May 15, 2007

Playing with morning light

I love to photograph my garden in the morning hours!

The Spanish Lavender ('Otto Quast') is a favorite subject. I'm often asked how I grow lavender here in North Carolina. The key seems to be to plant it "high and dry" in well-draining soil. Water at the base instead of with overhead sprinklers. I cut mine back by 1/3 in the fall or winter and again after it finishes the first bloom.

Nepeta 'Six Hills Giant' grows very well and works well with the lavender and with lamb's ears. The nepeta providing a frilly background for the lavender is really huge! Give it lots of room. It's very easy to divide in the spring or fall. I cut it back after the first bloom, too. (I use a cordless hedge trimmer to trim lavender, nepeta and dianthus as those have so many tiny stems, it's difficult to hand cut -- except for taking select stems indoors).

This is the first bloom of the season for Knock Out Rose 'Radrazz'. We have seven of these along the cottage fence. The roses bloom from mid-May until Thanksgiving here in our climate. They are very easy keepers, free from disease. The only problem we have is Japanese Beetles and we just have to be diligent about removing the pests. However, the roses will come back if the beetles chew the foliage.

The red salvia is 'Navajo Red' which is evergreen here. It is a favorite of hummingbirds and has a long bloom. The one shown above has already been blooming for a month and it is a new plant.

Besides colorful blooms, I love colorful foliage -- which I've mentioned in previous posts. This is sedum 'Ogon' in pale yellow adjacent to another groundcover, Corsican mint. The foliage leaves in the lower left corner is yet another groundcover hypericum calcynium. This trio of groundcover is planted on the slope down to our stream. The sedum is glorious year-round and the hypericum and mint are also evergreen, but not nearly this emerald in the winter.

This is heuchera 'Purple Palace' with groundcover gold creeping Jenny and phlox paniculata foliage that will bloom lavender soon and keep going all summer long. This group gets shade after 2:00pm. The heuchera and jenny are evergreen for us.

Of course, evergreen foliage with blooms of other perennials is obviously pleasing. Heuchera is a favorite of mine as it is easy to grow, is evergreen, mounds beautifully and new varieties can take the sun (moist soil).

Below is heuchera 'Amber Waves' with daylily 'Stella d'Oro' and scabiosa 'Butterfly Blue'. This is south-facing and the heuchera and scabiosa foliage are evergreen. The scabiosa blooms continuously and has now been going since March. I will soon cut it back and it will rebloom and rebloom....until frost.

I hope you enjoyed the photos and the descriptions of why I combine the plants that I grow.

Freelance travel writer. My current fiction writing projects include a completed manuscript and several works in progress.

By the way, my name is pronounced fred-ah, not freed-ah. Thank you.

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