Friday, December 18, 2015

Ho, Ho, Ho Hum

Despite singing Christmas carols nearly continuously (they run through my head nearly year-long anyway), I have not yet gotten into the holiday spirit.  It may be the weather, which has been decidedly spring-like.  I even saw primrose and rhododendron blooming & the allium bulbs I put in actually sprouted.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

It's alive!

The reason my outdoor plants survive and my indoor ones don't?  Rain.

However, beyond my wildest hopes, the gardenia is alive and thriving in the front window thanks to the weekly watering my husband gives it.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

More projects

I will make sure to take before and after photos of this one, because it should be interesting:  I'm going to expand a bed under the cherry tree to cut off a spot that's annoying to mow, and make a stepping stone path that will go to each of the feeders in the tree. It'll look cooler than it sounds, I promise.

I also need to dig up my calla lily tubers.  I love these things so much in the summer, but they're just not winter hardy here in Zone 6.  They seem to do really well alongside the azaleas, so I'll repeat for a third year next year.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Done with planting for 2015

This past Friday, I planted a mess of allium and crocus bulbs before heading off on a weekend trip to the Berkshires.  Still sore.  Can't wait to see what comes up in the spring!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Well, I know what I'm doing Friday morning

I'm heading off for a weekend in the mountains around noon, and have to pack.
But first, I have to plant the box of alliums and crocus that I ordered from John Scheepers (and the bag of 100 allium I bought at Costco).  It finally came in yesterday.  That's the one (and only, thus far) thing I don't like about that company - that they don't have an online order tracking system so I can get an idea of when the box will be coming.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015


Well, it looks like most of the things I planted are still alive.  The sweet potato and tomato vines are not as lucky.
The sweet potatoes went from chartreuse to black just about overnight.  I did find one tuber from one I had dug up last weekend to put in a coreopsis.  Maybe there are a few others under the dead foliage that I can dig up and just start them indoors next year, rather than searching for them at the nurseries.

I do so like how they fill in spaces and provide brightness in a bed that is lacking it.  I could also think about putting in chartreuse coral bells so as to provide that brightness in a perennial form.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Weird, the weather is.

I almost dare not look at all the perennials that I planted recently, as there was a frost over the weekend.  Some of them I had just tucked in on the 17th.  Hoping that some of these purchases from Wayside Gardens made it.  I received the box on Tuesdsay, but didn't open it until Saturday.  The Weigela 'My Monet' babies looked pretty peaked, and one of the Coreopsis 'Little Sundial' had foliage that had turned completely to mush.
Usually the problem I have in not opening my boxes on time is that the plants dried out.  These were still way too wet in the box, and the nursery uses Styrofoam packing peanuts for shipping.  Brent and Becky's used newspaper, and Bluestone Perennials has ingenious waxed cardboard packing trays.

Still waiting on my John Scheeper's bulbs - I hope they make it to me before the ground freezes.  At this point, it's a crapshoot.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Into the Ground

I unexpectedly got Columbus Day off, and since the rest of my weekend got eaten up by other obligations, that was my gardening day.
I'd received my shipment from Brent and Becky's Bulbs on Thursday, so they needed to get put into the ground ASAP:

  • 10 Monarda 'Petite Delight' plants.  These went in the bed with the winterberry hollies, roses, and Andromeda.  This was advertised as a dwarf selection which will not grow as high as the species, so I put it in the front of the bed to fill in the empty space near the rocks.  If it's as prolific as the bee balm I put on the front walkway, it will fill in nicely.
  • 10 Dichelostemma - ida-maia bulbs.  I had gotten a handful of these firecrackers in a bulb mix, and my mother-in-law thought they were absolutely lovely, so I added some more near where I think the others are alongside one of the smaller iris patches. I didn't dig any of the others up, so not sure how close I got, but I hate leaving labels out in the beds.  These were pretty much the only thing that survived from that mix that I planted probably 3-4 years ago.
  • 10 Bellevalia - pycnantha bulbs.  Looks sort of like a muscari (grape hyacinth).  I put this on the front slope along with 10 Scilla - siberica 'Alba'.  I have a lot of blue squills (they keep multiplying yearly), and thought it would be nice to throw some white ones into the mix.
  • Similarly, I purchased 10 Muscari - aucheri 'White Magic' which went in where I'd removed roses earlier in the fall.  All along the edge of the driveway I have blue muscari, and I thought it'd be nice to see some white ones.  When these things multiply, and they will, I will see if I can do some mixing of the whites and blues all along the edge of the bed.
  • And finally, under the cherry tree went 10 Hyacinthoides - hispanica 'Queen of Pinks'  which will give a shot of color when the winter-damaged liriope foliage has been sheared off and is yet regrowing.  It will probably bloom just after my Fritillaria uva-vulpis.  There is aconite and squills in that bed too, so I have bulbs coming up from early through mid-spring, and the pigsqueak and Lamiastrum galeobdolon will take over as the bulbs fade.

