Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A favorite Panicum

Panicum amarum 'Dewey Blue'

 Most fellow bloggers are posting about the splendors of the fall, which makes me think that loving the fall must be one of the things that most gardeners share. Some friends dread the winter too much to enjoy the autumn. The fall is the most beautiful time of year for me, watching the colors slowly return to the earth. The intensity of the work also takes a turn, whatever I do not accomplish this fall will be waiting for me in the spring. Instead of religiously dead heading, by late September I am pretty much letting most things go to seed and leaving seed heads up for the birds and waiting for them to catch the snow. It is really a time to just enjoy it all, admire all those things I never staked or tied up, falling over into everything else. For me, there is nothing uptight about the fall and I like to let the plants really just be themselves.

In Vermont, we have many sopped in, foggy mornings. As the sun warms the day, the gray soggy air lifts to reveal those perfect crisp days. I like the plants in the clouds, drippy and heavy, covered in spider webs.


Thalictrum seed heads still standing strong, framed by the fall garden.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Nicotiana glutinosa

Nicotiana glutinosa (glutinosa = sticky, glutinous)

There are many beautiful Nicotianas out there in the world and this is one of them. This plant grows like N. slyvestris; it is tall, with big leaves and long arching branches that are covered in small pink flowers.  Nicotiana is Tobacco and is in the Solanaceae family, the nightshades, which includes the beloved tomato, pepper, eggplant, potato and petunia. Because of their close relations, they share quite a few diseases, such as the tobacco mosaic virus. At a farm down the road smokers are not permitted to work in the tomato greenhouse because the virus spreads from tobacco, to hands, to tomato plants.  This virus does not kill the plant, but it does reduce crop yields and since an organic tomato sell for quite a lot around here, that can be fairly damaging. The other nasty pest that these plants share is the dreaded tomato hornworm and we recently found them chowing down on the above Nicotiana specimen. These caterpillars are crazy horned creatures and the moth that hatches is the one that looks like a moth hummingbird- wild stuff! There does happen to be a natural fighting agent, a parasitic wasp that lays eggs on the living bug (eventually killing it), which adds to the the horror of the hornworm.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Beginning of Grass

Miscanthus sinensis 'Morning Light' planted with fallen over Heliopsis helianthoides 'Prairie Sunset' and Verbena bonariensis.

This is the time of year when my love affair with grasses begins.  In the beginning of my gardening experience I could not understand why any rational gardener would ever plant grass. All day long I weeded grass out of the gardens. When I moved to Vermont I started gardening with some grass fanatics and my eyes were opened to a whole new world. VERY reluctantly I brought home divisions- particularly reluctant because the very process of dividing a grass makes you never want to grow it! I wouldn't even put them in my "real" garden, so I stuck them in a holding bed. Over the years I have filled my gardens with the various grasses, from my first favorite Miscanthus, to the numerous cultivars of Panicum (I cannot get enough!), to Schizachyrium, Calamagrostis, and Chasmanthium. 

Grasses are massive, or can be, and yet they actually act as a see through screen, they block a view but also permit a view. I love when their blades brush, fall, weep over into other plants- and the plants mingle and intermix. I love the colors of grass, starting in the spring with those young fresh, green shoots that turn to burnt orange, purplish and silver. Late bloomers, they come out now as the sun gets lower and lower in the sky and the light catches the feathery plumes of Miscanthus, the tiny spindly blooms of the Panicums, and when the breeze picks up these clumps swirl and sway in the wind. Then finally, in November when most of the garden is totally spent, the blooms stand tall and silvery and the light still catches them and they shine like never before.

 Miscanthus sinensis 'Purpurascens'

Friday, September 16, 2011

Anemone Times!

When I started this blog I had to come up with a name. At the time I had NO idea there was a garden blogging world out there and so I tried a LOT of names with the word garden/gardener in the title, which of course were all taken. I thought of a favorite flower and combined it with the word Times, like a newspaper. (As a side note, the British newspaper The Times is the original "Times" and many newspapers since have borrowed the name.) It seems fitting that I named my blog Anemone Times to record my English gardening experience. This post is an ode to some of my favorite fall blooming Anemones.

