Tuesday View: The Tropics 10.19.16

I’m a day late in joining Cathy for the Tuesday view, but I think it’s just that time of year when things begin to unravel and go to seed so hopefully my tardiness will be forgiven.  Here it is!

tuesday view tropical plants

Autumn comes to the tropical garden

The view looks remarkably similar to last week’s with just a few more hints of autumn color in the background and a few more tints of brown in the front.  We had a slight frost last Monday and again on Friday but for the most part the garden is intact.

alocasia x portora

The tender new leaves of alocasia x portora took the low temperatures very seriously while the dahlias just shrugged them right off.  Serves me right for not bringing this elephant ear in earlier. 

Last week’s lows have been followed by a few warm days but I think the damage has already been done.  Most tropicals get all miffy once nighttime temperatures drop below 50 and I guess it’s time to start thinking seriously about bringing them in.

colocasia esculenta tropical storm

My newest elephant ear, colocasia esculenta ‘tropical storm’  is gaining back a little strength following a run in with spider mites.  I ended up snipping off all the foliage to get rid of them, now it’s a matter of hoping for the best over winter.

Even with some of the largest leaves showing a little frost damage, the cooler nights seem to intensify and brighten the last of the autumn colors.

knockout rose pennesitum

‘Knockout’ rose seems to get even brighter as the thermometer drops.  It’s a nice mix with the season long color of the Verbena bonariensis.

Although I made a good effort of removing most of the chrysanthemums from this bed, I did leave ‘Carousel’ for some late season color.  The plan was for it to carry on after frost blackened most of the other color in this bed, but here it is joining in as just another supporting player.  I like it for the long stems and late blooms which last into November but tolerate it for it’s floppy stalks and necessary June pinching.
chrysanthemum carousel

Chrysanthemum ‘Carousel’ opening up as one of the last floral events of the 2016 tropical border. 

‘Carousel’ is pretty much the only thing left to anticipate in the border, everything else is just finger crossing for additional days without frost.  We are into a slight Indian summer of warm, hazy days following our earlier run-in with cold, but even that is somewhat irritating as I like the cooler weather for transplanting, bulb planting, and fall foliage enjoying…. not that I’m complaining too much about having a few last drink nights out on the porch sans jacket 🙂

autumn dahlias border

Looking up towards the back end.  I love that all 6 feet of that annoyingly bright white vinyl fence is now hidden behind an interesting wall of greens and flowers.  And I love that I still have plenty of dahlias!

So here’s to another Tuesday view where the tropics are still green!  Long live summer and all the best for your upcoming week 🙂

Tuesday View: The Tropics 10.04.16

The nights have taken a turn towards cool here and for the first time it feels like the tropical bed is showing signs of autumn.  The winding down of the season is ok by me, but my fingers are crossed we don’t have a repeat of last year when a single 23F (-5C) night in mid October crushed all hopes for a mellow end to the season.  Frost is inevitable, but a brutal freeze?  Unnecessary.

Tuesday view tropicalismo

The Tuesday view on this first week of October

This Tuesday as I again join up with Cathy at Words and Herbs, I’d like to also give a nod to Eliza and copy her idea of showing a flashback to the earlier days of this season.  Everything looked so cute and tiny back in this last week of June.


Tropical garden

The first Tuesday view.  A few perennials making a show, but the only annuals visible are a flat of small orange zinnias, freshly planted out of their six-packs. 

Things have grown since then and one of my favorite growers has been the annual burning bush (Kochia scoparia).  One by one the individual plants in the seedling clumps I planted out are starting to color and I have to admit I like the look, even though the plants will go brown once they pass their peak of redness.


kochia scoparia

I love all these colors but last week the kochia at the lowest right of the clump was just at its peak.  Only seven days later and it has browned, so I hope the rest of the clump doesn’t follow as quickly. 

Sneaking up alongside the kochia is a new chrysanthemum seedling.  I evicted nearly all the mums from this bed earlier in the year, but I guess this one was small enough to miss.

self sown chrysanthemum

Not the greatest photo of it but a nice enough self-sown mum with small spoon shaped yellow petals.

Slightly less impressive are the late season flowers of ‘white frosted’ Japanese thistle.  There’s not much to them, and some might mention the word “weedy”, but I’m hoping for seeds since the spring variegation on these is great and my only other plant of this perennial thistle died during our relentless May rains.

