Beyond the Sweater Drawer: Gardening In Layers for Autumn Color & Texture

October 18th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

Stunning Abelia mosanensis, Backed Up by Lovely Lindera benzoin and Miscanthus sinensis ‘Variegatus’, Together in a Stellar Second Act.  

Getting dressed for October weather in New England usually involves a tank top, t-shirt, bright sweater and weatherproof jacket. As the season grows colder, this list grows to include colorful wool socks, hat, scarf, gloves and a stylish pair of warm boots. Eventually, I’ll put away the tank tops and t-shirts and pull on the long Johns before adding everything else. Our wardrobe colors and patterns may switch up but our bones remain the same.

Callicarpa dichotoma, Rudbeckia hirta Stand Out Against Glowing Amsonia hubrichtii. Beauty to Brighten the Dreariest of Days.

Once you know your plants, designing a garden for autumn isn’t much different from planning your fall wardrobe. When creating a planting plan for any season, I start with basic garden structure of trees and strubs (aka “the bones”), and then select perennials and annuals to flatter throughout the growing year. It’s important to consider how things will look in the big picture —just like standing in front of a long mirror and turning side to side, before you head out the door— as individual layers and details fade away and others appear or color up in changing weather.

Amsonia illustris Shines Against Fothergilla ‘Mount Airy’s’ Frost-Kissed Leaves. This Pairing Gets Bolder in Late October, When the Witch Alder Glows Bright, Orange-Red

A good understanding of color —how to work relationships between harmonious and complementary hues— comes in handy when designing a garden, as does a good mental database of plants and how their textures and appearances shift throughout the seasons. Certain leaves will morph from green to red, others will glow orange or gold, and some will just blacken and shrivel! As foliage fades, little details like berries, bark and seed pods really begin to matter; popping against the moody grey landscape and glistening in frost. Knowing what to cut back, and when, can make all the difference between a beautiful first frost and early winter blahs. When in doubt, leave it standing and make notes! You can always pull out the shears later. These are the elements of plant-driven design that fascinate and thrill me; familiarity with them will give you a great three, and even four-season landscape.

Layered Autumn Looks Go Way Beyond the Basic. This Meadow Walk Planting Design Features Trees, Shrubs, Perennials and Grasses for Depth. From Bottom Left: Amsonia illustris, Miscanthus sinensis ‘Morning Light’, Cornus kousa, Clethra alnifolia ‘Ruby Spice’, Aster oblongifolium ‘Raydon’s Favorite’, Betula papyrifera, Fothergilla ‘Mount Airy’, Persicaria amplexicaulis, Juniperus horizontalis and Rudbeckia hirta. 

Blue-Violet Aromatic Asters (A. oblongifolius), Complement Beautifully with Golden Amsonia illustris. Color Harmony Comes Later in the Season, as the Asters Fluff Up to White Tufts and the Amsonia Bleaches to Bone.

A Different Angle on the Meadow Walk Reveals How Layers of Trees, Shrubs and Perennials Vary the Visual Experience —Color, Texture, Form— Leading Down the Path, Toward the Secret Garden Stairs.

Article and Images copyright Michaela at The Gardener’s Eden, all rights reserved. All content on this site, (with noted exceptions), is the property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be used, reproduced or reposted elsewhere without written consent.

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Hello, October . . .

October 2nd, 2013 § 2 comments § permalink

Raydon's Favorite Aster with Amsonia and Flame Grass - michaela medina harlow - thegardenerseden.comAster oblongifolium ‘Raydon’s Favorite’

Speckless, blue skies, fiery foliage, brilliant light, colorful gourds and pumpkins, musky woodland walks, sparkling frosts, moody fog banks, starry nights, wood smoke and hot, mulled apple cider; hello October. Your beauty is simply beyond compare . . .

