Saturday, September 29, 2012

A Giant in my Yard

Day 224
The Daily DuBrule

When I moved into my home eight years ago, the first thing on my mind was building a privacy border to the empty lot next door. I made a plan using all sorts of deer-proof evergreens, winterberries, pussywillows, and other flowering shrubs that would do the trick. I knew it would take time for this border to grow in. In the meantime, I planted some really tall perennials and one giant ornamental grass for immediate effect.

Erianthus ravennae (a.k.a. Saccharum ravennae) is called Northern Pampas grass, and for good reason. The plumes are massive, reaching 10-12' into the air. It spreads 6-8 feet across. Even in the winter, the snow doesn't break the dried flower heads, it just stands right up and rustles in the wind. I plunked it right in the middle of native chaos, with mountain mint, milkweed, asters, and ironweed all around. Behind it is Physocarpus 'Centerglow' paired with Maclaeya cordata of all things. Next to it is a smokebush, Cotinus 'Young Lady' which surprisingly enough is still sending out flowers in late September. The two pines that flank it are Pinus bungeana (lacebark pine) and Pinus flexilis 'Vanderwolf's Pyramid'. Both are happy as clams and the heavy clay soil doesn't bother them a bit.
I wait until late winter to cut this grass down. I have to wear long sleeves and thick gloves. Each leaf and even the flower stems are covered with little tiny hairs that can cut your skin. I learned that lesson the hard way. I tie it up with twine, chop it at the base with my garden sickle, and fling the entire bundle over the hillside in my passive compost pile. Other than this yearly ritual, I do absolutely nothing else to the drama queen that reigns supreme over my back border.

Friday, September 28, 2012

A Delight on my Deck

Day 223
The Daily DuBrule 

I have just put together a delightful fall planter and every time I look out my kitchen window it makes me smile. When I was in Vermont a few weeks ago we went to the Stowe Farmer's Market, an annual tradition on the last day of our vacation. One organic farmer was selling perennials along with vegetables. Agastache aruantiaca 'Navajo Sunrise' caught my eye immediately. The orange color was unlike any I had ever seen in the anise hyssops that have come and gone in my retail store. I snapped it up.
When I got home I played one of my favorite design games for a few days. I tried to figure out what I could pair this plant with. I decided to go with perennial plumbago, Ceratostigma plumbaginoides, as I have been wanting to introduce this plant to my garden for a while now. The true blue, intense color is so unusual at this time of year. Plus, it blooms for months and as the weather gets colder, the leaves and the calyxes of the flowers turn burgundy red. I included a fascinating dwarf Acorus grass that smells like licorice, figuring it will love my heavy clay soil. I sat with this combination for a while and realized it needed one more pansies.
The pansies are not exactly the same color as the Agastache but they pull the whole thing together. Later in the fall I can plant all four of these plants in my garden. If I put the pansy on the south side of my house, I betcha it will come back. Everything else is a zone 5 hardy perennial. What a fun way to do a fall container garden!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Native Chaos

Mountain mint, milkweed foliage, goldenrod, and asters
Day 222
The Daily DuBrule
I walked around my garden today and just broke into a great big smile. The only creatures around to see me were my cat Bella, the monarch and painted lady butterflies, and tons of bees who were pollinating the crazy, chaotic native border that are exploding from my shrub borders. I have a very relaxed method for establishing native perennials. I harvest paper bags filled with seed pods in the fall and simply toss them where I want them. Ahead of time I dig out the non-native thugs that are trying to establish themselves. If I get energetic I step on the dried seeds and mash them into the ground. The second key element to this passive sowing technique is to NEVER weed out ANYTHING that you don't recognize. This makes you a much better gardener, by the way.

Not every native plant in my crazy, mixed up border was tossed in. I planted divisions of mountain mint, Pycnanthemum muticum. I love the way this plant smells, I cut the silver bracts to make the bases for herbal wreaths, but most of all I just love to stand and watch the literally thousand of pollinators work this plant all summer and fall. It's a real action plant.
Milkweed foliage and New England asters
Milkweed and New England asters land right in the stands of mountain mint and create a colorful collage. If you really look at milkweed this week, the leaves are turning yellow, they are full of holes, the stems are covered with black sooty mold from all the aphids that have been feasting on it for's not something you want to look at up close and personal. Yet, look at it coming up through a stand of purple asters and it adds the colorful "punch" the garden needs.

