bonfire of the vain leaves

Crape Myrtle and Viburnum 'Blue Muffin'

Crape Myrtle and Viburnum ‘Blue Muffin’

A few show-offy plants take center stage this time of year. My Crape Myrtle from the Arbor Society never blooms but its incandescent burst of color more than makes up for that. Like a shadow behind it is ‘Blue Muffin’.


A closer look reveals the subtle range of colors that cause it to seem to shimmer, even on an overcast day.

Oxydendrum arboreum

Oxydendrum arboreum

The sourwood tree began a subtle shift in early September.


The beginning of a crescendo that led to this: Nothing subtle about it now.


In the green world of Delusional Drive, this little Viburnum (can’t tell you which one, since it was obviously mislabeled when I bought it) draws attention.



Soon the stormy weather will douse the flames and turn these Coleus to mush but what a glorious sendoff. Pam at Digging invites us to celebrate foliage on the 16th of every month. Click through to join the foliage fest.

a happy accident

Pittosporum tenuifolium 'Atropurpurium' with NOID Clematis

Pittosporum tenuifolium ‘Atropurpurium’ with NOID Clematis

I’ve become a foster parent to many plants that have lost their tags or have passed the point where they are attractive enough to attract buyers. One such is this Clematis. I had no idea what to expect when I planted it at the base of the Pittospermum acquired from Loree at the spring bloggers’ plant swap. Imagine my delight when it crept through the branches of the small tree and produced a bloom that could hardly be a better color to contrast with the elegant dark foliage.


It began unfolding its vivid, pale lavender petals to reveal a purple center…


..growing ever paler with each passing day, while the tight knot of stamens opened into a fluffy pom pom with dark tips and insects nibbled notches around the edges. What a happy surprise was the entire process. Eventually, that bit of Ajuga ‘Black Scallop’ that you can see in the first photo will form a tight ground cover with yet another color echo.

another simple vase this week

Euphorbia 'Fire Charm'

Euphorbia ‘Fire Charm’

I came home from work to find this single stem of ‘Firecharm’ sitting on the table on our front deck. Richard had found it broken off and simply stuck it in a vase. I couldn’t think of any way to improve on its simple elegance.

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The mask box is from Indonesia. It has slits in the eyes and nostrils, making it a perfect receptacle for potpourrie and a nice foil for the blazing leaves of the Euphorbia.

Euphorbia 'Fire Charm'

Euphorbia ‘Fire Charm’

A close-up reveals complexity not apparent at first glance.


The single stem is a dramatic departure from the jumble of a mixed bouquet. If you click through to Rambling in the Garden, you will see a very different approach and links to many celebrations of the connection between garden and vase.

in a vase…2 approaches

Rosa moysoii geranium hips & Chasmanthium latifolium

Rosa moysoii geranium hips & Chasmanthium latifolium

Some critter, romping around our yard, broke off a branch of the rose featured in the last post. I wanted to feature it rather than let it play a supporting role in a mixed bouquet. I’m sure Cathy, who hosts In a Vase on Monday, could make something clever of the fact that the vases chosen once held oil (the larger of the two) and vinegar. Her titles are often plays on words, which she then enlarges upon with appropriate props.


I just liked their compatibility and the way they held a few stems upright. Most of the rose’s foliage had already frazzled when I discovered the broken stem, but one sprig of decidedly un-rose-like leaves remained. I added a few stems of Northern Sea Oats and called it good.


At work, the wealth of material would not be denied, so I went in the opposite direction.


The Eucomis¬†demanded to be the star of the show, but every diva needs a supporting cast. A few dark Canna leaves provide background, with Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ that is just beginning to blush bulking up the chorus. Cameo appearances go to the seedheads of Verbena hastata, Yucca filamentosa and the berries of a Hypericum whose name escapes me (wouldn’t that bit player have it in for me?).

last friday faves

Brunnera 'Alexander's Great'

Brunnera ‘Alexander’s Great’

I’m crazy for these patterned leaves.


I was just thinking that I needed more of these, when lo and behold: Baby Brunneras popped up nearby.

Rosa moysoii geranium

Rosa moysoii geranium

Finally, a nice crop of the shapely hips for which I purchased this rose from Roger Gossler at the Portland Fling.


It’s not half bad in bloom, either…and the leaf shape is nice. Lots here to earn it “favorite” status, even though I claim not to be a rose person.

Hypericum 'Brigadoon'

Hypericum ‘Brigadoon’

A ground cover where you never need to weed? That’s favorite material right there. Then there are these fun flowers to seal the deal…plus it seems to escape the deadly rust that plagues its brethren.

The last Friday of each month is the time to round up your favorites (at the moment) and leave a link at the Danger Garden. I’m late, but there’s still time to join in or even just check it out. Warning: your list of must-haves may grow.


And now for my favorite August sighting: see the little green guy hiding out in the pot of Sedums and Haworthias? He even hung out there long enough for me to fetch the camera and snap his pic.

o, the light! the light!

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One night each year, Joy Creek throws a party to celebrate its wonderful customers and to share the sights and scenes that twilight brings to the gardens.


We used my ‘Spinnaker’ banners to mark a few spots where the lighting effects seemed especially dramatic.


Monica tied in all sorts of festive streamers and little brass bells.


Many grasses wore halos of light for the occasion.



