Friday, September 30, 2011

Goodbye September, Farewell USA

The goldenrod is yellow ...
Helen Hunt Jackson

The goldenrod is yellow;
The corn is turning brown;
The trees in apple orchards
With fruit are bending down.

The gentian's bluest fringes
Are curling in the sun;
In dusky pods the milkweed
Its hidden silk has spun.

The sedges flaunt their harvest
In every meadow-nook;
And asters by the brookside
Make asters in the brook.

From dewy lanes at morning
The grapes' sweet odors rise;
At noon the roads all flutter
With yellow butterflies.

By all these lovely tokens
September days are here,
With summer's best of weather,
And autumn's best of cheer.

I am writing this at a US airport on the last day of September. I am bound for England, and when I arrive it will be October. September in Pennsylvania was WET. It rained every day, often accompanied by severe thunder and lightening. My garden suffered as vegetables and flowers drowned in the unprecedented downpours. September in my garden, however, was true to Helen Hunt Jackson's poem in some ways, as follows:

The corn is turning brown ...

The walnut trees with fruit are bending down.
Bumper crop of large walnuts this year.
The milkweed its hidden silk has spun.
The 'grasses' flaunt their harvest.

The grapes' sweet odors rise.
My garden is all flutter
with butterflies.
The plane is boarding now ...
Pam x

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Sunday, September 18, 2011

September Bouquets

Yesterday, expecting company for dinner, I picked a couple of bouquets for decoration. I placed flowers from my cottage garden on the dining-room table and herbs from my vegetable garden on the kitchen island. I can't think of a more perfect way to display what is blooming in my mid-September garden than by showing you my two bouquets. I have to confess this is not an original idea, as Noelle at Ramblings from a Desert Garden has a Monthly Garden Bouquet post showcasing pictures of bouquets submitted by bloggers. She posts them on the 20th of each month. I urge you to check out Noelle's excellent blog.

For my bouquet of cottage-garden blooms I chose buddleia (butterfly bush), zinnias, marigolds, chrysanthemums, roses and tiny, white yarrow.

Yellow zinnia, pink chrysanthemums, and Knockout rose.
Purple budlehea, zinnias and mums.
Pink budlehea

Knockout rose


Purple budlhea and white zinnia
Zinnia bud - holds the promise that summer isn't quite over
 I placed my bunch of flowers in a white porcelain jug detailed with embossed-flowers. This beautiful vase was given to me (filled with flowers from her garden) by my dear friend, Karen. It was Karen who introduced me to zinnias several years ago, and they are probably my favorite annual. It is fitting that I have them in her vase now.
My bouquet of herbs was made up of curly parsley, mint, basil, and echinacea. I added nasturtiums for color. There were also some sprigs of flat leaf parsley, but I used them for the salmon spread I made for an appetizer. I placed my bouquet in a small, cut-glass jug.

My favorite nasturtium. The delicate petals are almost transparent.
 The collage below shows, clockwise from top right, chocolate mint, nasturtium leaf, basil, curly parsley, and nasturtium.

 I missed Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day this month, in part because I was without a camera. As you can see, my new one arrived -- these are my first pictures taken with it. I was not able to afford the digital SLR I would have liked, so I settled for an upgrade of my old point-and-shoot (which I loved) and bought a Nikon Coolpix L120. One advantage is a greatly reduced learning curve, so I could begin shooting immediately, but when my ship comes home I would still love to own an SLR.

My garden is not looking its best right now, and I need to do some serious tidying of beds, as everything is flopping all over the place. When my friends arrived yesterday, however, they remarked that I still had quite a bit of color. And you, my gardening friends, can see that color displayed in my bouquets. I am now heading over to Noelle's blog to enter them for her Monthly Garden Bouquet post. I hope you will visit there, too, and consider sending Noelle some pictures. Her only rule is that the flowers are from your garden.

Wherever you are, whatever your season, I hope you are enjoying some beautiful blooms.

