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December 2007

November 2007

Top Performers of '07!

High 53 F
Low 28.8 F

Summer in the garden--I guess I should add daylilies to this list!!!

On November 23rd Jodi over at Bloomingwriter posted on her top garden performers leading with the envied, coveted and impossible to grow, at least here, Himalayan Blue Poppy!  Her first shot of that poppy is mouthwatering!  Since she did post on her best of '07 I thought it would be a good time to re-cap my favorites of this past season.  I can't lead with a blue poppy however and in looking at my photos, the top performers are the tried and true with nothing exotic in the mix.  They are still beautiful though and since they are so easy to grow perhaps some fledgling gardener will find some success with one of them so, here goes.
Starting with the early bloomers, Dicentra spectabilis or common  bleeding heart grows to great proportions in my garden and even reseeds freely. Dicentra_s_alba They don't really die back either and their foliage is quite interesting.  I have both the white and the pink and also the Dicentra eximia or fringed bleeding heartD_eximia which blooms all summer and is a wonderful shade plant.
Peonies!  Peonies grow well here and although I did have powdery mildew on the foliage, the flowers were well past and it made the plant look rather 'ghostly'. Dsc_0007 Here is a picture with a perennial geranium which is a great combination.  Speaking of geraniums, they are on this list as easy growers.  I love 'Johnson's blue', 'Rozanne' and macrorrhizum and Dsc_0024 all do quite well, coming back vigorously every year as perennials are supposed to do but often don't! The one above is Geranium pratense 'Midnight Reiter'.
Hostas also do well in my garden as long as I can keep the deer away from them.  Every once in a while I miss with the spray!  The Sum and Substance leaves are huge and the colors on the otherDsc_0028 cultivars are serenely beautiful. Hostas do grow well in dry shade and they are pretty hard to kill!  I have seen vole damage in a friends' garden.  Voles like to eat the roots but I haven't had the problem in my garden...yet!

Astilbe do not take a great deal of dryness but they have wonderful foliage and come in a variety of colors with different bloom times.

I can go on but one last perennial I don't like to be without is delphinium.  I love delphiniums for their variety of blues and their great height. Dsc_0028_2 They are not long lived in the garden as they prefer a cooler summer than mine but they are worth re-planting every year or two.  I will start seeds next year.  I used to start the seeds in July and put the plants in a holding bed for the winter.  Often they would bloom very late in September that first year.  They don't mind coolness but really cold temperatures force them into dormancy.   So, what is coveted in your garden?   


Lichens, moss, physics and rocks!

High 51 F
Low ??? (forgot to reset the thermometer)

Walking around the garden or the woods and fields at this time of year requires a bit more attention to detail as the details are so small!  That which stands out at this time of year would be overlooked when all is lush and blooming!  I have always loved lichens and moss.  Moss Moss has an inviting nature.  The uninitiated novice will spy a large patch of moss and lean down for a closer look and maybe even lie flat in it for its' soft, green comfort but, comfortable it is not!  Maybe for a minute or two until the moisture seeps into your clothing!  I was probably about five when I first realized that with moss, comes moisture! Lichens do not inspire the comfort of moss but are very intriguing.  They are composed of more than one organism and come in a variety of shapes, colors and styles.  There are two visible in the above picture although I don't know which two. Dsc_0007 I love them on rocks, trees and, like the ones above that are a bit rounded, just sitting on top of a perch!  Living in New England means living among the stones and between the stone walls.  Stones are everywhere and they do grow right out of the ground as ledge.  Dsc_0031 This particular large stone has succumbed to the forces of nature.  How long ago did the split occur?  Did it make a loud noise when it happened or was it just a gradual shift along the fault line?  The adjacent tree is wrapping itself around this lichen covered rock. Dsc_0032 This rock almost looks as though the split has been carved by water.  It is smooth and flows toward the ground.  If you live in an area with so many rocks that it has been necessary to pile them into wallsDsc_0012 then you might overlook the value of rocks, the beauty of rocks and the individual uniqueness of each rock.  I am thankful for the rocks around me even the ones I can never move.Dsc_0033 They lend a distinct sense of place to this part of the world. To me, they say home!  What do the rocks in your region look like and what gives your region its' distinctive uniqueness which says 'home' to you?   


Highs and Lows!

High 36 F
Low  25.4 F

Hamamelis x intermedia 'Arnold Promise'
Thanksgiving Day was a bit of a temperature anomaly here in Rhode Island.   It snowed on the 20th and today was quite cold but yesterday it was 65 degrees F.  Warm enough to force the Hamamelis  x intermedia 'Arnold Promise' into bloom.  This is a small tree which normally blooms in early March in this area.  I will have to enjoy its' blooms now which are welcome even though they are unexpected!  I found another  batch of bloom today on the 'Pink Sheffield' chrysanthemum. Dsc_0034 The warmth of yesterday must have pushed the last tight little flower buds.   These were hiding out at the base of the plant where they must have been slightly protected.  The color is a clear peach but with the low light at this time of year the camera had a hard time picking that up. 

