Saturday, November 12, 2011

Priceless Gold

These are the days I look forward to as summer winds down in September. When the leaves start looking old and tired, the sun starts moving south, and the ground is as dry as baked bones, I start thinking of the sweet, cool rains of fall, the chill mornings and freshening breezes, and the slow awakening of the red, orange and gold colors lying hidden in the greens.

My garden is loaded with gold this year—and I feel richer than I ever have! My oldest Sango Kaku maple was the first tree to show color, and that was early in October. Now most of the other trees are in show-off mode and I'm spending a lot of time at the back windows just enjoying looking out.

Thanks to the maples, dogwood, and the weeping larch, my path down from the house is a lot more colorful this year.

If you go to the Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden when the maples have turned and look past the long bridge, you'll see a beautiful pair of Japanese maples—one red and one gold. Ever since I saw that arrangement, I've been wanting to recreate it. I'm on my 3rd and 4th maples now, but I think I have the ones I want—my small O Isami, and the red Beni Otake.

Almost all the maples are in color now, including my little laceleaf viridis:

and the beautiful crimson palmatum Hilleri, which has gone through pretty much every shade of red now, from dark brick to orange-red and lipstick, to finish up at cherry. It finally got taller than I am this year.

The Satomi dogwoods are sharing the spotlight, with the one in the most sun going gold and red again, not as dark so far as last year, in fact so bright it glows. It's hard for my eyes to separate the colors in person, it's actually easier to see in a photograph. This is the one I planted bareroot as a single stick, and after 6 years it's at least 7 feet tall.

Although I can see bits of the big O Isami from my house, I have to walk down into the garden to get this view of my little maple grove, the O Isami and three Sango Kakus.

My paths are going to be getting a bit of dressing this winter. One of my friends has a bunch of long pine needles she really wants to get rid of. I got enough the other day to line the first two paths. I hope to get a thick enough layer to suppress the weeds. They're very nice to walk on. They're too slippery to put on the sloping paths, but I hope they work for the level ones.

The hydrangeas aren't going to bed either, without one last show of color, a lot more muted but still beautiful. These flowers were rich purple in full bloom, now they're pale blue-violet with fuschia frosting.

Have you ever seen a hydrangea do this? Maybe it feels like a poinsettia this year. I don't remember if this mophead is a named variety or one of the bargain pots I got at Fred Meyer, or what color the flower is. I'll have to wait until next year to find out again.

What a wonderful finish to the gardening year—to wake up to such riches.

Oh my—O Isami!

My big Acer japonicum O Isami is so gorgeous I wanted to give it its own post. I've gotten several good photos of it at the peak of its color over the last week and a half, and I can't decide which ones not to share. Every look I take at this tree makes my jaw drop.

It started out going lighter and then shifting to gold, but as soon as the leaves got gold they developed crimson edges, and many kept getting more colorful every day.

The individual leaves developed different patterns, a tapestry of opalescent brilliance.

I couldn't resist breaking off one of the more colorful leaves to play with.

I selected this variety two years ago at Meadowcroft Farm after seeing a 12' specimen growing on their grounds and seeing its rainbow of colors—red, pink, orange, gold and purple, and multiple shades of each color. I love the rounded leaf shape too; I'm somewhat partial to the maples that show it—circinatum, shirasawanum, and many of the japonicums I've seen. I tried one in a shady area and it didn't develop any color past a medium gold, so when I got this big one last fall I knew I had to put it where it would get more sun. This one gets full direct sun till about 11am.

A week later it seems to have maxed out color-wise, and last night's rain brought half the leaves down, but the leaves are almost as beautiful on the ground as they were on the tree. They make a great background for the Pinky Winky flowers and the fading hosta.

As long as it keeps looking like this, I'll keep going down to look at it.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

New glass for the Beavercreek Craft Fair

Another art and craft fair this Saturday, right here in beautiful downtown Beavercreek! I've been cooking glass for the last two weeks and have ten new pieces to show. Since I found out this summer how great the paler colors look in shady areas and even inside a room out of direct light, I've been wanting to make more pieces in these delicate tones. This took me a long time to figure out because I'm naturally drawn to the deeper, richer colors, but in a shady garden like mine, they just don't show up nearly as well as the lighter colors. So I have a bunch of new ones—like this one:

I've also been wanting to work out some shapes like my big radiant stars, but in a smaller, less pricey size. I think this 5" one has possibilities. I'll see how it does this weekend:

The BCT craft fair this Saturday is at Beavercreek Elementary out on South Beavercreek Road, and they're going to have over 100 vendors! That seems HUGE to me. I'll have my glass and greeting cards towards the back of the room where Santa will be posing for photos. I'll have cards of many of my paintings, and also of photos that I've taken around Oregon.

I've signed up for another local craft fair the first Saturday in December, at the Lions' Club Craft Fair. It'll be just south of Oregon City on Hwy 213. It's a lot smaller than the BCT fair, around 40 vendors, and it should be fun too. Both shows are from 10am to 4pm. I'd love to see you there!