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May 2007

Today in bloom!

High 75 F
Low 50.2 F
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Just time for a quick post this evening.  I thought I would just show a few of the plants that are in bloom today.  Here is the previously photographedDsc_0004 Rhododendron 'Fireball'.  This is an Exbury hybrid and it is vibrant.  Fire indeed!  In the roadside garden the Centaurea montana Dsc_0011 is blooming as is the Geranium microrrhizumDsc_0012 and this pink lady slipper which is a volunteer.  I think that if you have pink lady slippers, Cypripedium acaule, you should show them off. They are not all that common and  are really quite mesmerizing.  I think it is one of the sexiest flowers around! Dsc_0005 They are a member of the orchid family and the roots have been used medicinally for nervousness, tooth pain and muscle spasms.  I'll stick to just looking at them and so far, this is the only one I have spotted.  There are quite a few leaves with no flowers.  Perhaps they are not yet ready to bloom but I have a feeling my four legged friends like to nibble them. Dsc_0017 Another plant in bloom is the Canterbury bells, Campanula medium.   They are not easy to find at the garden centers as they are biennial but they are really beautiful.  A friend started these for me.  There are many other plants in bloom but the front border needed a clean out so  I tackled that task and then it started to thunder and rain and I have not yet taken the 'after' picture so that will be for tomorrow.  The rain is welcome this evening as the roadside garden is looking pretty dusty.  All will be fresh in the morning.    


Pond Garden

High 81 F
Low 50.4


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The pressure is on to finish and fine tune the smaller gardens.  I have left this garden because it is one of the less visible from the house although I do like to sit on this bench ( picture taken before cleaning) Dsc_0002 and drink coffee in the morning.  There are many frogs in the pond but no fish.  I have trouble keeping the pump running.  With all the ledge around lighting has fried the wire on several occasions. Dsc_0007 So, the frogs  keep it interesting and it is a pleasant place to sit. As you can see, Tucker likes it and will often take a dip when he thinks no one is looking.  There are three Spirea 'Magic Carpet' on the left and the grasses in the background will reach five to six feet.   There are three Panicum virgatum 'Heavy Metal' and one 'Prairie Sky'.  On the near side of the pond there is one Miscanthus s. 'Gracillimus and three Miscanthus purpurea and also a few Pennisetum alopecuroides.  I love the sound of grasses in the breeze and often wish the bench were softer and longer so I could recline in comfort.  The small tree is a crabapple which was planted last year.  It was covered with lovely white flowers this spring.Dsc_0015   Beneath it is Scilla siberica in the spring followed by Ceratostigma plumbaginoides or blue plumbago which is just emerging and will flower in late August.  There is  also a small rose bush and a perennial geranium pictured here. Dsc_0012 It is a very nice plant but since it is a passalong, I don't have a name for it.  Tomorrow I can sit and drink the coffee without fretting about the weeds...at least for a day or two. Thank you for sharing this garden with me today!


Weekend activities!

High 82 F
Low  52.2 F

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There seems to be no end to the tasks available to the gardener on any given weekend.  How to choose?  Well, the vegetable gardens are traditionally planted around Memorial Day in this part of the country/world.  The peas, beets, swiss chard and lettuce have been in for quite a while and the tomatoes, and green beans went in this weekend.  Peppers,  summer squash and cucumbers will be added this week.  I am going to plant some scarlet runner beans and cucumbers on the obelisk/tuteur Dsc_0003 and the corn is being planted in this new area.  It Dsc_0022will be planted in three succession plantings.Dsc_0006 I say new because the 'equipment manager' has spent hours digging out boulders and burying them with the exception of these five which he placed in this area which will be the conifer garden.  I have always wanted an area for conifers since reading Adrian Bloom's book 'Gardening with Conifers'.  It will give winter interest if I can keep the deer at bay!  In this picture, you see just the rocks and the compost ready to be raked.  I will then mulch it to keep the weeds down and plant it as the season progresses.  Who knows how long it will take to fill it!   In addition to these tasks, the pots had to be planted Dsc_0004 Dsc_0008 and the window box Dsc_0005 and there are still gardens to work on.  That is the joy of gardening at this time of year.  It is instant gratification when a garden is finely tuned!  Today, a couple of perennials took the time to bloom.  The first, Baptisia 'Carolina Moonlight' as seen here.Dsc_0018   The next, the Oriental poppies which are very tough and the only survivors (the cultivars all died) of a rough winter.  I am currently lost in orange! Dsc_0015 What a delicious color don't you think? 


