Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Year in Review

I've been browsing through other people's luscious gardens-- specifically here and here.  Yum!

We had a year of mighty transformation here-- the grading, planting of 12' trees, building of the rock wall, and oh yeah, the 60,000 foot nursing home on a 6' rise just beyond my fence.  The nursing home is about done.  Hopefully the parade of new and mostly bad surprises is over.  We can settle kind of bumpily into What Is instead of What Was or what is feared.  A recent bad surprise was the discovery of several 30' foot light poles towering over my garden on the right side... ah well.  They did plant a ton of plants and shrubs, to the point where it is reasonable to worry they will have problems down the line because they're too close together, but a tree and shrub lover is at a real advantage here and my eye is reliably distracted from the huge hideous generator by the fact that they planted an Edith Bogue Magnolia in front of it.  Every time I notice the generator my eye slides to the Edith Bogue.  Can't help it, I'm made that way.

Casualties this year:

  • One Vanderwolf pine suffering slow death, poor thing.  Brian thinks borers got it.  The nursery is going to come out and replace it.  The others show some yellowing of needles to a greater or lesser degree but seem basically sound, please Lord.
  • Hoopsi blue spruce looking yellow on the inside.  Don't know if it got too much or too little water-- we had some awful flooding before the drainage work was complete behind us, but the spruce canopy is so dense you have to be careful to water the roots and not rely on rain. 
  • Japanese maple Dancing Peacock appears to have fried in September.  Suspect the position on the W side of the house was just too hot and exposed.  I'll give it the winter and shovel prune if needed.
  • Serviceberry never got new leaves, but it's Wick, as those of you who read the Secret Garden at some point will understand.
  • Some specific die off on the little boxwoods clearly attributable to DOG PEE.  Dog and I having words about this.


  • 3-Flower Maple seems to have transplanted beautifully and the fall color is beyond words.
  • Huge growth on the roses, catmint and even the baptisia I planted in spring.
  • Hemlocks, magnolia, azalea, viburnum, macrophylla (Twist and Shout) and oak leaf hydrangeas (Alice and Snow Queen), itea Little Henry, rainbow leucothoe and plumbago all seem to have settled down happily.  Blueberries look a little daunted.  More finger crossing.
  • I love my new back yard.  The dog loves it too.  Till it got too cold he never wanted to come inside.  I suppose the surprise of having hidden spaces and the resultant appeal to wildlife made him want to be out there all the time.  
  • Much good work done last weekend in the excellent fall weather.  I transplanted the Wedding Gown hydrangea to a spot where it will not look so stupid, put in two small Green Mountain boxwoods (fabulous sale at Lowe's), transplanted the yellow Knock Out rose (it's really nice), put in two Peach Drifts I took out my MIL's containers in order to replace them with more cheap and handsome boxwoods, moved a bearded iris and put in yet another odd-looking leggy Hummingbird Clethra I got cheap.  
  • Planted some tulips, crocus, and allium rather haphazardly.

Where to start?  I want to put in tons of fabulous bird-friendly natives in the 15' strip by the fence.  I want to plan something delicious for the west side of the house.  More loveliness for the southeast side of the yard.

Actual and not daydreaming work of course-- weeding the disgraceful front beds, Doing Something about the single-flowered kerria that starts out lovely and then looks like a ratty accumulation of stems and bindweed-- my latest thought is fothergilla, maybe Blue Shadow?  If any kind soul is reading this I would love ideas.  And of course that last bit of mulch and last bag of bulbs before the ground freezes.

It's all pretty raw and not ready for beauty shots-- but isn't the fall color on the Three-flower Maple nice?

