Blossom XXV: Elegance

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The Calla lily always feels elegant and exotic.  Its long slender leaves, slender stem, and simple form might have been designed by Coco Chanel for all of their tres chic simplicity.  Until a trip to Oregon two years ago, I assumed they were best found at a high end florist.  But no.  Calla may be grown in any temperate garden as simple perennials.

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The Calla growing in every other front garden in the beach communities I visited along the Oregon coast, grew in thick clumps, about 4′ high.  They were already blooming in April of 2015.  I was mesmerized, and determined to find something similar for our own garden.

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Zantedeschia aethiopica blooming at the Connie Hanson Garden in Lincoln City, Oregon in late April 2015.

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My search took me first to Plant Delights, which offers two selections of ‘Giant’ Zantedeschia, both hardy in Zones 7-10.  By ‘Giant,’ we mean plants topping out at perhaps 6′ tall.  Like other aroids, Zantedeschia, called Calla lily, grow from a tuber.  And each year the tubers grow larger as the clump spreads.  The clumps I saw in Oregon had clearly been growing for many years.

I began searching out Zanteschia tubers later that year, and have added a few to our collection each spring since.  I’ve learned these are hardy for us and may be left alone year to year to simply grow to their own rhythm.  They are fairly heavy feeders and appreciate good soil, plenty of moisture, abundant sunshine, and a little support.  Their leaves are spectacular, even before and after the blossoms.

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Z. ‘Hot Chocolate’ with its first bloom of the season.

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We’ve not yet grown any Zantedeschia that reached more than perhaps 3′ tall.  But I have noticed our clumps, left in the garden last fall, bulking up this year.  In fact, I dug up several clumps which grew in pots last summer, and moved them out into the garden in late October.  What a welcome sight when they broke ground this spring!

These South African natives adapt well to our climate.  They aren’t invasive, so far as I know.

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Zantedeschia albomaculata, with white spots on its dark leaves, prefers moist soil and will even grow in a pot partially submerged in a bog garden or shallow pond.  It will grow to about 24″.  Zantedeschia aethiopica, with solid green leaves, grows a little taller.  And it also enjoys moist soil.  Although we normally think of Calla lily as a white flower, there are many named hybrids with flowers of various colors, including some of very dark maroon or purple.

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Zantedeschia emerging in early May. The first leaf tips emerged in late March.

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Zantedeschia grow well in pots or planted directly in the ground.  If you live north of Zone 7, you can bring the pots in when your weather turns, and keep them going indoors as house plants.  In fact, our local Trader Joe’s has proven a reliable source of potted Callas with bright flowers, ready for your patio or to be gifted to a friend on a special occasion.

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If you are looking for something elegant, simple, and different for your garden this year, you might try growing Calla lilies.  Deer leave these leaves alone.  Callas have crystals in their leaves, like other Aroids, which cause them to irritate an animal’s mouth.  Given sufficient moisture and sun, these elegant, yet easy perennials will happily fill your garden with beauty.

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Woodland Gnome 2017
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“I won’t regret,
because you can grow flowers
where dirt used to be.”
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Kate Nash
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Like other Aroids, the Zantedeschia ‘blossom’ consists of a spadix, surrounded by a modified leaf called a spathe. Seeds form in tiny berries along the spadix after the spathe falls away. This plant is very much like the Arum italicum, and the two plants may be grown side by side to give a full year’s worth of foliage and a longer season of flowers.

 

 

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Sunday Dinner: Gratitude

Eastern Swallowtail on Verbena 'Lollipop' at the Heath family's garden in Gloucester.

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail on Verbena ‘Lollipop’ at the Heath family’s garden in Gloucester.

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“Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy;

they are the charming gardeners

who make our souls blossom.”

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Marcel Proust

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June 18, 2016 Gloucester 019

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“Beauty is not who you are on the outside,

it is the wisdom and time you gave away

to save another struggling soul, like you.”

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Shannon L. Alder

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Alliums with Iris, Gloucester, VA

Alliums with Iris, Gloucester, VA

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“I believe that what we become

depends on what our fathers teach us

at odd moments, when they aren’t trying to teach us.

We are formed by little scraps of wisdom.”

