I had been growing Syneilesis palmate 'Kikko' in a less than perfect spot. It didn't die but it didn't take off either. So last fall I dug it out, divided it and put it in two different locations to see where it really wanted to live. The spot with the perfect soil conditions turned out to be too sunny, making it flop midday. So I took that piece and added it to its other half in a shadier location. Then I put some pieces of Christmas fern in the bare spot where it had originally been growing last summer.
Imagine my surprise when I checked on the ferns to discover that Kikko left a lot of progeny behind and they all decided to make an appearance — now! They're weeks behind the original plants. And the fact these babies showed up in force in the very first spot I put the parent plant suggests my efforts at finding the perfect home were a waste of time. Since I can do a side by side comparison of new and older leaves, I also now know for sure that the striking variegation is only on the new growth and fades as the plant matures during the season.
Everywhere I look bloggers are talking about their summer pots. We have a dozen pots that spend their summer scattered throughout our garden as well as three huge platters that are displayed on the walls of the house. All of them are the work of Wisconsin artist, Mark Skudlarek of Cambridge Woodfired Pottery.
We like pots that are elegant as well as earthy and subdued. Among my favorites are this pair that have been living on the deck for a number of years; currently planted with Hostas and boxwoods before that. They are the only Skudlarek pots that have plants in them.
Often these deck containers have a companion pot nearby.
This one is just off the deck enmeshed in Geranium cantabrigiense 'Biokovo' in a triangular garden where three paths cross each other. This has been a great year for that particular Geranium.
Though we have traditional Japanese elements in our garden, we've given them a western interpretation like this Tsukubai below. Rather than a stone basin and bamboo water spigot, we've used one of Mark Skudlarek's pots and a piece of recycled copper tubing from an old hardware store in Madison.
You'll notice that many of his pots are patterned; some with stripes like the ones above and below.
Some are more subtle with an all-over textured surface. This pot held a waterlily but we usurped its spot when we redid the driveway last year and have not quite decided its new location and use.
The glazing contributes the "decoration" on some of the pots. Though this has four handles we never use them to carry the pot. This was the first really large pot we bought from Mark and it gave us a desire to add more big containers.
We used our 20th wedding anniversary as the excuse to treat our selves to the pot below. It is so large that we can barely lift it. But what a sense of drama and scale it gives to the garden and the Tea House.
If you look closely below (or enlarge the picture) you can see the other big pot on the opposite side of the Tea House.
This one is at the top of the sloping Tea House garden that I've been working on for the last few years.
If you live in the area it is well worth making the short trip out to Mark Skudlarek's pottery. His showroom is always open with payment on the honor system. Although most times he is out working in his adjacent studio so you can meet him and ask any questions. And you can see his amazing kiln!
In 1998 we planted a grove of River Birch trees (Betula nigra 'Cully'). We spent a great deal of time figuring out just how to place them to get the perfect view from the windows of the house. All these years later I realize it was a wasted effort. The bark of River Birches is so visually compelling that I no longer see my forest for the trees. Given our continuing cool weather I'm happy to have my grove of beautiful Birches to enjoy since most of the flowers are still in hiding.
When Mark and I stopped at Olbrich Botanical Gardens in Madison last week to visit the Spring show — "Furnished with Flowers" — we also strolled around the outdoor gardens. It was a beautiful day to do so. Perfect weather and that last moment before Spring fully arrives letting us see aspects of the garden that we often miss when it's green and floriferous everywhere you look.
Not exactly a true Foliage Follow-up but I think this fits Pam's philosophy for this meme that there's more to plants than flowers. Photos taken on March 9, 2016.
Climbing Hydrangea on the wall outside the Atrium doors.
The allee of Cornus mas trees leading to the meadow.
Exfoliating bark on a Heptacodium miconioides (Seven Sons) tree. Without the yews they would be much less noticeable and dramatic.
One of Olbrich's low maintenance, sustainable gardens with plants that "die beautifully" which is what Piet Oudolf looks for in a good garden plant.
At this season the triangularity of the grass clumps nicely echo the shapes of the sculpture. In summer the effect is quite different.
