Somewhere Over the Ascot Rainbow, Beyond the Sunset Clouds . . .

July 30th, 2012 § 1 comment § permalink

Euphorbia x martinii ‘Ascot Rainbow’ & Sedum telephium ‘Sunset Cloud’ Catch the Morning Light out on My Balcony 

Oh, delicious, dynamic duo! Clearly, you can see that Euphorbia x martinii ‘Ascot Rainbow’ and Sedum telephium ‘Sunset Cloud’ are a match made in heaven. But in the late days of spring, this pairing wasn’t so obvious to me. Many plants take time to develop their full foliage coloration and tantalizing blossoms. Luckily, I have these two beauties planted in pots, out on my balcony. One of the many delightful opportunities provided by mass container plantings is the ability to move plants around and experiment with various design pairings. By keeping some perennials in containers —conveniently decorating the steel balcony outside my studio— I can play around with various combinations throughout the growing season. Come autumn, I will decide on the best pairings and settle my beauties into the garden before the ground freezes. This little game of container-plant-checkers also helps me to create a visual file of color combinations and style possibilities for my garden design clients.

Earlier this summer, you may recall that I featured Euphorbia ‘Blackbird’ in a plant profile post. Although ‘Blackbird’ Euphorbia is truly stunning, she isn’t perennial in my climate, but luckily, her colorful friend Euphorbia x martinii ‘Ascot Rainbow’ is!  Hardy in USDA zones 5-9, at maturity this vibrant plant will form a 20″ x 20″ mound of lemon-lime edged foliage with hints of peachy orange at the tips. In late summer, colorful bracts form in a cloud above the rainbow of leaves. Gorgeousness! Like all euphorbia, ‘Ascot Rainbow’ requires excellent drainage and air circulation. In northern climates, position this plant in full sun. But if you live in a more southerly location, a bit of mid-day shade will preserve ‘Ascot Rainbow’s phenomenal leaf coloration. This euphorbia plays well with many colors; from orange and rust to sea green, turquoise blue and purple. I really love dusty violet shades with chartreuse hues, and I like the pairing of citrusy ‘Ascot Rainbow’ with plummy Sedum telephium ‘Sunset Cloud’ (USDA zone 3-7) so much, that I think I am going to give it a try along the stone walkway in my perennial garden. To me, the combination like a refreshing glass of sangria on a late summer afternoon; bold and fruity flavor for the eyes!

Photographs 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! 

Do you enjoy The Gardener’s Eden? You can help support this site by shopping through affiliate 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!

VivaTerra - Eco Living With Style

shopterrain.com

Gardener's Supply Company

Dilly Dallying in the Pickled Beans: An Intro to Canning with Jennifer Audette

July 28th, 2012 § 7 comments § permalink

Delicious Dilly Beans

Dilly Beans: Easy Entrance to the World of Canning      Guest Author – Jennifer Audette

Here in New England, a moment exists each growing season when the stars align and your local farmstand, farmer’s market or (if you’re really amazing), own garden suddenly has all the necessary ingredients for the first batch of Dilly Beans. I have the fortune of working in the ‘stand at Walker Farm in Dummerston, VT and this past Thursday it happened. On Wednesday, the fantastic field crew picked seven bushels of beans and then four more the following day.  That means beans coming out our ears for a few days. The first, shy harvest of red chilies appeared in a small bowl, bouquets of dill heads made my mouth water in anticipation of eating pickled things and the garlic has been harvested and waiting patiently for several weeks now.  It’s time to pickle those beans!

As a kid, I spent a lot of time helping my Mom can things like peaches, pears and applesauce. I was a master of slipping skins from blanched peaches; sliding the glistening, sunrise-colored orbs into a mild vinegar bath to keep them from discoloring.  In the autumn, I looked forward to the smell of warm, cooked apples wafting up to meet me as I managed the Foley Food Mill from my perch on the stool. My mom’s palate tends toward the sweet; she’s been known to sprinkle sugar on salad greens deemed too bitter. She doesn’t do hot peppers or vinegar in large quantity and she’s only recently discovered the joys of garlic. Dilly Beans were not part of my childhood canning experience.  But I crave the savory world more than I crave the sweet world and so several years ago, after my Mom had set me up with all the paraphernalia for canning, I found the recipe for Dilly Beans in the Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving and entered my very own world of canning…

