Favorite Flora: Succulents

Succulent – in the food world it means delectable; luscious.  In the plant world, the same adjectives may come to mind as you gaze on succulents’ richly textured and subtly colored forms. Thick leaves that store water, leathery surfaces that reduce moisture loss and soft, muted colors that reflect light rather absorb it; all are ways that these plants survive a less-than-hospitable environment.

Give succulents good light, allow them to dry out between waterings and fertilize them frugally.  Use them inside, outside, in containers and in the ground.   Their diverse forms grace any sunny garden setting.  For a preview of the season’s succulents, click on the video below.

Garden Trends 2019

By Teresa Woodard

Hello 2019! It’s an exciting time for the plant world as the horticulture industry experiences a renaissance. According to the 2019 Garden Trends Report by the Garden Media Group, American gardeners set a record $47.8 billion in lawn on garden retail sales (from bulbs to outdoor furniture), and the average household set a spending record of $503 up nearly $100 over the previous year. And 18-34 year-olds are spending more than ever.

Indoors is the new outdoors for the “Indoor Generation” that averages 22 hours inside a day. Apartment dwellers appreciate the physical and mental health benefits of plants.

Houseplants Craze: In Nov. 2018, the New York Times reported plant influencers in their twenties and thirties are fueling a new generation’s obsession with houseplants that’s growing faster and more tenaciously than English ivy. Horticulture stars of Instagram, like Houseplantclub, now have book deals, sponsors and hundreds of thousands of followers. In addition, a host of highly curated houseplant stores including Midwestern ones like Stump, Fern, Darling Botanical, Art Terrarium and Mod Gen are cleverly promoting plants such as pilea, fiddleleaf fig, succulents and Monstera (#MonsteraMonday).

New Plant Performers: Today’s newest annuals and perennials are more than pretty.  To make it past tough trial garden managers, these new introductions also must appeal to pollinators and stand up to the Midwest’s weather extremes.  This year’s standouts include Allium ‘Millenium,’ Agastache rugosa ‘Little Adder,’ Vinca Tattoo series, Celosia argentea ‘Asian Garden,’ Mangave ‘Inkblot,’ Portulaca ColorBlast Double Magenta, and Gomphrena ‘Truffula Pink.’ Check out the complete list of trial managers’ favorites.

‘Stem to Root’ Edibles: While plant-based diets remain hot, it’s no surprise the trend spills over into vegetable gardening and support for local growers. One theme that is gaining momentum is the stem to root concept. Advocated by Ohio chefs like Jamie Simpson of the Culinary Vegetable Institute and Cara Mangini, author of The Vegetable Butcher, they teach ways to use all parts of a vegetable.  For example, Jamie showed me how to make an asparagus salad sautéing the tips, shaving ribbons of the stalks and pressing the stem ends into a juice for a dressing.

Plants As Social Change Agents: More and more communities are recognizing the power of plants as catalysts for social change. Downtowns are carving out more green spaces for public parks. Urban neighborhoods are planting community gardens to bring nutritious produce to food deserts. Streetscapes are being redesigned with more plants to attract consumers and create an environment for increased spending. All over the country, gardens are being planted to engage veterans, convicts, at-risk teens, recovering addicts, women’s shelter residents, cancer patients, college students, immigrant families and more.

“Living Coral” Color of the Year: Pantone’s color of 2019 is “Living Coral,” and the plant industry has plenty of offerings in this hue and some even in the coral shape and name. Check out ‘Firestorm’ sedum adolphii, ‘Coral Fountain’ amaranthus, ‘Kudos Coral’ agastache, ‘Queeny Lime Orange’ zinnia, ‘Orange Peach’ cockscomb and ‘Peachberry Ice’ coral bells.

Are there fewer dragonflies, fireflies, Monarchs, praying Mantis and ladybugs, today?

