Recent Work

 

fall-container-planting.jpgFall is an incredibly beautiful season in Michigan. The sun low in the sky, and the morning fog makes every color intensely saturated.  The leaves changing electrifies a fall palette of color in the landscape in a way that no flower could hope to achieve. The sugar maples are brilliantly fiery; the hydrangeas are a muted shade of brown and pink.   No season celebrates color like the fall. We are in the early stages of that transition from summer to fall.  This is a season that I follow closely, as I do not wish to miss one moment of it. The materials available for fall are spectacular in color.  The ornamental cabbages and kales intensify in color as the temperature drops. The pumpkins and gourds are impossible to resist. Everything about them speaks to the harvest, and to fall color.

coral-bells.jpgThese pots are planted all around at the bottom with heuchera.  I am not so much a fan of dark leaved coral bells in the summer garden.  They are shockingly gloomy to me in the heat of August.   In the fall, they shine in containers. These dark colors are so beautiful on a rainy fall day. I see many more growers offering large heuchera plants for sale in the fall.  There are so many foliage plants with great color available.  No doubt I associate and welcome certain colors with certain seasons.  This is a luxury enjoyed by a gardener in a four season zone.

DSC_5372The window boxes in the front of the shop are showing signs of fall color.  I so appreciate those years when the fall comes slowly, and the killing frost is late.  The brown potato vine and the coleus are singed with cold.  The color in these boxes is changing with the season.  It is easy to replace certain very cold susceptible elements in a summer container with more cold tolerant plants.  But letting the fall season work its magic on a a summer planting can be quite beautiful.

week of Sept 29 (7)
These urns sitting at the front door empty would be just lovely.  But planted for fall, they have a warm and welcoming appeal .  week of Sept 29 (14)Red Bor kale is one of the most versatile of all fall container plants.  They are tall enough to make a vertical statement.  The crinkled dark purple leaves darken more as the temperatures get cooler. They are less rigid in shape than the other cabbages and kales, making it easy to fill in the gaps between the other plants.

DSC_5408Not every fall arrangement needs to be standard issue orange and yellow.  There is an astonishing number of white and green pumpkins and gourds to be had.  Every grower has something a little different.  Every fall I see gourd shapes and color combinations I have not seen before.  An arrangement of pumpkins and gourds in a window box is as lovely a celebration of the fall as a boxful of foliage and flowers.

DSC_5364pots at the shop

JR fall 2014  5fall pots with dry hydrangeas

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White kale and dry banana stems

fall-container-arrangement.jpg

fall container with broom corn, plum eucalyptus, orange floral picks, red bor kale and red chidori kale.

JR fall 2014red cabbage, cirrus dusty miller, gray eucalyptus and white banana stems

fall-container.jpg
Red bor kale, pink cabbage and succulents

coleus-in-the-fall.jpgHow I am enjoying this beautiful moment.

The Burford Garden Company

Burford bulbsRob is back home after a 4 week shopping trip buying for the Detroit Garden Works spring 2015 collection. He drove over 4000 miles, and visited over 50 garden antiques shops and shows- not to mention individual artists and craftspeople whose work he admires and would want to represent. He brought home close to 1500 pictures from his trip, some of which I will surely post. He had business in the Cotswolds in England, and had time to to visit the Burford Garden Company in the heart of the Cotswolds, in Oxfordshire.  From their website:

Burford Garden Company is a family-run business, established nearly four decades ago by Nigel and Louise Johnson. We started life as a simple plant nursery on a derelict farm in the Cotswolds, where we still are today – perched above the hills in the Oxfordshire countryside. We have now grown to become home to one of England’s largest and most exciting shopping destinations. We have one of the country’s most imaginative and inspirational product ranges for the garden and the home, all hand-picked and expertly curated by our team, the people who make up Burford Garden Company. Our innovative and creative retail practices have always blazed a trail – winning medals at Chelsea Flower Show along the way – and setting new standards of excellence which have made the Store a much envied market leader in its field today.”

