Thursday, October 30, 2008

Garden Voices Update

Thank you everyone who has emailed me with your concerns about the mysterious disappearance of Garden Voices. I am happy to report that it is back. There were some hosting problems, but they seem to be solved.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Global Warming Alert

What’s wrong with this picture? It’s snowing. In October. In New Jersey. I’ve lived in New Jersey for a quarter of a century and I have never seen it snow this early. Normally we have our first snowstorm in January.

Wacky weather patterns like this were predicted when the scientific community began looking at the global warming phenomenon years ago. It is very frightening to see this and other predictions about climate change becoming reality. Even more frightening is the fact that it is happening much faster than the experts projected.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

You Might Be a Gardening Geek If . . .

As evidenced by the above photo, I have two more items to add to Carol’s excellent meme, You might be a gardening geek if….

…you have turned one of the crisper drawers in your refrigerator into a seed storage bin.

…the seed storage bin in your refrigerator is nearly full and you haven’t even begun to order your seeds for next year.

It’s only October and my seed drawer already looks full. There are packets that never got planted last year, partially used packets and seed that I have harvested and dried from my garden, Rutgers Gardens and a few other places that I won’t admit to.

The Winter Solstice, when I can begin wintersowing, can’t arrive soon enough. I need to make room in my drawer for the seeds that I will order once the catalogs arrive in the mail as well as seeds that I will be trading for on my favorite seed trading site, the Garden Bloggers Seed Exchange.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Winter Reading

Pinetree Garden Seeds, the seed catalog where I buy my favorite red zinnias, also offers bargain books. I have gotten some great buys on books that would otherwise be out of my reach. They are having a clearance sale, reducing prices to as low as $1. For a grand total of $26, I bought the following:

The French Country Garden - By Louisa Jones
France is often called "the country of four hundred cheeses" to portray its diversity. That same diversity is found in its gardens. Louisa Jones took a tour of gardens around the country and shares her impressions and conversations with the gardeners here. Sumptuous photographs illustrate them for us. The gardens are divided into six themes. “Intimate Country Gardens” features a grandmother’s, a painter’s, and a fashion designer’s garden, each reflecting their own personal interest. “A Passion for Plants” visits collectors of select species and their spectacular collections. The “Celebration of the Senses” gardens emphasize aromatic plants, foliage tones and textures, medicinal plants, edible plants and striking visual effects. In “Formal Play”, formal gardens exhibit whimsy in their playful planting patterns, topiary or sculpture. France is also seeing a rebirth of natural gardening that is explored in “Nature’s Ways”. A final chapter, “Planetary Perspectives” visits French gardens where global issues such as diversity and ecology play a major role.
Hardcover 176 pp pub. at $37.50
Clearance price $5.00

The Looking Glass Garden - By Peter Thompson
Take a trip to the Southern Hemisphere with Peter Thompson and see a whole new world of plants and gardens. Thompson wants us to extend our range of garden plants and touches on 1500 Southern Hemisphere plants and the role they could play in our gardens. He dispels the myth that these plants are too difficult to grow here, showing how these incredible trees, shrubs, flowers, vines, grasses and foliage plants can be used in sun or shade and hot or cool gardens. These plants have a forceful impact with their wild, exotic shapes, sizes and colors. Thompson demonstrates innovative ways to assimilate them into gardens using case studies of gardens where they are used. Hundreds of exquisite color plates illustrate these plants in their native habitats and in gardens. Thompson’s book is also a fascinating personal account of places, people, plants and gardens encountered.
Hardcover 451 pp pub. at $39.95
Clearance price $3.00

A Year in the Garden - by Theodore James, Jr.
Acclaimed garden author James and garden photographer Harry Haralambou take us on a very enjoyable and enlightening tour of their gardens as they evolve month-by-month through the seasons. They also share the story of the evolutionary background of these gardens from the time James purchased the one acre Long Island, NY property in 1974. On this property they have put an Alpine, water, shade, perennial, Japanese, shrub, woodland and secret garden. All come together beautifully to fulfill James' guiding concept that "a garden should be a series of events, spectacles, and occurrences that continue throughout the four seasons." Over 200 color photographs help readers experience all the pleasures of events and seasons in their garden. Hardcover 130pp. Pub at $29.95
Clearance price $5.00

Venzano: A Scented Garden in Tuscany – by Stephanie Donaldson
It was a misty November day, in 1988, when Don Leevers and Lindsay Megaritty first came upon the ancient Tuscan estate that was later to become their home. Nestled among the trees on the brow of a hill, it overlooked a landscape where agriculture still prevailed. Though in a state of neglect and disrepair, Venzano had abundant land and a reliable source of water issuing from a Roman spring. Today, their nursery garden is one of the jewels of the region, with an aromatic plant catalog listing nearly 10,000 varieties of lavender, rosemary, thyme, patchouli, lilies, honeysuckle, damask roses. Marrying exquisitely beautiful photographs to a narrative that is both personal and enlightening, we are given a taste of the daily life of a Tuscan gardener, as well a glimpse of the glorious hills and olive groves that lie just past Venzano's borders. For gardeners, armchair and otherwise, and for lovers of all things Italian.
Hardcover 144pp. Pub at $29.95
Clearance price $5.00