Tea Viburnum fruits (Viburnum setigerum) with Maiden Grass Tassels (Miscanthus sinensis) - michaela medina harlow - thegardenerseden.com Tea Viburnum Fruits Shimmer and Shine, Brilliant Orange Against the Buff Tassels of Maiden Grass (Viburnum setigerum & Miscanthus sinensis in October Light)

Miscanthus sinensis in October Light - michaela medina harlow - thegardenerseden.com Maiden Grass Tassels Catch the Low Light of Autumn (Miscanthus sinensis )

Viburnum lentago (Nannyberry Viburnum) and Lophocampa caryae (Hickory Tussock Moth) - michaela medina harlow - thegardenerseden.comNannyberry Viburnum (V. lentago) and Hickory Tussock Moth Caterpillar (Lophocampa caryae) 

Golden Amsonia hubrichtii & Blackened Seedpods of Rudbeckia hirta - michaela medina harlow - thegardenerseden.com Amsonia hubrichtii and Rudbeckia hirta 

David Austin Rosa 'Bibi Maizoon' and Sedum 'Autumn Joy' - michaela medina harlow - thegardenerseden.com The Roses of Autumn: David Austin Rosa ‘Bibi Maizoon’ and Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’

Tasseled Maiden Grass (Miscanthus sinensis) - michaela medina harlow - thegardenerseden.com Let the Big Razzle Dazzle Begin!

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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September’s Most Stylish Party Goers: Fashionably Late-Season Flowers . . .

September 18th, 2013 § 4 comments § permalink

Rosa de Rescht - michaela medina harlow - thegardenerseden.comNorthern Climes can be a Challenge for Rose Lovers, but Rosa de Rescht Likes to Close Out a Party, Ending the Summer Season with a  Midnight Kiss from Jack Frost

Though sweet Summer shall stay with us a few more days, Autumn’s perfume swirls about in the chilly evening air. There’s no denying now that the seasons are about to change. This is the time of year when foliage takes center stage, but a few blossoming starlets will remain, occasionally stealing the spotlight in the late show, from now until deepest freeze. WindflowerFairy Candles, Yellow Wax BellsAsters, Bush Clover and Toad Lilies; some of my favorite flowers bloom at this time of year.

I’ve featured a few of these favorites before —or related cultivars— but as they are coming into their own again, I thought their delightful blossoms worthy of a September review. Come take a stroll and enjoy the warmth of a late summer afternoon . . .

Sweet Autumn Clematis - Clematis paniculata - michaela medina harlow - thegardenerseden.com Sweet Autumn Clematis (C. paniculata/C.terniflora), Scrambles up the Trellis and Blooms to Beat the Band Beside My Studio Door

Rudbeckia subtomentosa 'Henry Eilers' - michaela medina harlow - thegardenerseden.com She’s No Wallflower: Rudbeckia subtomentosa ‘Henry Eilers’ Dips but Never Flops at Meadow’s Edge

Late Summer Meadow Beauties - Asteracea and Solidago - michaela medina harlow - thegardenerseden.com The Moody Overcast of Changing Seasons Does Nothing to Dull the Beauty of Native Asters and Goldenrod, Swaying with Wooly Rush in the Meadow

Rudbeckia fulgida 'Goldsturm' - michaela medina harlow - thegardenerseden.com Late-Season Black-Eyed Susan, Rudbeckia fulgida ‘Goldsturm’ Plays Sweetly with the Low, Ruby-Glow of Heuchera Leaves

Ligularia dentata 'Britt-Marie Crawford' - michaela medina harlow - thegardenerseden.comDrama-Queen Ligularia dentata ‘Britt-Marie Crawford Struts Her Deep-Maroon Satin & Gold,Feather Collar in the Secret Garden

Ligularia dentata 'Britt-Marie Crawford' in the Secret Garden. - michaela medina  harlow - thegardenerseden.com Sunshine on a Cloudy Day, Provided by Ligularia dentata ‘Britt-Marie Crawford’

