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June 2007

May 2007

Leaves alone

High 65 F
Low 47.2 F

How many variations of leaves are there?  I think the number must be infinite and just when you think you have seen the most lovely leaf in the world, another presents itself.  The leaves of the Japanese maples vary tremendously in color and texture .   The golden full moon maple, Acer shirasawanum 'Aureum' seen here Dsc_0001_2 is hardy to -20 F, has a yellow, palmate leaf which, en masse, lights up a shady spot in the border.  This is a tree which will reach about twenty feet in height and turns wonderful shades of red in the fall.  The Acer japonicum 'Aconitifolium ' Dsc_0003 has strikingly incised leaves which have great texture and intense fall color.  Here is another maple, Acer palmatum dissectum,Dsc_0003_2 which is available in red leaf or green leaf and provides that finely drawn profile which enhances every garden.  Here are a few other wonderful leaf combinations including Dsc_0023 Heuchera 'Purple Robe' with Japanese painted fern,  Heuchera 'Green Spice' Dsc_0012 and the
Polemonium 'Stairway to Heaven'Polemonium_stairway_to_heaven_2 which is quite nice despite that name! The garden is in its'  cloak of spring blooms and all of these leaves just serve to enhance the picture.  Do you have a favorite leaf?  I'd love to add it to my collection.    


Rhubarb

Dsc_0003a High 71 F
Low  53.6 F

When the weather doesn't cooperate with outside activities it is necessary to finally catch up on those household chores which need attention.  That includes a bit of baking and for this, one can turn to the ever present patch of rhubarb, a staple in the New England garden.  You know it is spring when the sugar bowl  or the salt shaker disappears from the cupboard and makes the trek, in the hands of a child, to the rhubarb patch.  The stalks are pulled, the leaves removed and the end dipped in either the sugar bowl or, the alternative, salted with the salt shaker.  I have no idea where this started, I just know that I did it, my kids did it and my husband did it.   It was always a dare to just eat it without salt or sugar.  That is a feeling and taste you just can't forget.  It makes your mouth pucker and your body shiver!  I think it counts as a rite of passage in New England.  Rhubarb has an ancient history dating back to 2700 BC to its native land, China, where it was cultivated for medicinal purposes. Garden rhubarb, as we know  it is probably a hybrid of Rheum palmatum and Rheum officinale.Dsc_0004a     It is a perennial plant which prefers a slightly acid, 6.0 - 6.8 pH and full sun.  It requires temperatures of 40 degrees F to break dormancy and will grow throughout the summer preferring cool summer temperatures.  The leaves are toxic containing oxalic acid which can cause the tongue and throat to swell.  Don't eat the leaves!  The stems can range in color from green to red depending on any one of the many cultivars available.  The color of the stem really has no bearing on the sweetness of the stalk which is considered a vegetable although it is used in fruit pies.  Sugar makes it palatable.  Dsc_0002 And oh, so palatable! There are a few other things that you can do with this plant.  The ornamental rhubarb has giant leaves and a six foot tall inflorescence. Dsc_0005a This particular leaf sculpture was made from the garden variety rhubarb which was nurtured with a bit of tender, loving, care. It is not spring without rhubarb.  I wonder how many  have never tasted its' unique flavor. 


Texture

High 52 F
Low 39.4F

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On a rainy, dismal day what stands out in the garden is texture.  The individual texture of a promising bud or the lacy pattern of a finely structured leaf against a bold foil such as a granite rock or corrugated leaf.Dsc_0004 Dsc_0013 Great textural combinations always provide pleasure and don't require flowers which can actually be a distraction.  I know that most avid gardeners areDsc_0001 always striving for that perfect combination. Dsc_0006 Just enough of a bold, rounded form to offset that spike of fine, feathery foliage. I rather like this combination of sedum, geranium, daylily, euphorbia and blue fescue with a coreopsis 'Zagreb' in the background.   I  don't have a great variety of blooms in the garden at the moment but I am enjoying the textures and foliage color combinations which give a long and complete sense of satisfaction.Dsc_0001a Blooms are wonderful and combinations of colors and bloom textures are both fodder for another post but blooms are fleeting and then you are left with foliage so it makes sense to start with that.Dsc_0002a_2   There is no end to the combinations which you can create in your garden. I would love to hear from you what you find most pleasing and what you feel is your biggest success with combinations  in your garden? Dsc_0011   Dsc_0002


Roses aren't red!

