Wordless Wednesday: After the Rain

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“They both listened silently to the water,

which to them was not just water,

but the voice of life, the voice of Being,

the voice of perpetual Becoming.”
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Hermann Hesse

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2019

Fabulous Friday: Ivy Shining in the Waning Sun

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Evergreen treasurers, often overlooked during the warmer months, grow in importance as summer’s foliage blows away on autumn breezes.

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We notice that nearby forests are filled with a small army of shining holly trees, covered in bright red berries.  Clumps of mistletoe hover in the bare branches of nearby trees.

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And, we are grateful for the beautiful green and cream leaves of our stalwart ivies growing in pots and garden beds.

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A grapevine fills this pot all summer, but ivy anchors it on our deck during the winter months.   Newly planted Violas will bloom sometime in the next few weeks.

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There are many varieties of ivy available.  Find leaves large and small, wide or very narrow, green, yellow,  cream and variegated.

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The smallest leafed ivy I’ve ever found, this lovely little cultivar was sold for terrariums and fairy gardens. It is growing indoors this winter with a little Begonia.

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Now, native plant purists positively scowl at any kind word uttered about ivy.  It is not native by any stretch of the imagination, though it has naturalized throughout much of the United States.  Worse, ivy can escape cultivation and grow invasive.  This is a problem when ivy completely enshrouds a tree.

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Ivy covers these trees in a county park near Jamestown, VA.

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This vigorous vine can shade out the tree, eventually killing it, and break it apart with the strength and weight of its growth.

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Ivy was already growing on this mature beech tree when we came to the garden. The vine grows root-like anchors, but doesn’t suck sap from the tree. Ivy keeps its roots firmly in the ground and makes its own food from photosynthesis. These aerial roots may absorb dew and rainwater, but they don’t take anything from the tree.

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The ivy you or I plant this fall likely wouldn’t kill a tree in our own lifetimes.  This takes decades.  However, our ivy may escape into the wild when we are no longer tending it for whatever reason, or, the ivy may eventually form berries, and those ivy seeds may germinate elsewhere.

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Ivy makes a popular low maintenance ground cover. Keep it trimmed back, and away from your tree trunks.

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You can puzzle out the relative morality of ivy on your own terms and in your own garden.  But I will tell you that I admire it for its tenacity and toughness.

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Ivy offers some benefits for wildlife.  It shelters many sorts of insects, and so helps attract birds to the garden.  It can produce berries, once the vine is mature.

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English Ivy, Hedera helix, serves as a dense, evergreen ground cover in many Colonial Williamsburg gardens. It requires little maintenance beyond periodic trimming.

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It tolerates dry soil, sun, shade, heat and cold.  It can be cut back hard and still re-grow into a lush plant in a season.

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Newly planted Hellebore and ivy will soon fill this pot with evergreen beauty. The Hellebore will begin blooming early in the new year.

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It will fill a hanging basket beautifully, and remain lovely all winter long through the worst weather we might face here in Zone 7.

Ivy is very useful as the ‘spiller’ in potted arrangements.  I especially enjoy using it in pots where the main plants are perennials, and the pot won’t be re-worked year to year.  After several years, the ivy can take the pot without worthy competition, however.

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New Year’s Day 2017, and this basket of ivy looks fabulous.

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Let it trail, or train it on a trellis or other wire form.  Ivy can be groomed into many interesting shapes, grown on wire mesh orbs as a ‘kissing ball,’ or even grown on a  privacy screen or a fence.

If you place a rooted cutting in a vial of water or plant its roots into damp moss and a little peat, you can even grow it on a living wreath enjoyed on a shaded porch.  Just keep the wreath hydrated and out of direct sun.

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Violas and ivy make a beautiful winter hanging basket in our climate.

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Just remember the Ivy rule:  The first year it sleeps, the second it creeps, and the third, it leaps!  This is a lovely vine that takes some time to work its magic.

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In the best of possible worlds, deer generally leave ivy alone.  But we don’t live in that world, and find our ivy grazed from time to time.  Generally, it isn’t even noticeable. 

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But deer did seriously dine on a beautiful new ivy in a pot this fall.  Like with most new plants, spray it or otherwise protect it if deer frequent your garden.

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We are admiring our ivy on this Fabulous Friday.  If your green thumb is itching to grow something easy and rewarding during the cool months ahead, you might search out a beautiful ivy for your winter pots or baskets.

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Now that our stump is losing its bark, I’ve planted ivy in the pot.   Beautiful ivy will soon cover it all in a curtain of green.

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Fabulous Friday:  Happiness is contagious…

Let’s infect one another!

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Woodland Gnome 2017

 

Dark Beauty

Zantedeschia ‘Hot Chocolate’

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Are you drawn to nearly black foliage or flowers when designing your garden?  Many new cultivars have come to the market in recent years sporting very dark shades of purple, burgundy, green and bluish black.

I like them.  My partner doesn’t.

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We were shopping together this spring, and I was ready to buy  a Colocasia ‘Black Coral.’  I must admit that I was seeing the poor little start as I expected it to look in July.  My partner saw the pitiful dark little thing in its plastic nursery pot and didn’t like it at all.  We had words.  And I chose to keep the peace by making a different selection.