Secret Garden in September - michaela medina harlow - thegardenerseden.com Colorful Foliage & Flowers —Shades of Chartreuse, Lime, Burgundy and Olive— Lights Up the Mossy, Secret Garden Path and Highlight Late-Summer Through Autumn Blooms

Actaea simplex 'Hillside Black Beauty' - michaela medina harlow - thegardenerseden.com Fashionably Late Fairy Candles Sway in Wind Song as Summer Waltzes Toward Autumn

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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Farewell to Late October’s Splendor . . . A Quiet Calm Before the Storm

October 30th, 2012 § 2 comments § permalink

Leaves Catch Fire on the Blue Green Dragon and Fall to the Secret Garden, Below…

Here, in the Cool, Quiet Between Walls of Stone, The Dragon’s Flames Dance Upon Inky, Dark Water

Late-Blooming Ladybells (Adenophora confusa) Defy October’s Frosty Nights and Whisper Softly in the Mist

Some years, Autumn’s radiant colors linger till late November in my garden. The season of the witch is often long and dazzles with glistening frosts. Not so this time. Oh no. Sandy had other plans. But modern meteorology allows us the luxury of planning for inclement weather; time to stock up on groceries and batten down the hatches, or slip outside for just one more glimpse at the garden before the wind starts to blow …

Autumn in the Entry Garden, Beyond the Secret Garden Wall

A Shock of Red Virginia Sweetspire and Geranium Leaves Flicker Like Flames Amid the Rust, Gold and Brown 

Bees of All Kinds Continue to Fill Late Blooming Asters with a Steady Hum, Foraging for Pollen in Autumn’s Chill Air

Golden Clethra alnifolia and Oxblood Physocarpus opulifolius Romance the Sea Green Juniper Along the Wildflower Walk

Shimmering Switch Grass (Panicum virgatum ‘Heavy Metal’) Against a Backdrop of Burgundy-Hued Physocarpus opulifolius

One of My Late-Autumn Favorites, Oakleaf Hydrangea (H. quercifolia), Turn a Lovely, Leathery-Maroon as Temperatures Drop 

A Delicate Rustling Sound Adds to the Autumn Charm of Japanese Forest Grass (Hakonechloa macra ‘All Gold’) in the Secret Garden

And Ever-Dazzling Stewartia pseudocamillia Against the Secret Garden Wall 

Garden Design & Installation: Michaela Medina Harlow

Stonework by Dan Snow

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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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! 

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!

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In Late September’s Low Sunlight, Autumn Dons Her Golden Crown . . .

September 26th, 2012 § 1 comment § permalink

The Garden’s Golden Hour: Miscanthus sinensis purpurascens & Rudbeckia subtomentosa ‘Henry Eilers’

Sunset to twilight: a favorite window of time for a slow garden stroll. Quick, grab a sweater to throw off the chill, and a camera to capture the beauty. Early autumn and the golden hour —a garden drenched in honey-hued light— sweet moments to savor and share …

Chocolate-Colored Pom-Poms: Rudbeckia Remnants with Sun Spots. In My Garden, Seed Heads Remain Standing to Provide Winter Sustenance for Birds and Add Textural Interest to the Garden

The Entry Garden in Late September Sunlight: Maiden Grasses are Positioned to Catch Morning & Early Evening Light

Warm Hues of Early Autumn in the Entry Garden: Plantings Include; Amsonia illustris, A. hubrichtii, Miscanthus sinensis purpurascens, Betula papyrifera, Clethra alnifolia, Aster oblongifolium ‘Raydon’s Favorite’, Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Summer Wine’, Miscanthus sinensis ‘Morning Light’

Sun-Washed Seed Pods: Butterflyweed (Asclepias tuberosa)

When designing a garden, I usually make several site visits, scheduled at different times of the day. Observing sunlight helps me to position certain plants –such as ornamental grasses or Japanese maples– for maximum effect. When planning your garden, watch the sunlight and plant accordingly to take advantage of backlight in morning and early evening. You will be rewarded for your efforts with luminous garden rooms filled with ‘stained glass’ windows.