Slender, Verdant Beauties, Await Morning Harvest

Home Grown Herbs & Spices: Hard Neck Garlic, Chili Peppers & Dill

Freshly Harvested, Washed & Trimmed Haricots Verts from the Potager

This is where I’m supposed to give you a nice tutorial about making Dilly Beans; a specific recipe, step-by-step instructions and such. Unfortunately, I’m not that kind of person. I’m not very good at specifics and I almost never following directions exactly and I certainly don’t do anything the same way twice. But, if you were here with me, I would be happy to show you how I do it. Side by side, you would help me find eight wide-mouth pint jars in the storage space under the stairs, wiping away cobwebs and hoping no mice scurried out.  You would fill the dishpan with hot, soapy water and then wash the jars, the brand new lids and the old screw caps. Together we would wait a long, long time for the half-full kettle of water to come to a boil, discovering while we waited that I didn’t have enough white vinegar for the recipe. I would send you to the store for that.  Thanks, it’s so nice to have a helper!

I’d want to show you how I organize my workspace so that the jars are being sterilized in the large pot of water on the left front burner, the lids are simmering for 10 minutes (not boiling!) in their own separate pan on a back burner and the pickling liquid is simmering on the other front burner.  We’d remove one jar at a time from the hot water and pack them with the beans I’d prepared the night before (washed and trimmed), garlic cloves, chili peppers and dill. We’d fill the jars to a ¼” from the top with the hot pickling solution, remove any bubbles, wipe the top, slap on a lid and load each one into the canner basket.  Likely, there are much better ways to go about packing jars with garlic, chilies, dill and beans. I’m not very good at it and it takes me way longer than it seems like it should. (Maybe if you were here you would have come up with a more efficient way to stuff all those beans into jars!)  But eventually, all 4 pounds of beans and spices would be nestled into jars and lowered into the canning pot. Once we reached a rolling boil, we’d set the timer for 10 minutes. Tick, tick, tick….ding! After a short rest, we’d use the super-cool jar tongs to remove them from the hot water. Then we’d high-five and tell the cat to clean up the mess while we sat out on the porch toasting our efforts with a cool beverage. I’d give you your very own copy of the Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving and you’d eagerly look through it for your next canning project (balsamic caramelized onions, sweet and spicy pepper relish, bread and butter pickles, tomato sauce, tomatillo salsa, hot peppers for sandwiches, barbecue sauce), knowing how easy it is to preserve the summer’s bounty, once you learn the ropes.

Dilly Beans

Dilly Bean ingredient list*

Ingredients to be Evenly Distributed in Each Jar:

4 pounds green beans, washed and trimmed

8 cloves of garlic

8 small red chilies

8 dill heads

Pickling Solution:

5 cups white vinegar

5 cups water

½ cup pickling salt

*For all the important canning safety basics and full recipe with directions, please take the time to locate a good book from the canning canon and do your homework.  The previously mentioned Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving is a very approachable, easy-to-use introduction, full of inspiring recipes. It’s a reasonable $9 or so and you might even find it at your local hardware store along with all the necessary canning supplies. Have fun!

 Today’s guest blogger, the multi-talented writer Jennifer Audette, is author of the always entertaining and often humorous Cozy Toes Blogspot. When not experimenting with canning, baking, cooking, horticulture, entomology or other scientific pursuits, Jennifer can also be found hiking, making music, writing and delivering smiles to her very fortunate friends.

Thank you Jen! xo

Some Great Resources for Learning to Safely Preserve the Harvest…

Putting Food By

Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving with 400 Delicious and Creative Recipes

How to Store Your Garden Produce

Tips for Growing and Harvesting Tasty Green Beans

Haricots verts —or French-style filet beans— are slender, deep green and very flavorful. All beans should be picked frequently in mid-summer —daily when hot— to insure they don’t go to seed. For best flavor and texture, harvest beans when they are no thicker than the diameter of a pencil. As with most crops, I think it’s best to pick beans very early in the morning, before the heat of the day. Marigold and Summer Savory —believed to improve the growth of bush beans and deter beetles— are fantastic companion plants for haricots verts. Enrich soil with well rotted compost and provide plants with regular foliar feeding (applying liquid fertilizer to leaves in a spray or shower) of Neptune’s Harvest or fish emulsion to insure strong, healthy plants and a beautiful, tasty crop. Always wash beans thoroughly when harvesting, especially after applying fish emulsion or any fertilizer. Green beans provide their best yield during the first three weeks of harvest. With this in mind, I like to succession plant this crop for a steady supply of tender young beans straight through the killing frost.

