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.