December 20, 2010

Top Ten Photos from VW Garden 2010

These are some of my favorite photos from my garden this year. I also want to share a few things I've learned from studying photography. Above is a shot of dogwood blooms (Cornis florida) from the spring.

Here are the amazingly true blue flowers of 'June to Remember' siberian iris. Photography has taught me to look for and appreciate the beautiful parts of a scene, even if there are some parts that don't look great. That definitely describes my garden - partly pretty, partly not, depending on the time of year.

People also have their good angles and not so good angles. This applies to photos and personalities. If you look for the negative, you'll always find some, but you can always find some good, too. This photo shows the english rose 'William Shakespeare 2000'.

I knew almost nothing about photography when I started this blog almost three years ago. But it's amazing what you can learn when you put your mind to it! So don't be afraid to learn something new. Above is a 'Stargazer' oriental lily.

Sometimes simple is beautiful. Here are the leaves of 'Blue Angel' hosta. The leaves aren't as showy as a flower, but I love the way their shapes flow and the water droplets sparkle.

Flowers are fleeting, and waiting too long to get out to the garden with the camera means that I'll miss out on some beautiful blooms (or cute bees). Childhood is fleeting, too. I need to remember to pause and appreciate the wonderful things about my children at each age, because soon they'll move on. This flower is a 'Giggles' dahlia.

Here is a 'Blue Mirror' delphinium. I especially appreciate true blue flowers because they're rare in the garden.

Above is a photo of 'Pink Double Delight' coneflowers. The flower shape changes as it ages, but each stage is beautiful in its own way. If only us women could believe that about ourselves!

Wacky and unusual plants, like this corkscrew rush (Juncus spiralis), make the garden more fun.

Photography has taught me that good light is magical. The midday sun is harsh and bleaches the color out of flowers. Early morning or sunset light is more gentle and allows the flowers and colors to really shine.

To help them shine, children (and the rest of us) need gentle encouragement and not harsh criticism. So I'm especially thankful for the many kind comments left on this blog. I wish you a wonderful holiday season. I'll start posting again in January.
And here you thought I couldn't count . . . it was really hard to pick just ten, so I cheated and included an extra photo.

December 15, 2010

Amaryllis Blooming & Igloo Building

The amaryllis (is the plural amarylli?) and the igloo have been the stars around here lately. Above is 'Zombie', a striking coral-pink double amaryllis from Van Engelen.

It has been so fun to watch the show on my kitchen windowsill. First one bloom opens, then more and more.

I shot pictures with the cloudy sky as a backdrop. I thought having three blooms on one stalk open all at once was beautiful . . . .

. . . and then a few days later a second stalk opened up three more just beneath the first.

One of the three bulbs the arrived in the mail is obviously not 'Zombie', but it doesn't look like anything else on the Van Engelen website, either.

I didn't mind getting a surprise, though. The stalk on this one is very short and the flowers are so sweet, don't you think?

Finally, here is a shot of the new garden structure that my husband built, with my son posing in front. It was tall enough for me to stand up inside, and my adventurous husband was planning to sleep inside one night (that's what people do around Spokane for fun in the winter, didn't you know?). Unfortunately warmer weather and rain began to melt the igloo immediately after it was finished, and now it's just a small pile of snow in the grass. R.I.P.

December 7, 2010

A Few English Roses

Thank heaven the garden is asleep right now, as there's too much to do in preparation for the holidays without adding gardening chores to the list. This week I'm just posting a few pictures of David Austin's english roses. Above is 'Sister Elizabeth'.

'Claire Austin' is touted as the best white english rose to date, but my young plants are still getting established. They put out a few blooms last summer but I hope for a better show next year.

Warm pink 'Princess Alexandra of Kent' has a hefty bloom with a soft, old rose scent.

Here is 'Lady Emma Hamilton', a delightfully fragrant rose with beautiful sunset coloring.

Finally, this is tiny 'Francine Austin', with sprays of sweet little white roses touched with blush pink. You'll notice the aphids on the bud to the right. I didn't use any pesticides on the roses this year. Occasionally I used the hose to spray off heavy aphids, but that was all. And the plants did just fine!

November 30, 2010

Celebrating White . . . Flowers

I saved this post until white snow made its appearance in the garden and I needed to be reminded that white is beautiful . . . snow really is pretty until January, but by March I'm past done with it. And when it snows in May around here, it just makes me cranky.

But we're focusing on flowers here instead of flakes, so please direct your attention to the gorgeous white delphiniums in the first two photos. These were grown from 'Green Twist' delphinium seed and are a great flower for sun. If you don't mind staking, that is.

Above is an 'Esther Reed' double daisy, which is a classic plant for cutting and for the garden. If you cut back the first round of blooms promptly, you'll be rewarded with a second flush.

