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Friday, December 14, 2012

Celebration!

I woke to a frosty morning, an icy crust on the garden, a low brilliant sun lighting the mess that remains from Hurricane Sandy, the worst storm in local recorded history, and a heavy wet snow that fell a few days after. I thought the garden was at an end, but these photos give the lie to that. Instead, they celebrate the strong, intricate structure of the grasses and perennials at Federal Twist. The frost and light create a delicate, ephemeral landscape.


I rarely take a "how to" approach to blog posts, but it may be helpful to see how some plants weathered the storms and remain to give pleasure, so I'll name the survivors below. The empty spaces usually incidate plants there earlier in the season didn't last through the storms. I'll name some of them too, though I certainly don't suggest you avoid them.

Eupatorium perfoliatum, Sedum 'Herbstfreude' in back

Asters, stalks of Filipendula Rubra, Calamagrostis acutiflora 'Karl Foerester' at back

Same plants with Sedum in front

Rudbeckia maxima added

Rudbeckia maxima

Filipendula

Filipendula, Calamagrostis

Asters, Panicum 'Dallas Blues'


Flattened plants:  Aster puniceus, day lilies, Sanguisorba, Filipendula. Standing:  Euphorbia palustris, Miscanthus purpurescens, Miscanthus 'Silberfeder', Vernonia ...

Rudbeckia maxima, Calamagrostis a. 'Karl Foerester', Filipendula, Sedum 'Herbstfreude'


Eupatorium perfoliatum (again), Panicum 'Shenandoah'

Most of the remaining plants have been identified at least once, so you're on your own.





Eupatorium perfoliatum, Bergenia, boxwood, Hydrangea quercifolia, miscanthus and Thuja occidentalis

The Hydrangea quercifolia in the next three photos turned very late, leaving this dark wine color.





Panicum 'Dallas Blues', outstanding in icy raiment.



The Filipendula and Eupatorium atropurpureum will retain dried flowers and leaves in most winters. But the extraordinarily violent winds of Sandy left only the upright structure.






This view of the house explains the reason for a naturalistic garden.

The boxwood and Thuja evergreens add more than just color interest in winter. They make an important contribution to structure. I plan to add more.



The large empty area is home to a community of Filipendula rubra 'Venusta', a source of pleasure from late spring, usually well into winter. It's weight even took down patches of Joe Pye Weed, as well as asters and sanguisorbas.

Pycnanthemum muticum


Salix sachalinensis 'Sekka' pruned high to reveal sculptural trunks

Miscanthus 'Silberfeder', Pycnanthemum muticum




Andropogon virginicus, Sedum


Vernonia, Panicum 'Dallas Blues', Silphium terebenthinaceum, Pycnantheum muticum, Miscanthus 'Silberfeder' across the back, Inula racemosa 'Sonnenspeer', Aster tartaricus in front



Miscanthus giganteus (the big one)


At risk of boring some, I want to add many more miscanthus next year. It can't be beat as a ruthless ground cover, and it lasts through all kinds of weather. I do want to introduce more named cultivars. I have only two Ferner osten, which has extraordinary autumn color and a well controlled form.





Marc Rosenquist's sculpture, Pay Dirt, looks great with the forest trees.





Time: about 8:30 in the morning.

24 comments:

  1. I haven't much of a head for remembering Latin names James. I can see, though, that you've chosen carefully.
    Really, your garden looks as beautiful now as it does at any other time. There is such delicacy.
    You know, one thing about Nature is the fineness of the inter-relatedness of its constituent members. And it's in winter that web can be seen starkly.
    Very graceful.

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    1. Faisal, I think you're right about the fineness and inter-relatedness of its constituent members, then I have to go on to say the light and frost have more to do with this momentary beauty than does the garden itself. It's merely the armature for this chance work to coalesce. Thank you.

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  2. What a wonderful treat!
    Thank you for sharing with us.

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  3. your 'pruned high to reveal the trunk' reminds me that my Pride of India, crepe myrtles, have suddenly turned their bark to an electrifying bronzed red. We inherited them badly hacked off at the top and I'm gradually coaxing out a more appealing structure.

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    1. I love crepe myrtles, which though terribly over planted in my native south, I still find beautiful because of their sinuous bark and trunks. I'd grow them in my garden it I had an appropriate place (away from the deer) to plant them.

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  4. James adding more miscanthus is perfect - not boring. I hope you can find the named varieties you're after. What are they?

