Thursday, April 30, 2009

Anticipating Plant Combinations

If you're like me, you roam the garden this time of year, twice daily, if not more, gazing down at the plants that seem to grow so slowly, visualizing, dreaming, and hoping for what comes next. In the off-season, I read a lot of books and magazines, and a topic I always come back to is planting combinations. I don't know how I ever gardened without thinking about the textures, sizes, shapes, contrasts, and compliments of plants growing side by side. The plants are still small here, just barely budding out, and emerging from the ground, but I can't help but be excited about some of the combinations I threw together.
I thought I'd share a few here:

I initially bought this urn to put a gazing ball in, but instead I've placed some plants into it. I have placed a Dichondra 'silver falls' annual, with a silver and red sedum.

The smoky leaves of Lysimachia 'Firecracker,' a spontaneous find at my local rotary gardens plant sale last year, are behind my young, small, golden privet shurb, and I love how they are starting to look together.

The creeping golden oregano beneath the chives looks great, even with the golden oregano so young; I think the purple flowers on the chives will only enhance this combination.
Sedum 'angelina' grows beneath this penstemon 'mystica.' Both are in the foreground of alliums.
A chocolate leaved huechera is growing beside a pine green sedum, both beneath a large 'John Cabot rose and white phlox 'David.'

My newest huechera, 'Marmalade' pairs with this 'red penny blotch' violas. The combo is backed by dark red daylilies, which I can't wait to see blooming together!

The young leaves of this red astible grow beside the chartreuse glow of heuchera 'lime rickey' and 'dolce key lime pie.' The frothy red plumes of astible's blooms will likely look stunning above a lime sea, but this early leaf contrast was unexpected, and pleasing. Just behind these you'll find the silver stems of Sedum 'autumn joy.' I'm so excited about this one!
The spikes of iris and footed by lamb's ear. Climbing above both are the young almost irredecsant leaves of a honeysuckle vine. Purple and pink morning glory should trail above this are soon, too. Never too much silver, but perhaps I could infuse some red or lime here, too? Ideas, ideas...
I can't wait to share these combinations as they grow, and share more as the season progresses. I've started sketching container idea, and plan on putting a few together this weekend. Ah, I love spring!
Happy Gardening!

Monday, April 27, 2009

If only it would stop raining...

I could get outside and enjoy the first real blooms of the season! It's been pouring here for days, and the ground is saturated. I've stepped out between showers to stral a few pictures of the blooms. It's finally tulip time!

Pasque flowers just keep on coming.
These pansies never died this winter; they stayed green, and pushed up blooms before I could even buy new ones at the store. They are backed by Sedum 'blue spruce' and 'angelina.'
Daffodils! Last year Walmart clearanced a bunch of spring blooming bulbs who had passed their prime for $.30-.80 cents. These were a steal, and they are so beautiful!
Bleeding heart, so full of promise, and so quickly!

Muscari blooms opening up.
I found this mum for $3 this spring. The pinky-salmon color just stole me.

Hope you have many bright blooms in your gardens, too.
Happy Gardening!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Spring Delights and the Start of the Shopping Season

Last fall I planted my first fritilary. I am so pleased with them! Such charming, unique shaped blooms hovering above several heuchera.

You can barely see the leaves anymore, this primrose is pleased as a pickle to pump out bloom after bloom.

How have I missed this beautiful bud stage of the lilacs in the past season? Isn't this beautiful?

Remember this old farm wheels I found last year? They're officially art! I put the last one together this week, and can't wait to see how they look when all the perennials, shrubs, and roses in this bed fill in.
When there isn't much to look at yet, the rounded tuft of feathery green leaves on this Painted Daisy plant (grown from seed several seasons ago), is as pretty as it gets.

Hyacinth getting ready...
Hyacinth open...
Muscari getting ready:

The first new plant purchase of spring has come and gone. I had to bring home one of these Blue Poppy Anemone from Home Depot. I have had in the ground for more than a week in a bright indirectly lit spot, and it keeps on blooming!