The Plantfinder’s Guide to Garden Ferns - By Martin Rickard
Ferns can add a naturalistic woodsy feel to a planting, or a lush jungly atmosphere. They come in an amazing array of leaf sizes and forms, and shades of green to gold to silver. You may think you’re familiar with ferns, but the variety in this book will astonish you. Rickard, the owner of a British fern nursery, guides readers on choosing and siting ferns, planting and caring for them, propagating them and using them in the landscape. He provides a large A-Z guide to large, small, desert and tree ferns. The color photographs in the book are exquisite. Many capture their beauty in the landscape, while others display individual fronds against a white backdrop. An exciting find for fern lovers.
Softcover 192pp pub. $24.95
Clearance price $5.00

The Random House Book of Old Roses – by Roger Phillips & Martyn Rix
Over 200 varieties of old roses with color photographs.
Softcover 95 pp pub. at $10.00
Clearance price $2.00

Feng Shui - Text: Belinda Henwood, Consultant: Howard Choy
Feng Shui is the Chinese art of harmonious placement meant to create balance between people and their environment. By following the principles of Feng Shui, people can bring this balance to their homes and gardens. Feng Shui can be complicated, but this book simplifies the concepts and touches on the basic remedies. In laying out a home or garden, one should look for a positive energy flow or “qi”. The book describes good home layout and placement of rooms, doors, and furniture. If you can’t change your basic layout, then it discusses simple remedies such as moving furniture, changing colors, adding movable partitions or plants to change the qi flow, and hanging wind chimes or mirrors. Outside, an appealing, simple and natural garden attracts nourishing qi to the home. Feng Shui is good design and makes good sense.
Hardcover 79 pp pub. at $12.95
Clearance price $1.00

Sunday, October 19, 2008

What Is She Doing Now???

To get that last photo of the zinnia from the bottom, I had to literally lay on my back and shoot upwards. While in that position, I noticed that it gave me great views of my neighbors’ trees.

This is the reason why there is so much shade in my yard. Those three trees are growing in other people’s yards and are so large that they overhang my yard. The only time that I get full sun is when the sun is in that small open space of sky.

My neighbors have seen me do a lot of strange things. I’ve dragged furniture out of the house to stand on and reach the tops of tall plants. I’ve walked in garden beds to press seed into the soil (actually recommended on the seed packet). I’ve gotten on my knees and hung my head upside down to take photos. So, as I lay on my back in the grass today with my camera pointing towards the sky, I imagined my neighbors looking out their windows, shaking their heads and saying, “What is she doing now???”

Three Views

Zinnia elegans 'Scarlet King'

Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Last Gasp

One of the advantages of the long growing season in NJ (zone 6), now prolonged thanks to Global Warming, are the number of plants still in bloom in October. Not shocking, I know, to those of you in warmer climes but still a wonder to those of us who were raised in much colder areas of the country. I brought my camera with me today so that I could capture the beauty of the Display Gardens at Rutgers Gardens before the plants are removed and the beds raked next weekend in preparation for winter.

Photo of the Day

I love that the seedheads are all leaning to the side contrasting with the rigidly upright stems. The ornamental grasses in the perennial borders captivated me. I have a love/hate relationship with ornamental grasses. In the spring and summer, they repulse me. I wonder how anyone could possibly plant such ragged, weedy plants in their flowerbeds. But in the fall and especially the winter, when they come into their own, I am bowled over by their beauty. I am determined to add them to my landscape. I carefully choose spots where they will look best in my yard. And then, in the spring, the cycle repeats itself. I find myself at the nursery, staring at ragged, weedy plants in pots wondering how anyone could possibly plant such ugly things in their flowerbeds.

Look at the color! The patterns! Who could resist this?

Personally, I like this photo more. It looks like a child scribbled on it.

I’m still struggling with light. Since I was photographing in strong afternoon sunlight which I dislike, I tried getting around it by shooting shaded subjects like this:

That same harsh light, though, produces magical photos like this:

The Yellow Garden Cosmos (Cosmos bipinnatus) in my plot is finally blooming and yellow:

The earliest flowers were white, but like the Seashells Cosmos which curled as the season grew later, these cosmos have become yellow at the end of the season. I like them so much that I think I will grow them at home next year.

Another flower that I would like to grow at home is lantana.

I haven’t figured out how to use it, but after seeing these berries and falling in love, I’m going to try harder to find a way to include it next year.

Just like in my own yard, insects were everywhere.

The sky was an incredible blue today, as you can see from the first photo in this post. While I was photographing the bee, I looked up and saw this:

Blooming in My Garden

The green marigold continues to unfurl its petals. I hope that it has a chance to fully open before a killing frost hits.

Calendula officinalis

I’m continually surprised at how many insects are out and about in my gardens.

My hardy mum continues to delight.

Even when the flowers have begun to fade, the delicate pink of the dying petals enhances the bloom.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Blooming in My Garden

Here's something that you don't see every day: a green marigold.

I just adore these marigolds. You will see them in my garden again next year.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Blooming in My Garden

They are just so gorgeous when they are fully open.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Blooming in My Garden

Anemone from the back.

What's left after the petals drop.

Yet another in a seemingly endless succession of photos of my one and only hardy chrysanthemum.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Blooming in My Garden

Of all the cyclamen I planted last fall, only one survived the predations of the squirrels. It produced a nice clump of blossoms of which this was the nicest.

My original intention was to capture the unique coloration of this cosmos, but when I uploaded it to my computer, I noticed the that the peony leaves made a great background.