The only non-Austin rose in my garden is 'White Meidiland', shown above. I can't say enough about its great glossy dark foliage and low groundcover habit. It's such a useful rose - except for cutting, as the stems are not very long. Sometimes I bring them inside anyway for a short bouquet.

Sun-loving white Armeria maritima is a fun change from the usual hot pink versions. The only drawback to the grassy clump of foliage is that I can't tell when weedy grass has invaded until it goes to seed.

Have you ever noticed how dogwood (Cornus florida) blooms look like presents while they're opening? So sweet. This small tree wants partial shade in dry or hot climates. The fall leaf color is a wonderful crimson.

Now we move to the shade-loving plants, though I expect you can get away with full sun in a mild climate like gardeners enjoy in Seattle or England. Above is Astrantia major, also known as masterwort.

Here is Anemone nemerosa, the European Wood Anemone. Who would expect such a delicate flower to be such a thug? In my sandy garden soil, it spreads like wildfire by root and seed. It would probably be better behaved in heavy clay.

Fluffy white 'Bridal Veil' astilbe lights up my shade garden in June. It looks nice in a bouquet with delphiniums, astrantia, daisies and roses.

Here is a white bleeding heart, Dicentra spectabilis. I was lucky to get a shot, as my children love to pull the flowers apart to find the 'sword' in the middle of the heart. Although this plant goes dormant for summer in warmer climates, it lasts almost the whole growing season here in cool Spokane in shade.

I'll end with a shot taken out the window as we drove through the Idaho panhandle on the way to Utah last weekend. We saw plenty of snow on the roads while driving, and now it's coming down steadily outside. I'm grateful that we're safely home, though maybe I wish home wasn't such a snowy place!

November 22, 2010

Oriental Lilies From Late July

These pictures of Oriental lilies are from late July of this year. Lilies are a nice way to perk up the garden after the big burst of blooms in June. They are one of a very few things blooming in my garden by midsummer.

The first four photos are of 'Stargazer', which is the most famous Oriental lily. I posted about lilies last year (here), but these photos are better. In this photo you can also see white Physostegia 'Miss Manners', otherwise known as obedient plant.

Unlike many types of lilies with downward-facing flowers, all of the lilies in this post face out or upward. They grow 2-4 feet tall, bloom for a few weeks in midsummer, are hardy in zones 4-10, and gradually increase in number.

Maybe the coolest trait of lilies is that they have contractile roots. This means that the roots can pull the bulb down to the correct depth.

Here is a shot of 'Casa Blanca', the classic white Oriental lily. Oriental lilies are known for their strong fragrance. I love to catch a whiff of it outside, but inside it's too strong for me.

These last two photos show 'Brasilia'. You can see the interesting variation in color between the different flowers. All of these plants were added a few years ago, and they're still going strong.

Perhaps the only con of lilies is the mess their anthers make if you brush up against them. I have been unable to remove their stains in a few shirts. But if you're careful to avoid that problem, then lilies are pure joy for the midsummer garden.

November 15, 2010

Favorite Color Combos With Blue-Violet

Does blue-violet look good with every flower color? It seems to work fine with all the colors in my yard. Above is light blue-violet fanflower (Scaveola) with pink double petunias and steely 'Blue Star' juniper.

Of course white looks great with blue-violet. Above is white 'Rolling Cloud' siberian iris with 'Six Hills Giant' catmint.

True-blue 'Blue Elegance' bearded iris and mauve pincushion flower (Scabiosa) work nicely with catmint, too. Shades of blue-violet are the team players of the color wheel, after the greens, of course.

More shades of pink - light 'Eglantyne' roses and mid-pink 'Pink Double Delight' coneflowers - show well with a 'Walker's Low' catmint background.

Deep blue-violet 'Worth the Wait' siberian irises are lovely with mauve 'Sister Elizabeth' roses and white 'June Bride' heuchera. Hmm, I may have gone a bit heavy on the pinks for this post . . . but here's one more anyway.

Light blue-violet 'Blue Clips' campanula and deeper 'May Night' salvia cool off the vivid pink petunias.

Blue-violet 'Caradonna' salvia is smashing with lime 'Green Jewel' coneflowers. Of course, lime green looks smashing with a lot of colors.

A deep crimson 'William Shakespeare 2000' rose deserves deep blue-violet 'Purple Pagan' delphiniums as companions. Please ignore the less than straight stance of the delphiniums; someone (ahem) must have forgotten to stake them.

Rosy-orange 'Giggles' dahlias work with catmint. I realize too late that I didn't catch any pictures of blue-violet and golden yellow, another favorite (note to self: photograph the 'Stella d'Oro' daylilies with 'May Night' salvia in the background next spring). I've seen maroon and blue-violet looking good together. Also fire-engine red, florescent yellow and royal blue. Can you think of a color that clashes with blue-violet?