Tuesday, April 21, 2009

One of these things is not like the others

There should be three 'Shasta' viburnums along the fence line, but I bought them at different times - one from Merrifield (the one in bloom) and the other two from Colesville. I have a sneaking suspicion that the other two are a different variety (ya think?) - but which? Anyone know?

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Sunday, April 19, 2009

The miracle of Ferry Farm

The bloodroot lives! No matter that it is tiny and seems to have moved around a bit...it's alive!!

Eating the Elephant

During these days off devoted to the garden, I am vowing to chip away (literally) at the brush pile and turn it into delicious compost. Here's a look at the progress

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after day one

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and after day two.

The chipper is heavy and noisy, and visions of Fargo dance in my head, but it starts reliably and gobbles up just about anything as long as it's got lots of dry leaves to swallow. If I can get the pile down to a manageable size before it gets too hot, it's time to think about a real compost system instead of these ridiculous plastic things that are not even as slick as this.

The Warts and All Garden Tour

Very bravely, I invited Becky and Martha to come see the oak tree garden at its peak, knowing full well that they would insist on seeing the whole garden, bare spots and all. Even when warned off from the side cutting garden, they forged ahead and now know all my dirty gardening secrets.

They were, of course, kind and generous in their comments and gave me lots of good ideas. Among them:

*Instead of ripping out the honeysuckle and the akebia (which is actually at its most charming now, with tiny scented bell-shaped flowers and new citrus green leaves everywhere),
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how about companions? Maybe a rose in front and some clematis in back?

*The transition from the aucuba along the walkway garden would be made beautiful by some black elephant ears, a wonderful contrast to the gold.

*When I take out the oddly failing white azaleas in the white garden, how about a hydrangea?

*Since the dogwood out front is soon going to its reward, all the more reason to rip out the forsythia along the fence and plant a pagoda dogwood (which I happen to know Colesville has in stock, but maybe I'll wait till fall).

Inspired by these ideas, I've also decided it's time to take out the less attractive of the pink azaleas I inherited by the front steps, which will allow me to come up with a better transition to the walkway garden on that side.

It was delightful to have them here, and I'm so grateful for their advice!

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Sunday, April 12, 2009


This is the year I fell in love with hellebores. I've had a good-sized clump under the oak tree for so long that I no longer remember where I got it or what kind it is. I've transplanted an offset to the other side of the oak tree with plans to keep spreading them about under there. Here it is last February.
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Then last year, I found a Pine Knot select at Winterthur that I planted in the front garden, and a 'Royal Heritage' hybrid that I moved from the walkway garden to the (formerly) white garden last fall.

Here's what I like about them: they bloom when nothing else does; their leaves are substantial and even (Royal Heritage) elegant; they make terrific cut flowers that last and last and give you a chance to actually view and enjoy their flowers; and they are modestly beautiful.

Margaret Roach likes them, too.


Today is a Sunapee day, bright blue sky and a brisk breeze. Here is the Easter table, set with blue and white mertensia and bleeding heart,

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and here is the birthday cake for LMP, which sneaks in here because of the violets on top.
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Everything looks beautiful on a day like this: the newly painted walkway garden bright with narcissus from Van Bourgondien,

the daffodils from Brodie Castle smuggled in the luggage and safely planted last fall,

and the always satisfying oak tree garden. Today in bloom are mertensia blue and white, bleeding heart red and pink, dogtooth violets almost gone by, hellebore, Sun Disc narcissus ditto, yellow epimedium and grape hyacinths. Still to bloom are tulips and English bluebells.
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Friday, April 10, 2009

Vision and reality

"I want to have a year in the garden this year which is the opposite to 2008. I want to finish the year without feeling like I've bought loads of random plants from plant sales and then come home and stuck them in wherever. I want to feel like I've taken care of what's actually there, and not ached for it all to be totally different. And most of all I want to stop arranging my garden so that it needs more work than I ever have time to do, and ends up feeling like an evil, sulking presence in a corner of my mind."

So says Emma Townshend.

Actually, 2008 was not bad for me. But this spring, I've been worrying about all of the following:

Shouldn't I just root out all the forsythia along the back fence?

Was the akebia a mistake and should I have put in a climbing hydrangea after all (like Martha's, I say longingly)?

I've really got to do something about the front garden, because although it's looking better this spring, it is still nothing but HOLES.

What in the world should I do under the maple tree in front, where the BARE EARTH is showing between the wee patches of mulch?

When will I ever clean up the compost pile so that I could invite a gardener over and not be totally embarrassed?

And so on. I need to calm down and stop aching for it to be totally different.