High 43 F
Low  40 FDsc_0019

What could be better, on this cold and rainy day, than to re-visit one of the pictures I took this past week.   A sunny yellow one, at that.  I saw my first Fr. Hugo rose in mid-August at a Lawn and Garden trade show.  It struck me even then as it has fine fern like foliage which has pinnately compound leaves.  There are up to thirteen leaflets  on each stem and these have a very serrated edge giving even more texture to the appearance of this rose.  This rose, Rosa hugonis is called the Golden Rose of China as it is native to China.  In its' native habitat, it grows in poor, dry and often rocky soil in full sun.  Seed was collected by the missionary, Fr. Hugh Scanlan, and sent to Kew Gardens in 1899.  In 1908 plants were sent to the Arnold Arboretum in Jamaica Plains, MA and thus was its introduction into U. S. horticulture.  As you can see from the picture, the flowers are borne on arching stems in May.  Dsc_0018 They are between 1 1/2" and 2"  across and are primrose yellow, single, saucer shaped blooms. Dsc_0022 This species shrub rose will grow to about 8' x 8' and is hardy to Zone 5 although there are some reports that it can survive temperatures as low as -40F.   I can find only one drawback and that is that it has no fragrance.   Are any of you growing this shrub rose and, if so, what do you think of it?


Wildflowers!

High  60.2F
Low  46.6F
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I know there are mixed feelings out there concerning Garden Clubs.  I understand why that is.  I have been a member of a  garden club for  fourteen years.  Initially, it was to share a love of gardening and , fortunately, I found a garden club who embraced that sentiment.  The club is not exclusive to women but, currently, there are no men in the club.   There are women in the club who enjoy  flower arranging, there are women in the club who enjoy organization,  there are many women in the club who enjoy gardening-hoorah-I embrace this balance!  I have been surrounded by women all of my life.  I am one of six children, five of them now  grown women!  I really love men, but women are compatriots!  Women  listen and women support. That being said, I do thank goodness for the balance of men and women in the world.   One of the garden club's ongoing projects is the planning, planting and maintenance of a small  wildflower garden in the center of town.   Two of our members are the primary caretakers of the garden.  It changes every two years.  They have done a great job!  Here it is! Click on a picture to enlarge it! Dsc_0008 Dsc_0012Dsc_0013Dsc_0010 It is especially beautiful right now don't you think?  It is serene, cool and calming.  This is the garden clubs' gift to the town and I can't think of a more lovely gift.  I applaud the committee involved and am proud to be a member of this club! 


Lost in Lavender!

High 82 F
Low 59.2 F
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In my travels this week I came across a stunning wisteria vine.  Wisteria, at its' best, is a fragrant bower of unsurpassed, unique,  delight!  To happen upon one in full bloom is memorable. Dsc_0003 I don't know many of us who look forward to a trip to the local grocery store.  At this time of year, when this wisteria is in bloom, the monotony of the task of grocery shopping is overshadowed by the residual 'high' after walking beneath this particular arbor.  While I was photographing this vine, several people stopped and looked at this one with wonder and curiosity   One woman asked me if I knew what it was.  I didn't think there were many people who have made it to middle age and still don't know what wisteria is but, apparently, I was wrong.  The positive here is that this person actually took notice of it.  Some just walked on by! There are two popular species of wisteria, the Japanese wisteria, Wisteria floribunda and the Chinese wisteria, Wisteria sinensis.  The one in this picture is twining  counter clockwise (I think) which is a trait of the Chinese wisteria.  One of the most common horticultural questions asked is 'Why isn't my wisteria blooming?' There is no easy answer to this question.  I know that this particular plant must thrive on neglect as it is in between the parking area and the driveway to this particular store. If you are going to purchase a wisteria it is advisable to pick one that is blooming and pick a named cultivar.  I have heard complaints of ten year old vines which have never bloomed.   Dsc_0007    Nitrogen fertilizers should be avoided but super phosphate can be used to try to induce blooms.  Judicious pruning is advised on a regular basis cutting back vigorous growth to 3 or 4 buds.  Wisteria is perfect only when it is in bloom.  At its' worst, wisteria is a thug which can trample everything in its path.  This is more of a problem in zones 7 and south.   I don't  currently own a wisteria but should I ever put up a sturdy arbor or pergola, I will definitely consider one as its' spring fragrance is as memorable as that of lily of the valley or lilac.  I can't wait to pick up a few items at the grocery store tomorrow!   


