Lost in a Late Summer Reverie . . .

August 22nd, 2013 § Comments Off on Lost in a Late Summer Reverie . . . § permalink

Dahlia 'Karma Choc' with Angelonia 'Angelface Dark Violet' - michaela medina harlow - thegardenerseden.com On the Terrace: Dahlia ‘Karma Choc’ and Angelonia angustifolia ‘Angelface Dark Violet’

Out watering containers this morning —listening to the chorus of crickets in the meadow and cedar waxwings in the viburnum— I found myself lost in a late summer reverie. With Dahlias, Summersweet, fragrant Lilies, Garden Phlox and Hydrangea in bloom, ornamental grasses sending up tinted blades and silken tassels, and many other favorites just coming into bud or forming ripe, colorful fruit, August is glorious month in my garden. Sometimes it can be hard to leave here!

August's Full, Green Corn Moon - michaela medina harlow - thegardenerseden.com August’s Green Corn Moon, Through Swaying Blades of Maiden Grass (Miscanthus sinensis ‘Variegatus’)

For many gardeners, late summer is a time of winding down, cutting back, and dreaming of next spring. But why turn away from garden pleasures so soon? The second act is just getting started! The Turtle Head (Chelone lyonii), Yellow Waxbells (Kirengeshoma palmata), Fairy Candles (Actaea simplex), Monkshood (Aconitum), Windflower (Anemone hybrids), Bushclover (Lespedeza thunbergii) and Asters are just loaded with buds and the Beautyberry (Callicarpa), Dogwood (Cornus species), Cotoneaster, Juniper, Viburnum and Winterberry (Ilex verticillata) are laden with ripening fruit and colorful, shiny berries.  The big summer party’s just warming up… Won’t you stick around and keep me company? Here are a few of my late-season favorites —currently blooming or covered with berries— to whet your whistle . . .

Clethra alnifolia 'Ruby Spice' - michaela medina harlow - thegardenerseden.com In the Wildflower Meadow Border: Ruby Spice Summersweet (Clethra alnifolia ‘Ruby Spice’)

Henry Eilers Sweet Coneflower (Rudbeckia subtomentosa 'Henry Eilers') - michaela medina harlow - thegardenerseden.com Henry Eilers Sweet Coneflower and Flickering Tips of Flame Grass at Meadow’s Edge (Rudbeckia subtomentosa’Henry Eilers’ & Miscanthus sinensis purpurascens)

Phlox paniculata - michaela medina harlow - thegardenerseden.comGarden Phlox (Phlox paniculata), is a great plant for late season fragrance, color and attracting pollinators like butterflies, hummingbirds and bees. Control powdery mildew by choosing mildew-resistant cultivars (‘Jeana’, shown above in bud, ‘David’, increasing soil moisture (add compost and a thick layer of mulch), alkalinity (adding lime to the soil in early spring or autumn), air circulation (divide clumps in late summer or early autumn and thin in early spring), and treating foliage with horticultural oil or homemade anti-fungal remedy (click here). 

Obedient Plant (Physostegia virginiana) - michaela medina harlow - thegardenerseden.com A Lovely, Late-Season Selection, the Obedient Plant (Physostegia virginians), Can Actually Get a Bit Aggressive in a Perennial Border. Although it is a Beautiful, North American Native Flower —Popular with Pollinators as Well— I Recommend Thoughtful, Wild-Garden Positioning. Pretty in the Landscape and Vase, Obedience is Not One of Her Virtues!

Hummingbird Summersweet - Clethra alnifolia 'Hummingbird' - michaela medina harlow - thegardenerseden.com Smaller in Stature, Hummingbird Summersweet (Clethra alnifolia ‘Hummingbird’), Sits Pretty Beside the Studio Door, Filling the August Air with Fragrance

Viburnum plicatum var. tomentosum 'Shasta' Fruits in Sunshower - michaela medina harlow - thegardenerseden.com Nearby, the Doublefile Viburnum —Laden with Glistening Red Fruit— Draws Cedar Waxwings and Other Songbirds by the Flock (V. plicatum var. tomentosum ‘Shasta’)

Physocarpus opulifolius 'Diablo', Miscanthus and Solidago - michaela medina harlow - thegardenerseden.comThe Honey-Hued Beauty of Goldenrod Lights up Ninebark’s Maroon Foliage an Old Vase: Solidago, Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Diablo’ and Miscanthus sinensis ‘Strictus’. Goldenrod is Often Erroneously Blamed for Allergies. Ragweed (Similar Bloom Time and Color) is the Wind-Pollinated Culprit.

