Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Plants that Reseed

When the conditions are right, plants that set seeds unimpeded can replicate themselves by way of breezes, birds, and the intentional flinging of masses of tiny seeds by bursting seed pods. Many of these plants are welcome, filling in empty spots and forming sturdy plants you can share with fellow gardeners. 

But often such plants make pests of themselves. We set out to deadhead spent flowers before they form seed pods, but it doesn't always happen on time. 

Below, a by-no-means comprehensive list of some of the more beautiful re-seeders in my garden:

The early spring anemone silvestris, which forms a puffy seedball that blows about in the breeze under the shade of the trees until the seeds drop on moist soil and start over again. Accompanying the anemones are violets, another prolific reseeder.

The dog-violet, one of the most aggressive of all reseeders. These will form hardy clumps that are difficult to dislodge from the soil. They will tolerate a lawn mower going over the top of them, which limits the size of the plants. It's kind of nice to have violets in the lawn, if you are not a lawn purist.

Many varieties of columbine will readily reseed themselves. I have found columbines in all parts of the shadier spots in my garden. I usually love them enough to not mind. In the picture above, a compact, upright variety of columbine has reseeded itself among the heuchera and Lady's Mantle.

The pink Missouri primrose may need encouragement if things get too crowded.

 Prairie Mallow pops up everywhere. Sometimes the spot of color is appreciated, sometimes it ends up looking like a wilted rag. Pull up when they are young, for when they are established, you will need a sharp shovel.

I never knew that the whirling butterflies plant, the Gaura, could be such a nuisance. I love these plants, but they are impossible to keep in check. These are impossible to photograph, too. Anything tall and slender with small flowers on a long stem presents a challenge to the photographer.

No one minds more plants like these showing up spontaneously. If you can get Phlox Paniculata to cross-pollinate with neighboring plants, you can have a steady stream of lovely color combinations.

  The herb garden seems especially prone to seeding itself beyond all control. It makes one wonder how the tidy old Victorian herb gardens kept so tidy--no doubt it took constant work by pruning clipper-wielding-servants. Above, the Matricaria chamomile of the Aster family shows up in the strangest places. I love the fluffy little white blooms, but then they dry and turn dirty brown and set seeds, all of them fertile.

This is Melissa Officinalis, the Lemon Balm. This has invaded sunny parts of the yard front and back. Don't let this plant loose, no matter how much you love the lemon scent.

Chives, another innocent looking Master of the Universe. As long as you like the smell of onion, you won't mind letting these papery globes of lilac-pink turn into tiny little black seeds, all of which fly in all directions, and all of which germinate.

Do not, under any circumstances, grow one of the most aggressive and ultimately unwanted of all herbs, (other than Borage or Horseradish, but that is another story,) spearmint or peppermint (not so much the chocolate mint, which is more restrained) in anything but a deep bucket. Even the bucket spills plants over the side, all of which seed and germinate, or the roots grow out of the holes in the bottom. Chocolate mint (Mentha x piperita subspecies citrata) by the way, smells exactly like that. Irresistible. Which is why we keep growing mints.

Flat leaf parsley. This plant looks good all season and covers up bare spots. You can go out with scissors and decimate it regularly. It grows back.

Hardy blue salvia.  Its propensity to spread itself in sunny areas should not have been a surprise to me. Since it is not outrageously aggressive, and since I love the spiky blue over a long bloom season, I often let it stay. I only wish my white salvia would be so generous.

Pastel yarrow, the achillea milllefolium, another plant from the Aster family, is like the blue salvia--fairly tidy all season, giving spots of color where it will blend nicely.

Volunteer goldenrod. Vast potential for reseeding. I haven't gotten tired of these yet. Maybe next year.

White annual alyssum is one of the best established recurring annuals, forming a sprawling, ever-blooming, fragrant and dependable front-of-the-border plant. The lavender blue perennial aster can get rambunctious in the right circumstances, but is easy to pull up, the colors are lovely, the foliage and plant are nice-looking, and everyone wants a piece of it.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Coral & Peach in the Garden

Pink suffused with shades of yellow--what more beautiful color in the garden is there than coral/peach? Entire swaths of my flower border are dedicated to this lovely color. It is warm but not aggressive, accommodating but not feeble. It complements the companion shades of lavenders and violets. Roses and daylilies especially seem to lend their hybridizing talents to corals and peaches.

Peach-pink tulips in the early spring bulb garden

Double coral columbine. These are not very tall, giving more of the impression of small double petalled roses. Surprisingly, these have reseeded for me.

American Peony Society gold medal winner Coral Sunset, an unusual shade in peonies, and an early season bloomer.

Papaver Orientalis, the Oriental poppy Watermelon. True to its name, this poppy is a luscious shade of watermelon pink.

 One of my favorite shrubs, the carnation-scented coral brooches of the viburnum Carlesii, the heavenly Korean Spice Bush. 

The prime rose shrub Easy Does It, with difficult-to-photograph dark coral flowers fading to a round-blossomed reddish orange that blends especially well with blue salvia.

 David Austin's Abraham Darby, studded with these innocently peach but powerfully scented cupped and quartered old-fashioned roses. 