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! 

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!

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The Grand, Fall Foliage Finale: November Photo-Notes from Ferncliff…

November 8th, 2010 § 4 comments § permalink

Acer palmatum x dissectum ‘Seiryu’ and Viburnum bodnantense ‘Dawn’at the Secret Garden Entry in Early November

It seems to me that the first week of November flew by in a complete blur. This morning I awoke to howling wind and the unmistakable sound of sleet blasting the windowpanes. In one short week, the vast majority of deciduous trees surrounding my home have shed their late autumn foliage. Looking out at the hillside today, only rust-colored beech leaves and deep-green conifer needles remain.

As I watch the high winds whipping about my garden  —stripping leaves and knocking plants to and fro— I’m glad that I made time to snap a few photos during last week’s grand, color-finale. For although I do love the subtle textures and muted hues of winter, I always mourn the end of autumn’s brilliant color-spectacle. The season is changing quickly now, shifting toward the darkness and stark, skeletal landscapes. But before it all slips away, let’s take a walk through the colorful foliage in the garden; soaking up the warm color and glowing light…

Vibrant Late-Season Foliage – The leaves of Acer palmatum x dissectum ‘Seiryu’ change slowly and hold long at the Secret Garden Door

Acer palmatum x dissectum ‘Seiryu’ and Daphne x burkwoodi ‘Carol Mackie’

Acer palmatum x dissectum ‘Seiryu’ – The Reflected Red Foliage Flickering Like Flames in the Water

As the flame grass fades to tawny bronze, Amsonia illustris (foreground), Lysimachia clethroides, Fothergilla ‘Mt Airy’ and the golden color of Hemerocallis foliage light up the entry garden and walkway against a backdrop of Juniperus x Pfitzeriana ‘Sea Green’

Although the majority of birch leaves (Betula papyrifera) have fallen, colorful plants —including those listed above as well as Aster oblongifolium ‘Raydon’s Favorite’, Clethra alnifolia ‘Ruby Spice’, Amsonia hubrichtii, and Cornus kousa— continue to provide autumn color in the garden

Close-up of Miscanthus sinensis ‘Purpurascens’, Fothergilla ‘Mt Airy’, Lysimachia clethroides and Rudbeckia hirta seed pods, against a backdrop of  ‘Sea Green’ Juniperus x Pfitzeriana

The same grouping of plants pictured above, viewed from the opposite side of the walkway

In front of the Secret Garden wall, Cornus kousa glows like a bonfire (backed here by Juniperus x Pfitzeriana ‘Sea Green’ and fronted by Juniperus sargentii). As the last yellowing leaves fall from Ilex verticillata ‘Red Sprite’, her beautiful red berries stand out like bits of luminous confetti against the blue-green juniper. Throughout November, Fothergilla ‘Mt Airy’ and Pennisetum alopecuroides ‘Hameln’ add a splash of orange and gold to this garden’s foreground.

In my garden, two of the very last trees to drop their leaves are the Cornus kousa in front of the Secret Garden wall (from Walker Farm in Dummerston, VT) and the Acer palmatum x dissectum ‘Seiryu’ at the Secret Garden entry (see list above for other plants in this border)

The high stone walls (built by artist Dan Snow) provide a buffer from the wind. This bit of extra protection is at least partly responsible for the lengthy autumn foliage display in this garden.

A. palmatum x dissectum ‘Seiryu’ forms a flaming red arch above the Secret Garden door

Looking inside the Secret Garden on a rainy, early November day. In autumn, the chartreuse color of Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola’ intensifies to an even more luminous-hue. I love gazing upon its beauty on rainy days. For a listing of other plants in this garden, see the Secret Garden page at left.

