A Slow Dance with Oboe and Cello: Celebrating the Beauty of October …

October 3rd, 2012 § 6 comments § permalink

Raydon’s Favorite Aster (Aster oblongifolium ‘Raydon’s Favorite’) Shines Against Grey Skies and a Backdrop of Amsonia (A. illustris), Flame Grass (Miscanthus sinensis purpurascens) and Golden Birch Leaves (Betula papyrifera)

Come blue skies, drizzle, fog or pouring rain; October will always be my favorite month. From start to finish, the colors of the season rise to a fever pitch in October. Citrus yellow, chartreuse, brilliant orange, copper, deep plum, flame red; the list goes on and on. Much as I love the garden in springtime, in Vermont, it will never hold a candle to autumn. I focus my energies on extending the season’s beauty as long as possible; seeking out cobalt violets to pair with clear golds, sky blues to counter flame orange, and brilliant scarlets to light up deepest green. And then there are the textures. Early in the month, dewdrops dance upon flower clusters and seed heads. By Halloween, hoarfrost will coat garden remnants, creating a crystal coated ballroom.

Could there be anything lovelier than the sound of Mother Nature playing oboe and cello?  A slow dance with a garden full of beauties to celebrate the most dramatic of seasons . . .

A Dewy Web in the Goat’s Beard (Aruncus dioicus); Subtle Reminder of Nearing All Hallow’s Eve

October’s Fiery Meadow Border: Doublefile Viburnum (V. plicatum var. tomentosum ‘Shasta’), Cranberrybush Viburnum (V. trilobum ‘Redwing’), Arkansas Bluestar (Amsonia hubrichtii),Flame Grass (Miscanthus sinensis purpurascens), Coneflower (Rudbeckia subtomentosa ‘Henry Eiler’s’) & Juniper (Juniperus virginiana ‘Grey Owl’)

Rust, Rose and Cream-Edged Stripes: The Bold, Autumn Colors of Stripe Eulalia Grass (Miscanthus sinensis ‘Variegatus’), Fragrant Abelia (A. mosanensis) and Panicle Hydrangea (H. paniculata ‘Limelight’)

The Lemon-Lime Foliage of Beautiful, North American Native Spicebush (Lindera benzoin) Lights Up the Entry Garden on a Foggy Morn

Fountain Grass Inflorescences Collect Raindrops Amid Rudbeckia Flowers and Seed Heads (Pennisetum alopecuroides & Rudbeckia hirta)

The Inflorescenses of Maiden Grass (Miscanthus sinensis) and Seed Heads of Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta) Bring Subtle Beauty to the Entry Garden & Provide Sustenance to Feathered Friends

Between the Raindrops, Silverbell Leaves Begin to Burnish Gold (Halesia tetraptera)

Garden Design & Installation: Michaela Medina Harlow

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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The Beauty of Sunlit Valerian …

July 8th, 2012 § Comments Off on The Beauty of Sunlit Valerian … § permalink

From Garden to Table: Fresh Cut Valerian (Valeriana officinalis)

Dreamy, soft, relaxing; flowering herb valerian (Valeriana officinalis) is every bit as beautiful as it is useful. The botanical name of this medicinal herb comes from the Latin word ‘valere’, meaning to be well. Since the fourth century —and perhaps even earlier— valerian has been used as a medicinal herb to treat a variety of ailments; from anxiety and insomnia to hypertension, eczema and migraine headaches*. Recently, tablets made from the rhizomes and roots of this herb have regained popularity as a natural sedative and anxiolytic (read more here). Oil, extracted from the flowers, has long been used as a food flavoring and fragrance in perfumes…

Valeriana officinalis and Aruncus dioicus Form a Flowering, Semi-Transparent Screen in My Garden

One of the most fragrant of all garden perennials, Valerian (Valeriana officinalis) is a graceful, tall (4-6′), flowering plant (USDA zones 4-9), which can be grown as an herb, ornamental, or both. Stately yet ethereal, Valerian blooms from July through August, and can be used in mass plantings to create a light, summery screen between garden rooms; an effect I love. Beloved by many bees and butterflies (particularly Tiger Swallowtails), lacy, white valerian flowers have a sweet, musky smell; similar to fragrant heliotrope (Heliotropium arborescens), but with woodsier, mossier notes. It’s one of those fragrances you either love or hate, and I happen to like it very much. I enjoy filling my home with valerian during the summertime; cutting armfuls for mixed bouquets or solo arrangements, like the one featured in the photo at top.

