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.

October 31, 2014

Even Weeds Don't Grow in the Pet Cemetery

     To my regular visitors who may have tuned in to read one of my annual Halloween stories, I apologize, I wasn't able to pull it off this year. I'm living my own drama at the moment, plus I have two articles past due, so writing for fun will have to wait. In the meanwhile, you can create your own stories from these photos I took this summer in Salida, Colorado. The pet cemetery is just outside of town, and Sherpa Girl K and I found it while on an early morning exploration. There was quite a bit or roadwork going on, and she got dirty looks from a highway worker when she quickly pulled to side of the road to indulge the photographer.

October 25, 2014

The Scott Arboretum of Swarthmore College

     Last week I was fortunate to attend the Perennial Plant Conference at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania. This multi-sponsor event brings in a some of the brightest lights from the world of horticulture to speak, and it was well worth the registration fee and the drive. One of the best things about the conference is its setting. Swarthmore is a private college founded by Quakers, and an alumni's family set up an endowment to fund the Scott Arboretum. The entire campus sits within the arboretum, and there is some spectacular horticulture taking place there. I didn't know what was more enjoyable, the learning taking place indoors, or the inspiration taking place outside.

Limb Work

McGill Walk (2)

McGill Walk (3)

Metasequoia Allée

White Adirondacks (1)

Ginkgo biloba 'Saratoga' Espalier (2)

Oxydendrum arboreum

Shadow and Light

John W. Nason Garden (1)

John W. Nason Garden (4)

Scott Arboretum Entrance Garden (1)

Scott Arboretum Entrance Garden (6)

Scott Arboretum Entrance Garden (7)

Scott Arboretum Entrance Garden (9)

Scott Arboretum Entrance Garden (13)

Scott Arboretum Entrance Garden (23)

Scott Arboretum Entrance Garden (25)

John W. Nason Garden (3)

Justicia betonica with Coleus

Leymus arenarius and Strobilanthes

Scott Arboretum Entrance Garden (10)


     I found it somewhat ironic that while students at Swarthmore might be able to enjoy remarkable gardens just by opening a door, they cannot study horticulture, it is not part of the curriculum. The gardens are there only to enhance the educational experience. 

(If interested, the entire set of my photos from the Scott Arboretum can be found here.)

October 15, 2014

Bloom Day - A Foot in the Door

     The first signs of fall are starting to appear in the local landscape, but peak foliage does not usually happen for us until early November. I am OK with that, as fall makes me somewhat melancholy, mainly because I know what's to follow. We have had a remarkable spate of weather in the past 6 weeks with mild temperatures, and plenty of rain, even though much of that has fallen in strong downpours. Usually by this time of year the garden is looking a little ragged from the summer, but this year, not so much.

     I planted Salvia 'Lady in Red' in my porch planters, but the roof covers them a bit denying the plants full sun and rainfall, yet they still bloom.
Salvia coccinea 'Lady in Red'

     When we do get cold weather, one of the first things to go down will be my coleus. I know there are people who save them year after year through cuttings, but I just buy new ones each spring. The botanical name of coleus is changing from Solenostemon to Plectranthus, which is a shame since I just learned how to spell Solenostemon without having to look it up.
Coleus Collection

     And just when I had come to accept that many Chrysanthemum are really Dendranthema, I now read they are switching back. So here is Chrysanthemum 'Bolero' (formerly known as Dendranthema).
Chrysanthemum (a.k.a. Dendranthema) 'Bolero' (2)

Chrysanthemum (a.k.a. Dendranthema) 'Bolero' (1)

     After this past winter's low temperatures, I had real concern that my Cestrum 'Orange Peel' would survive, and indeed I did have to cut the shrub back hard, almost to the ground. However, you wouldn't know it. It has reached over 6' in a single season, and has bloomed non-stop since late May.
Cestrum aurantiaum 'Orange Zest'

     This has been a bountiful year for my hardy orange (Poncirus trifoliata). It is one of the few plants remaining from a previous gardener.
Poncirus trifoliata (2)

Poncirus trifoliata (1)

     This has also been a good year for Callicarpa americana.
Callicarpa americana

     Probably the most distracting plant in my garden right now is Lantana 'Miss Huff'. I know it is common, but some things are common for a reason, and I couldn't imaging gardening without her.
Lantana camara 'Miss Huff' (1)

     One sure sign of fall around here are the blooms of Camellia sasanqua. This one is 'Yuletide', which usually starts flowering a little later. I hope its earliness is not any kind of omen as to how the winter will be.
Camellia sasanqua 'Yuletide'

     If you would like to see how the season is progressing for other gardeners, then please visit Carol at May Dreams Gardens, who hosts Garden Bloggers Bloom Day on the 15th of each month.

October 12, 2014

Another Year Older in Salida

     Part of our trip this summer was spent in Salida, Colorado, a quirky town on the Arkansas river in the state's "banana belt". Once a railroad town, Salida now relies on tourism from outdoor enthusiasts, and is a mecca for cyclists, skiers, hikers, kayakers and rafters. My birthday happened to fall while we were there, and as a gift, Sherpa Girl B took me and my son whitewater rafting through Brown's Canyon. Though the water was alarmingly cold to this southerner, even with a wetsuit, the awesome scenery, and the need to paddle were more then enough of a distraction. For those less active times, Salida is flush with art galleries, uniques shops, restaurants, music venues, and places where really good beer is served. Outside of downtown we discovered Murdoch's, which had "everything for ranch and home". I also enjoyed stalking through some of the town's neighborhoods looking at local landscape choices. I am very glad Salida was part of our vacation.

The View from F Street (1)

Painted Tree by Curtis Killorn (2)

Riding the Ribbon, Bill Hudson

The View from F Street (4)

Wall Alligator (6)

Kayak Salida (3)

Imrie for HD 60 (1)

Wall Alligator and Roff Cow

Outside Tracks (1)

Salida Sky (2)


Stone Bridge, Arkansas River (1)

Stone Bridge, Arkansas River (5)

747 (1)

Swirl Porch

Windmill House (2)

Rooster House

Toy Drum House (1)

Pink and White House (2)

     My usual disclaimer is included in this post, in that I have received no compensation for the mention of any organization or business. Although, I would not refuse an XL Carhartt - Men's Sandstone Sierra Jacket/Sherpa Lined, that is if any organization or business was to send me one. If you would like to see my complete photo set from Salida, the link is here to my Flickr page