Archives for October 2014

The Grapevine Deer

deer 2014 (2)It is a yearly thing at Detroit Garden Works – the arrival of the grapevine deer.  In celebration, we outfitted a window box with all the fruits of the harvest. Cabbage, romanesco broccoli, lime green cauliflower, white onions, pumpkins and gourds. Tieing all of the individual elements together – one roll of grapevine-a material so versatile and appropriate for display in a garden. The window box turned out to be a perfect spot to place a grapevine sculpture of a doe. The two elements compliment one another, and speak to the time of the harvest.  The rolls of grapevine that we stock year round look great in, under or around containers.  They soften and highlight any fall planting. A deft hand can make the wiry dried vines drape gracefully. A tree trunk gift wrapped in  grapevine for the winter is a lovely wrap indeed.  They can provide a support for a more lax growing vine, such as clematis.  The grapevines that hang over our fence are lush in the summer, and so sculptural in the winter.

grapevine deer (1)These grapevine deer are the most beautiful use of grapevine I know. They rank high on my list of beautiful garden sculptures.  This natural material and the natural form it represents fits into the garden effortlessly. Sections of the sinewy vine are woven over welded steel forms.  They are a powerfully sculptural interpretation of the beauty of nature.  Who makes them?  A group of people who most of the year tend a vineyard full of wine grapes. In the fall, when the vineyard work is done, they collect the prunings from the vines, and sculpt.

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The vines of the grapes are quite stiff, and unyielding. Working with them to create a shape is sure to produce blisters-I have first hand experience. It could be that these vines are soaked and softened before they are fitted over the steel form. I do not know their method of construction, but I do know they are beautiful.  I marvel at these gracefully curving forms.  I further admire the perfectly parallel placement of the vines over the form. These vines woven over a form is a study in strength and endurance.  Just like a garden.

grapevine deer (8)It is striking that such a stiff material could be made to convey  such soft and natural natural emotion as a doe tending her fawn. Though  I have plenty of clients whose gardens are under siege from deer, it is hard not to appreciate this pair. These sculptures are not about the trouble that deer in the garden present.  They are about the the presence and beauty of nature.

grapevine-deer.jpgThe standing buck sculpture is tall. The antlers are woven around square pipe that insets into a larger pipe hidden below the surface.  I could see it placed in a field of hellebores, or in a grove of trees.

Dec 23 2010 047One year I took a buck home, and used it in lieu of a Christmas tree. It spent the rest of the winter outdoors in the garden. With a yearly rubdown of a penetrating oil sealer, they last for years outdoors. If you have ever tried to compost grapevine, you know how long it persists, even in with the soil. Should the vines ever need replacing, the forms can be sent back for fresh vines.

grapevine deer (5)The sculptures are remarkably stable.  If they do blow over, they are easy to right.  For a completely sturdy installation, it is easy to hook a heavy gauge steel hairpin through the steel loop at the foot.  All of the sculptures are life size.  The standing buck is about 5.5 feet tall, excluding the antlers.

grapevine deer (6)A family

grapevine deer (5)Garden sculpture, properly placed, is all about adding another layer to the experience. Looking for a garden sculpture that will look like it has always been there?  Consider the grapevine deer.  Interested further? 

Late To The Party

Ethe-greenhouse-at-Wisley.jpgFew months in the garden in Michigan can rival October.  The changing of the leaves on the trees and shrubs saturates the garden with color from top to bottom. I would not say that we are having a peak color year. The factors that influence fall color are many.  Factoring every variable in does not fully explain why one year is more colorful than another.  But nor every plant in the garden is remarkable solely from their fall color. These photographs of the RHS garden at Wisley, taken by Rob two weeks ago, are ample evidence that the garden can persist long into the fall.

October 23 2014 (18)Their are those garden plants that are just late to the party.  My favorite late fall perennial is the Japanese anemone.  The white flowering “Honorine Jobert” is at its peak right now-the 22nd of October.  It has been flowering for a month or better.  I find them easy to grow-decent sun and reasonable water is all they ask for.  The pink species anemone robustissima is vigorous in more shade. The fall blooming anemones are persistent; my patch has been in place for almost 20 years.  Their simple flowers are extraordinarily beautiful.  Atop long willowy stems, they nod in the slightest breeze.  The large grape like foliage is lower, and dense.

