Six On Saturday: What Color!

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What do most people want from their summer plantings?  Color!

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Mophead Hydreangeas can produce differently colored flowers.  When the soil is more acidic, the flowers will be blue.  When the soil is sweeter, they will be pink.  Our Nikko Blue Hydrangeas are blooming prolifically in a rainbow of shades from deep blue to deep pink this week.  They look wonderfully confused.

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While many landscape designers focus on structure and texture, most of us living in the landscape crave color in our garden, however large or small that garden may grow.  But what colors?

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Every year designers choose a ‘color of the year’ as their theme. This year’s color  is a lovely peachy coral. This ‘Gallery Art Deco’ Dhalia is an intense shot of color, especially paired with a purple leafed sweet potato vine.

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We each have a very personal idea of what colors make us feel good, relax us, and excite us.  Color is all about emotion, and how those colors make us feel.

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Calla lilly

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One of the joys of gardening is that our colors change as the seasons evolve.  We don’t have to settle on just one color or color palette, as we do for our indoor spaces.

In our gardens we can experiment, we can celebrate, we can switch it up from month to month and year to year through our choices of plant materials.

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Rose of Sharon trees in our yard are opening their first flowers this week.

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Pastels?  Jewel tones?  Reach out and grab you reds?

We’ve got a plant for that….

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Canna ‘Red Futurity’ blooms for the first time in our garden this week, and should bloom all summer in its pot by the butterfly garden. I love its purple leaves as much as its scarlet flowers.  A favorite with butterflies and hummingbirds, we expect lots of activity around these blooms!

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Woodland Gnome 2019

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“The beauty and mystery of this world

only emerges through affection, attention, interest and compassion . . .

open your eyes wide

and actually see this world

by attending to its colors, details and irony.”
.

Orhan Pamuk

Many thanks to the wonderful ‘Six on Saturday’ meme sponsored by The Propagator.

 

Beauty of Foliage

Caladium and Begonia

Caladium and Begonia

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Consider how beautiful foliage can be;  whether the brightly veined leaves of a Caladium, the dark ruffled leaves of Anglewing Begonia, or the velvety leaves of Coleus.

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Coleus

Coleus

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All of the these plants produce flowers, but the flowers aren’t the main event.  These plants produce bright, beautiful stems and leaves month after month.

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Colocasia, “Blue Hawaii”

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Many people head to the garden center looking for flowers to plant in their gardens.  This is fine, but flowers are only a tiny aspect of what makes a garden beautiful.

Flowers open and fade- sometimes very quickly.  Many flowers last only a day.  Many perennials flower for a week or so, and then are finished until “same time, next year.”

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Angelwing Begonia leaves, larger than my hand.

Angelwing Begonia , whose leaves grow  larger than my hand

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Although perennial  flowers are often followed by interesting seedpods, somehow it isn’t the same.  Annuals give a longer season of bloom, but again are unreliable.  Many of the geraniums I planted with great hope in spring are a brown soggy mess at the moment, barely hanging on to life, because we’ve had too much rain.  They may come back in fall, or they may give up for the season.

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July 30 2013  Foliage 001

The flowering Verbena is only a foil for the beautiful lime green foliage in this planter, a gift from a master gardener friend.

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Foliage plants are far more reliable.  Even tender perennials like Caladium can be brought inside for the winter.  Although they will go dormant for a few months, they will come back with fresh leaves to amaze you.

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August 9, 2014 hummingbird moth 056

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A few years ago I left some Caladium tubers buried in a pot of other plants I’d brought into the living room for the winter.  Somehow, the Caladiums woke up and shot up bright new leaves right after New Years Day.   We enjoyed them until spring.

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Caladiums

Caladiums

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They took another rest when the pot went back outside in May, and then came back for the end of summer and fall.  Caladiums are tough and have a strong will to live.  As long as you don’t let them freeze, they are very forgiving.

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Fern, hosta, purple Oxalis

Fern, Hosta, purple Oxalis, and a Hydrangea

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Coleus have been hybridized again and again to create amazing colors and strange leaf shapes.  Many are textured, deeply ruffled or fishboned,  striped, blotched, or shaded.  No two leaves, even on the same plant, are quite alike.

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Coleus and Creeping Jenny

Coleus and Creeping Jenny

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Coleus are tough plants who prefer shade, but have been selected to tolerate sun.  The newer hybrids give much better colors in sunlight.

Their flowers are insignificant, and many of us snap them off when they appear to keep the plant branching and producing more beautiful leaves.  We have noticed that when Coleus flowers are allowed to open, they attract hummingbirds and butterflies.

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A favorite tender lady fern, living inside with us this winter.

A favorite tender lady fern, living inside with us this winter.

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Ferns, which never flower, are another wonderful foliage plant.

Ferns come in many sizes, forms, and colors.  They uniformly prefer shade, but will thrive in partial sunlight.  All prefer to be moist, but can live in varying degrees of dry soil.

In general, the more light ferns ge, the more moisture they will need to stay hydrated.

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Fern with Creeping Jenny.  Both plants are winter hardy.

Autumn fern with creeping Jenny. Both plants are winter hardy.

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Whether used as a filler, or as the main attraction, ferns are tough, reliable, and beautiful.  There are many hardy perennial ferns which will return year after year.

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July 7 2013 succulents 012

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Succulents are also grown for their foliage, although they produce small flowers once or twice a year.

These plants prefer bright light, warm temperatures, and like their soil on the dry side.  They can go a fairly long time between waterings.

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July 7 2013 succulents 010

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Most succulents won’t survive  freezing temperatures, and so need to come inside for winter here in Zone 7b.  In warmer climates, they put on a beautiful display year round, growing bigger and bigger as they form colonies.

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July 30 2013  Foliage 015

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In many cases, succulents look like flowers because they form rosettes in shades of blue, green, burgundy, and gold.

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succulents

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If you are looking for fresh design ideas for your pots and gardens, try designing with foliage.   Watch for interesting colors, textures, patterns, and forms in the plants you choose.  Select plants which will look fresh and healthy over a long season.

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Many of the plants in these photos will survive from one year to the next indoors.  They keep getting better with age, and are always interesting plants we want to  include in our garden.

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 Photos by Woodland Gnome

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