Saturday, May 30, 2015

Late May is the Best

I was out weeding and mulching at our community garden today (our church grows vegetables for the local food bank).  We were all agreeing that right now in the garden is pretty much peak.  I think our heat rushed a lot of things into bloom, but it's beautiful regardless.  Click if you'd like to see them bigger.

Catmint, Pink Double Knock Out, baptisia, rose campion from seed, some giant Souvenir D'Andre Chaudron catmint back there, and part of my 3-Flower Maple which is suffering some sort of distressing wilt.  Shake it off dude. We need you.

Rose campion blooming.  Isn't the form pretty?  I don't know what the guys put in this soil but it is like something out of Marvel Comics.  Stuff just gets huge.

Front walk with new dogwood (Eddie's White Wonder)

Carefree Beauty deserves a nod.  Effortless and gorgeous.
Today's additions:  Hidcote and Provence lavender, a mini-leafed basil, and a dendrathema Clara Curtis.  I still have a fig tree (!), a very expensive Beauty of Moscow lilac, and an Elle hybrid tea out of the ground.  Manana!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

 This is right after the mulching and edging was done in April:  woot!  Much crisper lines.

Kit Island: Baptisia, catmint, knock out roses.

This is Deutzia Yuki Cherry Blossom.  I just put in three in the hot West facing bed:  really like them so far.

Very pleased with the evergreens. Love the bluish note of the spruce, which I know was a goal of Brian the Landscape Architect.  The Encore Autumn Twist have really struggled. I put some Miracid on them today, hoping that would darken them up a bit.  They look anemic.  There's a view of the AntiGardener, transporting his chicken.

Back of Kit Island. You can see me trying to get some height/green backdrop near the house.  Those are yews, a Dragon  Lady holly and a Rocket Stewartia on the left.  Sweet Bay Magnolia on the right with some very happy Little Limes my friends gave me when they went on sale at the end of the season.

Tracy Di Saubato-Aust says you should plant serviceberry with itea, so I did.

Another view of sad azalea and thriving (so far) Cayuga viburnum and Winter Gem boxwoods.

The view from our back doors. I think it distracts pretty well from the ginormity behind it.

Apropos of nothing, this is a vignette I admired at Hershey Gardens:

Many plans and much to do.  It is a rather embattled time of life, trying to launch young adults, raise the middle schooler, and support the 80 somethings who are starting to have Issues of various kinds, all while battling the physical effects of midlife (I have metatarsalgia in my foot making it no fun to walk at the moment.)  But that forty minutes in the garden weeding and clipping and transplanting is soothing.  It's a lot of work but I would miss it terribly if I didn't have it.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

It's a beautiful slow spring here.  I am ridiculously excited by the mulching and even better, the edging, done by the worthy young landscapers-- 8 hours, 3 guys, but it looks great. The cinnamon buns seemed to go over well.  As my husband pointed out, now I can do the fun stuff and not be tensely eyeing a giant pile of mulch all season.

My bulbs are lovely, although some of them look like something I wouldn't order-- orangey, and I don't do orange.  Hmm.

This spring I bought so far: tiny catmints, some waterperry blue veronica, a Beauty of Moscow lilac, three Hicksi yew, three Yuki Cherry Blossom deutzia, and I just got my mail order geranium Rozanne and Sweet Drift, Alnwick, and Quietness roses.

The apple tree is blooming and the lilac is blooming well under it, making an idyllic combination for my dining room windows.  What I need is nicer furniture in there, but who wants to buy furniture when there are so many wonderful plants?

The Encore Autumn Twist azaleas still look like hell.  They've been kind of a bust in these cold winters.

Spring is so far advanced from my last set of pictures I'm going to wait and get new ones.

Happy spring!

Friday, April 3, 2015

It's WARM!!!

It's also RAINING.  But that's okay.  Somehow I miraculously managed to get out between showers and pig out at the nursery:

I then mucked off the porch-- old branches, Christmas lantern, fake tree knocked down by the wind, empty pots, etc. I washed out and filled the doorway containers with Green Mountain boxwood (which I hope to keep in there) and some sweet violets.

I also did some bed cleanup for the first time this year-- yes, April 3, but it has been so, so cold I didn't want to touch it.  I'm still waiting for things like hosta to start coming up.  Forsythia still haven't bloomed around here. My roses are pushing buds, and I plan to start pruning and I'll fertilize with my usual wide-scatter Osmocote when I get the dead leaves and fallen stalks out.

