Friday, November 11, 2016

Idyll Haven Has Moved

My new digs in April this year.

“They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.”
~Andy Warhol

If there is one thing I've learned about life, it's that it change is inevitable.  Late last year I made the decision to sell my house.  It wasn't an easy decision.  Not because of the house.  I liked my house.  It was comfortable and a perfect size for me.  I had lived in my house for close to twenty one years and had made many improvements.  But it was time to move on.

I put my house on the market in May, it was under contract in less than a week and closed in July. The months leading up to the closing were crazy busy and they continue to be.  In addition to moving the entire contents of my house and three flea bag cats, I moved hundreds of plants, both of my fountains and all of my planting containers and garden statuary.  I was fortunate to have the opportunity to move all this stuff.  However the move took months and it wasn't easy.

The Twerpster took the move in stride

So did the "ferals".

Leaving the garden was hard.  I thought it would be about the plants but in the weeks leading up to the move it turned out to be about the memories.  Specifically memories of my dogs.  Everywhere I looked I saw them snoozing on the patio and sniffing around the yard, digging for worms, and prospecting for pizza slices that squirrels and birds dropped in the yard after dumpster diving behind the plaza in back of the house.

Zak in the garden in the fall of 1999.

Zoe on the patio circa 2005

I don't consider myself sentimental so the intensity of these memories took me by surprise.  A couple of days before the closing, I went to take the last few items out of my now mostly empty house.  After walking through each room, I went outside and stood on the patio one last time and watched my dogs frolick in the garden.

Nick's last day in the garden-July 25, 2015

Moving is never easy but in my case it has turned out to be well worth it.  My new home is located in what I would describe as a rural suburban neighborhood at an elevation of just over 800 feet on two partially wooded acres in north central CT.  With the exception of a few neglected and overgrown areas the garden is a blank slate.

Bears were frequent visitors to the yard in May and June.

New garden in progress on the front lawn

A hot, dry summer took it's toll on the gardens I was able to find the time to install.  For the most part the soil stinks.  We're on a well so running sprinklers for hours a day isn't possible.  Once I finish fall cleanup, the gardens are going to get a layer compost and shredded leaves.  No garden will do well here unless I can improve the soil.

Going forward I'm not sure what direction this blog will take.  Gardening is just one of my many interests.  Obviously I was unable to keep up with the blog before and life is even busier now.  The new garden needs a new name and the old blog needs a new look.  

Friends on the Knife Edge at Mt. Katahdin (Maine) in August

On the summit of Mt. Madison (New Hampshire) in July

Garden season is over in the northeast but I'm confident that the adventures will continue.  Stay tuned.

No, the new garden will not be called "Green Acres".


Thursday, October 15, 2015

October Bloom Day-It's a Wrap

Garden season 2015 is over.  Or at least it will be by the end of the upcoming weekend if the forecast for a hard freeze proves accurate.  News of the impending demise sent me scurrying to dust off my camera and grab a few final shots of my late season garden for posterity.  As the sun set and twilight descended, I suddenly felt a great sense of urgency to capture the memories before they fade.

Fall is a glorious season in New England and October is the epitome of fall.  Days are generally still somewhat warm and nights are chilly.  In a good year, foliage colors run the spectrum of greens, oranges, reds and yellows.  By all accounts 2015 is a spectacular year.  I spent last weekend hiking in the Catskills where foliage colors were near peak.  Even after a lifetime of living in New England, foliage ogling never gets old.

Truth be told though, I don't enjoy fall as much as I should because I waste a lot of energy mourning the loss of summer.  I desperately miss the season when the livin' is easy.  I miss being able to get up at 5 AM and not having to turn on a light to see my way to the bathroom.  I miss 8 PM sunsets.  I miss morning coffee and evening cocktails on the patio.  I miss bare feet.  I miss farm dinners.  I miss the flexibility to hike after work.  I miss the screen porch.  I miss mine and my friend's gardens in full glory.  And this fall, as I dismantle the last garden he will ever be part of, I especially miss Nick.

Eventually I'll come around but so will spring.  The weather gurus (who often have trouble predicting the weather tomorrow) are predicting a warmer than usual winter for the northeast.  I'll take it!  But I'll also believe it when I see it.  So without further adieu, here is what I offer up for Bloom Day.

