The Prettiest Thing

August 21, 2009 new 019 (2)
In a sea of green foliage there are some stand outs as summer winds down into fall. Ironically, some of them are even considered weedlike and are ripped out by the dozens. A few of these must be left however, for the garden would sorely miss what they bring to the table. Like these purple Perilla frutescens and garlic chives, Allium tuberosum. Both sow seeds in quantities as thickly as the yarns of a finely made Aubusson rug. The Japanese blood grass, Imperator cylindrica looks lovely enough with the black berries of the Aronia melanocarpa ‘Viking’ as the foliage begins to don the hues for which it was purchased, but the yin and yang of darkest purple and white add depth and perspective to the scene.

August 21, 2009 new 020 (2)
Flying visitors, feathered and non are a welcome addition to the rooted residents.

August 21, 2009 new 014 (2)
The heather bed, newly renovated last winter has been a pleasant success so far. The plantings are still young and annuals, like these marigolds from saved seeds started in the greenhouse, are place holders while the perennials grow and fill in.

August 21, 2009 new 015 (2)
A cross between Tagetes. patula ‘Queen Sophia’ and T. ‘Tiger Eyes’ displays a fascinating reverse in the petals of mahogany and gold. Like a vivid petticoat of the French Can Can dancers.

August 22, 2009 042 (2)
One section in particular has been full of color since the cold temps receded. The spot opposite the ramp that leads to the garage deck, home to the blue chair, allows one to sit and while away the hours, conferring with the flowers, consulting with the rain* in the shady afternoon after a morning of heavy weeding, plant moving and general task completion. Another annual here, Pentas lanceolata in a luscious shade of vermilion draws the attention of butterflies and hummingbirds. Sedum ‘Matrona’ is a stalwart perennial that is beginning to bloom as well and is well loved by many insect visitors.

August 22, 2009 040 (2)
Hemerocallis ‘Palo Duro Canyon’, so adored it was purchased twice, has given several late season blooms. The extra water he receives due to strategic positioning opposite the blue chair where the gardener can sit with the hose and comfortably spray away is the enabler of the rebloom.

August 22, 2009 039 (2)
From early spring until frost removes the color from these plantings, and even after, sitting in the blue chair and gazing at this patch of the Fairegarden never gets boring, tiring or old.

August 22, 2009 031 (2)
Gail has her susans, and we have a few, but they are all Rudbeckia fulgida ‘Goldsturm’, not her R. hirtas that will self sow with wanton abandon. Pretty, but masses are needed, not the plunking of one here and one there practice that has been followed. Help has been promised.

August 23, 2009 001 (2)
Regular readers know that there is usually a surprise at the end of posts like this. A little twist of some sort, and they are right about that today. Such smart readers. The little melon that was grown from a free packet of seeds from Baker Creek, Petit Gris De Rennes is emitting a rather strong and sweet aroma. That is the cue for harvest, we learned from helpful readers. Those readers, we just love ’em! Some critter tried to bite the hard and thick skin but gave up after the first try it seems. The protective cloth cover was ready if more attacks were in evidence, but was not needed.

August 23, 2009 007 (2)
The cobalt glazed pie plate was brought out to the veggie garden along with a sharp knife and the camera. Just the stem cutting released a fragrance so sweet the music of angels was heard as consciousness was briefly lost. Recovering, the blade easily cut the perfectly ripe fruit, squirting more perfume into the garden. The color is sublime. This, dear readers, is the prettiest thing in the garden, bar none. And yes, it was as delicious as it was beautiful. And there are two more globes on the vines.

* So sings the Scarecrow to Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz. Click here to see it if you wish.

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36 Responses to The Prettiest Thing

  1. Darla says:

    What a wonderful ending to a great post Frances. I did not plant Pentas this year and can’t understand how they slipped right by me..lovely melon…looks so yummy. We have a watermelon hanging on a vine. I dropped the seed in a container just to see what would happen. Literally, dropped the seed!