Asclepias incarnata seed pods with Itea 'Merlot'
 My Asclepias incarnata (swamp milkweed) is now going to seed. It's easy to tell this really pretty, ornamental pink or white, 5' tall perennial is a milkweed relative: just look at the pods. The fluffy seed heads float everywhere (yeah!) and landed today on the foliage of a wonderful native shrub I planted in pure mucky clay- Itea virginica 'Merlot', Virginia sweetspire. This plant doesn't move me when it flowers, it has plain green leaves and long, cascading white flowers that look like dangling squirmy worms. Well, actually, they are interesting, their form is different, and they contrast nicely with all the other flowers in bloom nearby in June, to offer you proper garden design-speak. But now Itea is the star of the show. Just look at that foliage! I literally dug these plants into the lower border in late November, grubbing out sodden, dripping clods of thick clay (think pottery-making). I never thought they would live. They have THRIVED! I must plant more.

Vernonia (Ironweed) seedpods with Itea
Even the New York ironweed (Vernonia noveborincensis) gets into the act, with fuzzy clusters of seeds bending downward from stately 6' tall stems. Lest these native perennials land in places I don't want them I also snap them off and transport them elsewhere to new places in my yard. So far this has worked really well for me. I have tons of native perennials weaving in amongst my pines, pussywillows, Iteas, and winterberries. They get along pretty well and slowly but surely the nasty invasives are disappearing. No wonder all those butterflies and bees and pollinators make my yard their home. If I was flying overhead I buzz down to check it out myself!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Hey, I Didn't Plant That!

Day 221
The Daily DuBrule

It happens to me all the time. I plant something wonderful and enjoy it all season. Fall arrives and the warm days continue. Halloween comes and goes and I don't get around to cutting back the late bloomers until Thanksgiving time. Meanwhile, these plants are busy dropping seed everywhere. For the past four years, Salvia coccinea 'Lady in Red' has appeared near my water garden. Trust me, it's been a LONG time since I actually purchased and planted this graceful tender perennial salvia in the large, shallow bowl that hides the pump equipment. 

During the spring and summer I constantly noticed the babies appearing but didn't do anything about them. Bright red just doesn't work any more in my supposedly serene courtyard garden. I originally thought it would make a good hummingbird nectar flower- it did. But my thoughts have changed and now I am using softer, paler colors in this place where I relax in the evening. 

By late summer, it was so darn hot that I pretty much quit weeding for a while. Then I had a giant pile of mulch to spread and it went elsewhere, to needier areas of the yard. The water garden got ignored. One cool, drizzly Monday afternoon I decided to tackle it. I grubbed out all the crabgrass and other weeds but I couldn't bring myself to dig out 'Lady in Red'. With fall around the corner I thought "why not keep it".
The hummingbirds are long gone so it doesn't do them any good. Butterflies fly in on their way south and nectar on this flower occasionally. It still bothers my design sensibility to see this screaming red flower growing where it is. Last year I dug all the babies up at one point and put them in pots on the deck. I should have done that again.
I will leave it where it is and let it go to seed. It will look a lot more at home when my threadleaf Japanese maple nearby turns to brilliant orange in a little while. BUT, next year, all the free babies I get will quickly be scooped up and put in pots. I will then have hummingbird plants in the summer, when the hummingbirds are around.  I'll even give a bunch away to my friends when they visit. There will be plenty to share. I promise myself I won't leave them by the water garden. Now let's see how I do on this, one of many promises and pledges I am making to myself as 20/20 hindsight helps me plan for 2013.

Monday, September 24, 2012

A Bluebird for Fall

Day 220
The Daily DuBrule

I am in love with a wonderful plant named Aster laevis 'Bluebird' or the smooth aster. I have been growing this plant in my home garden, at Natureworks, and in the gardens of my clients and it has proven itself to be a great perennial in every case. 

There are a lot of things to love about 'Bluebird'. First of all, the color is gorgeous in the fall. Second, it grows in full sun and pretty much full shade. The leaves are oval, deep green, and smooth compared to New England asters and many others. I give it a hard pinch in June which causes it to branch and it reaches about 18" tall, blooming this week in my neck of the woods and for many weeks to come. Butterflies adore it and any native plant that can lure more migrating butterflies in is a good thing in my book. 

I think what I like best about this plant is that, other than a single pinch in June, it is essentially carefree. None of the rust or mildew that plagues other asters. It self sows too. I had one plant, now I have four. You have to look carefully in the spring for the babies as they look like lots of other everyday weeds. But after a while, you get good at it. 