Insect Apocalypse: The plight of pollinators and Monarchs has been in the news for several years, but a German study on insect decline is drawing attention to threats on the broader insect population. Personally, I’ve been tracking dragonfly counts as a part of the Ohio Odonoata Survey, and the experience is giving me a new appreciation for the role habitat plays in supporting healthy insect populations. In the gardening world, gardeners can help curb insect decline by creating healthy habitats and by learning responsible pest control practices such as IPM (Integrated Pest Management). Joe Lamp’l of Growing A Greener World does a great job of explaining IPM for home gardeners.

Plastic Waste in Gardening: Last year, plastic straws were on the hot seat as communities began to ban them and food service companies like Starbucks and McDonalds announced plans to phase them out. National Geographic coverage of floating plastic masses in the Pacific Ocean spurred further conservations about plastic pollution and the need to reduce single-use plastics. The gardening world is taking positive steps by organizing plastic pot recycling events and developing compostable containers.

Plant Spotlights: Each year, several garden groups select a plant to promote. For 2019, the National Garden Bureau selected one annual (snapdragon), one perennial (salvia remosa), one bulb (dahlia) and one edible (pumpkin).  The Perennial Plant Association named Stachys ‘Hummelo’ as the perennial plant of the year. The American Hosta Growers Association named ‘Lakeside Paisley Print’ as the hosta of the year. And Hampton Court Palace Flower Show named ‘Starlight Symphony’ as the rose of the year.

Wishing you a happy new year of gardening!

Plant Preview from Cultivate 2018

ce074da4-9e0d-49f9-9527-088379363307By Teresa Woodard

Last week, the green industry met in Columbus, Ohio for Cultivate 2018 – a massive trade show in which 10,000 attendees and 700 exhibitors from 18 countries converged for a four-day event! Here, bulb companies from the Netherlands, seed companies from Japan and plant breeders, marketers and growers across the United States showcased their new plants and products.

Across the tradeshow floor, it was evident excitement is building in the horticulture industry as more and more people value the power of plants in our backyards, workplaces, health care institutions, schools, universities and downtown communities.

img_3649According to National Institute of Consumer Horticulture, the industry contributes $196 billion to the U.S. economy and creates more than 2 million jobs. The industry is fueling consumers’ hunger for more plants with many new varieties.  Here’s a sneak peak at 10 up-and-comers:

  1. Edibles: Two show winners include Amazel™ basil, a game-changing, mildew-resistant Italian sweet basil by Proven Winners, and Hort Couture’s Edibliss kales which combine sweet, soft edible leaves with the more flamboyant colors of ornamental kale. All-American Selections mini bell peppers (Pepper Chili Pie and Sweetie Pie) also grabbed attention for their snackable size.  

  2. Mangaves: Talk about a statement plant for containers! This succulent cross between an agave and manfreda was turning heads at the Walters Gardens booth.
  3. Perennial power: Watch for Proven Winners’ new PRIMO® series of heucheras with their big flouncy leaves in black, peach, pistachio green, rose and mahogany. They’re perfect for impatient gardeners that want quick results. For showy blooms, look for the new ‘Pop Star’ balloon flowers (Platycodon grandifloras ‘Pop Star’ white) by Benary, Poquito™ dwarf hummingbird mints (Agastache) by Terra Nova with profuse blooms in orange, blue, yellow and lavender; and Summer Spice Crème de la Creme hardy hibiscus.

     

