Saturday, July 15, 2017

July Bloom Day? Aready?

In my neck of New England, July is notorious for hot, humid, sticky weather. Rain becomes non existent and days begin to soar into the 90s. The garden (and the gardener) can quickly become parched.

Not this year. At least not this year so far. Rain has been plentiful and beneficial. Yesterday the high temperature was in the low 60s, more than twenty degrees below normal. Last night I took some of the pictures for this post in drizzly weather wearing a light down jacket. In July. But I'm not complaining and neither are my plants.

When I started filling up the newly created gardens this spring I knew that if Mother Nature turned off the spigot I could be screwed. City water doesn't exist here; we're on a well. Last summer our area was in drought mode. I spent hours hand watering pots of plants I had moved from my old garden and plants I had heeled in. Everything struggled but survived to bloom another day.

So what have I got to offer up for Bloom Day?

No late frosts and plenty of rain has made for a lot of happy Hydrangeas.

Oh how do I love you Hydrangea macrophylla 'Lemon Wave', let me count the ways.

'Bloomstruck' is an Endless Summer introduction. I had a love/hate relationship with Endless Summer in my old garden and chose to leave both plants there but I have high hopes for this one. It's been moved twice in two years but is "home" now.

Hydrangea serrata 'Tiny Tuff Stuff'. Given the choice between a macrophylla and a serrata, I'll take the serrata every time. Tiny Tuff Stuff is new to me but so far I'm impressed.

H. serrata 'Kiyosumi' is much happier here on the north side of my house than it was getting hot afternoon sun in my old garden. I love it for the burgundy tone on the new foliage and the white lacecap flowers edged in pink.

'Little Honey' is the only H. quercifolia I am currently growing but that won't last long.

H. serrata 'Blue Billow' is sulking in my dry shade street garden. I may have to move it (yet again) but I'll wait til fall to decide.

Hydrangea paniculata 'Bobo' seems to be blooming just fine on the north side of my house.

Unfortunately Hydrangea paniculata 'Dharuma' is still sitting in a holding bed. Soon, I'll find you a home. Soon. 

After dissing daylilies somewhat on Instagram this week, I now have to admit that I grow a few. Only two are currently blooming though. Now that I have more space, I *may* add one or two more but don't quote me.

You won't find any 'Stella D'Oro' in my garden but I do grow 'Happy Returns'. Does anybody else grow plants they aren't crazy about but can't shovel prune for whatever reason? I do and you're looking at it.

'Indian Giver' is a daylily that will always have a spot here.

An unknown daylily I found growing at the edge of the woods in the front yard.

The rest.

Corydalis lutea is welcome to self sow all over my garden.

I should have cut back or supported Heliopsis 'Lorraine Sunshine' before it bloomed. Prematurely declining blooms are one of the downsides to summer rain,

Phlox paniculata 'Blue Paradise' (pictured with Rudbekia hirta 'Prairie Sun') is an example of another plant with flowers also turning to mush in all the rain.

A seedling from Echinacea 'Sombrero Salsa Red'. Something is eating the petals off my Echinacea this year.

I'd like to add more Echinacea to the garden but going forward I'll likely stick with more simple flower varieties not these mop tops like 'Coconut Lime'.

I could grow Astilbe 'Amber Moon' for the foliage alone. Cotton candy like flowers are icing on the cake.

Between the Astibes I moved and some I inherited I lost track and have no ID on this one. It is growing in mostly sun though and doing well which is likely a result of plentiful water. In the inevitable fall reshuffle I will likely move it to a shadier spot.

A hodgepodge of rain weary Persicaria amplexicaulis 'Golden Arrow', Digiplexis 'Berry Canary' and Calamagrostis x acutifolia 'Overdam'.

My poppy experience is limited. I picked up a six pack of 'Lauren's Grape' this spring. Hope it reseeds for me!

Agastache foeniculum 'Golden Jubilee' can reseed annoyingly but the foliage is hard to resist.

Another new to me plant: the annual butterfly weed Asclepias curassavica. I do believe I'm quite smitten.

Salvia guaranitica 'Black and Blue' is a staple in my garden. It's a winner in the ground or in containers.

Clematis 'Etoile Violette'

Clematis 'Madame Julia Correvon' is starting to wind down

Spigelia marilandica is one tough plant. It's one of my go-to plants for dry shade.

Gooseneck loosestrife (Lysimachia clethroides) has a well deserved reputation for being a garden thug. The variegated variety does run but is less aggressive. 

Planting containers in the spring is what I do. Usually I have them in place before adding the plants but this year I planted them in anticipation of a patio that doesn't exist yet so I used my imagination. Maybe by August bloom day they will be in place.

