Friday, 20 July 2012

Sale plants for the roof garden

The roof garden really looked like it needed some refreshing, especially with the weeks of scorching heat we've had, so I took a trip out to a local garden center to see what I'd find.  Turned out they were having a sale on all their smaller containers of annuals and perennials.  License to buy!

Despite it not being on sale, I couldn't resist an enormous white butterfly bush ('White Profusion'):

It's hardly exotic but there's a big empty spot beside the composter and I think the butterfly bush might be good there.  At this point I just need to try something substantial to fill in the space.  Plus, it's in bloom now and not much else in the garden is.

The other non-sale item that I had to have was Incarnvillea delavayi 'Snowtop', which is apparently also called hardy gloxinia:

This photo I found online absolutely doesn't do it justice.  In real life it is so gorgeous and tropical-looking.  The flowers are impressive: an interesting trumpet shape that I don't have elsewhere in the garden and a nice size.  The leaves are also a change of pace shape and size-wise.  I'm not sure if 'Snowtop' are okay with sharply-drained soil, so I restrained myself and only bought two in case they don't make it. 

On sale, I bought three more huge 'Silver Brocade' artemesia, to commune with the three I bought locally in April that are thriving and very pretty. 

I also picked up two more big calamints (calamintha nepeta nepeta).  I was going to add them to the happy clump of three that I already have but it turns out that the new kids are significantly taller - I think they're a different variety - so I planted them a bit apart from the others.  I'm amazed by how fresh and green they look, despite the heat wave.

Lastly, I got five Gypsophilia repens 'Filou White' to replace some of the shorties that I killed off (two of the lemon licorice and two of the pennyworts).

Fingers crossed that they stay looking good: my short friends haven't been doing great.  Overwatering, maybe?

Thursday, 19 July 2012


I've discovered an imposter in the roof garden:

Notice anything strange about this plant? Yup, it isn't white!  But of course, it was supposed to be.  The label clearly identified it as Hibiscus syriacus 'White Chiffon' and it grew up from a couple of cut back stumps into a tall bush with large purple leaves.  I was really enjoying it.  See how it fills its corner of the garden in and adds some much-needed height?

When it budded, I was excited to see the flowers in the flesh, but they opened into huge pink saucers and the love affair abruptly ended.  Now I just want to 'disappear' the whole plant.  I didn't keep the receipt from the local nursery I got it from, so a return is out of the question.  Instead, I'm going to dig it up and taking it to the summer house. 

Yesterday I went to a different garden center and found a replacement - a blooming shrub that is *definitely* Hibiscus syriacus 'White Chiffon':

Tomorrow afternoon it's out with the old, in with the new.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Upholstery Before and After: Loveseat

The freshly reupholstered loveseat for our sunroom arrived late last week.  I thought I'd share the before and afters. 

I loved the previous (faded) color of the fabric but it was ultra ratty and silk isn't at its best in a room that gets hot.  Also, the loose seat cushion was a disaster: a poorly-constructed mash-up of foam and feathers that always felt rigid and lumpy.  Plus the seams that created the diamond pattern in the cushion fabric weren't very comfortable to sit on.  This time 'round I wanted something playful and vibrant that would feel cool (or at least not sticky) against the skin. 

The Before:

The After:

The patterned fabric is a Nina Campbell cotton with a certain roughness to the texture.  I really like the scale and the watercolor aspect of the design.  Unfortunately I didn't have enough of that fabric to do the whole loveseat, so I picked out a solid yellow linen to contrast with it.  I like that the pattern contrasts with the blues and grays that are already in the room.  Next up will be shades for the windows, but I want to live with this a bit first.

Monday, 16 July 2012

3 Prettiest Things: Mid-July

These Casablanca lillies are one of the prettiest things in the roof garden right now:

So fragrant. 

My climbing Iceberg rose is re-blooming more prolifically than it did in the spring (quite a few buds not open yet). 

I'm such a fan of this re-blooming thing.  Every time I water Iceberg, I think grateful thoughts.  No idea why it's so much happier than all the other roses (City of York is completely static and Madame Alberic Barbier is struggling).

This Turkish sedum (Sedum bithynicum) gets my third vote for what's prettiest right now, which might seem like an odd choice...until you notice that it has grown and spread to fill in perfectly around the brick pavers, just as I'm hoping the whole garden will.

I fertilized the garden last week and the plants have had the oddest reaction to the extra nutrients.  Some, like the silver mound, the columbines and the violets sprung up noticeably larger and lusher overnight.  Others, like the alpine strawberries had leaves that browned and seemed to die back, only to re-emerge larger than before.  I'm pretty sure it killed two of my three cymbalaria muralis 'alba compacta' - which were looking pretty decent before - and one of the new clumps of strawberries.  In the case of the strawberries, I wonder if the deep watering disturbed the roots too much.  It's pretty confusing to actually be killing things by applying fertilizer but I'm going to stay the course of fertilizing weekly (as I water) and see what happens.  The engineered soil is really skimpy on organic content and my composting efforts are going very slowly so this is the best thing I can think of.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

A new painting

I bought this painting at auction last month and we finally got around to hanging it.

It's attributed to Eugene Boudin, the French plein air painter who influenced the young Monet and exhibited at the first Impressionist exhibition.  No idea if it actually is by Boudin but I think it's lovely regardless: very delicate and peaceful.  We put it at the top of the stairs between the front entryway and the dining room. 

Saturday, 14 July 2012

I went to Brimfield and all I got was this pot

This vase:

And this lamp:

Really, I wanted a pair of lamps the same shape but slightly smaller for the bedside tables in our master bedroom.  (Already have the shades; thanks, Anthropologie sale section!)  I love the low, squat shape of the vase but I don't think it's old or anything.  The pot is a potential gateway drug to more copper kitchen vessels (they look good with our copper countertops and pendant lights) but I want to dip a toe in the water first and see whether and how much I like using it.

Brimfield was weird: not too many really high quality items.  There was something I liked a lot (cast glass furniture legs) but they turned out to be sold (but not marked as such, so I wasted time debating making an offer).  There was a darling late 19th century original tapestry-upholstered loveseat but we don't have anywhere to put it (unfortunately a bit big for the front entryway).  We almost found a mirror for the front entryway but it wasn't totally and utterly perfect.  And so it went.  My husband and I still had a fun time and lots of good eats.  I like going there so much better with company.

Friday, 13 July 2012

Wondering if I should do something like this on the staircase

between the front entryway and our living/dining/kitchen level.  Wallpaper on the back wall along the staircase is proving tricky because it's visible from the living room level and provides more punchy contrast than I want on that level.  But the stair risers aren't visible from the living room level so the busy patterns wouldn't interrupt the calm of the dining room and living room.