Garden Photo of the Day

The Brightest Blooms

By Kim Charles

Laurel Statz of Cross Plains, WI showcases last summers prolific bloomers.

"We used to live in a big old farm house with much shade around.  I was quite comfortable with shade gardening.  Then we built a log home and moved there to bareness.  I've had to learn a new kind of gardening with sun and I've been working on growing some shade.  There's always the north side of the house, right.

This past summer I got quite serious about adding organic material and rock phosphate to the beds.  I was very rewarded for my efforts.  The natural soil is clay and gravel and this year I kept a bag of compost with me wherever I worked in the gardens."

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  1. Clarkpark 02/21/2017

    Laurel, Please tell us about your awesome fencing! Are the logs birch? THANKS for sharing!

  2. deeinde 02/21/2017

    Beautiful, Laurel! I love the stone walls and the birch fences highlighting the flowers. Is that an old bed frame with the red flowering vine? What is the flower?

    1. Chris_N 02/21/2017

      It looks like Cardinal Climber (Ipomoea x multifida) which is an annual related to morning glories. It's a hummingbird magnet.

  3. Maggieat11 02/21/2017

    Laurel, Looks like you've had a wonderful time developing your new gardens! That is quite an impressive display of rocks, also! Lovely opening photo of the grasses framing the cosmos and daylily. Nice job!

  4. user-7007498 02/21/2017

    Nice photos of your garden, Laurel. The stone wall and birch fencing complement your house. It will be fun to see your garden mature. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Sunshine111 02/21/2017

    Good morning Laurel … It's so nice to see your yard and property. It felt unique somehow, not traditional in the way that I'm accustomed to here in the Northeast. I loved the wildness and freedom in your garden and yard. Also loved the birch wattle

  6. NCYarden 02/21/2017

    Way to tackle a new gardening challenge, Laurel. Your garden looks very pleasant. Love the birch timber fence...creative and striking. Did you treat the wood in any way? Thanks for sharing.

  7. User avater
    treasuresmom 02/21/2017

    Love, love, love that fencing. Looks like something you would see in the Smokies. Also, love that land you have surrounding you. I can imagine you must really love it there.

  8. Chris_N 02/21/2017

    Hi Laurel, wonderful garden. It's funny, most people start with sun and have trouble when it turns to shade. You seem to have handled your transition quite well. That's a great shot of your bidens in the sixth photo. Did it last all summer? I've had lots of bidens start out strong and then just give up by August so I'm always on the lookout for long lasters. The area around Cross Plains is beautiful. Sometimes we take Sunday drives on the back roads around there.

  9. User avater
    meander_michaele 02/21/2017

    So nice to be greeted by the eye opening shazam side of the color wheel with the oranges, strong yellows, golds and reds. Lots of bright happy flowers and, as others have observed, all so beautifully set off by the rock wall and cool white birch fencing (a "wattle" huh,'ve taught me a new gardening word). I'd say you are enjoying your sun friendly gardening adventure, Laurel.

    1. Chris_N 02/21/2017

      Not really a wattle fence. Wattles are woven around upright stakes. The style is more of a stacked split rail fence although in this case the birch trees are small enough not to need splitting. Yesterday was President's day so I'll just mention that Abe Lincoln ran as the "Rail Splitter" President alluding to all the time he spent as a young man in Indiana and Illinois splitting logs to make this kind of fence.

  10. VikkiVA 02/21/2017

    Everything looks so healthy. Your log home and surrounding landscape is beautiful. I really like your plant choices and your bottle holder(?) with the horseshoes in front of the impatiens caught my eye. Great yard art. Vikki in VA

  11. User avater
    Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 02/21/2017

    Love your home, your garden and your boulder retaining walls. You've really done well picking bright colors to stand up to the sunshine. You've met your challenge and mastered it!

  12. User avater
    LindaonWhidbey 02/21/2017

    Laurel, it looks like you've accomplished making your house your home. Love your stacked wood fence and all of your cheerful colors. Thanks for sharing.

  13. sheila_schultz 02/21/2017

    Laurel, you certainly have made the shade to sun transition in a fun and free-spirited fashion! The rock wall and birch fence make all those hot colors pop... they're the perfect hardscape for your log home. I love it all!

  14. greengenes 02/21/2017

    How nice to see today in our dark, drizzly day ahead. Good job on creating a beautiful flower garden! The colors are so warm and inviting! Those bags of compost sure pay off! Hope you have a wonderful summer ahead!

  15. foxglove12 02/21/2017

    Wow beautiful color and artistic presentation! What is the amazing red flower in photo #4?