OK this post has gone on long enough. I had hoped to get it published earlier but you all know how that goes. I want to thank Carol at May Dreams Gardens for hosting this monthly event. If it wasn't for her I'd never get off my patootie and put a blog post together.

Home sweet home!


Friday, June 30, 2017

Patio Project Ground Zero

On Tuesday I was flung back to reality from my first Garden Blogger's Fling. What an adventure it was touring fabulous gardens for three days around Washington DC, MD and VA with an enthusiastic crowd of like minded garden geeks. Meeting some of the people behind the lenses and computers of the best garden blogs in cyberspace was icing on the cake.

Prior to the Fling, I met up with a few long time friends from my old Gardenweb days and spent two days touring gardens in the West Chester, PA area. Five full days of garden touring is a lot even for me but I returned home full of ideas and ready to hit the ground running.

Back in February, I wrote about plans we had to install a patio at this house along with the proposal from one of the garden designers we consulted. You can read that post HERE.

Scott Hokunson of Blue Heron Landscape Design was the second designer we consulted. Both Dave and I were impressed by Scott's design process and his vision for the space. After some revisions back and forth, we ended up with an exciting design that was also surprisingly budget friendly.

At just a bit over 750 square feet, this patio with be about 50% larger than the one I had at my old house. We've chosen irregular blue stone to reflect the casual, country feel of our home. The final design does not include sitting wall A. Sitting walls were one of my wish list items. That extra rub on the Genie's lamp apparently paid off.
The fountain from my other house is making a comeback. You can see it just to the left of the third sitting wall. I often gaze longingly at pictures of it in my old garden. I'm so glad we made the effort to move it here.

We decided to deep six the original fire pit/fireplace idea. The precast units just weren't doing it for me and custom built was a budget buster. Instead, we will be resurrecting an existing fire pit just off the back lawn at the edge of the woods. Okay, I admit the pictures in this post require the reader to dig deep on the imagination front. But it's going to be great! Trust me.

An existing fire pit that had been overgrown by trees and saplings makes a comeback.

Speaking of tree removal, kudos to Dave for single handedly felling at least a dozen medium to large trees. Selectively removing trees opened up the space significantly. The backyard now receives a healthy dose of my favorite morning sun. Never fear though, even without these trees a large portion of our two acre lot is still heavily wooded.

Much to my delight, patio installation work finally began yesterday. Weather permitting, construction is expected to take three weeks.

Looking east from just below the deck.

Soon I will be relaxing here every night with a glass of wine. After working my ass off creating all the new gardens.

We (I mean Dave) still has to center the breezeway door and install a French door in place of the double window.

The concrete footings are for an 8' x 4' deck step that will transition French door access to patio level.
Dave had such a fabulous time installing those footings. Aren't DIY projects the best?

Imagine the mixed border I will be planting just beyond the patio. As soon as the backhoe comes along and scrapes off all the existing roots, stumps and vegetation and I spread 100 yards of topsoil I can get to it. It's going to be great!

Look at this great pile of rocks that were uncovered during excavation! Some will be incorporated into the design.
So we're off! Sometimes I get tired when I think about all the work that still needs to happen just to reduce the exploded bomb look back here. But I began the process with a vision for this space and am so beyond thrilled to finally see it start to come together.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Taking a (Late) Stab at June Bloom Day

As usual, things have been crazy. I've been feverishly working on expansion of the front gardens I started last year so I have room to combine heeled in plants I moved from my old garden with new purchases and annuals. Soon the yet to be developed patio and back gardens will be calling and I'll have to switch gears.

Speaking of the patio, last night we had a productive meeting with the landscape designer. We nailed down some final details and made an appointment for tomorrow morning to look at stone. Work is scheduled to start at the end of next week (yay!). I'm excited about the design and can't wait to see the finished product. More on that to come.

Since most of the plants around here are new or have been recently moved, not a whole lot is blooming. Containers provide some color but are still partially sulking over the chilly, wet spring. I struggle to find a shot around the house right now where the background isn't a mess. Brush piles, tarp covered garden amendments, idle cars and just plain crap-I've got it all.

So let's stop the whining why don't we and get to the flowers...

Inherited unknown Rose in my new garden

Roses are red, roses are pink. I love roses but they think I stink.

Right smack where the patio will be installed are four poorly sited, struggling roses.  All are climbers and I have no experience with climbers. I had planned to shovel prune them and then this one started blooming. Now I'm thinking maybe with some good soil, plenty of sun, water and compost this rose could be a nice addition to the garden.

