Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Thanksgiving Centerpieces

Aside from gardening, I also really enjoy floral design. Unfortunately, I don't always find the time to create even simple ones at home. So holidays and birthdays are some of the few times a year I can actually focus on creating a unique floral design or centerpiece. This Thanksgiving I've started gathering ideas on what to do - I'll post again when I am finished.

But in the meantime, here are a few of the creations I've done in the past for Thanksgiving:

This one is my favorite and I'm tempted to do something similar this year since I still have a few pumpkins left over from Halloween. This arrangement is sitting on a cake stand and I love how the pumpkin sits in the middle of the ring of flowers and foliage. 

The colors and the painted design on the container, along with it's elevated cup, provided the inspiration for this design. 

This was my first design a few years ago. Again, the container gave me the inspiration. I remember having purchased a bunch more vegetables to put in there, but by the  time I was finished with the flowers and greens, I only had room for one artichoke!

So now, I'm off to my closet to take a look at what containers I have available to use this year. Oh and if you see any cool designs, please let me know!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Grasses: The Wispy and Whimsical

It's been really windy here the past few days. Sadly, the wind brought down even more leaves. With the drop of the leaves, the grasses seem to be taking center stage around here now.

I've always been on the fence about grasses. Maybe its because I see too many people use them in the wrong places. They get overgrown and look like giant shrubs in the middle of a garden. But on the other hand, I really do think they are quite beautiful and so unique in their own way.

This time of year they really seem to pop out of the landscape and can add a wispy, whimsical beauty to a garden (when placed right!). Above is the beautifully striped Zebra Grass (Miscanthus sinensis).

And of course I love the seeds. Each grass has certain similarities and differences which make them really fun to behold up close.

I find the black fountain grass (Pennisetum alopecuroids 'Moudry') particularly striking. The seeds/blooms look like an animal's furry tail.

What are your thoughts on grasses? Do you have a favorite for the garden?

Saturday, November 13, 2010

November Neighborhood Walk

I took a little walk around the neighborhood the other day. It's been in the upper 40s and low 50s and the air is quite brisk. But the colors are gorgeous and everywhere you look there are berries and seed pods bursting on the branches. 
This tree is glowing yellow in the afternoon sun.

Even weedy vines have gorgeous fall foliage!

These gorgeous flowers look perfect in front of this porch.

The sunny flowers and the wispy ornamental grass are a perfect compliment to each other.

The seeds pods here have yellowed like its leaves below.


Thursday, November 11, 2010


"It's bittersweet, more sweet than bitter, bitter than sweet"

Those are the lyrics to the 1993 song "Bittersweet" by Big Head Todd and the Monsters. I find myself unconsciously singing this song every time I come across this vine full of it's berries. Yes, it is invasive, but this time of year, the plant can't be beat for autumn splendor.  The foliage is a golden yellow and the orange seed pods break open to reveal a red berry inside. 

This highly invasive vine is Celastrus orbiculatus, or Oriental Bittersweet vine. It has been known to strangle host plants by twining itself over and around anything it comes in contact with.  Not something you'd want growing in your backyard, but I think it can be appreciated in a natural setting or along the fence on the side of the road.

This bittersweet vine should not be confused with the native, non-invasive American bittersweet vine. One way to distinguish the two is to look at the berries. The berries of American bittersweet plants appear at the tips of the vines only, while those of Oriental bittersweet vines grow along the length of the vine.

All parts of the plant are poisonous to humans, but birds do enjoy the berries. I've used this vine in floral arrangements and holiday decor - perfect for this time of year. I remove the leaves and enjoy the flexible stems, heavily laden with berries. The hard orange cups break open but often remain attached to the red berry inside so the combination of colors, along with the usual abundance of berries along the stem really is quite stunning!

Monday, November 8, 2010

High Line park, NYC (take 2)

My husband and I celebrated our anniversary in New York City this year. It was such a treat to get away and do something special together. After telling him all about my visit to the High Line park in September, he was eager to see it for himself. (Read about my first visit and some general information about this unique park here). I found it just as appealing and intriguing as before, but this time there were so different things in bloom and of course, more fall foliage colors to admire. Have a look:

 Autumn Crocus (Colchicum autumnale) in full bloom among the train tracks

 Beautiful purple Asters nestled in the tall grasses

 This plant is so pretty, but I actually don't know what it is. Anyone recognize it?

 Plantings growing along the lines of the old railway tracks go under this building. 

Above and below, autumn has descended upon New York City. Asters, Hydrangeas, Rhus typhina (Staghorn Sumac) and more show off their late season beauty.

It's such a very cool spot along the west side of New York City. I can't wait to go back and admire how it changes from season to season.  If you are in the neighborhood, I highly recommend it.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Attack of the squirrel!

My sweet little Jack-o-lantern has met his fate. He came into this world full of smiles and twinkling triangle eyes.

But no sooner had he been placed outside to get some fresh air, then Mr. Squirrel came to visit and did some damage indeed. Within an hour, I noticed teeth marks above his eye and a missing bottom tooth.

The next day, even more teeth were missing and most of his eye:

Two days later, this is what he's become:

Now, I know pumpkins are good food for squirrels and after Halloween, I usually throw them into the woods for them to enjoy. But this squirrel didn't even give my Jack-o-lantern a fighting chance! Oh well - I guess when you are hungry, you're hungry. And Mr. Squirrel  probably doesn't celebrate Halloween anyway. 

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Lady Blue Salvia

Dear Miss Blue, 
Thank you so much for making a late season appearance in my garden. I thought you had moved on for good once the weather turned cooler, but your return certainly brought a smile to my face. Hope to see you again soon.
Signed, me.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Day of the Dead

On November 1 and 2, Mexico celebrates the Day of the Dead, or El Día de los Muertos. While one may think this is a time for grief and sadness, in fact, it is a time when Mexicans happily and lovingly remember their loved relatives that have died.

Looking around the garden today, I'm feeling very much the same way. Many of my beloved plants have died for the season (or at least gone dormant). The vivaciousness of their lives a few months ago is now replaced with skeletons of what they once were. And yet, I do think there is still beauty to be seen:

Seed pods of Rose Campion (Lychnis coronaria) nestled amongst 
Black Fountain Grass (Pennisetum alopecuroides 'Moudry')

Seed pods of Abelia shrub (above and below)

Seed heads of Black-Eyed Susan (Rubeckia goldsturm)

Brown and dry Hydrangeas

Fading Montauk Daisy (Nipponanthemum nipponicum)

These plants may be gone for the season, but certainly not forgotten. Spring will be here before we know it. And we'll be able to enjoy them in their glory all over again.