Winterhazel, Buttery Garden Goodness

Resisting a good plant rescue is very hard for me. When I cam across a severed chunk of buttery Corylopsis Pauciflora a few years ago, it was about to go into the trash pile. Too good to pass up, I thought. And my gamble has rewarded me richly with pastry rich, butter colored, fragrant flowers in the spring and elegantly textured foliage.

Deciding whether I like it more in bloom, paired with deep pink Hellebore in April or with deep pink Chrysanthemums in fall is a tough challenge. Someone putting me up to a decision like that would very likely have to provide some sort of decision make pastry to sway me one way or the other.

Corylopsis is a spectacularly elegant alternative to Forsythia. When placed where you can appreciate the bloom and foliage up close, this plant earns it’s keep and gets better with every season. Pair it with darker foliage plants to really make her shine. I have it in a bed with Sambucus ‘Black Beauty’. Today, the Sambucus foliage has warmed from deep burgundy to a coppery bronze tone. Next to the Corylopsis it’s transcendent.

Winterhazel and Ghost Fern

The most alluring point of interest about this plant to me is not the bloom, it’s the lovely foliage. Delicate, and deeply textured leaves are each a work of art unto themselves. And when they reach fall, the colors of butter yellow turn to ocher yellows and rich rustic amber.

Buttery Winterhazel, Corylopsis Pauciflora

Star of the Fall Show Needs Backup Singers

The focus on all of the glorious color of fall is righteous indeed. After a spring and summer of sumptuous floral displays and vegetable tableau’s that can rival any formal shrub border, it’s only natural to get a bit more introspective about the use of the giant color wheel of fall and delve into the details. I also think it’s important to take a good, long step back and see who else is out there helping to make that color sing.

Tri-Color Salvia with Nandina

Top performers know there is a bevy of behind the scenes action that lifts up and supports the lead. They are all of the names that are rarely on the fronts of magazines or books. They dazzle in a more understated way. I like to think of them as the back up singers of the plant world. Silver and grey are the back-up singers that I regularly look for in most plant combination’s that I design. They are reliable, show up consistently, and are rarely demanding of the limelight.

Hebe 'Quicksilver' is the perfect textural contrast to the fall standby Japanese Maple


Light colored foliage from Succulents, Ivy and Grasses - great contrast!

Wooley Thyme acts as an uplight under these hot fall colors.


Artemisia 'Cirrus' - one of my favorites for fall and winter

Sometimes the melody under the song is even lovelier when you listen close. You could even think of it as an up light on the stage. The bold and bawdy red lead singer out in the front of the house always looks better with a little supportive light from underneath, from the side, or in the back. Who sings back up in your garden designs?



The Last Gasp of Fall Color

Rhus Typhina or Sumac is in all her glory right now. I saw this in my E-Mail today and thought about the ones in my neighborhood with such glorious color on them I had to run out and take some pictures to share.

Fall color 10-22-09 002

In some areas of the country this small tree might seem ubiquitous as we sometimes feel about some of our common trees  here in the green Northwest. But, you have to hand it to Mother Nature on this one- she out did herself!

Fall color 10-22-09 003

After chatting with neighbors on this lovely fall evening, I found a couple of other fall color shots that stood out too. Enjoy!

Autumn Blaze Maple

Autumn Blaze Maple

Leafy Carpet

Leafy Carpet

Hydrangea P. ‘Quick Fire’ Burns Bright for Summer and Fall

Hydrangea Paniculata and ALL of her relatives is one shrub that I would have to put on my “Never to be without” list of plants. I can only compare my passions for these shrubs by contrasting  it this way:  It is to Hosta lovers “Patriot”, it is to Rose enthusiasts “Mr. Lincoln”, it is to Edibles growers “Sweet Basil”.  No longer can I be without some form of one in my garden.

When I first started on this former bachelor pad back yard, there was only a sorry patch of grass. Among the very first plants I put in were three, three gallon pots of Hydrangea ‘Quick Fire’ by Proven Winners. What a fabulous LOW MAINTENANCE shrub!

The benefits of incorporating this plant into any landscape are so terrific, I would be hard pressed to find a down side. They have a lovely, dark green leaf with a delicate texture. All Hydrangea Paniculata’s begin blooming at the opening bell of summer, with creamy white panicles. And with each passing day they produce more and more blooms that age with elegance. Each head of blooms color enriches more and more  until it becomes a champagne peach, a blushing rose or even a dark, feisty mauve like ‘Quick Fire’, depending on which variety you may have.

As fall rolls in, then the slow burn begins! ‘Quick Fire’ will deepen its bloom color into its last phase, then the fiery fall foliage comes on each day to the last encore of fall sun before the curtain drops on winter.Pruning is a breeze with this group of shrubs too- basically it’s hard to do it wrong! How refreshing is that? 🙂

Soon after I got those in the ground, was fortunate to be able to buy a tree form of Hydrangea ‘Angel Blush’. She is smack in the middle of my dining room window at eye level and I adore her! ‘Angel Blush’ struts her stuff right up until the very last leaf has fallen and even then she will not drop her blooms unless I personally snip them off for winter flower arrangements.

Cold hardy, non- fussy and performing to the end, Hydrangea Paniculata should not be missed- not if I have anything to say about it!

Soon, I will have to make that list of mine:“The “Never To Be Without” Plant List. But, until then, the factored requirements to make it on my list have just gotten just a little bit harder due to the high performance bar set by these Hydrangea’s.

Now I’m jonesin to find a spot where I can load up the garden with Hydrangea ‘Limelight’. This creamy limecicle of a blooming shrub is truly fabulous and I can’t wait to figure out what other foliage colors I’ll put with it!

“Listen up plants, you now have competition in your ranks, and I suggest that you all perform admirably- OR ELSE.”