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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Wild Blue: The Beauty of Baptisia…

June 7th, 2012 § 3 comments § permalink

The Beauty of North American Native Plants: Wild Blue Indigo (Baptisia australis) & Goat’s Beard (Aruncus dioicus) in My Garden. This Flowering Combo is Backed Up by “Nativars” (Native Plant Cultivars): Juniperus virginiana ‘Grey Owl’ & Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Diablo’

In my work as garden designer, I often find myself doing overtime as PR agent for native plants. Many North American wildflowers make beautiful additions to the garden, and yet the natives continue to struggle with “weedy” and “seedy” reputations. Of course, not all wild things are suitable for domesticated gardens and perennial borders, but some are quite sensational. When I encounter resistance, I like to pull out a few show-stopping design combos —like the one pictured above— to convince my more dubious clients. Baptisia —sometimes called false indigo or wild indigo— is such a beautiful and well-known perennial that I frequently need to remind even experienced gardeners that it is actually a North American native plant.

Wild Blue Indio and Goat’s Beard Together Again, in Another Garden Room, with North American Native, Canadian Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis)

There are many beautiful species within the Baptisia genus; including some magnificent natural hybrids. The most familiar of the group, Baptisia australis (Wild Blue Indigo or Blue False Indigo), is a long-standing favorite among perennial gardeners. Hardy in USDA zones 4-9, Wild Indigo is an easy-to-please, long-lived beauty. Baptisia australis and cultivars (B. australis ‘Purple Smoke’ is one of my favorites) all prefer full to partial sun and deep, moist, well-drained soil. However, I’ve used Wild Blue Indigo in semi-shade and drier sites with great success. Although it isn’t a fast-growing plant, in ideal conditions, Baptisia australis will reach 3-4′ in height, with about a 3′ spread within 3 or 4 years. Do plan well and give it plenty of space; due to its deep root system, it resents transplanting (but is easily propagated, and freely self-sows from seed). The violet blue flowers bloom in June here in Vermont, and they combine well with many other garden plants; including perennial classics like herbaceous peonies (Paeonia lactiflora), fellow June-blooming natives like the Goat’s Beard (Aruncus dioicus) pictured above, and woody plants such as dark-maroon-leafed Ninebark, Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Diablo’ (a “nativar”, or native plant cultivar). After blooming, the grey-green foliage adds both color and texture to the garden, and later in summer, blackened seed pods add autumn-garden interest.

In the garden, Baptisia australis —and other species within the genus— is an important native plant for pollinators; including butterflies, bumblebees and other native bees. Although I leave most of the flowers standing in my perennial borders, I grow more than enough to enjoy some spiky blue-violet blossoms indoors as well. Wild Blue Indigo is also one of my favorite cut-flowers; a long lasting, mood-beauty for the vase…

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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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