  16. LaurelEm 02/21/2017

    I will try to answer questions. Thank you all so much for your very nice
    compliments! I am blown away by the responses I must add.
    birch Wattle (new word to me too) is actually real birch. I usually
    call this a zig-zag fence, but I'm no fencing expert, it's just what it
    looks like to me. A
    neighbor of ours had been given the birch logs to burn in their wood
    burner. We could have told them but they learned, there isn't much heat
    in birch. So they gave them to us to make this fence. We didn't treat hem with
    anything and I guess if we knew what to use that would be
    environmentally friendly, we would. We did lace them up with wire to
    them from falling down in a strong wind and placed the junctions up on
    some stacked patio blocks to help keep the wood from being directly on
    the soil.
    .....The Bidens did do very well all summer. Thank you
    Chris N, because I had lost the name of that plant. I had it planted in
    a whisky barrel which I put a big saucer in for a birdbath. There is a
    margin of soil around the saucer and I usually put my leftover annuals
    in there. The Bidens I did buy as a single though because I loved it
    and it was new to me. Since you seem to be local Chris I will tell you
    that I got that plant at K&A Greenhouse. Maybe it lasted so well
    because of the constant mini-watering by the birds? Plus every few days
    the birdbath got dumped into the whisky barrel to clean and refill it.
    structure that the cardinal climber (the red flower) is scaling is an old steel wheel.
    Yes, it certainly is a hummingbird magnet. We are on a farm that has been in my husband's family for over 125
    years. There are many treasures like that, lurking in the buildings on
    the farm.
    .....VikkiB, that bottle holder is great. The horseshoes
    hold your wine glasses if you are having wine. It is good to help me
    keep track of my beer, when I have one. You know how they like to hide
    underneath leaves.
    .....It has taken me more than 5 years to figure
    out what to do and I still have one ghastly bed that I need to totally
    re-do and a new idea for another zig zag fence I have in the yard. But
    it is an educational process and trail and error with gardening. Thank
    you again for you nice comments!

    1. Chris_N 02/21/2017

      Laurie, I am on the east side of Madison so not too far from you but not just next door either. I don't get out to K&A Greenhouse too often but the few times I've been there, they've had a nice selection of good looking plants. Your Bidens looks like the variety "Beedance Painted Red" which I ordered for work this year. I am glad to know that, if I keep it watered, it will go all summer.

      1. LaurelEm 02/21/2017

        Thank you for reaching out. That Biden I think might have been one of the last things blooming in the fall. I want to do more of them this year. My biggest worry is impatiens. I use a lot of them and have for years. There is that disease in the industry. Those impatiens in my pictures were lovely one day and 2 days later on their last leg. Some disease and I hear that many nurseries will not even be handling them this year. What to use as a replacement?

        1. user-7007498 02/22/2017

          Laurie, I have used the Big Bounce series inpatiens and did not have any trouble with powdery mildew. Also consider Plectranthus, Torenia, Scaveola and even Sweet Potato Vine

          1. LaurelEm 02/22/2017

            Where those bright fiesta impatiens are, you can't see them, but I have planted some baby hostas that I got at Land of the Giants. They got covered by the impatiens but always looked great when I checked them. I'll have to see how they look once they get going. I love Caladiums and may put some of them in with some big bounce or some of the larger begonias. So many ideas in the head this time of year. It always gets tweaked when I am actually in the nursery.

        2. Chris_N 02/22/2017

          What Kevin said, plus begonias, coleus and caladiums all do well in the shade. One of the great things about the common impatiens we all used (Impatiens walleriana varieties) was that it was inexpensive yet packed a big visual wallop. All the substitutes either cost more or don't have as large an impact. Wax begonias aren't quite as floriferous but are inexpensive and nice in themselves. The Big Bounce series Impatiens are close in terms of flower power but you're buying by the pot not the 3 or 6 pack.

        3. Luvfall 02/22/2017

          I've had great luck with browallia in the shade, especially the blue. It does get a bit taller than impatiens.

      2. Luvfall 02/22/2017

        The Biden I planted bloomed well into fall. They will cover a large area, mine was 12 to 15 inches in diameter, non-stop flowers, no deadheading necessary and a moderate sheering won't slow it down much.

  17. linnyg. 02/21/2017

    Loved it all, especially the daisies at the end that seem to be saying, "Y'all come back, ya hear!"

  18. tennisluv 02/22/2017

    Laurie, loved all the color you have added to your landscape and the work that you have done around your awesome log cabin home. Having just move from a predominately shaded landscape to a total sun one (except for a north facing wall), I understand how challenging this transition has been for you. I am still adjusting and you have provided hope for me. Thanks for sharing.

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