Monday, July 26, 2010

Mid-summer Lilies

At the end of the filaments the anthers hang crusted with amber colored pollen.

That unmistakable spicy fragrance announces their presence in the garden even before you see them. Then those large exotic looking blooms, the size of dessert plates, reel you in closer. The Oriental lilies are in bloom in my mid-summer garden.

Pink lilies softened by the haze of a humid summer afternoon.

In my experience lilies seem relatively easy to grow. Top among their demands is sun. I have tested this preference by planting them in the half sun of my back garden, only to be rewarded for my impertinence with small flowers and stunted growth. So, full sun it is.

After an early morning shower, the heavy flower of a white lily tips and stamen weighted with raindrops falls earthward from the flower's canopy.

The sensuous curve of the lily's back.

By day's end, the lily has opened to catch the last rays of sunlight.

Lily bulbs are best planted in fall, although they can be planted in spring as well. With their overlapping fleshy scales, lily bulbs look rather like a beige colored artichokes. Tucked into the heart of each bulb is the next season's stem, leaves and flower in embryo form.

A flashy tiger shows it spots.

 Raindrops pool in the cup of the up-curled petals.

This tiger lily skyscraper stands almost 5 feet tall.

There are four basic types of lily flowers, down-facing, out facing, up facing and trumpet. 

If you happen to brush past a lily in bloom and get the pollen on your clothes, don't rub the pollen with your hand or a cloth. (I've learned this lesson the hard way!) Rather, remove as much as the pollen as you can by shaking out the garment or use a piece of sticky tape to lift the pollen. Soak it in cold water and treat with a good stain remover like Oxyclean. If I bring the flowers into the house, I usually use a piece of tissue and snap off the pollen laden anthers.

Breathe in that glorious fragrance and enjoy!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Whimsy and Storytelling in my Front Garden

Every day bus loads of kids pass my house on the way to the school up the street. The whimsical birds and birdhouses in my front garden are for them. 

It is my fondest hope that they will look out that bus window and see something that sparks their imagination.

On the white picket fence, there are small chickadees collecting flowers in small woven baskets and a robin busies himself watering the flowers with a tiny red watering can.

And at the end of the day, my garden's story ends with the tired little birds returning to their red roofed house sitting in amongst the yellow and blue flowers.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Color and the Perennial Placement Chess Game

Balloon Flower

I would like to be able to say that after standing for ten, fifteen minuets at a time weighing all the relevant factors, that I always place new perennials in the perfect spot. It would be wonderful if this time spent was rewarded with success!

But if I am being honest, I get placement wrong more times than I get it right. Often, I feel discouraged and think that I simply waste time standing in front of one of my flower borders carefully considering plant size and height, while weighing leaf color, shape and texture and calculating into the equation bloom time and color, only to come up an answer that I live to regret.

And I can't tell you how often I have looked at an overcrowded border and thought, "What was I thinking???"

If I simply tossed my trowel into a bed, and planted the new recruit wherever it landed I might be just as successful!

Needless to say, I shift perennials around a fair bit. I am out in the garden as soon as the weather permits playing, what I have come to call, placement chess in the garden. I simply move plants around until I am happy with the results.

I worked for years in the art department of a wallpaper company and that experience has given me a fearless love of color.

Bring it on! 

Bright colors are so happy, what's not to love.

My June garden is all pinks ands soft purples. My July garden is, on the contrary, bright oranges, yellow, pink and hot purple with a dash of warm blue thrown in.

There is no color I dislike- well maybe soft peach-

but then, peach worked into a complimentary color combination can be wonderful!

Peach lilies and grey Artemisia with purple and yellow as background melody.

Equally appealing to me are soft shades in the right setting. I've mixed these salmon colored daylilies with a dark maroon daylily with a yellow throat.

One look at my garden and you realize that I don't believe in color rules. Its more fun to push the envelope and mix colors together that may not seem obviously suited to one another.

Most people might think that yellow and purple are a bit whacky together, but I love the odd combination.

I think its even fun to play it safe and repeat a single color in variations.

So tell me, what are your favorite garden color combinations?

Monday, July 19, 2010

The Sperling Garden, Hamilton Ontario

Deep in their roots,
All flowers keep the light.
                                                                                                            Theodore Roethke

Debbie Sperling has many plans for her large property located just outside of Hamilton, Ontario and considers her garden very much to be a work in progress.

The three year old pond was one of the first projects that she and her husband tackled. An old swimming pool located just off the back deck was transformed into a large figure eight shaped pond. A japanese style wooden bridge crosses the pond at the narrowest point and links the two sections of the pond.

A flagstone path encircles the pond. In this picture Joe Pie weed, rust colored daylilies, Ligularia and assorted grasses are planted just beyond the waters edge.

 At the far end of the pond, water bubbles to the surface and then cascades down a series of waterfalls.

Variegated Weiglia and ground cover evergreens are planted alongside the path that leads to the top of the waterfall. 

The pond attracts lots of wildlife including hawks and eagles. Here a dragonfly keeps watch over the pond on the curve of a slender reed.

The water buckles into ripples as the excited koi scramble for food.

A frog surfaces what the fuss is all about.

There are many places to sit and view the garden including this quite corner.

Though in the early stages of creation, Debbie's garden is already one of the nicest I have seen.