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?

November 8, 2010

Crocus speciosus Encore

Fall has brought some gloomy, rainy, grey weather. Imagine my delight when I walked outside on the first sunny day in a while and found a second round of flowers from the Crocus speciosus.

I already posted some pictures of these flowers here, but was so delighted with their rebloom that I had to do an encore post.

Fresh crocus flowers in fall are a delight anyway, but a double set of blooms from each bulb might push C. speciosus to the top of my favorite bulbs list. Of course there are plenty of showier flowers in spring, but these lavender beauties seem to shine even brighter since there's nothing else blooming in the garden right now.

I pulled out graph paper to draw a rough map of where the current clumps are located so I can plant more next fall in just the right places. Can you ever have enough fall crocus? I can imagine planting a few more each fall for years to come.

The bulbs pictured came from White Flower Farm at $8.95 for 25 plus shipping, but they were also offered by K. van Bourgondien at $9.50 for 25 bulbs and High Country Gardens at $13.49 for 24 bulbs.

WFF says C. speciosus is "the easiest to naturalize, most floriferous, and least expensive of the fall crocus." They're hardy from zones 4-8, and their diminutive foliage won't make the whole garden look shabby as it grows and dies back next spring. If these bulbs aren't already on your wish list for next fall, add them now. Just don't buy so many that they're out of stock when I try to order, ha!

November 2, 2010

Warts: Better on These Squash than on Your Nose

This ghostly, warty white squash isn't exactly cute, but it's the perfect all-natural decoration for Halloween.

Here's another warty white oddity, and I wish I'd caught a better picture of the starfish-shaped squash at the bottom left. All of these warts were on display during our recent visit to Knapp's Farm in Greenbluff, WA.

Most people try to hide their warts when visitors are coming, but Knapp's Farm brought them all out to show off. Well, at least the squashy ones.

I was amazed at all the beautiful color combinations on these squash.

I should have bought some to bring home, but it was hopeless to try and pick favorites. So I just keep shooting pictures instead.

We did bring home some highly anticipated, new-crop Honeycrisp apples. If you've never tasted Honeycrisps, you are missing out on the most amazing apple ever. I don't know why anyone eats Red Delicious anymore with Honeycrisps around.

This basket sported warts in several stylish colors on squash with highly varied shapes.

I saved the best for last. Just try to tell me that this lime-green apple-shaped warty wonder isn't the cutest thing you've ever seen. Thank heaven my face doesn't look like this, but all those warts are so fun on a gourd.