'White Frosted' Japanese thistle (Cirsium japonicum).

The less than impressive flowers of ‘White Frosted’ Japanese thistle (Cirsium japonicum). 

There’s nothing less than impressive about the cannas and dahlias.  I know I constantly show the same combos, but….

canna Bengal tiger dahlia Mathew alen

Canna ‘Bengal Tiger’ looking as variegated as ever alongside the deep red flowers of dahlia ‘Mathew Alen’.  The purple cloud of Verbena bonariensis has been going strong all summer.

The path up through the center takes a little maneuvering to get through.  The purple leaved cannas have pushed most everything out of their way, and the dahlias now sprawl across the path.

dahlias in the garden

Dahlias and verbena up through the middle of the tropical garden.

The resident hummingbirds headed south a few weeks ago and with the exception of a few last stragglers migrating through the flowers have been left to the sleepy bumble bees of autumn.  Monarch butterflies still stop in here and there, but it’s getting pretty quiet as things cool off.

dahlia sylvia

Dahlia Sylvia seems to make a nice spot for a bumblebee’s afternoon nap.

Sleepy bumblebees kind of sum up how I feel about the garden these days.  Maybe it’s allergies or lack of a good night’s sleep, but if you had to put me in camp grasshopper or camp ant I think I’m more of a grasshopper.  I’ll enjoy the sun and last bits of warmth while they last, and just have to hope for the best when the axe of winter falls.

A Different Tuesday View: The Tropics 09.20.16

The weeks have been flying by too quickly and once again I find it’s time to join up with Cathy for the Tuesday view.  If you remember last week there were tarps and shingles flying, and since the roofer also happens to be a friend of mine, guilt had me up there over the weekend lugging bundles around and throwing in a hand to help out (even if it was only for an hour or two).  The view is nice up there, and what better vantage point for this week’s view?

tuesday view

The Tuesday view from above. I think we can safely say the bed has filled in and keep in mind all the canna clumps tower at least 8 feet.

A view from the top reminds me of a similar post over at The Rusty Duck last year.  Jessica was up the scaffolding getting a new outlook on the garden, and although she made it slightly higher than the roofline of my neighbor’s one story ranch, I think the effect is the same.  Something about seeing the same old view from a different perspective always makes it seem new and exciting again… even though my wife was less than excited to find out I also took my daughter up there.

tropical garden

The back end of the tropical garden.  I love the purple napier grass (pennisetum) but the banana is my favorite by far 🙂

A new look or not there’s really nothing special worth mentioning this week.  Don’t get me wrong, I spend far too much time each week just soaking in the color and lushness of this bed, but I’m going to try and be considerate and spare you yet another stripped canna leaf close-up or castor bean portrait.  I’m sure a few will show up this winter when the cold and snow get to be too much.

Have a great week and consider giving Cathy a visit at Words and Herbs to see what other Tuesday views are looking like.  I hear there’s talk of autumn in the air…

Tuesday View: The Tropics 09.13.16

Cathy at Words and Herbs has been following a weekly view of her garden throughout the season, and each Tuesday I’ve been trying to join in and keep track of my own weekly view in order to catalog the changes.  This week the roofers are next door and this afternoon they’ve made their way to the side where the tropical garden grows.

tropical garden

This afternoon’s view of the tropical garden.

Other than a few stray roof shingles and tar paper strips the garden has escaped damage, and that’s great because now is the time of year when every day is a celebration of summer and every night is a reminder that colder weather is on the horizon.  As nighttime temperatures cool off I’m beginning to notice a tint of red in some of the clumps of annual burning bush (Kochia scoparia).  Me thinks in a few weeks the ‘will it burn or will it snuff out’ question will finally be answered.

kochia burning bush

The clumps of burning bush (Kochia) are actually several seedlings all planted into the same hole. Most of the season they’ve appeared to be one big bush, but now a few here and there are going their own way and beginning to show color.

