. . . 88 degrees Fahrenheit (31C), sunny with a nice breeze. The flag is flying, the wine is uncorked and we're about to fire up the grill. But first Mark is capturing a few late afternoon light effects in the garden. Hope your day has been as pleasant as ours!
This is my full sun garden that's out in the middle of the street in front of our house. It's what's known locally as a traffic island. But I think of it is an example of a garden that survives in spite of everything: drivers run over it, snowplows scrape off the topsoil along with the snow and the city dumps copious amounts of road salt and sand on it each winter while they attempt to keep the roads clear.
These tulips (from Brent & Becky's Bulbs and Old House Gardens) were planted in 2008, so this is their third season of bloom. They could hardly be happier. If you enter "traffic island" in the search button on the top left of the page, all the posts I've written about this garden will come up. You'll find its entire history along with the names of all the tulips.
In addition to catmint, Hakonechloa grass and sedums, Oriental lilies from Brent & Becky are also flourishing. The lilies and tulips are doing better in this location than anywhere else in the garden. Part of it is the light, but I think some of it has to do with the bulbs not getting overwatered in summer since I ignore that little garden unless there is an actual drought. Sometimes, ignoring a plant appears the best way to treat it.
I can be a bit of a plant snob. It's not so much an attempt to have the latest plants; it's more that I've always tended to read a lot about gardens and keep up with what's happening at specialty nurseries. I like plants that have a horticultural history or association. So, naturally, I grow Pheasant's Eye or Poet's Narcissus (N. poeticus 'recurvus) The daffodil is late, naturalizes and is scented. It is also white rather than yellow. Once you have one white one, you might as well opt for more. And last fall, I ordered two varieties with green rather than yellow or orange eyes.
The group below includes N. 'Dreamlight,' described as a platnum blonde Poet's Narcissus and one stem of N. 'Princess Zaide,' she's the bigger one at the back of the bouquet.
The variety below is the Poet's Narcissus with a much brighter perianth than 'Dreamlight.'
The next three photos are all N. 'Princess Zaide,' another late daff with a deep green eye and a heavily ruffled perianth.
These last four images are N. 'Sinopel' which looks very yellow in bud and, indeed, opens with yellow-washed petals on the back and front. In these pix, the eye is very yellow which is how it presents in cooler temps. When it is warmer or it is indoors, it tends to be a bit more green. You can tell from the pix that our weather has been very back and forth with the green and yellow colors running into each other!
During the growing season I love being able to walk outside and cut blooms to bring indoors. I find it challenging, however, to compose an arrangement that completely satisfies me. So I am always searching for inspiration.
The problem is that so many bouquets created by professional designers use hot house flowers and mix plants that typically do not bloom together. That's not the case with the lovely bouquets created by Brooklyn-based floral designer Nicolette Owen (of Nicolette Camille) that were featured in the March issue of Veranda magazine.
A bouquet created by a student at the Little Flower School demonstrates the school's arrangement style: the base; the "face," or showy, flowers; and the tall "wispy gestures."
In the article, Owen's gorgeous creations were almost totally composed of flowers that many of us actually grow in our gardens, including Mock orange blossoms, blueberry branches, dicentra leaves, lamb's ears, clematis seed heads and peonies 'Barrington Belle,' and 'Coral Charm' to name a few. Alas, there was never a link to this story on Veranda's website, so you will have to go to the designer's site to see what I mean.
Nicolette Owen of Nicolette Camille and Sarah Ryhanen of Saipua also teach floral design classes through their joint venture, The Little Flower School.
Owen and Sarah Ryhanen of Saipua have a terrific blog where they showcase their work — and that of the students — from their joint venture: the LIttle Flower School. In addition to these inspirational images, you can see how they create their arrangements in a great how-to video from the flower school via the Wall St. Journal.
When I was checking out the school's offerings, I noticed a wreath-making class that cost $200 for a two-hour session. At first I was aghast; then realized that, after you account for NYC prices, and then add in the cost of the incredible array of fresh material you would be working with, plus expert tutorial, the price was actually a steal. For those of us too far to take a class in person, the blog — and their flickr page — offer plenty of lessons in color and composition.
The Little Flower School: An arrangement inspired by the Dutch masters.
Last week we did a big house cleaning in preparation for a couple of social events. The day before the first party, I went to the WHPS annual sale and came home with two trees and half a dozen primroses. I managed to get three of the Primula into the ground and then gave up. Too many other chores on my "to-do" list.
So I decided to leave the pile of plant purchases in the front hall where I had dropped them after the sale. I would disguise them as floral decor rather than deal with them on deadline. Luckily the plastic pots all fit nicely inside my collection of ceramic containers.
