Gardening Tip of the Week & Welcome, Merry Month of May . . .

May 5th, 2014 § 1 comment § permalink

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetWarm, Golden-Hued Narcissus & A Merry Welcome to May

Although the air is still a bit chilly, and the sky so stubbornly grey, it’s time for May merriment and a happy Cinco de Mayo anyway! Welcome, welcome, sweet May!

Garden tip of the week: make photo notes of your garden beds and place discreet popsicle sticks to help remind you of where you’d like to add more bulbs in autumn! I’ve never met a gardener who has said to me, “darn, I planted too many bulbs!”.

Fire and Ice Follies - copyright 2014 - michaela medina harlow - thegardenerseden.com Fire & Ice Follies (reminder for fall: more early Narcissus, like this reliable beauty, ‘Ice Follies’, in the background). Fire sculpture by Vermont artist, Dan Snow.

Photography & Textⓒ Michaela Medina Harlow/The Gardener’s Eden. All photographs, artwork, articles and content on this site (with noted exceptions), are the original, copyrighted property of Michaela Medina Harlow and/or 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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Daffodil Days . . .

April 27th, 2014 § 1 comment § permalink

Basket of Daffodils - Michaela Harlow - thegardenerseden.comGarden Clean-Up Rewards: Baskets of Fresh-Cut Narcissus

Finally, despite prolonged, unseasonably cold weather, the early daffodils have begun to unfold their golden petals. Narcissus ‘February (<—?) Gold’, ‘Lemon Silk’, ‘Ice Follies’, ‘Rip van Winkle’ and ‘Rijnveld’s Early (<—?) Sensation’ are in full bloom now and so many more about to burst into flower.

Designing_Gardens-Michaela_Harlow_thegardenerseden.com With Planting Plans to Create, Meetings to Make and Seminars to Prepare for, These April Days are Amongst the Busiest in My Calendar Year. On My Desk This Week: French Press Coffee, Master Copy of Scale Planting Plans, Tulips from Dad, Email Notes and Overlay Drawings on the Laptop and an iPad filled with Consultation Sketches Atop an Over-Booked Calendar! 

After a packed, rainy Saturday morning seminar at Walker Farm and a cold and dreary Sunday in my studio and garden, the sun finally made an appearance and lit dark corners of the Secret Garden at golden hour. Hard to believe we’ve just a few days left in April and still the pussy willows and witch hazel blossoms remain.

Lemon Silk Daffodils - Copyright Michaela Harlow - thegardenerseden.com And Many More Left to Gaze Upon in the Secret Garden (Narcissus Lemon Silk & Heuchera) 

First Daffodil Bouquet of the Season - Michaela Harlow - thegardenerseden.com And on My Studio Desk Today: First Garden Daffodil Bouquet of the Season

Photography & Textⓒ Michaela Medina Harlow/The Gardener’s Eden. All photographs, artwork, articles and content on this site (with noted exceptions), are the original, copyrighted property of Michaela Medina Harlow and/or 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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Upon a May Night: Fire and Ice Follies

May 10th, 2013 § Comments Off on Upon a May Night: Fire and Ice Follies § permalink

Fire_and_Ice_Follies_Narcissus_'Ice_Follies'_michaela_medina_harlow_thegardenerseden.com Fire & Ice Follies Upon a May Night: Enjoying Narcicissus ‘Ice Follies’ & Dan Snow’s Fire Sculpture After a Day of Work in the Garden

Now that spring has finally sprung, I find myself caught in a familiar pattern of  Maytime, garden design madness. There’s so much I want to see, and so very much I need to do, how can I possibly fit everything in? Fortunately, Mother Nature has anticipated this problem and she likes to extend us all a bit of daylight credit at this time of year. It’s so nice to have a few extra, late-afternoon hours to bask in the low sunlight and linger in the garden, before twilight shadows settle in.

Once darkness falls, my favorite way to spend a May night is beside Dan Snow’s fire sculpture; relaxing with a glass of wine, a view of the ever-expananding flowerbeds, my furry friends and good company . . .

Fire_and_Ice_Follies_Narcissus_Ice_Follies_michaela_medina_harlow_thegardenerseden.com Note to self: you can never plant too many Narcissus! Fire Sculpture: Dan Snow Stoneworks 

As a garden designer, this is my busiest time of the year. Most days, I only catch tiny glimpses of my garden as I run to and from appointments. I like to make the most of those moments, so I choose a different path each time I pass through the garden, and  I carry my camera with me most of the time. First to bloom beside the Secret Garden wall, the Bodnant Viburnum (V x bodnantense ‘Dawn’), is just now fading to leaf. Meanwhile other Viburnum species —my favorite genus of woody plants— as well as the Lindera benzoinAmelanchierFothergilla and Syringa are budding and bursting into flower. I adore the spicy-sweet fragrance of the Viburnum in  early morning and later, in misty evening air . . .