The beautiful autumn color of Cornus kousa was my primary motivation when planting this tree (purchased from Walker Farm) five years ago. Now that it has reached a more substantial height, it can be enjoyed from inside the Secret Garden and Garden Room as well as from the front walkway. Plants visible in the foreground include Rodgersia aesculifolia and to the right, Paeonia mouton x lutea ‘High Noon’ (both from Walker Farm).

The reflected foliage of A. plamatum x dissectum ‘Seiryu’. This semi-frost-proof water bowl will remain outdoors until early December, when I empty it and bring it inside for the winter.

Schizophragma hydrangeoides ‘Roseum’ in November’s Secret Garden – In late autumn, the deep green foliage lights up the dark stone wall with its brilliant-chartreuse fall color

Although the native forest (background) has shed most of its leaves —save the burnt-orange beech in the background here— the Secret Garden continues to celebrate with a grand finale of color (A. palmatum x dissectum ‘Seiryu’, Fothergilla gardenii, Hosta ‘August Moon’ and various ground covering perennials; including Heuchera, Euphorbia and Bergenia)

A Last Look at Autumn’s Beautiful Reflection

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Article and Photographs ⓒ Michaela at TGE

All content on this site, (with noted exceptions), is the property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be used or reproduced without prior written consent. Inspired by something you see here? Great! Please give credit where credit is due. It’s a small world and link-love makes for fond friendships. Stealing makes for bad dreams…

Do you enjoy visiting The Gardener’s Eden? You can help support this site by shopping through our affiliate links. Advertisers do not pay for editorial placement here, but do remit a small percentage of any sale originating from The Gardener’s Eden affiliate links to this site. All proceeds will go toward web hosting and maintenance costs. Thank you for your support!

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Opposites Attract: Autumn Golds Glow Beside Vibrant Violets, Pale Plums & Lovely Lavenders…

October 7th, 2010 § 1 comment § permalink

An October knock-out: Clematis viticella ‘Polish Spirit’ (my new favorite) sings harmony at the edge of the golden-chartreuse fields of autumn

Oh beautiful, technicolor October, my favorite month of the year. On glorious fall days like today, I live to be outdoors from dawn to dusk, playing in the garden’s golden light. With all of the warm autumn colors and hot, mulled apple cider, I barely notice evening’s growing chill. Bold, contrasting shades —citrus and purple, saffron and plum— fill the beds and borders with near-electric radiance. Opposites attract, and sparks fly in the garden…

The lemon-colored spicebush (native Lindera benzoin) featured here last week is still glowing brightly. And this week, the shining and Arkansas bluestar (Amsonia illustris and A. hubrichtii, respectively) and sweet pepperbush (Clethra alnifolia) have joined the colorful garden party; all shimmering now in bright-as-the-sun yellow hues. Alongside all of the gilded foliage, shades of violet —from lavender to deepest plum— continue to play right in tune. Looking to bump up the late-season wattage in your garden? Consider side-by-side plantings in shades of purple and yellow. The combination always gives a garden design a good kick…

Late asters stand out like jewels in a setting: the glowing color of Sedum ‘Purple Emperor’, backed by golden Amsonia illustris, captures the last rays of sunlight

The plummy plumes of maiden grass (Miscanthus sinensis ‘Strictus’) play beautifully in my garden. Here, bathed in late afternoon light, the inflorescences stand tall against a backdrop hedge of deep-purple Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Diabolo’. Yellow, horizontal stripes on the grass —a little hard to see in this photo— add dynamic color and texture to the combination

Pots get in on the color-act as well: Aster ‘Apollo’ strikes a stunning pose, massed on the stone steps leading to my studio; planted here in contrasting, mustard-colored containers

An autumn love story: Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Summer Wine’ romances Clethera alnifolia ‘Ruby Spice’

Another favorite pairing in my autumn garden: Aster oblongifolium, ‘Raydon’s Favorite’, planted against a golden backdrop of Clethera alnifolia, ‘Ruby Spice’