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Another plant BANISHED!

Day 219
The Daily DuBrule

I just spent the better part of the day digging out a really pretty cranesbill geranium named 'Confetti'. It is pink and white and green variegated with thousands of tiny pink flowers. I fell in love with it at a specialty nursery and had to try it. Little did I know that this plant would take over my world. Last evening I noticed that the seed pods were all starting to split open and I said ENOUGH! 

The weather for the first weekend of autumn is perfect- cool, no humidity, bright blue skies. It fills me full of energy to deal with a lot of problems in my garden that have been bugging me all summer. I was simply too hot and too tired to tackle them. First I grabbed my garden sickle and cut all the top growth down. I must mention that this plant has competed very well with lemon balm, a perennial herb that is ALSO taking over my garden. Both were removed from the bed behind my water garden. The lemon balm is a tough cookie and had to be dug with great force. The Geranium 'Confetti' has a long, wiry root, a wily thing that could easily escape my trowel if I wasn't totally determined to banish this plant. It took me many hours but I did it. When I was done, I laid down all the cardboard I had and covered it with a thin layer of cedar mulch. I will have to pay careful attention to the garden for the next few years to keep this self seeding plant out of everything. 

As I ventured into the vegetable garden, I noticed it in the raised beds, crawling amongst the bronze fennel in my iris garden, and in the pathways. The trowel came back out and those offenders were dug up as well. Too much of a good thing, albeit pretty, can ruin the sense of serenity I so crave when I sit in my courtyard.

Fall is such a great time to take stock and take action. I have big plans for the next few weeks. I hope the weather cooperates as done my energy level. I have lots of rearranging to do, a chore I have to do each fall as spring is just too busy in my business. 

Friday, September 21, 2012

An Unusual Coreopsis

Day 219
The Daily DuBrule

A few years ago I discovered an excellent species of Coreopsis for the fall garden. Coreopsis integrifolia has shiny, oval green leaves topped with clear yellow daisies with small brown button eyes. It grows 12-18" tall and spreads by underground stolons but is by no means invasive. It is extremely hardy and looks good all summer long despite rain, drought, and humidity. Best of all, it makes a great cut flower. I plant it right near the front of the border as it will provide good foliage structure in the summer. In the picture above it is intermingled with Eupatorium coelestinum.

Once again I lament the ready availability of this plant in the trade. In the fall, the focus is on mums, mums, and more mums. And asters, they've hit the bit time too, as long as they are not too tall and look good in a pot. But this great plant seems to have dropped off the radar screen of most of my growers. I now have it in two places in my gardens. I can no longer easily specify it for a garden design. I have to wait until I can build up enough stock to propagate it or a wise grower with the ability to multiply and produce this plant in good quantities decides to fall in love with it as I have. 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Digging my Dinner

Day 218
The Daily DuBrule 

Tonight I dug up my dinner. I noticed that the tops of the potato plants had finally given up the ghost. It was time to unearth the goodness I have been waiting for all summer. Have you ever grown your own potatoes? Let me tell you, there is NOTHING better than eating potatoes that were dug from the earth an hour before dinner. The rich flavor just makes you want to jump for joy. I placed the carrots in a roasting pan, smothered them with fresh rosemary and winter savory, sprayed them with olive oil, added some salt and coarsely ground black pepper, and stuck them in the oven. I can smell the rich aroma as I write this. I pulled up some carrots to nibble on while I am waiting. They are getting very big and happy this week (the rain probably has a lot to do with it) and then I turned to the beans.

I grow purple snap beans because, well, I love the color purple. My husband is very traditional and likes his beans GREEN thank you very much. When you cook these beans, they turn green. Phew. The best of both worlds.  These are bush beans. I also have some great pole beans coming along which will be ready to start harvesting over the weekend. The strong winds of last night tipped my bamboo tipi over. Try as I might, I couldn't make it stand up again. I trudged into the garage, grabbed a very thick, sturdy oak stake, pounded it deep into the soil, and tied my tipi up with some electrical wire. Voila. The pole beans have been saved to grow another day!

It's a time of transition in my food garden. The very last of the tomatoes and peppers are being harvested. The eggplants and my summer squashes that I planted in July are still chugging along. The basil is done. The parsley is getting REALLY happy again. All my self sown 'Ruby Streaks' mustard is ready to eat and the chard- I've been eating my yellow and ruby red Swiss chard for months now. The figs are ripening every single day. Tuesday I found three huge ripe ones and left them for my husband to enjoy when he worked from home. That's a sweet sight to wake up to!

