Perennials

Bloom Day-September 15, 2014

Lemon QueenBloom Day has arrived clear and cool. The end of summer has been quite dry and the gardens are showing a bit of wear and tear. Helianthus 'Lemon Queen' is blooming at seven feet tall. It will grow taller but I pinched it in late June to keep it from falling over. The bees do love it. ColchicumWhile I was sleeping the colchicums appeared in the garden. They are a sweet surprise. Lilac is usually a spring color but it is a welcome addition to the late summer garden. Aster Alma PotschkeAster 'Alma Potschke' is wearing her bright magenta sweater. She needs it as it is a bit chilly this morning. Unlike mid-summer when there are large drifts of color in the garden, the late summer garden has bright spots and lots of texture.  Verbena b.This annual verbena has reseeded throughout the garden and it shines this time of year. Each flower is small, just an inch or two across but they wave in the breeze and add a very whimsical look to the borders and vegetable garden. Berkeley Tie DieFlowers are wonderful, they feed the spirit but this Berkeley Tie Die tomato is beautiful and also makes a great BLT. I find the flavor full with bright acidity and a hint of the earth. It is one of my new favorites. I hope that this Bloom Day finds your garden full and lush. Many thanks to Carol of May Dreams for another day of flowers.

 


Summer Shots

Caryopteris 'Bluebeard'Summer is busy. The gardens have gone from lush to munched. The deer have taken liberties and the gardener has been lax with the spray program. Still, there is beauty to be found in the shortening summer days. Shadows are lengthening and the late flowering shrubs and perennials are starting to bloom. Above, the Caryopteris is attracting bees. I think this one is Caryopteris x cladonensis 'Bluebeard'. HoneysuckleThe honeysuckle has both berries and blooms right now. This one sits by the fishpond along with a Heuchera 'Caramel' which is languishing in the hot sun. ButterflyThe butterflies don't seem to mind the scorched leaves. I have moved this Heuchera to a better site just this week. The real star of the garden at this time of year is the Hydrangea 'Limelight'. LimelightThis 'Limelight' sits in a back corner of the garden behind the house. I really must  add a few more to more visible areas. It lights up the garden at dawn and dusk and this hydrangea will never let you down. It blooms easily and heavily in my Zone 5b garden. Yes, I need to get a few more. 


A Plague of Alliums

 

Parade of AlliumsI cannot say that this is an original term, 'A Plague of Alliums'. It is one I heard last year on a garden tour from a gardener who was bemoaning the fact that her alliums had reseeded in her garden. The effect was magical. Much more magical than the dire statement. I remember being envious. Globe allium bulbs are not cheap and they have never reseeded for me. Never say never. While I don't have a 'plague' this year I do have many more than I planted. They have seeded in at the feet of the parents and I am quite enjoying the 'Alice in Wonderland' effect of so many perfect spheres. Alliums and geumThey are no trouble. Should I wish to remove them I could do so with a soil knife.  It would be easy to lift and throw the unwanted right into the compost tub or move them to another spot. I would do so if I found them to be a problem. I cannot imagine that happening but editing the garden is a constant, brutal and necessary task. If left undone, Mother Nature will gain control. She can have the woodlands, pastures, meadows and wetlands. I would love to control her as far as rain, wind and temperature go but my only real control is in the editing. So, edit I will. Front Left BorderThe garden looks very serene in early June. The perennials have filled out and are plump, fresh and full. The burgeoning health of the youthful garden in late spring is glorious. I have to remind myself to take time to just enjoy it. 


Heaven Scent

 

Viola odorataI have been busy in the garden as many of you are as well but I have found time to lie prone with my nose buried in this patch of Viola odorata. Really, if you haven't had the pleasure of this fragrance let me tell you that it is as heady as that of the lilac or lily of the valley but it is unique. I picked many Mother's Day bouquets of common violet and always wondered about that fragrance in bottles of violet perfume. Where did that come from? The common violet had no fragrance. It seems to me that violet perfume was the rage many years ago just as violet nosegays were the rage in Victorian times. I cannot imagine the time it would take to pick enough of these very short stemmed beauties to make a nosegay. If violets were as ubiquitous as people with no jobs then I guess it was all profit but how much could one charge for this bouquet? I could not put a price on this scent. It is now, for me, one of the treats of spring. VioletsViola odorata is native to Europe and Asia. It is a perennial, hardy to Zone 5. It prefers rich soil in partial shade although it will grow in sun where the soil is not dry. It is pollinated by bees but I do think I have done a bit of pollination myself with my nose stuck in those flowers. The common violet can be a nuisance in the garden but not Viola odorata. It will spread but it is certainly not as vigorous as the common violet, Viola sororia, which happens to be the state flower of RI. All parts of both species of violet are edible. I long to have enough violets to make this cake. What about you? Have you experienced the scent of Viola odorata? Mine came from Logee's Greenhouse and they also have a pretty pink variety for sale. It is a small and dainty plant but its fragrance will follow you forever.    