People wandered or broke into small groups to chat and exclaim


while the music of the Brian Christopher Jazz Quartet lured many to simply sit and listen (though their strains could be heard throughout the gardens)


And there were treats, of course. If you live anywhere in the area, do yourself a favor and put this on your calendar when it rolls around next year.

a vase & a new foliage fave


I seem to be into muted colors lately..a visual cool down for these super-hot summer days.


I planted Viburnum ‘Blue Muffin’ for the berries. This is the first year that I got to them before the birds made off with them.


The little Sputnik pods are from Carex greyi.

Echinops banaticus 'Blue Glow'

Echinops banaticus ‘Blue Glow’

I had to fight the bees for this one.

Lysimachia 'Alexander'

Lysimachia ‘Alexander’

There are only a few stems in my big patch of ‘Alexander’ that retain the white margins. Most have reverted to all green. Some NOID Hosta leaves carry out the theme.


Now lets see…what else is in there? Several stems of Sedum ‘Jade Frost’ and some Amsonia foliage…all assembled in a cut glass rose bowl which has, so far, never been used for roses. I’m playing catch-up, but you can still click over to Rambling in the Garden for In a Vase on Monday.

Camaecyparis pis. 'Snow Reversion'

Camaecyparis pis. ‘Snow Reversion’

Now here’s my latest purchase…


and the inspiration for that purchase growing in the gardens of Joy Creek.


Here’s a close-up of that humungous specimen. It occasionally sends out green shoots that are immediately lopped off to maintain the integrity of the snowy mass. I’ll never see mine reach these proportions, but it’s all about the journey, right? Just ask Pam, over at Digging when you click through to see her Foliage Follow-Up.

In a Vase on Mon…er, Tues…day


This is definitely cheating, but since I get to put together big, showy bouquets at work, with the four acres of display gardens at Joy Creek at my disposal, I just had to share one with you.


The yellow umbrels are Blupleurum, which I hope to enjoy in my own garden when the baby plants from our spring swap mature and start to flower. Garlic flowers from the veggie garden are beautiful and what’s more, they have staying power. Draping over the edges of the vase are a few branches of Lecesteria formosa. Some foliage from a golden Physocarpus and the upright form of a striped Miscanthus fill things out.


The little fleshy pink bells of Clematis ‘Myo Fuku’ have been attracting a lot of attention in the garden. Unfortunately, Maurice has been unable to find a source, despite a concerted effort. With a mature garden of twenty-five years, there are bound to be a few plants that are no longer available. The puffy balls are the seed-heads of that same Clematis.


And here’s the arrangement in place in the barn, where there is a lot of necessary clutter in the background. Our eyes compensate but the camera is less forgiving. Now please click through to Rambling in the Garden to see what bloggers who stick to the rules and find material in their own gardens to feature in a vase have to entice you.

in a vase on monday…well, ok… tuesday

CasaBlanca lilies

CasaBlanca lilies

I almost missed these beauties. I planted a few ‘Casa Blanca’ bulbs at the back of the house, where they thrived and even multiplied. For some reason, I got it into my head that a better siting was called for, so I moved them. Bad idea. Only this one stem, which had escaped my shovel, returned. The weight of the huge flowers had it bowing low. Had it not been for the powerful scent, it might have come and gone without attracting my attention.

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The last time Kathrine (SIL) visited, she brought me this vintage black pitcher.


It is just tall enough to allow Fuchsia ‘Golden Gate’ to dangle around the edges and provide a dramatic contrasting background for the tiny flowers.


Three Hosta ‘Guacamole’ leaves complete the picture.

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‘Golden Gate’ had just had a haircut so there was some left over.

Lysimachia clethroides

Lysimachia clethroides

This time I turned to the gooseneck loosestrife to fill out the vase and found a silk scarf with lots of hot pink stripes to use as a table runner.


Those little geese have been doing vase duty for weeks (shown here when they first started showing signs of florets emerging and paired with Acanthus spinosa.

Acanthus spinosa

Acanthus spinosa

The Acanthus is a favorite in the garden as well as in a vase. I’ve been lax about joining in on Cathy’s fab meme In a Vase on Monday, what with working and all, so I guess I’m kind of making up for lost time. One of these days I’m even going to take up that Ikebana challenge and give it a try.

revisiting a vertical planting

Back when New Seasons opened the market in Slabtown, I did a post that you can access HERE.


The most outstanding feature of the handsome building was the vertical planting. I wondered how it would fare over time. Lucky, then, that we happened by on the very day that the heavy equipment was brought in to do maintenance.

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I was able to talk to the guys doing the work. They told me that they were replacing any plants that were dead or dying. A drip system is built into the structure but, even so, half-yearly inventory and replacement keeps the whole thing looking fresh. I wonder how many living walls enjoy that level of commitment or the resources to make it so. And hey…even the cherry picker has that “designer” look.


Plantings around the parking areas are maturing nicely. Somebody knew what they were about when they specified the plants. Often I see a promising installation that peters out or gets choked by weeds in no time. The care taken by New Seasons makes me want to shop there.

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You know how grocery stores put gum, candy and toys by the checkout, making it dangerous to take kids shopping? Well, this place is dangerous for kids like me.


I need blinders to get by the attractive displays at the entries.

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But if I need to pick up a hostess gift or a little birthday remembrance, this is my go-to shopping destination. Gotta support those plant-centric retailers, don’t we?