Monday, September 18, 2017

Fall Gardens Blooming with Color

Even though autumn doesn't officially start for another few days, it certainly feels like it outside. The air is cool and crisp and the sun still feels warm - a perfect day for a fall festival! The teaching gardens at Farmingdale State College are always beautiful and lush. But the colors I saw at their annual fall festival were just stunning. Have a look:

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Hydrangeas - Blue, Pink, White and Lace

The hydrangeas are in full bloom in my yard right now. These clusters are rich blues with a hint of purple are really a welcome treat this month.

I have a few different types of hydrangeas in my garden. These blue beauties (above) are called Hydrangea 'Endless Summer.' These are the mop-head style hydrangeas and will alter their color based on the pH of the soil - pink blooms in alkaline and blue blooms in acidic. They stay true to their name "Endless Summer" because they bloom from late spring well into the fall. Gorgeous!

Here is a mop-head in full bloom (above left) and a little newborn mop-head just starting to open its many flowers on the one head. 

I also have a lacecap hydrangea. On these flower heads, small fuzzy blue flowers occupy the center and they are surrounded by a various number of 4 petaled flat flowers. The overall look is more delicate - like lace or a doily. 

Another new hydrangea I added last year is Hydrangea 'Annabelle'. These have gorgeous white blooms and big green foliage. Unlike the blue hydrangea, their color cannot be altered by changing the soil pH. We have them planted in a nice shady spot to the far end of the property. It's a lovely background to the seating area.

I inherited these hot pink hydrangeas from the previous owners of the house. The color is simply show-stopping and the flower heads can really get large. Beautiful in the landscape but also a great cut flower. 

Monday, July 10, 2017

Liatris: A Vertical Form in the Garden

Liatris (also known as Blazing Star or Gayfeather) is a wonderful plant to add to any garden for its form, texture, fragrance and ability to attract wildlife.

The vertical form of the liatris is a welcome compliment to many of the daisy-like flowers that are in bloom this time of year. I often see them alongside echinacea (coneflower) or rudbeckia (black-eyed Susan). In the photo above, I love the mixture of purples and whites but also the contrast of liatris's strong vertical form against the wispy nature of the Russian Sage in the background and the big foliage of the montauk daisy. 

To me, the flower spikes of liatris remind me of fireworks just before they explode in the sky. Each spike blooms tiny flowers from the top-down (most other spikes bloom bottom-up). They come in purple, white and various shade of pink. It's lovely fragrance attracts both butterflies and hummingbirds. 

Even when not in flower, it's grassy-like foliage looks handsome nestled among the neighboring perennials. Give it lots of sunshine and It's easy to grow and care for. What's not to love?

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Flowering Trees of Spring

Compared to summer's bold riot of colors, spring begins in a slow crescendo of color. Mostly pastels followed by a few brightly colored tulips or daffodils. But for me, the real spring show is the trees. Spring flowering trees are simply magnificent. They bloom before the leaves appear and since so many other "leafy" trees are just starting to break dormancy, their lovely blooms stand out all the more. A quick drive around my neighborhood had me spotting these beauties:

Yoshino Cherry Tree (Prunus x yedoensis)
A round shape with the palest, almost white flower petals.

Saucer Magnolia Tree (Magnolia x soulangeana)
Large petaled blossoms flushed with pink, white and hints of purple

Star Magnolia (Magnolia stellata)
One of the first flowering trees to bloom. It's blossoms consist of up to 15 individual white petals, giving the illusion of a star.

Flowering Plum Tree (Prunus cerasifera)
Small light pink flowers contrast nicely against the burgundy leaves of this upright, vase shaped tree.

Bradford Pear Tree (Pyrus calleryana 'Bradford') 
Clusters of small white, fragrant flowers appear just before the green leaves. 

Weeping Cherry Tree (Prunus subhirtella 'Pendula')
This gracefully wispy tree has light pink flowers hanging on dangling branches. 
When it sways in the wind, it's absolutely captivating. This one is on my property, and though it's quite old, it still stops me in my tracks each spring. 

So many gorgeous trees out there right now. I'm looking forward to seeing the dogwoods, eastern redbuds and kwanzan cherry trees bloom in the next few weeks too! 

Do you have a favorite? Let me know below!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

A Fickle Spring

Ah spring. The birds are chirping, the crocus are blooming and the days are getting longer. My itchy gardening fingers can't wait to get out into the garden. There are plants to relocate, shrubs to prune and beds to clean up. The weather here on Long Island this month started off lovely and warm!

The Snowdrops (Galanthus) and Witch Hazel (Hamamelis) were blooming: 

Splashes of purple appeared around the yard - Crocus and Iris (Iris reticulata) were enjoying the sunshine!

And then it happened.
Spring decided it didn't want to continue just yet and allowed Winter to return for a few more weeks. And with that, these blooming spring beauties were covered in snow, mid-March. Here's what my daffodils and hellebores looked like:

As upsetting as this was, there was not much I could do.  I am unable to control the weather. I can only change my attitude toward it.  And I also know that Spring WILL come and I'll be amazed by so many of my plants resiliency. A fickle spring indeed...