Valerian officinalis, Used as Semi-Transparent Screen at the Edge of My Potager

I have grown Valeriana officinalis in my herb garden for as many years as I’ve been gardening. However, when planting this species, it’s important to exercise caution, as it does self-sow (however, unlike mint, I find it isn’t aggressive, and volunteers can be easily pulled from the ground). It should also be noted that this plant is listed as potentially invasive by a few U.S. states. Normally, I avoid all free-seeding, non-native plants, but I have mixed feelings about the inclusion of this medicinal herb (and other non-native herbs, like mint) on the invasive plant watch list. I have not observed herb valerian crowding out native species in the natural areas where I live. Much like domesticated apple trees (Malus domestica), most earthworms and those delightful, domesticated honeybees (Apis mellifera), herbal valerian (Valeriana officinalis) was introduced to North America by European settlers —themselves invasive, by the way— when they arrived. Three hundred years is long enough, in my humble opinion, to prove that this plant is no Kudzu (Pueraria montana). Many introduced species have benefits that far outweigh their risks, and until proven to be harmful to native species, I will continue to grow herb valerian in my garden.

*Always Check With Your Doctor Before Consuming Any Medicinal Plant or Herbal Medicine!

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! 

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The Song of Summertime Salad …

June 28th, 2011 § 2 comments § permalink

The Song of Summertime Salad

On long summer days —in order to beat the heat and burning rays of the noontime sun— I typically start my day quite early. There are many things to love about the daybreak hours, from birdsong and dew drops to shimmering morning light. If I’m working nearby, I try to come home at mid-day for lunch on the terrace. I love dining al fresco beneath the dappled shade of my two silverbell trees (Halesia tetraptera), and when I’m expecting to be very busy —particularly when the mercury rises— I like to make a garden-fresh salad and chill it in the fridge ’til I get home. Sometimes I make this feta and green bean salad (click here for recipe), but often I just mix up a simple bowl of arugula and leaf lettuce and toss it with fresh feta and homemade dressing. I call it the Song of Summertime Salad, because according to rumor, I hum when I’m out gathering the greens …

The Path to My Potager is Lined with Perennials and Herbs (Hosta ‘Blue Angel’ and ‘Patriot’, Valerian officinalis, Aruncus dioicus ‘Goat’s Beard’)

Vegetables, like this potato, also produce pretty flowers

Rounding the Corner to the Kitchen Garden Entry

A Basket of Zinnia Dresses up an Old Collapsing Chair

Fragrant Dianthus Attracts Butterflies & Gardeners Alike (Tiger Swallowtail)

Although I plant few red flowers, scarlet is truly my favorite color

Sweet, Sweet, Summertime Scent

Miscanthus sinensis ‘Morning Light’ with Dew Drops

Freshly Harvested Arugula and Leaf Lettuce…

A basket of herbs and potager posies {The pretty, “Everlasting Sunshine” plate is from Anthropologie; a gift from my good friend Mel}

With Freshly Harvested Greens, I Prefer My Dressing Homemade and Light

Coming Home for Lunch on the Terrace is One of my Favorite Summertime’s Pleasures

The Song of Summertime Salad

Salad Ingredients:

2     Cups Freshly Harvested Arugula Leaves

2     Cups Fresh Red or Blush Edged Leaf Lettuce

1     Cup Any Other Green (Spinach, Beet, Chard, Dandelion)

3/4  Cup Crumbled Feta Cheese

1     Cup Fresh Edible Flowers (I like Pansies & Nasturtium)

Fresh Herb Dressing Ingredients:

1/2   Cup Olive Oil

1/4   Cup Champagne or White Wine Vinegar

2      Tbs Fresh Squeezed Lime, Lemon or Orange Juice

2      Tbs. Fresh Chopped Basil

2      Tbs. Fresh Chopped Summer Savory

2      Tbs. Fresh Chopped Pineapple Mint (or any other mint)

2      Tbs. Fresh Chopped Lemon Thyme

1/2   Tsp Kosher Salt

1/4   Tsp Freshly Ground Black Pepper

Directions for Dresssing: Whisk oil, vinegar, citrus juice together in a small bowl. Add salt and pepper and whisk more. Stir in the chopped herbs and pour into a lidded jar. Refrigerate.

