Sunday, October 28, 2012

Autumn at the Haywards

We had an early and hard frost here in Vermont in mid October, which sealed the deal on many of the annuals and tender plants. It is always a bittersweet morning, walking out to sagging and slimy foliage, crumpled flowers and everything tinged the color of death. The work does become clear in that moment and we all hastily cut back, rake out, and prep for the winter garden. Here are some pictures from the first week in October, pre-frost, at Gordon and Mary Hayward's Garden.

Above: The New Spring Garden with layers of autumnal color. In front is the purple splash of Aster oblongifolius 'Raydon's Favorite,' with a gangly self-seeded Nicotiana sylvestris, sprays of white Gaura, scrambling nastursium, bits of deep red from a Gallardia and Persicaria amplexicaulis 'Firetail,' complimented by the upright mustard hue of Senna hebecarpa, against the dark red backdrop of Viburnum trilobum.

Another nice scene and one that hasn't changed dramatically since early summer, since both the Persicaria 'Firetail' and Origanum 'Rosenkuppel' have been in bloom since then. Credit goes to Gordon and Mary for their great plant choices, these two, plus the delicate seed heads Sporobolus heterolepsis, are the longest performing perennials of the year. All three bloomed early and held on late, the colors of their blooms deepening into rustier hues as the season progressed. Here, late in the season, Anemone 'Robustissima' joined the stage while the shrub, Cornus officinalis, turned a ruddy tone. My other all time favorite plant of this past summer was the annual Ammi visnaga 'Green Mist.' Its foliage started out a delicate, feathery ferny green in early summer. It's bloom was lovely, a greeny tinted Queen Ann's flower, with that lovely wiry- nest like seed head. Over time, the ferny green took on a yellow tone that lasted until the frost.

It was an endless sea of Verbena bonariensis, though we only planted a few plants. All the manure, long, spring rains, and ample space to take up, encouraged each plant to grow long, lanky arms, full of flowers. Here it is paired with the Persicaria 'Firetail' again. This was a plant that got better as time went by and one that did not require any deadheading. Its only downfall was its deliciousness to those pesky Japanese Beatles, who turned their foliage into pitted, ratty wings. Once the pest season passed, the foliage rebounded and the flowers deepened in color.  In the foreground, the yellow flowers of the bronze fennel are coming into their fine show. This plant had such striking foliage all summer, it was hard to imagine the plant could improve- and then it did.

Here is one of the Salvia confertifloras just starting to bloom. In most gardens, as I was warned, this plant did not have enough time to come into full bloom, but I often admired this plant for its structure and foliage alone. It has large, bright green, leathery leaves and dark stems. It always had such a presence where ever it was planted.

One of the greatest grasses of all time:
Miscanthus sinensis 'Purpurascens'

Here is a picture taken earlier in the season of the Aster 'Raydon's Favorite' inter planted with Ammi visnaga 'Green Mist.'

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Denver Botanic Garden

On a recent trip to Denver, Colorado to visit my husband's brother and family, we took a trip to the Denver Botanic Garden. I encountered some incredible plants, many for the first time, thriving in a climate unlike any I have ever gardened in before. In some respects the desert and high altitude region seems harsh, but then again, many plants that have trouble over wintering in Vermont, seem to do just fine here. It was amazing to see what plants were entirely happy with extreme temperature changes coupled with constant dryness and drought. All those beautiful silvery leaved plants, gorgeous grasses, and unusual succulents were in their ultimate growing conditions.

Above photo: Bright red fruits of the desert prickly pear (Optunia phaeacantha) with Artemesia, Euphorbia, and Eriogonum all showcased in the low water garden.

I liked this little tableau of interesting foliage, shapes, textures and colors. I think the emerging purple flowers belong to Crocus speciousus, but I am not entirely confident in my ability to appropriately identify the crocus/colchicum bulbs. My inexpert guess is based on the great photographs and descriptions of the various autumn flowering bulbs found in a a recently acquired copy of Anna Pavrod's book titled Bulb.

