked up another handy tip from Daisy at Walker Farm this spring: use a wooden dowel to punch holes through the root systems of annual baskets. Simply push the dowel in the dense tangle of roots and wiggle it a bit. Do this in several places between plants and water will find access to the center of tangled root ball. Thanks, Daisy!

Succulents, Tropical Plants and Ornamental Grasses fill Containers on the Steel Balcony Above the Secret Garden

Overall, the succulent containers on my steel deck need little attention, save occasional dead-heading. Still, air-born weed seeds do manage to lodge themselves between the stone mulch and must be gingerly removed to keep things looking tidy. I avoid fertilizing indoor-outdoor succulent pots in order to keep their growth in check. And pots filled with colorful companion plants, such as the Purple Heart (Tradescantia pallida ‘Purpurea’) often need a bit of pruning to keep them in balance with their neighbors. The ornamental grass pictured above, Carex comens ‘Frosted Curls –and many of the other non-succulent plants on this hot steel deck– seems content with little more than good quality potting soil, daily watering and weekly fertilizing.

Regularly Watering, Fertilizing, Cutting Back Foliage and Deadheading Spent Blossoms Keeps Container Plants Looking Their Best. I Fertilize Potted Plants Weekly and Water Daily (looks like I missed a few brown leaves there on the right, didn’t I?).

Some containerized annuals and perennials, like the Angelonia angustifolia and Lysmachia nummularia pictured above, need occasional deadheading or leaf pruning throughout the growing season. Others, such as the neighboring Verbena on the left in this vignette, need less frequent attention. All plants in this grouping were chosen for color, texture and season-spanning bloom. An added bonus? Regular pruning and deadheading promote an extended and generous display of blossoms, attracting all kinds of dinnertime guests …

A Hummingbird Moth Visits a Pot of Annual Verbena on the Terrace 

Callie Orange Makes a Pretty Centerpiece on the Weathered Cedar Table all Season Long

Monarch Butterfly Sampling Nectar from Potted Asclepias curassavica ‘Silky Red’

Looking for more container garden maintenance and design tips? Below are a couple of my favorite resources for container gardeners at all levels. For more design ideas/care information on succulent containers, check out previous posts for ideas from Walker Farm’s spring workshop and books I love on the subject. Enjoy the beauty of annuals, tender perennials, tropicals and succulents up close, all season long with lush, healthy, well-maintained container plantings …

Container Gardening A Great Guide Book with Useful Information & Beautiful Photos from the Editors of Fine Gardening

Pots in the Garden Beautiful & Inspired Design Ideas from Ray Rogers (Timber Press Publishing)

Photographs and Text ⓒ Michaela Medina/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 reposted, reproduced or used in any way without prior written consent. Contact information is in the left side bar. Thank you!

Do you enjoy The Gardener’s Eden? You can help support this site by shopping through affiliate links (including Amazon book links). A small percentage of each sale will be paid to this site, helping to cover web hosting and maintenance costs. Thank you so much for your support!

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Welcome August & Long, Languid, Sultry Summer Days …

August 1st, 2011 § 5

August is a Table Filled with Freshly Cut Lemon Queen Sunflowers

Welcome August … beautiful, voluptuous month of sultry days and starry nights. August is a month of fresh produce and delicious home cooked meals. Potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, summer squash, beans, garlic and onions: the warm-season crops are at peak flavor and production. Pure Bliss. It’s a time to make time; to kick back in the hammock with a book, to pull out the kayak, and to watch monarch butterflies dance on the wind …

Welcome Golden August. We Dream of Your Languid Beauty All Year …

And Colorful Potatoes Pulled From Rich Earth (click here for potato salad recipe)

August is a Month of Abundance in the Potager: Morning Breakfast Harvest of Fresh Herbs, Greens, Cherry Tomatoes & Early Shiitake (click here for shiitake growing tutorial)

And Fat Tomatoes Warmed by the Sun: Here Drizzled with Nutty Olive Oil and Sprinkled with Zesty Purple & Classic Green Basil

August is Also a Month of Drying: Garlic, Onions, Shallots and Herbs Fill the Sunny Terrace (click here for garlic growing post and click here for information on drying onions, here for freezing herb cubes and here for hang-drying herbs)

And Putting Food By: Sun Dried Tomatoes (click here for sun dried tomato tutorial post)

Drying Herbs in the Kitchen (click here for post)

Gardens Filled with Fresh White Blossoms: Shasta Daisies (Leucanthemum x superbum) on the Potager Path

And Refreshing Lemon Yellows (Helianthus ‘Lemon Queen’)

Bold Violets (Liatris ‘Kobold’ with Rudbeckia hirta ‘Becky Mixed’)

And Brilliant Orange: Monarch Butterfly on Asclepias curassavica ‘Silky Deep Red’

It’s a Month of Stormy Drama

Brilliant Sunsets

And a Time for Dreamy, Twilight Reflections

Photographs and Text ⓒ Michaela Medina/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 reposted, reproduced or used in any way without prior written consent. Contact information is in the left side bar. Thank you!

Do you enjoy The Gardener’s Eden? You can help support this site by shopping through affiliate links (including Amazon book links). A small percentage of each sale will be paid to this site, helping to cover web hosting and maintenance costs. Thank you so much for your support!

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