The walk around the yard yielded another treasure, a bit of bright foliage which has not yet peaked. Dsc_0010 If any of you are looking for a nice transitional shrub for the edge of the garden,

This picture was taken  in late November of 2006!

the Rhododendron mucronulatum 'Cornell Pink' is a great choice for looseness of form, great flowers and wonderful and late fall color. It is hardy to Zone 4 and will grow 6'-10' tall.  I love the clear pink of its' blooms Dsc_0006 which appeared this year on April 23rd making it one of the earliest of spring bloomers.  This is one of my favorite deciduous Rhododendrons.  It looks very natural although it is native to Japan, Southern China, Manchuria and Korea. Dsc_0009 It looks like a native though, doesn't it?   The straight species has much more purple in the flower.  I think the clear pink is more desirable and the cultivar 'Cornell Pink' was introduced in the 1950's.  Are any of you enjoying this shrub in your garden? 


Just a flake or two!

High 38.3 F
Low  23.2 F

Click to enlarge to see the snowflakes!

Lots of garden bloggers are posting their first snowfall.  Today marks the day in northern Rhode Island for the first snow of the fall/winter season.  It wasn't heavy.  It didn't last.   It did, however, make an impression. Is it the finale or the beginning?  Dormancy is upon us and now we can look toward next year's garden for some new challenges. Today I noticed a couple plants worth considering and/or reconsidering.  One plant which I put in the new GFSD winter garden is a Microbiota decussata or Serbian Carpet Cypress.  Actually, I put three of these in and they will, hopefully, form an evergreen groundcover. Dsc_0004 They are juniper like in their appearance and are bright green in the summer turning this plum color with the onset of cool temperatures.  This plant is not too picky about soil although it should be well drained.  It is hardy to Zone 3.   It was discovered quite recently in the 1920's above the tree line in Vladivostok, Russia.   I love the texture of this plant. It will grow in some shade where the creeping junipers would fail.  Are any of you growing it?

An overlooked perennial which caught my attention today with its' snow cloak is this little epimedium.   I am thinking that I need more of them.  They are not really showy.  Dsc_0016 Their narrow, heart shaped leaves dangle from wiry stems and in the spring they have lovely flowers in white, red,Epimedium_rubrum pink or yellow. These were in bloom on May 5th of this year.Epimedium The foliage can be tinged with bronze and one of their best features is that they grow in dry shade.  Epimediums are native to Japan, Europe, Algeria and Northern Iran depending on the species and there are many hybrids now available in season at the garden centers.  They form large clumps once established  and make a bit more of a statement as they mature.  How many of you have some epimediums?   Just a couple of plants which deserve a bit more attention and which, perhaps, you will consider, if you have not already, for your garden next season.



High 44 F
Low  23 F

This mornings' walk yielded the above photo of the fruit on the crabapple tree which my son, the groom, and his wife gave to me this past Mother's Day.  I love this tree in all seasons so far and hope to add more crabapple trees to the garden. Dsc_0002 I hear that the birds do like the fruit but I have yet to see any visting and eating. I walked over to the wall behind this shot of the crabapple fruit to the new border and the Disanthus cercidifolius still has some leaves on it. They are a lovely purple and they have pink stems.  Dsc_0004 This was just planted in September or so and the shrub is still fairly small but I am imagining it covered with these plum colored leaves in a year or two.  I was checking this border to see if the deer were nibbling the evergreens and so far they have not although I have seen nibbles in the other borders where I was not so diligent with the repellent.  Time to spray again!  This grass is also looking very nice.Dsc_0006   Molinia 'Skyracer' has great form and color don't you think?    This forms a nice mound and then the stalks emerge and grow and grow and grow some more.  This is well over seven feet tall but it is light and airy and could be put in the middle of a border for a 'see through' effect.  Other than the walk in the garden this morning I really didn't get any gardening tasks done this weekend but I did go to my niece's home to meet her new baby girlDsc_0032 and to celebrate her oldest daughter's 4th birthday.  What is better than a new baby! 


Long bed!

High 46 F
Low  30.1F

The long bed has some interesting texture and a bit of contrasting color at this time of year.  The cotoneaster is berried upDsc_0009 and the iris foliage is bright yellow.  The grass behind the container is fountain grass, Pennisetum aloepecuroides, and its' buff color is quite pale next to the chestnut hue of the oak tree leaves.  This bed has a spine of ledge running right down the middle of it.  When we first cleared the trees from the surrounding area of the house, the ledge was a bit more covered but in order to plant a garden I pulled the soil back away from the center.  Ledge is pretty interesting with all of the   Dsc_0029
Driftwood on ledge
lichens growing on it and this rock flows as a ridge down the middle of this bed.  The Alberta spruce is getting quite large even though it grows only a half inch or so per year.  I think its' roots are woven into the ledge and I always hope for enough moisture and rain during the summer to sustain it through Dsc_0014 Click to enlarge view.

another season. This is what the garden looks like from the deck off the upstairs room which is somewhat of an aerial view.  The pin oak in the center was just a sapling when we carved a niche out of the woods to build our home.  The shade it provides is welcome in the summer months and I often put a chair under it to read and relax.  Did I say often?  Well, once or twice a summer I sit under this tree with a book.  The summer garden always beckons with a bit of weeding or deadheading but at this time of year I can just enjoy the textures and memories of the summer shadows and there is more time to enjoy a book  from inside the house with a nice warm view from the window.