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Umberto Eco

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Allium in our Forest Garden

Allium in our Forest Garden

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“In the end, though, maybe we must all give up

trying to pay back the people in this world

who sustain our lives.

In the end, maybe it’s wiser to surrender

before the miraculous scope of human generosity

and to just keep saying thank you,

forever and sincerely,

for as long as we have voices.”

.

Elizabeth Gilbert

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June 17, 2016 Hibiscus 012


The rare daylily left ungrazed to bloom in our garden; for which we are most grateful!

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2016

With love and appreciation to all of those Fathers
who give of themselves so generously
to make this a more beautiful and more loving world for all.

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June 17, 2016 Hibiscus 017


Zantedeschia aethiopica in our Forest Garden

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“You pray in your distress and in your need;

would that you might pray also

in the fullness of your joy

and in your days of abundance.”

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Kahlil Gibran

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June 17, 2016 Hibiscus 039

 

Looking Good on Friday

June 3, 2016 Jamestown 027

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This pot has been going continuously for three years now.  We make minor changes season to season, adding plants, moving things around, and removing spent annuals.  Last summer it held a seedling Japanese Maple, which has since been moved out into the garden to grow in its permanent spot!

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June 3, 2016 Jamestown 028~

The fern is in its second season now.  Daffodil leaves are ready to die back for summer, and a newly planted Colocasia ‘Coffee Cups’ stands poised to take off in the coming summer heat.

A few Zantedeschia tubers will send up leaves any time now.  The first batch I planted in late March fizzled, we think.  Perhaps our long spring was too cool.  But new ones should show growth soon, and will fill this planter with elegant flowers by July.

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Zantedeschia offer deliciously elegant flowers and foliage.

Zantedeschia offer deliciously elegant flowers and foliage.

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Warm days make all the difference with tropical heat loving plants.  Our Cannas and Colocasias have all begun to really grow, filling our garden with vibrant color and movement.

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June 3, 2016 Jamestown 030~

Finally, the garden is looking good again!

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Rhubarb commands attention in this large pot on our 'pedestal.'

Rhubarb commands attention in this large pot on our ‘pedestal’ in the ‘stump garden.’

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Woodland Gnome 2016

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Autumn fern harmonizes with Creeping Jenny and Ajuga. We planted this combo last fall while re-doing a bed beneath our Camellia.

Autumn fern harmonizes with Creeping Jenny and Ajuga. We planted this combo last fall while re-doing a bed beneath our Camellia.

Nature Challenge Day 6: Light

May 14, 2016 clouds 011

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“Find the light. Reach for it. Live for it.

Pull yourself up by it.

Gratitude always makes for straighter, taller trees.”

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Al R. Young

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May 27, 2016 garden 011

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“Gardens are made of darkness and light entwined.”


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F.T. McKinstry,

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Oregon Trip 2016 095~

“From whichever direction or

from whoever the light comes to you,

always welcome it!”

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Mehmet Murat ildan

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Oregon Trip 2016 118

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Woodland Gnome 2016

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May 2, 2016 garden 042

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Blogging friend, Y., invited me to join the Seven Day Nature Challenge last Saturday from her new site, In the Zone.  For this sixth day of the challenge, I’ll invite you again to join in.

This challenge has been out there for a while, and many nature photographers have already participated.  If you would like to take up the challenge, please accept in the comments and I’ll link back to you tomorrow.   I’ll look forward to seeing what surprises May has brought to your corner of the world, even as I share the beauty of ours. 

Garden Blogger’s Foliage Day; But I’m Away….

A stray Moonflower vine snakes across the Begonias.

A stray Moonflower vine snakes across the Begonias.

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It is Garden Blogger’s Foliage Day, but since I’m away I’ll post tomorrow.  Until then, I’ll leave you with a few quick photos captured this morning.

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Canna, still alive, with Heron's Pirouette hardy Begonia

Calla, still alive, with ‘Heron’s Pirouette’ hardy Begonia

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I’m exceptionally happy to show you this photo of the first leaf of our new hardy Calla, ordered a couple of months ago from Plant Delights Nursery, which died back and completely disappeared in less than two weeks from planting.  A mystery…. 