  4. Double blooms: When a single bloom isn’t enough, breeders are introducing new double hybrids like Fall in Love™ ‘Sweetly’ Japanese anemone, MiniFamous® Uno Double PinkTastic calibrachoa and Superbells® Doublette ‘Love Swept’ calibrachoa
  5. Expanded fall plant palette: Tiring of mums for your fall displays?  Look for ornamental Corn Pink Zebra (a dwarf corn for containers) and new Sneezeweed hybrids (Helenium autumnale ‘Salud Embers’).
  6. Black-eyed vincas: In the Vinca Tatoo™ series, each vinca bloom is inked with a dark center. Colors include papaya, black cherry, tangerine and raspberry.
  7. Must-have gomphrena: ‘Truffula Pink’ was a Proven Winners standout with its heavy flower coverage, pollinator appeal and toughness in extreme heat and humidity. Plant it in mass in flower borders or containers.
  8. More mandevillas: Suntory is introducing two new giant Sun Parasol® mandevillas: 1) Giant Dark Pink with changing shades of coral pink and white blooms and 2) Giant Marbled Crimson with variegated foliage and red blooms. Columbus, Ohio gardener Paul Schrader trials many varieties in his eye-catching garden on City Park Ave. in German Village. 
  9. Canary wing begonia: Jared Hughes, 30-year-old plant breeder from central Ohio, is overwhelmed with the response to his first nationally released plant introduction with Ball Ingenuity. It’s a standout in shade gardens with its chartreuse angel-wing leaves and non-stop red blooms. The plant won the 2018 Retailers’ Choice Award at the trade show.
  10. Scented modern rose: Suntory has reintroduced perfume to disease-resistant shrub roses with its line of repeat-blooming Brindabella™ roses in red, pink, apricot, salmon, blush, white and purple.Brindarella rose

Garden Fashion Forecast

By Teresa Woodard

If there was a fashion week for the garden world, it would be this first full week of March as lifestyle magazines roll out the season’s latest plants and garden trends. Some of the themes that dominated 2016 – edible landscapes and bee-friendly gardens – are still growing and climbing to new levels. Here are ten trends curated from the latest issues of Better Homes & Gardens, Martha Stewart Living, Southern Living, Country Gardens, Garden Design and the UK’s Gardens Illustrated.

  1. Shades of Greenery – Named the 2017 Color of the Year by the Pantone Institute, greenery couldn’t be more fitting for the gardening world. While there are varying shades of green foliage, there are also plenty of green flowers to update your outdoor spaces. Try Bells of Ireland, ‘Green Envy’ Zinnia, ‘Sophistica Lime Green’ petunias, hellebores, orchids, ‘Green Flutter’ daylilies , ‘Green Star’ gladiolas, ‘Spring Green’ tulips and ‘Pistachio’ daffodils. Also, try spray-painting a bench green or adding green throw pillow for a fresh look.
  2. Shrubs Go Small – For low maintenance and small spaces, dwarf shrubs are the answer. At two-feet in size, try planting these shrubs in multiples or in a space where you don’t want to have to keep pruning to maintain a small size. Among the hydrangeas, look for ‘Tiny Tuff Stuff,’ ‘Bobo’ and ‘Little Quick Fire.” Also try ‘Green Velvet’ boxwood.

     

  3. Updated Classics — Hardwood trees are in short supply in areas of the country where ash trees have fallen to the ash borer. Top replacements include Accolade elm, State Street miyabei maple, Exclamation London planetree, Autumn Gold ginkgo, Fall Fiesta sugar maple and Shawnee Brave bald cypress.

     

  4. Pollinator Party — Gardeners are inviting pollinators to their backyards with flowers like monarda, butterfly weed, lantana, aster, liatris, lavender and borage. They’re also luring bees with trees like lindens, crabapples, redbuds, locusts and serviceberries.

    honey bee on aster pollen sacs 10-3-05

    Bee on aster

     

  5. Urban Wild – Driven by high profile urban landscapes like Chicago’s Lurie Gardens and NYC’s High Line, the wild design is gaining ground in residential outdoor spaces. Inspired designers are bringing high design to naturalized spaces. For inspiration, check out recently released books such as Wild By Design, Garden Revolution and Planting in a Post-wild World.
  6. Succulents Mania – Succulents were BIG at the winter plant trade shows, both in terms of variety (some look like rosettes while other look like sea creatures) and in terms of popularity (vendors showed them in containers, wall displays, framed and even suspended in macramé hangers).succulents framed Cultivate 7-11-16
  7. Elevated Edibles – Edibles aren’t just relegated to raised beds hidden along the ugly side of the house anymore. They’re now tucked in perennial borders, grown in pots and climbing sculptural supports. Check out recent magazines for new varieties (American Gardener), petite sizes (Country Gardens), hops (Horticulture), design ideas (Better Homes & Gardens), edible flowers (Southern Living) and a beginner’s guide (Martha Stewart Living).