Glacial remains!

High 82 F
Low 56.6 F

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It is easy to take for granted the obvious.  In New England one of those staples that I sometimes take for granted is the abundance of stones and rocks which litter the woods and the fields and can, at first glance, make gardening difficult.  Not so at my friend Lois's garden.  She has made the most of a difficult situation.  Her house sits on a quiet drive off a busy but rural main road. Dsc_0026 She is surrounded by woods with neighboring houses just visible.   Every time I visit her  garden there is something new happening and something new in bloom.  The plantings in front of the traditional house are innovative and interesting.   As you walk around the  house, through the arbor, Dsc_0027 you are greeted first by an interesting and definitely offensive odor.Dsc_0005   The bed on the left has three voodoo lilies, Amorphophallus, species unknown, blooming.  They set the tongues to wagging with their spath and spadix formation. The beds along the house have various shade tolerant perennials and as you round the house you are perched on the side of a hill looking down into a gardenDsc_0007 which, as you can see, is just delightful.  In the spring, between the rocks, there are vernal pools of water which can be a challenge but Lois has met that challenge.  She has an great assortment of plants in this garden with many hosta, daylilies, iris, primula japonica, petasites,and this huge ornamental rhubarb,Dsc_0008 to name just a few.  You can wend your way among the paths and just enjoy the variety and texture of the plants here in thisDsc_0015 garden.Dsc_0025   Rounding the house on the other side you


find an         entrance to a 'secret garden' Dsc_0018 as seen here.  It is occupied by elves and fairies and the magic is further enhanced with little, unobtrusive, dancing mirrors and prisms hanging from the branches. Dsc_0024 They catch the light and it takes several moments for the eye to translate what it is seeing.  The sun will play off them and send shimmers of light across the mossy lawn.  It is truly a haven and the work of an inspired artist.Dsc_0012 Dsc_0013    I always look forward to my visits to Lois's garden!   


My Sister's garden!

High 80 F
Low 56 F

I am blessed with four sisters and one brother.  Two of my sisters love to garden the other two just endure it but they do have many other gifts.  My sister, Eileen,  loves her garden.  I thought I would take this time to show you a bit of hers. Dsc_0041 She lives only two and a half miles away from me so we get to share garden thoughts, plants and successes, as well as a few failures.  I think she is becoming more addicted as she spoke of another garden plan. She works full time with occasional travel obligations but she manages to keep her garden looking quite wonderful. Dsc_0042 One of the features of her garden is a beautiful fieldstone retaining wall, shown in the first picture, which her 'equipment manager' built.  It provides the structure and support for her perennial garden.  She has a variety of light situations from full sun through deep shade.Dsc_0043   She also spent  quite a bit of time this weekend 'fine' gardening as you can see by the mulch and the edging. Dsc_0045 Here are the pictures of her achievements! She has a hugh Hosta 'Sum and Substance' shown here.  So far, no slugs! Dsc_0046 It is a wonderful garden to visit and enjoy and one more interest shared!Dsc_0048


