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May 2007

April 2007

Dreams and schemes

I have big dreams for the vegetable garden this year...not much different from previous years but I have gotten an early start as you can see. Dsc_0001 While there is nothing up yet it is always good to have a point of reference.   It is in a fenced in area and not too large as you can see.  In the background, beyond the fence, is the newly tilled corn field.  The corn won't be planted for another three weeks.  You'll have to imagine the  rows of stalks.  I have just taken some soil samples of the vegetable garden and will send them off for testing in the next few days as it has been quite a while since I have had it tested.  Now I am going to show you the compost pile. Dsc_0002 Here you can see some of them.  I am lucky enough to have a friend who works at the local horse farm and needs a place for the inevitable manure.  The equipment manager turns the piles as time allows.   It will compost pretty fast if turned every week but unfortunately the 'real job' intervenes and it gets turned once a month or so.  I love the way the mushrooms grow in it after a heavy rain. Dsc_0003_2 I wish I knew if they are edible.  Anyone out there a mushroom expert?  Dsc_0005_2 There's not too much blooming in the garden just yet but I will leave you with one pretty picture of a Corydalis solida which has a lovely mounded shape and pretty purple flowers.  Dsc_0010


Lady in Waiting

High 62 F
Low 42 F

Another gardening weekend over!  Three advil just might do it!  I'm still cleaning gardens. Is anyone else done with that task?  A couple more to go and then the weeding ,dividing and planting begins in the perennial beds.   I did plant a few rows of edible pod peas, some  golden chiogga beets, swiss chard and lettuce in the vegetable garden but it looks pretty bare so no pictures yet.  Stay tuned on this one!  I did pull out some statuary and one of my new acquisitions.  Here is a picture and I need your help!  Dsc_0001 I have to plant her up and I am just not sure what to put in her.  Any thoughts?   She looks so comfortable and at peace.  I will value and appreciate any and all suggestions!


Swamp things!

High 69 F
Low 32.6F

The swamp is a varied and interesting ecosystem. I try to take a walk down to the swamp at least a couple of times a week.  Everything changes so quickly!  The canopy is bare but for the flowers of the Common spicebush, Lindera benzoin, which are a beautiful acid yellow. Dsc_0006 They light up the swamp with a firefly like glow.  Dsc_0002 The spicebush is a common marsh dweller and when the stem is crushed a spicy odor is emitted, hence the name.  The floor of this outdoor room is littered with another odoriferous occupant, the skunk cabbage, Symplocarpus foetidus.  No doubt about it, it does smell like a skunk but the color of the familiar spathe which covers the spadix is lime green with mottled burgundy.  Dsc_0005 No interior designer can do better!  The lush emerald green leaf is cool and inviting  at least until you get a whiff!   One of the most interesting emerging plants is the ostrich fern, Matteuchia struthiopteris, which emerges from the ground with Dsc_0008a cottony covering over an embryonic looking frond.
There is always time for a walk in the woods especially when the back gives out from raking, compost hauling and dividing.  Even the foetid smell of the skunk  cabbage rejuvenates the spirit as the cycle of swamp life continues! I don't have a picture of the moss which I so love but here is one of some lichens on the rocks.  They are beautiful aren't they?Dsc_0007


Hellebore-Anything but bore...ing

Just the name is a mouthful!  And, you might have gotten your mouth washed out with soap if you mentioned this one to your Mom many years ago, they were so unknown.  Hellebores have been a standard in the English landscape for much longer than in the American garden.  I think it stems from availability but that is no longer an excuse for not having a few.  One of my favorite Hellebores is the Bearsfoot or stinking hellebore, Helleborus foetidus. Helleborus_foetidus This is a plant with great foliage and interesting flowers.  The flowers appear in late winter to early spring with the welcome spring lime green color.  They sometimes need a trim in spring if it has been a particularly rough winter with temps plummeting after a warm day.  I have had them re-seed freely in the woodland setting. One added benefit of this species is that the deer do not bother them!  There are many hellebores to choose from with 18 to 20 species and multiple hybrids available and more hybrids coming into the marketplace every year.  Dsc_0029 Here are some different colors all within the new 'Royal Heritage' strain. Dsc_0030 The hellebore prefers a moist, shaded condition according to  Allan Armitage's  book 'Herbaceous Perennial Plants' but I have found that the foetidus species will grow well in dry shade.  There are several places to order them on line.  I received a gift certificate for Heronswood Nursery  and the plants arrived moments ago.  Included in the delivery were three Helleborus x hybridus 'Kingston Cardinal'Kingston_cardinal_2 , some Eryngium amethystinium 'Sapphire ', Crocosmia 'Coleton Fishacre' and Trycyrtis 'Tojen'-stay tuned on these.  The packing was excellent and the plants are looking good in spite of their travels.  Here they are and planting will commence tomorrow.Heronswood_delivery   One other site that I enjoy visiting is Sunfarm's site.  They have some beautiful photos of mass planted hellebores and many for sale.  Hellebores are a bit pricier than other perennials.  They take more time to grow from seed to sale size.  I hope to add many more to the collection!  I hope you do too!


Morning walk!