     

  8. Fit for Extreme Weather – From heat waves to flooding, weather extremes are becoming the norm, and recent magazines are offering plenty of inspiration. See Country Gardens for a boggy backyard garden and Better Homes & Gardens for an arid one.

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    Primroses in a bog garden featured in Country Gardens (spring 2017)

  9. Uber Local Flowers – The locavore movement is stretching beyond foods to flowers as local flowers farms offer fresh blooms as an alternative to those shipped from faraway countries. Backyard gardeners can take this one step further with their own cutting garden.  See the March issue of Better Homes & Gardens for tips from Floret Farm.img_1757
  10. Millennial Appeal – Cashing in on the so-called Experience Economy, many savvy garden stores, yoga studios, floral farms and even clothing stores like Anthropologie are offering a host of workshops from flower arrangements to succulent containers to origami blooms. Check out the latest issue of Magnolia Journal for a floral workshop hosted by Joanna Gaines.

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    “Flora Workshop” in The Magnolia Journal Spring 2017

Plant Lust (Part 1)

Professional Conferences and Trade Shows = Plants, People and Gardens

By Debra Knapke
One of the joys of my profession is being surrounded by plants. Discovery of “new” plants is a main occupation at the professional meetings and tradeshows that I attend throughout the year. These meetings are filled with anticipation, excitement, revelation, and, for lack of a better word: plant lust.
Two recent conferences re-affirmed my third choice of career in horticulture. In July, Columbus, Ohio hosts Cultivate. This four-day event, organized by AmericanHort, is the largest Horticulture-Greenhouse-Landscape Trade Show and Educational Short Course in the United States. It offers an international assemblage of companies and an amazing array of plants and products. I take lots of pictures and notes to remind myself of what I want to use in my courses and design work, and what must be tried this year or next.
Below is a very small sample (out of 89 images) of the variety of what I saw in June.
Strange Plants for Special Situations;
 Imagine rows and rows of tables holding new plants for 2016. There is something for everyone! Many were snapping pictures of the above spiny specimen. Dyckias (Dyckia brevifolia) look like they are either from outer space or from the deep ocean. They require lean and dry soils and will “melt” during an extended wet spell.  Last year and this year my plants had to return to the greenhouse during our rainy spells.
Celosia Dracula Cultivate 7-11-16 crop
All I could think was –The bold puckered leaves and deep maroon inflorescences of Dracula celosia are just begging to be combined with a fine to medium silver foliaged plant. Not usually an admirer of celosia, I realized that I was feeling a bit of plant lust for this audacious annual. Dracula will be in one of my containers next year; possibly with dusty miller or one of the silvery helichrysums (Helichysum petiolare).
A Beautiful Blender
Begoniz Mistral Yellow Cultivate 7-11-16
Soft yellow flowers combined with dark green to maroon foliage placed in part to medium shade is like a breath of cool air similar to the winter wind that this plant was named for: Mistral Yellow begonia. I am currently growing the orange selection in my garden; next year I will grow yellow.
Plants in Combination

Helianthus Vincent's Choice Cultivate 7-11-16 cropSunflowers (Helianthus Vincent Choice) in combination with lisianthus (Eustoma grandifloruim ‘Black Pearl’ and ‘Rosanne’) make a luscious combination in a vase. Plant lust hit again…


Talented designers compete in several categories. One category is: here is your plant, create an arrangement around it for a center piece, a mantlepiece or a bridal bouquet. The plant this year was one of the tender hen and chicks (Echeveria hybrid). This is not your grandmother’s bridal bouquet.
succulents framed Cultivate 7-11-16Carrying on our current love affair with succulents in the home and garden, many framed displays of succulents were scattered around the trade show. This “picture” was one of three set up along one of the primary cross-paths in the show. I was trying to think where a four by four foot display would fit in my living room.
succulents 3 frames Cultivate 7-11-16The other two easels were mixes of succulents, grasses and ferns. Note the potted plants close to the center of the picture. These turmeric plants (Curcuma hybrid) were selected for their gorgeous flowers. I grew turmeric years ago thinking that I would harvest and dry the rhizome for use in the kitchen. The flowers were beautiful, but not as free-flowering as the new hybrids. Note to self: another plant that will be grown next season.