Dilly Beans: Easy Entrance to the World of Canning ⓒ 2012 Jennifer Audette. Photographs ⓒ 2012 Jennifer Audette and Michaela Medina for The Gardener’s Eden, as noted. 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 use photographs without permission. Thank you! 

Do you enjoy The Gardener’s Eden? You can help support this site by shopping through affiliate 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!

VivaTerra - Eco Living With Style

shopterrain.com

Gardener's Supply Company

Pots in the Garden, Part Two: Tips for Maintaining Hanging Flower Baskets…

July 27th, 2012 § 3 comments § permalink

A Tumbling Cascade of Grape & Cherry Hues: Hanging Basket by Walker Farm

Ah, the seductive power of summertime annuals! With all of the lush foliage, boldly colored flowers and twisting, trailing vines tumbling from covered porches, it’s hard to deny the romance of flowering baskets. And now that we are in late July, those container-grown annuals should be at their vibrant best. But this has been a tough growing season in North America, with long dry spells and scorching heat testing a gardener’s skill and stamina. How are those annual containers looking these days? Things seem a little worse for the wear?

More than any other type of plant, basket-grown annuals truly rely upon the gardener for life-sustaining water and nutrients; and during the hottest part of summer, they are particularly demanding. Left untended during a week-long vacation, a lush hanging basket will quickly shrivel to a crispy, brown mass. But even when hanging baskets are regularly and properly watered, unless they are given regular TLC, they can begin to look a bit straggly by late July; losing some of their early season pizazz. So how does a gardener keep those baskets beautiful all season long? Follow the checklist below for a few helpful tips…

Baskets of Promise: Colorful, Trailing Annuals on Display at Walker Farm

1) Water, water, water: In summer, it’s usually necessary to water hanging baskets daily; particularly when rain is scarce or when pots are hanging beneath covered porches. During hot spells, sometimes plants will need water twice a day. The ideal time to water plants is in early morning. Check moisture levels in the center of the plant and around the side of the container. I like to use a hose with a wand attachment for watering; positioning the rose at soil level in order to avoid wetting foliage. Dry foliage is less susceptible to fungal infection. I use a two-step approach to watering baskets; soaking the pot until water drains from the base —waiting a few minutes— and then soaking again.

2) Assure good drainage: As the season progresses, annuals have a tendency to form dense root balls. Sometimes, root balls become so congested, that water can no longer penetrate and instead rolls off the top of the basket. Last year during her seminar on container gardening at Walker Farm, my friend Daisy shared a great tip for solving this problem. Using a simple wooden dowel or skewer, push down through the root ball in several places to allow the free passage of water. It’s amazing how well this works to revitalize a hanging plant!

To Keep Annual Baskets Flowering All Season Long, It’s Necessary to Fertilize Every 7-10 Days

3) Feed me Seymour: During the growing season, it’s important to fertilize plants once a week.  I like to feed annual plants with a water-soluble plant food, in the early morning, before the heat of the day. I water the basket first, and then water again with the fertilizer-mixture. In addition, I find that a once-monthly application of Epsom Salts solution (see recipe below) makes for a particularly enthusiastic floral display.

4) Right Plant, Right Place: Hanging basket not blooming? Most annuals require full sun to produce flowers, but of course there are some exceptions to this rule. Most fuchsia and begonia plants prefer partial shade, but lobelia and petunias demand full sun. When selecting a hanging basket, it’s best to make a note of how much light the chosen spot will receive, in order to select the right plant for the location. Check the plant’s tag if you are unsure of the species you are growing, and if care instructions aren’t given, Google that plant to find out what it needs!

5) A snip, snip here & a snip, snip there: Pruning and deadheading hanging baskets can do wonders for improving their mid-season appearance. Use a clean, sharp pair of scissors or pruning shears (a rag soaked with rubbing alcohol works well for cleaning garden tools) and cut away any straggly vines, withered, broken or dead stems and spent flowers. Some annual plants will actually go to seed and stop flowering if they aren’t deadheaded, so I like to pinch off withered blossoms daily, just below the pod.

