Friday, December 4, 2009

Here's another dispatch from the desk of Sara Lawrence....

Hey everyone…It’s really winter! Yesterday there was sunshine all day and then last night the first frost (on the first of December)! Walking to work I had to knit my fingers into my coat sleeves to hold my new kitten inside my coat at chin level. (Yes, we’ve rescued a new kitten at City People’s! Come in to the landscape office to meet this little two month old tiger darlin’.) Winter is really the time for puffy down coats and kittens. It’s also the time to celebrate warmth, color, and gathering together. I’ve just finished the containers for the store and you’ll have to tell me if they radiate the warmth of winter indoors. I wanted to capture the fun of being surprised by the silver lining in life... I chose colors in a brighter rang and higher contrast than usual, brilliant yellow, lime, silver, orange, and purple to cut through the grey days and put us in the mood for parties!

I’ve labeled most of the plants so if you like any of the combinations you can step inside the store and find what you like on the shelves… but some of my favorite moments were those references to silver lining… placing Dryopteris erythrosora ‘Brilliance’ (autumn fern) by the edge of the pot so the fronds wave to reveal their orange stippled seeds on their soft underbellies. The pink delicate skin of Bergenia ‘Winterglut’ (elephants ears) blushing underneath, or the multicolored yucca f. ‘Color Guard’ standing out like a ribbon bow on a present. There is Leucothoe fontanesiana ‘Scarletta’ creating a dark purple waterfall against an orange container and a kind of negative space on which the Yucca recurivifolia ‘Pendula’ can splash across.

Calluna vulgaris ‘Gelb Maassen’ is not normally a heather I would choose on its own but paired with Helleborus ericsonii ‘Silvermoon’ and Hebe ‘Quicksliver’ I love how it looks like lamp light blazing against carefully wrought iron work. Euonymus fortunei ‘Emerald N’ Gold’ creates a buzz of variegation to draw the eye into the magic of a subtle fanning motion near a Carex ‘Cappuccino’ as well as a yucca. Helleborus foetidus ‘Gold Bullion’ and Mahonia x media ‘Winter Sun’ are the only flowers in bloom besides the heathers but they are the explosion from which all the other motion in the containers flow. Maybe we’ll get a humming bird to visit the Mahonia since I added this at Anne Janisse’s suggestion and our landscape designer has added a few of these into her stunning new sidewalk planting as well. We’ll have to keep our senses tuned for their quick movements and small chirpings amongst the newly planted grasses. Luckily we’ll have the kittens natural instincts contained behind store windows!

Ahh… to sit back and enjoy ones own creations. This particular container design was so fun to come up with! Heathers were my first point of inspiration then I found the Helleborus foetidus ‘Gold Bullion’. Once I had those few pieces and some of the evergreen components of the containers that had been already established I started to get really excited to fill in the extra spaces. I hope you have a great time exploring nurseries and finding just the right plants for your winter pallet. Be sure to share your beautiful creations with us… ‘tis the season!