Karen Chapman | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , || By
I've admitted already that this year my garden adventures have been more misadventures; moments here and there with little time, budget or frankly incentive as other priorities took center stage. Thank goodness nature – and serendipity often make up for my lackluster attempts! I went out into the garden with my camera just now to see what the dog days of summer were looking like and was pleasantly surprised. My garden has to be drought tolerant, deer-resistant, rabbit-resistant, and easy care. I have irrigation in the vegetable garden and for my containers but otherwise have not lifted a hose all year – honestly! A few things such as hydrangeas got a spritzing with deer repellent (Deer Out) a few months ago but otherwise things had to fend for themselves. Here are a few late season highlights – that actually make it look as though a designer lives here!
Serendipitous CombinationsI don't recall ever planting borage. Perhaps there was a plant in the original garden when we bought this house? Regardless, it self sows each year and pops up in unexpected places. I love the periwinkle flowers, especially as they look so pretty in my favorite summertime cocktail; Pimm's. It attracts bees, hoverflies and other pollinators in droves and thrives in average soil – or even gravel pathways. I've dug out several plants from gravel to give away but they quickly develop a tap root so it's best to do this when the plants are still quite small. I was surprised to see it behind the milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa). In fact I was surprised to see the milkweed! This perennial emerges quite late in the season, usually after I've hoed, weeded and generally stomped on top of it. Oops. I grow it ostensibly for the monarch butterflies – except that we don't get them here. But I love the vivid color which was doubly eye catching partnered with the borage. There's no denying that Rozanne geranium is a bit of a flirt, draping her slender arms around any unsuspecting neighbor, yet she always looks elegant. Somehow she wound her way into this gorgeous panicle hydrangea. I love the way the white of her eyes repeat the pristine hydrangea blooms. As night temperatures drop, the hydrangeas will take on more of this beautiful rosy blush at which point I'll cut some to dry indoors. As always, foliage comes first, and the green and white variegated foliage of Magical Fantasy weigela echoes the colors nicely in the background.
New AdditionsDo you find your self dropping some serious dollars for fall pumpkins and gourds to use for decorating? I realized that one pumpkin I always bought a lot of was the mini white pumpkin called Baby Boo, so I decided to see if I could grow them. They were surprisingly easy. I purchased the seed from Territorial, waited until early June when temperatures were more stable, then sowed the seed directly into the raised beds. Each plant has a dozen or so mini pumpkins that are merrily winding themselves up the fencing, into neighboring pots and across the pathways. Definitely one to repeat! And talking of edibles I tried two new downy mildew resistant varieties of genovese basil this year: Prospera from Harris Seed and Amazel Basil from Proven Winners (as a plant). Both did extremely well and my freezer is now well stocked with a winter's worth of cubes and pesto. Neither variety showed significant disease despite torrential rains earlier in the season and lower than usual temperatures. The Proven Winners variety is perhaps slightly better with larger leaves and being a sterile variety you don't have to worry about deadheading. I can't distinguish the flavor between the two. I'd say if you only need one or two plants, buy Amazel Basil. If you prefer to grow a full bed as I do, with 12 or more plants plus enough to supply family and friends, it is more economical to grow from seed which you'll want to start indoors in late winter.
What do YOU think?I love Benary's Giant Coral zinnia and have grown them from seed for a few years now. This year I decided to give Apricot Blush blend from Renee's Seeds a try and was surprised when the blend included a vivid tangerine in addition to pink, peach, apricot and coral shades. I've honestly gone back and forth all summer trying to decide if I like it or not. In some ways I like the way all the colors play off the Kaleidoscope abelia as well as the contrast with the burgundy foliage of a nearby penstemon and purple Meteor Shower verbena. It's just not what I was expecting. Yet in a vase it seems to work. I added some budded Elsie's Gold sedum here for texture an because they all grow together in this bed. What do you think? Go back to Coral Giant or repeat this blend?
Perennial FavoritesIt's not fancy and it's not a collectors item, but I look forward to the large drifts of these Goldsturm black eyed Susan every year. Bees and butterflies love them. Deer ignore them. Rabbits have a go at a few early in the season but the plants are vigorous enough to grow out of any inadvertent trimming. I never water them. Frankly I don't deserve such a luscious display this year, but my garden has been remarkably forgiving. What's happening in your garden this week?
We all want instant gratification in our gardens; plant today – fabulousness tomorrow. At some point most of us have learned the hard way that plants just don’t work to our schedule and we have to wait for the plants to fill in and mature before they really fulfill our vision. Yet occasionally I come…Read More →
Leave it to Chanticleer Garden to always surprise, to always leave you wondering "Can I do that?" No matter how often I visit I'm left in awe and utterly enchanted. Last month I had the opportunity (aka excuse) to visit once again, this time with my husband Andy. I was scheduled to speak locally so…Read More →
Have you been searching for the perfect shrub? One that is low maintenance evergreen deer resistant insect resistant disease resistant can be used for hedging, screening, as a foundation plant, groundcover or as part of a mixed border? is tolerant of wet soils, yet also drought tolerant? Maybe something to replace those ailing boxwood that…Read More →
We all have challenging areas in our landscapes, but perhaps one of the toughest is the proverbial "hellstrip", that narrow planting bed sandwiched between the road and the sidewalk. To passers-by and visitors alike this appears to be part of YOUR landscape simply by virtue of its proximity. It has to tolerate foot-traffic, swinging car…Read More →
While the large island border is always a reliable kaleidoscope of color and texture at this time of year (see photo above), I have a smaller planting bed next to our main patio that is rather more fickle. It receives blazing sun all day, has terrible, sticky, clay soil, is a magnet for rabbits and…Read More →
I have just returned home after a short trip to visit my friend Jill in the Yorkshire Dales, England so thought I share a few highlights with you. It's a beautiful part of the country, rich in history, gardens, quaint pubs, and breathtaking scenery. Ripley Show Set in the grounds of Ripley Castle, the Ripley…Read More →
What does the term 'sanctuary' mean to you? To me, sanctuary means a place where I can be still. A quiet meditative space. My garden. The rolling English countryside. Sitting by the ocean listening to the waves – or on a mountaintop absorbing the sheer majesty of a vista. Author Jessi Bloom offers a broader…Read More →
It's been an exciting week – my latest book, Deer-Resistant Design: Fence-Free Gardens that Thrive Despite the Deer (Timber Press, 2019) arrived! I immediately sat down to write a note to each of the contributors and sign a copy for them – in between dancing around the kitchen! Let me explain a bit more about…Read More →
When I received samples of these Rose Marvel sage from Ball Floraplant last year I had mixed first impressions. I'm not usually a fan of pink – although this did at least have some depth to the color which intrigued me and really pushes towards more of a rosy-lavender shade. However, since I have found…Read More →
Learning to select plant combinations rather than just individual plants, will immediately transform your garden from the onesy-twosey look to a cohesive design. For those of us who share our gardens with deer it can be especially hard, yet it really is possible. Deer behaviors and tastes vary across the country, so not every suggestion…Read More →
Welcome to My Garden Adventures
I'm a serious plant-aholic. In other words I'm usually covered in a layer or two of soil, I drive everywhere with a large tarp for impromptu plant purchases and I'm truly passionate about sharing the joys of gardening.