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:

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

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

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

Image courtesy of

Image courtesy of

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

Image courtesy of

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 research with care.

Modern Hortus Conclusus: the Serpentine pavillion 2011

The rigour, geometry, spiritual and, to a degree, romance filled imagery of the pre-Renaissance and Renaissance italian painting tradition, seen below in Fra' Angelico's  Annunciation in the Convent of San Marco, Florence, are key elements in the  establishment of the cultural and physical identity of the 'hortus conclusus' or enclosed garden.

The pavillion at the Serpentine, built in the summer of 2011 and widely circulated, is such a form, an enclosure that links back to the original philosophical and spiritual meaning.

Showing a mute, sombre exterior, it becomes, physically and metaphorically, the container, the body, opening to reveal a centre filled with tranquil warmth, glow and serenity.

The structure, designed by Peter Zumthor, is complemented by an interior garden by Piet Oudolf, featured also on this blog for his gardens at the last Venice Architecture Biennale.

Here are some images to enjoy and reflect on, as an opportunity to develop a more continuous relationship, physical, emotional and intellectual with the interior green spaces that we could begin to integrate in our working and domestic lives.

Images copyright: Oscar Ferrari.

The planting experiences and individual approach of Oudolf is beautifully imaged and explained in Thames and Hudson's 'Oudolf Landscapes in Landscapes', 2011.

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Ulf Nordjfell- the romance of the North

Ulf Nordfjell's garden style is beautifully illustrated and explained in Fourteen Gardens, a monograph published by Frances Lincoln, with photos by Jerry Harpur.

The introduction, named Inspiration- the desire to create, states that:

I take my inspiration from the urban landscape of Stockholm, bubbling with the energy of everyday life, combined with a longing for the 'romance' of the Tuscan landscape and the familiar atmosphere of  the norther Swedish province of Argemanland where I grew up. I love contrasts, and in my work I move freely within these extremes".

And in another section, Experiences, Nordfjell shares his techniques of planting design scaling down the broad brush plantig effects of his larger works to suit the domestic sphere:

Large drifts of perennials can be emulated in a normal-sized garden by groups of 5-15 plants of each variety. Let the plants appear in different parts of the garden, in different combinations.This creates both drama and calm. Individual plants of the same species can usefully be employed as spot plants in other parts of the garden.

A trademark planting style is reminiscent of meadows and fallow, untouched open land, where grasses, Deschmpsia cespitosa 'Goldschleyer', Calamagrostis acutiflora 'Karl Forster' and Miscanthus sinensis 'Poseidon', are interplanted with giant white foxtail lilies, Eremurus x isabellinus ' Obelisk', or Anemone x hybrida 'Honorine Jobert' for late summer/ autumn.

The book is delightful for gardeners, as it clearly tracks and labels the plant species in the photographs,and in this way adds to our enjoyment!

I leave with images of the Chelsea 2009 garden, Best in Show.

images courtesy of the Daily Telegraph and