Above is the renown Anemone tomentosa 'Robustissima,' a wild, leggy, vigorous thing that holds court in many great gardens.

Anemone x hybrida 'Honorine Jobert' 

This one might be the all time favorite. I initially bought this plant for a client and when I planted it a small root fell off which I took home and nursed in a pot for six months and then transplanted into my garden. My client's plant did not last the winter, but mine did. Each summer I bring her another beautiful piece of her original plant.  The tiny root piece has expanded into a very large stand and I constantly hack off pieces for my gardening friends. Here in my garden it stands with the full force of all those beautiful buds waiting to open.

Anemone hupehensis 'September Charm'

In my garden this one has striking lime green foliage, but I have not found other records of this? Below you can see it standing dramatically out against the Heuchera and other deeper greens. This one is a real charmer.

 Anemone hupehensis 'Pamina'

Anemone hupehensis 'Crispa'

Still in its first year, this one has one bud but it has not yet bloomed. The cultivar is named after its foliage, meaning 'finely waved; closely curled,' and it is clearly the reason to grow this plant.  The leaves are stiff and crinkly with bronze edging, resembling a leaf of lettuce.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

More plants on the Maine Coast

A few great plants found at the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens....

Above: With all the summer rains, it has been a big year for frogs; they are in every garden and every little reflecting pool. Here this frog sits picturesquely on his pad while the water lily shows off in full bloom.

Clematis 'Multi-Blue'

Lonicera semprevirens 'John Clayton' blooming in time with the above clematis.

Vitis davidii (Spiny Vitis)
This incredible vine was covered in the most outrageous spines! Its large leaves were equally impressive.

Ruellia brittoniana (Mexican Petunia)

These are not actually Petunias and I think they resemble leggy impatiens?

Rudbekia maxima in all it glory!

Aralia cordata 'Sun King'

This is an incredible foliage plant, the chartreuse in the full sun looking so glorious, happy, and lush! An Aralia with great big, bright textured leaves and red stems, what is not to love?

Penstemon smallii

On the way out I spotted this Penstemon absolutely covered in bees.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Hail to the Agastache!

Agastache (pronounced ag-as-TAY-ke, much debated amongst us gardeners and not one that easily rolls off the tongue) is a great summer flower beloved by all those flying insects. There were many annual and perennial species showcased at the Maine Botanical Garden and here are a few of them.

Agastache 'Black Adder' is a cross between A. rugosum and A. foeniculum. This one tolerates some drought and is a great nectar source.

Agastache rupestris (rupestris = rock-loving)
pink airy flowers coupled with delicate silvery leaves

Agastache 'Aga 3/04'

Agastache 'Heatwave'


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Hungry Caterpillar

The Children's Garden at the Maine Coast Botanical Garden was excellent and as we were wandering through wonderful large leaved plants such as Acanthus, Petasides, and Ligularia, we came across a large stand of Asclepias speciosa 'Davis' covered in hungry little Monarch caterpillars.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Coastal Maine Botanical Garden

On my recent trip to Maine I made an inaugural voyage to the Coastal Maine Botanical Garden in Boothbay, Maine. It is a place I have wanted to see for a few years now and it was a real pleasure to finally visit. It is definitely the youngest Botanical garden I have ever visited and because of that there was a new and exciting energy to the garden. The Director of Horticulture/Plant Curator is the renown author and plantsman,  William Cullnia, and it is clear that he and his staff are having fun with the plant material.  It was like a dream to wander through all these wonderful gardens learning all sorts of new plants, species and cultivars.

This sculpture turned in the wind, moving with all those tall late summer grasses.
Calamagrostis x acutiflora 'Stricta' is the red/tan grass at the left.

The children's garden was excellent with lots of large foliage plants, hot colors, contorted evergreens, insects, and this wonderful living roof. It was one of the best parts of the garden.