I can’t imagine these plantings will be as successfully bright as some of the photos I’ve seen online but if they’re halfway interesting I will be happy enough.  As it is their fluffy green mass has been a welcome green rest in an otherwise overloaded bed of color.

tall purple salvia splendens

One of the less-than-bright kochia seedlings.  More of a tan in my opinion, but things are all under a little stress here in the shadow of the canna clump…. with the exception of the tall purple salvia splendens seedling, it’s still doing just fine!

The rest of this post is gratuitous canna color.  I posted canna ‘Cannova Rose’ last week, but it’s still outstanding, and deserves another mention.

canna cannova rose

Cannas and dahlias with an orange zinnia and purple petunias.  The petunias were planted as petunia intergrifolia but I bet there’s something else in there as well, and that’s just fine since I like the bold mini-flowered purple groundcover it’s become.

Canna ‘Tropicana’ is always over the top.  I think you either love it or turn away in disgust, but either way it’s a bright tropical show.

canna tropicanna

Canna ‘Tropicanna’ in a bed of verbena and backed by one of those dark leaved, huge, grow-it-as-an-annual, Napier grasses (Pennisetum purpureum).  Hard to see in the picture, but the grass is just over five feet, so probably much bigger than you’d guess.

I know I’ve called Canna ‘Bengal Tiger’ my absolute favorite canna, but there’s a new kid on the block this year.  Canna x ehemanii is an old hybrid which tops nearly every other canna in the gracefulness category.  I did not suspect my small plant would bloom this year but here it is opening its first flower.  A little short for this variety, but much easier to admire when it’s down here amongst us mortals 🙂

canna x ehemanii

I saw Canna x ehemanii growing in a corner of Chanticleer a few years back and have been looking for my own plant for years.  Once open its flowers will arch and hang with an amazing tropical grace that you’ll have to trust me on right now, but I’m sure more pictures will follow as it develops. 

We are into the one month countdown.  First frost typically hits around mid-October in these parts, and for as much heat and drought and storm this garden can take, it can’t take a hard freeze.  That’s a Tuesday view I’m not looking forward to.

In the meantime please give Cathy a visit and find out what she and other bloggers are seeing this Tuesday.  It’s a great way to keep up with the changes and really see just how much goes on in your garden!

Tuesday View: The Tropics 08.30.16

It’s Tuesday again and time to join up with Cathy at Words and Herbs to take a look at the Tuesday view.  I’m going to guess that the purple leaved cannas are at full height and full bloom now and things are about as close to a peak as I can imagine 🙂


The Tuesday view this evening.  I managed to get the pictures just before dusk, and finally for once the photos didn’t come out all blurry and overexposed.  I can see why photographers enjoy this time of day and may have to reconsider my strong commitment to doing nothing at these closing hours of the day.

I’m not thrilled about the sun being lower and lower in the sky each week, but the low evening light hitting the canna tops really highlights their bright little blooms.


The garden has become very popular with the hummingbirds as they go from verbena to canna to salvia to everywhere in between. I wonder if they are local youngsters or just birds starting to work their way south.

In case you’re wondering most of the dahlias have been staked.  It was a struggle but since the spool of twine has been sitting on the walkway for days now I figured it was time.  Hopefully the dahlias can bloom in peace and sway gently in the wind with their reassuring support system… although now it’s the overhanging canna leaves which threaten their happiness…


I can’t help but put in another photo of the sunflower which came up near the fence. It’s got some doubling in there but I think the dark anthers poking through around the center are what really make it stand out for me. 

As long as I’m just putting in gratuitous plant pictures I might as well show my absolutely favorite canna ‘Bengal Tiger’ again.  It’s practically stunted in comparison to the others but gardeners all know that the show is always going to be better next year.  I’ll just have to get something taller to go with it since right now it matches perfectly with the verbena bonariensis… but that won’t be the case net year if it sprouts up to six feet (which it should have no problem doing).

canna Bengal tiger

Canna ‘Bengal Tiger’ with the purple of Verbena bonariensis.

Speaking of plants which are sprouting up, the banana ‘Bordelon’, which spent last summer potted on the deck, has finally recovered from a neglectful winter in the garage and a tough spring with a rough crowd in the back of the bed.  I hope this winter I can do better with its care and avoid this setback since I used to be able to just throw the stem with a few roots into a basement and they would survive just fine.  Something’s changed though since lately they’ve been just plain struggling.