    Thanks Darla. The pentas are such a wonderful late summer color machine, I don’t know why I don’t plant more of them too. They do seem to take a while to get going, like the lantanas, also annual here. Red is just the color the sparks the garden and attracts the hummers now. Must add more next year. Your watermelon story is hilarious, hope it is a great tasting one for you and your family! πŸ™‚

  2. gittan says:

    A lovely ending of a great post! I could almost feel that smell… it really looks good! Have a nice day my friend /kram gittan

    Hi Gittan, thanks. I have been sniffing that stem every day since the other post was written, feeling rather foolish and the hairs on the stem tickled my nose. Nothing whatsoever. Then all of a sudden one day, the aroma was so strong, like magic! Hope your day is great as well. πŸ™‚
    Kram, Frances

  3. easygardener says:

    I agree, a wonderful ending to your post. The Melon looks absolutely divine, and you have more to look forward to!

    Hi EG, thanks. I love the little size of this type of melon too, just enough for two to share. I will grow these again.

  4. Joy says:

    Frances .. I love those dramatic colours popping out ! That day lily is one I would love to have as well.
    A garden would be incomplete without ornamental grasses to me .. I love the anticipation of seeing them turn such gorgeous colours : )
    This time of year is my favorite : )
    Your garden is putting on it’s Autumn ballgown now !

    Thanks Joy, I’m with you and do love this time of year. But I love every season, one of the nice things about our climate, nothing too extreme but definite changes four times a year. Grasses add so much and are so easy to care for, they hold the garden together as much as the larger trees and shrubs. πŸ™‚

  5. Les says:

    Your shot of the common marigold shows it in a very uncommon light. Like your other readers I like the melon shot, but the commentary that went with it was great. Have a good day!

    Thanks Les, you are so sweet to say such nice things! These marigolds are so underrated, they are easy from saved seed and offer lots of fall colorways. I have to have a couple at least every year. The melons were so fun! We have never ever grown any type of melon before, and love this little one. You too have a great day. πŸ™‚

  6. tina says:

    Ah yum!

    Hi Tina, it was yummy! Sort of like cantaloupe without the weird after taste. Heavenly. πŸ™‚

  7. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    Yummmm, I love the dark colors of the leaves in the first photo. It does give the garden some drama especially at this time of year. Yummm I am still thinking about the cantaloupe. I will have to go have some breakfast. πŸ™‚

    It really was very good tasting. Like cantaloupe, but way better. Drama is the word I should have used, Lisa, you are so smart!!! Sometimes my brain won’t give me those words on demand. πŸ™‚

  8. This morning I learned the name of a mystery plant I have in my garden from reading your post. My neighbour gave me many annuals towards the end of June and right away I thought one was some sort of lettuce from it’s cury leaves. You have identified it for me as purple Perilla frutescens. Thanks for the help.
    The melon sure does look mouthwatering … I can taste it just looking at the photo.

    Hi Linda, oh that makes me so happy! I love seeing the name of unknown plants on blogs, makes life so fun! This is a great plant, it is used in Asian dishes sometimes, but I don’t eat it. It adds a nice bit of drama to the late summer/fall garden but will seed about like crazy. The melon was scrumptious. πŸ™‚

  9. Janet says:

    Oh my Frances, homegrown melons are the best! Your photos are always wonderful! I think I have Perilla frutescens –it was a pass-along from a friend. Does yours reseed all over?

    Hi Janet, thanks. The melon was unlike anything I have ever tasted, so good! The Perilla does indeed seed all over, but is easily pulled. I always leave some of the volunteers that are in the best spots and pull the rest. I don’t want to be without it and have come to appreciate its prolific qualities more as the design paradigm has evolved to less maintenance. One doesn’t even have to plant this one, just pull the unwanteds. πŸ™‚

  10. Gail says:

    Hi Frances….I love the first photo…even though chives and perilla can be assertive I also think they are invaluable to many a garden scene. The location of a good chair and easy access to a hose does mean some plants look better then others! I love Palo Duro Canyon! If I thought mine would rebloom I would water them more! Yummy melon…and it looks even more delicious against the cobalt plate. Wasn’t the weekend wonderful! gail
    ps Thanks for the sweet link love and the Susans can’t wait to move into Fairegarden! They are hoping to have fairies and such visit them!