I'm awaiting two more shipments, one from John Scheepers, and one from Wayside Gardens (estimated delivery today, in fact!)

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

I'm sorry honey...

To my darling Husband,

I just ordered more plants today. 

Also, UPS should be delivering a box on 10/8 as a result of my 9/28 spree.

I may have a problem.

Good thing they're giving me Columbus day off, huh?

Love you,

Your Wife

Monday, October 5, 2015

Missed the window

Overcast weather is the best for taking garden photos.  This weekend was quite overcast, and I intended to take some photos of the work I did on Sunday... but by the time I'd finished up, the sun had come out.  So you don't get photos for a while again...

John over at had recommended Bluestone Perennials, and I have to say, I recommend them too.  They ship promptly, and the plants come in biodegradable fiber pots which they say can be planted directly.  I admit that I do remove the pots to tease the roots, since that'll give them a better start in my clay soil; but I tear apart the pots and use them as mulch or toss them in the compost bin.

I planted Veronica 'Georgia Blue' which is a lavender color; and Veronica 'Waterperry Blue' which is a more clear blue color.  These went in on the front bank above the retaining wall, as other Veronica I'd planted there - 'Whitewater' and 'Tidal Pool' - have done very well as weed-blocking and erosion controlling groundcover.  The Lamium (deadnettle) I'd started with more or less crept all the way down to the bottom of the slope, and then disappeared.  Veronica seems to make much nicer mats.

Five Salvia nemorosa 'Viola Klose' and three Geranium macrorrhizum went in along the driveway area, between the Dutch irises/Black Eyed Susans & the milkweeds.  This filled in some of the space left vacant by one of the hybrid tea roses I'd moved (By the way, those roses seem to be doing OK for now.  We'll see if they survive the winter.)  I already had some of the Geranium near that area, up a little closer to the retaining wall, which did very well; so I think this repetition of the same plant will look nice.  There are five other Salvia of a different variety ('Blue Queen') there which also did well;  the foliage is a bit different so it should be a nice textural difference.

In my order, I also received a free Anemone (I believe it was Anemone 'Honorine Jobert', will look at my pile of tags later) which is supposed to grow 3' - 4' in full sun, so I put it up by the phlox and iris next to the boulder with our street number, and took out the basket of gladiolus bulbs that had been near there while I was at it.

Speaking of milkweeds - I got a new pest this year in addition to the yellow aphids - big orange milkweed bug babies & a few of their parents.  Insecticidal soap employed, as I want these plants to be host to Monarch butterflies.  Unfortunately I did not see any Monarchs on the milkweed this year, but I've helped the fluffy seeds fly.

Monday, September 28, 2015

A not so blank slate now

The large bed I mentioned back in August (and that's about the last time I was in the garden, as it got abominably hot and dry after that) is now planted with:

  • Three hybrid tea roses 
    • Variety unknown, these were there when we bought the house. I moved these from the edge of the driveway where they were interfering with entering/exiting vehicles.  Why one of the previous homeowners thought this a good site for roses, I have no idea.  Two of them had some massive tap roots and were really hard to pry up out of the ground.  This type of rose does not have a root ball so I watered them in very, very well and will continue to water them once in a while until they re-establish.
  • Three winterberry hollies.
    • two dwarf females 'Red Sprite', and one male 'Jim Dandy' which I was told is the pollinator for those.
  • Andromeda 'Dorothy Wycoff'
    • this was suffering in the Echinacea bed, it was far too exposed and may not have been receiving enough sun.  It's now living up next to a retaining wall and the edge of my vegetable garden to help shield it from the wind.  It is also now receiving full sun.
To replace the Andromeda in the Echinacea bed, I purchased a Fothergilla 'Mount Airy', which I hope will do well in that sunny/dappled sun area and provide some autumn color.  It should reach about 5' tall, well below the power lines.