This Hydrangea quercifolia (our native oakleaf hydrangea) is Turning a Lovely Shade of Dusty Plum this Week

Aster oblogifolium ‘Raydon’s Favorite’ pairs beautifully with many autumn golds; including nearby Arkansas bluestar (Amsonia hubrichtii)

Arkansas bluestar (Amsonia hubrichtii) is as beautiful close-up as it is viewed from a distance; planted en masse

Cotinus coggygria ‘Royal Purple’ is a perfect backdrop for subtle, plum-toned ‘bloom’ (Miscanthus sinensis ‘Strictus’ inflorescence)

The color of purple-leafed coral bells (Heuchera ‘Palace Purple’) grows more intense as the weather cools

And last —but never least— in today’s round-up of violet and gold foliage and flowers is my favorite autumn plant: our native Rhus typhina. This selected cultivar, ‘Tiger Eyes’, is particularly stunning this week at Ferncliff. Read more about my love-affair with Lady Rhus by traveling back to last year’s post on this beautiful plant (click here)

Article and photographs ⓒ Michaela at TGE

All content on this site, (with noted exceptions), is the property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be used or reproduced without prior written consent. Inspired by something you see here? Great! Please give credit where credit is due. It’s a small world and link-love makes for fond friendships. Stealing makes for bad dreams…

Do you enjoy visiting The Gardener’s Eden? You can help support this site by shopping through our affiliate links. Advertisers do not pay for editorial placement here, but do remit a small percentage of any sale originating from The Gardener’s Eden affiliate links to this site. All proceeds will go toward web hosting and maintenance costs. Thank you for your support!

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Flickering Like Flames: Scarlet Red, Brilliant Orange & Burnished Gold … Early Signs of Change in the Garden…

September 14th, 2010 § 3 comments § permalink

The bold vermillion of late summer: Rosa rugosa’s bright and beautiful hips

Cobalt-Violet Annual Asters Fill Beds Planned for Cutting in the Potager…

This morning, I watched as a flock of sparrows splashed joyfully in a tiny pool on the stone terrace. Showers passed through the area yesterday afternoon and evening; refreshing the garden and leaving behind a temporary bird bath for my winged-guests. Every day now, when I look out the window, I notice more and more traces of red and gold in the meadow and along the distant hillside. Changes are evident in both the flora and the local fauna. The seasonal shift has started a bit early here; caused, perhaps, by unusually hot and dry conditions this summer. The natural world is changing rapidly now; heralding the arrival of a new season.

Trees and shrubs planted in shallow soil along the northwestern corner of the garden are already beginning to shift hues. Red leaves outnumber green this week on one ‘Shasta’ viburnum (V. plicatum var. tomentosum) in particular, and the tea viburnum (V. setigerum ) is loaded with Chinese-orange berries. The viburnum genus includes many species with fantastic autumn color —both in terms of foliage and fruit— and planting them in and amongst perennials is a great way to add late season pizazz to a garden.  It’s no secret that these are my favorite shrubs. Not only are common and rare species and cultivars of the genus planted everywhere in my garden —and in almost every garden I design for others— but I post viburnum photos on this blog and talk and write about them constantly. Two lovely swing-season plants, among the many possible options to use when designing a garden around viburnum, are asters and ornamental grass. ‘Raydon’s Favorite’ asters bloom here every September and October in the most exquisite shade of blue imaginable; like the sky itself on an early autumn day. These flowers are beloved by bees and butterflies, especially in the latter half of the year, as natural sources of food begin to grow more scarce. Beautiful in the vase as well as in the garden, annual asters —packets of seed sprinkled about the flower beds in early spring— are an easy way to add bold color and vary the seasonal tapestry in a mixed border. And I also like to use mound-shaped ornamental grasses, with their soft textures and varied hues —particularly the pennisetums— to add a softness and grace at the foot of leggier viburnums, such as the tea (V. setigerum) and bodnant (V. bodnantense)…

