Saturday, July 22, 2017

Today in Gardening: I Can't Contain Myself

Container gardening is a lot of fun because, if you use annuals in your containers, you can change them every year.  (Annuals are the ones that live just one season and go away).  You only need to be sure to choose annuals that are appropriate for the conditions you have to offer them.  I usually choose and plant my containers in May and June, so that by today, which is mid-July, they're filling out.

 For this spot with its morning blast of sunshine, exposure, I chose a purple and silver theme.  Here are angelonia Angelface Blue, lobelia Lucia Ultraviolet, verbena Superbena Purple, and for silver accents, dichondra Silver Falls and helichrysum Icicles.

I'm continuing the silver and purple theme with the windowbox, another container that gets a blast of morning sun.  

I've had incredible good luck with Supertunia Bordeaux.  I love its delicately traced dark veins.  So I tend to use it someplace in my containers every year.

Here I combined it with a bicolor angelonia identified only as  "Joey's Indestructibles."  Also dichondra Silver Falls.  The dichondra is struggling to make its presence known--you can see it trailing down--because the Supertunia Bordeaux is such a vigorous grower.

I'm continuing the purple and silver theme in this hanging pot, but you can't see it very well, as it's photographed against the sky:

That's callibrachoa Superbells Blue in there.  I've had such good luck with callibrachoa, and you'll see this isn't the only place I'm using it this year.

I broke the purple and silver theme to plant this pot, a shameless imitation of a container set called Pollinator's Paradise offered by White Flower Farm.  White Flower Farm's looks like this:

They've combined cleome Senorita Rosalita with Salvia Amistad.  I couldn't find Salvia Amistad at retail in my area, but I could find salvia Black and Blue, so that's what I used.  Mine looks like this:

But I've only seen one pollinator, a hummingbird, on it.  Huh.  Some pollinator's paradise.  That said, I nevertheless have to admire cleome Senorita Rosalita.  If you've ever grown cleome, you know how wildly invasive it is.  Martha Stewart, for example, has called it a horrible plant because of its intractability. It's also sticky along the stem.  Now someone has changed cleome by developing Senorita Rosalita, a sterile cleome that isn't sticky and won't self-seed.  I applaud that.

I've said that I've had good luck with supertunias.  Here's Supertunia Honey growing in a pot that's also planted with thunbergia alata, the black-eyed Susan vine:

I've grown the black-eyed Susan vine in this spot in front of the garage for years.  Because it works.  That location gets a brutal blast of noonday and then withering western sun all afternoon.  Only tough plants will stand up to that blast, which is made worse by reflected heat off the garage, and the black eyed Susan vine has served me well in that spot.  So far, the supertunia Honey is going strong, too.  My sharp-eyed gardening friends will also see the leaves of Heavenly Blue morning glories in this pot.  Those are volunteers. 

In addition to the supertunias, I've also got callibrachoa in more than one place.  Here's Blueberry Scone Chameleon Calibrachoa in the front of the house:

I think it's called blueberry scone for its blue and yellow color combination.  Here's how one vendor displays it:

Pretty, isn't it?

Another plant that I use and re-use every year is torenia.  This one is basically a shade-lover, but it does well in fuller sun, too.  Here are torenia Catalina Gilded Grape, yellow with a purple throat, combined with torenia Summer Wave Large Blue:

There are torenia in this pot below, too, but I think I put them in a spot that gets too much blasting sunlight, because you can hardly see the yellow torenia creeping out the bottom:

Also in this pot along with the torenia are ipomoea blackie and the red fountain grass, pennisetum setaceum rubrum.  My sharp-eyed gardening friends will also see the heart-shaped leaves of Grandpa Ott morning glories, a volunteer.  That's a polite way to describe Grandpa Ott morning glories.  Another is to call Grandpa a dirty old man who spreads his seed far and wide.

There's one more pot to show you.  On my front porch I have a giant green and yellow coleus, Cong. Jr. Green Halo, the trailing green ipomoea Sweet Caroline, and yellow wave petunias. It's a fresh combination:

Look at all those crazy colors in my container annuals this year!  I can't contain myself.