But I dug the bulb and moved it into a large pot in the nursery with good potting soil.  A new leaf emerged last week, and I planted it up yesterday with the beautiful gift of ‘Heron’s Pirouette’ hardy Begonia we received last Saturday from a generous gardener.  The pot sits here in the shade of the house all day after a little morning sun.  I don’t expect the Calla to bloom  this fall, but it will give its beautiful spotted leaves.  It lives!

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Caladium is another survivor. Last summer's plant hibernated in the garage all winter. Finally a leaf... in August?

Caladium is another survivor. Last summer’s plant hibernated in the garage all winter. Finally a leaf… in August?

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On the subject of gardeners and sharing: next week, I plan on sharing some of the baby Colocasia multiplying in our garden .  I’m also committed to sharing some Iris with friends far and near, and also some of the perennial Blue Mist Flower. 

If you live nearby, please send me a note if you’d like to try some of the Colocasia “China Pink.”

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August 21, 2015 butterflies 025~

Woodland Gnome 2015

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Garden Blogger’s Foliage Day: June

This little Acer Plamatum germinated in my parents' garden this spring.  I brought it home to grow on, here in a large pot with ferns and Caladiums.

This little Acer Palmatum germinated in my parents’ garden this spring. I brought it home to grow on, here in a large pot with ferns and Caladiums.

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Our world is leafy green this month; a thousand shades of green.  Yet there are many more colors found glowing on leaves in our garden.

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Coleus

Coleus

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Layer upon layer of leaves extend themselves to catch the sun’s rays.

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Canna lilies have reached about half their final height.  Hibiscus, behind them, will bloom with scarlet flowers in a few weeks.

Canna lilies have reached about half their final height. Hibiscus, behind them, will bloom with scarlet flowers in a few weeks.

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From the Oaks’ canopies down to the tiny chartreuse leaves of creeping Jenny, Lysimachia nummularia, which blanket parts of our garden; leaves bask in summer’s brilliant sunshine.

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June 20, 2015 garden 001

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I ventured into new territory last summer when planting a border of tall Canna lilies, given by a friend, and elephant ear Colocasia.  Both are well up now with the Cannas bursting into bloom.

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June 16, 2015 blooming in June 022

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They will continue growing for a few weeks, topping out above head high with blooms through the summer.

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June 16, 2015 blooming in June 017~

Tall, perennial Hibiscus join these tropical looking, large plants in the front border.  I’ve extended the grouping to a new area in the lower garden where growth has been slow.

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Colocasia 'Mojito'

Colocasia ‘Mojito’

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There is less light here, and the Cannas were purchased as roots just this spring.  I hope they will catch up in the summer heat and make a good show by mid-summer.

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June 20, 2015 garden 012~

They border the new bog garden, filled now with pitcher plants, Sarraceniaceae, which are native to the mid-Atlantic coast; with the African rose Hibiscus; Colocasia esculenta ‘Mojito’ and Coleus.  Two pots of milkweed grow here, too, in our hope to draw in Monarch butterflies.

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Oxalis triangularis has struggled here because deer frequently graze these beautiful burgundy leaves.

Oxalis triangularis has struggled here because deer frequently graze these beautiful burgundy leaves.

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The border of Oxalis I planted with such confidence in May is nearly gone, grazed by rogue deer who have somehow snuck into the garden through our fences.  I’ve sprayed what remains with deer repellent and hope they will re-grow from the tubers.

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This Oxalis has been protected with a clove of garlic grown here since fall.  In more shade, there are no flowers and darker leaves.  A division of hardy Begonia can be seen at the top of the photo, and a division of fern to the far right.  These will fill in fairly quickly.

This Oxalis has been protected with a clove of garlic grown here since fall.  In more shade, there are no flowers and darker leaves. A division of hardy Begonia can be seen at the top of the photo, and a division of fern to the far right. These will fill in fairly quickly.

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Oxalis is supposed to be ‘deer resistant,’ but anyone who gardens near deer understands the humor of that phrase.

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Voodoo lily and a division of Colocasia 'China Pink' grow in front of our Edgeworthia in part shade.

Voodoo lily and a division of Colocasia ‘China Pink’ grow in front of our Edgeworthia in part shade.  Rudbeckia, to the right, will bloom golden in July.  I just love these spotted stems!

