Tuesday, September 29, 2009

What's in Bloom in Your Garden?

Autumn is upon us, but that's no reason to give up on color in the garden. We here in Connecticut have at least another month of vibrancy at our fingertips, if we plan well. Here's some of what's blooming today in my yard:

Annual Vines: Morning glory, cardinal flower & scarlet runner bean

Shrubs: Oakleaf hydrangea, and 'Pinky Winky', 'Preziosa', 'Blue Bird', 'Nikko Blue', 'Blushing Bride', 'Endless Summer' hydrangea, 'Knockout' roses, spirea.

Perennials: various asters, Japanese anemone, several types of sedum, turtlehead, daylily 'Happy Returns', phlox paniculata, coneflower, obedient plant, buddliea.

Annuals: impatiens, verbena, cleome, portulaca, marigold, salvia 'Victoria', perilla, petunia,

Bulbs: dahlia, caladium, cyclamen.

And that's off the top of my head, excluding the wildflowers such as goldenrod; the red and gold fruit on the crabapple trees, viburnum & kousa dogwood; the patio pots, and the goldfish.

The point is, it's easy to have all-season color in your garden. For each plant you choose in the spring, also pick up a late bloomer. You'll soon have a garden full of flowers from March 'til November!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Blogging from Beijing

Actually, blogging from Beijing, as I found out, is not possible. At least not last week, when I was there. Sites are regularly blocked, according to my daughter, Courtney, who has lived in BJ for years.

But here are some of my impressions of horticulture & gardening in that huge city:

  • There is much more greenery lining the streets, and pots of annuals prettying things up, than when I was last there, in '04. Willows along the channelled riverbanks, which were full of interesting-colored water. Small sycamores and oaks elsewhere. Large locust trees.

  • Elaborate arrangements of annuals were placed in various spots; begonias, impatiens, other familiar flowering plants. Modern China is about to celebrate its 60th anniversary; there was much decorating of the streets going on with these.

  • The large squares, such as the one at the Olympic site and Tienneman, held little greenery and no birds. Just huge expanses of concrete.

  • Soil in potted plants, and small plots with ornamental trees, etc. looked nutrient-poor, and was not mulched.

  • The Flower Market, held near the American Embassy, was a bustling place full of vendors hawking annuals, houseplants and decorative items for the home, such as statuary.

  • There is an veritable army of workers setting up and tending to plants.

  • Watering is apparently done from large trucks at night, with workers administering what look like fire-hose quantities of water.

  • The Beijing Botanical Garden, on the far outskirts of the city in the northwestern hills, is an oasis of green, with a temple, wide paths, simple perennials, man-made watercourses, and a lovely, expansive lilac area. It was the only place we visited where we were the only white people, and Jerry, with his white beard and curly white hair, got some stares.

All in all, things in BJ look greener and more colorful than several years ago, though some of the street trees are suffering. I believe there was much planting done for the Olympics, and that effort shows.

I'll post some pictures when I can find them on my camera!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Glory of Grasses

'Tis September and time for the ornamental grasses to shine. What's that? You say you don't have room for the big fellows like miscanthus 'Variegata' or panicum 'Shenandoah'? They do take up gaboons of space, and true, not every gardener has space for them. But fear not! There's an array of smaller grasses to choose from. Grasses which lend an air of sophistication, movement and grace to even the tiniest patch of Mother Earth.

So consider the following little guys:

Festuca 'Elijah Blue', a 12" spiky mound of blue-green foliage.

Pennesitum 'Hamelin', a swaying mass of foliage, about 24" in height.

Pennesitum 'Little Bunny', just as cute as its name, and only 18" high. (see above)

Be sure to leave some room in your garden for grasses, no matter what size plot you have. There's something about them that appeals to the westward-ho pioneer in all of us. But more than that, their beauty, form and elegance fulfill a garden need.