I just adore growing food. Perhaps that's why I am just a tiny bit down in the dumps this week, despite the picture perfect fall weather. I can see the seasons are changing. The butterflies that encased my Heptacodium tree and butterfly bush last week are gone. I haven't seen a hummingbird in a while either. Every morning, the bumblebees are taking longer and longer to wake up from their slumber, hugging the flowers. They must have amazing nectar dreams. 

Don't get me wrong. My garden is still filled with flowers, ripe with berries, and totally amazing. I can just see what's ahead, the barren months when I can't just walk outside barefoot, graze on what's growing, and sit and stare for as long as I want at the bounty and abundance that surrounds me.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Walking in the Woods

A native viburnum
Day 217
The Daily DuBrule

Every year, on the third weekend of September, I go camping with my girlfriends. This weekend was the 31st year in a row I have carried on this sweet tradition. It is a nice way to mark the end of summer and the beginning of fall. It is also a good way to get away and really relax. For the past few years I have been too exhausted to do much physical exercise. This year was different. I woke up on Saturday morning and couldn't wait to go hiking. The weather was absolutely perfect.

We were in the Adirondacks and the leaves were beginning to turn. We headed towards a beaver pond about a mile in. On the way there were babbling brooks, some inland wetlands, and lots and lots of wildflowers. I just couldn't keep my eyes off the flora and meandered very slowly up the hill.

This was a pristine woodland, no barberry, burning bush, honeysuckle, bittersweet. Everywhere I looked I saw princess pine, club moss, wintergreen, ferns, all kinds of asters, and every kind of native wildflower I could imagine. Tiarellas lined the trail. And the partridge berry was everywhere! 

That's me lying down in a bed of partridge berry
Fresh in my mind was the fairy festival last month. I saw fairy houses everywhere...hollowed out tree trunks with roots wrapping around rocks, hummocks of moss with cattail fluff on the roof. It was truly magical.

We got to the beaver pond and dragonflies floated everywhere. The sky was bright blue, the air was clear, and it was quiet- no traffic, no lawnmowers, just the sounds of nature. Heaven.

My pledge to myself is to walk in the woods a lot more in the year ahead. I forgot how much I love it. 

Monday, September 17, 2012

White Surprise

Day 216
The Daily DuBrule

Naming plants is a tricky business. Sometimes a name is a perfect fit. Other times you scratch your head and wonder. Caryopteris 'White Surprise' is a great plant but the name annoys me. Why? The flowers are blue. The leaves are green and white. With a name like 'White Surprise' I would expect the flowers to be white. It took me a while to realize what the deal was here. I can imagine how the grower found this variegated plant and said "What a surprise!". Okay, I'll give them that...

Don't get me wrong, this is really a fabulous new variety of blue mist shrub. The variegation is crisp, not cream but white and green. The contrast with the flowers is so light and soft for September. I have paired it with Sedum 'Autumn Joy' and Allium senescens 'Glaucum' on the south side of my house. All three love it hot and dry.

It's like Stokesia 'Peachie's Pick'. I was so excited, I thought it was a new peach form of Stoke's aster. Nope, it was named after a woman named Peachie. But of course. 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Persian Shield

Day 215
The Daily DuBrule 

I love purple. Anyone who knows me knows that. The first time I saw Strobilanthes (Persian shield) I was in love. The leaves on this annual are irridescent, there is no other way to describe them. They tolerate full sun or partial shade. Given a nice big pot, rich organic soil, and regular watering, a 4" perennial can grow into a large specimen in one summer.

This year I gave mine the place of honor by the garage. I inherited a giant pot from my Dad's house which I decided would be the perfect planter to greet me each day. I simply combined Strobilanthes with a purple Callabrichoe. It has been the easiest and most successful planting I've ever put in this location. 

I have tried to bring this plant in for the winter. I cut it back hard and it flowered with purple flowers. It wasn't an easy plant to keep and I eventually gave up. For me, buying one small plant a year is the way to go. 

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Sweet Woodland Wonder

Cimicifuga ramosa 'Atropurpurea'

The white flowers kept going into the deep shade
Day 214
The Daily DuBrule

Yesterday I worked in a garden that I have been tending for many years. It was carved out of the woods and has shown me what thrives in an a garden where deer are abundant and water is scarce. As I stood on the deck overlooking the garden I was amazed by the massive clumps of Cimicifuga ramosa 'Atropurpurea' that were in full bloom everywhere. The fragrance bowled me over. The six foot tall arching white wands drew the eye deeper and deeper into the darkness as the garden receded. The original plants have spread and thrived. It was a sight to behold. 

