This flower lives up to its name

Nearly as bright as it was in my garden, Gomphrena 'Fireworks'looks great mixed with
dried peonies, oregano, lavender, larkspur and Liatris.

For a sun-lover like globe amaranth, the cultivar ‘Fireworks’ bloomed profusely in my sun-challenged garden, Gomphrena ‘Fireworks’ gave me some great dried flowers. They held their color very well—a definite plus when choosing a flower that can be dried—and were easy to dry.

Gomphrena, or globe amaranth, are certainly sun-lovers, and don’t mind the heat. If they aren’t situated in a completely sunny location, they can benefit with support. I placed a decorative fence panel on their south side, as plants will stretch toward the sun naturally and therefore usually lean in a southerly direction to get it. The supporting player to the west of the clump is a good-sized Chamaecyparis pisifera, or threadleaf cypress.

Celosia 'Flamingo Feather' grows 3-4' tall.
This variety of Gomphrena was developed and introduced by Burpee and
can be grown from seed, but if you look around at local nurseries, you might be able to find it. The reason it hasn’t been a big seller at garden centers is probably because it doesn’t look that great in a 4-inch pot. It’s lanky and floppy until you get it into the ground, where it will really take off when the temperatures rise.
Cleome grows 3-4' tall and hummingbirds love it.
Gomphrena ‘Fireworks’ is one of those see-through plants that fill in with an airy demeanor around the more bushy types. I can certainly see it getting along very well with Lilium, the taller Achillea, Lavender, Celosia 'Flamingo Feather', Cleome and Cosmos.

Picture Gomphrena 'Fireworks' with Zinnia
'Queen Red Lime', which grows taller in my
sun-challenged garden.

Remember - Day length is on the upswing!

Boxwood, false cypress, Thuja and juniper add much-needed green to the sea of brown my garden’s become. Silvery clumps of lavender stand straight and proud, while hellebore leaves as big as platters, shiny and green, make the calendar look like false advertising. Gnarled brown stems, most without redeeming intrinsic value, mock me and my nonexistent plans for fall garden clean-up. I can either gear up and head out to prune, or wait for snow to soften their dismal deportment.
After years being left outside, Spike the
windvane is looking somewhat rusty. But
in summer, he provides a perch for a friend.
At least I brought in the fragile garden ornaments before winter set in. As pretty as a glass garden globe would be with a cap of snow, I bring it inside for the winter to keep it safe from the possibility of cracking from a freeze-thaw cycle or falling branches. Of course, no glass globe is safe from rolling onto the garage floor if improperly stored.
If you haven't retrieved your hoses yet, cross your fingers. They're coiled up someplace under cover of fallen leaves or snow. Dealing with a stretch of frozen hose is like wrestling an octopus. While amusing for the neighbors, it will never be an Olympic sport. Just make sure you've detached any hoses from the outdoor spigots.
Hellebore blooms in April--just four months away!
Disconnecting them prevents freezing indoor water lines. Once ice begins to form inside the hose, pressure builds, preventing release to the outdoors. If there is a weak spot in your home's water line, it might break and begin to leak.
You can leave solar lights out during the winter, but operating times may vary as much as 30 to 50 percent. That is, unless you use some of the newer-generation solar lights. Look for units that combine several LEDs, reflectors and special lenses, which make them more powerful.  Worth the research, as this time of year we can use all the light we can get.
We've had our shortest day of the year. It can only get better from here on out. Peruse those books that piled up in the summer when you were too busy gardening to read. Putter with your indoor plants, and search for more plants to put in your garden. We might leave things to chance when fall arrives, but no self-respecting gardener enters springtime without a plan.

There's always a Wish List

Whether it's December or July, every gardener has a wish list. While I wish for more sun and better drainage, there are items on my list that actually can be purchased. (Hint, hint) For starters, I'm hard on my gloves, and although West County are the toughest I've found, even they get old. I've had the waterproof style for several years and they've sprung a leak. That is, their lining is escaping from the fabric. While they still serve, they're no longer pretty. Still, they've impressed the heck out of me, as the gloves I used before discovering this brand lasted approximately one and a half seasons.

The original High Performance Work Glove is great for warmer weather and lasts longer than any other summer glove I've tried.

I'm really excited about the newest offerings from Carruth Studios. Whether you have a bare spot in your garden or a vertical surface that cries out for adornment, you can find something to put a smile on your face as well as the faces of your garden guests. I'm vacillating between "Triple Dog Dare" and "Muttcracker Ballet."
"Road Trip" by Carruth Studios

Bogs "Tuscany"
As tough as I am on gloves, I'm even tougher on footwear. And that includes garden boots and clogs. With my penchant for purple, I couldn't resist putting Bogs mid-boot Tuscany on my list.

And finally, save up your pennies for a lighted plant stand, because my succulents are in need of some light supplementation. And when springtime comes, I'd really like to have a jump on plants like larkspur, moonvine, Vigna caracalla (corkscrew vine) and four o'clocks. The four-shelf compact light cart from Home Harvest Garden Supply looks like a winner to help my plants through the winter. And if you can actually see things grow, rather than just survive, a Midwest winter, it's bound to help banish the deep, dark wintertime blues.

Echeveria - What's Not to Like?

They stay small, are easy to care for and have a beautiful rose-like form. Echeveria is easily my favorite succulent. I gravitate toward the blue types like 'Perle von Nurnberg' and any with unusual leaves, like those of 'Topsy Turvy' a spontaneous mutation of E runyonii. 
Echeveria 'Perle Von Nurnberg'
 Whether you're new to the genus or just want a reference of the many cultivars and hybrids, Echeveria Cultivars is a great book to add to your library.