Bouteloua graculis 'Blonde Ambition'
This was one of the most exciting plants I saw and it caught my eye from a great distance.  This grass is truly blonde with dainty, angled seed heads flicking about in the breeze. It is short (about 30"), but dense and extremly upright. Apparently the seed heads can stand tall through the winter. It is also cold hardy to Zone 4.

Erigonum wrightii var. wrightii (Snow mesa buckwheat)
I recently read about these great buckwheat plants perfectly suited to mountain climates and a great food source for the pollinators. Its seed heads are extremly beautiful, emanating a lovely coppery glow.

 A bamboo sculpture exhibit was going on in different parts of the garden and here the pool was decorated with these wiry objects rising up from the inky black water.

I thought this was another man made sculpture, but these wide, flat pads are in fact living waterlilies.  Victoria 'Longwood Hybrids'

The native plants garden was perhaps my favorite part. Since I arrived in this arid city, I have been enamored with all the wild plants that grow here- from peoples' cultivated gardens to the weeds in the sidewalk.  The large shrubs with a blush of pink are Artemesia tridentata, which are seen everywhere.

Cylindroptuntia imbricata, a cool region cactus native to the semi arid high plains of the United States

Meadow garden

Some incredible seed heads of some incredible plant (?)

Pink feathery flower heads of the grass, Mulenbergia reverchonii

This is a nice annual grass (zone 8-10) Melinis nerviglumis 'Pink Crystals'

A tall, towering stand of Leonotis, just a little bit bruised by their first frost

A captivating water feature and grass promenade

Friday, October 12, 2012

Cheryl Lewy's Garden


Cheryl Lewy has a real love of great gardening and of great plants. Her gardens and landscape are beautiful, including rock gardens, a cascading pond garden, and beautiful stands of shrubs and trees. One area of the garden is more formal, with a picket fence, gravel paths, roses and mix perennial plantings. It is spectacular in the spring, with iris, oriental poppies, and roses. I was hired this April with task of bringing more interest to this area of the garden from July through to October. I began in the spring by eliminating a great deal of phlox and poppy plants that had been taking up more than their fair share of space. I prepared planting areas in between many of the established plants, digging in rich compost. I then proceeded to plant, perennials, annuals (many I started from seed or purchased from Walker Farm), Dahlias, and tender Salvias.  This October, the garden is looking incredibly vibrant, full of flowers and foliage, contrasting in color, form and texture. 

Above: Bright red spots of Emilia javanica set off against the purple Verbena and Nepeta sibrica, the gray haze of Perovskia, and the dark red foliage of Dahlia 'Bishop of Llandaff', Pennisetum 'Vertigo', and Cotinus.


Low light in high summer, the phlox is floating in big white drifts. In the foreground the deep pink grass, Pennisetum 'Fireworks,' is coming into bloom.

Cheryl has a strong connection to Great Dixter and she loves the grass Calamagrostis 'Karl Foerster.' Here I planted this grass in a wall-like-hedge, directly influenced by the Calamagrostis planting in the Peacock Garden at Great Dixter. Those bleached straight-up blooms catch the light in spectacular ways.

The following pictures were taken in the first week of October and the garden is still so varied and colorful. The Sedum has turned its robust pink, off set by a tangle of bronze fennel and silvery sprays of Panicum virgatum 'Ruby Ribbons.' The tall yellow aster is unknown to me, but it is a stately specimen with great upright habit and mildew-free foliage.

Upright blossoms of the large, pale pink Dahlia 'Karma Prospero,' with Salvia 'Phyllis Fancy,' and the dark leaves of Pennisetum 'Vertigo.' This particular salvia is one of the most outstanding performers, it is a huge plant, loaded with blooms that starts early and ends late. Stay tuned for more shots of this plant as the weeks progress.

 Bright fall foliage of the low spreading Indigofera.


White flowers of Gaura lindheimeri and the bright red Dahlia 'Bishop of Llandaff.'

The bright blue of Salvia uliginosa pokes its head into this October scene.