plants, glorious plants

Here are some more of the plants I’m hoping to include in our gardens. Always moar plants!

Baby's Breath photo Babys Breath_zpsvqlyt1lr.jpg

Baby’s Breath is one of those background plants that isn’t super impressive on its own, but adds a lot when planted in combination with other things. Most varieties grow as an annual here in zone 5.

Impatiens photo Impatiens_zpsufgynv85.jpg

Impatiens, AKA Busy Lizzie, attracts pollinators and pollen-seekers and has a lovely bloom that can resemble violets.

Candytuft photo Candytuft_zpss344rpu7.jpg

I had success growing Candytuft in our garden downstate, and I hope to have the same success here. It has an attractive dark green foliage and bright white blossoms and, at least in my experience, grows easily without any particular attention.

Gaillardia photo Gaillardia_zps6fse0c5v.jpg

Also known as Blanket Flower, Gaillardia is a type of sunflower, but much smaller than what we usually picture here in North America. It is not only a showy flower, but the foliage is used as food by lepidoptera caterpillars.

Canterbury Bells photo Canterbury Bells_zpscs5pxif6.jpg

Canterbury Bells is also known as Bellflower – for reasons pretty obvious as you look at the blossoms. It is another favorite of pollinators!

Columbine photo Columbine_zps0tdpsf15.jpg

Columbine is another lepidoptera caterpillar food source, as well as for some bees. This is another one that I haven’t grown before but am looking forward to!


no-longer-a-WIP Wednesday

Finally, a WIP is complete! And just in the nick of time.

This is the Spring Fling quilt, which I made for the quilt show this weekend at the Shepherd Maple Syrup Festival. Last year I picked up one of the little kits they had which included instructions/rules and an 8×8″ square of fabric to be incorporated into the quilt. The challenge theme is spring fling, which I used as the name of this quilt.

Spring Fling quilt

I decided that this would be another Blythe-inspired quilt (I’m hoping to make a series of these) and that I would use themes of feminism and nature as well.

Spring Fling quilt

I crowned the figure with a wreath of butterflies. This is inspired by this painting, as well as by the fact that butterflies are symbols of spring and renewal.

Spring Fling quilt

The center of focus is the robin’s next the figure is holding in front of her on a tray. This is meant to echo advertising images from the middle of the 20th century: a woman serving, dressed in a traditionally feminine dress with apron, offering a tangible object as an item of value. All the quilting lines on the main body background radiate out from this nest. The idea of the egg-containing nest being the most valued item is also a statement on our society’s insistence that a woman’s value is directly tied to her ability/desire to have children.

Spring Fling quilt

I also added butterflies as a 3D element. They are emerging, flying as if from the figure, and they are adhered by their bodies only (this may not translate well in these photos), so the wings are free and stand out from the main body of the quilt.

This quilt, as well as my larger Figure and Flock quilt, will be on display at the Shepherd Maple Syrup Festival – Festival of Quilts show this Saturday, with, presumably, a lot of other great quilts. Check it totally out!


back to the fling

Last year at the Shepherd Maple Syrup Festival quilt show, they offered attendees an opportunity to participate in a contest at this year’s show. Entries in the 2015 Spring Fling, as it’s called, are required to utilize the square of fabric they handed out in 2014, fit the Spring Fling theme in some way, be started after 4/24/2014 and complete by 4/24/2015, be 60-100″ in perimeter, and be able to be hung on the wall easily. To me, this sounded like the perfect opportunity for an art quilt!

I imagine that most of the entries will quite different from the quilt I’m making, but I’m okay with that. They’ll be giving prizes for best use of color, best workmanship in piecing/applique, and best portrayal of the Spring Fling 2015 theme. I’m not particularly hot for a prize, just for the opportunity to participate in a public venue.

I’m still partway through making my current (larger) quilt WIP, but it’s getting to the point where it’s really big and difficult to spread out in the limited space we have, so it’s on a break right now. This project, though, is small and more manageable and I’ve been feeling itchy to be sewing again.

Sewing again! WIP: Regeneration art quilt

Unsurprisingly, my rough plan for this quilt came together pretty quickly, involves a Blythe-esque figure on a natural background, and has references to classical artwork and feminism. My theme/title for the quilt is Regeneration, since that is a major theme of the spring season in life as well as in art. I did my usual quick-and-dirty photo editing to make myself a general outline to follow, though of course as always I am changing the plan as I go.

Sewing again! WIP: Regeneration art quilt

For some sections, I trace the outline to make myself pattern pieces and for others I just free-hand cut things out. I’m getting increasingly comfortable with free-handing things the more I do it.

Sewing again! WIP: Regeneration art quilt

You can see that I changed from the original arms-up pose to having the figure holding a tray. My thought process was this: eggs are an ancient symbol of spring, so I’d like to include them somehow. However, making an egg clearly an egg and not a rock or something else similar is tricky, so maybe I could go about it a different way. This led me to thinking about deviled eggs and that led me to think of vintage recipe cards with lurid illustrations of things like deviled eggs, which led me to decide to have the figure holding a tray of deviled eggs (and possibly other things).

Sewing again! WIP: Regeneration art quilt

I got this far over the weekend! Not bad for five or six hours of planning and working.

Sewing again! WIP: Regeneration art quilt

The figure will be wearing a crown of butterflies, inspired by this painting. I was originally thinking a floral crown or wreath, because that’s another classical symbol of spring, but then I saw this painting and the butterfly idea grabbed me. Hopefully next weekend I’ll have some time to work on the crown, the eggs, and some further elements I haven’t added in yet.


glorious gladiola

Many of the flowers in my gardens are on their way out, and the daylilies are still going but, well, how many photos of common orange daylilies does one really want to see? Yesterday morning, though, I noticed that the gladiola started to bloom!

gladiola and lily tree

(You can see the lily tree in the background which is looking okay but not super great anymore).