Cornus kousa Fruits Ripening - michaela medina harlow - thegardenerseden.com Ripening Cornus kousa Fruits are Every Bit as Pretty as the Blossoms, and Don’t Even Get Me Started on the Fall Foliage Color!

Cutleaf Coneflower (Rudbeckia laciniata) - michaela medina harlow - thegardenerseden.com Cutleaf Coneflower (Rudbeckia laciniata), is a Tall, Back-of-the-Border Plant. A North American Native, it is a Favorite of Monarch and Swallowtail Butterflies, Bees and Many Other Pollinators. It Also Makes a Beautiful & Stately Cut Flower.

Oakleaf Hydrangea Blossoms Shifting Color (Hydrangea quercifolia) with Juniper - michaela medina harlow - thegardenerseden.com I’ve Never Been One for Blue Hydrangea —Color Never Looks True to My Eye— But I’m Mad for the Rest. The Late-Summer Blush and Autumn Foliage of the Oakleaf Species Make it One of My All-Time Favorites (Hydrangea quercifolia)

Common Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare) in the Moonlight - michaela medina harlow - thegardenerseden.com Common Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare), Yarrow-Leaf Tansy (Tanacetum achilleifolium) & Yarrow (Achille millefolium) Offer Late-Season Blooms and Make Great Additions to Bouquets and Dried Arrangements

Variegated Maidengrass (Miscanthus sinensis 'Variegatus') in Moonlight - michaela medina harlow - thegardenerseden.com Variegated Maiden Grass in the Moonlight

Photography & Text â“’ 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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In Concert: Fall’s Brilliant Fantasia …

October 18th, 2011 § Comments Off on In Concert: Fall’s Brilliant Fantasia … § permalink

Flames of the Apprentice: Cotinus coggygria (Smokebush) Turns up the Volume on the Mid-October Music

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been fascinated by the relationship between color and sound. My mom had a fairly eclectic record collection —from classical to kitsch— and as a child, I loved listening to music while playing with crayons; creating wild works of art in response to the high and low notes I was hearing. I still listen to music while working in my studio, and the auditory language of color seems instinctive to me. When I hear the sound of an oboe —an instrument I love— I’m swept away by rivers of dark indigo and waves of velvety violet. I also adore cello, and while not as dark as oboe, it still conjures deeper hues, like chocolaty maroon and port wine. Some instruments, like guitar and piano, can cover the entire range of the rainbow, while others, like the bagpipes and the penny whistle, seem to stick to one end of the spectrum or the other. Individually, these sounds are all quite interesting, but when you put them all together … Well, we all know that’s when the fun really begins. Colors, like music, stir moods and feelings …

Viburnum lentago’s Dark Indigo Berries Sing a Streak of Rainy-Day Blues Against a Jazzy Backdrop of Red and Orange (Backup Singers, From Left to Right: Viburum plicatum var. tomentosum ‘Shasta’ and Miscanthus sinensis ‘Purpurascens’)

The colors of autumn seem particularly euphonious, bringing to mind one of my favorite animated, musical films, Fantasia. And as we move toward the end of October, I’m inevitably reminded of the best part of that Disney Classic, The Sorceress’ Apprentice (click here to watch it on YouTube). Although I remember being terrified by parts of the film when I was very young (leaping flames, hooded monks, yikes!), the contrast between the light and the dark is exactly what made it fascinating as I grew older. I still relate to the apprentice’s experimental nature, as I play with my own color magic in the garden. As with art and music, contrasts are what make autumn garden design compositions beautiful …

Meanwhile the Garden’s Head Sorceress —That Wild-Colored Child, Witch Hazel (Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Diane’)— Hits an Electric Chord Beside Deep and Sultry Summer Wine Ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Summer Wine’) with Juniperus chinensis ‘Sargentii’ chiming in with a bit of the blues. Note the Background Chorus: Harmonious, Honey-Hued Clethra alnifolia ‘Ruby Spice’, and the Screaming Red Notes of Cornus alba ‘Siberica’. Read More About the Witch Hazel ‘Diane’ by Clicking Here.

Purple Percussive Profusion: Callicarpa dichotoma ‘Issai’ (In Truth, the Candy-Colored Fruits & Golden Wrapping of Beautyberry Always Remind Me of Another Film: Something Fizzy and Slightly Naughty from Willy Wonka’s Factory) Read More About the Aptly Named Beautyberry by Clicking Here.

