Phantom Forest

As you probably know about me already, I love Nature. Although it doesn't happen every weekend, my wife and I regularly take trips to some park, conservation area, or other place of Nature. (Besides my own backyard that is.)

Although Missouri has many state parks, it has many more "Conservation Areas". Conservation Areas are to State Parks what National Monuments are to National Parks -- they're usually not as big, have fewer amenities, but can be just as impressive. This past weekend we visited for the first time a couple of the closest Conservation Areas to our house.


Plant combos from multiple views

I realized last evening as I walked the garden -- we've had a week of wonderfully cool weather here in St. Louis so it's a joy to be outside -- that many of my plants make great combinations when looked at from different angles.

So I'm going to try and give you a sense of this with many images. I started at the front door, went down the driveway, then circled the backyard ending up on the deck stairs. Sort of a clockwise circuit of the garden, but skipping the south side. Let's start! (It's important to read the image captions, as that's where most of the info is in this post)


My first garden mirror

Ever since I built the screen from the shower door I've been paying more attention to this sort of thing in other gardens. Luckily I have gardening friends in garden-rich areas of the country (Seattle and Portland especially) where garden tours and open garden weekends are as common as garage sales it seems, so I've seen some great examples of mirrors in gardens. I'm ready to give that a try in my own garden!

I have a couple of large mirrors in the garage that I've been saving for some future project, but they're so heavy and too big (and buried behind lots of collected lumber, doors, and other goodies) so I've not been motivated to try a mirror in the garden. That changed recently when new neighbors moved in a few doors down.


Hide those feet! (more new plants)

Grasses are one of my favorite plants to grow, and one of my favorites of the last few years has been "Vertigo" fountain grass (Pennisetum purpureum 'Tift 8'). I have it in several places in the ground, and in a pot where the walkway meets the street. Although the pot gives it some extra height and makes it that much more impressive, now that the grass has reached its full height it's starting to look a little ragged around its feet.

It probably doesn't help that it got overly dry a few weeks ago when I was gone for the weekend, but the lower part of this plant is not too attractive: you see lots of stem and brown leaves. 


Project: trashcan makeover

I completed a couple of refurbishing or "makeover" projects this weekend. The first was unique for me for two reasons: it was not for my own garden, and it was a trashcan!

My neighbor is the principal at a small private school, and since he had already seen my patio chair refurb projects he wondered if I might help them make a donated outdoor trash container better looking.


Three Questions

Today I have three questions that you, my gardening, plant-loving friends, might be able to help me answer. I'll jump right in to question 1:

What is this plant? It seems familiar, as if I've seen it on Loree's blog (danger garden), or maybe it was the blog of Mark and Gaz (Alternative Eden)? I spent a little time searching for it, but I don't have enough details to make that worthwhile.


Three powerful Missouri natives

I want to show you three plants in my garden that I'd describe as "powerful", as they have amazing visual impact and impressive size. They all happen to be Missouri natives too, which is a huge plus.

I'll start it off with a rudbeckia that you might not be aware of. It's not for the small garden but would make a fantastic back row planting: Rudbeckia subtomentosa or "sweet coneflower".


New plants!

Of course I've been acquiring new plants recently, why wouldn't I? Just because it's the hottest part of summer and I have literally dozens of plants still in their nursery pots on my driveway, doesn't mean that I shouldn't continue to feed my obsession, right?

So I thought I'd take a look at some of the newest flora that I've added. A few of these I may have covered briefly in other posts, but most of this should be new (here). Starting with 'Chocolate Chip' Ajuga above. It's been around for a few years but I've only this year decided that the "wild" Ajuga growing in my garden isn't enough, and how could I resist those cute little leaves?


Wonderful rusted metal!

I visited my mother in Chicago again this weekend and brought her some more plants for her garden. The surprise though was that I came home with something for my garden. An old, rusty, wonderful fire hydrant!

It was in her garage, ready to be recycled as scrap. "Can I have it for my garden?" I asked my brother. "Of course!" he said. Since he's turning into a plant person and has seen my garden via my blog, did he know it would look great surrounded by greenery? Did he not envision it but trusted my judgement?


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