Archive for the ‘For the Love of Plants’ Category

Plants always have a way of bringing me inspiration, especially during the transition from the end of winter to the beginning of spring.  The first day of spring is this Friday, which brings me great joy!  I breathe a sigh of relief, knowing that the days are getting longer and the warm weather is soon to arrive. 

I look forward to the daffodils and tulips that will soon bloom.  Today in the garden at work, these amazing yellowish hellebores were planted with purple pansies and tulips.  Hellebores are absolutely one of my favorite flowers.  They are unique, especially because they bloom at the end of winter, early spring.  Their flowers can really vary, the colors, the mottled spots on the petals, the way they hang from the stem.  Some hang down with the face of the flower not noticed unless you pick it up. Others bloom upright and stare you in the face.  They hold a special place in my heart as they signify the transition from winter to spring, a time of renewal, a time of change. 

Hellebores are amazing in the ground, in a partially shaded environment with moist, organic soil.  They are also amazing in containers.  Buy them in a nursery in late winter, early spring and plant them in containers on your patio as a stand alone plant and you will get the most dramatic effect. 

There are hundreds of hellebore hybrids, colors ranging from plums to whites to yellows to purples.  There are hellebores with spots on them and even with ruffled petals, as you can see from the picture below.  Mixed together, hellebores create a beautiful display.  They are certainly a special flower and have even inspired me to paint. 


photo cited:  http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/cc/Hellebore_flowers.jpg

I ordered some Hellebores for my new garden and am excited to plant them next week.  They are a must-have in every garden.  I urge you to buy some for your garden. They will surely bring inspiration to you as well.  Maybe they will inspire you to start a garden or maybe they will inspire you to paint.  Or maybe they will inspire you to take a moment to appreciate their beauty, the beauty of nature, the beauty in a flower.  The simple things in life always seem to inspire me.  Simple things teach me beautiful life lessons.  And plants continue to inspire me, as they always have….and they always will………


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Photo cited:  http://downrightcurious.com/photos/images/20080517220334_g9_1088.jpg


When the fiddlehead of a fern emerges from the ground, it is a sight to be savored.  The beauty of the first growth of a fern, the spiral form, the abstract representation of what is to follow.  It is art in my eyes.  It makes me want to break out my sketching pencils and draw.  The golden mean proportion screams in your face as the fiddleheads grow into earthy green fronds. 

Fiddleheads are edible, however, you must make sure that you are eating the correct fern species as some may be a bit toxic and leave you nauseous and dizzy.  The safest fiddleheads to eat are actually from the Ostrich Fern (Matteucia struthiopteris).  This fern is the safest to eat but people say to eat it in small quantites.  The fiddlehead must be harvested when very young, about 10″ above the ground. The taste resembles asparagus.  It is best to cook them and not eat them raw.   I love them sauteed with some olive oil and garlic. 

Check out this website on some other ways to harvest and prepare fiddleheads.  http://www.umext.maine.edu/onlinepubs/htmpubs/4198.htm

The  native habitat of Ostrich fern (Matteucia struthiopteris) is in a woodland environment with moist soil and dappled sun.  Its’ vase shaped habit and feathery fronds resemble ostrich feathers, hence the name.  It can also be seen growing in dense clusters along streams, ponds and rivers. In its native habitat with optimal conditions, ostrich fern can grow to be 6′ tall. Usually in cultivation, it will grow to 2-3′.  Plant this fern in a woodland garden where it can naturalize. 

The texture of a fern in the garden, the form, the color, can bring a sense of beauty to the garden.  There is something unique about the texture of ferns, especially when they grow in masses.  I picture them growing under a grove of trees, blanketing the ground, earthy tones of green. 



Photo cited:  http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/5a/Matteuccia_struthiopteris.jpg

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There is something special about wildflowers.  The way they grow in masses, their color, their beauty.  The way they need little attention.  This is why native plants are so amazing to grow.  Give them the right habitat and they will thrive with little care. 

Baptisia autralis, also know as Wild Indigo, Blue Indigo, or Baptisia, is an amazing native perennial that produces indigo blue flower spikes in May-June.  The plant itself is shrub-like and mounded, it has a great form.  Especially when the flower starts to spike, it creates great contrast in the garden.  After Baptisia flowers, it matures to black seed pods which are often used in floral arrangements.  Along with the beauty of its flowers and seed pods, its foliage is just as attractive.  Compound leaves of blue-green color bring a sense of relaxation to the garden. 

Baptisia is native to open woods and streambanks, meadows and prairies. It is best used as a naturalized plant, though Baptisia will definitely liven up a perennial border.  This plant thrives with neglect and does well in poor soils, though it thrives in full sun.  It really is a low maintenance plant. Just beware, once it is established, it does not take well to transplant because of its tap root that grows deep into the soil.  Once you plant it, leave it to naturalize.  Because Baptisia is so low maintenance and  requires little water, it can be a plant that is used in a native garden or a sustainable garden. 

Wildflowers have this unique air about them.  Look at a wildflower meadow, it is nature at its best.  I have this dream of planting a wildflower meadow, to watch it grow, to see its colors, to see the way the butterflies will swim above the flowers.  This dream will come true one day.  The vision I have is unique, it is special.  And it will involve Baptisia australis. 


image cited:  http://www.prairiemoon.com

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American beach grass, Ammophila breviligulata, is a perennial native grass which stabilizes dunes.  It can be seen gracing the south shore beaches of Long Island. There is something so spectacular about beach grass.  The way it sways in the wind, the way its roots hold the sand together to prevent erosion, the natural look of it.  This is the grass that is often seen with erosion fencing along the shores of the beach.  It is also a native grass that needs protection, hence the stay off the dunes signs.  Too much traffic can inhibit root growth, thus increasing erosion factors. 

American beach grass grows relatively low to the ground, usually 1-3′ high and spreads by underground rhizomes.    It produces a tall, tan colored inflorescence in the summer.  Being a beach grass, its native soil conditions are pure sand and it also needs full sun to grow.  Plant this grass at your beach house and it will thrive. 

Besides being a native grass which is beneficial to our environment, American beach grass does possess natural beauty . The best part is that once it is established, it is maintenance free.  Great addition to the beach garden, best planted in large masses. 

One of my dreams is to live on the ocean in a small cottage, planted with beach grass.  There will be a boardwalk that leads me to the water, with grasses growing everywhere.  The soothing sound as they sway in the wind will comfort me.  This is why I love grasses.  It is the texture, the sound, the color, the natural beauty, the way they never need tending.  Ammophila breviligulata is  the most beautiful of all grasses.

Ammophila breviligulata

Image cited:  http://www.beachplants.com

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