Pages

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Twilight in late September

As the sun drops low on the horizon, just enough foliage has fallen to allow bright shafts of sunlight into parts of the garden. Here it's about to disappear behind the roof of the house, casting the near garden into increasing darkness.


Further out in the garden, warm sunset light ignites the grasses--Calamagrostis acutiflora 'Karl Foerester', Panicum 'Shenandoah', Panicum 'Dallas Blues', Miscanthus purpurescens at back. This is a highly transient phenomenon, passing quickly into shade.


Here the light has shifted to the right, passing across another group of plants--Viburnum, more Panicum 'Shenandoah', Scirpus cyperinus, Lysimachia ciliata 'Firecracker', Sanguisorba canadense, and further right, an Iris pseudacorus and the foliage of a clump River Birch--then quickly fading...


... into gradual darkness. Amazing to think I'm actually watching the effect of the rotation of the earth in this little spot of garden--such a large thing manifesting in such a small and lovely way.


Now in shade, Sanguisorba flowers against the dried Scirpus cyperinus ...


... and behind, another ray spotlights a fading stand of Joe Pye Weed.


A little sea of grasses, out of the sun now, in muted colors lit by indirect light of the sky ...


Looking across the garden, where the woodland trees catch the last of the sun in their upper branches ...


Now the house glows with the approach of night. Outside, it's actually darker than it appears; my camera is overcompensating for the low light level, as you can see by comparison with the bright incandescent light inside the house.


Soon it will be completely dark. Soon it will be time to go inside and feel cozy.


Miscanthus 'Silberfeder', still like fireworks, even in dimming indirect light ...



The path to the new paved sitting area appears as I move around the garden ... (yes, the stepping stones need realignment) ...


Striking how colorful, in a subdued way, the mixed grasses and perennials can still be ...


as the earth continues to turn the sun under ...


... and the moon brightens in a darker sky.


The garden is made on a piece of earth, composed of soil, water, minerals, plants, built with labor, logic, and much emotion (passion perhaps?), but much more than that, composed too of space, mass and void, the very air we breath. It's the earth, the sun, the day, the night. Both motion and stillness.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Autumn

This first day of autumn the tall trees surrounding the garden cast deep shadows. A morning walk is a study in dark and light, a good time for looking about. It's virtually impossible to capture these extremes of lighting in photographs, but just sitting in the shade looking out into the sunlit garden can be quite pleasant, as can strolling through dappled shade.The contrast of dark and light is what makes the garden special at this time of day. So this is the compromise--slightly overexposed photos with bleached colors. You, dear reader, will have to use your imagination.

Here, the first picture shows the space and broad view of the garden. This is hard to do successfully, as you've probably noticed if you spend much time reading garden blogs. Most only give you small pictures of single plantings, or limited vignettes, rarely the big picture.So take a look at the dramatic contrast between light and dark. Yes, I'm striving for a kind of drama in the garden, a stage set with creative lighting (supplied by the sun alone) and theatrical scrims made of vegetable matter.


Landscape or garden? Both, really. These views show the lay of the land, or rather the undulations of the vegetative growth of this season, as the perennials have reached their peak and begun the time of slow decline, losing chlorophyll, just starting to show their flashes of color. We aren't there yet, but the fading greens and shift toward yellow, red and gold is beginning to be apparent.

It's a good time, too, to see how shapes work in the landscape. The spear-like foliage in the foreground below starts a rhythm echoed by the finer grasses behind, the Arborvitae, and in the distance the tall Junipers and a single Blue spruce. Next year I'll add more Japanese and Siberian irises, which hold their form well, and late, and give thought to ways to repeat these patterns across the garden.


As has been done here, in the offset line of Arborvitae ...


Hard to tell in the view below, but the bank rising to the house remains a problem, still unfinished after five years. The right end in almost full sun is planted mainly with Miscanthus gracillimus (some are the real thing; others seed-grown unknowns sold as gracillimus; caveat emptor!), which have done well and make a pleasing cloud-like picture. The opposite end, in the dry shade of three large sycamores immediately adjacent to the house, is less amenable to easy solutions. I want a mass of hydrangeas, and will continue to attempt that next year. A rainy spring and summer would help.Those I've put in are languishing.