Impatiens.  Call them what you will...ubiquitous, pedestrian, etc.  I call them staples in my garden that, for a couple of bucks a plant, bloom their fool heads off from May until frost.  I use them in containers and I plant them in the ground.  They are the bomb.

Variegated Spreading White Sunpatiens
With a skirt of Sweet Alyssum

Variegated Spreading Salmon Sunpatiens

Celebrette Light Coral New Guinea Impatiens

Viburnum dilatatum 'Cardinal Candy' with Variegated Spreading White Sunpatiens and Diervilla 'Cool Splash'

Impatiens 'Fusion Peach Frost', Coleus 'Sedona', Strobilanthes and Colocasia esculenta

New Guinea Impatiens 'Strike Pink'', Coleus 'Black Cherry'

New Guinea Impatiens 'Strike Plum', Coleus 'El Brighto'

Variegated Phlox varieties.  They start blooming in August.  A bit of dead heading keeps the flowers coming until frost.

Phlox paniculata 'Shockwave'

Phlox paniculata 'Norah Leigh'

Calibrachoa 'Mini Famous Orange', Coleus 'Rustic Orange', Strobilanthes

Many Calibrachoa varieties peter out here by mid September due to shifting shadows and shorter days.  A few persist.

Every year I become more enamored with Dragon Wing Begonias.

Begonia 'Dragon Wing Red', Colocasia 'Illustris', Coleus 'Gays Delight'

I am especially enamored with these Whopper Red Bronze Leaf varieties.

Begonia Whopper Red Bronze Leaf, Coleus 'Dipt in Wine', Colocasia Royal Hawaiian 'Maui Gold'

I had high hopes for these Matchstick Mums but they have not proven to be vigorous in my garden.  This one is barely holding on.

I'm fine with Corydalis lutea anywhere it chooses to seed.

Chrysanthemum weyrichii 'White Bomb'

Mr. Conqueror, Verbena bonariensis
Mr. Conqueror is one of the feral kittens I found under my neighbor's shed on Memorial Day weekend 2014.  I still care for him and one of his sisters but maintain them as outdoor cats (both have been trapped and spay/neutered).  Earlier this summer he disappeared.  After a couple of weeks I figured he likely met his demise-a risk I accept as a condition of his semi-feral status.  Two months later he miraculously reappeared one morning for breakfast and has barely let the food bowl or me out of his sight since.

Aster 'Lady in Black', Miscanthus 'Gold Bar', Hydrangea 'Lemon Wave'

Salvia guaranitica 'Black & Blue', Colocasia Royal Hawaiian 'Maui Gold'
Coreopsis 'Red Shift' requires way more sun than my garden can provide.  I prop it up with a Peony ring and shear it in late summer.  Usually I don't coddle plants, but for literally months and months of blooms, I'd say this one is worth the effort.

Coreopsis verticillata 'Red Shift'

Amaranthus variety long lost

A non blooming Crepe Myrtle 'Cherry Dazzle', Caryopteris 'Sunshine Blue', Verbena bonariensis, Pennisetum 'Vertigo'

Caryopteris 'Sunshine Blue'

Fountain season is over...

Anemone 'Prince Henry' (maybe)

Callicarpa 'Heavy Berry' I think

Hydrangea paniculata 'Limelight'

Miscanthus 'Sarabande', Hydrangea serrata 'Preziosa'

Chocolate Cosmos

Begonia 'Sparks Will Fly

White Cleomes, Symphytum x uplandicum 'Axminster Gold'

Foliage of Symphytum x uplandicum 'Axminster Gold'

A jumble of tropical foliage...a dark leafed Crepe Myrtle, Castor Bean, Musa basjoo, Pennisetum 'Vertigo'

Mr. Conqueror, Fuchsia 'Swingtime', Coleus 'Religious Radish'

Fuchsia 'Eruption'

Hosta 'Red October'

Verbena bonariensis, Hakonechloa macra 'Aureola'

Patio seating backed by Callicarpa dichotoma 'Duet'
If I had more time (and daylight), I could probably find a few more treasures to share, but much to my dismay, I am short on both.  To check out what gardeners around the world have blooming today, visit Carol at May Dreams Gardens.  Many thanks to Carol for hosting this monthly event!