Vertical beauties

2 11 2011

When my friend Senthil was visiting in September (to be photographed for the cover of the upcoming November/December 2011 Hearing Loss Magazine), Michael and I dropped him off at the U.S. Capitol building so he could get some photographs. I went over to check out the sprawling vertical garden display outside the U.S. Botanic Garden, which is in view of the Capitol.

Apparently the exhibit has been in place for a couple of years and I just got to see the very end of the exhibit. I can’t find anything on the web regarding who designed it or any details on the types of plants, how-to’s, etc., but I do have some photographs to share. It was really a sight to see—and had I the room to build something like this in my own backyard garden, it would happen in a nanosecond. I shot some closeups so you can see the details. The wood frames have coco fiber “shelf baskets” held into place with wire screen. The plants are tucked either directly into the liner baskets or through holes made in the side of the baskets.

There were a lot of plants that I recognized immediately, including vegetables and ornamental plants, plus herbs such as oregano, sage and basil; various coleus plants, licorice plants, flowering annuals, sweet potato vine, ferns, ivies, catmint and catnip, just to name a few. Read more about vertical gardening here.

Michael and I saw these Woolly Pocket living planters in the gift shop at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden last week. They’re made from recycled plastic bottles and come in unlined (for outdoor use) and lined (for indoor use) versions, along with wall anchors. You can line an entire wall with these pockets (which come in a multitude of sizes and colors), fill them with a variety of plants, and achieve impressive results!

But the type of vertical gardening that makes me swoon are the “succulent gardens” shown on Flora Grubb Garden’s blog here and their main website here. Jaw-dropping beautiful pieces of living art—they remind me of landscapes as seen from the air. Flora Grubb sells the tray components to achieve these looks in your own home or on a garden wall.

Authors and gardeners Susan Morrison and Rebecca Sweet recently published Garden Up! Smart Vertical Gardening for Small and Large Spaces, available here. Author and garden photographer Derek Fell has written Vertical Gardening: Grow Up, Not Out, for More Vegetables and Flowers in Much Less Space, available here. And on my list of books to add to my gardening library is green thumb artist and French botanist Patrick Blanc’s tome The Vertical Garden: From Nature to the City, available here. Want to see some spectacular living walls? Visit Blanc’s website here.

Advertisements




Bleeding Hearts at Brookside Gardens

28 01 2011

Bleeding Hearts (Dicentra spectabilis)—I photographed this plant at Brookside Gardens in Wheaton, MD on a photo trip with my friend Jeff in April 2008. I posted it as part of a collage for my original posting but decided today that it needs its own spotlight!

Something I didn’t know—it’s a member of the poppy family! This hardy perennial grows well in Zones 2-9 and blooms from April through June. It can do well in full sun or partial shade, although I mostly see it thriving in partial shade in woodland gardens. It has been grown for centuries in Korea, China and Japan. German botanist J.G. Gmelin first brought the plant to Russia for the botanical garden where he was employed. In 1947 Robert Fortune brought the plant to Western Europe through a sponsored trip by the Royal Horticulture Society.

I also learned the “bleeding heart story,” which I hadn’t heard before. I found this excerpt on www.veseys.com:

It is said that a prince loved a princess who took no notice of him. To try to get the princess’s attention and prove his love, he brought her exquisite and amazing gifts from far and wide. One day he came across two magical pink bunnies and offered them both to the princess. At this point, the story teller pulls off the two outer pink petals and sets each on it sides to show the animals. The princess was unmoved by the rabbits so, he tried again and presented her with beautiful dangly earrings. The next two inner white petals are separated and held up next to the narrator’s ears for display. Still, the princess paid him no attention. The prince was so distraught over being spurned that he took a dagger and stabbed himself. The remaining centre of the flower is shaped like an outline of a heart with a line down the centre. The heart is held up, the dagger-like line is removed, and the story teller plunges the “knife” through the heart’s centre. The princess, realizing too late that she did love the prince, cried out, “My heart shall bleed for my prince forever more!” and her heart bleeds to this day.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.