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The fall blooming colchicum is not a perennial-it is a bulb.  They are every bit as long lived as the anemones. They come up in the spring, with their long gawky leaves.  Their dramatic flowers emerge from the ground, leafless, in the fall.  Commonly known as autumn crocus, their flowers are crocus shaped, and over sized.  They need almost nothing in the way of care, and persist in the garden. The bulbs ask for a very early fall planting.  Those colchicums you see blooming in a bulb bin in the fall are blooming under stress.  That said, blooming colchicum that I have taken home in the fall took hold without a missed beat.

Europe 2014 801There are those perennials that mature in the fall-their fall statement may be just as beautiful as their summer flowering.  In my garden, hardy hibiscus stems are beautiful in the fall.  The large seed heads crack open revealing shiny black seeds.  The remains of the flowering echinacea stems will persist late into the fall. In Rob’s photo from Wisley, I am guessing that these are the seed heads of phlomis.  What a handsome statement they are making in October.  To follow are more of Rob’s pictures from Wisley. The fall gardens there are stunning. The late blooming perennials and bulbs, the ornamental grasses, the fruit trees in the orchard garden, and the perennials that persist into the fall all contribute to a garden still full of life.

ornamental-grass-at-Wisley.jpgplumes

Wisley-in-the-fall.jpgwaiting for tulips

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rdy-cyclamen.jpgcyclamen

beech-trunk.jpgwet beech trunk

ornamental-grasses.jpgornamental grass

grass-pattern.jpgsculpted lawn

ornamental-grasses.jpgcarpinus and ornamental grass

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Europe 2014 747ripe chestnuts

 

At A Glance: The Malvern Autumn Show

Europe 2014 351The following are Rob’s pictures from the Malvern Autumn Show in England, one part of which was the National Vegetable Society’s Midland Branch Championships. Every flower vegetable and egg – exhibition quality gorgeous.

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Recent Work

 

fall-container-planting.jpgFall is an incredibly beautiful season in Michigan. The sun low in the sky, and the morning fog makes every color intensely saturated.  The leaves changing electrifies a fall palette of color in the landscape in a way that no flower could hope to achieve. The sugar maples are brilliantly fiery; the hydrangeas are a muted shade of brown and pink.   No season celebrates color like the fall. We are in the early stages of that transition from summer to fall.  This is a season that I follow closely, as I do not wish to miss one moment of it. The materials available for fall are spectacular in color.  The ornamental cabbages and kales intensify in color as the temperature drops. The pumpkins and gourds are impossible to resist. Everything about them speaks to the harvest, and to fall color.

coral-bells.jpgThese pots are planted all around at the bottom with heuchera.  I am not so much a fan of dark leaved coral bells in the summer garden.  They are shockingly gloomy to me in the heat of August.   In the fall, they shine in containers. These dark colors are so beautiful on a rainy fall day. I see many more growers offering large heuchera plants for sale in the fall.  There are so many foliage plants with great color available.  No doubt I associate and welcome certain colors with certain seasons.  This is a luxury enjoyed by a gardener in a four season zone.

DSC_5372The window boxes in the front of the shop are showing signs of fall color.  I so appreciate those years when the fall comes slowly, and the killing frost is late.  The brown potato vine and the coleus are singed with cold.  The color in these boxes is changing with the season.  It is easy to replace certain very cold susceptible elements in a summer container with more cold tolerant plants.  But letting the fall season work its magic on a a summer planting can be quite beautiful.

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These urns sitting at the front door empty would be just lovely.  But planted for fall, they have a warm and welcoming appeal .  week of Sept 29 (14)Red Bor kale is one of the most versatile of all fall container plants.  They are tall enough to make a vertical statement.  The crinkled dark purple leaves darken more as the temperatures get cooler. They are less rigid in shape than the other cabbages and kales, making it easy to fill in the gaps between the other plants.

DSC_5408Not every fall arrangement needs to be standard issue orange and yellow.  There is an astonishing number of white and green pumpkins and gourds to be had.  Every grower has something a little different.  Every fall I see gourd shapes and color combinations I have not seen before.  An arrangement of pumpkins and gourds in a window box is as lovely a celebration of the fall as a boxful of foliage and flowers.

DSC_5364pots at the shop

JR fall 2014  5fall pots with dry hydrangeas

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White kale and dry banana stems

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fall container with broom corn, plum eucalyptus, orange floral picks, red bor kale and red chidori kale.

JR fall 2014red cabbage, cirrus dusty miller, gray eucalyptus and white banana stems

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Red bor kale, pink cabbage and succulents

coleus-in-the-fall.jpgHow I am enjoying this beautiful moment.