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.”
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Orhan Pamuk

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

 

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Focus

June 24, 2016 flowers 012

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“Create your own miracles,

don’t just wait for miracles to happen.

Infinite possibilities exist

by keeping focus on what you really want.”

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Steven Redhead

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June 17, 2016 Praying Mantis 005

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2016

Hydrangea In Motion

June 23, 2016 dusk 004

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“I believe in the power of the imagination

to remake the world, to release the truth within us,

to hold back the night, to transcend death,

to charm motorways,

to ingratiate ourselves with birds,

to enlist the confidences of madmen.”

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J.G. Ballard

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June 23, 2016 dusk 005

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“Imagination is everything.

It is the preview of life’s coming attractions.”

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Albert Einstein

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June 7, 2016 Garden Tour 005

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2016

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June 23, 2016 dusk 006

 

 

Late Hydrangeas In a Vase on Monday

July 27, 2015 hydrangea vase 008~

A ‘cooler’ summer day never fails to reinvigorate my enthusiasm for the garden.  Our breezes are from the northwest, and yesterday was as perfect a day as one might hope for in late July.  We had a dry week, and so I went out yesterday morning just to water the pots and baskets, and to add some water to our bog garden.

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July 27, 2015 caterpillars 007~

Well, I’m sure you can guess that it was hours later when I finally wandered back indoors.   Such growth everywhere!

I cut the cat mint back very hard, hoping it will soon grow out again with fresh flowers.  There were lots of spent roses and Cannas to deadhead, creeping grasses to pull, and flowers to admire.

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July 27, 2015 hydrangea vase 011~

And while watering the front border, these soft Hydrangeas caught my eye.  Although the clear blue Hydrangea blossoms of late spring always delight, I truly love these green and purply pink blossoms which come in summer.

These grow in a very protected, shady area below some tall Rose of Sharon shrubs.  I had to crawl back under low woody branches to even reach these Hydrangeas, which were peeking out shyly from the foliage, and nearly invisible.

Although they could fill a vase by themselves, the blooming Coleus in a large pot by the front door beckoned.  I cut a few stems to tuck into the vase for height and contrast.

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July 27, 2015 hydrangea vase 004~

It was only back inside, while trimming up the stems for the vase, that I noticed a pale green grasshopper climbing over the Hydrangea blossoms.  You might spot him in a few of the photos.

Today’s vase is an old green glass container which usually holds cuttings to root.  It was old when it came to me, more than thirty years ago now.

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July 27, 2015 hydrangea vase 014~

A fluorite dragon guards the vase.  Fluorite is a wonderfully cooling stone for summer.  Its clear, watery blues, greens and purples exude peace and calm, much like a staying in a house at the lake or on the beach.

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July 27, 2015 hydrangea vase 015~

Cathy, ever faithful in her Monday posts, shares with us a colorful vase composed by her Mum this week.  This is the vase which greeted her in the guestroom, when she arrived for a holiday at her Mum’s home on an island off the coast of Scotland.

I hope you’ll pop over to Rambling In The Garden to enjoy her Mum’s flowers, too.  Cathy encourages us to cut a few blossoms from our garden to enjoy in a vase indoors each week.  This simple ritual gives such enjoyment, and the opportunity to observe the passing seasons.

We enjoyed another cool morning and early showers here in Williamsburg today.  The trees around town are that special intense green only a damp summer will allow.  The air almost vibrates with their intensity today.  Our farmer’s market still offers potted Hydrangeas for sale, at an almost unbeatable price.  I was sorely tempted to adopt another.  But, reality set in and we left with only melons and peaches.

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July 27, 2015 hydrangea vase 012

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Some might say the best of summer still stretches before us.   The best summer produce can be had locally now, the Crepe Myrtle trees are all covered in blossoms, and the garden is at full power.  We are sighting more butterflies each day.

Speaking of butterflies, we found these baby caterpillars today in the midst of a Coleus arrangement while I was refreshing it.

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July 27, 2015 caterpillars 002~

Something looked strange about the parsley flowers, and on closer inspection we found these tiny caterpillars earnestly eating on the stems.  They must have come indoors more than a week ago as eggs, and hatched on the parsley indoors.

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Cut on July 15, these Coleus stems have mostly rooted now and are ready for pots.  I love how the colors reflect the mandala needlework, just finished a few days ago and waiting for a frame.

Cut on July 15, these Coleus stems have mostly rooted now and are ready for pots. I love how the colors reflect the mandala needlework, just finished a few days ago and waiting for a frame.

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The caterpillars are back out in the pot now with the mother plant, set to continue munching and growing.  The vase has fresh water, and most of the Coleus stems sport tiny white roots.  They will grow on through the remaining weeks of summer.

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July 27, 2015 caterpillars 006

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Woodland Gnome 2015

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July 27, 2015 hydrangea vase 005

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“And so with the sunshine

and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees,

just as things grow in fast movies,

I had that familiar conviction

that life was beginning over again with the summer.”

.

F. Scott Fitzgerald

 

The Blessing of Shade

Hydrangea, Macrophylla

Hydrangea, Macrophylla remains one of my favorite shrubs for shade.  Deer candy, we grow it now in pots on the deck, where it can’t be grazed.

 

A Forest Garden offers the blessing of cool, relaxing shade.

Crepe Myrtle enjoys full sun,, while offering shade to an Ivy Geranium basket and an Asparagus fern.

Crepe Myrtle enjoys full sun  while offering shade to an Ivy Geranium basket and an Asparagus fern.

 

Even on the hottest July day, we step into the refuge of shade, appreciate what breeze there might be,  and gather the energy to continue with whatever tasks come to hand in the rest of the garden.

 

July 28, 2014 shade 005

Our shade here is spotty.  A previous owner cut several large trees, and we have lost several  more to storms.