Proven Winners sets up booths that showed how their plants could be used on decks and porches. While you might not want as many plants in the above two “idea rooms”, it definitely makes you think of fall display possibilities; and then, there is next year…

perfect garden Hieft Seed Cultivate 7-11-16
Lastly, here is the perfect garden: buy everything in bloom, arrange, plant, add water, and sit back and enjoy with a glass of wine in hand.
Stay tuned for Part 2.

Chicago Flower & Garden Show

Eight Garden Trends Spotted on Navy Pier

By Teresa Woodard

At the Chicago Flower and Garden Show this week at Navy Pier, visitors are gaining a sneak peek at upcoming trends for the Midwest’s 2016 gardening season. Running March 12-20, the show began in 1847 as the Chicago Fruit and Flower Show and was one of the first consumer shows to be held at Navy Pier. Though its name has changed, the show continues to strive to educate, motivate and inspire its 40,000 visitors each year. Today, the show features 17 display gardens, seminars, cooking demonstrations, kids’ activities and a marketplace. Check out these trends we spotted.

butterfly at Chicago flower show

#1: Pollinators rule as illustrated with this over-sized floral butterfly in the Brookfield Zoo’s display garden. Growers are taking the National Pollinator Challenge to heart as they offer a host of pollinator-friendly plants. Just look for the bee icon when shopping this season at garden centers.

#2: Pantone 2016 Colors of the Year — Rose Quartz and Serenity — are popping up in many bloom colors including these Easy Wave Petunias in Pink Passion and Silver.

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#3: Ornamental edibles (like this colorful kale) continue to jump the vegetable garden fence into perennial beds, container displays and even cut flower gardens.

#4: Tropicals remain strong, even in northern climates, for their colorful blooms and bold foliage. Medinillas (left) are making quite a stir with their large, long-lasting blooms.

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Helleborus Gold Collection ‘Pink Frost’

#5: New varieties of these ever-popular hellebores feature stronger stems and more upright blooms, adding to their appeal as a bridal bouquet flower. 20160312_082215

#6: Succulents remain strong in 2016. Look for them in green walls, green roofs, table centerpieces, dish gardens, bridal bouquets, groundcovers and more!

#7: Creativity abounds among today’s water features with a full spectrum of sizes from big spilling displays to smaller bubbling urn fountains. This impressive five-part display was designed by Aquascape who also sells these faux stacked slate fountain urns of resin).

#8: The Magnificent Mile’s impressive tulip displays have generated a lot of tulip fans in the Windy City. And today’s options are unlimited from two-tone singles (center) to peony-like doubles (left and right).

Garden Year Round (Almost)

 Cold frames, row covers extend the growing season

row cover

Row covers seem to reduce wind burn, allowing cold-tolerant greens a chance to survive winter. I picked a few leaves from these collards, planted in late summer, in early February.

By Michael Leach

Perhaps a pinch of pixie dust would make cold frame gardening more appealing.

Cold frames, solar-heated grow boxes, are as utilitarian as shovels and trash cans. Mine, constructed of salvaged bricks (for passive solar heating) and a window sash from an old aluminum storm door, is especially homely. Although a commendable example of up-cycling, it’s hardly worthy of Martha Stewart.

Fairy gardens, on the other hand, appeal to the imagination. This is where Barbie does gardening with cute little plants and adorable accessories to match every outfit. Macho versions also exist, from farms and ranches to Jurassic jungles with plastic dinos. No doubt succulent-studded landscapes worthy of Star Wars also exist somewhere in the galaxy.  