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Populist Gardening, or Why Fine Gardening is Not Getting My 29 Bucks

Today I splurged on an issue of Fine Gardening, lured by the cover article on catmints, my all-around fave and trusty garden BFF.  I spent the equivalent of the cost of a perennial, mainly because my hands were full in the check out line and I couldn't gobble up the pretty pictures and text while waiting (I'm a fast reader). The article by the no-doubt noted expert made it clear that while many of his garden friends "made a face" discussing catmints, and he himself would be "just as happy never to see Knock-Out Roses (insert botanical name) and catmint planted again," he felt these worthy garden subjects, etc etc.

I have been comically irritated ever since, to the point where I am pretty sure Fine Gardening is not getting any more of my personal simoleans.

The reason being, it's a question of taste, right? Since when  is it a good idea to disparage someone's taste?  And why on earth would I shell out $7 for said disparagement?  You could say Knock Outs are overplanted, or you don't happen to like them, or you're worried Rose Rosette will take out 20% of the landscaping in your  zip code. But this hastening to dismiss reminds me of 15 year olds navigating the shifting heirarchy of which bands are cool, in case they fail to curl the lip at the right moment.

Common plants are common because they are pretty and tough.  Thanks to economies of scale, they also tend to be cheap. Watching my expensive landscaping fry in this killer heat, pretty, tough and cheap are looking awfully good. This nostril-flaring business ("Oh, THOSE") is just about as silly as can be, unless, I suppose, the magazine is geared for those who want to make sure they're flaring their own nostrils appropriately (Cover Article:  "It's Still Okay to Like Sambuca Black Lace!")

Okay, end of rant.  You can come back in now, it's safe.

Perhaps I'm so touchy because the heat is killing my new lacecap hydrangeas.  I am going to rig some shade netting and fret some more.  I worry constantly about my Vanderwolf Pines and how much to water.  I am always digging my fingers anxiously into the dirt.  The viburnums, Limelight and oakleaf hydrangea, plumbago, and of course the Knock Outs and catmints (gentle cough) are sailing through so far. Magnolia seems okay though I keep eyeing it suspiciously, frankly because it looks like a big gardenia and I can't keep gardenia alive.  The suicide instantly when they cross into the premesis.  It's only mid-July and these poor plants have endured so much heat stress in the last two weeks.  Worry, worry, fuss, fuss.

Still noodling on what to mass in the West bed.  Camellias crossed my mind-- bear with me, I read that a Northwest exposure is good when you're further North-- but then North seems to be shifting these days.  Too expensive and risky.  "Peppy and cheap" is my motto.  Honestly the Little Lime hydrangeas are shapely and refreshing and doing well nearby.  I thought of New Jersey Tea, but I can't remember seeing it in person.  There's good old Inkberry Holly.  I love caryopteris but I can't quite picture them with that cutleaf Japanese Maple which has been moved twice already.  I had thought of a layer of Little Limes, then a fronting of caryopteris... with JM?  Nah.  Abelia?  Snowberry? Bayberry? Beautyberry? Beri beri?  Clearly time to stop.

Wait-- I KNOW.

Fine Gardening, avert your eyes!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013


What more can be said?  A whole week of 90+. Thank God we had plenty of rain so far so that the plants are in good shape going into this.  But of course I am anxiously attending every one of my substantial new aquisitions this year.  My planting list for this spring, apart from the professionally planted trees and shrubs, would include...

*Dwarf clethra Hummingbird I snagged for $5 each at Lowe's on clearance

*Two Little Henry Virginia Sweetspire also on clearance but alas not for $5

*Three additional blueberries I got with $$ my grateful MIL gave me after I took her for cataract surgery and hung with her through post-sedation dizziness and vomiting-- naturally I don't expect or wish for recompense, but the blueberries are awfully nice <G> Planted with a bucketful of peat and some pelletized sulphur and crossed fingers.  OK so far.

*Sedums and aurelia for the rock garden, Knock-outs, baptisia, veronica and catmint for Kit Island

plus all the other stuff.  Hydrangea look all withery by day but when I take a sounding they're not too dry, just too hot :(  Terrified of overwatering the new evergreens but under is no good either in this heat.  Limelights are holding up great and just coming into bloom... fabulous plants.

