What Looks Good Now-Special Things


As much of the garden goes into short day, cold weather hibernation, a few things are standouts right now. Shown above are the turning leaves of Sedum sieboldii ‘October Daphne’.


Dianthus plumarius ‘Velvet ‘n Lace’ is new this fall, planted in a container with some violas for winter into spring interest. The cold hardiness info reads zones 3-9, so it should be okay. The blooming right now is a bonus, and a very nice surprise. It could even be called special.


Without a doubt special is the first blooming of the orchid plants that have been brought inside to the greenhouse/sunroom. Many of the Paphiopedilums are budded already, after being repotted right before coming inside with fresh growing medium topped with long strand sphagnum moss to hold in the moisture. The Cattleya known as ‘Pumpkin’ has two flowers open. It is hoped these blooms will remain for the big family feast at Thanksgiving. To see the full name of Pumpkin and all of the orchids growing here, click on the sidebar page Plants We Grow-Orchids.


Upon the return from the trip to England last May we were greeted with a most special Mother’s Day gift, Acer palmatum ‘Orange Dream’. Duly planted as a focal point on the far end of the middle terrace, watering was crucial in the first year of settling in. Drought conditions added to the already dry slope were alleviated with a dedicated hose set up to keep the young tree alive. The name of Orange Dream was thought to refer to the new growth of spring, but it appears that the fall foliage color is also orange. Sweet. Also seen are the paintbrush seedheads of ironweed, Vernonia gigantea and rusting blades of Miscanthus sinensis ‘Adagio’.


Keeping with the Japanese Maple theme, the Acer palmatum var. dissectum ‘Crimson Queen’ has never been more brilliant bearing fall plumage. The pruning and training of this particular maple, that lives on the left side facing the pond has been trial and error, with more emphasis on the error part. Finally it seems to be finding the path of its destiny with some branches overhanging the pond and better balance overall.


On the right side facing the pond, Acer palmatum var. dissectum ‘Garnet’ has always stolen the spotlight in all seasons with a better form and darker red foliage in fall and spring. Not so this year.


The long shot shows the maples and pond view from the glass sliders in the master bedroom. The triumvirate of pink flowering dogwoods has been scaled back to a duo with the death of the dogwood that previously shaded Garnet, seen on the right. The top branches were cut, leaving the trunk as a perch for birds. It is believed that a wild grapevine strangled the dogwood, covering the entire leaf canopy. The maurader was discovered and cut away, but it was too late for the tree did not leaf out this spring. A hard frost damaged the leaves of Garnet without the umbrella of dogwood leaves that Crimson Queen enjoyed. Sad but true.


It was raining steadily, a welcome blessed gentle rain the day the maple shots were taken. Workmen in the addition had driven me back to the safe haven of the bedroom loveseat that faces the garden with the camera. During a brief dry interlude, we stepped outside and took some shots of the splendidly special tapestry that is the daylily hill. But ho, what is that on the wall?


A varmint! The squirrel blends in so well with the wall color that he is nearly invisible. It was the movement that caught our eye and the camera’s lens. Due to several large black walnut trees just outside the perimeter of our property, there is constant digging by these rodents as they bury the bounty. This year was an abundant one, and the sight of squirrels carrying the large black nuts in their mouths as they scamper about looking for likely digging spots is aggravating to a gardener, to say the least. Newly disturbed earth, such as prime locations for precious new bulb plantings are the favorite burial ground of the squirrels. Some might think these critters are cute. We do not.


To calm frazzled nerves from the horror just witnessed, let us go to the front covered stoop to gaze out upon the winterberries, Ilex verticillata x serrata ‘Sparkleberry’ and I. verticillata ‘Winter Gold’. The borrowed view from the shrub border of the neighbor across the street adds a colorful background to the mottled limbs of the Yoshino cherry tree and hollies. Hues of fall linger, but not for long. Onward.

Frances

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23 Responses to What Looks Good Now-Special Things

  1. Gorgeous, Frances, I loved seeing acers still in full autumnal glory, my own are now just a memory! its such a shame how they get frazzled by cold winds, hope your “Garnet” recovers well next year. I love “Orange Dream”, a glorious colour. Good luck protecting your precious bulbs from the squirrels…

    Hi Janet, thanks. It was a good, if late show this year for the small maples ad the dogwoods had their best color in memory. Very few leaves are clinging to the branches still. That is when the photos taken help us to remember the spectacle. Chickenwire is my best defense against the devil diggers, secured by rocks around the edges. But we will see a forest of black walnuts emerge in the spring, without a doubt.
    Frances

  2. Donna says:

    Beautiful fall foliage and flowers at Fairegarden. The squirrels. Most gardeners feel the same as you, they are destructive little rodents, but I still think they are cute. Put them side by side with a rat, the other hole digger/chewer.