Here are some of my tips for pot success:

  • Fill the lower third of the pot with empty plastic flowerpots to occupy space the roots won't need
  • Fill the rest of the pot with compost mixed with osmocote plant food and a hydrogel like Terrasorb
  • When you water, use a water-soluble plant food in a dispenser on your hose.  If my friends who garden organically can suggest an organic alternative, let me know.
  • And most of all, enjoy.  Garden like no one is looking.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Report from a Rented Recliner: Crazy Things are Happening

I'm confined to a rented recliner these days.

 Nevertheless, crazy things are happening.

The first crazy thing happened on Wednesday, July 12, 2017, as I was emerging from anaesthesia.

"While you were in surgery, we got a call from Cape Cod Art Association," my husband Joe informed me. "You got first in show."

That would be the Cape Cod Art Association's National Open Juried Show, in which 398 entries vied for 80 to 85 places on the wall.  I'd entered Eastham Low Tide.

 I was so surprised:  I associate "best in show" with large pieces about four feet long and two feet wide.  Eastham Low Tide is a mere 13 by 18 inches, and not only that, it's been in two or three other juried shows and has passed unremarked.  This time, I'm elated that the jurors honored its intricate tidal patterns and overlooked larger, flashier pieces.

That's the second time in a few months I won a prize from the Cape Cod Art Association:  in mid May, two months ago, in the Cape Cod Art Association's All Cape Cod open juried show, I won the Brooks Kelly Award, and Best in Mixed Media.  That was for my felted piece, Last Day of Summer, First Encounter Beach:

Fast forward to my hip surgery. I've been discharged from the hospital and sent home to sit in the recliner and do hourly exercises.

Also take naps. I'm taking a nap when a someone leaves a phone message.  When I awake from my nap, I hear the message: It's from Lisa Ellis of Sacred Threads Quilts, another show in which I have a piece of work.  Lisa said that someone wanted to buy my quilt, Heaven on Earth.

A sale?  This almost never happens.  Okay, well it did happen last March, when I sold a piece called Norfolk Fence at the Spectrum Gallery's Walls, Doors and Fences exhibit.  But until then, a sale was and has been a once-in-a-blue moon event.

Now I undergo hip replacement surgery and promptly win a major prize and then sell a piece of work?  Crazy things, I'm saying.

Meanwhile, about that rented recliner:  It turns out to be a comfortable location for needle felting.  I spent the past few days with a tray of felting materials across my lap, creating these two pieces:

 I think there's something poignant about a picnic table under a load of fall leaves.

This one is the Pemetic trail in Acadia National Park.

Both pieces need to be run under my electronic felting machine, otherwise known as a Baby Lock Embellisher.  Once I do that, I'll be able to add some hand embroidery.  Can't operate the machine right now unless I figure out a way of activating the foot pedal without using my right foot. 

Meanwhile, a couple of other projects are under way.  One is a shibori throw.  My daughters created 9 shibori squares with me on the weekend before my surgery, when our oldest daughter Julia was home for a visit and to speak at our church, the Unitarian Society of Hartford.

 Once I get the pieces ironed and evened, I'll assemble them with sashing made from the solid blue fabric on the right below.  The swirly blue fabric on the left below will be the backing.  This creation will only have a top and backing, no batting.  Thus I'm calling it a throw. 

I'm also working on a photo transfer piece that focuses on the geometry of sand ripples:

I was in the process of quilting this one when I went in for surgery, and now, with my right leg temporarily unusable, the finishing of this piece will have to wait.

When I'm not needle felting I'm working on a hat:

And while I'm doing that, I'm listening to Al Franken: Giant of the Senate, by Al Franken.  There's more crazy there.  I'm recommending it.  In it, Al Franken says he makes all the cracks and remarks he was constrained from making while in practice of his position, that of United States Senator from Minnesota.  He's cracking me up.