Fine Gardening-Island Bed

High 85F
Low 63.4 F
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Here is another in the litany of statues, this one from who knows where.  It does look whimsical in this shot, doesn't it!  Today I tackled the 'island bed'.  It needed a little re-working as the edges were a bit difficult for the mower to work around.  'Form follows function' so if something in your landscape is not working for any reason, fix it!  After ten years of a beautiful crocosmia blooming, Dsc_0047 this year it is absent.  I see one little shoot but I think I will have to re-plant this.  It is a favorite of the hummingbirds and  it blooms in July after the big June flush of flowers.   We had a very strange winter with December temperatures in the 60's and 70's and this went on into part of January.  February came in and the temperatures plummeted to single digits.  Not good for plants or people!  So, I am missing some old favorites. Dsc_0018 This garden took quite a while to clean up as there were many Geranium phaeum throughout.Dsc_0019 Dsc_0026 It is a garden thug in spite of its' pretty maroon flower and lovely foliage.  Lots of it went to the compost heap.  Sometimes you have to be ruthless with the self seeders.  There will always be a few left! I planted a few new items in this garden today.   Some delphiniums,  Nicotiana  langsdorfii,  Salvia x 'Maraschino' and three Carex 'Blue Zinger'.  I also put in a Buddleia which is in a tight spot but it should be where it is clearly visible to the patio and the window so I gave it a chance and will keep it pruned.  I also planted a Iliamna remota, Kankakee Mallow, which a good friend gave to me because it is extremely rare according to the label.    The pictures I was able to find show it looking like a  hollyhock.  Stay tuned on this one.   So, after all the weed pulling, compost addition, edging, and planting, I added a bit of mulch to keep down the weeds and this Dsc_0029 is the end result.   Here is a view from the walkway.  Dsc_0030 This one from  behind the garden and this  one from the deck above.  Dsc_0039 Now this garden has the shape of a left handed mitten!  I can view this garden from the  couch in the living room which, on a bad day, is a wonderful thing!   


A few new blooms!

High 91 F
Low  68 F
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Unseasonably hot today but this cat doesn't care!  Last Friday it was 40 degrees F and raining heavily.  Today, very hot.  Both plants and people are trying to cope!  The heat does push blooms though.  This morning I noticed that the Japanese roof iris were blooming. Dsc_0016 It is this lovely white and reminds me of a dear friend who passed it along to me.  Walking in the garden often has that effect. There are reminders of many friends here in the garden and I always enjoy sharing plants and receiving some in return.  In addition to the iris, I found this lovely geranium in the 'barn garden'.  Dsc_0005  I think it is a Geranium macrorrhizum 'Ingwerson's Variety'. The leaves on this species have a very pungent odor and it is one of the most deer proof plants in the garden.   The geraniums  have a wonderful mounded shape Dsc_0006 and come in a wide variety of colors,  both of foliage and flower.   The blue star, Dsc_0008 Amsonia tabernaemontana, is also blooming and while the flower is pretty, the foliage always looks great.  Dsc_0009 It benefits from a nice shearing after bloom and it does have a lovely yellow fall color.  I have decided to give the lupines another try.  I have not had any success growing them  but it has been a while and Dsc_0011 it is time to  give them, and myself, another chance as they  have lovely leaves and interesting flowers.  We'll see if this one thrives. One other plant that is just about to bloom is the Exbury Azalea seen here in bud  (click on it to enlarge this picture). Dsc_0004 I think that the flower cannot be as beautiful as this bud. Does anyone else have any of these azaleas?       


Fine Gardening-Entry Garden

High 86 F
Low 50.4F
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Once the major portion of the spring cleanup is finished and the plants are up and growing, the time for fine gardening, which I really enjoy the most, has arrived. It varies from year to year depending on the weather.  This is the time when the emerging weeds are pulled, the beds are mulched and the garden ornaments, if there are any, are placed.  It takes a gardener to see the chickweed growing among the iris cristata and it takes a gardener to differentiate between the common weed and the perfectly placed perennial.  Not everyone has an eye for this but most of us can develop one if we work at  it.  All it takes is kneeling among the plants you love season after season. Dsc_0001 This is the entry garden. There are three before pictures and three 'after' pictures.  This is the first garden you see from the front door.  It is still evolving.   I am not totally satisfied with all of the plantings.  I often think that the very upright form of the Hosta 'Krossa Regal Variegata' should be replaced with something more rounded and low but then I decide that I love it and just need to find the appropriate underplanting.  Dsc_0002 The piece of ledge in the picture is a permanent feature and a portion had to be jackhammered so that the walkway would pitch away from the house.  We had a lovely foot bath by the main door for a few years before the jackhammering took place.  Now the water drains away  after a heavy rain as it should. Dsc_0003 One of the joys of gardening is watching a garden change with the seasons and sometimes, with the mood of the gardener. Dsc_0004 It is a great art form.  The picture at the top is one of one of the many pieces of statuary I have collected over the years.  Dsc_0005 I will be posting a new piece every day until they are all shown.  I know I have too many but, then again, the garden is large!  Here is the final, finished, fine entry garden!  Finished for today, that is!

