An unapologetic plant geek shares advice and opinions on gardening, the contrived and the natural landscape, as well as occasional topics from the other side of the gate.

November 30, 2013

Longwood Gardens in August - Pt. II

     As much as I appreciate colorful gardens, and I really loved what I saw on Longwood's Flower Garden Walk, it was nice to walk through the hedge at the end to a more natural area. Besides, with all that saturated color I might have been in danger of over-stimulation. After stopping to admire a planter of pitcher plants (Sarracenia species) and bald cypress (Taxodium distichum) used as a potted plant, I headed into Pierce's Woods, around the Large Lake and to the Italian Water Gardens.
Sarracenia Planter (1)

Droplets on Bald Cypress - Taxodium distichum

Large Lake - Ferns

Peirce's Woods Love Temple

Peirce's Woods Love Temple - Hydrangea arborescens

Italian Water Garden (2)

     While I was in this part of the garden, I had hoped to see the nearby Meadow Garden, but I did not know it was closed until I got there. They are completely renovating this garden, doubling its size, adding a Colonial era home and focusing on native plants. The new garden is supposed to open next summer, and it looks like it will be an interesting space.
Meadow Garden

     By this point I was getting hungry and stopped by the cafĂ©, but I had trouble getting through the door as I was distracted by their planters.
Restaurant Planters (2)

Restaurant Planters (1)

     Once I got my lunch, which was very good for cafeteria food, there were more distracting containers on the patio.
Restaurant Planters (3)

Restaurant Planters (4)

     After lunch I made my way to the Conservatory (which is where I will head in my next post), but before I got there I saw a garden cart loaded with one of my beloved Bismarck palms. I shouted the directions to my car, but the driver evidently couldn't find it.
Bismark Cart

November 24, 2013

Longwood Gardens in August - Pt. I

    In reaction the impending arrival of winter, and for the fact that the temps today will barely be above freezing, I thought I would use the time indoors to take a short trip back to August when I visited Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania. The other part of this story is that all of my pictures (inlcuding the 327 I took at Longwood) were, until recently, trapped on my old and very dead computer while I figured out how to retrieve them without having to pay someone to do it for me. Obstacle hurdled with surprisingly helpful advice from a Best Buy employee, I can now take you with me, but will do it parts as it is too much for one post, plus I know what attention spans are like these days.

     This was my second trip to Longwood, and as much as I love my family, I am glad I could get none of them to join me. Unhampered by having to worry about the comfort of others, I was free to stroll and linger at will. My first stop out of the visitor center was the Rose Arbor, where I didn't even notice the roses.

Rose Garden Arbor Planters (3)
Elymus arenarius, Caladium, Agave americana (?),
Solenostemon scutellarioides 'Dipt in Wine' (?), and my favorite palm, Bismarckia nobilis

Rose Garden Arbor Planters (2)
Aeonium 'Schwarzkopf', Agave americana (?),
Dichondra argentea 'Silver Falls', 
Bismarckia nobilis and pink Angelonia

     I next made my way through the Theatre Garden and towards the Flower Garden Walk, which was one of my favorite places in the garden that day. The Flower Garden Walk is several hundred feet long and bordered on either side with seasonal planting beds. I don't know if they do this every year, but this summer it was planted at one end with purples to reds. ending up with yellows and whites at the other, with many transitions in between. The gardener(s) at Longwood are certainly adept with color.

Flower Garden Walk (5)
Lisanthus and Capsicum annuum 'Purple Flash'

Flower Garden Walk (6)
The red trees in the background are Euphorbia cotinifolia which are more tropical than Pennsylvania. I was occupationally jealous of Longwood's abilitly to store them for the winter.

Flower Garden Walk (1)
Perilla 'Magilla', Pennisetum glaucum 'Purple Majesty' (I think), pink Pentas and pink Lilium

Flower Garden Walk (9)
Caladium and more Euphorbia cotinifolia (this time in shrub form)

Flower Garden Walk (10)

Flower Garden Walk (12)
I was smitten with the new-to-me Gomphrena 'Fireworks'.
I liked its wispy upright habit and its 4' tall height.

Flower Garden Walk (13)
There was a fountain in the middle of the walk surrounded by tree-form Buddleja alternifolia.

Flower Garden Walk (14)

Flower Garden Walk (17)
Dahlia 'Mystic Spirit'  was planted in a sea of
coleus (Solenostemon scutellarioides) whose name I failed to note.