    Hi Gail, thanks. Both of these thugs assertive plants add so much to the late summer garden when we need all the help we can get! The people at Sunshine Hollow told me about the reblooming with water, but not all of them will respond that way. Their list tells if a plant will rebloom or not, but that is misleading, for the extra water is necessary for most. Cartwheel is also reblooming now, and was the first noticed to ever do so, also got some extra water being next to a new phlox. The melon was so good, we will definitely plant them again next year, more space devoted to them too. This weather is just the best. Glad your visitor will be able to enjoy it too. πŸ™‚

  11. Daphne Gould says:

    Oh that melon is the prettiest of things. I wish I could grow melons where I live, but they rarely make it to maturity. Looking at that one I can just imagine the wonderful smell.

    Hi Daphne, it has taken a long time for these to ripen. Our season is long but we still have to wait for the ground to be the right temp for them to grow. Maybe the seeds should have been started inside? My friend in Pennsylvania can grow cantaloupe, he uses the black plastic mulch to heat the soil. Might that work for you? The taste was equal to the smell, more will be planted next year. πŸ™‚

  12. Dave says:

    What a delicious looking melon! We managed a yummy watermelon but the cantaloupes haven’t done anything. I can see why you like the Blood Grass but I think I’ll refrain from planting any. We may have some already in the yard!

    Thanks Dave. Hmmm about your loupes, but hooray for your watermelon. We will be growing these little melons again for sure. You already have blood grass in the yard? That is a surprise and a lucky one for you! Maybe an escapee? πŸ™‚

  13. Pam/Digging says:

    Congrats on the melon. It looks as delicious as the aroma that you described. All the photos in the post are particularly beautiful, Frances.

    Wow Pam, thanks! Those kind words are music to my ears. The new camera was used for a couple of them, the marigold close up was one. I am still struggling trying to figure out which settings produce the best results. A long learning curve. The little melon was amazing. I have never had anything like it and will grow it again next year, planting more. πŸ™‚

  14. lynnsgarden says:

    A visit to Heaven is what I compare a trip to your garden, Frances πŸ˜‰ I’m in love with Palo..I wonder if he and my Aztec Princess have parents in common…As for the melon, the gods have also visited and left you gifts..amazing! Can you send a slice through the monitor please!

    Hi Lynn, what a nice thing to say, thanks so much! Palo might be the prettiest bloom we have, and to have him rebloom with several nice flowers is such a bonus. Your Aztec Princess is quite similar, they would make a nice romantic couple, the kids would be lovely. The melon was amazing. Look for those seeds at Baker Creek, so worth growing. πŸ™‚

  15. Matrona is just about ready to bloom here. Pink Chablis has just begun. πŸ™‚ (It’s very cute!) ‘Diamond Edge’ is one I just posted. It’s beginning to bloom. I love all the sedum. My Rudbeckia is also ‘Goldsturm.’ I don’t have a site where anything can grow with free abandon… too bad. Perhaps the next home! πŸ˜‰

    Hi Shady, I saw your Diamond Edge and thought it very similar to Matrona. We love the sedums too and grow quite a few different ones. Matrona is my favorite for all around garden use, stands up tall and the colors are so complimentary to the other plants. I don’t really have any open space either, probably why the susans don’t spread, but I do think the R. hirtas will make more of an effort to seed about than Goldsturm. Next house, HA. I used to say that too, but now have decided to just stay here and do what can be done right here. πŸ™‚

  16. Joanne says:

    The garden is looking particularly interesting. Love the melon how rewarding for you.

    Hi Joanne, thanks. The light is changing along with the plantings, how I love this time of year. The melon was incredible, these will be grown again next year, more! πŸ™‚

  17. Sweet Bay says:

    I love Garlic Chives too. Thanks for the tip on how to tell the ripeness of a melon — hubby unfortunately harvested ours too early last year, using a sign that’s not accurate, lol. The melon from your garden looks wonderful.

