Still Growing Strong


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There are those clients that love that grassy, wispy, pastel and herb look.  For lack of a better term, I call these my “roadside” weed plantings.  As pale and fragile as they appear, they just hit their stride as the summer begins to wind down.  Cooler night temperatures don’t faze them one bit.  One of my most favorite weedy combinations-the big wispy species, verbena bonariensis, and an ornamental grass. 

Hudas 2007 (39)I am a fan of ornamental grasses-espcially the thin bladed wiry types that stand up well.  This hedge of panicum virgatum is a welcome textural change from the dark stiffly formal yew hedge pictured above.  When I add verbena bonariensis in front of this grass, something good starts cooking. It might very well be that orangy cast typical of a panic grass setting seed; the lavender verbena flowers seem more intensely lavender.

Hudas (14)This simple and soft flower/grass hedge transforms a strictly formal evergreen garden for the summer months.  Running the entire length of the landscape on both ends of the pool, its cloud-like appearance is on one hand in stark contrast to the modern chaises, and on the other,  friendly in feeling and color to the loosely planted pots. 

Hudas 05 (10)Alyssum, lavender, silver posie thyme and tricolor sage make a pale ruff around a blue foliaged escheveria in this old stone box.  The peach flowers of the echeveria-a bonus.  Though delicate in appearance, these plants are drought and frost resistant.  It interests me that something so fragile in appearance can withstand hit-and-miss care. Plant combinations such as this one are as foolproof as they come.  Deadhead the lavender, and shear the alyssum once in a while-that’s all.  Their only enemy-too much water.   

Hudas 05 (20)jjThere are other grey foliaged plants that are just as rugged.  Though I am not so fond of the cut-leaf annual dusty miller, the paddle shaped leaves of cirrus dusty miller I find very appealing.  The texture of simple shaped leaves, repeated in a smaller version with the silver helicrysum, is a great contrast to the needle foliaged icicle plant. The saucy and ferny foliaged plant in the center-a silver centaurea.  Only the white nicotiana in this basket would fuss if you forgot to water.

Hudas (20)The trailing plant front and center in this pot-showy oregano.  Though they show poorly in pots early on, they fill out beautifully.  The papery bracts are the palest green, lavender and peach. 

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Once you have seen Kent Beauty oregano, you will want to grow it.

Hudas 05 (9)These plants are fairly diminuitive growers, so not so much grooming and shaping is necessary. Though it is late summer, no plant is overgrown, or threatening the well-being of a neighbor.  This pot has shown well the better part of four months.

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The big pots have grass, a broad leaved bamboo, and a tall dahlia as centerpieces.  The pastel petunias have that same loose weedy look as the grassy beds.  One would never suspect this planting was photographed in late September.  This pleases me, as I so hate to see a season come to a close.

A Celebration

I am hard pressed to remember the last time it was my pleasure to live through such a benign August, but I have no plans to look this gift horse in the mouth.  Tomorrow is Buck’s birthday; this terrace will my contribution to the celebration.  They have to be the best they have ever been-although Buck says I tell him this every year.

aug-22-056I like the fireworks going-on feeling of my terrace pots this year.  Most of that has to do with how they have grown.  I picked the colors and plants yes, but nature has proved unusually cooperative.  We have had cool temperatures all summer, and now, regular rain. The usual bugs and disease must be at someone else’s house.

aug-22-0601The Mital terra cotta gargoyle pots on their pedestals have never looked so rowdy and profuse.  I grow nicotiana mutabilis every year for exactly the reason you see here. The showy oregano in this pot gave up and died, but I hardly notice.  Besides, this pair of pots started out mismatched-I like that they will end up mismatched.

Variegated licorice has thick felty leaves and stiff stems, but it will dance through a pot in a lively way. It is a welcome contrast to the mounds of begonias and purple oxalis.  Plant habit can be as important a part of design as color and shape.

aug-22-071These two licorice plants have made a flared skirt of themselves.  The shape is especially attractive with the garland pattern on the pot.  Did I plan this part-absolutely not.  Anyone who gardens gets to enjoy the unexpected.

aug-22-081The New Guinea impatiens this year are unbelievably gaudy-what fun.  Even my million bells, which usually sulk as I have very alkaline water, are cooperating.   My dahlias do not have mites or mildew.  The cool weather has slowed the flower production on the cannas, but the foliage alone is well worth having.


Thriving and saucy-this is how I would describe my pots.  As Buck  has to cook his own birthday dinner, I am glad these pots look how they do.  It is a whomping lot of work to look after all this every day, but every day I am glad to get home and see what’s doing.  I like being ready for a party, every day.


This Fourth of July feeling suits me just fine.