The Garden Path

pathForget the enormous amount of upkeep necessary for that gorgeous lawn in this shot. I am here for that little garden path. The encroaching wildflowers make themselves at home in these rocky, compacted areas. I just love irregular spaces in between slate and granite crammed full of hardy little succulents and Alysum, or Lobularia maritima, crowding the stones and creating an old world feeling, like it has been around since the Appian Way, making it the queen of garden paths. This gem is created by Edwina von Gal for her client on Long Island.

Me and My Succulents

aloeMy succulents and I are patiently waiting to return out of doors. Thank goodness for these good sports! Though, I must admit that I am practically having to take showers with my collection. Since the freezing snap here in zone 8b, all my friends have come inside. And, what a collection I have now! Who knew? Here is one of my favorite plants, the Aloe vera.

What Else In Winter?

camelliasI have been reading Honore de Balzac and Gustave Flaubert novels this Winter, and, not a ball or salon goes by in 19th century romantic France that someone doesn’t have Camellias in their hair or in a vase. Just the other day I was wondering where old man Winter was this year, and, he came. Tonight will be 20 degrees fahrenheit in my land of Camellias. Careful what you wish for! However, the chill will deliver me beautiful and bountiful japonica varieties, won’t it? I can’t wait to collect a bouquet. And, wear one in my buttonhole or my hat. These are the tags from the ones I have planted this year, so far.

Old Man Winter Where Are You?

birchtreesinsnowI was looking for him this morning and got a warm (60 degrees fahrenheit at 7 a.m.), humid rain, instead. In my neck of the woods (zone 8b), we haven’t seen Winter, yet. So I thought I’d look elsewhere, like Vermont. This photograph of Birch trunks are from the book, The Soul of Vermont, by Richard W. Brown. If I were there right now, I would probably be out in my snow man outfit collecting the papery, resinous bark from these guys for some project indoors later, maybe. Building a fire. Eating pancakes with local maple syrup. What else? Instead, I am watching the azaleas begin to bloom in my neighborhood. Ah…

Barococo Decadence and the Lawn

barococoOkay, yes, I just made that word on my own…however, rococo is a French linguistic derivative of the Italian word barocco and it stems from the Baroque movement in 17th century architecture. Now, the baroque was intended to bring piety to the people, a vox populi movement, even. And, as an attraction for the masses, paintings were added to the interiors of churches and buildings to give the folks something to come in for. Also, apparently, the rounded curves and circular movement in the buildings itself were a popular attraction, also. However, as our bourgeois ideals expanded into the United States, it seems we have a tendency to think of the Rococo as a decadent period. And, maybe it is. So, a natural extension would be the landscape attached, eh? Rococo landscapes abound throughout Europe just as Baroque churches abound throughout Mexico. They seem such strange bedfellows to me. And, it is this strangeness which leads me to this curiosity in Chicago, Illinois. Designed by Landcape Architect, Deborah Nevins, and photographed here for the book, The New Garden Paradise, where I can’t see any dollar weed in this lawn. Can you?

Winter and the Beach: Grasses, Reeds and Rushes

dsc_261dsc_17dsc_18Okay, I am still on Sullivan’s Island, South Carolina and dreaming of Piet Oudolf designs. Why else would I want to sculpt a topiary tunnel up the pathway? His combination of boxwood and natural grasses are legendary in Europe. Now he has just finished the High Line garden design in New York City. And, we can all learn from Oudolf: plant native grasses. They are so indelibly conservation savvy. And, look how pretty, too.

Succulents Have A Great Name

dsc_0059I found this guy tangled in sand spurs and sand dunes on Sullivan’s Island, South Carolina. Still trying to find out the botanical classification of it, since succulents make me swoon. Why are they called succulent? Dictionary dot com says the definition of the word succulent is rich in desirable qualities. And, juicy. Wow. No wonder we love them so. I am quite sure this one guy is a sedum. Sedum is the large stonecrop genus of the Crassulaceae, representing about 400 species of leaf succulents throughout North America. Prized as a green roof garden plant. Some are cold hardy. Some are heat tolerant. Most are neither both. So choose your species wisely and start planting today!