Herbaria (October 19, 2012)

As I walked around the garden on the morning that I took this photo, deciding which plants would make the cut, I was struck by the shift in foliage colour. Suddenly all of the perennials had taken on their fall colour, which is why I dedicated 1/3 of the boxes this week to foliage. I will say though that looking back, I am surprised by how many flowers were in bloom, most especially the Gem marigold. That it was alive at all, and remained alive weeks after this photo was taken is a testament to the resiliency of the marigold. It’s not just the summer annual that we take it for.

From Left to Right:

Top Row: 1. Scented Geranium (Pelargonium ionidiflorum ‘Mini Karmine’) This is one scented geranium that you don’t grow for the scent; I got mine because of the dainty, finely cut foliage and those brightly coloured, simple single flowers. 2. Orostachys ‘Jade Mountain’ I’ve been growing this orostachys since early 2010. Back then it was a small thing, just a few rosettes in a small pot. From there I transplanted it into a larger black metal square where it took off, expanding across the entire surface. This year it flowered, first rising up into tall pillars and then blooming the large, catkin-like puffs that you see here. 3. Hosta ‘June’ I am several hostas growing in the garden, but only one, a favourite called ‘June’ made it into the Herbaria. I previously included it in August and have included it again in fall with a dramatic colour shift.

Middle Row: 4. American Black Currant (Ribes odoratum) ‘Crandall’ What you see here are the fall leaves of this small bush that I planted in the community garden back in 2008. It was never very happy in the spot where I put it and was unhappier still when I ripped it out this spring and jammed it into a new place in my backyard. It was touch and go for a while there, but by fall it was looking more stable. I would not be surprised if it doesn’t bloom this spring, but will be very happy if it does. Those flowers are gorgeous! 5. Scabiosa atropurpurea
The seeds were a gift I received in trade with the farm manager at Rancho la Puerta, a little piece of the ranch’s spectacular organic food garden that I will remember every time the plants of its progeny bloom. 6. Blueberry leaves (Vaccinium corymbosum) These beautiful, vibrant red leaves were plucked from one of my blueberry bushes. I’ve been growing this pair in a large container for 2 years now. They were nice in the first year, but they really came into their own in the second. We enjoyed handfuls of delicious berries this season. Unfortunately, so did the squirrels. I will pick them faster next summer.

Bottom Row: 7. Nipponanthemum nipponicum synonym Chrysanthemum nipponicum This very late flowering, daisy-like chrysanthemum was a gift from my friend Barry that I put in last spring when we first dug up the yard. I liked the leathery leaves but thought little of it until this fall when it surprised me with flushes of flowers well past the months that a regular daisy would ever be in bloom. I 8. ‘Aji Dulce’ Hot Pepper (Capsicum chinense) It is well-documented on this site how much I love the taste of hot peppers, but my digestive system does not like the heat. I grew this pepper because it was touted as having the flavour of a Chinese pepper, without the heat. Another, “Trinidad Perfume’ is much milder, but I would grow ‘Aji Dulce’ again, even if just for those cute, little lantern-like fruits. 9. ‘Red Gem’ Marigold I started the seeds late, but still managed to get flowers this year and as I said above, I was truly surprised by how long they stuck around.


Herbaria F.A.Q

What is this?

An herbarium is a collection of plant specimens. Herbaria is the plural form. A collection of collections.

Every week, until I can no longer find anything living to fill up the boxes, I am photographing and posting a collection of flowers, leaves, stems, and other plant parts that are in my garden. This is an experiment in celebrating diversity and I hope it will allow me to focus more closely on the beauty that is inherent in the different parts of each plant. It also serves as a visual file of the seasons and a record of my garden, my gardening practice, and the plants that I choose to grow.

Why doesn’t this start at the beginning of the calendar year or garden season?

I would have preferred starting this project at either of those times, but alas, that is now how things worked out. The idea for this project came to me rather spontaneously one May morning as I sat pondering how I could best use a stack of nine wooden, pint-sized fruit boxes that I had recently purchased at the flea market. I have a thing for wooden boxes and I love to display little collections of cherished items within them. These nine little boxes begged to be kept together as a display — it didn’t take long before the idea came to mind: little boxes within a box, framed within weeks and months of boxes. Within the hour I had worked out the logistics of the project and was photographing my first box. That was May 16, 2012.

Gayla Trail
Gayla is a writer, photographer, and former graphic designer with a background in the Fine Arts, cultural criticism, and ecology. She is the author, photographer, and designer of best-selling books on gardening, cooking, and preserving.

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2 thoughts on “Herbaria (October 19, 2012)

  1. Speaking of summer flowers that are still alive, I have snapdragons in full bloom at my place (just north of Toronto)!

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