Second Thoughts & Encores . . .

October 15th, 2018 § Comments Off on Second Thoughts & Encores . . . § permalink

With a Backdrop of Golden Clethra alnifolia and Side-Show of Blackened Rudbeckia Pom Poms, Glistening Asclepias tubersoa (Butterfly Weed), Parachutes Await a Breeze

Some things in life are one-hit wonders, and others are worth a second thought or three. When it comes to gardening in a cold climate, I’m always looking to get the most out of my growing year. With this in mind, I am generally pretty picky in my selection of plants. With rare exceptions (fragrant plants like peonies come to mind), I ask at least two seasons of performance before I’ll let any newcomer through my garden gate. Points of consideration: flowers are a real plus, but their absence is not a deal-breaker; good bones are always important, especially for trees and shrubs; foliage —dramatic or changing— is considered a high value asset in both herbaceous and woody plants; and colorful berries/drupes/seeds/calyxes/tufts/bark are always very desirable.

The three plants featured here are unusual knock-outs both in bloom and again, later in the season with other special effects. Butterfly Weed (Aesclepias tuberosa), gets double points as a beautiful butterfly magnet; foliage for caterpillars and later, brilliant orange flowers for adults. But it’s autumn that brings out this plant’s hidden treasure: spiky, dramatic seed pods that split to release silver-white parachutes into blue October sky. Magic!

Recently Featured, Seven-Son Flower (Heptacodium miconioides), is an Autumnal Double Feature worth Repeating. Here Seven-Son Flower’s Calyxes Shimmer Alongside Rose-Tipped Tufts of Maiden Grass (Miscanthus sinensis).

Seven-Son Flower (Heptacodium miconioides), recently featured, is another butterfly favorite in the late-season garden. Watching Monarchs dance about the fragrant blossoms would be gift enough, but the long-showing rose calyxes offer an unusual hue at this time of year. I love this plant paired with purple-tinted Ninebark leaves (Physocarpus opulifolius, ‘Diablo’ is my favorite), and silken tassels of Maiden Grass (Miscanthus sinensis).

Another less-common beauty, Fingerleaf Rodgersia  (Rodgersia aesculifolia), offers three season interest from early to late in the garden year. Creamy white or pink cultivars bloom on sturdy stems in late spring through early summer, looking fresh and cool above gorgeous, dark green foliage. Then, in early autumn, the boney remains begin to ruddy up to purplish ruby, just as the leaves morph to gold. Sweet alchemy! Don’t grab your shears just yet, though. Left standing over winter, the flower heads will slowly shift from dark brown to jet black —perfection with sparkling frost or a light dusting of snow.

With gorgeous foliage and beautiful summertime flowers, Fingerleaf Rodgersia (Rodgersia aesculifolia), is just a great garden plant, all the way around. Still, I think her best attributes are on display in autumn, when her gilded foliage is offset by a bejeweled crown, shifting from complementary ruby-violet to dramatic jet black bead.

So many garden plants offer more than one season of beauty, but sometimes, it takes a bit of sleuthing to discover them. Of course it helps to haunt great public gardens and commercial displays at this time of year. Make notes for shopping clearance sales at garden centers or return in spring to snap up those collectible, rare gems before they’re all sold out. The best plants are always worth at least a second thought!

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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June Gardens, Aflutter & Aglow . . .

June 29th, 2013 § Comments Off on June Gardens, Aflutter & Aglow . . . § permalink

Swallowtail Butterfly on Hydrangea anomala ssp petiolaris - michaela medina harlow - thegardenerseden.comLuminous Swallowtail on Blooming, Climbing Hydrangea (Hydrangea anomala ssp. petiolaris). Cluster-Flowers are Butterfly Favorites. Learn More About Attracting Butterflies & Other Pollinators to Your Garden Here.

It feels like we were just toasting the Summer Solstice when suddenly,  it’s the last weekend of June. But that’s Summer for you, isn’t it? She just grabs you by the hand and swirls you ’round, ’til you’re dizzy and giddy with bliss. Sun-showers, rainbows, butterflies and glowing afternoons… That’s what she lives for, and that’s why we love her.

So let’s flit about the summer garden, shall we? June in her shining hour… All aflutter and aglow.

Cornus kousa - Sunlit Bracts and Blossoms - michaela medina harlow - Cornus kousa Bracts and Blossoms Catch the Morning Sunlight

Paeonia lactiflora 'Le Charme', Rodgersia aesculifolia, Matteuccia struthiopteris in the Secret Garden - michaela medina harlow - Early Morning in the Secret Garden: Single Japanese Peony ‘Le Charme’ (Paeonia lactiflora ‘Le Charme’), Fingerleaf Rodgersia (Rodgersia aesculifolia) & Ostrich Fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris)

Thalictrum pubescens - Tall Meadow Rue - michaela medina harlow - Self-Sown, Tall Meadow Rue (Thalictrum pubescens), Provides a Bit of Unexpected, Summer Morning Delight for People and Pollinators Alike

Rose Ledges with Juniperus horizontalis wiltonii - michaela medina harlow - Rose Ledges with Juniperus horizontals ‘Wiltonii’

Paeonia lactiflora 'Le Charme' and Ostrich Fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris) - michaela medina harlow - Japanese Single Peonies (Paeonia lactifolia ‘Le Charme’ ) & Ostrich Ferns (Matteuccia struthiopteris). Though I Love the Double and Bomb Type Peonies, Single Flowers Provide Easy Access for Pollinators of All Kinds. And Look How Lovely…

Aruncus dioicus - Goat's Beard - michaela medina harlow - Sunset Illuminates Butterfly Favorite, the Goat’s Beard (Aruncus dioicus) and Silhouettes Viburnum plicatum var tomentosum & Beloved Conifer, Canadian Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis)

Mountain Laurel (Kalmia latifolia), Maiden Grass (Miscanthus sinensis) and Amsonia (Amsonia illustris) in Morning Light - michaela medina harlow - Maiden Grass (Miscanthus sinensis) met Mountain Laurel (Kalmia latifolia) Out on the Ledges, on a Summer Afternoon and They Fell Hopelessly in Love

Swallowtail Butterfly on Hydrangea anomala ssp petiolaris with Valerian officianalis in Background - michaela medina harlow - Swallowtail Butterfly on Climbing Hydrangea (Hydrangea anomala ssp. petiolaris) with another Butterfly Favorite, Valerian (Valeriana officianalis), in Background

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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