Friday, November 30, 2007

A shot at a "meadow" garden

I am fascinated with work that establishes a community of plants similar to a meadow although with selected ornamental plants. I recently started to create one of these and have a long way to go, but I have been pleased with the progress that the next three images represents.

I was a bit late in photographing the Amsonia in its best fall color, but here is the fall version of this new planting.
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In the summer this "meadow" planting looks like this.
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Here is the spring version so far.
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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

An Ohio Hardy Ginger

The curious fall flowers of Zingiber mioga.
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Glenna Sheaffer, a gardener at Kingwood Center in Mansfield, Ohio where I work has grown this ginger (Zingiber mioga) without winter protection for well over a decade. A few years ago she gave some to me and it has taken off in a rather shady spot. Growing over three feet tall it adds some hard to find bulk to the shade garden. It has the curious habit of flowering in the fall. See the picture below.
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Friday, November 16, 2007

How Did I Miss This Until Now?

Have you ever bumped into an unfamiliar plant and then suddenly seen other references to it? It makes me wonder how I missed it in the past. That happened to me recently with Melianthus major. First I saw the container in the accompanying picture at Kingwood Center where I am the Director. I was stopped in my tracks by the vivid blue foliage for which this photograph fails to do justice. Our head gardener (John Makley) told me what it was. (He is obviously one step ahead of me in this department.) Shortly thereafter I saw it mentioned in Helen Dillon's article in the magazine The English Garden. Then a few days later I saw in Horticulture magazine. An article by Alice McGowan listed it among the tender plants (zone 8) that can be overwintered dormant in a cool spot "...after frost kills the tops."

Suddenly I feel unfulfilled until I can get my hands on one of those.

A Little "Patio" for Plants

There is a quote floating around that if you garden long enough you will eventually become a rock gardener. That seems to be coming true for me. I discovered a source of wonderful sandstone and have been spending the last few years building various new rock related environments for my plants. One of the most gratifying is a little "patio" in the midst of a larger garden where I grow plants in crevices between rocks.

Plants I couldn't grow in other parts of the garden thrive here like the Lewisia 'George Henley' (the second image down). I love that plant for some reason. My plant "patio" also offers a great place for my fall blooming Crocus kotschyanus which can be seen pictured in bloom in the fall of 2007 next to a Dianthus and a big Japanese anemone flopping over next to it. The crocus is so easy to lose in mid summer after their leaves have died down and before their flowers emerge. My little patio offers them a safe refuge, and I get such a kick out of my annual surprise at seeing them each fall. And finally the top picture featuring the big blue clump of Dianthus gratianopolitanus 'Firewitch' shows the general texture of the planting that for some reason I particularly enjoy. I do have some trouble with annual weeds, but I think if I finally get all the crevices planted that should be less of a problem in the future.

Thursday, November 15, 2007


I am taking the approach that the way to learn how to blog is to jump in. So here I am with nothing prepared in advance, but lots of ideas and photographs. I am Chuck Gleaves, a gardener in north central Ohio. I have a master's degree in botany and I have been working in the public garden profession my entire career (about thirty years). While as the Director of a public garden (Kingwood Center) I now do precious little hands on gardening at work, but I am in the midst of gardens, garden information, gardeners, and garden issues all day long. And when I get home to my ten acres of land I head for my garden.

I expect to make new postings about once a week. I don't count this as a real posting so I will get busy and post some comments and supporting pictures.