Directions for assembling salad. Triple wash all greens and dry out the leaves in a salad spinner. Crumble the feta over the leaves while gently tossing. Shake the jar of dressing and slowly add while tossing to just coat the leaves. Save the extra dressing and use within a week. Transfer the salad into a large serving bowl and toss pansies and nasturtium on top.

Serve Chilled and Enjoy! xo M

So Pretty and Refreshing

Ferncliff Gardens & Kitchen Garden Design & Installation: Michaela Medina. For design inquiries, see my professional services page at left.

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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Pausing as Spring Dances with Summer: A Moment at the Verdant Threshold …

June 14th, 2011 § 2 comments § permalink

The Secret Garden Door in Late Spring

Sunny days and sultry evenings alternate with cool mornings and moody rain showers as Springtime dances toward Summer. The month swept in with dramatic beauty: wild thunderstorms followed by golden sunsets; mist-covered hills illuminated by pink afterglow. This is a busy time of year, but every morning and evening, I make time for a stroll through the garden. With so many changes this week,  I couldn’t help but notice that Summer —wearing her most luxurious, emerald gown— is already flirting at the threshold of my garden door…

Aquilegia ‘Spring Magic Rose & Ivory’ blooms beside the water bowl (planted with Athyrium filix-femina ‘Lady in Red’, Bergenia ‘Bressingham Ruby’, Athyrium nipponicum ‘Pictum’, Cryptotaenia japonica atropurpurea and Glaucidium palmatum)

Lady Fern (Athyrium filix-femina ‘Lady in Red’ with Heuchera and Phlox divaricata ‘Clouds of Perfume’)

Rodgersia aesculifolia and Matteuccia pensylvanica with various Heuchera and Euphorbia

Cimicufuga racemosa ‘Hillside Black Beauty’, Paeonia moutan x lutea ‘High Noon’, Matteuccia pensylvanica, Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola’, Lamium maculatum ‘White Nancy’

The Secret Garden in June. Atop:Weigela florida ‘Red Prince’. Below: Heuchera americana (various cultivars), Euphorbia, Rodgersia aesculifolia, Matteuccia pensylvanica, Bergenia ‘Bressingham Ruby’, Hosta ‘August Moon’

Weigela florida ‘Red Prince’ Tumbles Over the Secret Garden Wall

In the entry garden, Cornus kousa takes center stage in full bloom this week, and in the background, Weigela florida ‘Red Prince’  cascades in a waterfall of deep cerise

The softer side of June: Aruncus dioicus, Hosta ‘Blue Angel’ and Hydrangea petiolaris with free-sown Valeriana officinalis

Kalmia latifolia ‘Pink Charm’ (Mountain Laurel) Just Coming into Bloom on the Ledge in the Entry Garden

Ferny and Feathery in Shades of Green and Ivory: Aruncus dioicus (Goat’s Beard) with Dennstaedtia puntilocula (Hayscented Fern)

The Stone Seat with Baptisia australis, Aruncus dioicus and Tsuga canadenis

Moon Urn and Terra Cotta Pots with Verbena, Stobilanthes dyerianus (Persian Shield), Angelonia angustifolia ‘Angelface Blue’, Lysmachia nummularia

Iris germanica (cultivar unknown), Miscanthus sinensis ‘Morning Light’ and Artemesia ‘Powis Castle’ in the entry garden

Wish I could share the beautiful fragrance of Abelia mosanenisis with you. Exquisite… Quite like a powdery memory. (Read more about this season spanning beauty and her icy juniper companion here).

Iris germanica ‘Senlac’ glows in the afternoon light, backed up by Hosta ‘Big Daddy’

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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