For late color and longer interest, I've added several Lespedezas; these are in their first year, and I expect them to grow much larger and flower more profusely in years to come. I'll probably add one or two more, scattered among the Miscanthus, to get a bank of September color. I stole this plant idea from Bruce's garden at Paxson Hill Farm (thanks, Bruce) and from a magnificent specimen at Chanticleer.



Here they make a channel of color running up to the four Adirondack chairs on the terrace.


Details out in the garden--here, Sanguisorbas on the long path across the garden ... 


 ... Pycnanthemum muticum (Mountain mint) in its late summer silver with Arborvitae ...


Vernonia altissima 'Jonesboro Giant' in flower (though not as tall as last year because of drought), Rudbeckia maxima seed heads and foliage at its feet, and just a glimpse of Miscanthus purpurescens on the left ...


Here the Miscanthus purpurescens with species Veronicastrum  and increasingly  ubiquitous Rudbeckia maxima (it's become a theme plant) ...


Massed Miscanthus 'Silberfeder' and Pycnanthemum muticum in shade on the left, and on the right the new back area under development. The newly planted Hornbeam hedge will form a right angle behind the bench in the distance ...


... and that same planting of Miscanthus 'Silberfeder', Pycnanthemum muticum, and Petasites seen from the back of the garden, looking in the direction of the house (which is obscured by the plants) ...


After several tries, asters are establishing. I want more, and have several in a holding bed beside the house. If we have a break in the heat, I'll plant them out in the garden later in the fall ...


That same community of Miscanthus purpurescens shown above, here from the opposite side, where it adjoins the newly paved sitting area; this is one of my favorite grasses. I hope to find a way to darken the concrete pavers and gravel quickly, perhaps using a nutrient solution to encourage algae growth in the cooling days of fall. Or maybe I'll just smear them with mud over winter.


Another Miscanthus purpurescens surrounded by asters and Pycnanthemum muticum ...


... and a second view in the same direction, showing the circle of red walnut logs marking the eastern limit of the garden ...


... a fortuitous combination of Pycnanthemum and Siberian iris ...


... and Calico aster (Aster longifolius), a native, which grows everywhere I don't pull it out ...


... a view from the bench, which was shown above, toward the circle of logs ... more hydrangeas are going in here. So far 'Limelight' appears to be the most successful in this difficult area. The view of the unattractive fence in the back left will be blocked by Japanese Fantail willow (Salix sachalinensis 'Sekka') and Miscanthus giganteus.


Looking back into the garden from the easternmost path--asters, Miscanthus purpurescens again, Rudbeckia maxima, drying Joe Pye Weed, bracken ... from this direction, the plants are backlit, glowing with refracted light of the sun.


Marc Rosenquist's sculpture surrounded by various asters, Eupatorium coelestinum, Chelone 'Hot Lips' and big leaved Rudbeckia maxima, Silphium perfoliatum, and Inula 'Sonnenspeer' in the background, all backlit by sunlight in a striking way.

Here the colors of fall have really begun. Two bunches of Panicum 'Shenandoah', another of my favorites, showing streaks of red, to either side of a Viburnum plicatum (a small tree I cut down when we cleared the land; now I recognize its beauty and utility as it's coming back). The red plant at the front is Seedbox (Ludwigia alternatolia), a native I'm encouraging wherever it chooses to grow.


Behind in the darkening shadows are many Filipendula rubra 'Venusta' in their subtle autumn colors and spires of (you should have guessed it) Rudbeckia maxima.

So the decrescendo of summer, as the flowers lessen and colors fade, becomes a crescendo to an autumn to be closely watched, if I can judge from the past three years. I have to remember this was a summer of severe drought. I don't know what will happen. The uncertainty of the garden year remains, and that's not bad.

Nothing to do with gardens

Hot air ballooning is very popular around here. I saw these while driving back to the city last Sunday.








Once I got onto Route 202, this one crossed the road.




I supposed I could make some connection with gardening if I really tried. But I won't.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

LinkWithin

Related Posts with Thumbnails