    Thanks Sweet Bay. The way to tell a ripe melon came from the comments on a previous post. The garden bloggers are a smart group! I was skeptical, but sniffed every day, nothing. Then one day, the aroma was overwhelming. It was time! πŸ™‚

  18. Love the blood grass. That melon looks perfect. I can almost smell it through the computer.

    This time of year is nice in the garden

    Hi Rob, thanks. I remember that you asked about the blood grass before, hope you found some to add to your lovely space. The aroma of the melon was undeniable, a great test for ripeness that I did not believe until it occurred. πŸ™‚

  19. Generally, I hate Marigolds, but yours are so special that they are the exception. That is a beautiful melon, I hope it tastes as good as it looks.

    Hi MMD, thanks. I know most advanced gardeners think little of the lowly marigold, but I have always loved them, everything about them really. I once read an article about how Queen Sophia would self sow and located seeds to see for myself. I found one has to save the seeds and plant them, but the germination rate was excellent and the flowers true. Then my neighbor gave me seeds of Tiger Eyes and those were planted near the Queen. Over the years, the seeds started showing mixes of these two. The melon was the best I have ever tasted. πŸ™‚

  20. Lynn says:

    The scent of the melon surrounds my mind as I type, but it is your daylily that has caught my attention.

    Awed by not only the beauty of your ‘Palo Duro Canyon’ daylily, but by the name itself, I will search the world over for that one. A beautiful daylily and a beautiful canyon I have enjoyed immensely! A definite addition for my own garden!

    Hi Lynn, thanks. Palo is the most amazing color and proved quite vigorous with strong stalks and many blooms. I wonder how many of the other varieties would flourish if given extra water like Palo received? He is worth looking for! πŸ™‚

  21. banner6 says:

    Between your photo and the word picture you draw of Can Can dancers, I will never again disdain the lowly marigold. Thanks for opening my eyes.

    Hi Ricki, thanks. The marigold world is one of beauty and very garden worthy plants. These are great additions to any setting, IMHO and should be used more. πŸ™‚

  22. TC says:

    Thanks for making me melancholy for melons. ;~(

    HA, good one, TC! The melon was incredible, even my husband thought so. πŸ™‚

  23. Jean says:

    Good grief, I thought I would die over that melon too! We don’t get many different varieties of melons here so when I was in California last week I went on a melon spree. Oh the bliss!

    I found it so ironic that your garlic chives seed around but your ‘Goldsturm’ susans don’t. I have the opposite situation. I’ve never seen another garlic chive in my bed (although the regular chives self-seed a bit) but my ‘Goldsturm’ comes up everywhere. I just spent a couple hours this morning lopping the dead heads back so as to prevent new babies. If I had more beds, I would be moving them out this fall I think!

    HA Jean, thanks. I went to the store yesterday and saw the same two types of melons that are the only ones ever offered, cantaloupes and honeydews. Lucky you to have more to choose from in CA. You are quite the travelers, too!!! That is amazing about your garlic chives. Those little black seed balls will germinate too easily here and are difficult to dig out of the clay, tenacious roots. Have you tried throwing the seed heads in a spot then forgetting about them until next year? I once did that before realizing how many would grow. As for Goldsturm, I believe it is lack of bare ground for the seeds. There have been babies if I make a concerted effort and plant the seeds, but very few. So funny! πŸ™‚

  24. Catherine says:

    You always have something interesting going on in your garden! Lot’s of pretty flowers. I agree with some of the other comments. I’m not usually a marigold person, but that one is so pretty. I love the reverse coloring.

    Thanks Catherine. The poor little marigolds seem to get no respect. This one is a winner. πŸ™‚

  25. Love the daylily and the marigolds. But that melon! WANT!!!!

    Thanks Kylee, so nice to see you. The melon was wonderful. I am now a melon convert and will seek out these smaller types to add next year in addition to little Petit. πŸ™‚

  26. Sadly the second invisible cow that wandered through ate the top of the Sedum matrona. No blooms for me. My cantaloupes are about the size of your melon. Hopefully they will look as good inside when it is time to harvest.