Despite its lack of visual appeal, the cold frame oozes charm. It’s an excuse to dabble in the dirt long before (or after) the growing season. For cabin fever crazed green thumbs, this is as much a draw as the most elaborately accessorized fairy garden.

The only accessory in my cold frame is a row marker for the kale planted January 30.

Yes, January 30. That’s part of the appeal of cold frame gardening, a chance to plant in a reasonably safe environment “when all aloud the wind doth blow … and birds sit brooding in the snow … .” as Shakespeare observed. Beneath the glass cover, the wind won’t blow the little kale, spinach, collards and other tough greens. Inside their miniature world, the weather is more late-March or early April, which is about planting time outside in this part of the Midwest. And that’s only if soil and weather conditions cooperate.

Besides an early start, I’ve found the cold frame eliminates the tedious business of coddling seedlings for weeks indoors under lights or on windowsills. This is child’s play for many growers but somehow I usually manage to dump trays when watering or being klutzy. 

cold frame

Cold frames can be constructed of many types of materials. Mine is made of salvaged bricks and a window sash.

Cold frames aren’t foolproof. Because a vicious blast of late winter might prove too much, additional sowings are planned about every two weeks or so.

Another threat is neglect. Even cool sunny days can turn a cold frame into a solar oven. Monitoring is a must to keep the lid ajar as needed. Temperature controlled hinges are available for ambitious gardeners. They’re the sort who use cold frames for: wintering plants of questionable hardiness, forcing spring-flowering bulbs, starting summer flower and vegetable seeds, and sowing fall crops that will linger into winter. 

Besides cold frames, floating row cover serves as a season extender. The lightweight fabric is made specifically for agricultural purposes. The sort I use is designed to ward off insects not frost.  Yet it has been sufficient most years to help spring-planted greens survive all winter and produce a flush of new foliage the following spring. When this happens, the plants eventually burst into  sprays of cheery yellow flowers that delight bees. 

Googling “cold frames” and “floating row cover,” not to mention checking the gardening sections of public libraries, produce a plethora of ideas for creating and using these warming environments for early — and late — season gardening.

Now that I think about it, maybe a miniature red tractor and some tiny fencing would add a dash of whimsical charm to the kale seedlings when they emerge.

 

2016 Garden Trends

Bugs, Biophilia and Boldness

By Teresa Woodard

Hello, 2016! At Heartland Gardening, we ring in the new year with a trends round-up includingCENTS 1 some highlights from this week’s CENTS convention (Central Environmental Nursery Tradeshow) at the Greater Columbus Convention Center in downtown Columbus.

·         Embracing bugs – Today, more than ever, gardeners are appreciating insects’ important roles not just as pollinators but also as decomposers and predators to manage insect populations. They’re adding plants to attract beneficial bugs and rethinking pesticide practices that can harm them.  According to Bug Lady Suzanne Wainwright-Evans, beneficial bugs bring a $4.5 billion value to the green industry. She shared a link to helpful plant lists from Penn State’s pollinator trial gardens.

A new variegated milkweed (Asclepias 'Monarch Promise')

A new variegated milkweed (Asclepias ‘Monarch Promise’)

 

·         Designing biophilic – Economist Charlie Hall says biophilic design is today’s hottest architectural trend. Architects and landscape designers are adopting biophilic design elements to bring nature’s healing qualities to today’s homes and landscapes.  Think green roofs, green walls, natural lighting, water features and green infrastructure.

CENTS wall

Biophilia design elements like green walls, green roofs and green infrastructure

 

·         Changing demographics – Hall also says two changing demographic groups – Millennials (ages 18-34) and Baby Boomers (ages 51-69) will offer opportunities for the green industry. As the Millennials begin to buy homes, they will be adding landscapes, and as Baby Boomers age they will demand more landscape services to maintain their properties.

