Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Hot, humid, and floriferous

For July Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day, you need to get out early to take the photos - well, today I had to anyway, because I was headed off to the Derwood Demo Garden to work all morning in the sweltering heat (no, the polar vortex or whatever it is hasn't reached us yet). I took photos there for GBBD as well.

Here's what I have blooming in my garden on July 15:


Lots of lovely platycodon or balloon flower - all facing my neighbors' yard, as everything in that bed does, oh well.



Lots of daylilies - I'm particularly fond of pinks and dark reds, but I've lost track of cultivar names if I ever knew them.


A pretty, delicate pink astilbe.


Hostas! This is a particularly dramatic one.


The black cohosh I planted a couple of years ago to rise above the collapsing hedge of bleeding hearts - finally flowering. More than one of them would be nice…


Red zinnia closeup.


My cat Hotspurr, who knows he goes well with coreopsis 'Creme Caramel' and orange cosmos.


Somewhat blurry but bright cosmos closeup.

My photo of 'Bergamo' monarda (storm-battered and on its way out) was too blurry to post, but boy, it's nice to have a bee balm that doesn't get all mildewed in this weather.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Bloom update

And yes, a week later there are more blooms, and better photography, so I thought I'd share.


Stokes's aster, happily flowering after its recent transplantation.


Daylilies are blooming now. This is actually one of the orange ditch lilies; not sure what happened to the color. But it all works together in that quadrant, the orange of the daylilies and the coreopsis, the purple-blue of the asters (and sage, though that's done now) and the blueberries. I planted my hardy Opuntia cactus out in that bed too; we'll see how it does.


Astilbe closeup.


I still like the way the purple ninebark blooms age into seed.


Lilies! Yellow daylilies and purple and magenta spiderwort in the background.


Lily, in detail.


And the lettuce in the salad table. Between that and the community garden plot, I have so much lettuce it's not even funny. Need to deal with it all before it bolts, so it's probably time for lettuce soup or something. I'll write that up at GIEI if I make it.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

June blooms

Here's a very quick Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day update. Quick because it's Father's Day and there are other things to do, and because June 15 is kind of a hole in my bloom schedule this year. Periodic accountings (and I try to record blooms more often than once a month) are useful to spot these.

This is some of what's blooming in my garden right now:



Clematis for which I lost the tag long ago. It could be 'Polish Spirit' or it could be something else. It's hanging on, but looks kind of ragged. The spot where I have a perfect trellis for climbing things is not perfect in any other way - too shaded, and one of the planting areas gets very little rain, even in the ridiculous storms we've been having. I've also got a Passiflora incarnata there, which will probably succeed far too well (it tends to eat the porch gutters), though I was almost sure it had died this winter. But it decided to be Junepop instead of Maypop this year, and is now coming back with a vengeance.


Cheerful ground-hugging sedum out by the mailbox.


Brodiaea 'Queen Fabiola' (or whatever it is now that the brodiaeas have been split up) is starting up.


Spiderwort being electric, luckily in a spot where nothing clashes with it.


A white astilbe in the gloom.


And my potatoes are blooming! I have them planted in our old claw-foot tub this year; oh, it's so deliciously trashy.

Lots of things are still behind schedule - haven't even got any daylilies yet. And many other things are done or not in their first flush any longer, so I really need to think June blooms when filling in spaces.

Enjoy your gardens!

Monday, June 9, 2014

The new opposite-the-blueberries bed, and other things

This is what I spent a good part of Sunday on:


The area to the left is where three raised beds of herbs used to be. Except for one large sage that's there in the back, I've moved everything that was still alive to the fruit garden area in the back. The blueberries (to the right) were hard to reach along the narrow stone path, so I got some more stones and widened it. Here's another view:


The orange flowers are coreopsis 'Creme Caramel.' In front are some Stokes's asters that I grew from seed and have now moved three times. It was not the right time to transplant them, but I think they'll survive, especially after last night's soaking rain. There are also some zinnias and a borage plant tucked in there, and golden thyme between the stones. I still have to edge the bed, mulch, and add some more plants, but I think it'll look nice and work much better in context.

Also should move the birdbath, because a) I never remember to fill it tucked away in there, and b) too many cat hiding places in the vicinity.

And the blueberries are ripening!



While I'm out there:


This is what the purple ninebark flowers turn into - little "fruits," I guess, that produce the seeds. Just overall a few attractive plant.

Also, have a very pink leaf on Mr. Kolomikta Kiwi:


And my 'Winterthur' viburnums are growing up and looking fine:


I'll try to document the progress of some other plants this week. Lovely time of year.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Chanticleer (and Bartram's Garden)

I had to pick my son and his friends up at the Philadelphia airport yesterday, so I decided to make a mini-vacation out of it, and stopped at two gardens over two days: Bartram's Garden in Philadelphia, which is the historic site of John Bartram's 18th-century house (still there; I haven't been inside yet over two visits, but they do have tours) and the garden in which he planted many of his finds among the American flora; and Chanticleer.

