Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Relaxing in Vermont

I am in Vermont this week, visiting my friend JoAnn, who has a house on a mountain in Stowe. The weather is perfect and we are visiting gardens and bookstores, eating blueberries from her garden, drinking wine, and laughing a lot! The views from her house are breathtaking and I am sitting on her deck overlooking the Green Mountains as I write this, and drinking my tea.  I'm blogging from my phone because I am having trouble with the wifi, so will post more about my time in Vermont when I get home.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Friday Fleurs

'Limelight' Hydrangeas
We had the most glorious day yesterday, sunny and warm, with no humidity at all. What a change from the last week!  What a pleasure to open windows and turn off the a/c and enjoy some fresh air.  The light around dinner time was just perfect, so I walked around the garden and took photos in the changing light. I just love that time of the day, 'the golden hour.'




Rudbeckia and Solomon's Seal


Thursday, July 25, 2013

Fiddle Leaf Fig

Well the last thing in the world I need is another houseplant, but I couldn't resist this dwarf fiddle leaf fig plant the other day while browsing around the greenhouse at Merrifield on a rainy day. Fiddle leaf figs (ficus lyrata) are apparently very big right now, as I see them everywhere, in magazines and on HGTV, and on home design blogs. They have very large, oversized leathery leaves and are very architectural plants. I do like them, but thought they were way too big for my house, as they are really small trees. Where am I going to put that? But when I saw this cute little specimen that was marked 'dwarf,' I thought, well I can work with that. And now I love my little fiddle leaf fig. Let's just hope it really is a dwarf--we'll see.

via Pinterest

via Pinterest

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Sunny Succulents

The plants that are really happy in this heat are definitely my succulents. I have quite a collection now, I try to pick up a new one every year and after several years, I have a lot of different varieties. I don't really know their names, I know they are sedums and echeverias,  I just get what I like. I find I like these succulents more and more,  as they thrive in our hot summers and need very little care.

I think what I like the most are their different textures.  Some are spikey, others are smooth like stones, some are rosettes, big and small. Some leaves are smooth, others ruffled.  The colors, too, are so varied- dark green, silvery green, bluish gray, variegated,  almost black,  chartreuse. There's lots of creative things you can do with succulents, too, like make wreaths, dish gardens, and all kinds of hanging gardens. All you have to do is look on Pinterest to see what people are doing with succulents. I am just happy to put them in interesting containers.

I have had one or two struggle this summer because of the rain. They were in a spot that got drenched and if there's one thing succulents do not like, it's too much water.


Echeveria 'Topsy Turvy'

Variegated sedum

Echeveria 'Ruffles'

Echeveria blooms

Monday, July 22, 2013

July Greens

As I walked around the garden this morning, what I noticed most was all the green. Even though we have had such hot, humid days lately, everything still looks so lush and green and somewhat overgrown. If we didn't continually cut back and prune things, my yard would surely be a jungle.  I did some work outside yesterday before the rain, mostly cutting back and deadheading, and Walt pruned some low lying branches from the redbud tree and a dogwood tree in the back. It started to rain in the late afternoon and we just continued to work--it felt great to be outside and somewhat cooled by the rain.

Below is the autumn clematis that would certainly take over my house if we let it. I keep tying it back but it is a losing battle. We cut it back to the ground in spring, and for awhile I thought we had killed it, but this thing is indestructible.

Clematis-covered gate

And I am loving my trees that form fruit after they bloom--the snowbell tree and the kousa. The birds love them.

Snowbell (Styrax) tree

Kousa dogwood

Kousa dogwood

Hellebores, Ginger, Ferns

Japanese Painted Fern

Hosta and Heuchera


Zinnia bud

Paddle plant and Setcreasea

And just so you don't think everything is looking great in the garden, here is what my pots looked like yesterday afternoon after days and days of 100 degree temps. Fortunately after a good soak, they are looking better today. Ah, summer.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Friday Fleurs: Zinnias

"Arranging a bowl of flowers in the morning can give a sense of quiet in a crowded day--like writing a poem or saying a prayer." ~ Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Urban Fleurs

I drive by this long wall of flowers on Route 7 every day and every time I think how much I love it. On one of the busiest streets in Northern Virginia, amidst office buildings and the mall, this long curved concrete wall has been totally covered in flowers since the spring. Such a sight! The other day I made myself stop and take some pictures and look at how they did it. There is a wooden lattice-like structure attached to the concrete, and then each section has window box-like plastic bags that are attached to the wood and the plants are planted in those. There must be hundreds, maybe thousands, of those plastic bags. It looks like they used mostly verbena, million bells, and petunias. There must be an irrigation system in the mulch below it, because believe me these plants are baking in the sun, and they have survived so far in the heat, since at least May. I wonder if they will replant them in the fall?  I love to take notice of the landscaping around urban areas and see the imaginative ways some landscapers enliven our space.

This shows some of the architecture behind the plants

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Books On My Nightstand

Nano, by Robin Cook. My guilty pleasure, I confess. I love Robin Cook's creepy medical thrillers.

And the Mountains Echoed, by Khaled Hosseini. Great reviews for this latest book by the author of The Kite Runner.

The Interestings, by Meg Wolitzer. Six kids meet at a summer camp for the arts in the 70s and the book follows their lives over the next 40 years.

The View From Penthouse B, by Elinor Lipman. Recommended by my pal JoAnn as a great summer read.

The Garden of Evening Mists, by Tan Twan Eng. A retired Malaysian judge and survivor of Japanese wartime camps leaves Kuala Lumpur and goes back to the tea plantation where she grew up. Memories of the Japanese occupation of Malaya are interwoven with the beauty and spirituality of the Japanese garden she tries to restore.

Family Album, by Penelope Lively. Things are not what they seem behind this happy family.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Sprinkler Morning

It is so hot here! I was up early, turning on the sprinkler at 7 am and moving it around the gardens. Even though we have had a fair amount of rain this year, especially compared to last year, after such hot days the plants need water. I hate this time of summer, when all you do is go from air conditioned house to air conditioned car to air conditioned work. Don't get me wrong, I love air conditioning and would surely die without it, but I do miss being outside and enjoying it. It's supposed to be a week of record temps.

I was reading the Post yesterday and liked this comment by gardening editor Adrian Higgins in response to a question about gardening in our hot summers. 

"This is how you stay on top of weeds: You weed year round, you never let a weed go to seed, you mulch the ground to suppress germination, or you cultivate bare soil every few days. Weeding equates to work, I'm sorry. I would say that 60 percent of my gardening is weeding. And they still bear down."

I liked that comment, weeding is work, gardening is work, you just have to do it. Even in the hot summer.