Pamela x

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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Pamela's Planters

It has been more than a week since Hurricane Irene stormed through our neighborhood, but we still haven't finished clearing up the debris. We lost some trees along the edge of the upper field. None fell on the house, and we are thankful for that. The electricity went off, the basement flooded, and we had no telephone service for two days. Our road was closed for five days because falling trees pulled down electric wires. Now we are being deluged by rain from tropical storm, Lee.  I walked around my gardens, between showers, and thought how beautiful the 'fall' flowers looked -- in spite of the weather -- especially the sweet autumn clematis, the blue mist shrub, and turtlehead. I started taking pictures for the new meme, First Views, by Town Mouse and Country Mouse. I think their idea to show the Big Picture at the beginning of each month is a good one, but my poor, broken camera finally gave up the ghost.  Instead, therefore, I will  show some of my planters. I took photographs of them a couple of weeks ago when my camera was still functioning somewhat. I was inspired to chose this topic by a recent posting from Carolyn's Shade Garden,  Colorful Annuals for Shade. Carolyn shows some amazing combinations of plants.

Large planters filled with elephants ears, papyrus, and lots of dragon wing begonias give my full-sun patio something of a tropical look this year.

Three large planters along one side of the patio create a sense of enclosure.

Elephant's ears Colocasia Black Magic, Begonia Dragon Wing, and Creeping Jenny

Deep blue calibrachoa and bright pink begonias have a bright, tropical appearance.

I love to see the tall papyrus seed heads waving in the breeze.
My container garden, which we call The Stone Garden, is shaded by maple trees and lilacs, so shade-loving plants are in order. This year, I decided to 'keep it cool' with white and silver flowers and foliage. I chose caladiums, white impatiens, and white begonias.

Caladium White Christmas and Impatiens walleriana

Caladuim White Christmas, Begonia, and ivy
I added a little color to break the monotony ...
Silvery dusty miller and peach tuberous begonias.
I haven't counted them lately, but I probably have about thirty containers, including hanging baskets and window boxes. I often stick with just one plant in a container. The basket on the gate into the kitchen garden contains petunias, the basket on the gate into the shade garden has peach-colored impatiens. The cone hanging basket contains lantana. On the back-porch are hanging baskets of impatiens and fuschia, and on the deck I have three large Boston ferns. All these are shown in the collage ...

Usually, visitors enter the house via the deck. They are greeted by a cheerful tub of French marigolds. I start marigolds from seed in the house in early spring, moving the seedlings to the potting shed (under grow lights) and plant them liberally in the kitchen garden after the last frost. The planter at the bottom of the steps contains marigolds that were left over after planting the veggie garden ...

Marigolds are bee magnets.
A strawberry jar filled with geranium Pelargonium, impatiens and Sweet Alyssum by the potting shed.

This sweet alyssum was a self seeder from two years ago. It has a lovely scent.

A tub of phlox placed in front of a mirror.
I often use perennials in planters. Two pots of phlox, one pink and one white, are reflected in the mirror at the end of the grassy path, below. I am always trying to detract from that ugly pasture fence.

Containers of Zinnia elegans fill gaps in my flower beds.
I start zinnias from seed indoors in early spring like my marigolds.
The garden fairy is holding a pot of sweet peas next to another planter filled with zinnias.

Behind the zinnias there is a container with Canna Topical Salmon.

I use coleus in containers, as well as planting them directly into the shade garden beds. Two large containers are placed on either side of the garage doors. You can see one of them behind the zinnias, above. My favorite container of coleus is the teapot on the back porch, shown in my lead photograph.

Pansies and Johnnie-jump-ups have flourished in the window boxes since the were planted in April.

A pot of coleus and peppers sit on the antique milk churn, filling a gap in an herbaceous border.

With apologies that I didn't devote a posting to September First Views, here are a few pics that I took before my camera died this week.

Stunning Sweet Autumn Clematis and white roses climb the wrought-iron trellis.
David Austin rose Rosa Lichfield Angel blooms next to the pond

Clockwise from top left: Blue Mist shrub, phlox, butterfly bush and purple cone flower.

Finally, several hypertufa containers, placed around the pond, are filled with succulents. A frog admires one in the next picture ...

Hens-and-chicks Sempervivum Purple Passion

While we have torrential rain, I know some of you are suffering worse weather conditions, including severe flooding in Vermont and wild fires in Texas. I pray for your safety and a rapid return to happy gardening.

Pamela x

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