Viburnum_judii_2013_michaela_medina_harlow_thegardenersedenWith its silver-green, pubescent foliage, cerise buds and intensely spicy fragrance, the Judd Viburnum (Viburnum x  judii) is truly one of my favorite species.

Viburnum_x_bodnantense_Dawn_Blossom_Reflection_michaela_medina_harlow_thegardenerseden.com Mirror, mirror, beside the garden wall, who’s the fairest of them all? Why Viburnum x bodnantense ‘Dawn’, of course! Although her blooms are slowly fading, I still have her gorgeous foliage —and scarlet autumn color— to enjoy.

Viburnumxburkwoodii_michaela_medina_harlow_thegardenerseden.com Beautiful Burkwood Viburnum, Anne Russell’s Buds Swell in Sunset Silhouette: Viburnum x burkwoodii ‘Mohawk’ (Mohawk Viburnum)

Viburnum_x_ bodnantense_'Dawn'_ and_Lindera_benzoin_in_bloom_michaela_medina_harlow_thegardenerseden.com The last flowers of Bodnant Viburnum (V. x bodnantense ‘Dawn’) greet the first blooms of Spicebush (Lindera benzoin)

Fothergilla_major_'Mt_Airy'_michaela_medina_harlow_thegardenerseden.com And the fragrant, bottle-brush fluff of Fothergilla major ‘Mt Airy’ (Witch Alder)

Fire Sculpture: Dan Snow Stoneworks

Garden Design: Michaela Medina Harlow

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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November Garden: Late Autumn’s Sunny-Day Chores & Pleasures…

November 13th, 2010 § 2 comments § permalink

Glowing Tufts of Ornamental Grass (Miscanthus sinensis)

My Trusty Old Garden Cart ( from Gardener’s Supply Company )

Panicum virgatum ‘Heavy Metal’ (Switch Grass) – Golden Color Illuminated by November Sunlight

Days of beautifully warm, sunny weather, a free weekend, and a list of end-of-season garden chores = Michaela in Bliss. I’ve had a really busy week —filled with deadlines and end-of-season projects to finish up for my design clients— so I’m looking forward to a weekend’s worth of work and relaxation in my own garden. The fun began yesterday afternoon, when I planted 400 landscape-size Narcissus bulbs; 200 N. ‘Ice Follies’ in the long border and 200 premium mixed daffodils in the entry garden. Yes, I am still planting bulbs, and I will continue to do so until the snow flies. I did warn you that it’s compulsive. Plus, with all of the end-of-season sales, how can I help myself?

But Daffodils, Michaela? Aren’t they a bit… pedestrian? Bah. Don’t you believe that nonsense. The genus Narcissus is one of the most amazingly diverse groups of bulbs. If you don’t believe me, just have a look at Brent and Becky Heath’s incredible collection of Narcissus on their beautiful website. And not only are Narcissus long-lived and gorgeous, they are also tough as nails; resistant to mice, deer, insects and cold. I like to plant a cheerful mix of yellow shades where the entry garden meets the driveway to greet springtime guests. And in the long border — as well as the other flower beds near my studio and kitchen windows— I prefer to plant bulbs in single-color drifts for a calm, soothing effect. Yesterday, I added 200 landscape-size N. ‘Ice Follies’ (below) in the long perennial border, which I am currently renovating (pulling out old ‘holding tank’ plants and re-designing).

Narcissus ‘Ice Follies’ (photo from Brent and Becky’s Bulbs, where I bought mine)

Narcissus ‘Ice Follies’ bulbs from Brent and Becky’s. If you have small children, planting daffodils is a great way to share the experience of gardening with them.

Narcissus ‘Ice Follies’ with winter aconites (photo from Brent and Becky’s Bulbs)

Narcissus ‘Ice Follies’ belong to the division 2 group (large cup daffodils). These long-lived perennial plants are perfect for beds and borders, as well as for naturalizing in large landscapes. Because division 2 daffodils are so popular, they tend to be less expensive -perfect if you have a large area to plant on a tight budget (yes, and yes). I believe that one of the keys to good landscape design is understanding the big picture -and I do mean the really big picture. Specialty bulbs are lovely indeed, but you needn’t spend a fortune in order to have a beautiful garden. What you do need is to develop your eye, and to train yourself to think creatively.

