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April 2008

The river is running!

High 52 F
Low  35 F

Epimedium x rubrum
We are back to seasonal temperatures which is great for working in the garden or it would be if it were the weekend.  I also recorded more than three inches of rain over a two day period which was much needed after over two weeks without a drop.  In early spring, rain is expected and when it doesn't show up plants start to look a bit stressed.  Dsc_0012_2 The river of daffodils has filled in with the Dsc_0013_2 little species tulip 'Lady Jane' bridging that middle gap. Dsc_0006 When she closes up her pale peppermint stripes are more visible. The daffodil 'Accent' is still blooming although it is a bit bedraggled after the rain and the interplanting of tulips is starting to become visible.  Dsc_0001 I have been out with the deer spray  as the new, tender, plump buds look tempting even to me.  These tulips are 'Avignone' which is listed as 'spinel red'.  I think I need to look up spinel.  They should be very hot.
Epimedium  x versicolor 'Sulphureum'
The epimediums are in full bloom and they are curious little shade plants which are quite drought tolerant.  The flowers are so small as to be almost insignificant unless you are slithering on your belly through the garden.  I currently only slither with the camera but someday it may come to that but not just yet. Dsc_0016 The foliage is always lovely with a bit of color variation in the leaves which float on wiry stems above the garden. Dsc_0015_2_2   I should have more of these little beauties which are hardy from zone 4 through 8.  Do any of you have epimediums and, if so, which is your favorite?


Weekend projects

High 57 F
Low  40 F
Rain 1.35"


The fish pond has had no fish in it for several years but it is home to many frogs and currently all sizes of tadpoles.  Some are plump and bigger than your thumb and others are just tiny in size.  I mentioned to the EM (Equipment Manager) that it would be nice to have the water running and the fish swimming and my daughter remarked that it was the one 'blight' in the garden.  She is wrong, there are many but this is a major one.   The problem is the ledge which surrounds us and attracts lightning which burns the line out.  The wire has to be run from the garage to the pond and that is about oneDsc_0025   hundred and fifty feet and goes across the driveway and through the 'Pink Chimes' Dsc_0002_2 (yes, I am liking that name) border.  Not an easy task to dig it every few years and replace it.  I had some work obligations this weekend and came home to find a 'moat' across the drive and men hard at work running new wire.Dsc_0021   Since the pond hasn't been in service, the Iris pseudacorus has run rampant and needed to be pulled out and thrown in the compost.  The two clumps visible in the first picture must have weighed in at several hundreds pounds including the water they were holding.  Not easy to pull out!  I also didn't get pictures of that since the men were ready and the camera was in the house.  It took three of us plus the tractor to haul them out and then away! Dsc_0028 I can see why it is on the invasive species list although it is a pretty iris.  The new wire was inserted in a pipe for protection from the elements and the shovels.  Dsc_0023 The job is not yet complete but I hope there will be some fish swimming in the pond in the next couple of weeks.Dsc_0002 I hope to be able to sit on this bench, coffee cup in hand, under this crabappleDsc_0006 and watch the fish swim while the water trickles down theseDsc_0016 rocks.  Do you have a water feature in your garden?  Is it a place you sit to relax?


Mary and Hally

High 65 F
Low  40 F

The 'Pink chimes' border, formerly the left front walk border
Progress continues on garden cleanup and the above border is being cleaned and Dsc_0103 compost spread.  There is a Styrax 'Pink Chimes', which is a lovely little tree, in this border.  The trunk is a bit curvy and is visible on the right side of this picture.   I think that the heat wave is over which is a blessed relief for all flowering plants.  A spring rain is predicted for the next few days.  It hasn't rained in well over a week and with soaring temperatures, high of 84 F, the spring flowering trees, perennials,  and bulbs  just don't last very long.  Dsc_0107 One of the small leaved rhododendrons which is now blooming in my garden is Rhododendron 'Mary Fleming'.  I could go into Mary's parentage but lest your eyes glaze over I will just say that she is a pastel princess dressed in pale yellow blooms which have just the slightest tinge of pink on the edges.  The leaves have a bronze cast to them throughout the summer and they gain a little more color through the winter. Dsc_0109_2 Isn't she pretty?  I can't remember her blooming so thoroughly and giving so much satisfaction to this gardener.  Perhaps she has attained that age where she is now a bit more well rounded and filled out, more seasoned.   Another blooming  lady is Prunus 'Hally Jolivette'.Dsc_0106 This is a small tree or shrub which blooms for a two to three weeks.  Dsc_0039_2 It  has the typical Prunus flower but this shrub continues to bloom because all of the flowers do not open at once.  It likes to be a shrubby tree but here I have pruned it to three stems and will give it a bit of a haircut once blooming is finished.  This is listed as a fast growing shrub and this one has been in the garden about three years.  I like it better each year.  As Prunus go, this one is disease and insect resistant so if you have a small space you might consider this shrub.  It can get to fifteen feet but it responds well to pruning.  It is hardy to zone 5.  I spotted this Dsc_0165 Prunus 'Hally Jolivette' at Blithewold.  It is clearly high grafted to a standard rootstock but it was a lovely little lollipop on the edge of the drive.  Which do you prefer?
Here is the 'Pink Chimes' border all ready for a gentle spring rain.


