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

October 18th, 2018 § Comments Off on Beyond the Sweater Drawer: Gardening In Layers for Autumn Color & Texture § 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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Burnished Bronze & Jewel Tones: November Light in the Garden . . .

November 7th, 2013 § Comments Off on Burnished Bronze & Jewel Tones: November Light in the Garden . . . § permalink

Secret Garden in Late October - michaela medina harlow - thegardenerseden.com Stepping into Late Autumn, Through the Secret Garden Door

Jack Frost arrived a bit late to the garden this year, and so far, he’s breezed through only lightly. Though the calendar says it’s November, Black-eyed Susan and her pretty, pink Wind-Flower companions have thus far eluded his fatal kiss. The maples have all shed their leaves, but oak, beech and poplar trees continue to add confetti dots of color to the hills. Here in the garden, the ornamental grasses reign supreme, but Korean Dogwood (Cornus kousa) and Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum), as well as many Viburnum, Ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius), Witch Alder (Fothergilla), and other species hold tight to pretty red-orange foliage and brightly colored berries. Still, I remind myself daily to savor this last great wave of color. Days are getting shorter and nights are getting colder. Soon the garden and surrounding forest will stand naked, shivering in white, winter bones.

Before the November Wind - michaela medina harlow - thegardenerseden.com  A Garden Trio of Cranberrybush Viburnum, Maiden Grass and Limelight Hydrangea Vie with Blushing Sunset for an Autumn Evening Spotlight

Miscanthus sinensis in the Entry Garden - michaela medina harlow - thegardenerseden.comJPG And Rounding the Corner on the Opposite Side, Creeping Blue-Rug Juinper (Juniperus horizontalis ‘Wiltonii’), Striped Eulalia Grass (Miscanthus sinensis ‘Variegatus’) and Variegated Wayfaring Tree (Viburnum lantana ‘Variegatus’), Add Complimentary Color and Textural Contrast to the Fiery Hues

Switch Grass Turns Gold (Panicum virgatum 'Heavy Metal') - michaela medina harlow - thegardenerseden.com The Autumnal Gold of Switch Grass (Panicum virgatum ‘Heavy Metal’) Plays Pretty Against the Maroon Backdrop of Diablo Ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Diablo’)

Callicarpa dichotoma 'Early Amethyst' with Rudbeckia hirta and Amsonia hubrichtii - michaela medina harlow - thegardenerseden.com Beautyberry (Callicarpa dichotoma ‘Issai’) and Hubricht’s Amsonia (Amsonia hubrichtii) Shine Bright as the Sun’s Afterglow 

Callicarpa-dichotoma-with-Cotinus-coggygria-and-Miscanthus Early Amethyst Beautyberry (Callicarpa dichotoma ‘Early Amethyst’) with Smoke Bush (Cotinus coggygria ‘Royal Purple’) and Fountain Grass (Pennisetum alopecuroides), in the Entry Garden Walk

Moody Morning in the Autumn Garden Miscanthus sinensis cultivars - michaela medina harlow - thegardenerseden.com Striped Eulalia Grass (Miscanthus sinensis ‘Variegatus’) with Flame Grass (Miscanthus sinensis purpurascens) on a Dramatic, November Day

Pennisetum alopecuroides 'Hameln' in autumn - michaela medina harlow - thegardenerseden.com Fountain Grass (Pennisetum alopecuroides) Tufts Lend an Air of Soft Warmth to a Cold, Autumn Day 

Secret Garden Door and Water Bowl in November (Acer palmatum x dissectum 'Seiryu')- michaela medina harlow - thegardenerseden.com The Blue-Green Dragon (Acer palmatum x dissectum ‘Seiryu’) Breathes Fire at the Secret Garden Door on a November Day

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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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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Welcome September …

September 1st, 2012 § 3 comments § permalink

Last Sunset of August Through the Tassels of Flame Grass (Miscanthus purpurascens)

Welcome September! With twenty one days remaining before the autumnal equinox, this is still a mostly-summer month. And yet, there’s no denying that the light is getting lower and the days are getting shorter. Twilight arrives earlier in the evening these days; skies of dusty pink and smoky violet lighting the garden in moody hues. Blowzy borders spill into the lawn — warm air heady with the scent of garden phlox and lilies— and tall, maiden grasses unfurl in glistening tassels; rich plums and tawny golds catching late summer rays.

