September 15, 2017

Flower and Foliage Vignettes

sunny mix

It's been a funny growing season: different than others I've experienced in ways I'm having trouble describing in words. I'll save the introspection for a cold day in November, but for now I'll focus on the pleasant plant combinations I'm noticing in the garden. Some were planned, others were happy accidents.

The sunny west-facing garden was mostly planned. The Zinnias are going strong, and though the Echinaceas and the Salvias are fading, the Blue Mistflower (Conoclinium coelestinum) is adding a pretty river of blue. Most of the plants blooming now will continue until the first killing frost. They should provide plenty of pollen and nectar for bees, butterflies, and other pollinators. Many of the plants will provide seeds for birds into the winter, and I'll harvest the Milkweed seeds for friends' gardens, and for next year.

ball bearings

Speaking of seeds (within nuts) we've had an amazing acorn drop this year. There are so many nuts on the ground, the squirrels and chipmunks are barely bothering to bury them. Walking across the backyard is like walking on ball bearings--I've nearly fallen several times!

Anyway, back to the pleasant plant combinations. Here are a few I noticed recently, in no particular order:

zowie and mistflower

I like the complementary--opposite sides of the colorwheel--effect of Zinnia 'Zowie Yellow Flame' framed by Blue Mistflower.

citrus and zahara

Lantana 'Landmark Citrus' and Zinnia 'Sahara Sunburst' line the front part of the sunny border.

tapestry coleus and speedy sonnet

In dappled shade, Caladium 'Tapestry' plays nice with various Coleus varieties and 'Speedy Sonnet Mix' Snapdragons.

hosta ferns and viburnum

Late-blooming Hostas layer nicely with ferns and Cranberrybush Viburnum (V. trilobum).

fuchsia and foliage

An unknown Fuchsia hybrid that snuck in with an overwintering group looks full and lush under the foliage canopy of other potted plants.

kale and sea oats

Ornamental Kale is expanding to its autumn bulk. I like it with a fancy hat of Northern Sea Oats (Chasmanthium latifolium).

figaro and tropical

This is myy first year with Dahlias, believe it or not! 'Figaro Yellow Shades' is a nice companion with Tropical Milkweed (Asclepias curassavica) in a pot.

coneflowers and asters

A couple of years ago, I added Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) to the dappled shade garden. It's taking time to establish, but golly it looks lovely in oblique autumn light. I just added two pots of Aster 'Kickin Lilac Blue' to the garden a couple of days ago, because baby rabbits ate my other Asters down to the ground--even though they were caged. I see more potted native plants and cultivars in my future.

bubblegum and sedums

Petunia 'Vista Bubblegum' and several trailing Sedum cultivars are pretty in a hanging pot.

aster and fern

Finally, the Asters backlit by senescing Ostrich Ferns (Matteuccia struthiopteris) and more Blue Mistflowers cheerfully capture the golden early autumn light.

What flower and foliage combinations take the stage in your garden? Check out other options at Carol's Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day and Pam's Foliage Follow-Up.

September 05, 2017

Gardeners' Delight at Niagara Falls

np falls

Happy September! It seems like just yesterday I was in Buffalo, New York, and after that, at Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada. The Association for Garden Communicators (GWA) held its Annual Conference and Expo in Buffalo, Aug. 4-7, and the full-day, post-conference story tour on Aug. 8 took us to Niagara Falls.

I was a "new-bee" for this conference, and I must say it didn't disappoint. The organization's leadership and the other attendees were friendly and welcoming. I even reconnected with "old" friends--garden bloggers and writers I'd met at other events.

I think my favorite "event" was the Niagara trip. The gardens were amazing, the Canadians were welcoming, and of course the Falls (which I'd never seen before) were spectacular and more powerful than I'd imagined.

np round garden

We started the day at Niagara Parks' Floral Showhouse, where bright plants and blooms wove through the grounds.

np round statuary

I realized later that most of my photos here were from the exterior grounds, but this indoor display was hard to miss. All the statues on the grounds were lovely. I searched and searched online for an explanation of this sculpture and couldn't find a thing. It appears to depict three children playing on top of a Corpse Flower (Amorphophallus titanum).

np houses

Outdoors, a "Life in the Garden" display featured lush arrangements of annuals and perennials, alongside whimsical miniatures of homes, buildings, and modes of transportation.

np house

np mini train

np treehouses

np mini church

np trading post

I've always enjoyed miniatures, and their placement in the gardens was joyful and inspiring.

np greenhouse 2

The greenhouse was handsomely bordered by vines and shrubs.

np greenhouse

I spent as much time outdoors as I could on that beautiful day.

np borders 1

The borders and planting beds included many pollinator-friendly and strikingly beautiful blooming plants.

np statuary

Another statue for which I can't find a name was this lovely piece rising out of a fountain--the woman depicted is lovingly holding a simple bouquet of flowers.

np freedom

Fortunately, I did record the story behind these sculptures. The collection of bronze figures titled, "Freedom," depicts children playing with wildlife in a pond.

The next photos include artful arrangements in pots, along rock walls, and in borders at various Niagara Parks locations--the grounds of the Floral Showhouse, Oakes Garden Theatre, and Niagara Parks Botanical Gardens.

parks pots

parks planting

np pots

np border

np borders 2

np planters

np botanical seating

np botanical display

I could have spent hours around the Botanical Garden's European-style hedged garden, where Hydrangeas mixed with Joe Pye Weed and flowering annuals in pots.

hort school border

hort school plantings 1

hort school plantings 2

The School of Horticulture had some attractive and utilitarian displays, too.

butterfly outside

We also visited the Butterfly Conservatory, where Monarchs on Butterfly Bushes (Buddleia spp.) greeted us near the entrance.

butterfly 1

butterfly 4

butterfly 2

butterfly 3

butterfly triplets

Butterflies of more than 2,000 species fly free in the enclosed, rainforest-style conservatory.

falls boat ride 2

Of course, any trip to the Niagara area must include spectacular views of the falls.

parks falls

parks falls 2

They greeted us from various angles throughout the day.

falls gwaers

The highlight was when we donned the yellow plastic slickers and toured the "Journey Behind the Falls."

falls lookout

falls under

falls boat ride

falls close

The sheer power of all that water is truly impossible to depict in a drawing or a photograph. I'd have to say it exceeded my expectations.

o canada

Thank you, Canada, for your hospitality!

More highlights from the GWA event to come in future posts.