November Sun – Cold Color Celebration


Sunny November days in Seattle are a pure unadulterated bonus. Our gardening climate is alternately dazzling and maddening at the same time. The depth of gray in winter seems to last forever and the utterly outstanding glory of summer here fall at the opposite end of our horticultural universe for an exquisitely painful short period of time.

“November always seemed to me the Norway of the year.”
–   Emily Dickinson

We can grow such wide array of plants here that it makes many in other parts of the world green with envy. So, on a crystalline blue-sky day like today, it feels like we are COMMANDED to get outside and document its glory for everyone to see. I did just that in my robe and jammies this morning for you! If nothing else, it may just be to document it for us so that when we are nearly suicidal on the gray days in January and we want to hop a plane to Las Vegas, we remember why we live here.


Fatsia Japonica blooms

It occurred to me as I took this shot that the years of the heaviest Fatsia bloom, we’ve also had the hardest winter. Hmmmmm……..

We rely on many a Huechera for some November color here in the Northwest because we don’t really have too many flowers at all. So the WIDE variety of foliage colors are a very welcome sight here in gray land.


Note the Fuchsia near the bottom still doing her thing! I scared the (bleep) out of a poor local Hummingbird trying to get this shot. Ooops!


Another plant that “tolerates” our wet cold winter climate, is Phormium, or New Zealand Flax. You need to understand that I do say this somewhat tongue in cheek today. I lost about 27 of them a few years back after an ice storm. When the cold almost 2 inches of thick ice melted off of them, they actually looked fine until they succumbed to Crown Rot.
That was about 5 years ago now and I have recovered from my cynacism toward them, but only enough to have two. So, far. I just refuse to fall in love again and have my gardeners heart and wallet broken again. 🙂

Having said that, I do have a torrid love affair with my Fatshedera. If I have to buy a new one every year, I’m cool with that. This variegated one was particularly lovely with cold weather color and the light of the morning coming through her.


“If I’m ever reborn, I want to be a gardener—
there’s too much to do for one lifetime!” 

–   Karl Foerster

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Brainstorming A Container Garden Design: “Black & Tan”

Brainstorming ideas for container gardens is really no different from any other type of garden inspiration process. An idea can jump-start from anything really.

Garden art:

Or the container itself can demand a certain color combination:

My “Teal Pot Theory” in action 🙂

But in this case, it was a little plant that inspired this combination for me! The “Phantom” Black petunia, with its creamy, rich stripe had me at “Hello”! Even through the pouring, cold rain, I was inspired to maximize the caramel, chocolate, purple tones of the petunia to the max.

This container design was a custom request, with my very FAVORITE requisite, “make it awesome”. I love a challenge like that! Below is the result of my creative passion today. Hopefully it will fill out the way I think it will and be a huge, sexy mass of interesting texture and luscious colors and tones.

The “Black & Tan” name for this combo is thanks to @MJausson via Twitter, with a little nod to @PatFitzgerald thrown in for good measure!

I made this in mirror image so that it could be viewed from both sides too!

This turned out to be one of my favorite containers that I have ever done, I can’t wait to get a picture of it in a month or two!

**Bonus for staying with me all the way to the bottom of this post: If you want to win a super cool spin composter from

Clean Air Gardening, then leave a comment on this post. I will draw a name randomly from a hat and you will have a new composter on your doorstep before you can say “sustainable gardening”!!

Thank you Clean Air Gardening!

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