High 64
Low 32.6
A perfect spring day!  Not too hot, not too cold, all you needed was a light sweater!  There was heavy dew on the lawn this morning with a touch of frost on the roof.  Here is a picture of the garden with a trail across the lawn.  Dsc_0020 Upon closer inspection, I found this web in the  heather which has given up on life and will be pulled out soon.  I didn't see any creature in this web which is a bit crazy! Dsc_0017 There are a few things emerging and the colors can be so interesting.  This is a picture of a bleeding heart, Dicentra spectabilis 'Gold Heart'.  The colors are so vivid! Dsc_0019


Also, a  grape hyacinth which has, on close inspection, such an interesting architecture. There is such perfection in its' detail!Dsc_0015 Click on the picture to enlarge it.   


More pots and posies!

High 58 F

Low 32.6 F

Another interesting day checking on product arrival at the garden centers.  Here are a couple of beautiful displays, again of pottery. This customer really knows how to make the most of her containers!Dsc_0008 Dsc_0005 What is prettier than violas in a pot?  Less is definitely more here!

Also, I saw a new interesting cultivar of cherry tree.   This one is called Prunus 'Crimson Cascade'.  Most of the cherries commonly planted have pale pink to white flowers.  There are over  400 species of cherries and many hybrids.  This new one, while named 'Crimson Cascade' has a true cherry/fuschia colored flowered which is really quite striking.  Dsc_0019 I think that it would look wonderful underplanted with some of those blue scilla.  Any other suggestions?


Sunburst

High 73 F

Low 50.6 F

In wandering one of my favorite garden centers today, I came across a beautiful Magnolia 'Sunburst'.  Magnolias come in a variety of colors, shapes and sizes.   I have seen yellow magnolias before. 'Elizabeth' and 'Butterflies' have been available for quite a while but this one just lit up the corner at the garden center.  What do you think?Dsc_0002

Pictured here is a display area for new varieties of perennials.  You know the patented ones which are three times the price of last year's model.  Only time will tell if the product is worth the price but it sure is a pretty display spot.  Dsc_0003


The blues of spring!

High 83 F
Low33 F

Another beautiful but very warm day.  It is hard enough on the plants but we humans are not quite acclimated to this temperature change either!  After record rain the weekend previous to this one, I am now hearing that fire danger is high!  Well,  enough of that and on to more interesting items.  The blues are out!  This is the first spring that I can remember  that the Glory of the Snow, Chionodoxa forbesii, have not bloomed on Patriot's Day!  Here is a picture of these little beauties!  It is a true blue which should be planted  en masse in the fall when the bulbs are available.   Lovely , don't you think?  Dsc_0010

One of my favorite blue flowers in the spring is the Siberian squill, Scilla siberica.  It is a bulb and should be planted in the fall in large groups which will give a good show.  I have this under a crabapple tree with Blue plumbago planted in the same bed.  The blue plumbago, Ceratostigma plumbaginoides, is a great companion plant as it does not emerge until the scilla  are  done blooming.  One interesting note on this scilla is that it does readily reseed.  I have a path of it across the lawn to the woodland border just where I rake the bed out.  It is sparse but discernible.  The blue plumbago blooms in late August and is also a good, true blue.  The only blues necessary in the spring are a few of these lovely bulbs!Dsc_0002


Ledge

High 78F
Low 32.6

It has happened once again!   Cold, rain, cold and then temps in the  70's and 80's and not enough time to get all the gardens cleaned up!  I know I should get the debris out of the garden in  the fall but many of the oak trees do not let go of all their leaves until spring and the fallen leaves do provide a bit of protection from early frosts.  I enlisted help from the 'Equipment manager' who did a major portion of the raking while I was attending to those previously mentioned barrels.  Since this blog is entitled 'Ledge and Gardens', I thought you should all see some of the ledge. Fl_ledge

Split_ledge It can be a challenge but, as I learned long ago, Don't fight the site! These were taken before the raking! Here is one after the raking.Dsc_0013

Dsc_0012 Not too much to see in the way of plants but there is one shrub blooming, the Cornell Pink Rhododendron.  This is a Rhododendron mucronulatum  'Cornell Pink' pictured in bud and bloom here.  It is a deciduous shrub which grows to about 8'.  It is a very lovely, true pink and looks beautiful in the woodland border.  It is hardy from Zone 4 through 7 .  Dsc_0009 Dsc_0006


Roll out the barrel!

High  77 F
Low   32.6 F

Today was community planting day.  The local garden club plants and maintains fifteen whiskey barrels in the center of town.  This year we are going to try one of the new self-watering whiskey barrels.  We have had trouble with the classic whiskey barrel falling apart after just a few years and since the garden club maintains them during the season we thought it might be easier to try one of these which are UV resistant and freeze proof with an eight gallon water reservoir.New_barrel_07_2

This will have to be drained in the winter but we are hoping that maintenance will be much easier.    With fifteen barrels there are many volunteers necessary to water, deadhead and fertilize them through the summer.

Heidi_diane_kathy Here you see the pansies planted out. They will remain for just a month or so and then the barrels will be re-planted with assorted annuals.  It is a big project and here is a picture of the barrel planting crew.  It couldn't be done without them and these women are just a few of the many volunteers! Pansy_planting