The garden never let you forget that you were nestled down in the woods on the coast of Maine. I loved that the feeling of Maine permeated everything even in a great botanical garden!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Rudbekia 'Prairie Sun'

Rudbekia hirta 'Prairie Sun'

Chickadee Hill Flowers

My friend Emily Henry is an incredible gardener and flower arranger. She and I are friends from high school and every time I travel home to Maine we see each other and talk about plants. Her gardens are amazing and her cut flower garden is packed full of amazing plants. I always learn a few new plants, especially unusual annuals. Please see her website Chickadee Hill Flowers.
Above is a shot of her cutting garden. Some of her favorites to arrange with are the lovely bronze fennel, queen ann's lace, and the many different Monardas.

Daucus carota var. sativus 'Black Knight'

Craspedia globosa in the foreground

Monarda x hybrida 'Bergamo'

This is an annual Monarda that has all these wonderful color variations, from intense pink/purple to this pale pink/white.

Her perennial gardens!

Tropaeolum argentinum

Emily brings this over wintered plant outside and lets it climb through her evergreen shrubs! Recently the blog Growing with Plants posted about this plant, read more here.

Puppets in Paradise

On Saturday and Sunday, September 10 and 11 from 10am-4pm, Sandglass Theater announces the return of local favorite, Puppets in Paradise, a two-day extravaganza of performance, food, and community.  The Paradise is the enchanted setting of landscape architects Gordon and Mary Hayward’s gardens.  Walk the gardens and take in the colors and smells of lush herbs, flowers, and other beautiful flora as you meet puppets, theater artists and musicians around each corner and behind every bush.  The Puppets are 10 spectacular and entertaining short performances presented throughout the day among the flora.  Food and refreshments add to the delight of a beautiful day.

This year’s roster of performers includes some known favorites as well as some exciting new faces... and hands.   Irish puppeteer, Fergus Walsh, will be performing  “Bu Dai Xi – Wu Da (Irish Style)”.  Fergus’ unique and hilarious take on a traditional Taiwanese hand puppet style, synthesizes dry Irish humor with true Kung-Fu action.  Another newcomer to the line-up is Lorraine Gilman, bringing her “misinterpretation” of Eric Carle’s most beloved story.  “The Hungry Caterpillar vs. The Big Apple” blends toy theater, hand puppetry, and comic mayhem in a hilarious story of the life cycle of a caterpillar. Also new on the bill is Tom Getschell, an up and coming American marionette performer.  With precision and delicacy, Tom’s beautiful puppets explore themes of faith, hope, and love, inspired by the poetry of one of America’s greatest poets, Emily Dickinson.

Along with several newcomers, this year’s roster of performers includes an exciting multi-disciplined collaboration. Calling themselves The Stalagmites, Zak Grace, Jana Zeller, Shoshana Bass and Darden Longenecker use puppetry, dance, stilt walking and circus arts to weave together a story inspired by the gardens where they’ll be performing throughout the weekend.  Jana says  “It seems that during rehearsal each of us has had the opportunity to reach beyond our familiar skills, we hope the audience will feel transported to a world that we too are discovering.”

The gardens, a thoughtful combination of informal New England landscaping and the more traditional English garden, provide the backdrop for the scenes being presented. Using specific locations such as the Hayward’s barn, the Woodland, Herb, and “Vermont Ruin” gardens as their stages, the artists will perform short pieces throughout the day. 

Delicious gourmet lunches, elaborate salads, desserts, beverages and ice cream will be available for purchase. All proceeds from tickets and concessions benefit Sandglass Theater’s projects and programs.  Sandglass Theater is a non-profit theater company located in Putney, Vermont, which specializes in the art of puppet theater and performance work.

Sandglass Theater is unique in many ways. Its 24-year connection to the community and dependence on volunteers for its successful presentation of multi-venue events is particularly outstanding.  Volunteers help make Sandglass productions one of the most affordable family entertainment options in Windham County.  Puppets in Paradise is a celebration of community, art, and the beauty of our New England environment.  To volunteer or for more information, contact Sandglass Theater at 802 387-4051, info@sandglasstheater.org or visit our website, www.sanglasstheater.org.