I'll start with the latter because it's much more spectacular. It was a splendid day to be there, because it rained in the morning, which scared away most of whatever visitors were going to come on a weekday, but then stayed cool and pleasant (and intermittently dark-cloudy). There were some busloads of tourists in the afternoon, but it never felt crowded. I think I covered pretty much all the territory in my several hours there, including exploring lots of side paths; it's all beautifully designed for wandering off and finding things.

It occurred to me that somehow I've usually visited large public gardens in relatively off-season times, like late September or early April, and it's really nice to go to one (especially one of the most beautiful) when many plants are in bloom and everything is lush with the growth of a rainy spring (but they've had time to clean up from winter). There are all kinds of lovely pictures of the place online; I was just taking snaps with my phone, so didn't capture anything special, but here are a few impressions of things I liked best.

The "ruin garden" was delightful, with a lot of the whimsy and self-referential humor I like in garden design, and also just beautiful, with unexpected corners and surprises along with spectacles, like one of the entrances here with the vast climbing hydrangea.


Here's a vista from a bit below there, with the serpentine grass plots in the distance:


And a closeup of the grass. I'm not sure what kind it is - possibly a sort of oats, since it's supposed to be a tribute to the beauty of agriculture or something.


Speaking of which, at some point public gardens are going to put the vegetable gardens front and center, but at least more of them actually have them now. Chanticleer's admits to being only part of the area originally used for growing the estate's produce, but it is nicely arranged, and has an intriguing living gate, through which you can see the cut-flower garden:


They did a lot with living fences and borders, low hoops made of the wood of various plants (I recognized a honeysuckle in one place) that must have been cut and then stuck into the ground immediately so they'd root in place. I also liked some of their takes on paths:


That's just sections of one-inch lumber laid in the ground. I looked at it and thought "I could do this!" and then thought again and realized that the soil between would be all weeds before I turned around, but it's a nice idea. (Chanticleer, of course, has Staff.)

Also, by the way, they have a couple of the more beautiful restrooms I've been in. And wandering through the bamboo on the way to the one in the Asian Woods was great fun. But, interestingly enough, there is no gift shop or cafe, and I was there for four hours with only a small apple and a handful of chocolate-covered coffee beans and water. I'm not sure if that's refreshing or discouraging.

Here's the poppy hill, which was much prettier even than it looks in this photo:


And a closeup of the buds of what I'm pretty sure is Magnolia sieboldii. Such perfect teardrops.


The plants are not labeled, I suppose because it's "a pleasure garden" and having to read things takes away from the pleasure somehow (personally, I enjoy avoidance of the frustration of not knowing names), but in some areas there are plant lists in boxes. I don't know, dear reader, if you find yourself in this position, but for me it's difficult sometimes to stop myself from identifying plants for others when they seem confused. I did manage not to interrupt the conversation I passed early in my visit that I think was misidentifying purple ninebark as elderberry; there is a dark-leafed and very pretty variety of that latter useful thug, but it was not present in that part of the garden. The two plants did in fact show up across from each other in another place, so hopefully the misidentifyers got to compare them later. But then, while attempting to read a murder mystery on a bench near the cut-flower garden, I was surrounded by some of the talkative bus crowd, and found myself jumping in to tell them that the orange flower they were exclaiming over was calendula, and yes it had been also over in the vegetable garden because it's edible. And then they asked me if I worked there. No, I just grow things and know what they are? Though of course I don't know what everything is, so labels would be nice.

They do have labels at Bartram's Garden; they also have weeds (Chanticleer really doesn't, as far as I noticed, and I tend to notice) and in general it's not as gorgeous, but one really wouldn't want it to be, because that would take away from the feeling of it being one family's personal playground for new botanical discoveries. I have a bit of a Thing about William Bartram, which may end up being a novel someday, but anyway the best thing about going there is not the flowerbeds and soil-poor vegetable garden or even the strolling through the woods; it's the thrill of the oldest surviving gingko in North America, and the franklinia that John and William discovered and named and grew from seed while the last ones in the wild perished, and this yellowwood:


which probably dates from the 1790s and is delectably gnarled. It's the connection; the feeling that you sort of know and understand the person who planted the seed, even though he died centuries ago. Which you don't get at a large public garden, even if it used to belong to a rich family (I mean, I feel a connection to the gardeners who work there, and you can even talk to them, but it's rather different), or at Monticello, though they are doing better at giving us a connection to the enslaved people who did most of the actual work, even if Jefferson had some of the visions.