One of my top wishlist plants is finally in my garden. Meet 'Marmalade' heuchera. Heavenly. I've backed her with a red daylily I divided, and put some red penny blotch viola at her base. She flanks the front entrance to my garden.
Happy gardening all!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

My Second Oldest Plant: Orange Bougainvillea

When my husband and I met I lived in a college rental home, with one large room to call my own. No yard. No garden. I had a small norfolk pine on the kitchen table, and I carried it all the way to California with me when we moved in 2001 for my graduate studies; the main plant suffered shock from trasnport, but I saved a small baby that had developed in the pot. Later, when Theo went onto active duty with the Army, I carried the same plant, although much larger, with us to our new home in Wisconsin. From day one I referred to this pine as "Tree," and each spring I put blue lobelia underneath him, and set him out on the north side of our home for a summer of fresh air. Baby tree is more than 2 feet tall now, and thriving in my office window. I bought the lobelia this week. Tree is my oldest plant.

In 2001, when Theo and I found our first apartment in Belmont Shores, Long Beach, California, we had a breezy southwest facing balcony just outside our bedroom window. I promptly filled the balcony with a bougainvillea, jasmine, japanese pine and plumeria, among some annuals. I remember buying the bougainvillea at a local garden center; I had grown up underneath my grandmother's huge fucshia bougainvillea, and I had seen light orange, purple, and red varieties, but I had never seen a dark orange one. I fell in love, and the plant rewarded me with beautiful papery flowers for years.

In 2003 when we moved to Wisconsin I had little knowledge of cold-climate gardening, and I did not imagine I could keep a bougainvillea alive in the house. To me, a child of Southern California, bougainvillea grew in the ground: 20 feet tall and somtimes just as wide. They were not for containers. I left the plant in the care of my mother and grandmother. A short while after we bought our first home in southern Wisconsin I found our local garden center sold bougainvillea as potted plants. The nursery staff informed me bougainvillea made fine houseplants in sunny windows. I began to long for my dark orange bougainvillea. I hunted for one like it here Wisconsin, although I was so bummed to find mature specimens of this tropical plant sold for upwards of $60; worse yet, not a single dark orange one was in sight.

I begged my mom to bring my bougainvillea on the plane with her. It was too big, and too spiky, and probably not allowed anyway.

When we went back to visit California for the first time in 2007 my bougainvillea was blooming for me in my grandmother's backyard. I took a picture of her, and gave her a good pruning. I was devastated we had no room for my blessed plant on the car ride home; I felt like I was leaving a family member behind. I did sneak a small cutting from my original plumeria plant (long story with that one, too). Last fall, 2008, when we visited California I made the bougainvillea my top priority. I insisted there was room for it in the car, and when it came time to leave I packed it first, behind the passenger seat, wrapped in a fleece blanket so my kids did not cut their legs on the thorns. I fillled the bottom of the pot with agave from my aunt, clivia from my grandma, and more... next time, I'm bring my Japanese Pine home.

I say, this bougainvillea is so happy to be back with her mommy. March 18th I took these pictures of her blooming in our bedroom window. One month later she is still going strong, too. In about 3 weeks I'll bring her outside and prop her up against our fence. I'll pretend she's a permanent fixture in the garden, and savor each of her delicate blooms. Enjoy!

Happy Gardening!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Sure Signs of Spring

Peony sprouts.

Pasque flower blooms.

Lilac buds bulge.

Perennial Bachelors Buttons reseeded and ready.

Primrose blooms.
Columbine emerges.

Crocus blooms.

Delphinium returns (This is HUGE for me! I am so excited!)
Heuchera leaves still in gleaming from last fall (almost no die back).
Oh, I love spring!!
Happy Gardening!

Friday, April 10, 2009

My other garden companion.

My 5 year-old housecat Toby had never been outside. Well, I carried him in arms a time or two, but other than that--never set foot out the door. He was declawed in front before we bought him, and he's not very "fit," so we figure he better stay inside. Lately, after I began letting my kitten out into the garden, Toby has become brave enough to poke his head out the back door. He even ran out onto the grass one day. I didn't stop him, but rather sat back and watched the wonder of his first out free outdoor experience. His nose flared, and he rolled on the grass. He ran around, and frolicked, looking downright joyful. I felt terrible for having deprived him of the outdoors.
I've started letting him outside with me now. I keep a close eye on him. I'm pleased he doesn't stray, he stays right by me, and the fence, and he runs and rolls and generally acts like a kitten again! I laid on the front grass with him this week, and took a few pictures of him enjoying himself. We bird watched, and soaked up the smells nd sights of spring. Back indoors he's tons more lovable (he's drinking the milk fromt he cereal I just finished as we speak). I think he's showing me he's thankful I let him out finally!

Happy gardening, all.