Banana ‘Bordeleon’ rising up above the verbena and knock out rose.  It’s still got a few more weeks before being dug up, so I hope it keeps going strong.

Actually I don’t even want to think about overwintering anything yet, so before I go I just want to point out one of the most enjoyable late summer events which occurs around the tropical bed this time of year.   Just across the grass path you’ll find a nice patch of hosta in bloom.  I received it years ago as an incorrectly labeled plant but I believe it’s hosta ‘Royal Standard’ and it completely fills the evening and nighttime air with a sweet tropical fragrance which reminds me of gardenias minus the mustiness I sometimes get from them.  I love the scent and the plants are indestructible and even if they’re as old as dirt compared to all the new, fancy hybrids I would never consider getting rid of them.

hosta royal standard

Hosta ‘Royal Standard'(maybe).  Full sun and drought fried the tansy to the right of it, but the hosta just trudged along with a small bit of leaf scorch and yellowing. 

That’s about it for the view.  I was beginning to think there wasn’t much new going on anymore but once you start poking around there are always a few surprises.  Hopefully I can keep it up a few more weeks.  As usual thanks to Cathy for hosting!

Tuesday View: The Tropics 8.23.16

It’s another Tuesday and although I missed last week due to a quick summer jaunt up to the mountains of New Hampshire, this week I’m back to joining in with Cathy at Words and Herbs in order to look at the weekly progress of the tropical border.  Heat, humidity, regular rain showers, and strong summer sunshine in between have brought on an explosion of late summer growth and the purple leaved cannas now dominate the bed.

tuesday view

Purple leaved canna indica, maybe ‘purpurea’ or ‘red stripe’ or ‘Russian red’… I don’t really know since they were given to me years ago as just plain old canna… have now topped off at around 8-9 feet.

You’ll probably notice the small red blooms the cannas have put out.  They’re nice enough as a little decoration up top but hardly enough reason to grow these plants.  It’s all about the foliage and it’s looking particularly good on this deliciously cool and clear, breezy summer day.

canna indica purpurea Russian red

Canna indica ‘purpurea?’ blooms against the bright blue of a clear summer sky.  A very popular flower with the hummingbirds.

Have I referenced “summer” enough yet?  I’m hoping that if I keep saying the word it will hang on forever, and we’ll never have to deal with the cold little deaths called autumn and winter.  Surely it’s a part of life here in Pennsylvania, but I don’t mind if it holds off for another two months at least.

coleus Alabama sunset

I need to add more coleus to the bed next year.  As things grow so does the shade, and this coleus (maybe ‘Alabama Sunset’)  fills in nicely rather than fading away like some of the zinnias.

There’s a whole back half to the bed which has been blocked off by the main clump of canna.  It’s a little messy but hopefully in the next few weeks a dahlia or two can break through and add a little color as other things begin to fade out.


Is ‘Tropical Weed Patch’ a look?  If I can only think of a better name maybe it will catch on but in the meantime you may notice the salvia ‘Caradonna’ which constantly annoys me is still exactly where its always been.  Sometimes things don’t move too fast around here 🙂 

With such a mess of randomness there’s bound to be a surprise here and there, and sometimes that surprise even turns out to be a nice one.  This week it was the salvia which has just come into bloom.  My favorite version of the stout, too-red, gas-station salvias (Salvia splendens) are the ones which don’t look like they’d end up in a gas station planting at all.   They’re the tall and lanky ones which are sometimes referred to as Salvia splendens ‘Van Houttii’ and up until now I’ve only succeeded with a peach colored one.  But last year I did have a short purple bedding type nearby, and apparently things happened at night and lo and behold this year one of their children is a tall, lanky purple.

purple salvia bloom

At about three feet tall this purple salvia bloom has all the grace and style which its shorter cousins lack.  Even better was that I found this as a self-sown seedling and was lucky enough to nurse it on to blooming size.  This makes me wonder as to what the other seedlings will look like.  

I’ve shown it before but have to show one more photo of the castor bean.  The bright seed pods look perfect amongst the purple foliage.

castor bean carmencita

The spiky red (and remember poisonous as well) seed heads of castor bean ‘carmencita’

This afternoon the sun hit the back corner of the bed perfectly.  You don’t even notice the weeds when the light is like this.