Burford bulbs 2Rob emailed me these pictures from their bulb room. What a thrill for any gardener with a big love for spring flowering bulbs to walk into this room!  There were bulbs of every description and cultivar as far as the eye could see. I would be beside myself, trying to decide which bulbs and how many. Their display was plain breathtaking – crates chock full of bulbs, and neatly arranged and labeled brown paper bags to the side. Just imagining what all these bulbs would look like in full bloom – exciting.

Burford-bulbs.jpgA roomful of brown orbs that would need to be planted when the weather has gone chilly-only a gardener who loves flowers in the spring would fall for this.  Each of those brown bulbs represents the opportunity for a glorious spring moment many months away.  Nature is pretty strict about the planting requirements-plant them now, or do without in March, April, and May.  Even the bulbous alliums need to be planted now, for a bloom time in June. I don’t mind planting bulbs.  It is an investment in the future.  Most bulbs are fairly tolerant of any positioning, provided they get below ground before the ground freezes.

prepared bagsA tulip can be planted any side up. A bulb which is planted up side down does not mean game over.  Tulips will sprout, and grow towards the light, no matter your planting technique. I rarely dig holes for bulbs. That method of excavating soil, setting a bulb, and refilling the hole is so tedious. And unnecessary.  A perennial spade that can make the slightest slot in the ground down about 6 inches will do.  Small bulbs can be pushed into the ground the requisite 3 inches with an index finger, providing you have good and friable soil.

chionodoxa_forbesii_blue_giant_mainThe spring flowering bulbs we have available at Detroit Garden Works is nothing like the experience of the Burford Garden Company.  We have a highly edited and quirky list of spring flowering bulbs we would not want to live without.  Chionodoxa Forbesii Giant is astonishing beautiful in bloom.  Though this picture (courtesy of John Sheepers Bulbs) is a very close view of a very small flower stalk, what gardener would not want this spring blue in their life! The bulbs are no bigger than a thumb – this means easy to plant.  My advice-plant this fall for the spring to come.  You won’t be sorry.

hyac_hispanica_excelsior_extraspring flowering bulbs that we recommend?  Look over our short list.  Scilla hyacinthoides hispanica

musc_magical_mix_mainphotograph of Muscari Magical Mix  courtesy of John Sheepers

Muscari Pink Sunrise-500x500muscari Pink Sunrise

best_puschkinia_libanotica_mainPushkinia libanotica takes little effort to plant, it will appear and spread regularly in the spring for many springs to come.

Galanthus elwesiiThis photograph of galanthus came from Carolyn’s Shade Garden blog.  She is a big fan. Reading her blog will make you a fan of galanthus.

tulips 2014 (3)tulip mix at Detroit Garden Works spring 2014 – we have this mix available for purchase.

tul_lily_ballerina_main_the lily flowered tulip Ballerina

PL2000008177_card2_lgwhite parrot tuliptul_single_late_renown_maintulip  Renown

tul_giant_silverstream_extra_2_Darwin tulip  Silverstream

tul_single_late_dordogne_main
tulip  Dordogne

tul_single_late_pink_diamond_mainstulip  Pink Impression

tul_giant_jaap_groot_main

tulip  Jaap Groot

tul_lily_mariette_extra_2_

The lily flowered tulip Mariette is a beautiful shade of dark carmine pink.

Longfield Gardensphotograph from Longfield Gardens.  Tulip  ”Daydream”

tul_single_late_maureen_extra_1_from Van Engelen’s- tulip  “Maureen”

tul_single_late_menton_extra_5_tulip  Mentontul_single_late_camargue_maintulip  Carmargue

tul_parrot_apricot_parrot_mainapricot parrot tulip

tul_lily_elegant_lady_mainpictured is the tulip Elegant Lady.  Plant now for spring.  Look into your choices.  Plan.  Buy.  Plant.  Your spring will be all the better for what you do now.

