Sunday, May 8, 2011

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What's in bloom on Mother's Day

The yellow irises have been spectacular this year. I can't remember when I've had as many blooms. Although they're in the sunniest part of the old garden, they clearly yearn for more, since they lean over and flop too much. Perhaps some of them will get to be transplanted to the new border later this summer.

This is also prime time for columbines, which have self-sown all over the garden. The blue ones are most prevalent, but some occasional white ones and even a raspberry one pop up here and there.

The mazus from Martha is shyly blooming by the edge of the shrub border.

Tradescantia, which also appears in odd spots, is blooming its head off in this cool spring. I can't even remember where the original plant came from - Mom, undoubtedly - but all of them are colored an intense blue that the camera has trouble picking up.

The bleeding hearts are almost gone, ditto the English bluebells, trout lilies and other spring beauties. The mertensia is now at the yellowing and flopping stage, easy to weed out after shaking the plants to scatter the seed.

The allium triquetrum is slowly spreading among the front gardens and continues to be a favorite for its cool, elegant flowers.

Most exciting of all is the Zepherine Drouhin rose, which is blooming like mad close to the ground. There are two long stems that are probably reversions to the root stock, and which I should prune, but otherwise it is full of fragrant blooms.

The coral bells are in full flower, clashing prettily with the insane azalea under the living room windows. The little unnamed geranium nearby is twining its blooms around the stalks.

Last summer’s bronze fennel, which I started from seed, did nothing much until coming back this year. It seems to be in fine fettle, and I can only think that these caterpillars are a sign that it’s a native butterfly propagator.

The Jack-in-the-pulpit from Becky was a wonderful surprise among the greenery under the oak tree. Nearby are some May apples from Judy and the kirengeshoma that always looks terrific at this time of year but sometimes gets a bit parched come August.

Otherwise, the oakleaf hydrangeas are budding and the peonies are just about to burst into bloom. Actually, one of the Susan Heplers has already bloomed and reminded me how badly that side of the garden needs to be divided and renewed.

And the new garden? Not much going on, but everyone is thriving so far.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

A Good Start

Despite trouble posting pictures, which as extinguished my interest in blogging temporarily, I've gotten a lot done in the garden.

Finally took out the Japanese honeysuckle, ready for a rose and a clematis
Refreshed the front of the side front garden, pulling out lots of day lilies and Goldsturm rudbeckia, adding soil conditioner and transplanting the Tomato Soup echinacea
Finally rooted out the last of the barberry
Moved the trellis from the side of the house to the mailbox, and planted morning glories and scarlet runner beans along one side; waiting to see if the cardinal climber vine from last summer starts to pop up in its former location
Best of all, and hardest of all, laid out the new sunny garden in front down from where the dogwood used to be and the butterfly bush is now

Here's a look before the plants went in:

It was incredibly hard to do this the hard way, which is what I chose. I edged the whole thing (8' x 8' plus the existing bed for the butterfly bush), then sliced it into sections and lifted up the sod with a straight-edged spade. When Adrian Higgins refers to "skimming off the sod," he is deluding you. It was backbreaking. Nevertheless...

This new bed is meant to be sunny, high, and wild, attracting butterflies and hummingbirds, and mostly made up of native plants. The color scheme is blue, pink and yellow with just a touch of white. Planted to date are:
Boltonia asteroides 'Snowbank'
Salvia gregii 'ultra violet'
Lavandula media 'grosso'
Helianthis 'Lemon Queen'
Aster laevis 'Blue Bird'
Agastache 'Blue Fortune'
Schizachyrium scoparium 'The blues'
Pennisetum alopecuroides (fountain grass)
Eupatorium purpureum subsp. Maculatum 'Gateway'
tulipa 'General de Wet'

(The latter two, by the way, did indeed make a pretty pair, the orange softened by the blue and they bloomed at the same time by some miracle.)

Becky kindly picked up a lot of these at Colesville for me. I was worried about the Joe Pye weed, which was nothing but a dead stick, so I sank the pot into the ground in case I had to return it. But patience is rewarded - it's now got about an inch of new growth. Hard to believe it will grow to six feet, but stranger things have happened.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Why don't the pictures display any more?