So:  the current focus of my brainpower, such as it is, is the West Bed, which will eventually be something like 26' by about 10-12 feet, earlier discussed.  For review--    Part of this bed is prepared with topsoil over plain brown paper and thick hardwood mulch over that, so it should be nice come fall.  The edges need to be extended  into a sinuous and gracious curve, which I will get to hopefully in the next month.  But MAINLY I need to plan this space so I'm pleased with it and not looking at a haphazard vexation.  This is going to a hot area against yellow siding with lots of pounding afternoon sun. I want repetition, I want charm (the entrance to the garden from the garage cuts through it), and I want to further the color scheme I have going back there, which is some fairly hot pinks/purples/blues, perhaps with some cooling lime-y greens.

Some ideas:  stepping stones flanked by iris-- as in

leading to the garage door.  A little boxwood tucked in near the front at each side.  Some firmly pink peonies tucked in there.  Brian wanted a Dragonlady holly in there.  I need some repetitive shrubs to underplant the Holly/tall thing.  Could do mixed Neon Flash or A Waterer spirea with caryopteris, although the bloom times would not be optimal.  Little Lime?  The greeny color of the new blossoms is very nice.  Could do more KO roses, knaturally, but I think the pink kind would look urpy with the Japanese maple.  I need something calm and green and not too glamorous so that the little specimen bits stick out.  Hmmmm.....

Here's a view I took earlier in the summer from the back corner of the yard.  Just fun to see the forms evolving.  Long way to go, admittedly.

Behind the spruce is Kit Island.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

I know it doesn't look like much, but I made this bed from scratch and I am ridiculously proud of it.  The Limelights have put on a lot of growth-- can't wait to see them do their thing later in the summer.

Friday, June 14, 2013

How Do You Eat an Elephant?

Why would you?  Who eats elephants?

Anyway-- so many areas to plan, and plant (and pay for.)  Must take on one at a time.  The areas in my 60X90 foot yard all suddenly have names-- Kit Island, Hemlock Hillock, the Rock Wall, and the Garage Bed which totally needs a better name.   Let's focus today on Garage Bed, which is on the West side of the garage wall, currently about 8x20 although it is meant to get bigger, to pretty much fill the grassy area in the picture.  There is presently a Dancing Peacocks Japanese Maple, a big fat peony, a Peach Drift Rose, a lone bearded iris that miraculously sustained itself in its original plastic pot for something like 3 years, four inches of topsoil over paper and a whole lot o' mulch.  At the moment this is pretty much full sun.  Brian's plan calls for a Dragonlady Holly which I will probably do, but not right now because the answer to "How much have you spent?" would be "Way too."  

It looks like this:

Not too thrilling as is.  I am thinking shrubby and beautiful because I have to watch how much work I make for myself with perennials, at least until some things get established. I need to sit with my books and my graph paper and Brian's plan and craft something.  Ideas most welcome.

For fun, here's the rock wall which the guys finished last weekend.  Isn't it dear?  I planted Sedum Vera Jameson and Dragon's Blood along the top, along with some aurinia I got on sale at Lowe's ($1 each), some lantana, moss rose, and lamium.  Is it lamium?  Silver annual.  Brain fart.  Maybe I should throw in all those self-seeding thunbergia going wild on the AC trellis.  In particular I need some fabulous specimen for the 3x3 spot where it ends on the left (not shown!) which is filled with expensive imported Garden Soil and ready for something totally awesome.  Which I have not been able to figure out.  Anybody?

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Perennial Geranium, What's Cheap at Walmart, and Too Many Notes

Click to admire them bigger.

Striatum, I think?

OK, not Karmina, don't know where that picture went.  This is my Carefree Beauty which is beserker this year.

