October 23, 2014

Round Book Table

No matter where I live...how large or how small the dwelling...there will always be one special constant in my home decor,

A round table, circular library if you will, of cherished garden books that rotate with the seasons, or my current interest, or a new horticultural obsession or fancy.

There are two or three requisites to its composition. Garden books of course...some for reference, some as botanical eye candy, some for sentimental reasons... 

but all readily accessible for the turn of a page, a quick browse,
a momentary pick me up.

 My second component is something crystal: a vase, carafe, bowl...to catch the light coming through
the windows in the morning, or reflect the lamp or candle light at night. Not crucial, or even functional...just a sparkling touch to make me smile when I walk through the room or reach for a book's image or phrase.

And the third? A huge, inviting seasonal bouquet or plant of course. Sometimes fresh cut, sometimes planted, 

sometimes...like my small Christmas trees, a hybrid of the two.

 Autumn, of course, calls for dried and temporal, earthy and umber vase prunings...leaves and branches...at once, both fiery and fading. 

From the outside looking in, the table beckons...

with its promise of mental and physical comfort and sustenance.

Replicating a spot like this need not be expensive or difficult. My table...42" of cheap wood veneer (atop wobbly legs in dire need of stability) was bought at a firehouse garage sale for under ten dollars. Floor skimming round cloths and thick bevelled glass elevate the table's appearance to suit the room...

 rendering this modest table ensemble perfect for me 

and my home

 and my

indispensable books and flowers.

October 22, 2014

Cardoon (Cynara cardunculus)

Now Showing:


(Kinda sounds like the name of  a summer blockbuster...)

And so it is...a real garden border blockbuster. 

And to think,

it started out just this spring as a little seed I planted from the Monticello seed collection (find some here). 

I grow cardoon strictly for ornamental reasons...its architectural drama, clumps of handsome foliage, gray-green-white color and overall stature.  Its amiability to our hot, dry summers doesn't hurt either.

The lavender hue of its thistle-y bud and bloom, though not my primary motivation for planting,

is as handsome and unique as the foliage from which it springs...somewhat menacing in appearance, thus rendering it all the more interesting...and subject to frequent comment from garden visitors. This year, after the bloom was spent, I lopped off its head and was quickly rewarded with new, equally as dynamic, foliage.

In our zone 7 gardens, I have seen it return...and not return, in the spring, depending on how low the temps drop. Giving it excellent drainage will help
prevent root rot from which it can succumb, making it an ideal companion for the equally drainage-demanding lavender, which, like the cardoon, is not always reliable about returning in the spring (or making it through our hot, humid summers for that matter.

If you prefer more reliable perennial companions, try coneflower, variegated small-leaved euonymous, liatris, or sedum 'Autumn Joy'. Actually anything with a ferny, cut-leave texture provides great contrast to its broad leaves.

 And while these same garden companions can start to look haggard, buggy and spent in the late summer heat...

the cardoon shrugs it off, continuing its handsome display well into fall.

Back lit by golden autumn lighting, it contributes much to the fall show, especially when paired with white dahlias, blue-gray cerinthe (find seed here on Etsy) or zinnia 'Green Envy'.

If you prefer stand-alone drama from this specimen, a simple
mulch of attractive gravel would suit it just fine. So if you're planning your

spring garden already...give it some consideration, won't you?

October 19, 2014

Purple Oxalis

I've had plum colored clover - purple oxalis - growing in my garden for years...albeit in small patches. Nothing to write home about as it were.

But then....I saw it growing in huge swaths, back lit by a golden September sun...

in my friend RL's fabulous garden...

and I had an epiphany -- the realization that I had not been doing it justice. I had been growing it in a petty

mean-spirited fashion. In little dibs and dabbles... a gardening transgression I was happy to remedy when I
selected the plum and chartreuse palette for my front beds this year.

I bought several quarts of PW Oxalis 'Charmed Wine'
and planted it in the recommended shade to part shade environ it
now enjoys. I can attest to its cold hardiness (to 15 degrees; though I have found when mulched it can handle even colder winter conditions), relative drought tolerance and deadheading free character.

I love the jaunty way the pale lilac-pink flowers bob atop delicate chartreuse stems...with a like-colored eye in the middle. RL had his growing in far more intense light and sun than I...another issue I rectified this season. Masses of pale floral ballerinas dancing on rich velvety-purple stages...great in number, again thanks to RL's generosity...he gifted me with huge clumps of these purple beauties.

The bi-tonal leaves glisten and glow and absorb light, botanical stained glass, especially when paired with delicate foliage---fern, drift roses, and guara are my  companions of choice...

to beautiful effect I think. Drive by and do tell

if you agree.

October 13, 2014

BABY FOOT Exfoliant Foot Peel

There are still bulbs to be planted, of course, and the relentless work of raking and blowing and composting all of those falling leaves;

but for the most part, the gardening season is beginning to wind down... 

outside gardening at any rate. And I don't mind telling you that this girl here...

is in no small measure

beginning to feel like this guy here.

A little scaly and flaky and rough...oh, and a little irritable.

Me-thinks some pampering is in order and pamper myself I will.

I am about to order a second box of the miracle-working BABY FOOT Exfoliant Foot Peel.

Find it here

My friend Sunshine gave me the scoop on this wondrous product, described in its brochure thusly:

"Thanks to Baby Foot, its 17 natural extracts will not only peel off the dead skin cells, it will provide you incredible moisturizing power and will help maintain your skin's texture. The main ingredient is fruit acid..."

And that, my friends, is pretty much all you need to know. And that IT WORKS!
And that it's worth every penny of (its about) $25 per treatment cost. 

And that if you've gardened as hard as I have this year, you deserve it. Trust me on this one........you'll be glad you gave it a try.

October 11, 2014

A Bench For All Seasons

The back garden, like the front garden and potager, has undergone numerous changes...some intentional...most, thanks to Mother Nature, not. But one garden element,

ornament really,

has been ever present... a constant companion. 

Our wooden bench nestles under the canopy of an old and gnarly redbud, another devoted inhabitant in the 24 years we have lived here. The old tree, beaten up, weather-battered, yes...but still charming and protective of its progeny...three now... grown and sculpted and protective of their own under plantings.

The garden has matured, evolved, pouted and laughed... as has its caretakers.

The bench, patient and reliable, has born witness to it all.

Both beautiful and functional,

in form and in spirit...

its charm undiminished by heat or cold,

drought or torrent.

Always at the ready

my mother would say

tucked away


in every season

to rest our weary bones.