    Hi Donna, thanks. They are cute on some levels, and for non gardeners especially. Rats, no.
    Frances

  3. Les says:

    The Japanese maples around here have been stunning as well. They are always beautiful, but this year the have a little extra something. Based on a photo you posted last year or the year before, I tracked down some ‘Winter Gold’ to sell at the garden center. They are lovely, but have been a hard sell, but the lady that does the displays at work loves them.

    Thanks Les. I am glad you were able to get some Winter Gold, but understand how most people would be more attracted to the red berries. Perhaps a photo printed showing the gold and red together might help sales. I do think they bring out the best in each other. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  4. Jan says:

    Orange Dream really is a dream.

    Jan
    Always Growing

    Hi Janet, thanks for stopping by. I love orange anyway, so this is a perfect tree to be growing here. I can’t wait to see the new leaves in spring. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  5. Carol says:

    Those squirrels are a nuisance. It is good, though, to have a beautiful garden like yours with so many gorgeous fall colors to gaze on to lower your blood pressure after seeing those varmints!

    Hi Carol, thanks for your support! It is good to concentrate on the good things and ignore the bad, most of the time. I cannot get rid of the squirrels, Kitty is not up to it, apparently, so looking elsewhere and pulling those dang walnut trees is all we can do. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  6. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    I understand the bedevilment of the squirrels. They plant walnuts in our garden and I can’t even tell you where the tree is. Someplace in our neighborhood for sure. The rotten little rodents. They also plant oaks in our garden. I don’t know why they keep insisting that I grow an oak tree. Your specialties are very pretty. I don’t think I have seen the lacey plant here. I like the color of the bloom.

    Thanks for the sympathy, Lisa. We have baby oaks all over too, with no mature tree anywhere around, although there must be a few somewhere. The dianthus is cute. It doesn’t show up well from the addition, but it takes a great macro! HA πŸ™‚
    Frances

  7. gail says:

    Dear Frances, It has been a marvelous year for Japanese Maple color! The acers in my garden are spectacular! Your Orange Dream and Crimson Queen are luscious…Do you hear that clicking? it’s my brain wondering if I have a spot for Orange Dream! It would look wonderful next to the purple Waiting Bench! Those pesky rodents~I haven’t anything kind to say about them or their distant relatives the chipmunks! xxoogail

    Dear Gail, thanks! Orange Dream would be a dream come true next to your purples! I am trying to remain neutral about the squirrels, even after seeing their telltale holes in the newly planted anti vole wall garden. Now there will be a walnut growing right in the middle of it that will be difficult to get out. Those baby trees have roots like steel.
    Frances

  8. Things are looking good for you…’cept that varmint! Love the orchid…great color as are the Jap Maples…but I wouldn’t expect anything less.

    Hi Helen, thanks for those words of confidence. HA The squirrel is the yin to the yang, or the other way around, depending on your point of view. The orchid will fade to orange, perhaps explaining the Pumpkin in its name. Those little maples add a lot to any garden. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  9. You need a cat. My cat catches our squirrels and eats them so we don’t have very many. We do have many giant black walnuts, and I have never had a problem with the remaining squirrels digging–wonder why? We have solved the squirrels-bothering-the-bird-feeders problem by feeding the squirrels corn all winter. It doesn’t take that much, and everyone is happy. I hate to say it to you, but I like squirrels. Their antics are endlessly entertaining. Carolyn

    Hi Carolyn, I hate to say it, but we have a cat that goes outdoors. He is much too well fed to eat squirrels, but will occasionally give chase to them, but is just as likely snooze while they run past his nose. Our feeders are squirrel proof. It is the digging up of newly planted bulbs and violas that irks me. But we can live with it. We use chicken wire now for the bulbs, the violas are more difficult to cover. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  10. Steve says:

    The place definitely sports that Autumn look, Frances. I catch myself being a bit moody over the seasonal change then I remember I am getting older and it makes sense, suddenly. πŸ˜‰

    Hi Steve, thanks. It does change one’s mood when the seasons change, especially when living in a part of the country with four distinct seasons, as you do now. I am glad you are seeing the sense of it all, too. It will make for a happier life. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  11. Nutty Gnome says:

    Looks like I’m in the minority of actually liking our squirrels, even if they do keep planting our acorns for me!I work on the theory that they were here first and if they didn’t clear up the acorns then I’d have to do it! πŸ™‚

    Your Acers are quite glorious! I love thatOrange Dream and have a snealing suspicion that one may well find its way into my garden come spring!