Scene of way too damn much to do

What's cheap at Walmart right now (NB:  I spend a lot of money at independent nurseries.  Swear.)  Tub o' foxglove for $10, ditto delphinium $12.  Peach Drift Rose for $10.  Iris Caesar's Brother (ok it's small) for $7.  Small Twist N Shout or Endless Summer Hydrangea for $15.  The foxglove, delphinium, and Peach Drift came home with me.  I was planning the peach drift for the Special Spot by the Putative Rock Wall, but the color appears to be a no-go for the violent pinks I have going so far back there.  So I am in the usual gardener's dilemma of trying to find a suitable spot for my irresistible bargain goody.  No room in the south bed At All-- I am so proud of that bed, everything is thriving (thus far).  The Walking on Sunshine rose my dad bought me at Hershey Gardens is splendid===>

Plan of attack for the mountain of work, er, happiness in the backyard: continue laying paper, topsoil, and mulch, starting with the west side of the house, and then if any's left over moving across the back fence line.  Keep building the wall with those cream puff, light as a feather rocks.

Spent two hours working in the church garden this morning.  It is brutal crazy hot suddenly, in the 90s.  I am pretty much indentured to my new trees and sprouting grass, not to mention a family of five requiring laundry, shopping, cooking, and errand running services. Today, for example, included:  SAT run for elder daughter, Walmart, church garden, home, SATs again, Panera, Home Depot, Autozone, home again. Giant grocery, home again.  Throw in mowing the lawn, watering, making dinner.  Macy's, JC Penny, Gap, Children's Place, Sears to find fifth grade promotion dress for younger daughter (OK, they're all in the same mall.)  Home again, jigitty jig.   No one is twisting my arm to buy and care for ALL THESE PLANTS-- inside AND out.  MORE COMING IN THE MAIL. MUST STOP.  NEED TWELVE STEP PROGRAM.  STAGE INTERVENTION, PLEASE.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

So many new areas to plan.  Don't want to devour all my happiness at once, plus, I can't afford to plant all this new space.  Also, I am TIRED from moving a large portion of the 18 yards of mulch and 7 yards of topsoil that have been sitting in my driveway.  Luckily today it's raining so I am on enforced rest.  Though I guess there is no law against mulching in the rain.

When overwhelmed, I fall back on bullet lists:

  • Landscaping project was hairy at times, but had a happy ending.  There were some disappointments-- my beloved serviceberry, root pruned and threatened with being moved, went into instant fall mode, turned yellow and dropped a bunch of leaves.  Brian the landscape architect told me this is a sign it may pull through-- better than instant death, I guess.  I lost a very nice Abraham Darby (my fault).  We did not move the stray Green Giant.  It was too Giant, too close to the fence (not enough root ball) and our crazy spring weather was hot at the time (turned cool again).  We planted a tiny one in that spot which looks very comical.
  • Many pluses, to wit:
  • I LOVE the grading.  SO MUCH BETTER than unsatisfactory slope.
  • Three flower and Japanese maples appear to have transplanted beautifully.
  • Love my big trees. Big uptick in bird population.
  • The guys were great, taught me a lot, and worked hard in the heat to get things put in place, including a start on--
  • The rock wall!  We are going to have a stone retaining wall! Eventually!  Once we pile the rest of those rocks!
  • Much distraction from giant nursing home, although, really, I keep coming back to it.  It's kind of hard to ignore.  Deep breaths, reminding self that people encounter all kinds of dreadful misfortunes and if the worst that happens to me, ken ahora, I'm doing okay.  

My MIL gave me a check for some plants which I turned around and spent on Bluestone Perennial's 50% off sale.  We have this mound, known as Kitty Island after my fifth grader who was in charge of arranging the topsoil. She has excellent spatial relations :)  I am picturing something along the lines of

From Jan Johnsen Pools and Landscapes

I love the combination of roses, blue (sea holly?), and evergreen.  I put in three pink and one red Knock out, and have spent my loot on two kinds of my beloved and dependable catmint (Walker's Low and Souvenir de Andre Chaldron), some spiky veronica, and blue baptisia.   Need something evergreen and foliag-y in there too.