So the area nearest our home gets more direct sunshine than we’d wish at the height of summer.

A basket of Asparagus fern and Begonia hangs near the house on our back deck.  Normally shaded, here it basks in late afternoon sunshine.

A basket of Asparagus fern and Begonia hangs near the house on our back deck. Normally shaded, here it basks in late afternoon sunshine.

 

The trade off, of course, comes during the rest of the year.

We get solar heating in winter, and we have enough light coming through the windows to grow our garden indoors during the cooler months.

But when it stays consistently hot, for days at a time, we appreciate every bit of shade we have.

 

Colocasia enjoys sun to part shade.  Here it enjoys late afternoon shade from nearby shrubs.

Colocasia, “Blue Hawaii”  enjoys sun to part shade. Here it receives  late afternoon shade cast by nearby shrubs.

 

And we enjoy  a variety of plants which grow beautiful leaves and flowers with very little sun.

 

Begonia, "Gryphon" enjoys morning sun and afternoon shade on our front patio.  Recently grazed heavily by deer, it is gfowing a new crop of leaves.

Begonia, “Gryphon” grows well in  morning sun and afternoon shade on our front patio. Recently grazed heavily by deer, it is growing a new crop of leaves.

 

Shade vs. sun is another of the vagaries of gardening.

Very few areas are all one or the other.

 

Many "shade loving" ferns can tolerate more sun than you might expect, when hydrated.  These grow in a bank in partial shade.

Many “shade loving” ferns can tolerate more sun than you might expect, when hydrated. These grow on a bank in partial shade.

 

Most fall somewhere between “part shade” and “part sun” depending on the time of day and time of year.

The very nature of a “forest garden'” also allows for sun to shine through the bare branches of trees during the winter; and the trees’ canopies to catch and use the sunshine all summer, giving shade to the garden below.

 

July 28, 2014 shade 033

Hydrangea Macrophylla. Purchased on sale in a 4″ pot in late spring, this shrub grows happily in a pot on the deck.

 

This can make selecting and siting plants even more challenging.  What may work for a plant in May might be too much sun by August.

A plant which could never survive in a full sun area in June might thrive in the same spot in November.

 

This basket of mixed Begonias and fern hangs in a Dogwood in partial shade. These Begonias are fairly sun tolerant, but we've still had some burned leaves during these last few very hot weeks. This basket needs daily watering when there is no rain.

This basket of mixed Begonias and fern hangs in a Dogwood in partial shade. These Begonias are fairly sun tolerant, but we’ve still had some burned leaves during these last few very hot weeks. This basket needs daily watering when there is no rain.

 

I’ve worked out a fairly successful system over the years to keep shade loving plants happy.

And the secret?  Watering.

 

Caladiums, ferns and Begonias remain my favorite plants for shade.

Caladiums, ferns and Begonias remain my favorite plants for shade.

 

Not really a secret, you’re thinking?  Too obvious?

Probably…. But the secret of frequent watering is frequent observation.

Well hydrated plants can tolerate far more direct sun than dry ones, at least among the shade lovers.

 

July 28, 2014 shade 031

 

And frequent attention to watering allows changes in a a stressed plant’s position before a condition goes too far.

 

These pots live right "on the edge" of how much sun they can tolerate.  They get full morning sun, and then spend the afternoons in shade.

These  plants live right “on the edge” of how much sun they can tolerate. They get full morning sun, and then spend the afternoons in shade.  Known to be relatively sun-tolerant cultivars of Begonia and Caladium, they still need daily water and watching.

 

In our garden, moving a plant a few feet in one direction or the other can make a tremendous difference in how much sun it receives.

Some need a little more sun to encourage flowering.

Yet too much sun can burn their leaves.  It is a fine balance.

After finding this Staghorn fern on the clearance rack at Lowe's, I was dismayed to read its tag which said, "No direct sun."  Hanging in this Dogwood tree, it gets partial sun each day.  I keep it well watered, and, since May it has doubled in size.

After buying this Kangaraoo fern, Microsorum pustulatum, from the clearance rack at Lowe’s, I was dismayed to read its tag which said, “No direct sun.” Hanging in this Dogwood tree, it gets partial sun each day. I keep it well watered, and, since May it has doubled in size.  You can see a little scorch on some of its leaves, however.

 

Morning sun affects plants differently than mid-day or afternoon sun.  Some plants can thrive in an Eastern exposure which would fry on the Western side of the garden.

Many of our shade lovers live in pots and baskets which  can be moved around as the seasons progress each year.

 

July 28, 2014 shade 002

And we move plants as often as needed to keep them, and us,  happy.

We also practice “layering,” just as nature does.

This favorite Rex Begonia has leafed out from a bare rhizome again.  It likes its protected and shaded spot at the base of a tree.

This favorite Rex Begonia has leafed out from a bare rhizome once again.   It likes its protected and shaded spot at the base of a tree.

 

Shade loving plants can live in hanging baskets hung in trees.  A particularly delicate plant can live underneath another, enjoying shade provided by its companions.

 

July 28, 2014 shade 006

 

Plants, like people, thrive in communities.

Building a community, where each plant’s needs are met, is an ongoing challenge.

But when it works out well, it multiplies the beauty of the individuals.

 

Can you spot the little Rex Begonia in the midst of the Caladiums and ferns?

Can you spot the little Rex Begonia in the midst of the Caladiums and ferns?

 

You see, a “green thumb” is actually just a matter of attentiveness.  Observation is an honest teacher.

Once a gardener understands a plant’s needs, it is simply a matter of providing the correct amount of light and water, nutrition and protection to allow that plant to grow into its potential for beauty.

 

July 24, 2014 hummingbird 007

And then there is the small blessing of summer shade… for the garden and the gardener.

 

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014

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