Simple and pretty.

Zinnia Double Zahara White (TM), Pennisetum alopecuroides ‘Little Bunny’ and Alternanthera cultivar

Check out this sweet Zinnia marylandica Double Zahara White (TM), which blends lime-green and cream into a 16-20″ mid-border or container option that won’t require staking.

Combined with the fountain grass- Pennisetum alopecuroides ‘Little Bunny’ and a soft burgundy Alternanthera cultivar (another wonderful, under-utilized annual), it is a departure from my usual cacophany of color- a study in black and white.

Despite my past revulsion of the idea “gardening with children”, I think my granddaughters will dig the cute little seedheads on the grass. And, in a total 180 from my past self, that’s suddenly important to me! In fairness, when I began to garden it was my respite from caring for kids. Within reason, I am game to let my grandchildren in on the pleasures of having a garden.

Don’t judge me…

It’s all about that vase.

 

One of my favorite parts of gardening is pairing plants and containers to create artsy compositions on my deck and at my front door.  I choose flowers and foliage that complement the color or design of the pot, enhancing both. The same concept relates to cut flowers. I have a cupboard filled with vases- or vessels- as a good buddy refers to them. I fill them with flowers from my garden, the grocery store, or florist and try to always have fresh-cut flowers indoors.

Always the “flower snob”, a dear friend brought flowers from a great Pittsburgh florist after I had knee surgery.  The bouquet was filled with cool colors- from the enormous blue hydrangeas to hot pink roses. On the color wheel these pinks, blues and purples lie side-by-side, or are “analogous”.  Adding more interest was the contrasting mix of floral forms, from large spheres to the spikes of blue veronica and larkspur. While it looked really nice in the simple glass container, I pulled the entire arrangement out of the vase and plunked it into a blue transferware pitcher. This pitcher complements most anything from lilacs to sunflowers, but it perfectly echoed the lovely arrangement and made it distinctly mine!

Late Season Loveliness

Salvia splendens Pennisetum rubrum

Bidding adieu to the 2018 growing season. It has been bittersweet for me, as my joints are telling me I must garden differently than I have for the past 30 years. July/August/September bled together into one oppressive humidity marathon. Worst of all, I suffered the loss of my trusty groundhog hunting dog- Ares, my companion for the past 8 years in the garden. He succumbed to cancer in late June, and the dreaded herbivores devoured my zinnias, coleus and coneflowers. A killing frost sounds pretty good right now!

Despite disappointments, a spring planting has created quite a show in front of my house as October winds down. I anchored a copper urn on the left side of my walk with a ‘thriller’ of annual purple fountain grass (Pennisetum setaceum cultivar), definitely not a dwarf, clocking in at over 3 feet tall. It’s been unflagging through heat and drought, but any signs of the ‘filler’ and ‘spiller’ I planted alongside it are gone. They’ve been swallowed by the robust grass. It’s enormously out of scale, but I adore the fluffy wands that are glowing in the slanting rays of October sun.

Across from the urn is a contemporary shallow bowl, centered in a little bed that has held several dwarf trees, all doomed by snow removal from our driveway over the years.  After years of wanting a permanent feature in the bed, I concluded that a seasonal planting was the best way to go. This year it held a canna whose tropical leaves contrasted nicely with the grass across the way. As summer heat subsided, the canna has taken a backseat to its companion, one of my favorite late season bloomers- pineapple sage (Salvia elegans). Deer ignore its crushed leaves that smell like its common name. It’s taken center stage now, smothered in red flowers that sway with the breeze. I cut some branches to enjoy indoors, but leave most of the bright red flowers that perfectly complement the fountain grass.

No matter that the path to my front door is nearly blocked by container plants, they look wonderful and lush. They force my focus to the positive and, thankfully, the rest of the garden fades to the background. Like plants, old gardeners must adapt. Next year will bring some needed change, and some hired help, to my garden. Until then, I’ll plan and dream of next year’s garden.

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Surviving the Dog Days

fullsizeoutput_2475Coming off of our recent run of hideously hot and humid weather, I’m just going to admit my garden looks awful. The weeds have won. A groundhog has binged on the coleus, zinnias and sweet potato vines in my garden. My basil is kaput. A brave blogger would take a picture of the depressing scene, but I’ll spare you. I’d rather post some prettiness. This little pave’ arrangement is contained within a funky little ceramic container that accurately mimics the matte finish of a common cardboard berry box. It features a pretty bi-color dahlia and two exceptional annuals for the cut flower garden. The pretty purple/blue puffs are Ageratum houstonianum ‘Blue Horizon’ and the hot pink at the top is Gomphrena globosa ‘Fireworks’. Both are terrific deer resistant plants that make awesome cut flowers.

It looks like the HHH weather has broken, and I’ll post some garden pictures soon. That means after I have several days when I can work outside without becoming cranky from the heat and pull the weeds that have overrun my garden!