So, both of these places wow me, in different ways. It was a good trip!

Saturday, May 31, 2014

The end of spring song

Have not been updating because oh so busy, but I've now given my Purple Carrot People talk at the MG state annual training day, and spent all of last weekend outside doing garden and yard care, and today I have hit the wall several times (it's not even hot; I'm just bushed. Or maybe shrubbed). So have some photos.

Front corner with ninebark, magnolia, rose and juniper.
Closeup of one of the last ninebark blooms.
Closeup of the Bonica rose.
Blueberries - ripe in a couple of weeks!
The Japanese painted fern, again.
Spiderwort.
Siberian iris.
Some of the many tasks that need accomplishing right now (just the outdoor ones):

  • Dismantle the three raised beds I've been using for herbs in the front yard for the last ten years or so. They are too close to the blueberries, and the plants are all pretty antiquated anyway. I'm done moving two of them; viable herbs have been replanted in the fruit garden. Still have to get the last one out (I think the huge sage growing there stays), move the soil, and decide how to arrange the space - maybe widen the flagstone path and plant something on the other side of it.
  • Finish cleaning up and mulching the fruit garden (the former vegetable garden that now has afternoon shade in half of it - which is where the currants go). I'm about two-thirds done with the front half, the part before the black raspberries. After giving away oodles of black raspberry plants, I think I'm at the point where I'll just mow down the rest of the shady side ones. The sunny side ones, which I'm keeping, have been neatened up and are close to fruiting, but still need more mulching. Everything in back of them is a jungle. The relatively tidy section has raspberries, blueberries, currants, a Nanking cherry, strawberries, a gooseberry, and a goji berry.
  • Try not to think about how awful the rest of the "way back" area is. Someday I will get it under control and stop the constant seeding of invasive weeds everywhere.
  • Tidy up the various planted beds everywhere else - actually going pretty well, though I still have to throw mulch around to keep the weeds (and excessively enthusiastic other plants) I've pulled from coming back immediately. If I can get everything to the point where I can stand to look at it, then I might be able to get somewhere with actual design, instead of just stuffing plants where there's room.
  • Get some control over the more wild areas that are not in the way back, like the gravel driveway full of weeds, the slope down to the fenced fruit garden, the area around the fence, the perimeter of the driveway, etc.
You may hear a theme here, the same one I sing out every year - gain control before it's too late! And with the amount of rain we've had lately, and the temperatures settling into something like summer range, there isn't much time to get ahead of the weeds anywhere. I'll fail to do so in most places, but maybe succeed in a few. A lot's been done so far, and it's only… oh damn, it's almost June...


Saturday, May 10, 2014

Generally there are lots of May showers too


… which is why I'm doing this post now. This is the May Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day post, because I know I won't have time to do one later. I'll link it on the May Dreams Gardens post on Thursday morning, before getting on a plane. (Graduation, in Houston.)

So this is what I had blooming this morning, which might change by the end of the week, because that's how fast things are moving. Spring, what spring?


There are still some daffodils, though! These are the stunning Pheasant's Eye, and I am so glad I caught them blooming, because I suspect all this 80+ degree weather is going to do for them fast.


First bloom of the quietly stunning little Geranium maculatum (at least I'm pretty sure that's what it is; could be a cultivar of the species).


And ha, I see you hiding there, honesty (money plant, lunaria) - you will be all over the place in a week or two.


Lilacs are still going…


And so is the red buckeye.


And a few tulips have survived the deer and the heat. I think this is Tulipa batalinii 'Bronze Charm,' but it's been there a while so I don't remember.


This is Hyacinthoides hispanica, Spanish bluebells, if you can call a white one "bluebell." I do have them in blue too, and a few in pink. These ones were supposed to line a path that is no longer in existence, but they're still happily sitting there. I have others that are twenty years old.


Not many azaleas left on our half acre, but these ones in front of the house are still pumping out the flowers every year and don't seem to mind getting afternoon sun. They look particularly spectacular in the twilight and dawn hours, especially since we currently have bright green icicle lights hanging from the porch. It's kind of surreal, the combination. I do really need to prune these when they're finished blooming.


Oh look, there were some more daffodils.


Chives in bloom. I am in the process of moving three square raised beds' worth of herbs. Among about twenty other urgent gardening tasks.


This is one of the many areas where I have too many Stylophorum diphyllum (wood poppy or celandine poppy, whichever the nicer one is, though it is nice in the way that means it takes over every bed it's in, in a very attractive but still obnoxious way). Need to do some thinning.


Bridal-wreath spirea. Always very charming if a bit Miss Havisham.


And this isn't very flowery, but I like the (totally accidental) combination of the Japanese painted fern and the sweet woodruff (with a few incidental lily of the valley, which otherwise prefer to come up in the path).