Ruffle-edged peach-pink daylilies. Daylilies were meant to be this color--descendents of the original Hemerocallis Fulva, the tawny orange daylily, and Hemerocallis Flava, the sweet-scented yellow lemon daylily.

Flower Carpet Coral, the non-stop blooming, drought-resistant, low growing single-flowered rose that has earned its place in my sunny border.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Flower Edge Effects in Photoshop

Playing with layer order, blending modes and opacities, and edge effects in Photoshop can turn your flower photos into works of art.

Blending modes such as Multiply, Screen and Lighten in differing opacities have been used to achieve the effects on the following pictures. Edges are enhanced using Filter/Artistic/Poster Edges and Filter/Blur/Smart Blur.

The pink-orange rose image, above, was duplicated, stretched and enlarged to form the background.  A duplicate of the original smaller size was dragged to the top of the Layers Palette, and the Poster Edges and Smart Blur edges were applied.  Then Blending Modes in the Layers Palette were added to nearly every layer, and opacity of each layer was adjusted.

A sea of translucent daffodils. Poster Edges were applied to several layers and Smart Blur edges to the top layer.

Ballerina roses are enhanced using Poster Edges, then stretched into more layers, with added inverted Smart Blur edges on the top layer.

 To get this sort of effect, follow the instructions outlined below:

Open a picture in Photoshop. Unlock the layer by clicking on the "Background" in the layers palette. Rename "original" in New Layer Properties box

Duplicate the original layer CTRL+J. Use the Blending Mode drop down in the Layers Palette and choose Multiply. 

Adjust the Opacity to 60% in the Layers Palette.

Duplicate this layer CTRL+J. Go to Filter/Artistic/Poster Edges.

I used these settings: Edge Thickness=1, Edge Intensity=1, Posterization=2. Click OK to apply.

Set the Blending Mode of this layer to Screen and the opacity to 60%.

Go to Free Transform CTRL+T. This will set a bounding box around your picture. You may want to zoom out to give yourself more room. Now use the corners to stretch this layer much larger than the original layer. You can move the layer around by using the Move Arrow in your Tools Palette until you have the layer where you want it. Now hit Enter to apply the Free Transform.

Set the blending mode to Lighten and the opacity to 100%.

Duplicate the last layer CTRL+J. Set the Blending Mode to Screen and the opacity to 45%.

Duplicate the last layer CTRL+J. Keep the same settings.

Duplicate the last layer CTRL+J. Go toFilter/Blur/Smart Blur.
I used these settings: Radius=3, Threshold=25, Quality=High, Mode=Edge Only

Invert this layer by going to Image/Adjustment/Invert

Your picture should look something like this. If you want more or less edges, go to CTRL+L Levels and slide the slider left or right for the effect you want.

Change the Blend Mode of this top layer to Multiply with an opacity of about 20-25%. You can add another layer on the bottom and fill it with black (ALT+Backspace) if it adds to the effect.

You can adjust layers, blending modes and layer opacities to get exactly the effect you want.

For more information on blending modes and what they do, go to:

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Cool Blues

Blues are the shy and retiring flowers of the garden. We may not even see them when the reds and yellows shout for attention. Blues must be sought out to be appreciated. They grow most often in the shade and in the spring, but are a welcome addition wherever they are grown.

Phlox Divaricata, the fragrant and fleeting Wild Blue Phlox, is one of the earliest growers in my garden. It spreads slowly, so I dig up starts and plant them at the front of every border where I can find an empty spot. These grow in shade and sun for me, the shade-blooming ones a little later in the season. After blooming, Wild Blue diminishes until you can hardly see her anymore.

Iris Tectorum, the Japanese roof iris, another early bloomer of low growth, grassy leaves and interesting markings.

The prime perennial Rozanne hardy geranium. There never was a better blue, that blooms as long. I've grown lots of geraniums but none as wonderful as this one.

Bobbing butterflies of blue columbine in the spring garden in the company of a peach-pink pillar rose. Men especially like this plant; they always ask what it is and want it in their gardens.

Blue baptisia, the false indigo with its pretty pea flowers and foliage, blooms alongside a white and green ribbon grass.

Delphiniums are the epitome of the sunny blue border flower. I covet these plants, but they never live very long for me. This specimen is one of the more free-flowering species, less well known than the utterly formal and towering Round Table series. Annual larkspur are of the same family, are much less demanding to grow, seed themselves, and come in this same intense blue.

Ruffled blue Scabiosa with white geranium. Slender, lovely plants that seed themselves readily.

One of the many varieties of veronica in my garden. This one is a ground cover with the four-petaled true blue veronica flower. It often reblooms in the fall. I love all veronicas: the tall and slender speedwell, the mid-size candles of white and pink, and the sprawling repens creepers.

Blue balloon flowers of the campanula family, growing in a pot under the Black Lace elderberry, here in frilly flower. The cool blue color is welcome in the hot summer shade garden.

One of the few blues of the mid- to late summer garden, the agastache Blue Fortune puts on a display that few plants can rival

A tall, sturdy, bushy plant, the poisonous Monkshood aconite is also known as wolf's bane, leopard's bane, women's bane, Devil's Helmet or Blue Rocket. Arresting names for an arresting plant.