Gardener's Bloom Day!

High 78 F
Low 46.6 F

Well, it is the first bloom day for this blog.  It is still early but here goes!

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I am a blogger in training and captioning is a challenge.  The tree is a Carolina Silverbell, Halesia carolina.  Please ask if you cannot identify something and I will post and answer.  Click on the pictures to enlarge and just enjoy!



You've got the edge!

High 71 F
Low 33.8F
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Another cold beginning this morning! The cooler temperatures are much preferred by this gardener as it is so much easier to perform those necessary maintenance tasks and any flowers in bloom last so much longer.  This was a busy weekend and there were more tasks than time. One of the chores which I really enjoy because it makes such a huge impact is edging the beds. Dsc_0012 The edge adds the finishing touch and provides an even a greater visual impact than the spreading of the mulch!  I love mulch almost as much as the next gardener but prefer to use it with more restraint than current customs dictate.  I would rather have a 'layered' planting with groundcover, then shrubs or perennials and then trees but it often takes time to achieve and mulch is a maintenance saver.  Mulch helps moderate soil temperature, reduces weed seed germination, provides organic matter (as long as it is organic),  helps retain soil  moisture and last, but not least, it just smells so darn good!  I don't have the fresh mulch yet but I do have an edge on these beds! I like a nice, fine, pine bark mulch.  Not too coarse and, natural in color.  I usually use a half moon edger with a lip on the top, cut the line, fork out the grass and debris and then rake the edge.  These are just the first of the beds to be done but I had to share the joy of the cutting edge with all!    


Mother's Day

High 72 F
Low 49  F

My Mom is the best!  She has many talents but she does not have a green thumb.  She does have an appreciation of gardens though she would rather not tend them.  She is due back from her winter in Florida on Wednesday so today was spent trying to create some order out of the chaos in her gardens.  Dsc_0001 One of my sisters helped with the weeding, edging and cleaning up.  I thought it would take an hour or two but we called it quits after four.  It is coming along don't you think?Dsc_0006   Now there is room for some colorful annuals.  My Mom loves to pick bouquets! Here are a couple of other garden shots but, remember, it is still early here.Dsc_0005     This is a raised garden which is easy to work in but also has to endure the little critters who live in the wall and sometimes dine on the roots of the perennials.Dsc_0008











I was also lucky enough to enjoy the company of my two children this afternoon.  Here is the latest horticultural addition to the garden.   It is a 'Prairie Fire' crabapple. Dsc_0009 I love it!  What do you think?  In the background, the tilled earth is the soon to be corn patch and against the wall I hope to plant a conifer garden.  Just a prelude of what is to come.  Nothing is ever finished in the garden.  I hope all of you had a wonderful Mother's Day. No one loves you like your Mother!Dsc_0010


Blooms

High 72 F
Low  56.9F

The garden is shaping up and starting to bloom.Dsc_0010   Blooming now is the ephemeral Mertensia virginica or Virginia bluebell  which is such a changeling.  The flower buds are a beautiful pink which turn to clear blue as the flower opens and ages.  I think that is why it is so gratifying. I posted a picture of a cultivated variety of acquilegia in a prior post and while these big flowering cultivars are very satisfying the little Acquilegia canadensis is so delicate it should be included in the spring garden. Dsc_0005 It tolerates many conditions from roadside to garden and it re-seeds freely.  Phlox divaricata is another spring flowering perennial which holds its flowers on 10"-12" stems.  This clump has been in the garden for five years or so and it spreads slowly. Dsc_0002 The crabapple is blooming.  This one is red in bud and pink in flower with the leaves having a burgundy tone to them.  The name escapes me at the Dsc_0016 moment but I have the tag around here somewhere.  Also, here are the espaliered apple trees which I put in several years ago.  I lost two out of five to mice girdling the trunk and given my sporadic and untimely pruning, I have yet to get apples  but  since there are flowers this year I am hopeful which seems to be a  classic trait  which we gardeners have in common.Dsc_0014