At a Glance- Spring Pink

Magnolia "Galaxy"

Magnolia "Galaxy"

Magnolia "Galaxy"

Magnolia "Galaxy"

Tulips

Tulips

R

Rhodendron PJM

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Rhodendron PJM

Snowdrift Crabapple

Snowdrift Crabapple

Royalty Crabapple

Royalty Crabapple

Unknown Magnolia

Unknown Magnolia

Fushia

Fuschia

Magnolia

Magnolia

More Ado About Leaves

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The fact that not all foliage is “green” comes as no surprise to any gardener.  Modern hybridization of plants has  produced some truly unusual leaf coloration.  The numbers of coleus hybrids available has dramatically increased, although the nomenclature is confusing, and some colors go beyond moody to just plain muddy.  This sparkling variety has clear,  brilliant color, and a luxuriant habit of growth.  I do like plants that make me look like a good gardener. �
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Even the red and orange coleus varieties seem to have much improved coloration and habit.  Plant hybridizers work very hard.  �
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  The toothy leaves of this coleus variety are unique; the lime centers only make the orange seem more orange.  Supremely orange.  �
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 This green and white variegated hibiscus is notable for its leaves, rather than its flowers.  The occasional red blooms are a pleasing surprise. A red-stemmed, variegated leaf hibiscus that grows large and vase shaped gets my attention ahead of the big flowered tropical hibiscus.  Why is this?;  see for yourself.  �
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This small leaved coleus the color of butterscotch  has a good companion in this tree fern.  Though tree ferns can grow to 18′ tall in New Zealand, a one gallon size plant makes a good show in a container over the course of a Michigan  season. The exotic and unexpected appearance of foliage of another color can create drama and interest in public places.  Who would think a diminutive thread leaf alternanthera could make such a big statement in the same pot with a giant canna?  This is about the good fun that gardening can be. Who knew this pot would grow out better than I thought it could be?

The incredible range of plant material available guarantees that no annual gardener need ever repeat themselves.  It occurs to me that much of what I am able to do depends on the people in my area who grow plants.  They test different things, they make the tried and true  available, they see to it that I am able to work.  They get out of bed on a Sunday at 3am when the heat in a greenhouse goes off.  They are gardeners of a different sort.  They depend on the plants to pay their mortgages, and educate their children.  I support my local growers; I hope you do too. �
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Green Respite

green4If all the color of my past few posts has put you on overload,  perhaps these pots will suit you better.  As I have said, annual plants are those plants that survive but one season-this is a large group-some of which have no flowers of consequence.

green11Annual plantings or pots without flowers can be very effective and attractive.  Some locations for annuals do not have enough sun to support good flower production.  Annual plants can be as much about their forms, their leaves, and their architecture, as they are about flowers.  This very tall “elegant feather” plant-no longer in production at Proven Winners,  is a great foil for the round-leaved farfugiums. There are very few greens I do not like.  My yews go black green in the winter when it is really cold, much like this Moses in the Cradle. The chartreuse and yellow coleus “Wild Lime” provides lots of punch in shade.

green6 Chartreuse green is spring like, and fresh, no matter what time of year I see it.Grass after an electrical storm is so intensely dark gorgeous green-thus the term grass green.  Lime creeping  jenny is a versatile plant that highlights darker plants and obligingly trails.  

green101Green can be as much about texture and scale, as color. The slick, massive texture of this banana is complimented by the thick  felted leaves of this variegated Plectranthus.

green2  Caladiums, calocasias, and cannas have spectacularly large foliage.  green9Calocasias and caladiums are thin-leaved (this refers to their “substance”); light will shine through them.  Helicrysum both in lime and variegated leaf are densely felted.   green14

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I confess I lump most houseplants into the genus “houseplant”, but most of them are good outdoors in shady spots. King Tuts, like other reeds and grasses have the added graceful beauty of motion.

green12 Phormiums, and dracaenas are stiff-strapped, and sword-like-an interesting contrast to this curly leaved farfugium. Cycads and escheverias have that dense waxy texture, and can be rounded, or spiky.

greengreen8Tuscan blue kale has great size, a blistered leaf surface, and a very blue color-just the thing to pair with a blue juniper column, variegated licorice, and ornamental oregano “Kent Beauty” .

green7One of my favorite coleus is a yellow/olive color I call turtle green.  The striped grass, miscanthus zebrina, is a happy companion to a plectranthus with the same color variation.  The third element:  the pairing of the plant material is complimented by the pairing of the pots close enough to encourage all the plectranthus to grow together.

green3 So many beautiful greens.  So many ways in which green is beautiful.

More Places

debhouse4No matter that I have been planting annuals for the better part of 25 years; I have yet to get to that  point where I have had enough.  It’s a yearly conversation I have with myself, usually in late February.  Do I still want to do this?  Would I like some other career?  Am I done with my career-would I just like a job? Another words, I am wringing my hands and fretting such, it would make you laugh.2008_silver_deborah_house_7-8-08_16

Incidentally, my idea of a good job would be to gang mow 1-75 between Detroit, and Flint, and back. Repeatedly, through 3 seasons.  No phones to answer, no problems to solve-just headphones blasting whatever music seems good that day. A responsibility for short grass, and short grass, only.  Some days, the Mozart Requiem (fall music for sure) and other days, Aretha Franklin, or the Propeller Heads. Or Bob Dylan-that would be good.   I would sculpt that grass for miles, and look forward to that sculpture’s next incarnation. I would park my mower and that job at the end of the day, and head for home. debhouse2

But I am not ready for that, yet.  I still love that I have my home and my garden-but also that I have lots of other gardens that belong to me in a certain way, as I’ve designed and planted them.

There are the people that own those gardens with whom I have a relationship.  I think God steered me to this career-as I have more gardens and landscapes than years left, that I want to plant.
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That an annual garden, or any garden for that matter, is ephemeral is key to my love for them. So intensely present all season, one good frost and poof, gone. Why do without memories like these?

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