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Buds and Blooms

High 74 F
Low 43.6 F


I noticed today that there are still many buds in an apparent state of transition.  That purgatory between bud and bloom.   The buds have a unique beauty of their own.  Dsc_0024 Here is a  Rhododendron yakusimanum just beginning to open.  It will be a lipstick shade of pink but what I really love about this plant is the form and the hairy undersides of the leaves.  It is short and wide and squats regally at the edge of the entry garden.Dsc_0001    The bud of the baptisia plant  is also an eye  catcher.  Dsc_0015 This looks like the tail of a subterranean rock dweller.  I can't remember if this is the blue baptisia or the yellow so it will be a nice surprise when it finally opens.  Here is my orange tree peony.  Dsc_0016 The tag clearly says orange.  I like this yellow but I really wanted orange.  I'll have a good excuse for buying another!  I know others have posted nice shots of Doublefile viburnums, Viburnum plicatum var. tomentosum, hardy in zones 5-8, and this is a rather odd specimen but they really do merit a bit of attention as they are so interesting in flower both close up and from a distance.  Dsc_0009 Dsc_0017 They don't have the smell of the V. carlesiiDsc_0015_2 or the V. burkwoodii which have an old fashioned, rounded shape but their tiered, horizontal  branching is just one of the nicest spring accents around.   A couple of other mentionable plants in the perennial category are the Phlox stolonifera which, I think, is underused. The flowers float above the flat, creeping foliage. Dsc_0004 Here it is paired with Hosta 'Golden Tiara' and the purple looks so nice against the yellow variegated hosta leaf.   Then there is this Dsc_0005 small veronica.  I can't remember the species name.  Anyone know it?  Perhaps one of you can clear it up for me!  And lastly, the new growth on the dwarf Alberta spruce is pushing out making it look like a fuzzy teddy bear. Dsc_0016_2 There is always something new showing up in the garden at this time of year, one surprise after another.  Maybe that's why it is called 'Spring'.    


Morning walk!

High 66 F
Low 40 F

TuckerDsc_0008 and I started off for the A.M. garden viewing and nature walk, he with his nose to the ground and me with coffee cup in hand and the camera around my neck.  The coffee wasn't the only thing steaming this morning.  Here is the source of all good!  Dsc_0004 Black Gold!  It will be a few weeks before this is ready for the garden!  The Carolina silverbell is loosing its' flowers leaving a carpet of petals on the maidenhair fern and the ground.  Dsc_0002 Next it was into the woods for a look at the water hole and surrounding plants.  This little Jack in the pulpit was turned face in to the trunk of a tree, hence the side view.  The spathe and spadix flower always intrigues me. Dsc_0006   It looks like something from the nether world.    Back out into the field, the highbush blueberries are covered with flowers.Dsc_0008_2   While the berries are tiny on these bushes compared to those on the cultivated varieties, they are so much more flavorful. Dsc_0010 Perhaps this year, there will be enough for a pie or pudding!  One of the cats has to get into the act also and will take any opportunity for a rub along the ear!  This is Spot, so named because she has spots on her belly. Dsc_0019 She also keeps company with the garden gnome, a salute to all things wrong with garden statuary of which I seem to have an overabundance. Dsc_0025 On to the pool area.  The cover will come off tomorrow and yesterday I transplanted some daylilies to the edge border. Dsc_0011 It is supposed to be hot, dry and sunny for the next few days so they will have two chances, they will either live or they will die.  They had to be moved anyway so other than the weeding, shoveling, dividing and planting, there is no loss!  On the way back across the lawn, this portion of the garden caught my eye. Dsc_0012 After all this, Tucker was a bit warm so he found a way to cool off!  There is nothing better than a plunge in the frog pond. Dsc_0018_2