Sunday, September 27, 2009


My garden is my mother's garden, too. In her memory, I am making a vow to post weekly about what's growing.

Today is fresh and bright after much-longed-for and much-delayed rain. We got 2.2" last night! I am reminded one more time about the stalwarts of the garden, who have taken our summer drought in stride: epimediums and more epimediums...parsley... begonia grandis...iris tectorum...hellebore (though the gigantic one under the oak tree does tend to splay out when it's really dry)...the perilla, of course...geranium 'Rozanne' and its kin...amsonia...baptisia...asters...lysimachia...balloonflowers

What fades away: hostas and day lilies (though I'm never sure how much is due to the late summer ripening and how much to drought)...astilbes (they are doomed in my garden, maybe I'll dig them up and give them to my sisters)...hydrangeas and viburnums, of course...gooseneck loosestrife, which flops about looking parched but never really dies...

At the moment, the garden in front features the pale purple lysimachia and the darker purple aster, early color in the amsonia leaves, and sedum 'Autumn Joy.' In the back, it's all about begonia grandis and the container plants.

The tail end of summer is a hard time of year - summer plants are dying, but it's not yet cool enough to get into the garden, lifting, dividing, edging mulching... I'll give it a couple weeks, and in the meantime will work on my bulb orders.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

A walk downtown

The weather was beautiful last week, filled with Sunapee days, so I took a walk downtown at lunchtime.

These garlic chives were thriving along a wooden fence at the Wheelers' house.

Are these fatsia leaves growing in the Mary Washington House garden?

The Brown Turkey figs are thriving at Kenmore.
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Kenmore features the classic boxwood and brick edging of a colonial garden...

...but it also had these enormous Joe Pye weeds (eupatorium). The Japanese anemones were beautiful, though I didn't get any good pictures with my phone's camera.

This garden along Hawke street had a particularly fine grass billowing over the white picket fence.

Someone had been gardening at the Kenmore Inn, as I could see from the piles of brush everywhere. But this yellow rose and its hips were left, perhaps the real last rose of summer.
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I'm lucky to live and work in such a beautiful place.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

"Our Life in Gardens"

This is a haunting garden book, because so much of it is about the passage of time, in a garden and in a life. Joe Eck and Wayne Winterrowd have been gardening in Vermont for more than thirty years, and these short essays - from Agapanthus to Xantorrhoea quandrangulata - chronicle their experiences. A few quotes:

No real garden should ever show bare earth, much less a sea of bark mulch, which always represents both an opportunity lost and a failure of horticultural seriousness.

We can...offer some comforts to young gardeners - or to gardeners of any age who are just starting a garden...a major part of the pleasure of gardening is in the act of gardening itself...For simply to plant that tree or shrub or vine and see it gradually take hold, getting larger each year, finally surprising you by its size, even though you knew it first as a tiny thing in a black plastic nursery pot, this is where the real pleasure of gardening lies.

If the management of any garden does not fall into a rhythm of comfortable routines, there will not be a garden at all but only an embarrassment and a reproach.

Gardens by their very nature are fragile beings that live in the two dimensions of time and care.

I am certain that my garden would not measure up to their high standards - a sense of humor is not a major part of their style - but I found their book inspiring and thought-provoking, giving me a long list of plants to try. More important, their wisdom and experience offer another way to look at gardens. I will even forgive them a glancing, disdainful reference to White Flower Farm, for which I have a family feeling.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Begonia Love

The other day I mentioned the odd spotted begonia with sweet little blooms, and as I walked around the garden I admired the other begonias, too. There's the pink begonia grandis in the oak tree garden. Here it is with the late afternoon sun behind it. I love what the light does to its leaves...

and the white one by the shed...

and the pink ones in pots...

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and the glossy-leaved houseplant I got from Mom years ago. It's on the small side right now, but in years past the leaves have been twice this size. When it's happy, they are big, glossy and dark green. I think this is 'Gobe.'
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I've even had pretty good luck with this tuberous begonia that I bought at the farmer's market. It doesn't look quite this good right now, but it's still blooming. Here it is in its glory days in June.

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Then of course there are the dragon wing begonias that I put in hanging pots in hopes of attracting hummingbirds. This year they must be visiting while I'm at work...

I could see going mad for begonias. Here's a site with a nice collection of the tropical begonias that make good houseplants.