Because Blogger just isn't very good.
I'm thinking of moving to something else. Any suggestions?

What's in bloom 4/10

tulips, species and otherwise
the last of the forsythia
dogtooth violets
bleeding heart
leucojum (snowflake)

Here are a few:




Sunday, April 10, 2011

Onion Snow of 2011

A few years ago it was Mom who told me a late spring snow was known as an onion snow. This one arrived on March 28th. It was gorgeous in the morning and gone by noon. Here it is on the bleeding heart, forsythia, chionodoxa, species tulips, evergreens...








First shoots

The winter aconite peaked while I was away. Early March brought the first of the miniature daffodils in the front garden,

the hellebores in all their glory,


and the first year of the chionodoxa under the oakleaf hydrangeas in the corner. I feared that the flooding that plagues that corner might have made the bulbs rot, but as usual I was simply too impatient. Not quite a sea of gentian blue, but over the years I hope it will have the same effect as Mom's sea of blue under the crabapple.

More emerging shoots:
oakleaf hydrangea

bluebells (mertensia) blue

and white

anemone blanda under the oak tree

sweet woodruff whorls

and the foliage of bleeding hears.

Revenons à nos moutons

Okay, it's been six weeks or so since we've come back from New Zealand, so I guess it's time to get back to business. But I'll segue in slowly by reporting on my favorite New Zealand garden.

This was on our free day in Queenstown, when I joined a local garden tour. Of the three gardens we visited, this was far and away my favorite. Patricia was described by our guide as an excellent plantswoman, and she did indeed know her plants by both Latin and common names (which you'd think would be SOP for a gardener but it's not). She had a great enthusiasm for gardening that came through in every detail and comment she made. Here she is under the arbor near her pond, looking an awful lot like my dear, dear mother (surely part of her charm for me).


Her house was nestled, New Zealand style, in a gently sloping site and surrounded by evergreens of various colors. This combination can seem too garish but here I thought it worked perfectly. I especially liked the varying textures.


This is her wild garden with a typical New Zealand view of hills beyond.

Here is an example of her architectural use of trees.

A couple examples of plants I admired: hebe, a native plant you find everywhere in New Zealand that takes many forms

loosestrife, this a yellow one, that does not appear to be as invasive as ours

yellow plums worthy of a poem - she picked some up and we ate them out of hand as we walked along

rugosa roses, this I think Rosarie de l'Hay

a Chamaecyparis waving in the breeze

And then a small, beautiful, productive vegetable garden. In high summer she was harvesting everything from Swiss chard to tomatoes

I also loved her bird statues by the pond, a pair of pokekos. I saw others for sale on our travels but none were quite as charming as these.

But we really bonded over her sedums, for which I have formed a new affection. Like a true gardener, she could not resist showing a fellow devotee her sedum bed-in-progress, which really did not look like much, but the two of us could see the potential. In the meantime, she had several sedums planted in front.


I can't remember what they were called, but I particularly liked the purple one. I promised her that I would think of her when I planted sedums at home, and I will.

I'm sure New Zealand will creep into this blog again, but for now I'm turning back to my own garden.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

In Which We Get Into Hot Water, And Then Get Out Again

Hot Water Beach is well known - our hotel posted the times of low tide so that you could plan your trip accordingly. The thing to do is to bring or rent a little spade, come to the beach at low tide, and dig a hole.

The beach has thermal springs below, and at low tide they permeate the sand. All you have to do to enjoy a natural spa is to dig a hole and get in.

Of course, when they say hot water they ain't foolin. It was really hot! We failed to bring a spade but found that we could take over abandoned holes and sit without effort. We couldn't sit comfortably for very long, so after about fifteen minutes we were ready for the next thrill.

Here's the gorgeous beach, with suitably cold water lapping at the steamy shore.

From here we drove along to the entrance to Cathedral Cove.

This was on the list because it's said to be a short but beautiful walk along the shore and through a hole in the rock. We got to the starting point here, where we had beautiful views.


But we weren't really in the mood for a walk, partly because access was partially closed off, and also because a friendly returning couple told us it was a rocky trip and you couldn't quite get to the lookout point. So we put it on the list for next time, and enjoyed the views from where we were.

Cabbage tree, sea, clouds, beach