Sunday, August 17, 2008

Fine Gardening at Atlock

The header of this post refers to the magazine with the title of Fine Gardening, not to the alleged level of horticulture at the nursery where I play (although there is some mighty satisfactory gardening happening there this summer!). I'm going to write an article on coleus for FG, which will publish sometime in 2009. Brandi Spade, one of FG's editor/photographers, arrived at Atlock last Thursday evening, and she and I immediately set out to take as many pictures as we could before the impending rain let loose. After Brandi shot a handful of pictures, we found ourselves running for cover from a white-out deluge that seemed to come out of nowhere (and from the opposite side of the sky that looked threatening, no less). That was that.

But Brandi had planned to stay nearby overnight and shoot the next morning to give herself some leeway. Smart thinking! Friday morning's light was a photographer's dream: bright overcast but no direct sun. We tromped all over Atlock and took a pile a pictures. I took a few myself, and I hope they serve to whet your appetite for Coleus Day at Atlock on Saturday, September 13 from 10:00AM to 4:00PM (see a few blog posts back for more info).

The Red Border (more aptly called the Tropical Border) has come together beautifully this year, and coleus have played a part. In the corner where the urn stands, the low-growing trailer 'Burgundy Wedding Train' has filled in nicely since it was planted about a month ago. The orange-pink foliage behind 'BWT' is a happy planting of 'Fanatic Radish', one of the two sports that first arose from 'Religious Radish' last year at Atlock. 'Fanatic' had looked so-so for most of its coddled existence inside the greenhouses, so I decided it needed to be trialed outside. So far so good! I know of no other coleus with this smoldering orange-pink color. To the right of 'Fanatic' is the sultry 'Mood Swings', which made its debut as a self-sown seedling last year a few feet away in this very border. I wrote about the ever-changing 'Mood Swings' last year in this blog and will post more information on it anon.

By the way, the other plants in the grouping are (from left, zigzagging front to back) bright pink Iresine 'California', brownish Acalypha wilkesiana 'Something or Other' (OK, I can't come up with the name), chartreuse Salvia elegans 'Golden Delicious', dark red Hibiscus acetosella 'Coppertone', and Canna 'Intrigue' sporting a few orange flowers.

Here's what I previously called the "coleus encyclopedia." Rob Cardillo, the photographer for our upcoming book on container plants, recently called it the "paintbox," and that's what it will henceforth be called. I won't attempt to identify the cultivars here; there are nearly three dozen of them. I'll post more detailed pictures later . . . and you could see and evaluate them for yourself on Coleus Day. Most are doing very well and should be splendid on September 13.

Finally, here's a shot of my venerable topiary of 'Definitely Different', which is ready for its closeup. As far as I'm concerned, a "venerable" coleus topiary has seen two years pass since it was a cutting, and that can be said of this one (with a couple more months thrown in). Its head of foliage has been chopped back more than a few times to keep it shapely, and a few weeks ago my clumsiness while turning it caused a good-sized branch to tear off. The plant has filled in rather admirably since the mishap, but of course I turned the gappy spot to the back for the photo. And who's that posing like a show dog at the Westminster Kennel Club Show? It's Myrtle the Wondercat, recently added to the Atlock menagerie. I may well post an extensive series of photos of Myrtle in due time.

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