I have the same wonderful plants around my deck. Since I lost a large tree in the ice storm of 2011, mine haven't been too happy. It's too hot and sunny. The flowers are fine but the leaves turn brown on the edges from the heat of the summer. I have two new trees planted but they are taking a while. I don't want to move them because they really scent the air where I sit in the evening, they are in the perfect spot for that job.
There are lots of Cimicifugas out there and they all have their purpose in garden designs. This is is still my favorite, hands down. You just can't beat that sweet perfume and the fact that it wants to live in conditions that make other plants give up and disappear.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Pink and Blue

Day 213
The Daily DuBrule

Somehow my garden has ended up being pink and blue for the past few weeks. When I first started gardening I played with a very safe palette- pink, blue, purple, soft yellow...easy to do for a beginner. Decades later I am proud to say that I LOVE color. Give me rich corals, deep reds, glowing orange,you name it, I grow it. Yet, as I walk around my main perennial border right now, it's back to pink and blue. 

Sedum 'Autumn Joy' came with the house and, of course, I split it and spread it around. Eupatorium coelestinum (perennial ageratum) was added on purpose as I love to use it as a cut flower and am not at all afraid of its spreading tendencies as it is shallow rooted. I have dispersed it throughout my yard. Together they make a nice pair. When you study garden design, one of the main principles is to combine different forms, textures, and shapes together. This is not what my pink and blue combination does. These two are rounded, fuzzy balls of color. What makes it work is that they echo each other. Perennial ageratum is a weaver so it isn't just next to the sedum, it is intertwined with it. 

As I look around I see more combinations. My dwarf balloon flowers are blooming again after I cut them to the ground a month ago. They self seed everywhere and marry well with the sedum. Pink asters drape onto the perennial ageratum. A lingering pink perennial Hibiscus blooms amongst the ageratum. Pink and blue everywhere. So pretty.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Afternoon Delight

Day 212
The Daily DuBrule

I came home from work yesterday afternoon ready to drop. I had been all over the place, to three garden sites as well as doing a stint in the office cranking out estimates and designs. Fall is a busy time. As I walked out of the garage, my yard smelled oh so sweet. Ah, the Cimicifuga ramosa 'Atropurpurea' I thought. Then I rounded the corner and realized it was my Heptacodium tree in full bloom. It was covered, top to bottom, with honeybees, bumblebees, and more monarch butterflies than I could count. The tree was practically humming.
Honeybees love my Heptacodium

I quickly deposited my briefcase in the house and grabbed my camera. Of course, since I don't have a telephoto lense, I wasn't able to completely capture the magnificence of this site.

The monarchs have been quite amazing this week. At Natureworks, they have been everywhere, especially on the Echinaceas. I work very hard to have lots of native asters and other plants in my yard to attract the monarchs when they gather up to migrate. Heptacodium is not a native tree, but it seemed to be the nectar source of choice yesterday afternoon. 
Eventually, I joined the cat lounging on the deck and sat in the sun and simply watched the show. She stretched and I smiled. What a delightful way to end the day. Could these be the babies that fed on my butterfly weed last month? I will never know. But it sure feels like I am being rewarded by the monarch butterflies I've taken so much care to encourage in my little patch of paradise.


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Butterfly Kissing

Photo by Diane St. John
Day 211
The Daily DuBrule

Yesterday was my first day back to work after a week of vacation. I was determined not to spoil all the good that the long rest had done to my body and spirit. I didn't have to worry. The garden center was so jam packed with gorgeous, colorful plants that I could barely stay upstairs in my office. I had to keep going downstairs to wander the aisles and check everything out. 

The painted lady butterflies were EVERYWHERE. We have all been watching them this summer. Earlier, I didn't even know what butterfly they were and had to look them up. It seems as if they are abundant in many gardens in CT. this year. 
Photo by Diane St. John
Diane was out taking pictures for the email and we all just gathered around the Echinacea 'Pica Bella' to watch the action. Lots of painted ladies, small moths, bees, you name it, they were lovin' up this wonderful coneflower cultivar. Earlier in the season, when I was first trying to photograph the painted ladies, they flitted away every time I came near. Yesterday, they were so drunk on nectar that they didn't even care I was nearby. Then I had the idea that maybe I could kiss a butterfly!