Verbena bonariensis is the workhorse of this bed and although it threatens to swamp everything else here it’s still worth any bit of trouble it causes. 

At this time of year it’s easy to ignore any maintainence and just enjoy the plants as they slide on into autumn, but dahlias are yet to come and dahlias need staking.  Two weeks ago would have been the best time to do this but things happen and when things happen the dahlias fall over.  It will require twice as much time to carefully put them back up and some might just stay where they lie.  It will be more of a groundcover look, but with the way they are stretching away from the canna’s shadow nearly all the plants have verticality issues which might not be worth fighting.

panicum northwind

There are dahlias in them thar purple verbena, but for now lets just focus on the panicum ‘Northwind’ which is turning into a tight fountain of frothy seed-heads.

Dahlias will hopefully be staked tomorrow… or Thursday.  Weekend at the latest.  It’s so nice right now with green grass, butterflies, and flowers who wants to stake stuff?  Plus I needed to tackle a hedge of crabgrass which sprouted overnight in one of the other beds, it’s an embarrassing mess, but at least it’s green and green is so much nicer than the dead brown which surrounded me last month.

Mess or not I hope you enjoyed the view and if you’d like give Cathy a visit and see what this week has brought to her garden and others.  It’s  a nice way to keep tabs on things over the season and it’s also a great way to get things staked and weeded.  Shame is a great motivator and even if it means I have to stake with one hand and take pictures with the other, the job will get done long before I even consider publically admitting that the twine has defeated me 🙂

Tuesday View: The Tropics 8.2.16

Finally I’m back for a real visit with Kathy’s Tuesday View meme.  After two weeks away the tropics have taken off here and the heat (and now rain!) have really brought everything to life.

cannas and verbena bonariensis

In the view today is damp soil, overcast skies and plenty of humidity.  The cannas have exploded along with just about everything else and exuberance is the word of the day.  How do you like the ferny green lump of kochia (summer cypress) just in front and to the left of the olive-green planter? I love it btw

My biggest fear when I left was that my new bananas and precious castor beans would just pine away waiting for rain, so two days before we left I added an extra line to the drip irrigation system and set up a few drip emitters to some of the most precious plants.  Good thing I did since this bed was the only part of the garden where lush greenery welcomed me back from our midsummer vacation.

castor bean carmencita

I have blooms on my ‘Carmencita’ castor bean plant.  I love the bright red seed pods and I hope they stay that way for a while… and the leaves aren’t too shabby either!

I’ll try not to go on too much about every single plant.  Here’s an overview of the farther side of the bed, beyond the path to grandma’s pool 🙂

cannas and verbena bonariensis

The purple of Verbena bonariensis has nearly taken over large swaths of the bed.  I’m fine with that but the old flower stalks on the salvia ‘Caradonna’ just irritate me to no end.  I’m sure no one but myself notices them, but there’s a good chance I snap this week and pull them all out!

The old red leaved cannas are nearly as tall as me now and will likely break the six foot mark by next week and I love that.  In no time this will be a garden you look up to 🙂

fennel with verbena bonariensis

My poor planning skills are often saved by horticultural volunteers.  Here the chartreuse froth of blooming fennel mixes in with a pale green nicotina and of course more Verbena bonariensis.  You can’t even see the dahlias which are supposed to fill this space.

You may have noticed a few of the sunflowers which peek out of the far corners of the border.  After relentlessly weeding them out through the spring I finally let a few of the latest sprouts in the hard to reach spots go on with their lives.  I love them of course, and I’ve already seen the goldfinches stopping by to check on the seeds.

sunflower and long horned bee

Sunflower with a few long-horned bees making themselves at home.

New to me this year are the bees which can be found on each sunflower bloom.  I’m sure they’ve been there every year but after I found the long antenna interesting I realized they’re not the regular honeybees.  According to this face book group >click here< they are either a type of sunflower bee or most likely a type of long-horned bee, both of which belong to the solitary bee group which includes some of the hardest working and most effective pollinators out there.

sunflower and long horned bee

I’m leaning towards long-horned bee for these two, since they both share the almost comically long antenna, but I have no clue as to which species.  Apparently there are more than a few! 