6) Emergency Rx: Even the best gardeners sometimes forget their plants. Unplanned absence from home? Bring your withered basket indoors and set it in a tub of tepid water; letting it soak until it begins to revive. Drain water and bring the plant back outdoors to a shady spot while it continues to recover.

By Mid-Summer, Dense Root Systems and Shallow Containers Make for a Thirsty Basket. Loosen Dense Roots by Pushing a Dowel Through the Plant in Several Places; Allowing Water to Pass Through, Rather than Roll Off the Top of the Basket

Epsom Salts Super-Flower Solution

1/2 cup Epsom Salts

1 Gallon Sun-Warmed Water

Fill a gallon sized watering can with tepid water (or warm a can of water in the sun) and mix in 1/2 cup of Epsom Salts until dissolved. After watering as usual for the first round, return to each basket with the Epsom Salt solution. Avoiding the foliage, pour about a half a quart of solution into each hanging basket. Repeat monthly throughout the growing season.

Photographs 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! 

Do you enjoy The Gardener’s Eden? You can help support this site by shopping through affiliate 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!

VivaTerra - Eco Living With Style

shopterrain.com

Gardener's Supply Company

Welcome Home! Johnson’s Garden: Revisiting a Renovation, One Year Later

July 24th, 2012 § 5 comments § permalink

A Welcoming Garden of Color: A Hedge of Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Summer Wine is Fronted by Miscanthus sinensis ‘Morning Light’, Perovskia antriplicifolia, Rudbeckia  fulgida ‘Goldsturm’ and Sedum telephium ‘Munstead Red’, Among Other Plantings Facing the Residential Street

After taking an early morning stroll through a garden I designed and installed last summer, I decided the visit was simply too delicious to keep all to myself. When Geri and Stan Johnson invited me to create a colorful and welcoming garden for the entryway to their riverside home, I leapt at the opportunity. The Johnsons gave me complete creative freedom throughout the process —allowing me to choose the plants best suited to their site and budget, without any restrictions in terms of color or form— and I enjoyed every moment. You may recall this garden renovation featured here last year (click to view the post). One year after planting —thanks to Stan’s excellent site prep and both Johnsons’ diligent maintenance and tender-loving-care during dry-spells— the garden is already full, lush and vibrant. Come have a look, and see how things have grown (click images to enlarge)…

A Hedge of Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Summer Wine’ Makes a Fine Backdrop for Perennial Plantings on Either Side of the Road, Providing both Privacy and Beauty to the Residence (Interior Perennial Border Plantings Include: Sedum Spurium ‘Dragon’s Blood’, Pennisetum alopecuroides ‘Hameln’, Echinacea purpurea ‘Magnus’, Penstemon digitalis ‘Huskers Red’ & Agastache ‘Blue Fortune’. In the Background, an Gorgeous Hedge of Tsuga canadensis Towers in a Cool Shade of Forest Green)

Two Sunny Borders Skirt the Entryway Walk, Providing Non-Stop Color from Spring to Late Fall with Vibrant Foliage and Bloom (For Plant Details, See Lists Above and Below). Solar Lanterns are from BJs (See similar solar lanterns here at Amazon.com)

Euphorbia polychroma ‘Bonfire’ & Festuca glauca ‘Elijah Blue’ Along the Hot, Sunny Walkway 

Butterflyweed (Asclepias tuberosa) & Wild Blue Indigo (Baptisia australis) 

A Quiet Place to Read the Morning Paper (Plantings Left to Right: Liatris ‘Kobold’, Asclepias tuberosa, Eupatorium rugosum ‘Chocolate’, Baptisia australis, Miscanthus sinensis ‘Morning Light’, Backed by Rudbeckia subtomentosa ‘Henry Eilers’). Geri and Stan Love Color in a Garden, and I Couldn’t Agree with Them More! Wine and Chocolate Play Against Citrus and Berry Hues in this Bold Garden; Saturating the Verdant Backdrop with Colors so Ripe You Can Almost Taste Them!