Ha! Roses suck you in. It's what they do. Then before you know what hits you along comes the sawfly larvae, the blackspot, and the crushing disappointment of one day of flowers followed by heavy rain. Sign me up!

Papaver orientale 'Queen Alexandra'

Here's another bloom day offering you would never have seen in my old garden. But I have more room and more sun now so I decided a few of these 'Queen Alexandra' poppies tucked between a group of Pennisetum to hide their declining foliage would be the perfect pairing. How strategic of me. I think.

Corydalis lutea

Corydalis lutea took the move from my old garden like a champ. May it continue to be happy and cheerful and provide me with many offspring.

What happens when Allium christophii marries Astrantia 'Vanilla Gorilla'? In my experience, a grove of Allium which isn't necessarily a bad thing.

In my infinite wisdom, I decided to remove some lawn and expand this edging of miniature Hosta into more of a mixed planting area. It wasn't long after I started planting that I discovered the rock formation is larger than can be seen and extends under the lawn.  Any recommendations for shallow rooted plants would be appreciated.

Mixed containers have always been a huge component of my garden.  I'm struggling a bit with them creatively this year but I'm happy with the simplicity of this one.

Heat and humidity melts them so pansies only do well here in the spring.  I usually spring for a couple of six packs in April when they are pretty much the only thing for sale at the garden center. When the time comes to yank them out, I sometimes pinch a few back and tuck them into the sides of my mixed containers.

Symphytum x uplandicum 'Axminster Gold' is one of my top ten favorite plants. I always say I'm going to cut off the flower stalks because they can get ratty. Then it blooms.

Symphytum x uplandicum 'Axminster Gold'

So far no sign of ratty and growing to well over four feet tall in a fair amount of hot afternoon sun. Rain is becoming more scarce and days are getting warmer so  I figure the other shoe is about ready to drop and I'll be cutting this one back soon.

Achillea 'Moonshine'

I brought Achillea 'Moonshine' from my old garden where it barely limped along and never bloomed. Voles decimated some of it over the winter here but I replanted. Now I'm eyeing cultivars in other colors.

I decided it was time to find out if all the Digiplexis hoopla is warranted. So far, so good but ask me again in September. The last time I tried this plant, I bought non blooming basal foliage. Don't do it. I'm not sure if this plant is perennial anywhere but it's an annual here and I learned it needs vernalization to bloom. If you don't see flower stalks at the nursery, don't take a chance.

Veronica longifolia 'Charlotte'

Veronica is a mixed experience plant for me. I blame lack of sun in my old garden but I never rule out gardener error. When I saw this subtly variegated variety at a local garden center this spring I decided it was time to try again.

Orange Calibrachoa in the blue fish pot

The fading flowers of Physocarpus 'Little Devil'

Raise your hand if you love Physocarpus as much as I do? The foliage provides so much structure in a mixed border and the cool cultivars keep coming. You could argue the same for Sambucus but I haven't had great luck with them. They tend to come up strong in the spring then just wilt and die one branch at a time. I read it was due to borers that overwinter in old stems but I always cut mine back hard and still had the wilt issues.

Antirrhinum majus nanum 'Black Prince'

Through gardeners that I follow on Instagram, I discovered The Bunker Farm in Dummerston, Vermont. One of the farm's products is unusual annuals and perennials grown from seed. A few weeks ago we were in the area and stopped by. I picked up some hard to find plants and a bunch of plants I had never seen before including this old fashioned Snapdragon.

A few miscellaneous bloomers:

Phlox glaberrima 'Triple Play'

Sunpatiens Variegated Spreading White

Aruncus 'Misty Lace' (I think)

Allium christophii

Photo credits to Dave for the rest of these shots. He was home chipping brush yesterday while I was at work and knew I needed material for this post. Maybe I'll let him take all the pictures for July <wink,wink>.

Geranium 'New Hampshire Purple' was a gift from my friend Deanne many years ago and moved from my old garden,

Clematis 'Arabella' mingling with maidenhair fern Adiantum pedatum

This inherited peony is planted in a sea of variegated goutweed (Aegopodium) and chameleon plant (Houttuynia) in the old vegetable garden. I'd like to save it but will have move it completely bare root to avoid exposing other garden areas to those invasive bastards.

Dave got a way better shot of the poppies than I did.

So there you have it. Thanks to Carol at May Dreams Garden for hosting is monthly event. Next week I will be attending the Garden Bloggers Fling where I look forward to meeting many of the folks behind the blogs. I'm the token poser, the one nobody will know. With any luck no one will call security before checking with the organizers.