Something new to me which I came across while investigating bees is that these solitary bees are much less aggressive than their colony-forming cousins due to the fact they have no hive to defend.  They only sting when handled roughly and are considered more docile… although I’m not sure who did this investigation of insect manhandling.  I’ll take their word for it though and skip starting my own investigative bee-bullying program.

Oh and one more thing.  Solitary bees are fine feeding on nectar from a wide range of flowers but the individual bee species is much more specific in where its pollen comes from.  It’s called oligolecty, and if you want to add that one to the vocab list it describes bees which specialize in collecting pollen from a limited palette of flowers, often only one species.

A usual I’m as surprised as to where this Tuesday view went but it’s been an interesting ride for me and I hope it’s at least been somewhat interesting to you as well.  If you’d like to expand on the visit stop over at Words and Herbs and check in with Cathy to see what the other Tuesday views are up to.  There’s always plenty to explore!

Tuesday View: The Tropics 7.11.16

This week I was a little late in the day with my photo so it’s full of artsy backlighting.  A good effect for soft lighting, but not the best to see what’s going on in a Tuesday view.


The tropical garden at about 7 in the afternoon.

One thing which you will likely notice is the pile of grass trimmings and the wheelbarrow.  It was a busy afternoon in the bed and much of this was the result of the bed’s new designation as the Tuesday view.  Who would have suspected joining in with this meme would be the motivation needed to buckle down and make some of the changes I’ve been thinking about for the past few years?

rose 'black forest'

Not exactly tropical, but the color of the rose ‘black forest’ is hot enough to fit right in.  This is already its second flush of bloom and other than a few holes chewed into the leaves (most likely from some annoying beetle) it’s almost perfect.  Last year this plant was potted on the deck, still great but much younger and smaller.

Change one: The variegated miscanthus ‘Cosmopolitan’ had too much of a head start on the new plantings so I went ahead and cut it down to about a foot high.  We will see how this works out since I’ve never tried it before, but it’s grass right?  I suspect just like a scalped lawn it will send up plenty of new shoots, and in the meantime the cannas and dahlias will be able to grow upwards in peace and lay claim to their own airspace.

newly planted musa basjoo

Change two:  A newly planted banana (Musa basjoo) has replaced the peony which was just taking up space here… and mildewing.  When sunflowers grew up and covered it in years past there was no reason for it to bother me, but now it does so out it went.  I’ve never composted a peony, it seems absolutely criminal and I’m not sure I should be confessing, but there you go.  I yanked a few salvia as well.

We were gone for four days last week and the garden nearly dried out and died due to the heat.  Rumor has it rain fell, but of course all the big storms avoided us.  When I returned to see the pathetic state of my plants I first cursed, then cursed some more, and then decided to mow everything down and give up for the year, but after watering that evening and then the next day visiting my favorite nursery (Perennial Point), things seemed less bleak.  They had awesome bananas and elephant ears and a bunch of other stuff and in my weakened state two new bananas came home with me (plus a new fern and red hot poker).

Kochia Scoparia

Kochia Scoparia is a new one for me.  The common names are burning bush and summer cypress and I suspect I will like it, but for now keep in mind it’s listed as a noxious weed in several Midwestern states.

I didn’t need the bananas, but I did need the bananas, especially after seeing how well they have done for my brother in his zone 7 LI, NY garden.  In case you’re wondering, Musa basjoo is likely the hardiest banana, and although I won’t get into all the logistics of me being the one to give him the plants in the first place, and him being completely deaf to all hints at how much I wanted one and which one could he spare… I now have one again and promise to mulch it well EVERY winter so it doesn’t die off again.

long term weed killer

The rest of the zinnias are doing well, but I suspect my MIL was again a little heavy-handed with the weed killer here since it’s a dead spot which seems to stunt all life.  She has an unexplained attraction to any herbicide which says ‘controls weeds for months’, and this in turn stunts and kills anything planted in the treated area or anything planted near the runoff area… for months.

So here we are again, all over the place on what should be a simple post.  I promise to get less wordy once we get through this planting and intro phase but for now I can’t help it.  Just be grateful you’re not stuck here on a visit and I’m really going on and on!

lythrum salicaria purple loosestrife

Now what do I do with this?  The flower stalks of a Lythrum salicaria (purple loosestrife) have appeared in the back part of this bed and I like it.  The problem is it’s a terrible invasive in this part of the country, but only in wetlands and my garden is far from being a wetland.

