What's not to like about Euphorbia 'Flame Leaf'? Teardrop-shaped leaves the size of your pinky fingernail are colored a deep burgundy and edged in bright green, are borne on amultitude of slender stems so they are at once billowy and spilling. Thanks to their amiable color, they fraternize well with almost any other plant. These little guys are invaluable in container schemes, and look especially handsome draped over the side of a pot, though they are happy in the ground as well. Unfortunately, 'Flame Leaf' is a tender treasure, but is easily overwintered in bright indoor spot, where it is likely to drop seeds and self sow, thus come spring, you've got lots of new plants. Which is a good thing, because this versatile player--also looks great with hostas-is welcome all over the garden.
Felder Rushing, one of my favorite horticulturists, is profiled in the New York Times. In it, he talks at length about his slow gardening approach--it's a good way to go. While I disagree with Felder's assertion that a bottle tree has some of the same qualities as a Dale Chihuly sculpture, I'm enamored with the man's practical, common-sensical approach to gardening. And his notion that gardening should be all about experimenting and having fun.
Anyone who keeps a garden in the back of their pick-up truck is likely to have a few other unconventional ideas. I also like, though I may not care to emulate, his wacky sense of garden ornament-brightly painted tire planters, mannequins, pink flamingos, rebar and the like. But his off-the-wall approach is liberating. The secret to a satisfying garden, after all, is following wherever your instincts lead rather than slavishly heeding horticultural conventions. It's an attitude thing. Thus this Felder credo: "Doesn't matter what you do, or how you do it, your neighbors are gonna talk about you ANYWAY."
I wish I had buckets of popcorn plant (Cassia didymobotrya). While many may grow this stunning east African native for its spires of bright yellow flowers that burst from inky black buds, I think they're missing the point. Which is, of course, its splendid foliage. I'm a sucker for anything with pinnate foliage, because not too many plants in my garden have it. Pinnate comes from pinna, the Latin word for feather-which is as good a description of each leaf-actually a conglomeration of pairs of leaflets arrayed along a midrib, kind of like a giant fern-as botanic Latin allows.
Sadly this plant is nowhere near hardy, so I grow it in pots, big pots, because it can easily reach six feet or so in height and four or five feet across in a single season. It likes well-drained soil and full sun, plus it's drought tolerant and deerproof. I'm not sure yet, but I think I've finally succeeded in overwintering this baby--a bit if a trick since I don't have a greenhouse. Woohoo! So I'm looking for it to add a real splash this coming season. Oh yeah-in case you're wondering why it's called popcorn cassia--rub the leaves and take a sniff. It's almost like being at the movies-so sit back and enjoy the show.
A portfolio of eye-popping images of extraordinary landscapes is available here. Wish I knew who the photog was, but since I can't read Polish (I think it's Polish), I haven't a clue. Some of the other portfolios on this site are worth a look too. Anyway, enjoy!
Shout out: TYWKIWDBI
El Explorador has just got to be one of the kookiest, quirkiest gardens anywhere. Where else are you going to see a papyrus allee? Or a grove of bottle trees? Sited darn near the top of a mountain on the edge of beautiful Boquete, Panama, this sprawling hillside garden almost melts into the surrounding forests. It was built as a spiritual refuge of sorts, a place to freshen your outlook on life, and its zany exuberance just about makes that possible. It's peppered with signs (all in Spanish) bearing uplifting quotations and steeped in a playful kind of tranquility, so a feel-good sensibilty just pervades the place.
For a real uplift, try out the hilltop swing, which--thanks to its way high moorings and long ropes--brings you very, very close to the sensation of flight.
There are loads of wonderful plant world oddities like this cow's udder (Solanum mammosum).
I always stop to smell--no, not the roses--the brugmansias.
Last, but not least, are the inspiring views over the surrounding countryside. Uplifting indeed.
I never get tired of foliage. It carries the garden through the season, providing structure, form and texture. And, done right, color. Colorful foliage is just the ticket for creating vibrant scenes that please from early spring to latest fall, and, if you use evergreens, all year long. As an aficionado of foliage-especially leaves in hues of blue, chartruese, gold, burgundy, silver and cream, which I found in abundance in Les and Monique Anthony's electric borders. They're the kinds of gardeners who never met a plant they didn't like-as long as it had colorful foliage, so the place is a treasury of unusual woody plants, and plenty of perennials too.
This winding path isn't long, but that doesn't mean it's not rewarding. And, a cool design element. Happening on this garden is but the first in a series of surprises. It's located in a staid suburban development and to say it stands out from its neighbors is, well, an understatement. The whole development was, not so very long ago, a cow pasture, which may explain why things just seem to grow like topsy in the Anthony's borders.
Happily there are places where you can just grab a chair and soak it all in.
Even the containers provide hits of bright, eye-grabbing color. These bright blue pots make a catchy counterpoint for the chartreuse, silver and burgundy leaves that enliven this scene. But why take my word for it? If you're around the Connecticut area, see for yourself. The Anthony's Wallingford garden is a new addition to the Garden Conservancy's Open Days program, and will be open July 12. For more info, go here.
These green, grassy steps at The Mount, Edith Wharton's old manse in the Massachusetts Berkshires, are an inspiration. Ever since first seeing them a couple years ago, I've been wondering how I might incorporate a similar feature into my own garden. No success as yet...I'm still wondering how the heck I'd keep the risers trimmed.
Shout-out to silver this week! Silver is splashy and flashy, and though I use--or, more accurately, overuse--colorful foliage, I don't have use a whole lot of silvers in my garden, But I do know what I like. And I like this amazing array of blue-tinged silvers at Longwood Gardens' Silver Garden. I would love to see this indoor garden by moonlight. What's in the pic? Not sure, some agaves, some of those blue chalk sticks, and that way cool palm.
Some years back, White Flower Farm--I learned how to garden, in part, from their superlative catalog--hired Fergus Garrett, the late Christopher Lloyd's head gardener--to give the farm some serious bling (as if the vast swaths of display gardens they already had were lacking or something). Well, Fergus outdid himself.
He built an incredible, amazing border, 280 feet long and 20 feet deep, and designed it to be stuffed with an over-the-top wild and wooly mix of annuals, tender perennials, tropicals, trees, shrubs, perennials, herbs...I think anything with chlorophyll was fair game. I especially like the way these allium seed heads add so much flair.
How about this canna (think it's 'Erebus', but not sure) and a variegated phlox (no idea)...who knew!
Anyway, a couple times each season I make the 45-minute trip out to Morris, Ct. (the Farm's not really in Litchfield as advertised, just sounds better to say it is) to ogle the sights. And pick up a few plants; they've got some great annuals. Anyway, the garden's original design has been somewhat interpreted some by WFF's ace head garden Cheryl Karpeichik--Hi Cheryl!--who discovered that not everything Fergus suggested was well suited to the rigors of southern New England. So, she made substitutions where needed. I find it comforting that even a Fergus Garrett-designed garden needs a fair amount of tweaking to look its best, and Cheryl's done a great job creating cool little vignettes along the way. But why talk about? Just enjoy the photos. If you want more, read Anne Raver's New York Times story here, or Tovah Martin's local newspaper story here.
Love that old 'Black Magic' (Colocasia esculenta 'Black Magic')
Wowsa! Who'd think of Joe Pye weed and Canna 'Tropicanna'!
Wowsa! Who'd think of Joe Pye weed and Canna 'Tropicanna'!
Simple...Sedum 'Autumn Joy', pink coneflowers, and one of my favorite annuals, bush violet(Browallia americana).