Sunday, August 31, 2014

My Favorite Plant in the Garden - This Week

Better late than never, LOL...

This sedum is a seedling that appeared about six years ago. I almost weeded it out but it was one of those weeding tasks I never got around to. Anyway the first time it bloomed I did a double then triple take. The flowers on this lovely plant are yellow with that beautiful foliage. A definite unique sedum I've not seen the likes of in any nurseries around here. There was a Sedum 'Purple Emperor' nearby so I'm assuming that is one of the parents to this plant. I like to call it 'Emperor's Gold'

Thanks to Loree from Danger Garden for hosting our weekly favorites.

Monday, August 25, 2014

The Bountiful American Mountain-ash

About twenty years ago, a seed from this indigenous tree germinated in my back yard. It was probably deposited by a bird. Lucky for the seedling it appeared between a couple of large granite rocks. If  it had been in the lawn it would have been mowed down before I realized what it was.  I was pretty happy when I realized it was a seedling from a Mountain-ash tree.  I've always admired their graceful compound leaves and especially the beautiful red-orange fruit it produces which ripen up in the late summer and fall.  The Sorbus americana is native to north-eastern North America and follows the Appalachian Mountains as far south as Tennessee. 

Over the years it's become a lovely specimen of its type and has produced fruit faithfully every year, some years more than others. This year the tree is so loaded with fruit it is bent over with the weight of it. The fruit has ripened to the delight of our local American Robin population and the yearly feeding frenzy has begun. I often wonder how the birds know the fruit is now ready to eat. A couple weeks ago there wasn't a bird to be seen in the tree except to perch and preen but last week the Robins and other birds descended. So far I've had the Robins as well as Catbirds, Mockingbirds, Finches, Cedar Waxwings and Northern Flickers feeding in the tree but the most numerous are the Robins. I have a great time watching them enjoy the bounty of this terrific small, ornamental tree.

The Robins are in many stages of moulting their feathers. We have juveniles from several nestings that display various degrees of the spotted plumage the youngsters sport. Some are still begging dinner from mom but they seem to go between feeding themselves and getting a handout from a parent. In some years the birds can completely strip the tree of fruit in a matter of a couple weeks. It will be interesting to see how long it takes them to work their way through the masses of berries this year.
You can see the tree is bent over from the weight of the fruit

This bird is partway though growing new breast feathers

I guess it's deciding which berry to go for next

A pretty raggedy looking bird halfway though moulting

Love the babies spotted breasts

This bird went for two and tried for three at a time but kept dropping the third one.

There are apparently small insects in the bunches of berries. The Hummingbird was foraging in the tree the other day

This cute youngster is still begging for food from it's parents. A late fledgeling from this year's nesting

Friday, August 22, 2014

Flying Gems...

My favorite thing about the August gardens here is that the bulk of the hard work is done for a bit, the containers are all filled in and only need occasional pruning, the borders just need deadheading and light maintenance so I have time to enjoy my daily visits from our Ruby-throated Hummingbirds.  One of the reasons I 'disappear' during winters is that I'm an avid bird photographer and spend my winters with my telephoto lenses and our beautiful feathered friends.  I even set up a bird blind in the back yard. (The neighbors think I'm cracked because I spend time outside in a 'tent' when it's really cold outside) Anyway, back to the Hummingbirds, these little gems are constantly in attendance and love all the fuchsias, cupheas etc in the gardens. I spent a few days this week with the camera and here are a few of the results. I haven't seen any of the lovely males with their pretty red gorgets but there have been lots of females and immature birds around recently

Monday, August 18, 2014

Tropical Container Border

I was finally able to spend some quality time in the gardens the last few days and managed to get the tropical container border polished up for a 'photo shoot'.  This garden began with a small corner of the front yard with a few pots back in 2005. It was the second year with my very first Brugmansia. You can see it toward the right of the photo. That plant was, in fact, the 'Charles Grimaldi' that just died this past spring. Poor Charles...  anyway, there was no rhyme or reason to the arrangement of the plants or colors back then, I just grew what I liked  and grouped them together in the corner.

Container garden summer 2005

From that humble beginning the garden expanded over the years to use up more and more of the lawn. (Hahahahahahaha I'm still digging up more areas of the front lawn to the chagrin of my husband) The garden is now about thirty feet long by ten feet at it's widest point. I normally have between forty and fifty pots in this section of the garden and I haven't counted how many different plants I grow in there but there are lots! Quite a few of the containers house combination plantings while there are also a lot of 'mono' pots in there that house the behemoth tropicals.
Container garden Summer 2014

As time went on I became a bit more selective about color choices for the border and have grouped the plantings by color families. The colors cover the hot side of the color wheel from yellows on the right through the oranges in the middle and reds on the left with accents of dark violets for contrast. 

For nine years my lovely Brugmansia 'Charles Grimaldi' reigned supreme. It grew into a magnificent specimen that would routinely push out more than 300 flowers at a time.
Brugmansia 'Charles Grimaldi' September 13, 2011
I replaced my 'Charles' this spring, but of course, it's only in its infancy at the moment. You can just see it tucked behind the Alocasia

Speaking of Alocasias, I bought this beauty, Alocasia 'Sarian' last year and it is turning into a tropical beauty. Love the texture and contrast in these outstanding leaves.

Anigozanthus is just now pushing out a whole new crop of flowers.

Lantana 'Samantha' anchors the right side of the yellow section of the border.

Another yellow Lantana in the yellow section of the border (can't think of the name at the moment)  All the Lantanas winter over dormant in the basement in the winter.

Looking down the border toward the orange section
Cuphea micropetala, this plant is five or six years old now and is a great Hummingbird magnet.  I don't know if I'll be able to keep this one over the coming winter. We'll see if it can go dormant instead of spending the winter in the greenhouse.

Love Euphorbia 'Sticks on Fire'
The queen of the orange section is my Aechmea blanchetiana

The orange section with Alocasia 'Portodora' in the background. Cana 'Pretoria' is a great textural contrast in this section with its striped leaves
This beautiful Brugmansia was a gift from a friend, it's called 'Shorty's Variegated' and a very floriferous variegated variety. The peach color only just allows in the orange section (peach is just a tint of orange) but it's magnificence demands its presence in the border.
Love the contrast between these flowers and the dark leaves of Colocasia 'Diamond Head'
Some of the red section of the border. The Salvia 'Dancing Flame' (behind the fountain) is just getting started

This border has been a fun adventure and we'll see what the future brings. Eventually I'm planning on turning this space into a shrub border that will take much less time and effort to maintain. In the meantime I'm having a ball with my tropical corner in New Hampshire.