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Colocasia ‘Black Coral’ with coleus, petunias and peach verbena

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But I always admire dark leaved Colocasias, especially shiny ones like C. ‘Black Coral’ or ‘Black Ripple.’  And I find them stunning when they are planted near chartreuse or burgundy tropical foliage.

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And so when we returned to the shop some weeks later, I asked my partner to trust me, and bought my C. ‘Black Coral.’  Once I planted our little Colocasia in its new blue ceramic pot with a peach verbena, some coleus and purple petunias, it looked completely different.  Once it was planted up with contrasting plants, he liked it, too.

And that is the key, I believe, to using very dark flowers and foliage:  create contrast in the planting.

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Heuchera ‘Melting Fire’ with Oxalis

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The Heath’s catalog describes their Zantedeschia ‘Black Star’ this way:  “…this is close to the illusion of shadow…”  Our garden vignettes are composed of light and shadow, form and emptiness.

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As we design with plants, we splash color against a backdrop of green; or perhaps the backdrop of our home or other hardscape.  As we work with colors, it is sometimes energizing to create contrasts as well as harmony.

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And I enjoy the rich dark colors of some leaves and flowers for the beautiful contrasts they create.

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Try mixing these dark plants with clear bright color in nearby foliage and flowers.  I especially like pairing dark foliage with chartreuse or grey.

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Begonia Rex with fern

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Create a hot tropical feel by using dark Colocasias with  orange or bright pink flowers.  Harmonize by pairing with foliage or flowers a few shades lighter or brighter.

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petunias

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Choosing dark flowers and leaves for your garden needn’t make your garden drab or mournful.  Rather, use these unexpected and unusual plants to energize and excite.

Let them inspire you to create a beautiful space uniquely yours.

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Colocasia ‘Mojito’

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Woodland Gnome 2017
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Looking Good

Begonia, "Arabian Sunset"

Begonia, “Arabian Sunset”

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I want to join Eliza, who is participating in a new Friday meme begun this week by Gillian at  Country Gardens UK  called “Looking Good.”  Gillian invites us to celebrate what is looking good this week in our own gardens.  Gillian takes a close look at wild roses, blackberries and other berry producing plants at their peak now in the hedgerows around her garden this week.  Her photos are stunning.

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Begonia Rex

Begonia Rex

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Admiring what is doing well in one’s garden is a happy way to end each week, and I will join in on Fridays as often as I’m able.  If you want to join Gillian’s meme, please be on time.  She plans to close her link at noon Saturday Greenwich time.

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Oxalis has proven one of my favorites this season. It takes sun or shade, has lovely leaves and flowers, and roots very easily in water. The bag of little tubers proved a good investment.

Oxalis has proven one of my favorites this season. It takes sun or shade, has lovely leaves and flowers, and roots very easily in water. The bag of little tubers proved a good investment.

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First thing this morning, I spent a few minutes admiring a few of our dark leaved plants on our deck.  Our cat joined me in the early morning mist with my camera.  The beautiful Coleus is now mostly gone, thanks to a determined squirrel who has made destroying it his project lately.  But he hasn’t touched the ornamental peppers.  Our cat has given us the alert to his presence several times so we could chase the squirrel back into the surrounding trees.

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September 25, 20015 foliage 009

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Anna, at Flutter and Hum, and I both are drawn to dark, jewel tones in flowers, leaves, and berries.  She wrote to give me the name of a Colocasia she photographed for a post about her more dramatic plants, and it reminded me to savor my own.  Reading her post again, and seeing her Colocasia  ‘Black Coral,’ inspired me to take this series of photos.

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Ajuga

Ajuga

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A bit of our dark leaved sweet potato vine is left, and looked especially nice after early morning showers.

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Sweet potato vine has wonderful dark leaves. It looked much better on Monday before the squirrel began destroying it.

This ornamental sweet potato vine has wonderful dark leaves. It looked much better on Monday before the squirrel began destroying it.

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My favorite dark leaved Begonia now has a name.  A helpful reader, who goes by “DS,”  told me this morning it is called Begonia, “Arabian Sunset.”  A very evocative name, don’t you think?  We have thoroughly enjoyed its dark red leaves which grow even darker and glossier with sun.

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September 25, 20015 foliage 012~

A simple bit of Tradescantia pallida  given to us a few years ago by a friend has saved a hanging basket this summer.  The original Petunia met an untimely end by early August.  But rooted cuttings of the Tradescantia took hold in this  hot, dry spot. 

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Tradescantia

Tradescantia

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This is one tough plant and has thrived in all the places I’ve stuck cuttings into Earth.

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September 25, 20015 foliage 020

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I am always drawn more to interesting foliage than to flowers.  And this year I was delighted with several seedlings from last year’s ornamental peppers which cropped up in pots on the deck.

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They worked beautifully with plants I had already planted this spring in the pots.  What a bonus!  Now their tiny flowers are giving way to little pepper fruits.

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A volunteer pepper came up in the same pot with a volunteer Petunia. Last summer's beauty lives on!

A volunteer pepper came up in the same pot with a volunteer Petunia. Last summer’s beauty lives on!

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This is a lovely way to ease into the change of seasons.  We still have several weeks left to enjoy these beautiful foliage plants.

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September 25, 20015 foliage 016~

Woodland Gnome 2015

 

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