Viburnum plicatum tomentosum ‘Shasta’

Aster oblongifolium ‘Raydon’s Favorite’ Pulls the September Sky Down to Earth…

The Gorgeous Chinese-Orange Berries of Tea Viburnum ( V. setigerum )

I find it impossible to pass by Pennisetum alopecuroides ‘Hameln’ without running my fingers through her downy tufts. They remind me a bit of another local resident…

Red Fox – Meadow’s Edge at Ferncliff

Wild Turkey – Forest Boundary at Ferncliff

Sparrows Splashing on a Terrace at Ferncliff

A Passing Shower Provides Temporary, Late Summer Bathing for Birds

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Article and photos are ⓒ Michaela at TGE

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Welcome Autumn…

September 22nd, 2009 § Comments Off on Welcome Autumn… § permalink

The first golden leaves. American Beech, (Fagus grandifolia).

Thought I would take you along for a stroll through the woodland path on the first day of autumn here at Ferncliff. Early morning fog lifted briefly to reveal a slice of heavenly blue sky and a season’s worth of kaleidoscopic color just beginning to develop in the forest. Welcome to Autumn…

A backlit branch of beech leaves stands out like a stained glass masterpiece by Henri Matisse…

Sky blue hues of Aster oblongifolium, ‘Raydon’s favorite’, brighten the woodland edge at Ferncliff…

Leaves shed early by two nearby maple trees stand out against the gray stone in a washout…

Hay-scented ferns, (Dennstaedtia puctilobula), just beginning to turn gold along the forest path…

A red maple leaf, (Acer rubrum), settled into new moss along the edge of the woodland…

A common puffball mushroom, (Lycoperdon perlatum), brings to mind a sea urchin when viewed up close on the mossy forest floor.

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~ Click to enlarge photos ~

To learn more about American woodland gardening, and North American deciduous forests, I highly recommend Rick Darke’s beautiful book, The American Woodland Garden, published by Timber Press. Although we have never met, Rick’s gorgeous photography, insight, and the beautiful woodland garden he created in Pennsylvania with his wife Melinda, has been a great inspiration to me. To learn more about Rick Darke and his work, please visit his website by clicking here: rickdark.com. Thank you for your many fine books Rick.

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Rick Darke’s The American Woodland Garden from Timber Press

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Article and Photographs copyright 2009, Michaela at The Gardener’s Eden

All content on this site is the property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be used or reproduced without express written permission. Inspired by what you see here? Please give credit where credit is due. Link-love makes for fond friendships. Stealing makes for bad dreams…

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Sweet-Scented August: Clethra Alnifolia

August 17th, 2009 § 4 comments § permalink

Clethra alnifolia, North American native “Sweet Pepperbush’

Some of the most beautiful late-blooming shrubs remind me of that childhood tale, “The Ugly Duckling”. Late to leaf out, looking perhaps a bit twiggy and awkward in June, these stars of the late summer garden take their time dressing up for spring. Sweet pepperbush is one of those shrubs. Personally, I never mind shyness, in fact I often find it quite charming. Besides, it’s like they always say, good things often come to those who wait. And in the case of Clethra alnifolia, that old adage couldn’t be more true. This late blooming beauty produces some of the most fragrant flowers in my garden; attracting butterflies, bees, hummingbirds and humans alike. But when most gardeners are out shopping in early spring, Clethra alnifolia is looking a bit scrappy. Lilac, azalea and roses are scooped up at garden centers by the cart-full, while the sweet pepperbush languishes in the corner like a high school wall-flower. It seems like her only fans are horticultural-geeks, (always quick notice her).