Early fall is a good time to hit up the nurseries for 25-50% off perennial shrubs and trees.  There is pretty much enough time in Zone 6 for the plants to establish themselves before winter's grip.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

A blank slate

I have a newly cleared sloped garden bed, just over 39 feet wide, with 7 foot from the short retaining wall at the top to the stones at the bottom.

Zone 6, clay soil, neighbor's sprinkler system takes care of most of the watering.

Oh, the possibilities.  I don't want anything taller than 4 feet in the rear of the bed.


Monday, June 8, 2015

Sunrise, sunset

Sunset tonight is 8:27 PM.  This means that I have 2 hours from the time I get home until sunset to do whatever outdoor chores I need to do, instead of waiting for the next weekend.  There is just SO MUCH to do in June - I cannot keep up on weeding if I'm only doing it on the weekends.

I made some extra food over the weekend so that I don't have to make anything from scratch.

I did take some pictures on Saturday, I'll post them after the sun sets :)

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Weekend Weather

Oh, it looks like it's going to be a LOVELY weekend contrary to the weather reports I was looking at just yesterday.  We've gotten plenty of rain this weekend, so digging holes and weeding should be a far sight easier than it was last Saturday.  Of course, I still need to be up very early so that I can get out in the morning and finish most of the hard work by 11 so that I don't sweat to death.  I promise some pictures are forthcoming as I finish weeding and mulching the beds.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Moving on...

Even the late season daffodils' (poeticus and decoy) blooms have faded, before I could even get out there to take a picture.  Same with the cherry tree, who looked beautiful one Saturday, and the next was making a pink mess of the sidewalk.

Next up are the irises, now waving their buds proudly above their heads.  Some of the blue ones are already bloooming.  These are the same ones that my neighbor gave me, and when I divided I gave some to the neighbor across the street.  Quite strong smelling, their scent has now replaced the hyacinths' (my favorite!).  Making a note now, though I'll probably not remember to do it, to mark the colors on the ones that I was given from other gardens so that I can divide the ones I really like in the fall.

Lamium, epimedium, hardy geraniums, foamflower, pigsqueak, ragwort, and lungwort are all blooming like crazy - they soon will be followed by tickseed, alliums, and coral bells whose buds are nearly ready to open.  Not sure why my hellebores and trilliums haven't been blooming year after year - got foliage, but no flowers.  Maybe they need fertilizer.

The steeper slope on the west side of the house has now been completely covered in cardboard and mulch, instead of weedy wildflowers.  In the fall (or next spring, depending on how I feel about it), I will start planting perennial shrubs.  Right now I have to come up with some sort of a plan so I know what I'm looking for.  I don't really want anything that grows taller than 5' up in the back along the neighbor's retaining wall .  I do like the beautyberries I have in the other end of the bed, but I think I may go with some red twig dogwoods which I won't have to prune for the first 3 years anyhow.  Cornus 'Arctic Fire' only gets about 4' high with a 4' spread.  I was thinking of interspersing those with Ilex 'Sky Pencil' which grows taller, but with only a 1' spread.  I don't want a full hedge of that, though.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

On Seasonal Allergies

Not much keeps me from getting outside to work in the garden, but this year seasonal allergies have me cowering indoors trying to escape from tree pollen for the past few days.  It's a relatively short season, thank goodness, but I am more miserable this year than I have been in years past.  From the sound of it, a lot of other people here at work are suffering too.  We're sniffling, sneezing, and coughing in a symphony conducted by the waving tree limbs. 

As airborne delivery is not the most efficient delivery method for propagating your species, male trees must launch extra pollen into the air to increase the chances of pollinating a flower on a female tree.  The size and weight of the pollen is what allows it to remain airborne, rather than the heavier pollen that requires pollinators (insects, birds, bats) to move it from one plant to another.  These small light capsules of genetic information unfortunately find their way into our mucous membranes, triggering a immune system response in some people - the severity of which varies by person and day.

Landscape planners often choose male trees because they do not create messy seed pods and fruits, or stinky flowers; however, this predisposition towards planting male trees also increases the amount of pollen in the air.  The oak and maple trees in my neighbors' yards can quickly cover my silver car in pollen, turning it a funky shade of yellow.  Temperature also has an effect, stressed plants tend to go into reproduction mode, and produce more flowers and pollen.

In any case, I'll be over here cursing the trees instead of hugging them, for at least another week.