Wordless Wednesday–Ways of Seeing

Every so often I get fixated on a particular tree. In this case, it’s an Eastern White Pine that’s clearly been topped by a storm at one point.


When you look at the thing, you wonder how long it will even be alive.


Clearly it had been double-trunked at one point. But now, it’s just a sad mass of needles, really.


The trees around it don’t look much better. There are some hemlock struggling to hang on, between the years of drought and the adelgid infestations.


One last look. I wonder if this tree captivates you as much as it does me, or if you have to see it in person?



“Fall” Colors


This is a close-up of the shot of my steps from the Friday post. You can see the crotons better,  and you can see the calibrachoa, or million bells, in the pots beneath the 2 larger ones. They are a mix–great variety called Dreamsicle that I planted for the first time this year, and a double yellow.  Not only do they nicely highlight the colors in the crotons’ leaves, but for this time of year, they are great fall color. Dreamsicle is a mix of salmon, and orange flowers.


Here’s the back wall of the steps, where the  sweet potato vine is. You can see it, along with the little bowl of succulents  (which has been there all summer,  but was overshadowed by the hibiscus and mandevilla) are now color-echoing the begonias.

It doesn’t take much to make these changes.  Look around your own yard to see what you have to work with.

Transitioning Your Outdoor Palette to Fall


Remember this summery shot from Labor Day when I was bringing in the house plants?


This is the same shot, taken 2 days later. Notice the difference?

Yes, some of the same plants are still there. But I have brought in others to emphasize the  autumnal colors of fall–the dark purple of the sweet potato vine, the dark stripes on my two banana plants, the fall-like colors in the crotons.

It’s a subtle shift, but it helps pick up the burgundy stems of the begonias that are nearby, and the red Japanese maple.

As we transition into autumn, how can you move some plants around to take advantage of the changing seasons?

More Unusual Snake Plants

On Friday we talked about the more common “snake plant” types, the green and the variegated.

Today I want to show you some of the more unusual varieties, starting with some that are called “bird’s nest” varieties. So far as I can determine, the botanical on these is sansevieria trifasciata hahnii.  The  variegated one is either gold or golden hahnii.


These are low growing and slow growing. I acquired both of mine “by accident:” that is, in planter combinations with other succulents. You all know how I feel about succulents that get out of control by now–those are long gone. But these are still with me. I think the gold variety is at least 10 years old.


Then there is the unusual upright round variety. These are botanically called “cylindrica.” These are occasionally the darlings of the designer set if they remain upright.


In my house, however, I let them roam at will.  This is what happens. I don’t mind. I like them just the same (since I don’t have a designer showplace–more of a plant conservatory type of house!)


And finally there is this unusual, narrow-leafed highly variegated variety called ‘Bantel’s Sensation.’ I admit, even I have had a little trouble with this one. This is my second–my first succumbed to over-watering. That’s not usually a problem in my house! So be warned–they can be a little tricky about water.

So that’s our tour through my more unusual snake plants. I often take a few of these to my house plant lectures because when you say “snake plants” everyone rolls his or her eyes and thinks “oh those boring old things.” So this is just proof that these don’t have to be boring.

And as a bonus, they’re great air cleaning plants too.

Do You Know the Genus Sansevieria?


Most people are familiar with this common green variety of sansevieria, or snake plant. The plant also goes by the common name of mother in law’s tongue,  or, less commonly, vipers bowstring. It’s easy to obtain at box stores, grocery stores and garden centers.

Unless you grow the plant in higher light, you probably don’t know that it flowers. Snake plants are amazingly adaptable in terms of light.

While I have said that they practically will grow in a closet  (but I wouldn’t test that out–certainly not in a closet with a door!), they will also grow in East or west exposures.

All of mine grow inside in West windows.  I have grown them outdoors in eastern exposures as well. Depending on the amount of light,  you increase or decrease water accordingly  (and if you try the closet, I would withhold all water).


This is a close-up of the flower spike. It’s incredibly beautiful and incredibly fragrant. I have no doubt if this were outdoors,  some pollinator would love it, although these plants are native to Africa.


This is probably the most common variety,  although this variety with an outer leaf variegation, sansevieria triasciata, is also popular.

Both of these plants can get quite large,  although you can often buy them as 2.5″ starter plants. Both of my “monster” sized plants started in these small pots.

Give them bright light and water  (because in high light they will need more water) and watch out!

Wordless Wednesday


Before “summer” ends for real, I wanted to post this creative garden bench that someone in a neighboring town has outside.

Also notice the fence of espaliered trees. The town wouldn’t let them fence with the wrought iron as they did on the side street so they had to get creative.

The trees may not have been their first choice–but how pretty this all turned out!