You can see Kit Island in the back there.  It's bigger than it looks :)  Ignore the bearded guy with the wheelbarrow, he is not technically part of this composition, or at least not a stationary part.  I like to arrange him where ever I need an attractive focal point.  Kit Island is away in the back with the staked maple.  In front of that is the Circle Lawn (everything has names now!) secured by the Putative Rock Wall.  And I don't think I have revealed a shot of The Distractor, which is the azalea, hydrangea, box, and hemlock composition designed to sort of draw the eye from the Temple of Old Persons dominating the landscape.  I'm sure it will be nicer when it has actual old people in it. 

I don't like to show this shot as, to this point, all I can really see is NURSING HOME.  But the hemlocks will grow, right?  Right.

Since this picture was taken we have mulched, planted plumbago, a very small Japanese Snowbell "Emerald Pagoda," and on the back slope behind the hemlocks two oakleaf hydranges, "Snow Queen" and "Alice." Still on the track of a Snowflake, reputedly double.  Theoretically flagstone goes in front.  We'll find the energy somewhere.  At least we got to eat a lot this weekend without putting on (more) weight :)

The children helped us cardboard, topsoil, and mulch a forty by 10 foot section on the north side of the yard.  Much hand rubbing and planning about what goes there.  

Lots more plotting but I'll stop for today.  In closing-- my catmint and Jupiter's beard a-bloom:

Happy spring!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Plants in my Possession: Peony

-- Lots of sun; full forms don't mind hot
-- High organic content, good drainage
-- Plant shallow
-- Hate wet feet
-- Don't need much fertilizer in clay soil-- keep top-dressing shallow
-- Water weekly
-- Transplant when dormant, they'll sulk for two years, yada yada

Everything you need to know about peonies

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Bad News First

Our hemlock came with two baby robins in their nest.  I was going to bow to the inevitable but they were chirping when I went by.  So my daughter and I decided we would try.  It was going pretty well for about 24 hours but not looking so good today.  I hate to have to tell her, even though we knew our odds were not good.

Baby robin care

Franklin's Gem boxwood, Twist and Shout hydrangea, Encore azalea Autumn Twist, Plumbago, large Cayuga viburnum and of course the monster Butterfly Bush

Four out of five Vanderwolf's Pyramid Limber Pine

The good news is, my pines, Hoopsi Blue Spruce, Edith Bogue Magnolia, and Canadian Hemlock are all planted.  There are a couple of things to transplant, which is of course an alarming prospect this time of year, but we'll just have to hope the forecast holds true.  Some big rocks still to come.  Shrubs will get placed next week.  Brian, the LA, changed the location of the spruce once everything was here-- thought it would be too pointy and Christmas Tree Foresty massing them together.  He was going to put the Magnolia in its place but I had a sudden attack of the willies as they were digging the hole.  Everyone was very gracious about placing it near the fence instead.  Next week once everything's in I will conduct a better tour.

So much "created space"

Monday, May 13, 2013


Several things.  I will employ a bullet list, to wit:

  • DH came with me on a brief, clandestine nursery visit, on a very busy Mother's Day when we were supposed to be doing other things.  It was so romantic.  Nothing nicer than talking shrubs hand in hand with the loveliest man you know. 
  • I had some money given to me and I bought two Neon Flash Spirea for only $8 each (very important to note this) and then blew the rest of it on a $25 double pink knockout rose, spending more for the larger plant which is really dumb, but I wanted to, so there you have it.  I moved the Anthony Waterer spirea in with the other two, and shifted the poor miserable Heritage rose to a hidden corner where it might get sun, who can say?  Put the Knock Out in front of the air conditioner trellis.  Pictures to follow, when the sun comes out again.
  • The flowering shrubs look very nice instead of more Hoogendorn Holly which would have been tasteful but bo-wing in the South bed.  Of course, they are too closely planted and will have to be moved some day.  Naturally.  This always happens unless I employ graph paper and discipline.
  • BIG, BIG NEWS.  There is a guy with a bobcat making beeping noises in MY yard.  I am finally getting grading done, woot!  And tearing up all the grass, which is weird, but I don't care.  So excited!  Grading today, tree-spading and moving Wednesday.  Praying the cool weather holds for the new trees and the transplants.  Been so lucky so far.
  • I have many gorgeous shrubs with no home for the present.  Very painful to dig up my enormous, flourishing peony about to burst into more blooms than it's ever had.  Here's hoping I find a great spot to land everything.
Exhibit A, spirea and roses 
Pretty funny that this is beautiful to me.  The possibilities!