 

Winter Protection For Boxwood

Detroit-Garden-Works.jpgBoxwood is one of the most versatile and robust growing evergreens available for planting in my zone. There are a number of great cultivars.  Green Velvet matures at 3′ by 3′, and keeps its great color all winter. Green Mountain is virtually identical to Green Velvet, but grows to 4′ tall by 3′ wide. Buxus microphylla koreana, pictured above, is hardy in this full south sun location, and can grow to 5′ by 5′.  The winter color is a dull orangy bronze. Winter Gem boxwood is incredibly hardy, and grows slowly to about 4′ by 4′. The leaves are smaller, and narrower than Green Velvet.

DSC_4001There are lots of other hybrids available.  Vardar Valley is an outstanding hardy cultivar of buxus sempervirens. It matures at 1′ to 2′.  The leaves have a distinctive blue green color.  As it is a slow growing variety, it is not routinely offered for sale at local nurseries.  Most of the boxwood sold in my area is grown in regions where the season is long enough to permit 2 flushes of growth per season.  This means nursery can get a salable product faster.  Boxwood is graded by width-not by height.  A boxwood takes about 7 years to grow to an 18″-24″ size.  This makes them relatively expensive to buy, compared to other ornamental shrubs that grow quickly.

MG 2013 (29)Boxwood is indeed a versatile shrub. They make great hedges, as their growth is uniform, and they are very tolerant of pruning.  That tolerance makes them an ideal subject for living sculpture. Boxwood pruned into spheres, squares, cones and cylinders are striking and delightful.  The large boxwood in this landscape will be kept pruned in spheres.  The small boxwood will be allowed to grow together, and will be pruned flat. This garden will have a much different look in a few years. All of these boxwood are Winter Gem.  The fine textured foliage makes them ideal for pruning into a formal, strictly geometric shape.   DSC_1801Boxwood are quite friendly to other plants.  Provided care is taken in the selection of a cultivar for a specific site, they will stay in bounds. These boxwood rectangles are a beautiful foil for the clipped espaliered crab apples. If the face is pruned on a very slight angle out from top to the bottom, they will stay green all the way to the ground. A boxwood which is hard pruned into a specific shape will stay green on the interior.

boxwood-green-velvet.jpgBoxwood makes a fine tall ground cover under a tree.  They are quite shade tolerant. A small landscape such as this is all the more interesting for a change of level.  These boxwood are a welcome visual intermediary between the ground plane, and a linden which has grown to substantial size. That they are shade tolerant means they can be sited in lots of places.  Naturally grown boxwood make a lovely backdrop for ferns, hostas and shade tolerant perennials.  A boxwood provides a green backdrop for the earliest of perennials to appear in the spring.  The small textured foliage makes them a great companion for the bigger textured hellebores, and European ginger.

Aug 31 2013 (20)A boxwood would go so far to oblige a gardener who wishes to grow them in containers.  They do need large enough containers so there is room to grow.  The root ball of a decent sized and well grown boxwood might be larger in diameter that its leafy component.  Boxwood in containers need special attention to proper watering. They need to be well watered prior to freezing weather.  They will rely on water stored in the stems and leaves to survive they winter, as the water in the container cannot be absorbed when it is frozen.  Boxwood in ground has much more widespread moisture available to its roots, especially given how long it takes for the ground to freeze to any significant depth.  A boxwood confined to a pot needs regular water.

boxwood-hedge.jpgPruning boxwood takes more than a good eye.  A great job invariably involved the setting of level lines.  Relatively level boxwood has a forlorn and unfinished look.  This boxwood has been pruned level with the horizon, even though the driveway drops down to the street.  The boxwood at the bottom of this drive is quite a bit taller than those plants at the top.  Level boxwood has a serene and solid look to it.

August 12 2013 (11)Boxwood can help provide structure to a garden.  This densely growing shrub provides a simple and strong contrast to the garden elements.  This pruning is loosely formal, and softens the stone wall behind them.

