Each Monday Cathy at Rambling In The Garden invites us to share an arrangement composed of materials collected from our gardens.
As October soon draws to a close, the garden continues to offer some cheer. Last vestiges of zinnias and a few more Dahlia ‘Fireworks’ fill this week’s blue mug.
There are three colors of the dahlia plants from the Fireworks series that I picked up at a garden center early in summer. I would not grow them again. The yellow-red combination is not to my taste., the pinkish-red one is a little better. I prefer the apricot-peach one (tucked in bottom right of previous photo) but it blooms less well.
A volunteer marigold flowered in an abandoned terra cotta pot, opening just in time for me to add it to this week’s arrangement.
Here are a few more close-ups. The zinnias are tiny at this time of year, but some still are beautiful.
Callicarpa americana (American beautyberry) is native and attracts birds. I watched a mockingbird eating the odd-colored berries and seemingly savoring each one.
Angelonia angustifolia ‘Purple’
Callicarpa americana (American beautyberry)
Celosia plumosa ‘Castle Mix’ (Feather Celosia)
Verbena bonariensis (Tall Verbena)
Zinnia Cut and Come Again (Zinnia elegant pumila)
Thanks to Cathy at Rambling In The Garden for hosting and giving us an opportunity to share flower designs across the world. Visit her to discover what she and others found to place In A Vase On Monday.
Each Monday brings the chance to join Cathy’s In A Vase On Monday to share an arrangement using materials gathered from the garden.
My plan was to prepare one last vase of zinnias for this year but the cooler nights (with frost warnings) have claimed them. Usually Monarchs pass through this time of year and dine on zinnia nectar for a few days, along with lantana. While the zinnias have faded the lantana is going strong, but unfortunately the butterflies are a no-show.
Needing a substitute, on a whim I selected a bundle of French marigolds, one of my few successes with planting seeds (the other being zinnias). Unlike the zinnias the marigolds seem unfazed by the cooler weather.
As I cut the marigolds rather short in order to preserve the many buds still on the plants, it was a challenge to find a suitable container. I settled on a small white china fruit bowl and amassed the flowers to form a low, dense tapestry of reds, oranges and gold.
A lone garden phlox bloom, rescued from the ground, and several other purples were tucked among the marigolds for contrast.
In this week’s vase the bonfire intensity of the dominant colors and the sharp, pungency of the flowers combine to form a spirited salute to autumn.
Antirrhinum majus (Snapdragon)
Phlox paniculata (Garden Phlox)
Physostegia virginiana (Obedient Plant)
Salvia nemorosa ‘May Night’ (Hardy Sage)
Verbena bonariensis (Tall Verbena)
White fruit dish
Thanks to Cathy for hosting this weekly chance to express our flower arranging passion. Visit her at Rambling In The Garden to discover what she and others are placing In A Vase On Monday. Feel free to join in.
The garden needs attention and a spate of recent mild autumn days has left little excuse for not tackling a long list of fall garden chores. Yet, the irises are not thinned, the replacements for the Arizona Cypress that died are not planted, the weeds are not pulled. There are no interesting bulbs waiting to be planted. Enthusiasm and motivation for gardening, so easily tapped in springtime, readily elude this time of year.
One chore yesterday left the meditation circle in a disruptive state. I pulled the filler plants-marigolds and angelonia-that had provided intense color all summer.
I have experimented with several types of plants in the meditation circle and am really happy with the performance of a long-time garden favorite in this garden, Iberis Sempervirens (Candytuft). Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (Beardtongue) is also working well for sections where extra height is wanted at the turn-arounds. These taller plants serve as visual cues for guiding visitors along the path.
The thyme is unimpressive so far. During the past six weeks, the Penstemon mexicali ‘Pike’s Peak Purple’ (Beardtongue) has bloomed much better than it did all summer, winning it a bit of a reprieve, but it has a wild scraggliness that is unappealing for the meditation circle. A landscaping friend is coming to walk the meditation path this week and I am eager to hear her ideas.