If you’d like to join in the Tuesday view, Cathy at Words and Herbs follows her own view each week and I’m sure she’d welcome the company.  It’s a great way to track changes through the season and apparently it can even motivate some of the less motivated gardeners into tackling a few things on the to-do list!

Tuesday View: The Tropics 6.28.16

Two of my favorite bloggers are bringing back a meme which I’ve always enjoyed.  Cathy of Words and Herbs and Kimberley of Cosmos and Cleome both highlight a longer view each Tuesday and we get to see it develop and change as the year passes.  I’m no expert on the meme but I think Cathy sticks to a specific viewpoint and time while Kimberly varies the perspective and location depending on what’s going on in the garden.  Myself on the other hand am barely capable of getting any post up in a given week, so to keep it simple I’m going to follow Cathy’s lead and go with one view, same bed, same point each week and see if I can handle that.  Also since the tropical bed went in last week (about time since it’s already past the solstice and well into summer) I’m going to highlight this bed as my view, and (hopefully) watch as it grows up. 

Tropical garden

My fingers are crossed that over the next few weeks this bed will become an explosion of color and foliage and maybe bring a taste of the tropics to this end of NE Pennsylvania.

I’ll try to keep this short, since assuming things grow I want to save a little material for future posts, but besides the thrill of actually getting most of the plants in last week I always get a little excited checking this patch each day to see how quickly things progress.  All season bloomers which sit as a lump of color and put out the same old flowers each week bore me a little, and even though I can appreciate someone wanting low maintenance, neat color, I want something that sneaks up on you and then overwhelms you, like a horticultural tsunami!  Hence the tropical garden, and anything bright and big and leafy is more than welcome.

papyrus with black forest rose

The papyrus was not happy last year and I suspect it didn’t get nearly as much water as it wanted so instead of planting it in the ground again I placed it in a pot submerged in a second pot full of water.  Green water.  So far the reviews of this planting have not been 100% favorable.

You can’t really tell from the tiny sprigs, twigs, and tubers, but this year’s theme is orange and purple.  That’s not a solid theme, it’s more my mood when I’m out picking up annuals or choosing which dahlias to put here versus in other parts of the garden… or finding a flat of orange zinnias on sale and liking zinnias.  So until the oranges fill in, hot pink and purple will have to do for a theme.  Besides the annuals, perennials have a way of sneaking in everywhere, and although I pulled a wheelbarrow full of daisies and transplanted dozens of chrysanthemums, there are still a few things such as this knockout rose and purple ‘Caradonna’ salvia which are just too colorful to stand up to.  Maybe next year will be the year I follow through on my threats to remove the salvias.

knockout rose with caradonna salvia

The ultra rare and uncommon ‘Knockout’ rose tastefully complimented with orange zinnias at its feet and scavenged lawn clippings as mulch.  This Tuesday view already promises to reek of class each week 🙂

So there you have it.  By next week I hope to have a few cannas sprouting and a few more zinnias assaulting your color senses and overall I really hope things don’t end up requiring a rototiller and a fresh start by August.

Think about joining in with the view and if you do leave a link at either Cathy‘s or Kimberley’s blog so we can find you.  Not to put words in their mouths but I’m sure both will agree “the more the merrier” and I always enjoy watching another garden grow throughout the season… even if it does turn into a trashy mess of too much color and chaos!

A hot day in Philly

The calendar is beginning to insist that all things summer will soon come to an end, so when a free day presented itself I made my best to take advantage of the last weeks of warmth.  A quick call to a friend near Phillidelphia and I was on my way to one of my favorite gardens, Chanticleer.  As usual the visit did not disappoint, and despite a mental note to just enjoy the visit I did break down at the end and went a little camera happy.  Hopefully I can show some restraint with the length of this post even if I couldn’t with the camera.

chanticleer red border

Red and purple as you come around the house. Coleus ‘redhead’ and the awesome canna x ehemanii… rounded out with a few random bananas.

I like to stroll around pretending this is my own estate, and if by chance if I do win millions (I’ve given up on earning them through hard work, marriage, or genius) I feel like this is the kind of garden I’d create.

chanticleer container plantings

Many exotic and unusual container plants are scattered around the house and terraces. All appear perfectly grown and cared for.

