Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day – March 2016

Galanthus nivalis 2 Ondra

There’s a lot to smile about right now, that’s for sure. It’s not often that I have enough flowers in mid-March for a Bloom Day post. Our weather has been so freakishly warm–more like May or June than March–that new things are coming into bloom daily, and some of the earliest bulbs are almost finished now.

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Planning Ahead for the Late Show

'Spring Gold' purple beautyberry (Callicarpa dichotoma) in fall color [October 11, 2011]; Nancy J. Ondra at Hayefield

It’s time for snowdrops and hellebores, and fresh new shoots of other early bloomers poking out of the soil–so who wants to contemplate the end of the gardening season when the new one has hardly begun? The thing is, having interesting things to look at in fall requires some forethought. It can take a while to track down some of the gems of the autumn garden, because they’re often not readily available in garden centers during the usual spring shopping frenzy. And if you wait until fall to plant them, then you’ve missed out their other interesting features earlier on. But if you start hunting for them now, and get them into the ground in the next few months, they’ll have plenty of time to get settled in and make a good show for you as the growing season draws to a close.

I have so many fall favorites that it’s tough to whittle down the list, but I’ve done my best to select some that you may not have considered before. To give you a head start, I’ve supplied a couple of online sources for each, based on the results of a Google search. I don’t have any connection to or personal experience with any of these nurseries. (I suggest checking out any potential source on Garden Watchdog before ordering.) Continue reading

The Perennial Matchmaker – A Chance to Win

The Perennial Matchmaker by Nancy J. Ondra

It’s here! I’ve been experimenting with plant combinations, making notes, and gathering photographs for many years, and I wrote the first proposal for this book nearly a decade ago. I’m grateful to the folks at Rodale–where I started my career in publishing as a summer intern in Garden Books 26 years ago–for taking a chance on my idea and turning it into reality. I also owe thanks to excellent editor Karen Bolesta and the book’s talented designer, Joanna Williams, as well as frequent collaborator Rob Cardillo and the many talented blogger/photographers whose inspiring combinations are included in the text.

The book isn’t due out until next month, but the advance copies just arrived, and to celebrate the release, Rodale has arranged to give away 10 copies through Goodreads. It’s open to residents of the U.S and Canada from today to March 1, 2016. You can find details on how to enter here: Book Giveaway for The Perennial Matchmaker.

 

What’s in a Name? Moments in Time

'SunnySmile'--a dwarf annual sunflower (Helianthus annuus)--with narrowleaf zinnia (Zinnia angustifolia) and 'Sweet Caroline Bronze' sweet potato vine (Ipomoea batatas) [Nancy J. Ondra at Hayefield]

‘Sunny Smile’–a dwarf annual sunflower (Helianthus annuus)–with narrowleaf zinnia (Zinnia angustifolia) and ‘Sweet Caroline Bronze’ sweet potato vine (Ipomoea batatas)

As it seemed time for a new adventure in the meaning of botanical names, time itself is a tempting topic. A little familiarity with some of the words you might come across can be handy for predicting how a plant might behave in your garden simply by looking at its name. Continue reading

Celebrating Containers

'Profusion Double Cherry' zinnia with Carita Purple angelonia (Angelonia angustifolia 'Car Purr09') and 'Golden Edge' golden dewdrop (Duranta erecta); Nancy J. Ondra at Hayefield

All-summer interest: ‘Profusion Double Cherry’ zinnia with Carita Purple angelonia (Angelonia angustifolia ‘Car Purr09’) and ‘Golden Edge’ golden dewdrop (Duranta erecta)

I have to admit to being something of a late arrival to the container-gardening fan club. When I look back at pictures of my previous garden, I’m surprised at how few pots I had–well, except for the hundreds of potted seedlings I raised in my little backyard nursery. I mean the usual sort of container plantings: one or more decorative pots meant to add a touch of color where in-ground planting isn’t practical, such as next to a door or on a patio. I guess it’s because I was still fresh my studies of soil science and thought of pots and potting soil only as a propagation tool–a poor second to the experience of digging and planting in “real” soil. Continue reading

Five Favorites: Black Beauties

Pepper 'Black Pearl' (Capsicum annuum) with 'Bright Lights' Swiss chard

When we’re young, we “learn our colors”; when we start gardening, we have to learn them all over again. Well, some of them are the basically the same: white is white, pretty much, and most of us are pretty confident in describing a flower or leaf as red, orange, yellow, or green. When we start getting into blue and purple, though–particularly in catalog descriptions–it’s practically a free-for-all. “Blue” can mean anything from grayish green to a sort of lavender-pink to the blue we learned as a primary color to a distinctly purplish blue. Our purple, too, is often very different from what non-gardeners might describe as that color: “Purple” flowers and foliage may be anything from deep red or burgundy to chocolate brown to a purple so dark it is practically black.

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First Impressions

Anemone x hybrida Plaster Tile; Nancy J. Ondra at Hayefield

It’s so easy to find inspiration: interesting garden projects, gorgeous plant combinations to try, and beautiful things to make. The hard part is finding the time to actually try some of the wonderful ideas that other people have come up with. My own to-do list is ridiculously long, but over the past few months, I’ve been ticking a few things off of the list and having a great time doing it. One project I’m particularly excited about has been at the top of the list ever since I read about it in the March 2014 issue of Gardens Illustrated. The article, which you can read online here, features the work of Rachel Dein, owner of Tactile Studio in the U.K.. It focuses primarily on her work with making plaster castings of plants, though she works with other materials as well. The photos of the finished projects were so enticing that I knew I had to try the process for myself. Continue reading

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