Good Days

There are those times when the garden has a good day.  Good all over. The late day sun slanting across the lawn, and the hydrangeas going pink-just good.  I poked my camera lens through the gate for this picture.  One of my favorite parts of my garden-I see nothing of the neighbors, and very little of the street.  The hydrangeas spilling over the lawn makes it all the more like a garden hideaway.

The fountain garden is back to being its serene self-post new drainage work, giant fountain repairs, all new herniaria-and a new bench.  I cannot tell this part of my garden was under siege until mid July. Buck is testing the waters already about shutting the fountain down for the winter-I am waving him off.

A client that needed a 9 foot long scroll steel bench right away for an event got mine.  Though I wasn’t so happy at the prospect of being without a bench until a new one could be made, no doubt I had a chance to tinker with the design.  I had the new bench made four inches taller than the original.  This is much more comfortable for me, and considerably easier to get in and out of.  I had originally planted herniaria under the bench; it was not happy with the shade.  A new planting of European ginger seems to be working out fine. This is a better place now.

This bed of beech ferns once had Helleborus Angustifolius as a companion.  Try as I might, they suffered terribly in the winter.  As this species blooms on old stalks, even the bloom period was unsightly.  After 5 years I gave them up for European ginger.  The planting is lush and thick.  I am so glad those gawky hellebores are gone.

The rose garden is much brighter in the evening than the fountain garden; I like walking up into that light.  The stone stairs have been in long enough to have acquired a little moss. 

The rose garden is a destination in the evening; a pair of chairs and small table make it a perfect spot to sit and rehash the day.  The grass got cut yesterday; the corgis appreciate this.  When the grass gets long, they look like they are swimming through it, rather than running over it.  I still have intermittent roses; the boltonia and Japanese anemone are in full bloom.     

Japanese anemone is one of my favorite perennials; I like single flowers. I especially like late blooming single flowers.  I also like that I do next to nothing to it except look at it. It thrives in this garden for going on ten years now. 

I pollarded my overgrown Palabin lilacs on standard; it scared me , how hard I cut them back.  For weeks, not a peep out of either one of them.  They are starting to look good to me.

I am not sure why this sunken garden has a feeling unique to my garden. It might be the quietest spot in the yard.  I am only one block from a 5 lane street.  The fountain and the sunken garden minimize that urban noise.   

On the driveway, the nicotiana mutabilis is still going strong.  It will send up giant new shoots all fall long; I keep adding stakes.   

The mum-ball is turning pink-can you hear me sigh?  It actually does not look all that bad with the purple kale.  The bloom period is actually not that long here-I already have plans to trim it back to a green ball once the flowers fade.   

This coleus is done growing; the nights are getting quite cool.  Hopefully it will last a while longer.  The shape is good.  Some days in the garden are just good.

September Favorites


I think its fall.  I am begrudingly letting myself notice the signs of the change of the season.  My transition from summer to fall is an bumpy one; who wants to let go?   I invest an inordinate amount of energy, hanging on.  I do not fault myself too seriously for this.  I just give this phase a wide berth.  Sooner or later I do let go, tune in, and celebrate what is happening now in the garden.

The ornamental grasses beautifully representing their seed heads and maturing foliage-breathtaking. I regularly plan panic grass; I love spectina pectinata in wet spots.  Micanthus gracillimus is one pretty perfect plant.  Impossibly thin blades contrast so beautifully with the mass that a good sized colony will make. Grasses need enough space so they can wave around in the breeze. Grass dancing is a very good look.    

Salvias shine in the fall.  Salvia artemis-noted for its giant felted leaves may not be so winter hardy, nor does it suffer any overwatering.  But it shines come September in a container.  I almost never have any luck with it in the ground.  Any of the big growing salvias come in to their own in September; Indigo Spires and Purple Majesty are just two of hundreds of cultivars.  Though it might be tough to warm up to a late flowering salvia in May-think ahead to your fall.

All of my mandevilleas are beautiful right now.  They take lots of time, and lots of heat to come on.  They have not been one bit fazed by own cold nights.  Their large single flowers are striking, and newer varieties have glossy and disease resistant foliage. This plant is the best it has been all summer; I am toying with taking it in for the winter.

Rob went to an antique show in Ann Arbor this past weekend; he came home with gourds.  Most of them are green and white. The white fingered gourds are called “White Crown of Thorns”.  The winged beauties-“Autumn Wings”.  Rampant cross pollination produces unique forms and colors.  They make great ornament on a garden table or bench.    

Rob tells me this long chubby orange and green variety is called “Lunch Lady”.  These warty fruits are a different kind of beautiful.  Every grower of gourds has a distinctly different crop.  No wonder there was a gourd festival in Imlay City this past weekend; the first annual Michigan festival of Gourds was sponsored by the Michigourders Gourd Guild.   

 Years ago a house manager of a client expressed surprise that I had brought hardy mums to plant.  He explained that given all the signs for hardy mums he had seen everywhere, he assumed it was a person running for office.  My telling of this event doesn’t begin to express how funny this was.  Chrysanthemums are a staple fall plant-you can find them everywhere.  I like them best as big green balls.  Mum balls.  They are so gorgeous at this stage.

Kalanchoe thyrisflora “Flapjack” has big paddle shaped leaves, and grows to 2′ tall.  It is monocarpic, meaning it dies after it flowers.  However they are willing in the offset production department.  I like them for fall pots; the edges of the leaves will turn burgundy red with some cold, and they are fine down to 25-30 degrees. I usually bring them in once the night temps approach the mid thirties. 

This little gourd is all the better for its stem. What garden table would not look all the better for a little gourd ornament ? 

I may grumble about the change of seasons, but the fact is our gardening year is a play in four acts.  We get a change of scene and costume.  We get a new twist on an old plot.