CENTS 2

Economist Charles Hall at CENTS 2016

 

·         Growing edibles – More and more nurseries are jumping on the edibles trend, so consumers will have even more options at their local garden centers. At the CENTS show, Debra Knapke presented on “Native Edibles” and said that adding plants that have multiple functions, edibility being one of them, is a way to build functional plant communities.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

·         Bold backyards — The Garden Media Group reports homeowners are taking a bolder approach to outdoor living. Customization, new lighting and sound options are driving the trend for these ultra-personalized backyards. Homeowners are moving away from subtle, minimalist aesthetics toward designs that heighten sensory appeal. At the CENTS show, we saw bold tropicals, striking succulents and beautiful porcelain outdoor tiles. In the color palette, orange and sangria continue to be popular colors.  Pantone, the global color authority, recently announced its colors of the year for 2016: Rose Quartz and Serenity (muted shades of pink and blue).  We’ll have to wait and see how these pale colors play out in the horticulture world in the next season or two.

CENTS porcelain

Porcelain outdoor tiles showcased at CENTS 2016

Garden Creativity: What would Picasso Say?

seated-woman-in-garden-1938Six Timeless Quotes To Inspire Fresh Garden Ideas

By Teresa Woodard

As gardeners reflect on the past season and plan for the next, I thought I’d share these inspiring quotes from painting master Pablo Picasso as they were restated in a recent story in Entrepreneur magazine.

  1. Bad artists copy.  Good artists steal. Just as in the art world, no ideas in the gardening world are new. So, yes, I’ll be stealing lots of ideas —  like elements of this massive border — from this summer’s round of garden tours.IMG_6989
  2. Everything you can imagine is real. A few gardens I saw this year truly stretched my imagination. For example, King Ludwig’s underground garden grotto or the Bellagio Conservatory’s crane topiary may seem a bit surreal, but they do inspire big thinking.
  3. 37301IMG_5480Art is the elimination of the unnecessary. As a garden writer, I tend to collect too many different plants which often creates a cluttered look in my garden. So, a goal for next season is to accumulate more of the most dazzling plants and donate those unnecessary ones to the Master Gardener Volunteers’ spring plant sale. One day, I’m envisioning rivers of plants like these Adrian Bloom designsIMG_9082 IMG_9086 at Chadwick Arboretum.
  4. Action is the foundational key to all success. Can I hear an “Amen”? This truth undoubtedly applies to gardening and anything else in life.  So, check back with me in a year, and see if I took action on the 10 new ideas in my journal to-do list.
  5. journalAll children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up. I’m grateful to have teenagers and young neighbors to bring their youthful spirit to the garden. Thanks to them I planted peanuts, apple gourds, ghost peppers and crazy succulents.  Some ghost peppers even ended up in the high school cafeteria and caused several dared friends to lose their lunch as they choked them down whole.
  6. 20151108_140601 I paint objects as I think them, not as I see them. As I hack ideas from great garden designs, I can bend them to my own vision for my space, budget, growing zone and personal style. Here, I’ve planted hundreds — not thousands —  of Spanish bluebells (Hyacinthoides hispanica) to achieve my own scaled-back version of this spectacular tulip display.20151024_154441IMG_5641

 

Check out the After Picasso: 80 Contemporary Artists at the Wexner Center for the Arts, through Dec. 27.sandromiller_irvingpenn

 

Rainy Days in the Garden

IMG_0165By Michael Leach

Rain is one of a garden’s greatest allies. But too much of a good thing, becomes tiresome. In my part of the Midwest, we’ve been having a rainy, dreary summer.The result is weeds and mosquitoes going berserk and al fresco activities canceled with scant notice. All too often, we remain inside, looking out through rain drops trickling slowly down window panes. 

Yet raindrops add a unique look to plants. So hoist an umbrella, kick off your shoes and prepare for a fresh perspective when “pennies from heaven” start to fall.

Hostas look fine no matter the weather, and a spangled woodland poppy enlivens the scene. 

Woodland poppy

 

Roses sparkle after a rain.rose

 

 

 

 

 

Waterlilies get into the act, too.

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Drought-tolerant succulents assume a different look.

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Downpours bent the stems of a couple of over-loaded lilies. No matter. They became an opulent bouquet and brought a whiff of the garden indoors.

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