Flower Garden Walk (19)

Flower Garden Walk (20)
Allamanda cathartica 'Hendersonii'

Flower Garden Walk (21)
Pale yellow Lilium, Rudbeckia, Canna and Hibiscus acetocella 'Mahogany Splendor'

Flower Garden Walk (22)

Flower Garden Walk (23)
Plectranthus argentatus 'Silver Shield' (I think), Lilium 'Zamebesi', Brugmansia,
and Hydrangea paniculata
     At the end of all that color is a hedge with a portal cut through leading to quieter, greener and more natural parts of the garden. We will head there in the next post.

(I will not be posting every picture, but if you would like to view my complete set on Flickr, you can click here.)

November 15, 2013

Bloom Day - First Freeze

     Yesterday morning we had our first freeze of the season. One side of my brain is well aware that this type of weather is expected at this time of year, but it always comes as a complete surprise to the other side. Despite the low temperatures I still have a few things to show for Bloom Day, and many of them are some of my favorite plants.

     I have raved about Ajania pacifica (Silver and Gold Chrysanthemum) before, but in case you missed it, I like its semi-evergreen nature, ease of growth, drought tolerance, late bloom time, and I especially appreciate its foliage. Behind it is another favorite perennial, Amsonia hubrichtii (Blue Star Amsonia) which should be grown for its ferny foliage which turns gold in the fall. However, in my opinion you can keep its skim milk blue flowers. Coming up through my patch of Ajania is another favorite, Salvia leucantha (Mexican Bush Sage).
Ajania pacifica (1)

Ajania pacifica and Salvia leucantha

     The Amsonia foliage also does a good job at backing up the still showy flowers of Cuphea 'David Verity', which has been blooming non-stop since May.
Cuphea ignea 'David Verity'

     Another plant I appreciate just for its foliage is Arum italicum (Italian Arum).
Arum italicum

     Arbutus unedo 'Compacta' (Compact Strawberry Tree) could be grown for either one of its traits. It is evergreen, drought tolerant, has beautiful bark, has delicate white flowers and edible fruit (if you are hungry, really, really hungry).
Arbutus unedo 'Compacta'

     November would probably qualify as the most melancholy month, but for the blooming Camellia sasanqua. Camellias make winter bearable. The following are 'Autumn Rocket' (2), 'Kanjiro' and 'Yuletide'.
Camellia sasanqua 'Autumn Rocket' (1)

Camellia sasanqua 'Autumn Rocket' (2)

Camellia japonica 'Kanjiro'

Camellia sasanqua 'Yuletide'

     Now that all of the look-at-me summer annuals have either been pulled or are frozen, some of my subtler evergreens can be appreciated. This pair is Ilex cornuta 'O'Spring' (O'Spring Chinese Holly) and Danae racemosa (Poet's Laurel).
Ilex cornuta 'O'Spring' and Danae racemosa

     To see how the changing season is treating other people's gardens, visit Carol at May Dreams Gardens, who graciously hosts Garden Bloggers Bloom Day on the 15th of each month.

November 10, 2013

Perfect Timing at Waller Mill Park

     Each fall I try to have some sort of outing in order to appreciate fall foliage. It could be camping in the Shenandoah, a hike at Chippokes, or a day spent wandering through Colonial Williamsburg. While I am grateful for all of these opportunities, for some of them I felt like I missed peak color, and wish I had been there a week earlier, or realized that I had gotten there too soon. I had none of these feelings after a recent kayak trip to Waller Mill Park in Williamsburg. The colors were absolutely beautiful, and it was a perfect fall day.

Waller Mill Park (1)

Waller Mill Park (21)

Waller Mill Park (48)

     The shoreline of Waller Mill Reservoir had more sourwood (Oxydendrum arboreum) than I have ever seen anywhere else. For something with a bit of notoriety as to how difficult it is to cultivate, the hundred or so I saw were doing fine on their own.
Waller Mill Park (54)

Waller Mill Park (34)

Waller Mill Park (44)

Waller Mill Park (23)

Waller Mill Park (25)

Waller Mill Park (26)

Waller Mill Park (4)

Waller Mill Park (17)

Waller Mill Park (19)

Waller Mill Park (20)

Waller Mill Park (12)

Waller Mill Park (11)