Friday, June 29, 2007

Tropical beauties

I've been away the last few weekends and will be away this weekend, too. But here are a few pix of what's in bloom. First, my experiment with Mandevilla, which everyone in the world already has but I have just added this year.

I chose a white one because that's what Mom had and I had some faint hope that once I found one I could bring it up to Pennsylvania for her, but that's not very likely. Anyway, here it is, and the blossoms are almost as creamy white as Datura.

Aunt Betsy's double day lilies are in bloom in all their wild glory. If the day lilies are in bloom it must be close to the Fourth of July.
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I saw Bonnie Trahan at the Giant this afternoon, and she reminded me that the blackberry lilies she gave me last summer should bloom around the Fourth. I'll look for them next week.


Two odd things appeared on the lawn this last week. First, an abandoned bird's nest:
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that rested gently on the ground in the back yard. I can only think that the babies had flown away and it was no longer needed.

Next, despite our ongoing drought, an enormous fungus appeared in the side lawn:
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This fungus pops up from time to time during the summer. I really need to look it up and figure out what's going on.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Gardens in Maine (long)

On a short but wonderful trip to Camden, Maine, we saw beautiful gardens everywhere. In zone 4, they enjoy low humidity and cool nights but a shorter growing season, of course. They must be almost a month behind us - their peonies were just blooming while ours have gone by weeks ago. Most gardens featured stone either in walls or as enormous boulders (see below). Absolutely breath-taking.

The garden at our B&B in Camden was almost an acre of partial shade sloping down from the house to a small stream with a granite slab bridge. Lots of hostas, woodland phlox and ferns, but in sunny spots Juanita had tucked in bachelor's buttons (centaurea) and other sun-loving perennials. The shrub on the left is bridal wreath.
I think the hosta on the right is Gold Standard, which I've come to like more and more, despite my aversion to most variegated hostas (especially those dark green ones with white edges).

Rhododendron was in bloom everywhere, mostly the common pale purple ones (but looking 1,000 times better than mine), but Juanita had this gorgeous red one in her garden, and it sparkled in the sunlight.

And here's the climbing hydrangea I'm thinking of for my new trellis, growing on the side of the shed next to the rhododendron. Juanita says she feeds it twice a year and it has now bloomed after three years of this treatment. I guess it is slow, but how beautiful!

I think this is pink gaura and an enormous geranium.

A simple arrangement of pots of pink and purple on a wooden garden cart. Charming but escapes being cute, maybe because of the spiky purple and the aged pots.

Here's a view of the slope up to the house, with bachelor's buttons, alliums and huge clumps of alchemilla.

We saw other gardens to admire as we tooled around. This garden, on the way to the Mount Battie trail, featured enormous boulders, green grass, and well-manicured vegetable beds.

 Here's the upper part of the same garden, with evidence of the gardener at work.

We saw these peonies growing along the side of a house as we walked back to the Maine Stay from town. Could they be more outrageously gorgeous? I don't usually like these dinner-plate clematis - they look artificial to me - but they're so effective here.
The library had a beautifully maintained bed right by the entrance. Here's a shot at dusk, with Siberian iris glowing and the harbor in the background.

 On the way out of Camden towards Rockport, we had to stop by this garden. Poppies, lupines and daisies, with rocks and a white picket fence, of course.
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Ferns were everywhere, growing wild in the woods and cultivated in gardens. These are ostrich ferns in Juanita's garden.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Partial Shade

I knew I had shady gardens, but it was not until I purchased the amazing SunCalc (you can have one too, just go to Lee Valley) that I discovered just exactly how shady they really are. So far, every area of the garden except for the side front garden (partial sun) gets partial shade. Here's their scale:

Full Sun - 6+ hours

Partial Sun - Less than 6 and more than 4 hours

Partial Shade - Less than 4 and more than 1 1/2 hours

Full Shade - Less than 1 1/2 hours

Levittown, a project, Delaware Valley

A brand new garden reminds me of Levittown, everything bare and new and not very attractive. My own Levittown is the new back garden, which now sports two rhododendrons, a hosta 'Blue Umbrella,' a red epimedium and wild ginger which I think are getting too much sun there, and the white azalea that I finally moved from the front garden. (And when I say "I," I mean that after lots of digging I decided that this is the only azalea that's not shallow-rooted and had to bring in Will to help me pry it loose. It may or may not live, we'll see.)

Sara Toye had some hostas to give away, so I planted them in the oak tree garden. Here they are looking very puny and new along with the Green Dragon plant from Lin, a transplanted hellebore, and a transplanted astilbe that was desperately trying to grow under the big, healthy white tradescantia in the top left of the picture.

Will also helped me to install the rain barrel from the Friends of the Rappahannock.
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Not beautiful, but it will look better once I get some shrubs to soften up that corner. Now I want it to rain more than ever.

The Delaware Valley white azalea is a classic, always blooming in June and very satisfactory. However, I'm not sure that the three white azaleas I have here still work - they've gotten a bit too big for the space. Maybe I'll ask some new eyes to look at this and decide whether to prune, transplant, or leave them alone.
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Like most gardeners, I have quite a few plants that were passed on to me. I just recently learned from Mom that the old-fashioned coral bells that edge the front garden came from Betsy Hale's grandmother in Connecticut, who passed them on to Mrs. Hale, who passed them on to Mom, who passed them on to me.

Martha just gave me some tradescantia, which came from a friend whose grandmother had it in her garden in Stafford. For the longest time I had some white iris from Bob Taylor, but no more... plus the double orange daylily from Aunt Betsy, which I've now passed back to cousin Beth. I think it's 'Kwanzo fulva' described by Horsford Nursery (whose picture this is) as "An old cultivar that's been growing here for years. Large, double flowers are orange with a burnt orange eye and yellow throat."
After Aunt Betsy gave it to me, I had it in a pot waiting to be planted for quite some time (I can't admit how long) but it truly does bloom where it's planted and spreads slowly but surely.

And then, of course, there's perilla. I'm always amazed when I find it for sale somewhere. It self-sows like mad, and Dad always claimed its Latin name was "Gottverdammte perilla." But as Mom so truly points out, it's easy to pull up, and it looks so nice in arrangements. Here it is consorting with that garden thug, Virginia creeper, in the compost/brush/messy part of the garden.

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Saturday, June 9, 2007


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The first box from Cub Creek Farm was ready today: Swiss chard, white turnips, parsley, beets, cucumber, egg noodles, flowers, radishes, spring onions. Yum!

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And here's another - probably the last - picking of sugar snap peas from my garden.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Video experiment

I've added a link to garden videos, though I'm not sure I like it. You input search terms and then get whatever comes back. Mildly interesting.... if you want to take a look, scroll down to the bottom of the page, click on the video that interests you, and then scroll back to the top to watch it. A little clunky, maybe I'll figure out a better way to do it. Here's a link to a pleasant gardener talking about her garden. And here's a more professional video about hydrangeas.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

The June Garden

It's been dry, dry, dry, Dulles reporting the least rainfall ever for the month of May. I've watered the front gardens and the white garden although I feel guilty about it, but I have to keep that bloodroot alive!

Here's a piece of garden statuary that finally has a home on the weathered fence.

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And just across from it is the oakleaf hydrangea 'Snowflake' that has traveled around the garden - first under the oak tree, then along the fence in the white garden - until finding its final resting place (I hope) next to the back door. It's drooping just a bit, so I may sneak out and give it a drink later today.

Thunderstorms are promised for Sunday, but what we really need is a good, soaking rain. * which we got all day on Sunday, thanks to tropical storm Barry. 1 1/3 inches!