The tropical plantings around the house are some of my favorite plantings, although even away from the house a random banana or elephant ear may turn up (Chanticleer refers to itself as a ‘pleasure garden’… so I guess anything goes!)

teacup garden chanticleer

This year’s teacup garden plantings. Fiddlehead figs and canna ‘Ermine?’, plus many others.

I’m guessing on almost all the IDs since the gardens are for enjoyment and inspirations and not so much for the down to earth realities of botanical labeling, but there are plant lists available both in the gardens and online.  I apologize for being too distracted to look while there and far too lazy now to look them up online.

papyrus chanticleer

Potted dwarf giant papyrus. I love the pot in pot planting with a ‘groundcover’ of duckweed, and I’d love to imitate, but… no pot and no dwarf giant papyrus.  Maybe the plain old giant papyrus will work,  at least that’s finally become easy to find in the spring.

I can feel the banana itch coming back.  I was given one and bought another this summer….

chanticleer tropicalismo

Canna x ehemanii, various bananas, red and purple dahlias, and a few tall salvia splendens varieties.

…and how can you not like dahlias at this time of year.

chanticleer mixed border

A respectable boxwood border holding back a wave of visitors from the south.

On a hot day the dry, full sun, gravel garden was not the place to linger… but we did, and while sweat beaded we enjoyed the waterwise plantings and the mix of dryland perennials and tropical cactus and succulents.

chanticleer gravel garden

I think the yucca rostrada (hardiest of the trunk forming yuccas) stays here year round, but I’m not sure of the agave.  I do know I wouldn’t want to be the one to lift it come autumn.

All the rain earlier in the year probably helped most things, but some I’m sure didn’t appreciate the reminder they were in Pennsylvania and not Southern California.

artichoke bloom

Artichoke blooms?  Not the best leaf-wise, but the color of the flowers almost glowed in the heat.

Or South Africa…

chanticleer kniphofia

Kniphofia (a species I’m guessing) along the dry slope.  I love this plant family, but never get decent flowers on the ones I’m growing.

The bulk of the grounds around the house are open grass and trees, and this was the beginning of the colchicum season.

chanticleer naturalized colchicums

Some of the colchicums just beginning to bloom in the lawn at Chanticleer.  Form what I’ve heard there are many more to come.

And then there were the pond gardens…

chanticleer koi

Chanticleer koi

With lotus and water lilies.

chanticleer lotus bud

One of many lotus flowers.  My photos never do the blooms justice.

And then there was the cutting garden.  My favorite canna ‘Bengal Tiger’ (Pretoria) was the star, and in my opinion everything looks better when it’s next to this beauty.

chanticleer canna pretoria

The cutting garden.  Summer annuals, dahlias and cannas were at their peak.

It’s just pictures from here on.

chanticleer cosmos

Cosmos and dahlias with canna leaves.

chanticleer cutting garden

The beds threaten to swamp you in a tsunami of plants.  Still to come were all the hardy sunflowers and other native prairie plants which filled the inner portions of the bed.

dahlias chanticleer

Dahlia with gomphrena ‘fireworks’ (I think)

dahlias chanticleer

Dahlias again (it’s the season!) plus more awesome canna leaves. I think the ferny foliage belongs to the SE native dog fennel (Eupatorium capillifolium).

dahlias chanticleer

Nice right?

chanticleer summer flowers

Summer zinnas and cosmos. Who says fall is near?

I didn’t realize it’s been two years since I last visited (click here to see that very pintrest-popular post), and I’m glad to have had the chance to do it again.  The gardens are on a scale that really seems approachable, yet aren’t filled with how-to beds or dull bedding.  It’s really a place where you can enjoy the art of gardening,  and if you get the chance I would absolutely recommend a visit, but for those further afield there’s also hope.  September 23rd marks the release date for a new Timber Press book on the gardens and I for one am looking forward to it.  It has an excellent pedigree across publisher, author, and photographer and what I’m most looking forward to are the interviews with each area gardener.  I saw them at work during our visit but was a little too shy to bother them with an endless gushing of praise or question after question.  Hopefully the new book will pacify me. 🙂

Thanks for meeting me there Paula, and I wish everyone a great week!