Today's fab foliage is not a plant, it's an idea. The idea that you don't need anything but leaves to make a compelling garden vignette, This big leaf bonanaza comes from the ever-amazing Longwood Gardens, from a spot deep inside the coils of its vast conservatory. Don't know whether this particular chlorophyll-filled chamber has an official name; to me it is always the Hall of Steroidal House Plants. Whatever you want to call it, the plants speak for themselves. Eloquently.
I'll be doing my PowerPoint presentation on The Crazy Mixed-Up Border at the Berkshire Botanical Garden in Stockbridge, MA next Saturday, Nov 6. I've taught and lectured there in the past and always love returning to stroll the inspiring grounds. My talk starts at 10 am-for more info or to purchase tickets, go here.
There's probably no one out there who hasn't already seen this video by the Australian sound artist Pogo (aka Nick Bertke)...but what the heck! I find each viewing more compelling than the last, so I keep watching it. The flow of time in this video seems frozen yet fluid; I consider that feeling of loopy suspension to be a big part of the magic. This is a work of sonic genius (the visuals are pretty good too), a notion affirmed by the video's selection as as one of the 25 most innovative, unique and groundbreaking video works of the past two years, as determined by the YouTube Play jury. This video, along with the other jury picks, was recently celebrated at the Guggenheim Museums in New York, Bilbao, Berlin and Venice.
It's a plant brimming with beautiful details: the blades of the rounded, fanlike leaves, the thorns, the knobby trunk, the silvery hue, the overall silhouette--this thing's a keeper. And this native of Morocco's Atlas Mountains is among the hardiest of the already hardy (relatively speaking) fan palm clan. It grows a mile up in those semi arid mountains, where the weather is often cold enough to provide the palm a dusting of snow. Which means I can leave it out in its pot at least until Thanksgiving. And since it is so slow growing, this plant is a great candidate for containers. All it needs is plenty of sun (though color isn't bad even in part shade) and excellent drainage. Once it grows too cold outside here, my silver Mediterranean fan palm will come indoors for the winter to live as a houseplant. It's definitely worth the effort-this one's a keeper.
As you might guess from their square stems, this genus (Solenostemon) is a member of the mint family; as you might not guess, they were first found on the Indonesian isle of Java, but have since been hybridized with countless near relatives to create the rich assortment of lovely leaves we know today. These dedicated garden workhorses serve as star players in pots, in the ground and just about anywhere you can put something with roots Contrary to popular opinion, they thrive in full sun, which gives the leaves their most vibrant coloration. Next year, as usual, I'll have many more, but one thing is certain-'Sky Fire' will be back, blazing away in the garden.
Melting ice caps, dying coral reefs, droughts, heat waves, famine--amid the tidal wave of environmental disaster, today gives us a reason to be thankful. Researchers have discovered the cause of Colony Collapse Disorder, the mysterious affliction that is decimating North America's honeybees and thus threatening production of almost every fruit and vegetable we eat. No cure yet, but understanding the cause is step one, Read all about it in the NYT.
I know I've crowed about elephant ears before, but this is a new one! Colocasia esculenta 'Elena' is a winner, with nicely ruffled chartreuse ears providing snappy contrast for the purplish veins that run through them. This appears to be one of those easy-to-please, foolproof plants that look good just about anywhere. As yet, I haven't tried it everywhere, just among these coleus, cordylines, canna and cacti, so I know for certain it works well with any plants beginning with the letter "C." Next year, I'm going to be trying some "D" plants. That would be a lot easier if I lived further south-the Plant Delights write-up says this baby is hardy clear to Zone 7b, at least. Here in Zone 6, I'm going to try overwinter this in my cool dark basement.
Color arrives as soil is enriched by the decay of pioneer plants, animal matter and the like. The era of grasses dawns, along with thorny shrublets and mats of sesuvium, a succulent that turns fiery colors in the dry season. Land iguanas love to prowl through this stuff.