Shade gardening - forget the flowers…just use Begonias for their foliage. They are available in an array of colors, shapes, sizes, and growth habits. Use them as bedding plants or accents in container gardens.
The Four Phases of Luna, container garden, featuring oxalis, wire grass, and eucalyptus…and a steady diet of organic compost tea from Authentic Haven Brand.
Succulents in a repurposed Pomerol Bordeaux wine box from Château Le Bon Pasteur. Such a lovely wooden crate should be put to work after the wine is gone.
Paeonia suffruticosa (tree peony) is native to China, where it is known as Mudan.
In front of the Audience Hall of Mu Tsung Huang Ti … there were planted thousand-petalled tree-peonies. When the flowers first opened the fragrance of their perfume was perceived by everyone. Each blossom had a thousand petals, large and deeply red. Every time His Majesty gazed upon the sweet-scented luxuriance he would sigh and say, ‘Surely such a flower has never before existed among men!’ (Ninth-Century Chinese Writer)
Science and Civilisation in China: Volume 6: Biology and Biological Technology, Part 1, Botany, by Joseph Needham (Cambridge University Press 1986).
The tree peony is not actually a “tree” but more of a woody-shrub preferring some shade from harsh afternoon noon. The woody stalks produce the next season’s flowers and should be left in tact throughout the winter (unlike herbaceous peonies which die to the ground each season). They are very slow to establish, but well worth the wait. Huge blooms appear in mid-spring (before herbaceous peonies) and the flowers are surrounded by lovely fern-like foliage with a reddish tinge.
An open meadow is transformed when the crabapples bloom.
Malus ‘Prairifire’ (Crabapple) is a medium-sized flowering landscape tree with a rounded head for full sun, preferring moderately wet soil. (The trees in these photos are planted along the edge of a natural streambed running through a wide open meadow.) ‘Prairifire’ is one of the best crabapple trees for the southeast, resisting many of the usual problems that Malus is known for. The April flowers are followed by masses of small crabapple fruits that persist into fall, a favorite fruit for birds.
Crabapples are effective in mass plantings, but because they are considered smaller landscape trees, they are also a good choice for patio trees, or specimens for the front yard.
A chart from NCSU showing the best crabapple trees for the landscape can be found here.
Art Deco head planter…..what to plant inside?
Cornus florida ‘Cherokee Princess’ (Dogwood)
This beautiful three-season understory tree is grafted on Cornus kousa rootstock, which makes is more resistant to anthracnose, a common disease among native dogwoods (destructive fungus appearing on leaves and twigs). In spring, it reliably delivers a spectacular flower show with snow-white blossoms four inches across. The flowers are replaced by berries that persist through winter and provide food for birds. In the fall, leaves turn burgundy-bronze with red and orange highlights, making it one of America’s favorite full-season landscape trees.
An American Indian legend reveals the story of a young and beautiful Cherokee princess who was slain by a jealous lover for not returning his affections. As she lay dying under a dogwood tree, she used the flower petals to restrict the flow of blood from her wounds, to no avail. It is believed that the tip of each dogwood flower now bears a red blemish in her honor.
Lettuce Love: Decorative & Nutritious Mesclun Mix
Mesclun is from the Provençal region of France and translates to “mixture” as in a mixture of lettuce greens. The traditional Mesclun mix consists of chervil, arugula, endive, and lettuce in precise proportions, but nowadays, many other wild greens may be included. Create a mix suitable to your own palette by adding the frilly fronds of frisée, spicy mizuna, nutty-flavored mâche, or mahogany-red radicchio, watercress, parsley or other herbs. The objective is to have a mix that is sweet, spicy, bitter, crisp…and beautiful.
Lettuces, herbs, container tomatoes, and edible flowers can be grown easily in planters on a sunny deck or porch where they are readily available at a quick snip for the kitchen cook.
Last of the spring bling…. I’m loving the burgundy-burnished-copper-mahogany & green combination. This will be a repeat for next fall. Here in Georgia, we had just the right winter weather (finally) with enough cold temperatures to keep the flowers looking fresh, but not so chilly as to dispatch a soggy palette of wilted winter container color. We also had a very chilly March, so that prolonged our winter flower display this year….a joy to behold.
And in a just a few short days, I’ll be ripping all these containers apart to make room for their summer counterparts!
Black and Gold. A rare black hyacinth with double-early tulips, both fragrant. *Yes* to this combination again next year….