In a vase on Monday – the season continues

In the week I was away from home enjoying the rain (I’m not being ironic) in Devon the weather has changed in Italy too.

No longer the intense heat of summer but now the pleasant warmth of early autumn AND it has rained!  I have become so accustomed to having flowers in the house that my first thought was to pick some flowers for a vase; so these were picked on Saturday but not arranged until Sunday. Continue reading

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GBFD – Scorched and then the first rain came

As I mentioned in my last post we had our first rain for over a month during Monday night plus the temperatures have dropped this week by about 10°C, making it again possible to work in the garden with some degree of comfort at least for most of the morning and in late afternoon. Today I worked on until 1.30pm and it was hotter than I at first realised! Caution is needed, I was wearing a hat! Continue reading

GBFD – A beautiful garden is dependent on the foliage

This month I didn’t go out into the garden to look for foliage to photograph for this post but instead decided that I would look through the images I have taken so far this month and think about how the foliage relates to the whole garden experience.

This image taken on the first of May sums up my thoughts on foliage; even though the garden seemed full of flowers at the time (May 1st) in this particular view there are only a couple of tail end tulips still blooming and yet to me it looks lovely.  The texture and form and the varying shades of green MAKE the garden.

Looking accross the small island to the circular rose bed

Looking accross the small island to the circular rose bed

Looking across the large island there are flowers but without the foliage it would be a pretty poor show (May 5th)

Under the mulberry the blue colour and texture of Festuca glauca contrasts with the deep plum colour Huechera. (May 5th)

Under the Mulberry

Under the Mulberry

Some plants have foliage almost more lovely than their flowers.

Crimson edged leaf of Allium  Karataviense

Crimson edged leaf of Allium Karataviense

Cotinus

Cotinus

Sedum with feathery silvery folage of an artemisia

Sedum with feathery silvery folage of an artemisia

One red poppy in the formal beds of Perovskia

One red poppy in the formal beds of Perovskia

Large island in the foreground

Large island in the foreground

Looking across the large island there are flowers but without the foliage it would be a pretty poor show (May 5th)

Again this month I wanted to show you that by changing your images to tones of grey (thank goodness for digital photography) you can see very clearly how textures and forms work together to make a pleasing tapestry that will form the background to the flowers you want to display to their best advantage.

Cistus and Artemisia with Allium Christophii

Cistus,  Artemisia and Eleagnus with Allium Christophii

Same image in colour

Same image in colour

A narrow path leading you further into the garden

A narrow path leading you further into the garden

The grey image emphasises how wriggly the path edge is, I must adjust this, as it is unnecessarily fussy

The same image in colour

The same image in colour

What job is foliage doing in your garden?  Do you have a plant that you chose because it had lovely foliage rather than for the colour of its flowers?  If you are in the Southern Hemisphere it is autumn now, do you have some colourful autumn foliage to share with us?

To join in GBFD, simply post about foliage and leave a comment here with the link.

Plant of the Day – Sedum

In truth Sedum is a plant that gives pleasure over a very long season, not just for a day.  The newly emerging foliage in early spring already adds beauty to the planting scheme.  I like the thick, moisture retaining leaves; I like their colours which range from bright green to bluish to purple.

By Mid-September the flower heads are present but they take a while to actually open, several weeks even.  Bees and butterflies find them irresistible.  Better still it is so easy to take cuttings, pieces of stem or leaves will all grow to produce new plants if just pushed into some sharp compost.  The cuttings I took early this year are even flowering; I’ll be planting them all this week.

Sedum spectabilis ‘Iceberg’

Sedum spectabilis ‘Iceberg’ – I like the pure white flower

…and that all the parts of the flower are white, so not distracting from the overall effect

This was given to me by a friend, who doesn’t know the variety – it is one of my favourites, bright green foliage, bright pink flower heads that change to a satisfying deep red.