In HAPPY NEWS, I arranged for edging, mulching, and dead shrub removal, hopefully in the next week or so.  Around $1500 for the above with about 15 yards of mulch.  It's a business I've worked with before and the guy seems really pleasant and knowledgeable, so I'm hoping it will turn out well. It's a lot of clams but with my working full time, I just don't have the time or the oomf.

Here's one of my containers:

And here's the nemisia and violets I added on the left, which never matches the right for some reason-- the crocuses are much later, 3 feet away:

And the still sleeping, still not cleaned up side garden, with the crooked dogwood and the Otto Luykens laurel I plan to replace and baby like anything with burlap in the winter:

Pure potential, right?  

With me you get your earthy, grungy, realistic photo, complete with hoses and plastic pots and everything. I think "keeping it real" is valued these days and Gosh, I'm good at that.

PS I saw my first worm of spring today!

Saturday, March 28, 2015

It's Still Snowing

It is, you know.

I am amused by my last post (March 5th) because I can't remember writing it at all.  That's why I blog.  'Cause I FORGET STUFF.

I have decided to add headings.  I'm taking an online class with a Kindle textbook and I have decided blatant labeling is the merciful way to reference stuff. So:


I retract the fothergilla, by the way.  It's going to be Ruby Spice Clethra, which I suspect will be less finicky and will have (we hope) a wonderful scent we're eating lunch or dinner out there in the summer. $29 for a 3 gallon plant at Highland Gardens.


Took a brief tour of the battlefield when it was 70 degrees last week. (It's now 28, and did I mention, snowing?)  The Encore Autumn Twist Azaleas look dead, but the scratch test suggests they aren't.  The compacta hollies in the south bed gave up the ghost, all three.  The magnolias (big Edith Bogue, spindly Sweetbay) seem to have come through pretty well. Confirmed to go are the hollies, the lamented Otto Luykens laurel which has looked awful since last winter, and the fire-blighted Golden Raindrops crab (sniff). I am also taking out the kerria, which is a pain in the ass and not a good choice for the high visibility spot it is occupying.  I am not sure the little deutzia I bought ever took.  They look awfully dead.


FYI my witchhazels bloomed the first or second week in March-- late.  They smell DIVINE.  I need to strip off the old, hanging leaves, because they bloom/look much better on the branches I stripped.


I am getting estimates on help with mulching, removing dead stuff, and edging.  My first quote came in at over $2K, which is more than I want to spend on something I feel I should have the moral fiber to do myself. They estimated 20 yards of mulch-- yoiks.  My kind husband pointed out, wouldn't it be nicer to do the fun stuff versus the heavy work of edging and mulching? (I'm also thinking he wouldn't mind getting out of mulching. Also, my daughter broke up, and usually we have a boyfriend in the spring to help.  I'll tell her we're having to hire it out this year.  No, I won't tell her that.)


Other than asking them to cut an additional 10"-1' edge to widen the beds, planting my usual little cluster of sweet annuals at the front steps, and replacing the kerria with Ruby Spice, I don't anticipate doing much.


This is kind of a glorious mess right now.  The poor Cherry Laurel has to come out.  Not sure what to replace it with.  Something evergreen and shade tolerant. Still mourning the Laurel, which I loved.  This bed needs to be simplified and reorganized but I'm not sure that's this spring's effort.  Of course I will put in the usual snaps and salvia.


This is going to be the really fun bit.  I have hesitated a bit on the back yard, since it is overlooked by the employee entrance of a nursing home (lovely, eh?), but we did build our rather marvelous bit of stone patio finally and I am eager to make it wonderful.  Besides, when the various evergreens grow up, it will be pretty private.  For the south side under the still-small zelkova, I want to do pools of deutzia interspersed with Sweet Drift roses. Could tuck some white bleeding heart near the as yet tiny tree canopy. As mentioned, I bought some little deutzias last year but they never got beyond pathetic.  I could try again this year with larger plants and better soil prep, though of course I don't want to run afoul of the tree.

On the north side, I need to plant some ground covers to be (a) beautiful and (b) hold the soil which tends to wash over on that side.  I also need to install some edging.  So many great things to choose from-- having trouble deciding :) I wonder if it would look best with some deutzia tucked on that side for balance, mixed in with say, Rozanne geranium or an evergreen type groundcover.  Need to tuck in some stepping stones so I can get to the hose.  And I do want to slide in a daphne for fragrance.

To wit:

Thursday, March 5, 2015

And another note to self

Fothergilla Blue Shadow to replace the kerria.  I have spoken.

Garden planning day

Is really cool, and I'm dictating with my husband's headset and dictation program. This could get to be quite a lengthy post.  So we will dedicate today to identifying problem areas in  the garden.