Stunning, eh? This morning they were in full bloom:




I can never get over how amazing (and amazingly easy to grow) perennial flowers can be. I hope I never do.


sleeping in the flowers

Well, not really. It’s another rainy day, but I’m glad to see that it’s helping a lot of our flowers bloom. I didn’t plant these iris and tulips together on purpose, but they compliment each other nicely.

tulips and iris

I am totally digging these variegated tulips. I can’t remember when I planted them or where I got them, but they are really pretty.


My lone allium is getting ready to bloom. It looks neat with rainwater on it.


And I think this tulip looks like a baby bird beak does poking up out of a nest.

tulip beak

More photos at Flickr, n’est-ce pas.


New Encyclopedia of Daylilies

I checked out the New Encyclopedia of Daylilies: More than 1700 Outstanding Selections by Ted L. Petit and John P. Peat from the library and have been flipping through it looking for potential front yard lilies that will fit into my black/white/purple/silver color scheme.

Midnight Magic would be even cooler if it had a white center rather than yellow, but it’s still very pretty.
midnight magic daylily

The Catherine Neal looks fairly similar,
Catherine Neal daylily

as do the Black Ambrosia,
black ambrosia daylily

Regal Finale,
Regal Finale daylily

Shaka Zulu,
Shaka Zulu daylily

Dracula daylily

and Vino Di Notte.
Vino Di Notte daylily

I also like the look of the Court Magician:
Court Magician daylily

The way the lighter center is larger than on most, and the shape of the flower are both appealing to me. I’m not much for the frilly-edged lilies – this one comes closest while remaining appealing to me.

All things considered, I won’t have too much space for daylilies in the front – I don’t want them to get too leggy and some areas of the front yard are at least partially shady. I have a bed of lilies (and other things) in the back yard by the garage which seems to do very well and gets plenty of sun, so I will probably keep most of my lilies consigned to that area.


front yard plans: black plants

Now that it’s the new year and the hope of spring is on the way, it’s time for me to really start figuring out what our front yard re-landscaping project will look like. This past year we undertook the Summer of Smother, during which we covered the entire front lawn in newspaper and mulch so that this spring we can till and start all over with a blank slate. (I’m actually hoping to hire someone to do the actual tilling since it’s not the easiest task and I am a major wuss.)

With the help of my awesome sistrah, I’ve created a basic layout for the yard – the plan for what shape the beds will eventually take. I recognize that the whole thing is way too much to do in one year, so my next step is to figure out a general idea of what plants I want where and then decide what portion to tackle this year. I’ll fill in the majority of the space with thyme and/or other herbs and then remove what I need to when I’m ready in future years. I’ll still be putting in a veggie garden in the back yard beds, so I need to be realistic about how much I can accomplish altogether.

My general color scheme for the front landscaping is black/purple/white/silver. Our house is off-white brick with a black roof, and we hope to eventually paint the trim and shutters black to give the exterior a more cohesive look (right now the shutters and trim are an icky rust color which we definitely do not want love). I’ve read that keeping a limited color palette will give the garden a more professional look, so here’s hoping.

So, for black plants, here are a few thoughts.

I do want to include edibles where I can, though for the front yard I’d like to stick primarily to perennials so that will limit the edible options substantially. I love blackberries, though the plant would only fit into the color scheme when the fruit is ripe.
Ebony King Blackberry
This Ebony King Blackberry is thornless, which is a bonus (though perhaps since our front yard is unfenced, thorns would be helpful to keep critters from stealing the fruit?).

With the whole colony collapse disorder thing resulting in fewer bees hanging around, I’d like to include plenty of plants that attract pollinators.
Black Knight Butterfly Bush
This Black Knight Butterfly Bush would definitely do that and while, again, the foliage wouldn’t fit into my color scheme, I think it would be worth it.

With a name like Dark Lord Geranium, how could I not include this one?
Dark Lord Geranium
I mean, seriously, a plant with purple-highlighted foliage that also has purple blooms AND is a Star Wars reference? No question.

We don’t have too many spaces out front where we need a lot of height, but there is the awkward little side area that runs next to our neighbor’s driveway and is right outside our bedroom window. I think a screen of this Black Bamboo would be perfect:
Black Bamboo, Phyllostachys nigra
It would provide some privacy as it got taller, and would also help define the boundary between the neighbor’s property and ours. The only hitch is that it is theoretically for zone 7-10, and we’re zone 6. I’m not sure how big an issue that might be.

I’m really seeking some plants with lots of beautiful foliage, now we’re cooking:
Black Elephant Ear, Taro, Colocasia
This Black Elephant Ear is great! I love the large leaves and the way the veins are slightly lighter in color. I could see this taking a significant role in the new front yard.

I do also want some flowering plants, and this Black Barlow Columbine is striking:
Black Barlow Columbine
It supposedly attracts hummingbirds, which would be neat to see.

These are just a few of the plants I’m considering. If anyone out there has experience with any of these particular plants or has any other suggestions, I’m all ears.



The dahlias I planted this year have been going like crazygonuts despite nighttime temps dipping into frosty territory.

This one is very anemone-esque. I’m not sure it would be if the weather hadn’t been so cold recently, but I still like the way it looks.

You can see the one on the right here is the same kind as the anemone-ish one, but it is shaped normally. The big one in this shot doesn’t look quite like the others of its ilk (they’ve been more tidily formed), but is still pretty nice.

These white dahlias have turned out to be humongous and gorgeous. This one is roughly the size of my face.

This one is dead and beautiful.