Starry flowers attract bees and butterflies

Sedum Matrona combines well with grasses, here with Penesetum villosa in the small island and Stipa tenussima

I’m not so sure about the colour combination of purple leaves and ‘brown’ flowers in I think S. ‘Purple Emperor’

Two varieties (one is S. Matrona) mixed with Miscanthus and ground cover Verbena in the LHB.

May Feast – Some pleasing combinations

The garden is made up of individual plants that from part of combinations that create vistas.  I wanted to share some of the combinations that I feel are working well during May.

Cotinus ‘Palace Purple’ with Rosa ‘Old Blush’

Salvia with Hemerocallis Stella d’Oro and Phlomis suffruticosa

Rosa rubrifolia and Iris

bluey-pink aquilegea with Rosa Rhapsody in Blue and blue oat grass

Dark, moody Sedum with bright orange Californian poppy

Ground-cover verbena and Californian poppy

Iris ‘Kent Pride’ and Nandino

Rosa ‘Molineux’ with Iris

What combinations are pleasing you this month?

Foliage and heat in the garden

I have decided to write on a regular basis about the foliage in the garden.  My intention is that I’ll write on the 22nd of the month.  I hope some of you might like to do the same thing so that we can compare as we do with GBBD.  As you will notice I am already late this month but hey this is the first one!  I also don’t know how to set up a “mister linky” but I’ll try to learn before next month!

Sedum and Artemisia ponticum

I think this image of a purple sedum and sage green Artemisia ponticum show very well how plants can work together; the solidity of the sedum versus the airiness of the Artemisia.  At the back of the garden I have a solid block of bay, it doesn’t line up with the central path at the moment but it will as I’ve planted some more and am trying to be patient while they grow to extend the block; planted in front are two Miscanthus ‘Morning Light’ which move in the wind against the solid Bay.

This will be even more obvious when the Miscanthus flowers – though I really think of  grass flowers as foliage, but they add so much to the garden I feel it correct to count them twice!

Here’s the same colour combination as above using Albizia ‘Chocolate’ and another Artemisia.

When I first thought about this and walked out into the garden with the camera I wasn’t sure how much interesting foliage there would be; that was a strange thought really as I think I like my plantings more for the foliage than I do for the flowers though I do enjoy those very much too.  When I plan a border or area of the garden it is just as important to me that the plant has interesting textual foliage as that it has a beautiful, perfumed flower of the right colour.  I don’t think there is a plant that has flowers longer than it has foliage – I may be wrong but none come to mind as I write; accepting this, then, the contribution made by the texture, form and colour of the foliage is going to have more impact on the overall impact the garden has than perhaps anything else we plant.

The Large Island is predominately silver foliage because this bed is not irrigated

In my post for GBBD I mentioned that we’d had a coolish summer (for Italy) with unprecedented rain during July; the temperatures in the last week have made up for that with several days of 35-37° C with a strong wind from the west and night-time temperatures only dipping to 24°C.  To me it seems some plants have been lulled into a false sense of security and have not pushed their roots down further to reach the damp lower layers.  Several now look very stressed and I have had to give them some water or I fear they would die.  Interestingly the Italian way of saying a plant or tree has died is to say it is seccata (dried) as death through lack of water is the major cause of losing plants.

Even my fig tree is very stressed and is losing its leaves and dropping the ripe fruit; the walnut also has many leaves which frankly look scorched.

Scorched fig leaves

fallen fig leaves, I must give it some water

Worst is the Bergenia, I will have to move them either to a shady spot or remove them altogether as they suffer like this every year and don’t actually flower all that well either.

Poor Bergenia

On a happier note the silver foliage in the garden is positively sparkling and glinting in the sunshine.

The vegetable garden can also thrill when the sun back lights the gorgeous red stems and leaves of Swiss Chard ‘Bright Lights’.

Can you spot the Verbena bonariensis growing as a weed in the vegetable garden!

Click here to see the foliage in My Hesperides Garden today.

Here’s a link to Carolyns Shade garden who has posted about her textural contasiners. http://carolynsshadegardens.com/.