Well, don’t you be fooled by the awkward-spring-nature of this gorgeous native plant. Clethra is a knock-out worth waiting for. Just like that skinny girl at the prom, (you remember the one with the metallic braces?), Clethra makes up for lost time a bit later on in the season, when you will be glad you chose her. When the perky roses are past their prime and that showy azalea starts to look a bit shabby, Clethra’s lustrous green leaves still shimmer and shine in the late summer heat. Then, round about August, Clethra really comes into her own. Oh the flowers!  The sweet smell of pepperbush is a fragrance you will never forget. Borne on the current season’s new growth, the elegant blossoms cluster on upright racemes or panicles, often 8-12″ in length. Bloom time begins in late July or early August and continues for at least 4-6 weeks, (longer when sited in a moist location with partial shade). And there are so many new cultivars! ‘Ruby Spice’ and ‘Pink Spires’ bloom in glorious shades soft pink rarely seen so late in the season, and creamy ‘September Beauty’ extends the spicy-fragrance right into October here at Ferncliff.

Clethra alnifolia ‘Ruby Spice’ in mid-August at Ferncliff

Come autumn, the foliage of Clethera alnifolia turns a gorgeous shade of golden yellow, slowly burnishing to a warm, coppery brown. What beauty! I like to surround Clethra with late blooming blue-violet asters, such as Aster oblongifolium, ‘Raydon’s Favorite’, and violet-blue Aconitum (Monk’s Hood). Placing violet against the gold is a great way to bring out the intensity of both colors. Because of its honey gold autum foliage, Clethra also looks beautiful when planted near darker foliage shrubs such as purple-leafed Cotinus, and Physocarpus cultivars ‘Diabolo’, ‘Coppertinia’, and ‘Summer Wine’. The multicolored autumn leaves of Fothergilla gardenii and many Viburnum cultivars also make great border-mates for Clethra alnifolia.

And now, at the risk of sounding like an infomercial, is the time when I say : “but wait… that’s not all”! Because Clethra alnifolia is a native to North America, growing this shrub is one of the kindest things you can do for late season bees, butterflies and birds. Since many suburban gardeners lean toward spring-blooming shrubs in their planting schemes, few backyard food sources remain for our pollen-dependent friends in the latter part of the season. By choosing late-blooming shrubs and perennials, a gardener can help give back some of the natural habitat we humans have taken away with our subdivisions, lawns and hardscaping. Not only will you enjoy the fragrance of sweet pepperbush in your garden, but the hummingbirds, bees and butterflies will delight in Clethra’s sweet elixir.

Ready to add sweet pepperbush to your garden? Like most ‘ugly-duckings’ Clethra alnifolia has an easy-going personality. And, as is the case with many native plants, this is generally a pest-free shrub with few diseases. Keep in mind Clethra’s needs and you won’t be disappointed. The sweet pepperbush is native to woodlands and swamps from Nova Scotia on south to Florida, (zone 4 – 9). As such a plant, Clethra prefers semi-moist, slightly acidic soil conditions, (though average, well prepared and mulched garden soil will do fine). Also a plus, Clethra can tolerate a bit of shade from taller shrubs or trees. But do keep in mind, this is a suckering shrub, so give it plenty of room to spread out, (cultivars vary in size from small to large, but the species can grow from 4-12′ high and 6-10′ wide or more). Because the blossoms of sweet pepperbush occur on new-growth late in the season, any pruning should take place in the early part of the year,(ideally before June 1st). Be certain to make shallow-angled cuts on the alternate leafed branches, just above an outward facing leaf-bud. Clethra alnifolia forms a loose, natural-looking hedge when planted in groups, and except for the removal of spent blossoms, I avoid most pruning. However, should you find that your sweet pepperbush gets a bit wild and unruly, a severe pruning in early spring will rejuvenate her beauty. To my eye, Clethra alnifolia is always the perfect garden swan.

Clethra alnifolia, ‘Ruby Spice’ in bud at Ferncliff

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Article and Photographs Copyright 2009 Michaela at The Gardener’s Eden

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