September 21, 2016

Early Fall Garden

The air is getting crisp and fall colors are appearing in the garden.  In the shot above the burgundy leaves of a 'Royal Purple' smoke bush (Cotinus coggygria) play off the flowers of butterfly bushes (Buddleia), 'Victoria' sage (Salvia) and 'Ava' hummingbird mint (Agastache).  The smoke bush was growing in another spot in the garden until last week, when my husband switched it out for the 'Red Dragon' contorted filbert (Corylus avellana) that was unhappy in this full sun spot.

Here is the sad 'Red Dragon' filbert shrub.  I learned this summer that when it gets too much sun its leaves turn from lovely burgundy to this sickly shade of brownish-orange-yellowish-green, but now it is planted under the dappled shade of the honey locust trees.  Thankfully the 'Royal Purple' smoke bush likes full sun, so they should both look healthier next year because of the switch.

Meanwhile I am very happy to enjoy the evening sun as it sifts through the trees.

I love the sun from this perspective, too.

And this one.

The white garden sports a few roses above yellowing leaves.

The honey locust leaves (Gleditsia triacanthos 'Shademaster') are usually the first to turn colors and fall, but the 'Spring Snow' crabapple trees are keeping up with them this year.  Soon we'll have plenty of raking to keep us busy, though not so much as if we had maples and oaks in the garden.

September 14, 2016

Kansas Peony Bouquet and Start of Construction

This bouquet from June featured dark pink 'Kansa' peonies along with lighter pink peonies, violet 'Caradonna' sage (Salvia), maroon 'Moulin Rouge' Astrantia, orange 'Totally Tangerine' Geum, yellow lady's mantle (Alchimella mollis), and 'Venice Blue' speedwell (Veronica).

These dark peonies are really special.  As I wrote last week, I have been working this year to increase the number of deep pink peony plants in my garden.

This week we were excited to begin construction on a project to add a new dining room to the back of the house and expand our cramped kitchen into the old dining space.  This photo shows the house after two days of demolition.

The photo above shows the back of our home when we bought it in 2007 (notice the lack of plants), but soon it will look like the drawing below.

Construction will be a challenge with our busy family of six trying to maneuver around the mess. Thank goodness my kids are at school for most of the day now that summer is over.  Demolition was very noisy with a jackhammer running for most of the day, but my youngest son was fascinated with the process and watched out the window for hours.  Help with entertaining my little tornado was an unexpected blessing!  I will continue to post photos as construction continues.

September 6, 2016

A Riot of Pink Peonies in a Vase

This vase of pink peonies from June was a little over the top.  I may have squeezed too many blooms into one arrangement, but it was really fun to create.  The pink peonies included nameless ones from my friend Kathy as well as darker pink 'Paula Fay.'

At  the base I used steel blue leaves from a 'Halcyon' hosta.  Grey spikes of Russian sage (Peroskvia) leaves continued the grey theme.   I also added a few stems of almost-black 'Chocoholic' bugbane (Cimicifuga) leaves, plus my favorite 'Hall's Purple' honeysuckle stems to arch out around the flowers.  

Some of my small-bloomed English roses were in flower, so I added white 'Francine Austin' above.

'Albrighton Rambler' was in bloom for the first time since being planted last fall, so I included a few of its creamy pale pink flowers as well.

White and pink ('Roma') astrantia were included.  I also used spikes of unopened Astilbe for texture, but they wilted by the next morning so I won't use them in arrangements again.

I like to add some unusual touches to the old classics, so I included a few buds from my 'Blue Angel' hostas.

Finally, the developing seed pods from my earlier-blooming 'Coral Supreme' peonies added fuzzy grey-green stars to the mix.

I started the season with thirty-some peony plants in the garden, but I didn't have enough of the deep colors.  So I divided my deep pink 'Paul M Wild' and 'Felix Supreme' plants, then added a completely new color, 'Black Mulberry,' above.  I also bought a chocolate-red 'Buckeye Belle' and ordered more 'Rivida,' 'Kansas,' 'Buckeye Belle' (one wasn't enough), and a new 'Green Lotus' to arrive bareroot this month.  When they all get going strong in a few years, June will pretty much be heaven around here!