Can't tell here, but there is a very cool terraced effect

Friday, May 10, 2013

Garden Complacency

Gardening is one area where you get to feel just a little bit smug, at least at this time of year.  There is a certain amount of fond blinking at the perennial garden, kind of like what you do with your kids.  It also makes it very hard to stay indoors and do useful indoor things.  The weather's been stunning and I could pretty much weed and putter all day-- not doing anything strenuous like edging, of course.

Reasons to be very slightly smug--

1. My divisions are thriving.  So I can take heart for next time.
2. Catmint
3. Kerria much nicer after I pruned it, as I believe I have commented 16 times already.
4. Bleeding heart is huge and wow.
5. I remembered to put in most of the allium I bought.
6. The Knock Out and New Dawn seemed to have survived their ruthless whacking to admiration.

Questions to be answered:

1. Will I find cheap, big, gorgeous delphinium and foxglove this year?
2. Where o where am I going to put all those peony roots I planted last year?
3. Ditto the roses, Anthony Waterer spirea, Little Limes planted out back?

Monday is the Big Day, when they come and regrade my backyard.  I am all excited and of course now that I think of it, that's odd, because it's going to look like hell for quite some time-- all the "grass" (whatever you choose to call that green stuff back there) will be gone, I guess.  They'll be regrading, planting a dozen or so 8-10 trees and some largeish shrubs and a few large rocks, and then I have whatever's left of the 60x100 space to be dealt with.  Only a small part is to be grass which they are seeding (I know, I know-- in May).  We'll have about ten yard of mulch which is a start, anyway.  Rather daunting, isn't it?  But I think it's going to be really nice when it's done, and the plan is for this grading and siting of trees to "create space" that I can use for additional shrubs and other goodies.

Catmint and recovered Knock Out
Hole==>foxglove and delph if I can get a deal

Very smug about my sidebed.  Leaf mulch from township seems to be a good thing, and you can't beat $50 for  8 yards, delivered.

Lovely composition from Hershey Gardens-- they are very into white Bleeding Heart, and well they should be.

Another pretty view on a gorgeous day in early May.

In other garden news, for annuals I have put in three kinds of annual blue Salvia (Victoria, Evolution, and Blue & Something I Can't Remember), lots of angelonia, a bit of Profusion Cherry zinnias around the edges, which I have found to be very reliable and bloom-y, and some rocket snaps.  We'll see how it comes together.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Go Ahead and Lie

It's a truly gorgeous spring here in Central Pennsylvania-- cool, clear, everything blooming at its proper time and in a gratifying manner-- ken ahora as my rabbi friend would say.  I have been off these two weeks and able to fuss lovingly over my front garden and it looks dear, even if my color-conscious fifth grader pointed out that I need to snip 2 red peony flowered tulips that somehow made it among the pink and lavender.  May 6th is the day when I get my 10-12 foot trees.  I have been eyeing my 9' ceilings and realizing how tall that is, although dwarfed by the 60X100 backyard and of course 60,000 sf of nursing home, they won't look so impressive.
My bit of perennial garden with the dogwood about to bloom.