False Spring

 

DSC_0098The recent snow has receded and on Sunday the winds blew strong after Saturday's heavy rain. It felt more like March than mid-January. In the garden there are a few standing grasses, the ever present evergreen shrubs and trees and there are a multitude of seed heads. The variety of seed heads in the garden is quite amazing.Echinacea seedhead
From the stiff and prickly coneflowers all the way to this Sinocalycanthus seedheadgnarly seed head from the Sinocalycanthus chinensis or Chinese Wax Shrub. There is a world of shapes and sizes well in between these two dried garden offerings.  The Chinese wax shrub is relatively new to North America. I bought my plant from a local wholesale grower in CT and according to their information it has only been in cultivation since 1980. The nursery first received a plant from the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and they have been propagating and selling it since. Chinese wax shrub is a lovely shrub with shiny green leaves and delicately pink flowers. There really are not tons of flowers on this shrub but it is showy with its elegant leaves. The flowers are just a bonus. Dsc_0031 (3)They are fairly large. Two to three inches in diameter and they do look quite waxy giving credibility to the common name. I will enjoy the memory of them until they next appear. Small gardening chores can be done here when the weather permits. I have gotten rid of that pile of leaves on the left side of the top picture. There are more to rake if time and weather allows although everything was quite muddy on Sunday. It sounded like winter but felt like the winds of March. Winter is not even a month old but winter gets old very quickly. It is over two months until actual spring arrives. There are lots of catalogs to read and orders for seeds must be placed. The chores of summer and fall are a distant memory along with the muscle aches those chores generate and the feeling that there is never enough time in the day to get them all done. Now, I am itching to get back into the garden. I will have to settle for a visit to a greenhouse full of lush plants and heavy, moist air.  Any suggestions?     


Where's Woodstock?

 

Frozen in flightNo, not the town in New York, the little cartoon bird who skates on frozen ponds. That time has arrived here as on many mornings this past week the little birdbath in the back garden has offered up a solid surface. It is somewhat sad to see but inevitable. Magnolia leafThe magnolia tree, Magnolia macrophylla, has lost its very large leaves and the hosta leaves have either turned to mush or skeletelized as the season progresses. HostaLittle remains of the summer garden and fall has packed up and left even though the calendar gives us another month. Mother Nature rarely looks at the calender though. WitchhazelThis year the witch hazel has put on quite a show. This was planted as a Hamamelis 'Arnold's Promise' but most retail witch hazels are grafted to more sturdy rootstock and this graft failed. It has reverted to that rootstock, the native Hamamelis virginiana which blooms in fall rather than spring. H. 'Arnold's Promise' would be the first tree to bloom here in the spring but the H. virginiana is the last to bloom here and it is as welcome a sight. There are other bits and pieces of color if one takes the time to really look. The hellebore is poised to bloom. Hellebore in waitingIt sits in suspended animation now and will stay at this stage during the cruelest days of winter. If the snow recedes these lime green buds are visible and a reminder and a promise of future blooms. Volunteer violaFor now, this little viola sits shivering in the cold. It would be overlooked if it were blooming when blooms abound but now, in the low light of late fall, it glows in the crack of the walkway. It seems to me to be a miracle in miniature.


In Focus

Across to the borderAs a gardener and in life, my focus is sometimes a bit catawampus.  I completely ignored the tomato plants once they were planted in spite of all the work of starting them from seed, hardening them off and setting them out in the ground. June was cool and moist and not the best weather for tomatoes but it was good for travel. I traveled, to England on a garden tour and to San Francisco for the Garden Bloggers Fling. At home I focused on the borders which are less work than staking and weeding tomatoes which are out of sight anyway. Now that tomato season is here I am bemoaning the fact that I didn't stake them and they are lying in heaps on the ground fighting for space with weeds. TomatoesStill, I am gathering tomatoes and no, I am not going to show you the ugly plants. Eupatorium c.I am going to resolve to do better with tomatoes next year. Next year's tomatoes will be perfect. I will adjust my focus a bit next year. Right now the Conoclinium coelestinum formerly known as Eupatorium coelestinium is in bloom right in front of the Persicaria amplexicaulis 'Golden Arrow'. Persicara amplexicaulis 'Golden Arrow'I am not sure which of these to focus on as they are both very pretty late summer bloomers. Oh well, the focus must shift now and then both in the garden and in life. One sees more that way don't you think?

