February 9, 2016

Gulag Star Kale, Sweet Scarlet Dwarf Tomatoes and Roman Chamomile

I DO love kale...to admire in the garden, and consume at the table. I admit that until the kale craze of the past couple of years, I wasn't quite sure what to do with it. Now, if I do nothing more than (a) plant it with pansies, violas, or my kale companion plant for this spring...Wonderland Deep Purple or Deep Rose Alyssum from Swallowtail Gardens , OR 

(b) use it only in Tuscan Kale Salad...

it would be worth the effort. This spring I am going to try a kale seed blend that I learned about on Margaret Roach's podcast AWAY TO GARDEN (listen to the episode here)....GULAG STARS KALE.  Fluffy, frilly and fun....fabulous for my potager me-thinks.

Another recommendation from the same podcast was for Sweet Scarlet Dwarf Tomatoes (from Victory Seeds), a rather petite, compact tomato plant that will be more suited to my small space gardening.

If you've followed this blog for long, you know my deep affection and history with chamomile... German Chamomile to be specific.  This year I will finally order the lower growing version,  Roman Chamomile from Park Seed.

...to mat and grow in-between flagstones and in pots. I adore the way the scent permeates the air as the sun warms the dainty flowers and delicate foliage.

And with the prospect of fragrant buttery chamomile on a gentle breeze this spring, I will leave you to your own seed/soul searching.

February 7, 2016

Valentine's Day Gifts for Gardeners

Unbelievably,  January 2016 is in the record books, and Valentine's Day is on the horizon. Time to get your Cupid on and start thinking about ways to show your love to family and friends. For the past several years, I have hosted a Valentine's Cocktail Party for a number of my good friends and as a result, have come to enjoy a holiday that in the past I was not so enamored of.

My good friends Mr. and Mrs. Sunshine...quite romantic.

A few years back my friend Color Girl introduced me to the idea of 'framing' my guests for photos... as a happy reminder for them and me of whatever occasions warranted it. I think I'll resurrect the idea for my Valentine gathering this year. How to? Have a hobby store or framer cut poster board in your color of choice as they would a framing mat with a 3 or 4" mat edge and an open center. Use large sizes to frame 4; smaller sizes to frame 2. 

As much as I ADORE fresh flowers like those pretty in pink above, it's always nice to receive a more enduring gift...like jewelry (hint, hint...)  I am really admiring this Hydrangea Petal Cuff Bracelet (here) from TERRAIN (the whole collection is quite lovely) or even better, the Ginko Jewel Cuff (here).

Or why not get a Valentine gift built for two, and splurge on a delightful metal bistro set (color coordinated with your garden of course) and a nice bottle of Champagne for the two of you? 

Options abound on-line and in stores, but try Wayfair (here) for some options and inspiration.

Valentine's Day, thank heavens, is no longer just about romance (or lack of) in your life. Good friends can share their love for one another in the gift department as well. For some ideas watch LC and me on our most recent KFOR 4 YOUR GARDEN segment. (If it doesn't show below, go here for the link).

February 3, 2016

Pink Muhly Grass : Muhlenbergia capillaris Regal Mist

I have to keep the number of plants on my want list to a minimum these days. I have simply run out of real estate to plant many more, especially specimens like this cotton candy of a plant Pink Muly Grass 'Regal Mist' (buy it here).

Doesn't it look SPECTACULAR in contrast to these large leaved cannas?

It's one main drawback for me, however, is that it looks so much more dynamic, vibrant and ethereal when planted in large swoops of pink fluff...(large swoops of empty garden space being in VERY short supply here.) In addition, I think the overall effect of the entirety of the composition requires rather large swoops of its planting COMPANIONS as well. 

I don't know that I would have thought to pair it with Limelight Hydrangeas (here), but the marriage of the two is quite stunning...both en masse, of course.


Notice how the light and time of day affect the color, tone and vibrancy of the picture. Sometimes looking hot pink, then lavender, then rusty rose.

Oh, and wouldn't a sprinkling or two of lipstick pink Salvia gregii, like Cold Hardy Pink Texas Sage (here) or Penstemon Hot Pink Riding Hood (here) be a delight?  It would and is.

SURELY, I can figure out a way to incorporate it into my fall border (below), even if not in large swoops... (small swoops, perhaps?). I mean, the color is just PERFECT in a perfectly pink way.

"So lovely", thinks the girl in pink.

February 2, 2016

5 Garden Photo Ideas to Steal From the Pros

When I first took up garden photography, and gardening in general for that matter...I knew absolutely nothing about the process. I still have MUCH to learn, but I did pick up a few tips and tricks about composition from the professional photographers and magazine editors I've worked with over time.  

#1.  Try not to Cut Things Off ... 

in the scene you are capturing..... like the arbor post on the left hand side of the image above, which doesn't catch enough of the post to effectively make it a part of the scene...

or the cut-in-half terracotta, heart-shaped plaque on the gate of the potager. It can be displeasing to the eye...making the image look truncated and somehow incomplete. These issues could have been addressed by cropping after the fact, but would have made a more pleasing image at the outset...

had I included or excluded the gate and its plaque entirely. It was the same photographer, Ralph Anderson, (with SOUTHERN LIVING at the time), who suggested...(we both had the AHA! moment )...to paint the back bench in the same hue as the Goldsturm Rudebeckia and coreopsis blooming at the time.

Of course, sometimes the opposite of a principle...(in this case cutting things off)...when executed with intention as in the above composition, is ALSO effective.  


#2. Just Catch the Edges of Things

as in the container ensemble above or the garden bench here...

or the gate and Japanese Maple branch below.

#3. Look at the Garden from Unique Vantage Points

Take a picture from the OPPOSITE end of the view that is usually seen. Step into the bed if you must...and look from back to front for a change.

Or get up high...

or down low. Finally,

#5.  Look for the Story.  Tell the Story.
 Create Visual Poetry

Storyline:  Summer Romance

 Storyline:  Purity

 Storyline: Just beyond... and Out of View

...and a favorite image and storyline of my friend Color Girl...

The Empty Nest.

 Tell me a story please...