Aug 31 2013 (18)I have written about boxwood plenty of times before – I do like them.  It was painful to see how many boxwood in my area were severely damaged or killed outright by our last winter.  Some were crushed by the huge snow loads.  Others in more exposed locations were damaged by the extreme cold.  That cold, in conjunction with sun and wind burned the leaves. Leaves that were completely dessicated, died. It took the coming of the spring weather to see how terrible the damage truly was.  Some of the boxwood at the shop died outright.  The damaged portions will take years to recover.

July 5, 2012 035If you have ever hung a boxwood wreath on a shaded door for the winter, or used cut boxwood in winter pots, you know those stems will dry out, but stay green until the temperatures moderate.  Like many evergreens, by the time a boxwood shows signs of stress, it is too late to remedy the problem.  Now that fall is approaching, I would urge anyone with boxwood in my zone to spray them with an antidessicant.  An antidessicant is a waxy coating with will slow the evaporation of water from the leaves in the winter.

boxwood-spheres.jpgI have heard talk that this winter looks like it may be a very cold winter.  Something like last winter.  Though boxwood is hardy in this zone, extreme cold, sun, and drying winds can damage them.  Though a boxwood may grow out of winter burn, that look is unsightly come spring.  If your boxwood are 15 years old, it will be very expensive to replace dead plants with new plants of the size you already own.  Last winter was dramatic evidence that winter protection for boxwood is a good idea.  photo (43)I recommend Vapor Gard.  It is widely used as an agricultural antidessicant. The main ingredient is pinolene, a natural polymer made from pine pitch.  It can significantly reduce winter burn.  You can buy it, dilute it 1 part to 20 parts of water, and spray it on your boxwood. If you have lots of boxwood, your tree care company can spray this for you.  It is best done on a dry day, before the weather drops regularly into the low forties.  The polymer coating will protect those leaves over the winter, and help them retain moisture.  Vapor Gard is a natural and non toxic spray widely used on crops, including cherries.  It is an easy way to protect your investment. Do read the label-it is not appropriate for every and any plant. I plan to spray all of my boxwood with it soon; one application will protect them the entire winter. The boxwood pictured above from this past spring-heartbreaking.   Interested further?   http://www.cdms.net/LDat/ld06L002.pdf

At A Glance: A Collection Of Fall Containers

pumpkins and gourds 2013 (39)bok choy, violas and pansies

October container 2eucalyptus, broom corn, cabbage, and kale

fall containers 019bleached sticks, eucalyptus, green and white pumpkins and gourds

Oct 11 2013 (3)chrysanthemums and pansies

burlap-sack-pot.jpgstriped gourds

white-pumpkin.jpgwhite pumpkin with white cabbage in a bushel basket

flame-willow.jpgflame willow

fall window boxa mix of fall materials

Oct 11 2013 (17)striped pumpkins and squash on grapevine

Oct 11a 021fall pots with big pumpkins and gourds

Oct 14 2011 023burdock seed heads, bleached plastic grass and peacock kale

October 19a 2013 (10)Rob’s grow-sphere with yellow pumpkins and pansies

fall-container.jpgrosemary and alyssum

variegated-basil.jpgpair of fall pots with variegated basil

planters-for-fall.jpgfall containers

fall-container-with-broomcorn.jpgfall container with broom corn, black eucalyptus, and ornamental kale

pumpkins and gourds 2013 (15)The fall season provides an embarrassment of riches in materials great for fall containers. In a pinch, faux materials can provide just what a container needs in form or color. That material may be fake, but I am a real person putting the whole thing together.  As for you-plant for fall in a way that expresses your take on the season.  I try to exercise a little good sense.  If I put the stems of weeds in containers, I try to put every last seed in the trash, first.  Dry thistle stems are gorgeous in fall pots, but those seeds will spread a terrible weed that is tough to eradicate. That said, I use the intact seed pods of butterfly weed everywhere I can, in hopes it will seed with abandon. If weed seeds must be part of the display, I will encase them on the stem with floral sealer.  I wait until the weather gets good and cool to pile pumpkins and gourds in pots.  Set in place too early in the fall, they will rot.  Outside of that, I’ll stuff pots with anything that looks good.  It makes no sense to exercise restraint at the time of the harvest, does it?