Dahlias Dark Delight: This ‘Karma Choc’ Brings to Mind a Raspberry-Infused, Chocolate Cordial Cello

Early Halloween Costume Drama? Even the Insects Get in on the Act: This American Dagger Moth Caterpillar Shows off a Fuzzy, Mustard-Hued, Fantasy Cloak (Click Here to Read More About Autumn Caterpillars)

Abelia mosanensis (Fragrant Abelia) Puts on a Spectacular Show, Starting with Seductive Orange Heat, and Working Up to Fever-Pitch Red; Bouncing off Viburnum lantana ‘Variegatum’s (Wayfaring Viburnum) Yellow-Green, Percussive Notes. Meanwhile, Juniperus horizontalis ‘Wiltonii’ (Blue Rug Juniper) Plays it Cool with a Hint of Blues to Steady the Two Drama Queens (Read More About Fragrant Abelia by Clicking Here).

Hakonchloa macra ‘Beni-Kaze’ (Japanese Forest Grass ‘Red Wind’) gets Jazzy on Improv with Pulmonaria ‘Raspberry Splash’ and P. ‘Mrs. Moon’. Hosta and Heuchera Playing Backup for This Dynamic Duo (Read About the Springtime Beauty of Bethlehem Sage —And Pulmonaria ‘Mrs. Moon’ in Particular— by Clicking Here)

Inspiration: Walt Disney’s Fantasia: The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. Film Still â“’ 1940 Walt Disney Productions

Photographs and Text â“’ 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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Ode to the Oscars: If They Were Flowers Botanical Stars Shine on the First Annual ‘Conservatory Awards’ Red Carpet…

March 8th, 2010 § 9 comments § permalink

Dress by Agapanthus, ‘Lily of the Nile’ © Michaela TGE

As worn by ethereal Rachel McAdams © Steve Gratnitz/Wireimage via Yahoo.com

The great Bard Shakespeare once wrote that “all the world’s a stage”. Well, the thought certainly crossed my mind today as I worked, surrounded by hundreds of surreal beauties inhabiting a small greenhouse temporarily under my care. Last night’s Academy Awards ceremony was attended by some of the most beautifully dressed women in the world, yet none more spectacular than the least of the lovely ladies I encountered in the conservatory today.

So as the watering wand drifted from delicate bud to flamboyant blossom, my inner paparazzo got the best of me. Snap. Snap. Snap. At each and every turn I spotted a starlet resembling one I remembered from the night before. Look there’s Demi’s dress! Oh my God, that must be Helen Mirren’s silver gown. Aisle after aisle, it was a breathless whirlwind of divas and ingenues; with diamond dewdrops-a-sparkling and heady perfume filling the air. What a rush. Best dressed? Why, I simply can not decide. They are all beauties to my eye. So you be the judge. Who is the winner here? And who did I miss as I spun my star-struck head this way and that?

Dress by Pelargonium filifolium © Michaela TGE

As worn by delicate beauty Zoe Kravitz © Steve Granitz/Wireimage via Yahoo.com

Dress by Fuchsia ‘Angel’s Kiss’ © Michaela TGE

As worn by the stunning Queen Latifa © Steve Granitz/Wireimage via Yahoo.com

Silvery dress by Kalachoe pumila © Michaela TGE

As worn by elegant Helen Mirren © Jason Merritt/ Getty via Yahoo.com

Gorgeous ruffled gown by Begonia panasoffkee © Michaela TGE

As worn by ever fabulous Demi Moore © John Shearer/Getty Images via Yahoo.com

Dress by Impatiens namchabarwensis © Michaela TGE

As worn by alluring Mo’Nique © Kevin Mazur/Wireimage via Yahoo.com

Dress by Amaryllis ‘Ema’s Grans’ © Michaela TGE

As worn by radiant Jane Seymour © Frazer Harrison/Getty via Yahoo.com

Dress by Streptocarpus ‘Black panther’ © Michaela TGE

As worn by the mysterious Kristin Stewart © Steve Grantiz/Wireimage via Yahoo.com

Dress by Phalenopsis, The Moth Orchid © Michaela TGE

As worn by the exquisite Meryl Streep © Jason Merritt/Getty Images via Yahoo.com

Dress by Dahlia ‘Karma Choc’ image via White Flower Farm

As worn by ravishing Penelope Cruz © Frazer Harrison/Getty Images via Yahoo.com

Dress, (detail), by Begonia parviflora © Michaela TGE

As worn by triumphant beauty Sandra Bullock © Jason Merritt/Getty Images via Yahoo.com


