Archive for October 2011

Garden Designers' Roundtable: Darkness

The shadows know . . . !
a small courtyard garden is visually enlarged - and enhanced - by its shadow. Casa Benavides Inn, Taos, New Mexico

As the days of autumn shorten, the low-slung sun casts longer and more distinctive shadows. The play between positive and negative space becomes more exaggerated; an even match for the color drama going on now, too.

Shadows help us see forms. Various textures and shapes reflect and collect light differently allowing us to distinguish unique elements amongst landforms, hardscapes and plants.

dunes at White Sands National Monument

enhanced shadows expose the topography

shadows created by the foliage texture of this kale help us analyze and understand the plant's form
the variety of textures and forms in this garden create shadows that make it more readable

Shadows cast upon a vertical surface create a multiplying effect that gives depth to a garden. They can also provide new interest and beauty to a blah surface.

Allium shadows on brushed stainless steel at Kevin Robb Studios

the shadow of an tree creates the illusion of a climbing vine

Shadows cast upon a horizontal surface heighten the textural nuances of the hardscape material and create a distorted echo of the item itself.

ghostly images from vintage iron posts enhance a plain-Jane concrete patio

a lattice shadow on river pebbles has a watery distortion

Another type of "shadow" is a silhouette. Items back-lit by the sun and viewed through a translucent screen have a fascinatingly different appearance -  sometimes simplified, sometimes more complex.  (Either way, it does give one the sense of having x-ray vision.)

hidden flower buds, exposed

colors and shapes interplay like multiple layers of stained glass - Denver Botanic Gardens

a tangle of grape vines, simplified

Our landscapes are changing rapidly now.  As autumn moves into winter, and darkness dominates our days, I hope you will seek out the shadows and enjoy their stories.

Please visit my fellow members of the Garden Designers' Roundtable for more inspiring ideas and information on our theme of Darkness:

Lesley Hegarty & Robert Webber : Hegarty Webber Partnership : Bristol, UK
Genevieve Schmidt : North Coast Gardening : Arcata, CA

Thanks to M. Zwalen and M. Komodore for allowing me to photograph their gardens!

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Fall Classic

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Now that we are well into the second month of fall, it’s time to get serious about preparing the garden for winter.  Here is a check list of chores that I try to get done between late October and late November before the distractions of the holidays and the onset of really cold weather. 
  • Blow out automatic sprinkler system and insulate tap. Our first snow and hard freezes are predicted for mid-week, so get crackin'!
  • Remove hoses from faucets; drain.  Store hoses and sprinklers in a handy location for winter watering.
  • Winterize water features.  Drain, clean and store or cover fountains and pots.  Remove plant debris from ponds and set up a bubbler (a submersible pump with a short piece of pipe attached to the outlet) to keep some surface area free of ice.  Disconnect pumps to recirculating waterfalls---especially if the water volume is fairly low.  Ice buildup can divert water and cause problems.  Moving water will also make your pond colder, which may be an issue if you have fish.
  • Empty all containers of annual flowers or veggies (add healthy vegetation to the compost pile, dispose of the rest).  Remove soil – or the top 8-10” from large pots - (again, off to the compost pile!), and put containers into storage.  My “storage” is the back corner of my covered patio.  A shed or garage would also do the trick. 
  • Remove leaves from lawn areas.  I rake my leaves directly into my garden beds for a loose, temporary mulch.  I’ll remove them in the spring for composting.  You can also run your lawn mower over them and leave them, or rake them up for mulch or to compost.
  • Winterize lawn mower.  After the last mowing, run it until the gas tank is empty.  Clean mower and sharpen blade.
  • Add organic soil amendments  to planting beds. 
  • Plant bulbs. I'm planning to wait another week or two for this project; once the soil temperature cools down a bit more we'll be good to go.  
  •  Wrap young trees.  I don’t need to do this anymore, but here are the directions for “how-to”.
  • Clean up/cut back perennials.  I do most of this in the spring, because I like the structure and texture that many plants offer during dormancy.
This is a wonderful time of year to be outdoors and enjoy your garden - have fun!

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Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day 10.15.2011

Autumn purple ash, just about at its peak of color
 Although foliage color is what I associate with the month of October, as you can see here, there are a surprising number of colorful flowers to be found too!
Zagreb coreopsis
whirling butterflies
Autumn Joy sedum
Frosty Morn sedum
Maximillian sunflower
hummingbird flower
poppy mallow
All of these plus a few asters, phlox, centranthus, rudbekia, and Russian sage all add up to a rich bounty of blooms.

Please visit Carol, at May Dreams Gardens, to see what's happening in her garden and those of other garden bloggers from around the world.

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Aster 'Alma Potschke'
My favorite fall aster (the one with the name I can never pronounce), is in full bloom now. The vibrant pink blooms are a throwback to spring; not quite au courant in autumn, somehow. Maybe that's why I like them - bucking the trend that calls for deep reds, oranges, golds, and bronze!

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