Monday, October 31, 2011

Iced out

After the snow and ice from this weekend's surprise storm has melted, there is going to be a great deal of sorry cleaning up and cutting down.  The season of tender perennials, annuals, and summering indoor plants has come to an abruptly chilling end.

Fortunately, I had time to pick a final bouquet of dahlias before they were glazed over.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Sunken surprise

As I was racing to a luncheon lecture at the Radcliffe Institute earlier this week, I was stopped short in my steps by the sight of this lovely little sunken garden on the Institute's grounds. How could I have worked in Cambridge for a quarter of a century and never before stumbled upon this jewel?

It was decked out in fall flowers blue (asters, monkshoods, and irises--how is it that those are even flowering now?!) and white (anemones) and in foliage orange and green.

The hardscaping of stone and brick walks, walls, and water features provided a perfectly scaled framework.  The design led straight in the right places and swooped around in perfect curves.  Unfortunately, the fountain was also under renovation, preventing full access to the garden.  I can't wait to have a fuller visit this winter . . . and in the spring . . . and summer . . .

The only disappointment--and a surprising one, in light of its location in the most historically conscious and self-reflective university in this country--as well as one that sponsors a renowned landscape program--is that I could locate no information about when or by whom this sunken garden was designed.  A brief citation in a history of Radcliffe indicates that it was installed sometime in the first quarter of the 20th century.  Oh, and a plant list would be nice, too!


Saturday, October 15, 2011

Seed send-off

For a dear friend and gardening buddy who is leaving New England for the Intermountain West, I put together a stack of seed packets: black-eyed susan, joe pye weed, columbine, larkspur, and northern sea oats collected from my garden.

I'd hoping that at least some of these will take root in the arid soil of southern Idaho. Just like her friendship (and her offerings of plant divisions) have been perennials in my life.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Ever since I broke two bones in my right hand back in August, my gardening activities have been drastically curtailed.  Sure, I could have used that functioning left hand to catch up on weeding but I just couldn't stand the thought of weeks and weeks of weeding and nothing else.  So, instead, I've done . . . nothing else . . . and just allowed late summer to roll along without ever lifting a (cast or splinted) finger to assist. I've sat back, put my feet up, and celebrated the parade of dahlias currently passing by.

Normandy Painted Pearl

Karras 150


Park Princess

Arabian Night

Bonne Esperance

The dahlia output was more uneven this year than in the past.  Some tubers, like Rose Toscano, are yet to bloom despite being planted exactly where they flourished so abundantly in previous years. Others, like Arabian Night and Pattycake, are six feet of blooming madness.  And Normandy Painted Pearl, which I accidentally abandoned in the ground over the winter, is a towering seven-foot explosion.  Despite our Zone 6 climate, it seems that a dahlia tuber left in the right place--next to a south facing foundation wall--has enough warmth and protection to survive.  I'll add this tip to my lazy bones gardening manifesto. But then all my bones are lazy right now.