September is a month for drinking in the last weeks of summer; basking in the warmth and golden glow of the harvest season. Stretch out on the velvety lawn and let the days linger …

Rudbeckia subtomentosa ‘Henry Eilers’ with Miscanthus sinensis purpurascens

Blue Moon (Looking Rather Pink) Through Miscanthus and Viburnum in the Garden

Sunset Pink Sky Through Striped Eulalia Grass (Miscanthus sinensis ‘Variegatus’ with M. sinensis purpurascens & Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Diablo’)

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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Late Summer’s Bold Crescendo …

August 19th, 2011 § 2 comments § permalink

The Large Drift of Native Cutleaf Coneflower (Rudbeckia laciniata) in my Garden Glows Bright as the Late Summer Sunset

After the recent rain –almost overnight it seems– the gardens have exploded in a new wave of bloom. Stepping out with my morning coffee, I am seduced ’round the corner by the sweet and spicy fragrance of Summersweet (Clethra alnifolia) and the intoxicating perfume of exotic lilies. It’s time for the garden’s late summer crescendo; a bold and flamboyant show in shades of gold, chartreuse, brilliant orange and flame. As if painted by a wild-eyed expressionist, the beds and borders have taken on a jazzy new rhythm; bold color bands and vibrant drifts so full of exuberance, they sometimes spill right out onto the lawn. I am particularly fond of the maroon and gold combinations –a prelude to September– and the new shapes and textures emerging in the form of seed pods and fluffy inflorescences. Here are a few of my favorites and favorite pairings —with links back to previous plant profiles– from the mid-August garden…

Hazy Color Drifts in Maroon and Gold in the Long Border: Cutleaf Coneflower (Rudbeckia laciniata) Shimmers Before Shadowy Ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Diablo’). Beyond the Bands of Color, Spikes of Miscanthus strictus Catch the Last Light of Day. (I love the taller forms of Rudbeckia; particluarly R. lacinata ‘Herbstsonne’)

With so Many Late-Summer Blooming Perennials in the Garden, Sometimes I Take the Daylilies for Granted. And Then –Suddenly– One Just Knocks Me Out. This Unnamed Cultivar is Part of the Woodside Daylily Mix from White Flower Farm. The Daylilies Always Provide a Warm Welcome at the Edge of My Drive

A Fresh Fountain of Green & White, Striped Beauty: Eulalia Grass (Miscanthus sinensis ‘Variegatus’) at the Edge of My Wildflower Walk (read more about ornamental grasses for perennial gardens by clicking here)

Heliopsis helianthoides ‘Sommersonne’ & Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Summer Wine’ (click here to read more about one of my favorite native shrubs: Physocarpus opulifolius)

Kirengeshoma palmata (Yellow Wax Bells) with the Leaves of an Acer palmatum (click here to read more about Kirengeshoma palmata)

Echinacea purpurea with Eupatorium rugosum ‘Chocolate’ and Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’

One of My Absolute Favorite Late-Summer Combinations? Kaleidoscopic Cushion Spurge (Euphorbia polychroma ‘Bonfire’) with Dark-Leafed Joe Pye Weed (Eupatorium rugosum ‘Chocolate’). They Make Beautiful Music Together. 

I’ve Planted Hummingbird Clethra/Dwarf Summersweet (Clethra alnifolia) Beside My Studio Steps. Here the Spicy/Sweet Fragrance Gently Wafts in the Window and Perfumes the Garden Path. When Morning Light Illuminates the Spiked White Blossoms They Glow Like Candles. I Grow a Number of Clethra cultivars (click here for a profile of this beautiful and beneficial native plant)

A Favorite Spot for Morning Coffee, the Steel Balcony –Enclosed by a Golden Hops Vine-Clad Cable– Sits High Above the Secret Garden Room. Here, I Enjoy the Early Light of Day, as It Dances on the Garden and Forest Below

Golden Hops Vine (Humulus lupulus ‘Aureus’) Brings a Chartreuse Glow to the Steel Balcony Throughout the Summer. And in August, the Blossoms Catch Light, Raindrops and Lots of Attention (click here to read more about this glorious, perennial vine)

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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