Speaking of which, the nice young fellow from the township delivered my 8 yards of leaf mulch.  By way of being social, he told me how awful the nursing home looked, how rude it was of them to put it that close, and how it didn't even look like it was going to be a nice building.

I much prefer my husband's cousin who pointed out they would be quiet neighbors and it's not like some guy would be back there dismantling his boat.

I don't mind kids or dismantled boats really-- I like to see people living versus existing in their separate and super-tidy little divisions.  (Admittedly when we get to the beer can and neglected dog phase of living, I'm not so into it.)  We decided that we wanted to live in town where our kids could walk to school events and the pizza parlor.  My husband, who doesn't see well enough to drive, can walk to work and his consistory meetings at church.  I can walk around town and enjoy the 19th century buildings-- it's not all squeaky clean subdivisions leading no where in particular.  I wanted my house my way.  I picked every door knob and light fixture, it's beautiful to me, and it works great for family life. But of course a building lot in town is incredibly rare. I took the first one to pop up even though I knew a nursing home was planned for in back of it.  I figured I'd squint and hope for the best.  What I got was not the best, but I'm getting sort of resigned.  More or less.
My nice house.  With water bucket in front.  Spot the nursing home!

Now I have a river of leaf mulch and a raft of good intentions.  It's Friday!  The sun is out!  Spring's here!  In two weeks I'm getting 5 Vanderwolf's Limber Pine, 1 Edith Bogue magnolia, 1 Hoopsi Blue Spruce, 3 Canadian Hemlock, a bunch of Twist and Shout Hydrangeas and some boxwood and azaleas, plus some grading and tree-moving! It's all good.

Ah, there it is!

After all:  It's not that much mulch!
The nursing home isn't so bad!
In  the words of the song-- "Lie to me, I promise I'll believe!"

PS The UPS guy made a point of asking me, "Are you happy about what they're doing behind you?"
Why are you saying that to ME?  How about you say it to the Township, huh?

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

BBC Talks Cottage Gardens

This guy is adorable (not forgetting part 2).

Further garden developments (can you tell I'm off work this week?)

1. I cruise the nurseries on a near daily basis.  This has its dangers.  I decided not to buy the sixpacks of angelonia, even though they are a Good Deal, because of course it is absurdly early and I will have to hover and they won't take off anyway until it gets warmer.  But-- what if other people buy them out from under me?
     1a. My husband who likes to do nice things me kind of twisted my arm.  So I brought them home.  I did resist the Drift roses for the South bed until I make up my mind.  Also they are expensive-- $22 each, ouch.

2. Impatiens sales are much reduced and all blanketed with Downy Mildew warnings.  A shame.  I haven't planted impatiens in years though I used to love them-- do we get too grand as gardeners for that sort of thing?  Is there a scale, perhaps, like a thermometer-- impatiens and meatball yews on the bottom, with epimedium and species peonies in the middle, and something so esoteric and fabulous at the top I don't know what it is? Maybe we circle back to impatiens and meatball yews.

3. My Jupiter's Beard seedlings are probably defunct for a reason too icky to mention. (Cats peed on them. They are sitting outside till I see if they recover.)

4. Walmart doesn't have anything interesting.  Not that I was looking.

5. Still no mulch.  I don't think there is any mulch.  I think the township is going to have to give me back my 50 bucks.  Perhaps the mulch men have been recalled home to clean their rooms.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

What's in Bloom

Tete a tete daff, which I like for the less obtrusive fading foliage, and my Wegman's hellebore which seems very happy there.

I did plant some Angelique, yay me!  Rhodie still teasing me.

Birkwood Viburnum = bliss.

Kerria looks nicer since I pruned, I think.

Brunnera from a neighbor.

Bleeding heart starting to think about it.
Divisions seem to be thriving.  The Heritage rose I moved may not be dead, but it looks God-awful.  Still no damned mulch.