The temperatures were up into the 50s on both days this weekend. Despite clouds and wind, the sudden whiff of Spring was a huge boost to my spirits and sent me outdoors with a camera (uh, phone). This sudden change in the weather also makes it easy to observe the pattern of snow melt in the garden. What I discovered as I wandered around snapping photos is that I've planted a number of early bulbs in locations that are going to be among the last spots to be covered with snow.
Looking southwest across the width of the back garden
I put the bulbs where I wanted to see them in the spring without thinking about what early spring looks like in my garden. March tends to be a month where we typically get one — if not more — serious snowfalls. So I should have at least one more chance to study these patterns and to record where the snow disappears first and last in my garden.
Looking south across the depth of the back garden
Even though they are composed of gravel, the paths across the back of the garden and through the area most heavily planted with perennials were still snow-covered Sunday afternoon. The same was true for much of the front garden as the photos below show. That black plastic milk bin is my attempt to keep critters away from a little shrub I transplanted last fall.
I'm not going to cut back Epimendiums, Hellebores or the dried remains of Hakonechloa grass for a few more weeks, unless there are long term signs that winter is over. My birthday is in early April and too often it is a cold and snowy day, so I am trying not to think about Spring any more than necessary.
The last weeks of winter are always the hardest because we're so close if you only look at the calendar. But those of us who live where we have real winters, know not to rush the season no matter how much we'd like to. The bed in the photo below is at the top of our new rock wall. It's where I planted early daffodils without thinking that this is the north side of the house and that bed will be in a cold shadow for quite a while longer.
Despite my rather gloomy comments, there was enough green to be seen to get me excited. Arum italicum looks great even though it's been buried under the snow until just a few hours before I took its photo.
I love the bright green of the foliage of the Digitalis plants that wintered over and will bloom this year. But until it flowers I am not sure which variety it is.
My double-flowered Snowdrops are starting to push up.
Last year they did not make an appearance until March 10.
Galanthus 'Magnet' is much further along — or at least up much higher — than the Snowdrops shown above. That really surprises me as the double-flowered ones are against the house whose reflected heat seems like it would have pushed them ahead. But that's gardening, always something you didn't expect to see staring you in the face!
When you grow up with interesting architecture, you grow up with an interest in architecture. Having done both, I'm convinced that beautiful buildings enter your bloodstream long before you are aware that it's happened. Buffalo, New York — the city where I grew up — has some of the best representative works of the nation’s three greatest architects of the late 19th and early 20th centuries: H.H. Richardson, Louis Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright. It is the only city other than Chicago that can claim that architectural trifecta. I've been familiar with their Buffalo work forever but it was only this past Spring that I finally made it inside some of those masterpieces.
I'd driven past Louis Sullivan's Guaranty Building (Adler and Sullivan, 1895-96) for years but had never been inside. I think I may have made the right move by never going inside before as it finally has been restored to its glorious good looks which were never more evident than on a sunny Spring morning.
Sullivan called this building a "sister" to his Wainwright Building in St. Louis, where he first expressed the verticality of this new type of structure, the skyscraper. Sullivan, in fact, is considered the "Father of the Skyscraper." The book, "Buffalo Architecture: A Guide," calls this building Sullivan's "most mature skyscraper."
The book notes that the Guaranty Building expresses Sullivan's "commitment to democratic ideals, natural forms and to evolving a truly American architecture free of neoclassical excesses." The building's ornamentation was inspired by seedpods, flowers and at the top, the spreading branches of a tree.
Ornament — no matter the material — is clearly the focus of the building. Two full exterior surfaces are covered with terra cotta.
Inside are dramatic decorative metal work, stained glass and marble mosaics. The lobby was restored to simulate the original light court.
These have to be the most beautiful elevators in any commercial building in the country.
The workmanship and design is just breathtaking.
These original glass storefronts are business spaces and conference rooms. Talk about an office with a window!
You can tour the public spaces on the first floor and there is a room with beautiful architectural drawings and information about the history and design of the Guaranty Building. You can see from the reflection in the window that Buffalo is filled with great buildings and well-worth a stop next time you are in the area.