In winter 2011 planning for a garden renovation was underway and one idea was to include a meditation space. By mid-April installation of the meditation circle and labyrinth was completed. Even in its then totally bare, stone and mulch state, the circle immediately became a dynamic focal point for the garden.
Throughout spring and summer perennials and annuals were added between the paths of the labyrinth. Various plants were chosen as experiments to see what would grow (and not outgrow) the narrow, six-inch wide path; what would survive the summer heat and dry spells; and what would contribute to understanding how to walk the labyrinth.
Five Iberis sempervirens ‘Purity’ (candytuft) and eighteen mounding thymes were among the first introductions, added in March and early April respectively. Coreopsis was considered, but eventually planted elsewhere.
By the first of May two Penstemon ‘Husker Red’ were added to demarcate turn-around points in the labyrinth.
Angelonia angustifolia (summer snapdragon) provided dramatic color in the meditation circle. In the foreground is Angelface Blue. A lighter shade, Wedgwood Blue, was added later along the lower left path.
In early June ‘Pikes Peak Purple’ Penstemon (Beardtongue) was used to complete the plantings between the walking paths. This proved less successful than any of the other plants. This native penstemon is wilder and more scraggly in stature, and less colorful than the ‘Husker Red’ it was meant to complement.
At July’s end the meditation circle garden was filled out and beautiful, transformed into a richly colorful space. The candytuft and thyme formed soft mounds, never encroaching beyond the designated space. Marigolds and the angelonia had to be trimmed back from the path several times–the cuttings made long-lasting indoor arrangements. After a summer rain the angelonia stems fell over onto the stepping stones, but were easily uprighted.
Now, well into October, the annuals continue to bloom. French Marigolds at the entrance and profusely blooming Angelonia along the left side add welcome color and help serve structurally as a gentle guide for how to walk the labyrinth.
When frost eventually forces their removal (October 24 or so) the circle will look much different. The plan is for the evergreen plants of thyme, Penstemon (both ‘Husker’s Red’ and ‘Pikes Peak Purple’) and Iberis sempervirens ‘Purity’ (candytuft) to continue to provide winter interest.
The garden has been completely on auto-pilot for the past eight weeks. With July’s extreme heat and drought came parched plants and severe gardening lethargy. Then the months of August and September brought several important rains, and as is the way of gardens, this garden responded, sparking renewal in growth and interest.
Touring and taking inventory today it was impossible not to revel in the multitude of blooms.
A few days into September the gardenias began blooming again, putting on a more magnificent show than in early June when temperatures in the mid-nineties forced them to struggle. Now the air is filled with the lovely and unmistakable scent of gardenia.
The Orange Canna adds height and interest to the east end of the side garden. Throughout July the canna’s blossoms wilted almost immediately. Today its elegant blossom brightens this space again.
A few Shasta Daisy flowers continue to bloom in different spots around the garden. The divisions transplanted in early Spring are healthy.
It was a treat to discover the Jackmani Clematis in bloom today. This is unusual for this garden. Again the rain seems to have made the difference.
The lantana has been in this garden for ten years. It performed beautifully this year, one of those plants that does not mind the heat.
The Meditation Circle
The flowers in the meditation circle have held up well throughout the entire summer. The marigolds and angelonia withstand the heat and humidity brilliantly. Both have spread beyond the 12-inch allotment of space between the stepping stones, but an occasional shearing works to restore order to the labyrinth and yields long-lasting bouquets to bring inside.
The perennials in the circle, candytuft, thyme and penstemon, all performed well and look healthy. Between the two types of penstemon (Beardtongue), Penstemon Digitalis ‘Husker Red’ is the preferred choice. The 18 ‘Pikes Peak Purple’ Penstemons (foreground) have done fine but are more scraggly and flowers are not very showy–fine in their own right but not great accents for the labyrinth in the meditation circle.
