Tuesday, October 26, 2010

'True Blue', baby, I love you...

Yeah, yeah. I fell for it: Gentiana 'True Blue', baby, I love you. Now if you'll just winter over, grow and flower prolifically. Oh, and keep coming back each year better and better. lol

A hybrid Gentian bred and introduced by Epimedium authority Darrell Probst. The color is so captivating and ethereal, I couldn't help, but just get it for my garden.

I also couldn't help humming the Madonna tune from when I was a wee lad.

Now a flash back to the 80's:

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Fleeing the Nest

Ok, so it took 10 years, but I've moved out and found a different place to live. I do miss being able to step outside in the morning to work in the garden, having a coffee and breakfast outside as the early light illuminates my plants and all that sentimental stuff, but I needed this move.

Now, in a way, I feel like I can have a life like the rest of my peers and I can truly represent the "Next Generation"! haha.

Most common question I've gotten: "Do you have a yard to play with and plant?"

No. But it's a good thing! I'm living with a UW Professor introduced by a friend/former volunteer of mine and it's all been working out well. He owns a town home in North Seattle where a landscape company oversees the maintenance of all the grounds here. It's actually not bad and the fall color on the allée of ashes (Fraxinus sp. haven't properly ID'd them yet) is captivating! Looks like our complex is on FIRE!

Fall Color in Stendall Place

While I could take over and teach them a thing or two about pruning and plant selection for the foundation plantings, I really don't need to. In a way, it's sort of a temporary living situation and it doesn't make sense to create more work for myself. I'm glad not to be coming home to outdoor physical work.

Going up to the garden every other day seems to work out okay. I feel like I'm not as overwhelmed (cutting back on nursery stuff as well) and I'm able to set a time limit to be able to call it quits for the day because: 1) It's getting darker earlier now and 2)I have to actually GO HOME!

Knowing that I'll need to be growing something in close proximity, I've already told my housemate that I might pot up some containers and help him with his hanging baskets. I could also follow my own advice and get some houseplants going again, but it'll be a challenge as I'm sharing the lower level of the house with a cat named, Nala.

Feels good to be a little more independent; taking responsibility for everything and just having the freedom to pursue other interests and be in an environment where I can be productive and feel like I'm moving forward with life. After a dismal late summer, I think this is just what I needed and I couldn't be more fortunate and thankful for this new phase in my life.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Peak Bloom in Queen Anne

I've posted several stories about my work with Dr. Brian Coleman and his infamous house in Seattle's Queen Anne neighborhood. Come August and into September, the final push for more flowers is quite evident in the massive array of colors, forms and textures I've attempted to incorporate into a house and garden, who's motto is "The more the better!", really comes together.

Have a look:

Queen Anne Home Sept 2010

Geranium with Phormium Composition
There's something about the contrast and collaboration of these two plants that make it very effective. This is Phormium tenax purpurea with Pelargonium 'Mrs. Pollock' or Tricolor Geranium.

Front Steps Container Planting Composition
The front steps look amazing accented with those large Ensete bananas.

Geranium Persian Shield and Coleus Composition
OMG, talk about color!!

Windowbox and Lower Bed Composition
The windowbox and surrounding seasonal plantings were exceptional this year highlighted with a blooming Melianthus major 'Antonow's Blue'!

There's lots of work to do to keep this up and cooling temperatures that will do most of the annuals in for the season. Now, there's a subtle transition taking place to integrate more winter interests.


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Container Craze

So, I've been on sort of a roll in assembling container plantings this fall and I've been trying to build up a portfolio of some of my work.

I can't tell you how much fun it is to pick out plants and create an instant garden in a portable object that can either remain as is or be allowed to develop into something grand, wild, and over-the-top fabulous!

Planting containers is like flower arranging. You tend to emphasize what it'll look like right now versus what it'll look like in a few months. When planting up containers for clients, it obviously has to look great from the get-go, but as you water and feed them like there's no tomorrow, they billow and grow and flop and, most importantly, they're usually fascinated by the transformation.

Here's some current examples of pots I threw together last week!

DSC06411 Container Planting detail

This container was donated for an auction to benefit the Dunn Garden in North Seattle. It features a golden Chamaecyparis obtusa 'Tetragona Aurea', Heucherella 'Stoplight', black mondo grass (Ophiopogon planiscapus 'Nigrescens'), and a fabulously dwarf and delightful box honeysuckle (Lonicera nitida 'Twiggy').

Another container I put together was a bit of an ambitious attempt where, yes, I cared about its initial appearance, but I just jam-packed it full of wonderful stuff just to see what will happen.

Morgan Container 2 Container Texture 2

So this container was actually a gift to Clayton's mom, who helps run CEM Design (read about him and his work). I actually surprised Clayton by visiting their headquarters in Kirkland and I just missed her by like 30 seconds to see what she thought. So, my "backbone" for this container is the elegant Japanese Cedar 'Sukkan Sugi' and at the base to the left is the whorl of fronds from Dryopteris erythosora or Autumn Fern left over from my nursery stock, I sneaked in 'Twiggy' on the other side with a corkscrew rush (Juncus effusus 'Spiralis') with sweetflag (Acorus gramineus 'Ogon') at the base behind, and towards the front you'll see the spiky evergreen foliage of a Pacific Coast Hybrid iris called 'Ami Royale', which is a pale violet with deep purple centers and a gold-highlighted crest and, finally, spilling over the front is another Heucherella 'Tapestry'. Oh, I think I tucked in a little black mondo as well. CRAZY! Hope Mrs. Morgan likes it! hehe.

Finally, I have this kick-ass ceramic, blue glazed bowl that I planted Mahonia 'Soft Caress' in. Near by are the same plant, but finally in the ground so I can compare the two growing conditions. (can you tell i have a thing for his lapis-blue color ceramic glazed containers? hahaah) Looking kind of boring by itself, I planted it with a dwarf creeping Euonymus fortunei 'Minimus', a few plugs of Cardamine trifolia, a winter Calluna vulgaris 'Firefly' and spilling over the edge is a dramatic Vinca 'Illuminator'.

Mahonia in Ceramic Blue Container