    Have you had much frost/cold over there. I wonder how the winter will pan out. It was a balmy 14C or 57F here yesterday. It was like that last year until Feb when wham, we experienced a taste of zone 6b weather - your zone I believe.

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    1. Rob, what I plant largely depends on what I can find in the surseries. My two Ferner Osten have great fall color (both flower and foliage) and they are very upright compared to some of the other miscanthus, so I'd like to find more of those, even divide the ones I have if necessary. I want to add more that give lots of fall color. Graziella would be good for color too, and it's one of the larger ones. I found a couple of Malepartus this fall, so will see how they work. I like masses of Miscanthus purpurescens for early color, though they are rather indistinct in form. Out in the far corners, I'd like to use a few variegated ones, which will be seen from a distance; things like Cosmopolitan or or the species Condensatus. I also love Morning Light, but it's best featured alone where you can see its shape distinctly against a contrasting background. I think we've had a few frosts, but this is the only one I've actually been present to enjoy. We still get mild days and will until well into January when the deep freeze arrives.

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  5. Wonderful images, I love grasses and all that they offer the garden throughout the year. Maybe winter is when they shine the most as many other plants are dormant, Even not covered in frost they give the main structure to my garden too in winter. I'm so plased that your garden wasn't damaged too much by 'Sandy' although I know it has taken away most of your protection. If you want a recommendation for a Miscanthus that has a wonderful fountain-like form, it has to be M. 'Morning Light'. Christina

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    1. I do love Morning Light. It's so special in morning light that I have one planted alone high up near the house, so the sun rises behind it. I think they're less effective used en masse. But I certainly agree. It's one of my favorites.

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  6. Celebrations, indeed! I love mornings like this, they almost make winter worth putting up with, and they make me run for the camera.

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  7. Yes, they do make winter special. I got my clothes on fast and ran out with the camera before the sun melted the ice. Much better than snow.

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  8. The views from Federal Twist are always exhilarating, no matter what season you photograph. However, the last two post reached a level of spirituality. Thank you for the experience.

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    1. Allan, thank you so very much for letting me know you had that feeling. Though it's hard to say it outright, my feelings about gardens are certainly connected to a sense of something like the spiritual.

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  9. Your photos are more and more beautiful. (There seem to be little Christmas lights in the third one.) I now can't decide which season I love most. Happy holidays!

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    1. Happy Holidays, Cindy. I guess you don't get much frost in Rwanda. Thanks for the comment.

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  10. Hello James,

    The photographs of your garden at its moment of "beautiful death" are lovely , and a pleasant antidote to the advertising assault that now signifies Christmas in the United States. Since Christmas was, I believe, in its origins a pagan festival marking year's end, and praying for Spring, I'll take these photographs as your Christmas card to an appreciative readership.

    On a different point, I would be interested in a blog post down the line (perhaps you have already written it, if so please let me know) concerning the differences between your earlier Rosemount garden, more English Cottage in design, and the lovely, wild Federal Twist. I ask because I have a wild English sort of garden, a garden not only over-reliant on flowers, but also a garden where I can't really imagine grasses playing a major part. I feel that they would seem out of place. Have you been tempted to merge your styles, or do you see your two gardens as necessarily distinct in character? all best, Ross

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    1. Ross, I wish I had a better idea of your "wild English sort of garden." You've described parts of it, but I'm not at all certain I have any idea of what it actually looks like, or of its structure or size. I'll take you up on that idea of a blog post. I didn't originally plan for the gardens to be so different, though in retrospect I realize that they originated in entirely different concepts and in response to very different conditions. I'm intrigued to hear you think grasses would seem out of place in your garden. I've certainly heard that before. I did mix perennials, grasses, and shrubs at Rosemont, but it just seemed natural to do so. I'll stop and think how to write about the differences in a future post. Great to hear from you.

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  11. Beautiful pictures of a very beautiful garden!
    I love your garden - and thanks for visiting my blog.
    Greetings from Munich Renate

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    1. I wish I could read your blog. My German is poor, but I'll practice on your blog.

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  12. Lovely stuff..on a grassy note..I cannot think of any garden 'style' where grasses would 'out of place'..it may well be that the mindset is.

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    1. Grasses, about all I have left. But I like them.

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  13. I have so learned to look forward to your posts, your writing, photography, and gardens are all of such merit; a true 'triple threat.' Hopefully you are not also Actor, Singer, Dancer, Comedian...I couldn't take it. Best for the Holidays and for 2013. Calvin

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  14. Thanks, Calvin. I have awful balance, never could dance, and can't tell a joke to save my life. Happy holidays to you and your family.

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