Green Respite

green4If all the color of my past few posts has put you on overload,  perhaps these pots will suit you better.  As I have said, annual plants are those plants that survive but one season-this is a large group-some of which have no flowers of consequence.

green11Annual plantings or pots without flowers can be very effective and attractive.  Some locations for annuals do not have enough sun to support good flower production.  Annual plants can be as much about their forms, their leaves, and their architecture, as they are about flowers.  This very tall “elegant feather” plant-no longer in production at Proven Winners,  is a great foil for the round-leaved farfugiums. There are very few greens I do not like.  My yews go black green in the winter when it is really cold, much like this Moses in the Cradle. The chartreuse and yellow coleus “Wild Lime” provides lots of punch in shade.

green6 Chartreuse green is spring like, and fresh, no matter what time of year I see it.Grass after an electrical storm is so intensely dark gorgeous green-thus the term grass green.  Lime creeping  jenny is a versatile plant that highlights darker plants and obligingly trails.  

green101Green can be as much about texture and scale, as color. The slick, massive texture of this banana is complimented by the thick  felted leaves of this variegated Plectranthus.

green2  Caladiums, calocasias, and cannas have spectacularly large foliage.  green9Calocasias and caladiums are thin-leaved (this refers to their “substance”); light will shine through them.  Helicrysum both in lime and variegated leaf are densely felted.   green14


I confess I lump most houseplants into the genus “houseplant”, but most of them are good outdoors in shady spots. King Tuts, like other reeds and grasses have the added graceful beauty of motion.

green12 Phormiums, and dracaenas are stiff-strapped, and sword-like-an interesting contrast to this curly leaved farfugium. Cycads and escheverias have that dense waxy texture, and can be rounded, or spiky.

greengreen8Tuscan blue kale has great size, a blistered leaf surface, and a very blue color-just the thing to pair with a blue juniper column, variegated licorice, and ornamental oregano “Kent Beauty” .

green7One of my favorite coleus is a yellow/olive color I call turtle green.  The striped grass, miscanthus zebrina, is a happy companion to a plectranthus with the same color variation.  The third element:  the pairing of the plant material is complimented by the pairing of the pots close enough to encourage all the plectranthus to grow together.

green3 So many beautiful greens.  So many ways in which green is beautiful.

More Places

debhouse4No matter that I have been planting annuals for the better part of 25 years; I have yet to get to that  point where I have had enough.  It’s a yearly conversation I have with myself, usually in late February.  Do I still want to do this?  Would I like some other career?  Am I done with my career-would I just like a job? Another words, I am wringing my hands and fretting such, it would make you laugh.2008_silver_deborah_house_7-8-08_16

Incidentally, my idea of a good job would be to gang mow 1-75 between Detroit, and Flint, and back. Repeatedly, through 3 seasons.  No phones to answer, no problems to solve-just headphones blasting whatever music seems good that day. A responsibility for short grass, and short grass, only.  Some days, the Mozart Requiem (fall music for sure) and other days, Aretha Franklin, or the Propeller Heads. Or Bob Dylan-that would be good.   I would sculpt that grass for miles, and look forward to that sculpture’s next incarnation. I would park my mower and that job at the end of the day, and head for home. debhouse2

But I am not ready for that, yet.  I still love that I have my home and my garden-but also that I have lots of other gardens that belong to me in a certain way, as I’ve designed and planted them.

There are the people that own those gardens with whom I have a relationship.  I think God steered me to this career-as I have more gardens and landscapes than years left, that I want to plant.
That an annual garden, or any garden for that matter, is ephemeral is key to my love for them. So intensely present all season, one good frost and poof, gone. Why do without memories like these?



Other Places

otherplaces4Annual flowers on a terrace do a lot to warm up all the hard surfaces. I pay particular attention to the overall plant height and composition of those pots, as they are usually viewed up close, and while sitting.


I may want a particularly beautiful pot elevated on a stand or pedestal, so as to feature it.  I may plant tall pots in strategic areas to give intimacy to a dining area, or perhaps screen a poor view.  At this moment, I am able to see my neighbor’s discarded Christmas tree quite clearly from my deck. Urban living-it has its challenges.


Small terraces benefit from a cohesive plan. Pots may be organized around a dominant color, or texture, or style.otherplaces88

They may be organized around a collection of containers.


Pots of flowers with every conceivable color, every texture, and in every size are the hallmark of a person whose first and last love is plants, and more plants. Though I appreciate excitement like this, I try to edit.  After all, with annuals there are second chances, so I try not to throw myself at every annual like I have 10 minutes to live.

This terrace is planted in a color palette my clients like.  We keep the color constant, but plant different plants every year.  They do a beautiful job of taking care of it all, no kidding.   My second favorite day of the gardening year, after Mindy prunes my boxwood, is going back to those places I planted in May, in July, and know I handed off the baton to someone who values this as much as I do.  Thanks a million,  Hilary and Stewart.


Made from the Heart


front3All of us know what is spoken, or made from the heart, and what is theatre.  How you landscape your home, how you decide what pots, and what placement, and what flowers, or maybe no flowers-I cannot explain this any better but than to say that what I might see at your home, should convince me it is you, speaking.


front20How a landscape convinces the viewer, how a landscape is a complete world, with its own rules and its own language, is a considerable part of its beauty. The genuine voice behind the landscape brings life to that landscape.  The life that nature empowers is formidable.  The life, and voice, of a person is equally formidable.  How interesting-that relationship.


Rob has photographed many landscapes in Europe, in his 14 years of travel.  Some are on the verge of ruination.  Some are marked by broken pots; some pots are not even planted-they are sculptures.

europe2 Though riddled with blooming weeds, or dead patches of this or that, or blurred with centuries of moss, they are powerfully evocative, and beautiful. The history of those genuine voices evokes memories in those of us who visit those gardens-our own memories.europe

I am sure you can tell I am passionate on the subject of the importance of the voice of the individual-which is unlike every voice which came before you, or any voice which is yet to come. It’s all I have to offer my clients-my voice.front41
front211An authentic voice-you have one, ready and waiting.  Yours is better, you might say. Maybe I only have more practice.