1. Why are the new leaves on my Walking on Sunshine rose so pale? to wit:

2. Do I want to find another home for the groundcover butterfly bush I bought last summer and put drift roses there instead?  Will this draw unwanted attention to the trellis around the airconditioner?
3. WHAT GROUNDCOVER for the South foundation bed??? Geranium Rozanne? Bunches of catmint?

Sunday, April 21, 2013


Ignore this post.  I have a 20' X 100' or so strip at the side of my property in full sun.  It is in a stormwater easement so I was cautioned not to put trees there.  Others have advised me I should only worry about putting expensive trees that might have to be cleared.  Anyway, large shrubs are not trees, technically, are they?  And think of all that beautiful space to put fabulous things in.  It is all that is left of what was once 8 acres of amazing meadow, now glazed earth and nursing home.  Some ideas:

sweet bay magnolia
bottlebrush buckeye
magnolia little gem
bayberry, either Northern or Southern
Knock-out roses
Limelight hedge
various butterfly friendly big perennials like Eupatorium and Agastache

Not all together, mind you.  An either/or sort of thing.  Think I will need to get some help with this from either one of my landscape folk.  Originally Erica of Highland Gardens planned for creature-friendly natives on the lower, wetter portion, and a more farmhousy/flowery look at the top-- a row of small crabapples and a bunch of Miss Kim lilac and peony, if I recall correctly.  Hmmm...

Friday, April 19, 2013

Comparisons Are Odious

Will I ever get used to it?  Maybe in another six years.  Ah well.

Last summer

This spring

Let other pens dwell on guilt and misery.  I want to talk about my side bed.  A recap:

I was thinking caryopteris fronting the Limelights, as they should bloom at the same-ish time, but there is most certainly not room and I don't want to make the bed much wider.  I am thinking of scraping up a $300 order from North Creek Nursery (that's their minimum... hopefully they have a don't-ask-don't-tell policy regarding whether or not you are actually a wholesaler.)  A lovely carpet of Geranium Rozanne might be effective there, what do you think?  Like so?

Could extend the geraniums as groundcover the whole way down.  That takes away the possibility of Drift roses, of course.

Note to self:  I divided a few daylilies, geranium, and some of the astilbe.  We'll see what we get.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Il Faut Cultiver Notre Jardin

In light of depressing national events.

In more cheerful news, the Knock Out rose I cut back severely has shown the stern stuff it's made of-- click and you can see tons of new shoots.

So much is ready to pop-- Kwanzaan cherry tree, viburnum, rhodie, kerria.

Much edging done by me.  So much easier after a rain.

STILL waiting on my mulch.  "Sometime next week" they tell me.  I think those township guys spent a lot of time assuring their mothers they really were going to clean their rooms.

Monday, April 15, 2013


and be conquered.  I know about division, having read about it often in the multiple thousands of pages of garden reading I've done.  I've done little, if any, in practice.  My plantings are six years old.  I tackled a hosta.  Oof!  That's a lot of work!  The poor butchered hosta.  We'll see what it does.  Only 20 or 30 hosta, daylilies, daisies, and catmint to go.

Butchered hosta and my awesome flowered boots

We did oodles of work this week, including planting 100 Vinca Miss Jekyll starts (did I say that already?), some edging, which I find very slow work though reasonably gratifying, staining both sets of steps in time for it to rain today, and dismantling and giving away the massive cedar playset to a family with a small child.  The space is almost ready for Brian to work his magic in May.  I potted up the rest of my vinca (the rest is Bowles) to use as groundcover when he's done.  Brian's providing some plumbago and I'm eyeing perennial geraniums and possibly kinnickinnick.  We also helped weed, plant potatoes, and mulch at the community garden.  It was a glorious day yesterday, a lovely weekend really.

A day for leaping like a gazelle.  At least for those of us who can.

I have much indoor work today, it's raining a bit.  But all I want to do is garden, think about gardens, stare at my garden, stare at other people's gardens, and perhaps look at garden blogs.  Is there a problem with that?