Number one: the West bed. This is not big enough, I need to take out the dying hollies and move the catmint. I have visions of an evergreen backdrop fronted by flowering plants with some low evergreen and simple flowering things in front. There would be a stone pathway leading through this garden to this swath of lawn.  I would like to replace the red Drift roses next to the stone wall, and plant some more wonderful things on and around the wall.  I have to decide how I'm going to manage the color peach in the garden :-)

Number two: flanking the patio. I need to install the edging we bought on the north side, because dirt is leaching onto the patio on that side.  I also need to install some groundcovers there. I bought five geranium Rosanne, those could go there. I could buy some thyme, or consider some other groundcovers. On the south side of the patio, I ordered some sweet drift roses, which I think will be quite nice. I have some deutzia in there. I could try enriching the soil and replanting. I may be replacing them. They didn't do well last year.

Number three: I have to either move or really keep after those giant catmint, the Souvenir d'Andre Chaudron.  They are just too dang big for the space.  Pretty though.

Number four: I am about done with those kerria by the corner of the porch.  They look ratty and get loaded with bindweed every summer. The hosta desperately need dividing and they tend to burn in that spot.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Rose Order

I am home sick today with a nasty sore throat, so really all I am up to is ordering roses :)

The problem is:

I was going for this look:

which I still love, but it conflicts with this color:

As you can see in the following photo if you were psychic and had a miscroscope handy:

I could just take out the Red Drift, which I am not loving anyway, and put something else in that spot. The knockouts in Kit Island are getting rather subsumed by the vigorous catmints anyway-- if I need to take out that red one I can.  I just can't bear to sacrifice those lovely peachy colors, they're so meltingly yummy, especially cut and brought inside.

I will have putative room in front of the putative Dragon Lady Hollies (one is real, two projected) for maybe another David Austen-- so I could put The Alnwick Rose (above) there with my Mayflower Rose.

In the site left of the patio, I am planning Sweet Drift to go with the deutzia, even though the deutzia seem totally daunted and eventually the Green Vase Zelkova will put them in shade.  But that could be years, right? Right.

So I think today's order will be :Alnick rose because who could resist, Quietness ditto, also to go in West bed facing down the hollies, and three Sweet Drift for next to the patio. Done.

Quietness, a highly rated Griffith Buck rose

Do I need a Climbing Pinkie for the back fence there next to Magnolia, not crowding the Golden Celebration I planted last year? Or would an Abe Darby induced to climb be more luscious?

Monday, January 12, 2015

Snow Day

Well, technically an ice day.  I have joined the ranks of full-time wage earners, but I work for the school system and I get snow days and summer off-- woot!  It is irresistable to steal an hour to think about gardens, like this:

1. Think about and look at plants and get all swoony contemplating the joys of baptisia, sedum, foxglove, geranium, iris, lavender, veronica, rose.

2. Remember that much of my ground is bare-ass unmulched, think of the three bags and small pile of unused mulch-- experience shame.

3. Remember I can't recall a lot of what I planted where.

4. Comfort myself that's okay.

5. Experience confidence that this spring, I will manage to execute an ORDERLY and CORRECTLY SPACED garden plan, which I have managed to pull off at least once.

6. Acknowledge it is difficult to do this when I won't know what I have in the appointed spot until spring.

7. Comfort myself that's ok (seeing a cycle here.)

8. Identify areas needing improvement, namely--

The west bed area, hot and dry, where I plan to pull out the struggling Bennett's Compacta Holly (don't think they like the heat) and put in two more infinitely more expensive Dragon Lady Hollies (order hollies), making, we hope, a nice wall of green for the David Austen rose, peony, abelia, and liatris already there.  Add rows of bearded iris on either side of the projected flagstone steps (order iris, buy flagstone). Add more abelia and fill in with some teucrium and some nice sun-tolerant annuals like angelonia or lantana. Use plenty of repetition.

The other area screamingly in need of improvement are the areas near the new flagstone patio (did I not report on the new flagstone patio?) The right side is leaching soil and needs some groundcovers to hold it.  I planted a hydrangea behind the butterfly bush-- O lord what was it called-- not Blue Chiffon, because the Blue Chiffon in person did not thrill me as expected-- I'll think of it.  Eventually.  And the left side under the Green Vase Zelkova, where the ground is nikkid.  I planted a few small probably root bound deutzia, thinking this was the ideal thing, but they have not thrived.  Will reevaluate in spring.

So I have my work nicely cut out for me :)