Veronica spicata ‘Purpleicious’ Backed by Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Summer Wine’

The Long Border, Leading to the Maroon-Painted Arch and Retaining Wall Gardens, is Filled with Classic Perennials; Including Artemisia schmidtiana ‘Silver Mound’, Ligularia dentata ‘Britt Marie Crawford’, Heuchera micrantha ‘Palace Purple’ and various other cvs, Geranium x gerwat ‘Rozanne’, various Astilbe and Blooming Shrubs

At the Far End of the Garden, Ornamental Grass, Sage and Rudbeckia Fill a Retaining Wall Garden in Full Sun (Plantings Front to Back: Juniperus horizontalis ‘Wiltonii’, Pennisetum alopecuroides ‘Hameln’, Perovskia antriplicifolia, Rudbeckia subtomentosa ‘Henry Eilers’ and to the right, Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Summer Wine’)

Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Summer Wine is Fronted by Miscanthus sinensis ‘Morning Light’, Perovskia antriplicifolia, Rudbeckia  fulgida ‘Goldsturm’ and Sedum telephium ‘Munstead Red’

Thank You to Geri and Stan Johnson for Your Support, and for Sharing Your Garden with The Gardener’s Eden!

Garden Design & Installation, Michaela Medina Harlow – For Inquiries See Contact at Left

Photographs 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! 

Do you enjoy The Gardener’s Eden? You can help support this site by shopping through affiliate 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!

VivaTerra - Eco Living With Style

shopterrain.com

Gardener's Supply Company

Light & Shadow: Sunset Color Play …

July 23rd, 2012 § Comments Off on Light & Shadow: Sunset Color Play … § permalink

The Colors of a Summer Sunset (Clockwise from Bottom Left: Rudbeckia hirta, Heuchera micrantha var. diversifolia ‘Palace Purple’, Cotinus coggygria, Fothergilla ‘Blue Shadow’, Fagus sylvatica ‘Riversii’, Chelone lyonii, Filipendula ulmaria ‘Variegata’, Hakonechloa macra ‘Beni Kaze’)

Pale yellow, brilliant gold, violet-maroon, mauve, blue-shadow and thunder-cloud grey; the colors of a summer sunset. Stormy skies —filled with ominous clouds— create some of the most memorable late afternoon displays. Light and shadow combine to bring out the best in one another. Taking this cue from Mother Nature, I like to build cloud-like backdrops in gardens with bold strokes of rich-colored foliage. By thinking beyond basic green, I can create a framework for dynamic color play in a garden design. Remember the color wheel from my earlier post on designing container gardens? Have another look at color relationships and apply those principles to a ho-hum border and spice up your summertime garden.

In Romance, Opposites Attract & Often Form Passionate Unions, But When it Comes to Family, You Might Not Seat Fiesty Aunt Flora Directly Beside Prickly Cousin Curt at a Reunion. Add Quieter Members of the Same Family to the Seating Arrangement to Keep Hot Pairings from Duking it Out, While Allowing a Bit of Lively Debate Across the Dinner Table. Here, Agastache ‘Blue Fortune’ and Rudbeckia hirta Happily Mingle in a Party of Mauve, Dusty Blue and Maroon.

The sunny, saturated hues of late summer flowers —gold, red-orange and cobalt violet— play dramatically against shadowy foliage in complementary colors. Add drama to a garden by choosing woody plants with bold foliage, and then have a look to the other side of the color spectrum when selecting perennial plants. It’s often said that opposites attract, so why not get creative when playing matchmaker in the garden? Worried that things might get garish? When working with this much color, it’s important to keep things from going too far off the deep-end. Avoid solar-glare and the need for sunglasses by adding cool splashes of silver, blue-grey and sparkling mint to balance the show. Like the idea? Have a look at smokebush (Cotinus coggygria), blue-leaf witch alder (Fothergilla ‘Blue Shadow’), copper and maroon-hued beech (Fagus sylvatica cvs), ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius cvs), and ice-blue conifers for a bit of storm-cloud inspiration and contrast for summer’s brightest colors.

Foliage in Moody, Storm-Cloud Hues can Balance Out the Blinding Brightness of Summer’s Hot Floral Explosion: Cotinus coggygria ‘Royal Purple’ and Fothergilla ‘Blue Shadow’ form a Soothing Backdrop for the Garden’s Bright July Flowers.

Garden Design & Installation: Michaela Medina Harlow – For Inquiries Please See ‘Contact’ at Left

Photographs 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! 

Do you enjoy The Gardener’s Eden? You can help support this site by shopping through affiliate 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!

VivaTerra - Eco Living With Style

shopterrain.com

Gardener's Supply Company

Where am I?

You are currently viewing the archives for July, 2012 at The Gardener's Eden.