Blithewold beckons!

High 74 F
Low  55 F

Well, I am here to tell you that Kris, over at Blithewold, was not kidding concerning Daffodil Days but I was in a daze when I saw them all Dsc_0126 and then spotted the masses of Erythronium aka Dog tooth violets/trout lily,Dsc_0129
Click to enlarge for full effect!
  which have naturalized in the bosquet.Dsc_0133   They really do look like a lily don't they?  There are also drifts of white.Dsc_0156 The white are lovely but have a different impact than the yellow.  Dsc_0137 They look like stars hugging the ground and the flowers of both yellow and white are fairly small and face the earth perhaps looking down on the lowly inhabitants of the bosquet.  I have been trying to get just a couple to grow in my garden and if this happens then I am in big trouble.  I did get a chance to speak with Gail and she said they are everywhere to the point of  'hitting the compost pile' .  Oh my!  Can you imagine?  I told her to let me know when culling out was going to occur.  In addition to these charming little lovelies, Dan directed me to the water garden where the Prunus x yedoensis 'Akebono' is in full bloom.  Kris was not kidding when she said that this tree  Dsc_0145 could 'stop you in your tracks'!  So delicate and lovely with the petals falling softly to the ground. Dsc_0149 I can't imagine seeing hundreds at one time. Dsc_0153 There were lots of daffodil devotees on the grounds today and I cannot imagine that they were disappointed.  There were also a few tulips planted out and soaking up the sun. Dsc_0140  The entry way to the mansion was looking quite patriotic today.Dsc_0164 This was a bit of a side track during the work day.  We should all be so lucky to have such side tracks.   I am just sorry that Kris was not there today but her hard work, along with that of the rest of the horticulture staff, was clearly, and beautifully, visible.   


Hearts on Fire!

High 73 F
Low  36 F

We are having a week of warmth which is pushing growth at a rapid pace.  When I left home this morning it was still a bit chilly and upon return it was really quite warm and flower buds have opened.  The foliage on the Dicentra spectabilis 'Gold Heart' is  ablaze Dsc_0002 and I really like it best at this stage.  Who really needs the flowers.  This has been in the garden for three years now and I find that the  D. spectabilis 'Alba' and the straight species with the pink flowers both reseed freely.  I have not found any seedlings from this particular 'Gold Heart' bleeding heart yet. Hope springs eternal!

The magnolias are blooming. Dsc_0014 The star magnolia and the species.  This flower is produced from a rootstock which had a yellow magnolia grafted to it but the yellow magnolia died back and this is what is left.  A very hardy plant with spotty flowers.  I think it is fine at the edge of the woodland.  Gee, I forgot to take a picture of the star magnolia.  That will have to wait for another day.   
This Rhododendron is also coloring up nicely, at least the part not eaten by the deer.  I think this one is 'Olga'.  The small leaves always look nice as they reflect the light.  This next combination is the Sedum 'Angelina', Sedum 'I can't remember right now' and a little sprig of Spirea 'Magic Carpet. Dsc_0013 I love this early color combination which has the same colors as the Dicentra s. 'Gold Heart' plus a bit of gray!  Too bad the bleeding heart is a shade plant and these have full sun requirements.  Still,  I'm loving these hot colors!  The hot colors are such a relief from the black and white winter.  What colors do you find most appealing in the spring?  Pale pinks or hot orange?


A slice of summer!