Budget only allow you a few bags of landscape daffodils? Work with what you’ve got. Plant those bulbs in clusters of 5, 7 or 9 —I like to dig oval or circular holes and plant in irregular patterns— between your perennials. Work with the timing and colors of other flowering plants (and foliage!) in your border to maximize impact. Have forsythia in your garden? Instead of planting solid yellow daffodils, why not try a subtle contrast instead. Plant white, two-tone, or a combination of darker, orangey-yellow daffodil bulbs beneath your yellow-flowering shrubs. Is there a white-flowering tree or shrub in your early to mid spring garden? Add a pool of lavender-blue grape hyacinth (Muscari ‘Valerie Finnis’ is particularly gorgeous) beneath the branches to create a soothing scene. Muscari (grape hyacinth) bulbs are very inexpensive, and they multiply freely over time. Look back at pictures of your garden from last spring. See spots that could use a little umpf or more color-play? Let those photos be your guide this fall during bulb planting.

Cluster’-planting Narcissus bulbs helps to create a full and natural look in the garden and landscape. Much better than wimpy little polka-dots of yellow! Be sure to mix a bit of bulb-booster into the top layer of back-filled soil for best results.

Have a daylily patch (or a neighbor with one in need of dividing)? Hemerocallis make great planting companions for Narcissus. As the foliage of your daffodils dies back, the daylily leaves and flowers will conceal the yellowing and dormant Narcissus (never braid or tie daffodil foliage after flowering, and until it has completely withered and turned yellow/brown before cutting back). And while it’s certainly true that the dividing and planting of perennials is best done a bit earlier in the season, most tough-nut daylilies can be divided and replanted late (oh how they take the abuse!). Other good and inexpensive daylily companions? In semi-shade areas, I like to combine Narcissus with native ferns —particularly cinnamon (Osmunda cinnamonea) and ostrich ferns (Matteuccia pensylvanica)— and other big-leaf beauties like Hosta. Daffodils prefer dryish soil during their dormant period, but they are fairly tolerant of less-than-ideal conditions. The daffodils in the drier sections of my shade gardens are all doing quite well.

Here in the Secret Garden, Muscari ‘Valerie Finnis’ (grape hyacinth) and Narcissus ‘Misty Glen’ (white daffodils) are well-timed spring companions

Also keep in mind that bulbs can make great companions for other bulbs. If you are new to gardening, it may not occur to you to plant bulbs in ‘layers’. Some bulbs, like most Narcissus, are large, and need deep planting holes. But other spring flowering beauties emerge from tiny bulbs, (like crocus, grape hyacinth and snowdrops) requiring minimal planting depth. Of course this creates an opportunity for a ‘bulb sandwich’, and I love this planting method! Simply plant your larger bulbs first, then backfill until you reach the depth required for medium-bulbs, then —if you have them— finish off with shallow-planted bulbs. Here’s an example….

Plant three big bulbs, like these daffodils, 7 inches deep, between a grouping between perennials (these are spaced a little tight in this photo, be sure to give bulbs enough room to grow). Then backfill with about 3 inches of soil, to just cover the bulbs. Next…

Plant Three Muscari 4 inches deep, staggering them between the daffodils (you can feel around for the tips of the Narcissus, but it’s OK if they overlap a little. Bulbs will find their way around one another)

Another example of bulb companions with spring blooming perennials (Narcissus ‘Misty Glen’ with Erythronium and Helleborus x hybridus)

As I plant my bulbs each fall, I sometimes unearth previously planted daffodils, grape hyacinth or other spring bloomers. If this happens to you, don’t worry —no harm has been done, unless you chop it up!— just replace the bulb and keep going. Do remember to water your bulbs thoroughly after planting, and continue to water until the ground freezes if nature doesn’t do so for you. OK. Back to the garden -there’s more work to be done! I’ll be back with bulb-a-rama II later! Don’t you just love this time of year? It’s so lovely out there…

Miscanthus sinensis ‘Variegatus’ beside Viburnum x burkwoodii ‘Mohawk’

***

Article and photographs (exceptions noted an linked) ⓒ 2010 Michaela at TGE

***The Gardener’s Eden is not an affiliate of Brent and Becky’s Bulbs. But, Michaela is indeed a very happy customer!***

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…

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