Saturday, November 24, 2012

Let The Season Begin

My containers are put together, mostly because the weather has been so mild.  The Thanksgiving turkey has been eaten, lights are on the evergreens and let the Christmas music roll!

My favorite greens this year are Port Orford Cedar and Incense Cedar.  The dried hydrangea flowers are from my Limelight that I sprayed with a deep red enamel (will last all winter).

Pine cones are a great investment as they can be saved from year to year, sprayed and then resprayed when the gold or silver paint wears off.  Shatterproof ornaments are wonderful as they hold up very well through the ravages of winter.

I am enjoying this look with fall still in the background and the Holidays poking in with a splash.  Some Noble Fir was used in this arrangement to give it some upright structure.  All of the cones, fruits, grapevine balls are saved from year to year, with a little respray to spruce them up.  Again, those shatterproof ornaments add to the display.

I cut the greens on an angle, push into the soil, water well and spray with Wilt-Pruf.  The ribbon I bought at a decorating shop for half price, made the bows and streamers, sprayed with a product called Force Field which makes everything waterproof.  The is a spray that can also be used on indoor upholstery.

The containers in the back by the garage are similar but a little more casual.  I like the Huckleberry in the middle because it is a lighter green with tinges of red, looks a little like boxwood.  Again, I have used the Port Orford Cedar and the Incense Cedar, more rounded forms this year and not so much height.

I can't forget the shed with Huckleberry, some faux additives and a casual ribbon staked every so often with metal garden stakes so it doesn't blow away.

The faux garland with the red spray of flowers is plastic but from a distance it looks real.

I do a lot of baking for Christmas and have already started with some small breads, lots more come.  It helps to have an upright freezer that goes to zero (keeps baked goods without having that freezer taste).

Just to add to the excitement this time of year, we welcomed a new puppy into our home McDuff (Duffy).  He's a Westie just like Reggie, and I have to say Reggie is being very patient with his antics.

Duffy (8 Weeks)
The Amaryllis Picotee have sprouted but may not bloom for Christmas. 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Latest Colors

I am not talking about what's new in home decor or the newest fashion trend but plants we can count on to give us color late into the fall and winter seasons.

I am noticing more each year those plants that keep their leaves the longest and those that keep colorful leaves throughout the winter.

Chanticleer Pear
Always the last of trees to lose its leaves but this year the colors were beautiful.  It usually has a darker purple/red leaf in the fall, this year every color imaginable!
This is the Red Maple across the street, notice all of the other trees are bare, what a treat!
I have had many shrubs throughout the years that do nothing most of the seasons, some didn't even flower just producing green leaves, like Alpine Currant.  I am sure they have a purpose but no longer in my garden.  My new rule is a shrub that I plant has to have at least three seasons of interest, don't have enough room for those one season plants.
Ninebark Summer Wine
This is like the shrub of the year, many leaf color changes throughout the seasons, flowers in June, and has exfoliating bark in the winter.  Who could ask for more?
Weigela Wine and Roses
This Weigela has the darkest leaves with no brown tones, still holding on in the middle of November.  I have Weigela Dark Horse also, in the front, and the leaves turn a lighter brown color which is not as attractive as this deep purple/green.

 Tor Spirea
This might become a new favorite shrub, just put in this fall so I am hoping there will be more leaves left on next fall.  The colors are great and this is a smaller shrub with very little maintenance, blooms in the spring with blue/green leaves all summer.
Forsythia Greenstem
Okay, I have already given in.  This is really only a two season shrub, beautiful lemon colored flowers in the spring and yellow/green leaves in the fall.  However, the color is so unusual for Forsythia that I had to have it, smaller also and looks great in a formal or casual border.
Hydrangea Let's Dance Starlight
Very few Hydrangeas have wonderful leaf color in the fall, this one does and the leaves hold on until a hard frost.
Miscanthus Udine
I have many grasses that I leave up for the winter but this is one that I agonize over each fall because it is so beautiful.  Should I cut it down or leave it?  The past two years I have left it and may do so again.  Miscanthus is notorious for flopping to the ground in heavy snow.
Many of the perennials we choose die down during the winter, but there are many that keep their color throughout the winter especially if snow is sparse.
Sedum Angelina
This is a groundcover that hugs the ground and stays green or yellow during the winter.
Heucherella Sweet Tea
This is one of the best, keeping its rich color throughout the winter.  I have many Heucherellas but Sweet Tea looks the best in the fall.
With the new strains of Villosa Heucheras they are becoming more important in the four season garden.  Many retain their leaf color throughout all four seasons, definitely worth looking for in the nurseries.
Heuchera Autumn Leaves
Heuchera Southern Comfort
Darker when planted in shadier area.
Heuchera Peach Flambe
Heuchera Pinot Gris
Geranium Max Frei
I was just about ready to pull this one, never remember it looking this good in the fall.  However, it is a one time bloomer and I have some ideas what to plant in between to give it some summer interest.
Geranium Magnificum is late this year, just beginning to turn color.
Geranium Bob's Blunder
I am so impressed with this geranium, great groundcover and hope it comes back next spring!
We fall in love with a plant and it is sometimes difficult to think about how this plant behaves or looks throughout the seasons. 

Friday, November 02, 2012

Amaryllis - Beauty In The Winter Garden

I have planted amaryllis for many years in many ways, in large tall containers with colored marbles and water, in small pots with potting soil and stakes, in urns with painted dogwood branches for support and finally this year in larger clay pots with potting soil.

These are nine inch clay pots with the largest bulbs I could find.  I used Miracle Gro potting soil.

About two weeks ago, our garden club had a nursery owner as our presenter talking about fall bulbs including paperwhites and amaryllis.  His main point was if you want lots of blooms you have to buy the largest amaryllis bulbs you can find.  I guess I can't stand not having something blooming inside when outside has gone to sleep for the winter.  So, I gave in and bought some expensive amaryllis bulbs, huge, at $14.95 each and justified it that it is a small amount compared to what I spend in the spring and summer.

Larger pots were recommended so that the roots can spread out and become a better anchor for the two foot stalks of this amaryllis.  I never thought of this, but it makes sense that the larger the root base the less likely it will fall over.

The roots should be plentiful and healthy looking, spread out in the dirt as much as you can.  Plant the bulbs two thirds into the potting soil and water moderately.  Put in light but not direct sun and water sparingly until you see them sprouting, after which the soil should be kept damp.  Remove the flower stalks when flowers are spent.

I have bought amaryllis from Home Depot and have also ordered them online from a bulb company.  This time I went to a local nursery and picked the ones where most of them were gone, must be a good one if everyone wants it!  Well, it was a guess but a right one when I looked it up it got rave reviews.

Amaryllis Picotee

This is my winter garden, amaryllis, paperwhites and some poinsettias.  Maybe these with my yet undelivered catalogs will keep me happy until spring.