For those of you who are wondering, the Primulas are unnamed. The tree on the floor is an Acer pseudosieboldiana (Korean maple). The one on the bench is a Korean maple crossed with a Japanese maple (Acer palmatum). It combines the looks of one parent with the hardiness of the other. I was hoping to find one of these in the Khelm catalog this spring, but no luck. So I am very happy to have this nice specimen from the WHPS sale for only $17.00! Trust WHPS to provide treasures at everyday prices.
When we moved to this garden we discovered a number of lovely wildflowers that could be traced to the garden of our neighbors. Wind and animals had given us a nice collection of plants, including Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis, first two pix below). Having only gardened in full sun before, most of these plants were a mystery to me. Over time I learned their names and requirements and went on to want fancier examples — like double Bloodroot. I've bought the double version of the plant a number of times but have had no success in getting it to bloom — let alone establish a clump.
Kathy Purdy of Cold Climate Gardening in New York state always has gorgeous photos of this plant on her blog. Last spring when I commented on their beauty and vigor, she said she'd bring some for me to the Garden Bloggers Spring Fling in Buffalo. When I told her I would not be able to attend the event, lo and behold if she didn't mail me a huge clump of double Bloodroot.
I was stunned at the size of the clump she sent me and thrilled at her generosity. I was also petrified that I would kill it! I decided to divide it in two, hoping I would manage to find the right spot for at least one group. I also caged the them as soon as they were planted to mark them and keep critters from disturbing them. This year's very long, very cool Spring produced a stellar crop of single Bloodroot at these photos attest.
This picture (directly above) shows my garden treasure from Kathy. Both clumps came through the winter with huge, lush flowers ruffled with layers of petals. This is my official "Thank you" to Kathy for her thoughtfulness and generosity. And to let other gardeners know that it may take a while, but success with a problem plant is possible! (And yes, I have marked the two double clumps so I will know where they are during gardening season and will take extra care not to disturb them).
Here is another garden that was not on the recent WHPS tour but nevertheless caught my eye. We are looking for a simple structure to put along the back edge of our driveway border and snapped this picture for our idea file. We want something to hide our neighbor's drive and also provide a place for climbing plants. I am not sure if this simple wall/trellis is used for climbers, but it does a nice job of adding interest to the space and a bit of privacy without detracting from the dooryard garden. I can easily imagine two or three of them marking the back of our driveway border. But given Mark's garden projects list, I am sure they will not make an appearance at our house anytime soon.
We still get a home-delivered daily paper at our house. Mark typically reads it first and will often point out an article he thinks I will enjoy and then hands me the page so I can read it. I glance at the story and think that it looks interesting — but proceed to read almost every other story on the page first! This is typical behavior for me, and I am not really sure why I do it or what it means.
But I was reminded of it on last week's tour of gardens belonging to members of the Wisconsin Hardy Plant Society. As we were leaving our second garden on the tour, I spied a garden half way down the block that was not on the tour but looked too interesting not to investigate.
We walked over and took a few photos of this lovely example of how to turn your front yard into a fairly low-maintenance work of art. Anyone who would not only get rid of all the grass, but replace it with gravel and re-make a flat front yard into a multi-layered landscape is one adventurous gardener.
I plan to return to see it without all the recently fallen leaf litter, and perhaps I'll ring the bell this time and ask for a proper tour — and suggest the gardener join WHPS!
Our newest tree — Fagus sylvatica 'Purple Fountain' — made it through the winter and is leafing out. This narrow weeping tree has coppery foliage that initially looks like a feather or a bird wing as it begins to unfurl. It is an ideal specimen to feature on Foliage Follow-up sponsored by Pam at Digging, where you can find lots more examples of interesting foliage. You can see what our 'Purple Fountain' looked like at installation time last May here.
Mark took most of these photos yesterday when we came home from the latest protest at the state Capitol. The temp was 49 degrees Fahrenheit (9.44 C), the wind was blowing and it was just about to start raining. Not exactly the weather I've been dreaming of for mid-May.
This is the mini meadow under the Bur Oak tree at the end of our driveway:
Bleeding heart and emerging Hostas and cranesbill Geraniums along the curbside front garden:
Tulips I planted in the traffic island in the street in front of our house:
A pale lemon version of Kerria japonica:
The forsythia is fading while Dicentra and Tiarella begin to bloom:
Assorted varieties of Trillium are all in full-bloom:
The cold weather made the woodland peony protect its flowers by closing them:
I bought this 'Cherry Garden' iris for my fist garden in 1990:
We were much further along last year at this time as you can see from this post. Be sure to check in with Carol at May Dreams Gardens to see what's blooming in gardens around the globe.
Editor's note: Here is the link I meant to give you for Bloom Day 2010.