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day - May 15, 2013


Sunny BorderIn May, the question is not 'what is blooming' but 'what is not' which seems more appropriate. It has been a very cool spring which has been easy on the flowers. They last much longer with cool temperatures and while many plants are blooming a bit later, there is more overlap of bloom and more time to appreciate those blooms. Prairie FireThe crabapples are blooming and none is prettier than this 'Prairie Fire' above. I love  the lipstick magenta color along with the subtle scent of the flowers. HalesiaThe Carolina Silverbell is blooming as well. Its white bells light up the garden it is shading. FothergillaFothergilla has a curious flower, don't you think? Lime green shows in the buds and they mature to a soft creamy white. Moving to ground, the bleeding hearts are off and running. I moved several white ones from the woods where there were seedlings growing. White Bleeding HeartBorne on the wind or carried by creatures, these seeds germinated twenty feet or so from the garden bed of their parents. They seem happy next to the forget-me-nots which were gifted to me by my neighbors, The Dynamic Duo. CamassiaCamassia are showing their blue in the 'Stonehenge' garden. They have been inundated with other perennials and a bit of cleanup will soon be necessary. Tulips PippitThe tulips and daffodils are fading but with such an abundance of bloom they will be remembered fondly. Thank you to Carol of May Dreams for hosting another Bloom Day. I do hope to visit your garden via her links. Do you have a favorite bloom for Bloom Day in May? 


Sprigs and Shoots

DSC_0014In the spring, the morning walk with the dogs yields something new each day. The hellebores are in full bloom and require a worm's view to capture a picture as their flowers nod to the ground rather than the sky. DSC_0021Thick and sturdy shoots on the Hosta sieboldiana 'Elegans' have emerged this week. Not all hosta have such fat shoots. This is a large hosta and one which performs well each year. It has glaucous blue foliage which measures a good eight to ten inches across. AcerIn contrast, the small blooms of Acer shiraswanum 'Aureum' are worth a very close look. Delicate and colorful, they would go unnoticed by the less curious. From a distance, these flowers are virtually invisible. The walk by must be slow. There are many subtle blooms in spring. I have one shrub, Corylopsis pauciflora, the buttercup witchhazel, which is very stubborn. It does not share its flowers easily. Corylopsis paucifloraThis year there are two on this shrub which has been planted in the border for several years. I am on the edge of its hardiness zone so perhaps that is the reason for its sparsity. DSC_0077The undervalued and underused epimediums are starting to bloom. Dry shade is a challenge for any gardener but I don't see this plant in too many gardens that I visit. It has beautiful flowers and wonderful foliage. The flowers can be white through pink/red and yellow through orange. What a range of color. There is one called 'Orange Queen' which is on the must have list. DSC_0089This morning, sun was shining through the newly emerging leaves of the bottlebrush buckeye, Aesculus parviflora. The foliage turns green as it matures but this bronzy hue warms up a cool spring morning. Every day is a new day in the spring garden. What is warming your soul in the garden this year?


Bush Hemp - Boehmeria platanifolia

BoehmeriaThe common name for Boehmeria platanifolia is Female Bush Hemp or False Nettle. That first title should elicit quite a few search results but it is a rather unfortunate name for an interesting perennial. This perennial is an understudy, no show girl here, but it does have unique features which give it character which can benefit any shade border in Zones 4 - 8. Anyone can plant a hosta but it takes a true plant lover to search out the unusual.  Bush Hemp.False Nettle or Bush Hemp will satisfy the most discerning plantsman. A member of the Urticaceae or nettle family, it grows four feet tall by four feet wide (so far). This plant has large leaves, up to six inches across. B. platanifolia or Bush HempThey have a bit of a sycamore shape to them, hence the species name, but with oh, so much more interest. The edges are serrated and they are borne opposite one another along the red stems. B. platanifoliaYes, red stems. Flowering in August, the blooms are along a spike or catkin. False NettleNothing so common here as an ordinary aster like flower. This plant will tolerate shade. It has not blinked during the dry, hot spells of this summer although a bit of compost added to the soil has probably helped retain moisture. False nettle may be overlooked by some of your garden tourists but true plant geeks will certainly notice this beauty. This plant hails from Japan, Korea and China and grows along the forest edge. I will work to plant something a bit more interesting at its feet. The rounded leaves would look great with a sedge or carex.  Have you heard of Boehmeria? If so, what is your experience with this plant? If not, would you consider giving it a spot in your shady border?