    Hi Liz, thanks. I think you have a different kind of squirrel, smaller and with better manners? It is the disturbance of newly planted bulbs and violas that annoys me. The walnuts, oaks and chestnuts that keep springing up are a reminder that we are not alone in the garden. Orange Dream is a doll! I hope you get one. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  12. One says:

    I love all your photos. They are stunning!

    Hi One, thanks so much. I am glad you enjoyed them. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  13. kerri says:

    Daphne is still beautiful in her fall colors. You do well with orchids, Frances. Amazingly, I haven’t tried them yet! Something to look forward to πŸ™‚
    The J. Maples add glorious color to your fall garden.
    Very few squirrelly thieves are spotted in our yard due to the number of cats on duty. Voles however, are harder to keep in check, although the kitties do their best.

    Hi Kerri, thanks. It has taken many years to finally understand the needs of these few orchids. Mostly before, I was killing them with kindness! I am sorry to hear you have a vole problem, they are a menace to gardening society! πŸ™‚
    Frances

  14. Valerie says:

    It is nice to see that you have some glorious colour left in your garden. Ours is mostly brown.

    Hi Valerie, thanks. There are still a few highlights, patches of brilliance before it becomes more subtle.
    Frances

  15. dirtynailz says:

    Frances, “Pumpkin” is stunning. As for my paphs, I anxiously await their precious buds!

    Thanks so much. I got rid of most of the cattleyas, but Pumpkin just won’t stop blooming each year as they orchids are brought inside. It is too large, but who can leave something that pretty out to freeze to death? The Paphs are a much better size. Lucky you to have some! πŸ™‚
    Frances

  16. Japanese maples are not hardy here. Thank goodness sugar maples are. But they don’t have the same twisted branch work.

    Hi Kathy, thanks for dropping by. The sugar maples are so magnificent, you are lucky to have some. These little dwarf trees, less that eight feet tall and I keep these pruned even smaller, cannot hold a candle to the sugars. Hard to believe they are the same species even. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  17. joey says:

    All still looks autumn lovely, Frances. Though a bit gloomy here, it is mild and we are blessed with a gentle rain instead of snow, a thankful gift for the fall garden. Wishing you a beautiful Thanksgiving!

    Hi dear Joey, thanks. We are enjoying very mild weather right now, but change is coming. I hope you have a lovely Thanksgiving. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  18. Layanee says:

    A lovely collection of color and that darn squirrel is looking at you quite warily. They are frenetic little creatures aren’t they? At least you have calm in the front with those beautiful winterberries. I must get ‘Winter Gold’ which i have long admired. Do you find that it grows quite rangy?

    Hi Layanee, thanks. Both Winter Gold and Sparkleberry are rangy without pruning. I just read that they flower on new wood, so pruning in winter, bringing in the berries for decor works well! πŸ™‚
    Frances

  19. commonweeder says:

    When I see your Japanese maples I get so jealous. Zone lust! I am so glad I get to see your gorgeous photographs.

    Hi Pat, thanks. You are sweet. Crimson Queen went out with a bang this year. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  20. Anna says:

    You are still clinging on to some glorious colour there Frances. What a fine Mother’s day present πŸ™‚

    Hi Anna, thanks so much. The color did hang on much longer than usual with the trees. Orange Dream was a wonderful surprise upon returning from the trip of a lifetime to England, and getting to meet you! πŸ™‚
    Frances

  21. Janet says:

    Nice to see the comparison of Crimson Queen and Garnet. I have a Garnet….it was lovely but lost its leaves yesterday.
    Thought of you the other day, saw that Carter and Holmes is having a December open house– may run over there….and finally buy my first orchid. πŸ™‚

    Thanks Janet. Oh how exciting! Carter and Holmes is a magical place with all of those houses filled with orchids. I envy your getting to visit the open house. Pick a sweet one, I know you will. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  22. Kat says:

    Nice to see the Acers so brightly colored up. Here the leaves tend to shrivel and brown up long before they turn red. Yours look fabulous in their fall colors

    Hi Kat, thanks. Every year is different, it seems. An early hard frost caused the unprotected little maples to do the shrivel thing, and some of Garnet was so affected. Crimson Queen was allowed to reach her full potential. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  23. Cindy, MCOK says:

    Oh, how I wish my Japanese maples could/would look like that Crimson Queen! Just glorious. The Dianthus is most fetching … I haven’t seen it here.

    Hi Cindy, thanks so much. My Garnet was bought in Tennessee to live in the Texas garden. It did not like it there and was sent right back to Tennessee! Crimson Queen was purchased at a nursery in Conroe that was going out of business for $12 and also got shuttled here. Maybe you need to come live here as well! HA Well, it is a nice place, but you would have to change the name of your blog. πŸ™‚
    Frances

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