Unusual Peonies

Paeonia 'Green Halo' offers twisted white petals flushed with green. It grows 30 inches tall and was released in 1999.

Paeonia 'Coral Charm' blooms early with distinctly cupped semidouble coral pink flowers. The foliage is dark green. It was introduced in 1964. Zones 3-8

Paeonia 'Charm' bears dusky dark red Japanese-style flowers with yellow-tipped centers. It was bred in 1931 and is still popular today. This selection is late-season bloomer and grows 3 feet tall. Zones 3-8

Paeonia tenuifolia has cupped rich red single 3-inch flowers in early to midspring. Its deep green foliage is fernlike, with many segments. Zones 3-8

Paeonia 'Sea Shell' bears single pink flowers on long stems. It grows 37 inches tall and was introduced in 1937. Zones 3-7

Paeonia 'Sword Dance' bears Japanese-type flowers with red petals and a large yellow center. It grows 3 feet tall and was introduced in 1933. Zones 3-7

Paeonia 'Westerner' bears large pink flowers with yellow centers. It has strong stems and grows 34 inches tall. It was introduced in 1942. Zones 3-7

Reblooming plants

Rose verbena forms a cascading groundcover that spruces up a slope with season-long bloom. It flowers best in the cooler weather of spring and fall, but it is seldom without some splashes of color.

The orange tubular flowers of Commotion Tizzy blanket flower give the impression of exploding fireworks. This sizzling sun-lover blooms all season, especially if spent flowers are removed.

As you might guess from its name, May Night perennialsalvia puts on a spectacular show of deep purple spires in late spring. However, if you cut off the flowers as they begin to fade, it blooms again later in summer.

Most hydrangeasbloom once and are done for the season. But 'Endless Summer' bears blossoms on new growth -- so you can enjoy the flowers several times each summer. For gardeners in cold climates where winter damage prevents other hydrangeas from flowering, 'Endless Summer' ensures a spectacular show.

Sunny gold Stella d'Oro daylily lights up the garden with its trumpet-shape yellow flowers all summer long. This tough plant scoffs at hot, dry conditions. Here it creates a spectacular combination with blue ornamental onion (Allium azureum).

An unsung hero of the perennialgarden, speedwell comes in a variety of shades of blue, pink, or white. All produce upright flower spikes on mounded plants. After the first set of blooms begins to fade, shear the plant to encourage branching and rebloom. This combination of spike speedwell, Knock Out rose, and Six Hills Giant catmint creates a spectacular season-long show.

Images and text courtesy of Better Gardens: http://www.bhg.com/gardening

Steve Martino: desert gardens

I have always been delighted with the graceful form, vibrant colour and modernist shapes that constitute the very personal aesthetic of the landscape architect Steve Martino.

Simple selections of form, plants that hold the space visually and structurally, are enhanced by bursts of colour and strongly toned contrasts.

Below is a selection of garden projects that marry  formality with the poetry of desert light. The wild and sharp features of the planting, organised against the planes of built  and naturally occurring colour, are some of esterni's favourite juxtapositions in residential garden design.

All images courtesy of stevemartino.net

Colour trends and planting: Yellow

Inspired by trend predictions for Spring Summer 2013, this post looks at designing planting  that includes pastel and bright tones in hues of yellow.

Yellow flowering plants will need some pale and neutral tones to balance the strength and optimism of the colour, and some accents,  one of which can of course include the darkness of foliage.

Here are some groupings you might find useful and inspiring for your own gardens:

Passiflora citrina.

Yellow Abutilon

Image courtesy of www.freimagefinder.com

A wild flower Meadow Vetchling, and a similar cultivated hardy Coronilla Glauca citrina

Image courtesy of glaucus.org.uk

Image courtesy of visoflora.com

Insert some pale and neutral shades: this is sorbaria sorbifolia, beautiful and vigorous

Image courtesy of http://www.zelenhoz.com

Kniphophia 'Little Maid'

Image courtesy of ecocharlie

Finally, hemerocallis lilioasphodelus.

A note of caution: these plants are selected for colour and shape and will all thrive in different aspects....so research with care.

Garden lights in winter

As the winter evenings darken the garden, it's worth thinking about  lighting, as a way of providing intensity, drama and visual pleasure. You can highlight the structure of the garden, specimen plants such as grasses and trees or provide notes of colourful, sculptural interest.

Below are a collection of images to brighten up all our evenings, with the promise of interaction and play once the weather and temperatures turn towards spring and summer...

Images are courtesy of CASA&DESIGN