Photo by Diane St. John

I am sure that the customer that was standing there and my younger staff must have thought I was crazy (Diane already knows that fact). I am a little crazy, that's what makes life fun when you have lots of work to do. Well, guess what. I kissed it! It made my day. Try it. You have to be patient, and quiet, and go slowly. But what a feeling...

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Sweet Companions

Day 210
The Daily DuBrule
It's the second week in September and I have the sweetest, softest combination of flowers blooming in my courtyard. While the rest of the world is turning to reds and oranges and golds, I find myself admiring my Phlox paniculata 'Tracy's Treasure' (which has been in bloom for a month) next to Leptodermis oblonga. I wish this plant had a catchy common name because the scientific name sounds like some kind of skin ailment. Anyway, this is probably one of the most carefree little dwarf shrubs I have ever grown. It sits in my sunny courtyard, started blooming this year in late June, and is still growing strong. It blooms on new wood so I cut it really hard in the spring and take out some of the old wood from the inside. Since it is only about three feet tall and wide, this is not hard to do. It cycles in and out of bloom and if it ever stops for too long, I snip it back a bit.

This is not a plant that you will notice from a distance, nor is it something that will turn heads right away. But it fits the criteria for my courtyard: easy care, relaxing, soothing, and light colored so I can see it in the evening when I am hanging out. I don't want plants that force me up out of my seat to work on them when I finally drop down into a chair and relax at the end of a long day. Leptodermis, my little buddy, fits the bill. Anyone got any good ideas for a pretty common name to match? 


Monday, September 10, 2012

What I Did on My Summer Vacation

Day 209
The Daily DuBrule

I just returned from five wonderful days in Vermont. What a state! No billboards, stunning mountain views wherever you look, tons of local and organic food, truly a great place to unwind. 

A few weeks ago a customer of mine who has a second home in Stowe told me to check out her favorite nursery in Vermont: Cady's Falls Nursery in Morrisville, VT. Despite my deep need to relax and forget about all things business, I couldn't resist a field trip to this place, especially after looking at their beautiful

It was a mere five miles north of Stowe, tucked away off the main road. I was SO happy we made the trip. This is one of the nicest nurseries I have visited in a long time. I bought a bunch of rare and unusual shade plants and my husband shook his head in wonder- "You don't already have these plants in your nursery?". Nope. I bought plants I didn't know and wanted to play with. Saruma henryi. Cimicifuga japonica 'Dwarf White'. I even bought a hosta! I couldn't resist Hosta 'Grand Slam' because the flowers are purple and white striped and so fluffy and pretty and floriferous. And the leaves are heart shaped and cupped and so different. 

I WISH I could find the time to go up for a visit in the spring. If you explore their website you will see that they specialize in nursery propagated ladyslipper orchids. They also have all kinds of unusual peonies, including this one which I photographed because the September seed pod made me drop to my knees to scramble for the plant name tag. Thankfully, these horticulturists label everything in their gardens. Thank you for that!


Anyway, if you are ever in Vermont, you MUST check this place out. 

Cady's Falls Nursery
637 Duhamel Rd.
Morrisville, VT. 05661

The owners, Don and Lela Avery, were not there when I visited but when I meet them some day I will be sure to tell them how impressed I was. I will be back next year. 

P.S. My pictures don't do this place justice. Explore their website, you will love it!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Diamond Grass

Day 208
The Daily DuBrule 

I have found a new ornamental grass to love. It is called Diamond Grass. Some catalogs call it Calamagrostis brachytricha, others call it Achnatherum brachytricha. I haven't yet figured out which is the most current. It doesn't matter. Diamond grass is a keeper in my world of garden design.

I can see why it is considered a Calamagrostis as it has foliage that emerges early in the spring, unlike Miscanthus, Pennisetum, Panicum, and most others. The foliage is broad, deep green, and nicely upright. This is a mid-sized grass so it works in perennial borders without taking over. When in bloom it reaches 4-5' tall. A mature plant is about 3 feet in diameter, maybe a bit wider over time. Very manageable.

The flowers appear in early September. They are also upright, but unlike Calamagrostis 'Karl Foester', they are silvery plumes, not stiff spikes. As they develop they turn a pretty pink color. I purposely sited mine with the sun setting behind it and put it next to the pretty, pink flowering, variegated rose of Sharon 'Sugar Tip'. Mother Nature added a self sown pink Cleome to the mix just for fun.