All floral images, (with one noted exception) © Michaela at TGE

All Academy Award photos are copyright as noted, used in accordance with the Fair Use Doctrine

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A Heart of Darkness…

February 12th, 2010 § 5 comments § permalink

Dahlia ‘Karma Choc’, available online at, (and image via):  White Flower Farm

Some gardeners adore bright colors, and other plant collectors crave pastels. There are those who prefer dramatic plants painted silver and gold and a few indecisive types who seek out green tonal shifts and mottled white variegation. These hues are all quite lovely, and they occasionally catch my eye, but I fully admit that I have more shadowy desires. The truth is that deep within me, hidden from the light of day, beats a heart of pure darkness – I confess that I have a passion for black plants. Rich, dark purple and velvety red; bitter chocolate and silky maroon; ruby wine and exotic ebony: these are the colors I covet. And wouldn’t you agree that on a hot summer day, it’s easy to be seduced by a mysterious garden filled with shadows?

Cryptotaenia japonica atropurpurea backs up Athyrium niponicum var. pictum in my Secret Garden…

I love the cool, quiet of my shady, Secret Garden - but even in full sun, I like to paint shadows with dark foliage and black plants. While stunning on their own, when used in artful combination, these raven-hued beauties of the plant world can make the other flowers and foliage in a garden truly sing. Beside maroon and deep purple, sky blue blossoms sparkle, and when paired with orange and yellow, wine toned foliage is a bold and dramatic choice. Variegated plants, as well as the dusty, marbled whites and soft silver tones, all appear more striking when positioned beside darker colors. Imagine ghostly white ferns floating in a sea of dark foliage, or icy silver-tipped ivy winding about the base of black snake root, (Cimicifugia/Actaea simplex ‘Hillside Black Beauty’ or ‘Brunette’). Dark beauty shyly beckons in the shade…

Streptocarpus ‘Black Panther’, seduces from the shadows of my garden on a hot day..

As for the dark blossoms – oh my, but how I’ve fallen; hopelessly deep, and madly in love, with all of their seductive charms. Ruby red, tipping toward blackness, the deep colored dahlias delight me, and the ink-stained petals of iris can drive me truly wild. But pair the velvety allure of maroon roses with a subtle, spicy fragrance, and I will begin to truly swoon. Yes, I know it is an obsession – but you must know my passion for plants by now. I simply can not help it. In fact , as some of you may recall, I have revealed my personal weakness for dark flowers, when I wrote about the mysterious Black Panther Streptocarpus last summer, (pictured above). So, come along with me, won’t you ? Let’s wander away on a tour of the dark-blossoming underworld. Others may only be charmed by bold birds-of-paradise or delicate little, fluttering flowers. As for me, I will always prefer the slightly sinister beauties, like the dark temptress Odile, a shadow drifting silently across Swan Lake

Ipomoea ‘Sweet Heart Purple’,(image via): White Flower Farm

Aquilegia ‘Black Barlow’, available online at, (and image via):White Flower Farm

Colocasia esculenta ‘Black magic’, (image/avail. via): White Flower Farm

Heuchera ‘Obsidian’, available online at, (and image via): White Flower Farm

Angelica gigas, available online at, (and image via): White Flower Farm

Sambucus ‘Black Lace’, available online at, (and image via): White Flower Farm

Ricinus communis ‘Carmencita bright red’, available online at, (and image via): White Flower Farm

Begonia Rex ‘Fireworks’, available online at, (and image via): White Flower Farm

Ipomoea batatas ‘Blackie’, available online at (and photo via): White Flower Farm

Iris chrysographes, available online at (and image via): Wayside Gardens

Ophiopogon ‘Nigrescens’ (Black Mondo Grass), available online at: (and image via) Wayside Gardens


Odile, the black swan, as portrayed by Julie Kent. Photo by Roy Rounds via Thought Patterns.

For further exploring the shadowy side of your gardening personality, I recommend both of these dark, delicious titles…

Karen Platt’s Black Magic and Purple Passion

Paul Bonine’s Black Plants


Article and photographs (except where noted and linked to external websites and products) are copyright 2010 Michaela at The Gardener’s Eden, all rights reserved.

All content on this site is the property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be used or reproduced without express written consent.



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