Late Summer

The view out onto my terrace right now is lush and loud.  really loud. I like to plant this group of containers with a different color scheme every year.  This year’s  pink and red spectrum runs the gamut from light to dark, from moody to electric. But the overall effect is definitely on the rowdy side.  Sometimes you just have to get certain things out of your system by giving them a try.  Having never planted anything red at home before, I scratched the itch.  The Mital Italian terra cotta rectangles are on a north wall , so they demand a planting that is shade tolerant.  The red caladiums provide a lot of a rich red/green mix in the leaves- which I like. The tropical ferns and the vinca maculatum are essential to the look.  The red solenia begonias are brilliantly red.  Since red and green are opposite one another on the color wheel, the combination makes for a lot of visual action.  Had I the chance to do it over again, I would plant lime irisine in the back; that very tall lime green with carmine veins would make the caladium red read more dramatically.  The big empty wall behind those pots-wouldn’t you think I could sort that out?

There is nothing particularly fancy in this pot-red mandevillea, cherry sun zinnias, cherry million bells and giant pink petunias.  What is of interest is the vigor with which this planting has grown.  These plants like being neighbors, and they like this pot size and location.  Everything observed in the garden will come in handy the next time around.  Where’s my journal?

My pink begonias have suffered some from sun burn.  This has never been the case with the apricot or orange solenias.  It made me study the sun on this wall more carefully.  It turns out there is a lot more light here than what I thought; what I assumed was an eastern exposure is actually south easterly.  How I could have planted these pots 14 times for part sun and done ok is a testament to every plant’s will to live; they suffer me kindly. The red irisine has tried its best to grow luxuriantly, but the top leaves bleached from the sun during our long run of hot sunny weather.  I am hoping for a better fall. 

You can spot the sunburn on the pink solenia begonia in this picture. That orange solenia shrugs off the hot sun is called varietal variation.  This series of begonias is the easiest of all to grow, in my opinion. The pink apparently needs more protection from direct sun. I am sure there will be no pink begonias here in 2011; I am a quick learner.  I don’t mind trying to grow things that are tough to cultivate, but I have to balance that interest aginst how much time I actually have to put to any aspect of my garden.    

Though the botanical name is not part of my vocabulary, I do like polka dot plants. Available in white, pink, and rose, they remind me of a choir.  A big and coherent voice generated from a cast of thousands. They thrive on pinching; they thicken up, and represent.  This moody pink and green foliage plant compliments this rose pink and green caladium better than I could have hoped for.    

Last year this English concrete square of classical Italian design was home to a homeless ancient agave.  That agave went to a client this spring; I was on my own with a planting scheme.  Though I planted a white mandevillea, white angelonia, lime nicotiana alata, gobs of silverberry mini petunias and variegated plectranthus, I worried that the planting would never grow up into and spill over this massive pot.  It may be mid August, but I like what I am looking at now.   

I have never had pots on the limestone pillars integral to my front door.  My idea to move these antique English terra cotta log pots to the front, from the rear deck-capricious.  I so love the look of these pots here-but keeping water on them given a merciless exposure to western sun has been a challenge.  This variegated abutilon is great looking-I plan to have plenty of them for spring.  The verbena and lime licorice tolerate a hot spot.  How these small pots dry out has been a lot of trouble-worthwhile trouble.

I am so happy with my English concrete pots fabricated in the classical color and style reminiscent of Italy. This is my third season with them-and I think my most successful planting.  Taxus topiaries-I had never seen them before a visit to Mori Nurseries last year.  These double ball yew topiaries rule the garden just outside my front door.  They seem quite happy in these enormous pots-the soil moisture is steady.  The generous skirt of mixed petunias, cerise pink verbena and white bacopa-a perfect foil to that seriously dark green form.  I am delighted.      

My late summer garden views-I like them.


  1. Wow that hydrangea is spectacular!! What type is it and is it one shrub?

    Love your blog! It is one of my daily “fixes”.


  2. Spectacular. The plant combos above literally sing with color and excitement.
    But, the green foil behind the large yard containers is really my favorite. No one does it better.

  3. Sheryl Magaro says

    You have such a beautiful garden!

  4. Might I suggest a Trompe-l’œil for your brick wall?

    Your blog is excellent – creative and informative, like your plantings.


  5. Yes, painted. You could have something whimsical; a view you wished you could see as you sat at the table; an evergreen tree or vine you would never have to worry about or something formal such as a collection of topiary in pots. You have all the pot parafernalia at your shop. You would have something green to look out on in the winter. Just an idea.

  6. Because of the climate here in Montreal, I have a very small window in which to design and plant clients flower beds. Starting in early May, all projects must be completed by mid July, if they are to take root and survive the harsh winter. Consequently, I am unable to tend to my own back yard and that is why I am so envious of your beautiful garden setting.

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