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Our collection of poisonous plants has grown this summer to include the “Voodoo Lily,” Sauromatum venosum, bought at Brent and Becky’s Bulbs in April; and a hardy Calla lily, just ordered from Plant Delights Nursery near Raleigh, NC.

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June 14, 2015 calla lily 2 004~

I was pleased to learn that Calla, native to South Africa, is in fact poisonous.  The poisonous leaves have more staying power in our garden, and do no harm to those who aren’t grazing them!

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Helebores, also poisonous, protects this pot from grazing.  The Heuchera would be munched if unprotected.

Hellebore, also poisonous, protects this pot from grazing. The Heuchera would be munched if unprotected.

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There are many more leaves to share, but you’ll see them as the summer unfolds.

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June 22, 2015 foliage 012~

We continue to plant ferns, and we’ve added several new cultivars this year.

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June 22, 2015 foliage 002

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We have also found several interesting cultivars of scented Pelargonium.  This rose scented Pelargonium grows in a pot with Ajuga.

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June 22, 2015 foliage 007~

Herbs smell wonderful on hot sunny days, and have such beautiful foliage.

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June 18, 2015 bees 002

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 I appreciate Christina, who gardens in the Hesperides,  for hosting this Garden Blogger’s Foliage Day meme on the 22nd of each month. She challenges us to focus on the foliage in our gardens; not just the flowers.

Please visit her and follow as many links as you can to enjoy beautiful foliage posts photographed in a variety of different gardens.

But, before you do, we will end with a few more photos of my beloved Begonias:

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There will be another Begonia post soon.  These beauties continue growing better each week.

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June 14, 2015 garden 017~

Woodland Gnome 2015

In A Vase On Monday: Callas

June 14, 2015 calla 002~

Oppressive heat has settled over Virginia.  It is wet heat, with dew points so high each breath is filled with steam.

Our torrential rain yesterday afternoon, and more showers overnight, have the garden well-hydrated; no watering chores for me today.

But the sun comes out after each wave of rain, sending the heat index back up to well over 100F.

We spent this muggy day inside, sitting under fans with tall glasses full of ice and sparkling water.  The air conditioner hums. Blinds and screens block the relentless sun from pouring through our windows.

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June 14, 2015 calla 004

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It is still in the 90’s out there, and any cooling tonight prepares us for hotter weather tomorrow.

And yet it is Monday.

I appreciate Cathy’s faithfulness in hosting “In A Vase On Monday” .  She always has something beautiful to share.  With the garden full of flowers, I couldn’t let the weather discourage me from joining again today.

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June 14, 2015 calla 008

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I planted Calla lilies some years ago in pots.  They grow outside all summer, and I bring the pots inside to the garage each autumn.  I enjoy these long, elegant stems and casually shaped simple flowers.

But the wind and rain yesterday bent many of the flowers and a few of the leaves nearly to the ground.

Callas last quite a while in a vase, and so I rescued them to fill our vase today.

My daughter gave me the rose quartz obelisk many years ago.  Our mood today requires simple,  loose and  cool.

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June 14, 2015 calla 005~

Do you enjoy Calla lilies?  I admire them, and was intrigued with the clumps the size of Pampas grass blooming on the Oregon coast in April.  These clumps were positively gigantic; taller than a child, and blooming months ahead of ours.

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June 14, 2015 calla lily 2 003~

Most Calla lilies are hardy in Zones 8-10.  Those of us living in cooler climates must either bring them in each autumn, or treat them like annuals.

But I’ve since found Zantedeschia aethiopica, a Calla hardy to our Zone 7a, at Plant Delights Nursery in Raleigh, NC.  I’ve just planted a clump of  Z.”White Giant” which has the potential to grow to 72″ tall.  We’ll see….

 

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The sun was too much for the original leaves today.  I didn't provide enough shade.  I hope the new leaf will be able to handle our sun.

The sun was too much for the original leaves on this hardy calla  Z. “White Giant”  today. I didn’t provide enough shade. I hope the new leaf will be able to handle our sun.

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Its leaves are beautifully spotted, and I am looking forward to watching it grow.   Its flowers will be classic white.  If there are blooms this year, they will definitely find their way into a Vase on Monday.

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June 14, 2015 calla 003

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Woodland Gnome 2015

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