To Be Continued
Many more flowers deserve mention today so this post will be continued later. For a last glimpse at the garden today, here is Salvia ‘Blue Sky.’ This was brought from a former garden ten years ago. It is particularly lovely this year.
July 2011 will be remembered as an extreme month of drought and heat, with the last week registering highs of 101,97, 93, 99, 102, 104, 100 and heat indexes that make one wilt. It is 74 now, moderated by storms that passed through and brought not just thunder and lightning, but actual rain.
This garden relies mostly on perennials, but at this time of year the garden’s perimeter beds have been browning and parching, with many plants barely hanging on.
A few plants have thrived as the summer progressed though the searing days of July, mostly those in the meditation circle’s labyrinth. The thyme, the Penstemon (both ‘Husker’s Red’ and ‘Pikes Peak Purple’) and the Iberis sempervirens ‘Purity’ (candytuft) are doing well. Here though the real stars are two annuals, the angelonia and the French marigolds, which seem to take strength from the strong sun. These provide the midsummer garden’s main color and impact.
Two ‘Husker Red’ Penstemon have performed well in the meditation circle, along with Iberis sempervirens (Candytuft) and the fantastic annual, Angelonia. A grouping of thyme has survived, even bloomed, but is too finely textured to contribute a strong show and disappointingly has no scent. An initial planting of French marigolds at the entrance, added just to get started with something, is an incompatible, jarring color and has bloomed unevenly anyway.
Happening upon a bargain this morning, I hesitated only two minutes before I decided on a perennial I hope is a good choice to help fill in the labyrinth’s wall.
Pikes Peak Purple
I selected eighteen ‘Pikes Peak Purple’ Penstemon (Beardtongue) that had come into the garden center fresh from the grower recently.
This plant is a hybrid. Among its desirable qualities, it is deer-resistant, drought-tolerant and attractive to hummingbirds and butterflies. Its mature size (12-15 inches tall by 10-12 inches wide) and its upright growth habit makes it suitable to fit within the 12-inch space between the labyrinth’s stepping stones. It is evergreen and during its long blooming period, the violet-purple color will work well with the rest of the garden’s color scheme.
When the heat subsides this evening I will try to get them all planted.
Completion of the meditation circle has been a good impetus for bringing friends to visit the garden this spring. Generous rains have made the irises and roses look healthy and strong and have helped get the circle’s “wall” plantings established.
So far though only a few plants have been selected as the wall between the paths and at the turnarounds: Thyme, Penstemon, Angelonia, and Marigold, the last two being annuals. Eventually the goal is to have a full, varied, perennial border within the circle.
The roto-tilling work was completed late tonight. Still some grass remains but it will be easy to remove if necessary. The soil is pretty smooth, nice rich soil at that, and now the meditation garden is ready for laying out the path and planting.
Tomorrow morning’s weather is predicted to be fierce: thunderstorms, possible tornados, but clearing by lunchtime. The winds today have been blustery. At a garden center where this afternoon I picked up twelve more red concrete stepping stones, plants were being toppled right and left into the aisles.
The stones that will form the path in the labyrinth are accumulating slowly–84 of the estimated 160 are on site. It is less costly to pick them up a dozen or so at a time than to pay for delivery and it is fun to peruse the aisles each visit to see what new plants have come in to the garden center.
Today I purchased three compact coreopsis and a flat of French marigolds, which along with yesterday’s flat of thyme and about eight candytufts will be used to begin to form the walls. I have been giving a lot of thought to what kind of plants to use. In researching ideas I came across an inspired garden labyrinth from Cornell created from bulbs.
As lovely as that is mostly I want to choose low-growing, evergreen, clumping forms to help maintain the definition and structure year-round. Also selecting plants that require little water is important as this region has been drought-prone for quite a few years. It will take time to fill in the entire plantable area of the labyrinth. Using seeds will help make it more affordable and there are some plants in the garden that can be transplanted. But getting it all right, creating a perfect balance of color, form and texture will be a big challenge.