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A LOT OF PEOPLE (myself included) give up, somewhat, on window boxes and outdoor containers by the time November rolls around. Others keep going… like the owners of the swell Manhattan townhouse, above, who’ve created an arresting display with gourds and berries.
My go-to place for inspiration in all seasons, including fall and winter, is the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, above (that’s a side view of the Brooklyn Museum as seen from inside the garden), where crews were busy on Sunday repairing Sandy damage. Thankfully, it doesn’t seem to have been too extensive there.
Some go all out in autumn with mums. Usually that’s not particularly interesting, but I like the front yard planting, above, where the lavender mums are interspersed symmetrically with juniper, a yellow grass, and a deep purple leafed thing whose name is not springing to mind.
Sweet potato and coleus hang in through Thanksgiving, at least, the chartreuse of the always-satisfying sweet potato vine a vivid contrast against the brownstone.
A red annual grass is flourishing now in the concrete window boxes of a fine house on St. Marks Avenue in Prospect Heights. Is there anything being built today that matches the elegance of that hefty iron stoop railing and brownstone window ledges? No, there’s not!
IT’S COOL, IT’S WET, IT’S FALL, as of this morning at 5:05AM — and it’s prime time for planting and moving things around. Now’s our big chance to improve on the design of beds and borders, without stressing plants in excessive heat. I’m out at my cottage in Springs (East Hampton, Long Island, N.Y.), doing just that. I’m a bit disappointed in the lack of color in my main perennial beds, but the lespedeza (bush clover), above, is trying to make up for that. Planted last year around this time, it’s a perennial that gets cut back to the ground each year, like butterfly bush. It was very late to come up in spring, and I was sure it was dead, and that I had killed it. But then it began to grow…and grow… four feet across in a single season, and it’s been in luxuriant purple bloom for the last two weeks.
I moved the hakonechloa at the top of the photo above from another part of the garden to balance the group at right, which greets me at my front steps and always looks terrific.
The boxwoods I bought for screening my next door neighbor’s driveway, above, are settled in nicely, and I consider their staggered placement an aesthetic success. Maybe I’ll even remove the red nursery tapes someday;-)
Above, three types of ornamental grass brought from upstate: fountain grass, pampas grass, and switch grass, eventually to range from 2 to 5 feet tall. Inspired by the Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s Monocot Border, I decided to group them all together in a relatively sunny area of the yard that was bare but mulched and ready to go.
The idea is that this all-grass garden be visible from the blue chaises on my back deck, above, where I frequently perch to survey my domain.
This is the view from the deck, with the grasses arrayed and ready to go. To the left of the contorted pine in the foreground are three old, never-blooming azaleas. I’m planning to move them to another part of the yard and redouble my efforts to protect their flower buds from deer. That will have the dual effect of silhouetting the specimen tree (which was there when I bought the house and with which I have a love-hate relationship) and opening up the view of the new grass bed from the house and deck.
Above, 27 pots of grasses laid out with the taller ones to the rear and back, and the shorter, 18-24″ mounding fountain grass in front.
Above, they’re in and being watered. Yes, it was a big job, fortunately accomplished yesterday before the rains came. In the foreground, another frontier — the free-form island bed being colonized by ajuga (bugleweed), which I plan to replace or supplement with liriope (lilyturf), after a bed I saw somewhere that looked spectacular. I’m on the hunt now for discounted liriope, and I’d better act quickly, because the perennial planting window closes in less than a month.