    Oh Christopher, that is too bad. Matrona might regroup and rebloom for you possibly. I know very little about melons, only to give it the smell test, no matter the size. Hope you get a couple of delicious bites from your loupes too. πŸ™‚

  27. commonweeder says:

    I am glad you actually do sit in that blue chair. I put out a White Chair among the White Thing deer deterrents, but I haven’t learned to sit in it for very long. I am so jealous of that melon.

    Thanks Pat. I do sit in that chair more than any other place, none of them for very long though. At least with the hose in my hand, I feel like something is getting accomplished. πŸ™‚

  28. linda says:

    So many delicious blooms in your garden Frances! The daylily is gorgeous.

    I’m happy Goldsturm is happy here with so little sun – it’s the backbone of my August garden.

    Your pretty little melon is mouthwatering. Baker Creek is awesome with it’s mind-boggling seed selection. They are my new favorite seed supplier after discovering them at the IGC show last week. And such wonderfully nice people running it. Jere Gettle was delightful to meet and chat with. What a gifted seedsman and entrepreneur. Now I want to go visit Bakersville.

    Thanks Linda, so nice to see you. I read about the show on Mr. Brown Thumb’s blog and your desire to visit Arkansas. That is near my childhood home in Tulsa, we spent many vacations in the Ozark mountains. I love the Baker Creek catalog and will give them more of my dollars too. πŸ™‚

  29. Those marigolds look super cool in macro! πŸ™‚

    Thanks Monica. That was the work of the new camera. πŸ™‚

  30. Rose says:

    I’m not a lover of cantaloupe, but I must say, Frances, your photo and description of this melon makes my mouth water–it looks delicious.

    I’ve been going through blog withdrawal for the past week with no internet access, so it’s a little bit of heaven this morning to see all your beautiful flowers and read your image-filled prose once again. I’m flying home in a short while, so I’ll be back tomorrow to catch up on earlier posts. I certainly want to find out how to have some fun with concrete:)

  31. Kathleen says:

    I’m glad you were successful at growing melons Frances. That seems a daunting accomplishment to me (a non veggie/fruit grower). I love to eat them tho if that counts?? Only you could make a marigold look so enticing. I count myself among the gardeners who usually don’t go for them but your angle captures the ruffles nicely. I have no luck growing pentas?? I’m not sure what the problem is ~ I plant them in containers but they usually just sit. I am nothing if not persistent tho because I continue to try every year. Maybe some year I’ll figure out the key…

  32. VW says:

    I’m not usually a fan of orange daylilies, but your picture of Palo is gorgeous. I love all the detail of ruffles and different colors. It’s a work of art in a single flower.

  33. Jake says:

    All the pictures are great, but that Daylily is so beautiful. I am going to have to put it on a list to purchuse.


  34. Kanak says:

    Hi Frances, the melon looks so delicious that I can almost feel the aroma…Wonderful descriptions of a garden that looks forever beautiful. The effect of your combination of plants is stunning.

    Thank you for stopping by my blog…I’m touched by your words….

  35. Barbara H. says:

    Well, I read the posts out of order, marveling at the turtle photographs and all the extra interesting information. Now I wonder if Mr/Ms Turtle might have been the frustrated chomper of the melon? Beautiful photos, as always.

    Thanks Barbara, read them however you like, I am just happy to see you! The melon was up on a reinforcing wire trellis, about two feet off the ground so the turtle could not have been the biter. But strawberries and fallen tomatoes have bites in them that fit the jawline of our friend. He is getting a healthy menu here. πŸ™‚

  36. Mmmmm. All those beautiful sunset colours. I think I even see a bit of sky reflected in the disk of the rudbeckias and the sedum leaves. The garlic chives are having a party in my garden now, too. But they look so pretty — even the flowers in salads — that it’s hard to be hard on them. That melon!

    Thanks Helen. I love the colors of fall, and they are beginning now. The melon was so delicious, I keep smelling the other two still on the vines for ripeness. πŸ™‚

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