a vase and a stroll around Joy Creek


Cheater alert: these sunflowers are not from my garden. They were a hostess gift. I usually have a hard time finding a background for photographing my vases but I loved these in front of Richard’s painting in our kitchen, so there you have it: my entry into Cathy’s ‘In A Vase on Monday’ meme.

Calycanthus 'Hartlage Wine'

Calycanthus ‘Hartlage Wine’

So now for a peek at what’s looking good at Joy Creek Nursery (well, a very narrow slice, really, of what stands out right now). Calycanthus ‘Hartlage Wine’ has a very long blooming period, with flowers that are slightly larger and redder than the browner floridus.


Flowers may rule, but foliage combinations bring their own subtle beauty to the shade gardens.

Fuchsia magellinica alba

Fuchsia magellinica alba

I’m crazy about this low-key fuchsia growing in both sun and shade at the nursery. Unfortunately we don’t have it available for sale but if enough requests come in, that could change.

Crocosmia 'Lucifer'

Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’

In full sun, ‘Lucifer’ is the first of the Crocosmias to bloom. It’s fiery presence and tendency to spread are mighty welcome in my garden.


Like artichokes on steroids, Cardoons have the stature to make a bold statement…and you can even eat the stalks if you’re willing to learn some Italian cooking techniques from the likes of Ann Amato.

Hydrangea 'Enziandom'

Hydrangea ‘Enziandom’

Some folks view Hydrangeas as old fashioned but I double dare you to come upon this stunner without gasping in admiration. In front of it is a Phormium that is blooming. I have seen them blooming at the coast or in a greenhouse but this the first one growing in an open field. Perhaps the great Phormium die-off is behind us?

Hydrangea quercifolia

Hydrangea quercifolia

We have Hydrangeas blooming in the shade, like this oakleaf form…


and in full sun, where they need more water but obviously perform beautifully.


There are lacecaps…

Hydrangea 'Preziosa'

Hydrangea ‘Preziosa’

and mopheads…


tucked into shady nooks…


or backing up a long path lined with sun lovers. So how about it? Are you a fan of Hydrangeas? And if not, did I manage to change your mind just a little bit? Allow me once final plug: the flowers take on duskier tones as the season progresses and can be dried to enjoy right through the winter months.

26 thoughts on “a vase and a stroll around Joy Creek

    • Preziosa has such a changeable personality that it’s always interesting. I’ve heard it called “favorite” by several garden designers (Lucy Hardiman, for one) so we’re in good company.

  1. Thank you Ricki! It’s interesting to see what’s blooming in the place that we visited in the beginning of May. I bought Calycanthus then and I’m very pleased with it.
    Hydrangeas are beautiful! Love them!

  2. Great to have been given sunflowers. I like the painting too! Calycanthus is very nice. And oh I enjoyed seeing these many hydrangeas. Lovely.

  3. Always thought they were grandma plants, and then I passed a lovely blue one, and – BAM!!! – I was a fan. In fact this sudden conversion was one of the first garden related posts I ever wrote, back on The Creative Flux. Back then, it was a lace cap that swayed me, but nowadays, I’m more of a mophead fan. Neither do well for me, though – I offer too much shade, and too little water. Joy Creek looks fabulous – need to pay a visit soon! 🙂

    • Hope you’ll come on a day I’m there (Sundays and Mondays for sure, others variable). My ‘Grandma Plant’ was red hot pokers. Those are enjoying a resurgence too, and I am wild for them.

  4. There is a beautiful deep deep purple (with shades of pink and blue woven through out) Hydrangea around the corner from us. I admire the color daily. As for the Phormium die-off…behind us until another cold winter comes around.

  5. You’re right – your husband’s painting provides the perfect backdrop for those sunflowers. And I love the purple-blue Hydrangea. Hydrangeas are off my plant list as their survival here is questionable at best but, if I could afford to water it, that would be the Hydrangea I’d pop for!

  6. I love hydrangeas. I have exactly 12 different cultivars in my small garden. They bloom for a long time, they require little care other than water. They can be used as cut or dried flowers. They mingle beautifully with other semi-shady plants. I keep thinking I have all the ones I want until I see another one I need. 🙂

    • 12! Wow, you ARE a fan! An article in Garden Design by Dan Hinkley talks about their resurgence, and why not. As you say, they have so many attributes to recommend them.

  7. That is indeed a good backgound for the sunflowers – I am looking forward to mine flowering in due course. And I like the look of the white fuchsia. Thnaks for sharing

  8. never seen such impressive hydrangeas. They do grow in a kind garden with shade – but not that big.
    I’d rather have that delicate shell pink fuchsia. My inherited one is a typical fuchsia pink.

    • Most of the Fuchsias do trend towards red and purple. It’s one of my favorite combos, so it might seem odd that in this case it is the very subdued specimen that has my heart. Contrariwise by nature, I guess.

  9. The sunflower and painting combination is stunning! Thanks for the stroll around Joy Creek. Must do that in person again soon! I LOVE hydrangeas. The changing colors through the season are a delight and the dried flowers are favorites. I still have a bunch from last summer when someone had removed or severely pruned a shrub and put more than a car trunk full of flowers by the side of the road with a “Free” sign.

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