Fall and the left handed mitten!

High 58 F
Low  30.1F

The left handed mitten garden is looking a bit drab.  Fall continues but given that it is bloom day tomorrow I thought that I would show it through the seasons to date.  The top photo was taken today.  Dsc_0039 This next photo was taken  on May 26th.  Everything looks fresh and crisp with promise.  The subsequent picture was taken onDsc_0032
September 26th.  Somewhere there is a June picture and  a July picture  which I am sure that I will find when I am not looking for them!  This garden started with a kidney shape but the Equipment Manager had trouble mowing the narrow edge so this year I hooked the edge to the path.  I like it better! Dsc_0079
Here is a side view with the lushness of summer upon it.  It seems like yesterday!

In addition, the only other plants blooming at Ledge and Gardens are the Streptocarpus which are house plants.  This oneDsc_0017 is name 'Laura' and the next one is named, oops, missing the tag on this one! Dsc_0020They add some color to the indoor garden!  I have several varieties but not all are currently blooming.  I am looking forward to seeing what is blooming in your garden on this bloom day!   


Buff, brown and shades in between!

High 47.7 F
Low  27.8 F

Halesia carolina aka Carolina Silverbell

The Carolina Silverbell is sporting brown baubles in celebration of the last days of fall.  At this time of year one must have a keener eye for the subtle colors and textures which stand out in the monochromatic color scheme of late fall.  The Halesia has a four winged drupe which hangs like so many ornaments from its' branches. Dsc_0003_3 They are hanging on for dear life even after some high winds last weekend.  This tree produces many of these seed pods but I have not yet seen a seedling.  The germination requirements of the seed involve moist stratification and a prolonged cold spell.Dsc_0002_3   Maybe there are many seeds lying dormant in the garden ready to spring to life once the requirements are fulfilled!  Gardening optimism!


Fern Leaf Maple!

High 38.8 F
Low  23.2 F

Acer japonicum 'Aconitifolium'

One small tree is still glowing brightly in my yard  which is quite a welcome sight with the gray days of November in full tempo.  This Japanese Fern Leaf Maple was a gift from a fellow gardener and it is now about six feet tall.  When I received it, it was a three inch seedling but even at that small size it had the most beautiful  leaves with each little segment looking just like a fern.  The Japanese maple species, Acer japonicum, have the wonderful feature of spectacular fall color.  There are many cultivars available within this species. Dsc_0066 One of the cultivars, Acer j. 'Maiku jaku' has the fanciful common name of Dancing Peacock.  Who wouldn't want one of these!   I did see the parent of this seedling in full color in  my friend's garden.  The tree was about twenty feet tall and wide and breathtakingly beautiful in its' fall robes.  The garden is, in part, a collection of memories of those friends who have shared the bounty of their gardens with me. Every time I pause in front of this tree I am thankful for the generosity of spirit and substance of fellow plant lovers.Dsc_0067  



High  42 F
Low  28.8 F
The garden at St. Felipe de Neri Church in Old Town

There is nothing like a trip to a different region to make one appreciate the uniqueness of each earthly place.  I spent the last four days in Albuquerque, New Mexico with a side trip to Santa Fe and there is a striking contrast between the New England landscape and that of the desert southwest. I know, that is stating the obvious. The value of travel includes the acquired appreciation of earth's varied landscapes and, for a New Englander, this landscape could have been a lunar one it is so far removed from the familiar.    From the air, Albuquerque spreads out in all directions from the city center and the tracts of houses are unsoftened by any vegetation. Backyards are devoid of all vegetation in neighborhood after neighborhood.   It is only around the Rio Grande river that there is a belt of fading green bisecting the city along its' north/south route with the Sandia Mountain range adding vertical beauty to the east.  It seems a curious and desolate place to build a city but one that is also starkly beautiful. Dsc_0023 I had no time to visit the Botanical Garden as there were work obligations but I did have a chance to walk the city of Old Town with its' adobe buildings and artists shops.Dsc_0054 This is one of the bluest skies I have ever seen! The area surrounding Albuquerque is the ancestral home of over twenty  Native American tribes with nineteen of them being  Pueblo Indians.  There are beautiful bronze sculptures in the town of Albuquerque and Santa FeDsc_0047   depicting the native American's way of life.  There were some interesting plantings of native plants around the area.  I found this one interesting Dsc_0038 and then there were container plantings by the doors of many of the shops.  This one has great contrasting colors and thisRed_geraniums one is a bit ofDsc_0032 added color. The adobe buildings are the soft peach of the native rock and the smooth lines of the architecture blends softly into the landscape. Dsc_0006 Turquoise is a natural complementDsc_0004 to the adobe of the buildings and turquoise jewelry is everywhere!  I'll leave you with one last picture of the 'cameo' bench which I love and which was on the streets of both Albuquerque and Santa Fe. Dsc_0021 I would have loved to bring one of them home.