High 68 F
Low  40 F

The EM and I took a bit of a trip out of town this weekend to a party in Poughkeepsie, NY.  Lots of fun but while we were away, summer arrived if only for a brief visit.  The thermometer showed 83 F on Saturday and the river of bulbs has color!  The first to bloom are the 100 'Accent' Narcissus which I planted in October.  Dsc_0027 They have the salmon colored trumpet and creamy white petals.   In between the daffodils there are tulips coming along and there is a 'gap' in the river as I put in some smaller species tulips and some camassia.  Dsc_0029 The EM doesn't like the gap but I am waiting to reserve judgement until everything is done blooming.  The texture is disrupted a bit but the species tulips should be very bright and they are budded up.  I think I will have some bloom overlap.  We shall see and then you can help me decideDsc_0026 if I need to mark the gap and plant more daffodils to fill in. Dsc_0032 Sometimes we all need a little help with these things and who better to ask than the garden lovers out there.  Back to the daffodils. Dsc_0028_2 Isn't the center of a daffodil sublime?


Spring surprises!

High 73 F
Low 29 F

   Dsc_0006Click on pictures to enlarge
There were great extremes in temperature here today with surprising warmth after a very cold evening.  The emerging foliage of the perennials is laced with a filigree of frost which creates those patterns of surprise in the garden that are nature's gift.   I know that I have mentioned the quality of light in the garden at this time of year.  I find this diaphanous veil of light an intrinsic value of spring.  Dsc_0014 The shadows are still quite long but there is an incandescence to the mornings and evenings as if looking through a camera filter.  This past weekend the EM took a ride and picked up this mulch for the Garden of Five Sisters and one Daughter (GFSD)Dsc_0021_2 which is a new garden and hence has many empty spaces just ripe for weeds. Dsc_0003 It was somewhat of a surprise as I hadn't realized that he had been thinking of picking it up this early but doesn't it look pretty sitting all in this pile.  I love the smell of mulch. I haven't finished raking the gardens out yet so this will have to wait a bit.
This little flower is the first on the Corylopsis pauciflora to bloom.  It is about as big as your thumbnail so it is quite small but the detail in a macro shot shows so much more than the eye notices.  The red is such a surprise!
This afternoon while walking in the garden to see what the higher temperatures have brought to light I noticed the pink glow of the R. mucronulatum 'Cornell Pink'.  Even if you are not a 'pink' person this has to be appreciated.  Dsc_0017_2 This wider shot of the garden shows the bleeding heart foliage just under the shrubs and the daffs in bloom.  The foliage is twice as big  as it was yesterday.  The heat does cause the flowers of everything in bloom to fade quickly so I am hoping that temperatures moderate in the next day or so and, we need some rain.

The surprises of nature are welcome but nature has no intent.  We are delighted by the changes in plants from dormancy, to bud, to bloom but these changes will occur whether or not we notice or appreciate them.   Not so with human beings.  We each have an incredible power to touch each other's lives in ways that are purposeful and hopefully, positive.  To bring a smile to someone's face, to make someone feel worthwhile is a gift beyond measure.  My biggest surprise this week was the arrival of a package at the door.  I get a lot of packages but mostly catalogs and samples but the return address on this package said Austin, TX.  Hmmm?  Many of you know of my recent travel woes and the missing of the Spring Fling.  I opened the package and there inside was 'Spring Fling in a box'!  Dsc_0012 The little tokens of sharing which I missed were bundled up for me by Pam, Melissa, Bonnie and  Diana and included the  little blog cards, brochures, seeds,  hand cream and, yes, sitting right there on the white envelope, dried blue/red bonnets direct from Austin, TX.   The little packet with the butterfly on it actually has a couple of seeds!   All reminders and tokens from thoughtful friends who have put a smile on my face and a tear in my eye!  I will take the opportunity to 'Pay it Forward' sometime in the future and I am very grateful to you all. 


Bloom Day - April 15, 2008

High 59 F
Low  30 F

Finally a bloom day with outside blooms!  How gratifying is that?  A big thank you to Carol over at May Dreams for uniting us all on Bloom  Day.  There are a few plants in bloom in the garden today.  The overview of the East Border Dsc_0034 looks a bit bare with just spots of color as theDsc_0009 Rhododendron mucronulatum 'Cornell Pink' starts to put on her pink petticoats and the Scilla siberica continues to shine black light blueDsc_0059 by the crabapple near the fish pond.  The Helleborus foetidus Dsc_0017 is still putting on the green display and next to it the Pachysandra procumbens is blooming with it's cream and brown spikes. Pachysandra_procumbens It is amazing how interesting it looks close up while going unnoticed from a distance.  Not too far away the Japanese Andromeda, Pieris japonica,Dsc_0019 is blooming in spite of the deer damage to its' tops.  This is listed as a deer resistant plant but no one told my deer.  It does have a pretty lily of the valley flower which is fragrant. Grape hyacinths are adding their bits of color Dsc_0013 to the garden in both purple and white.Dsc_0017_2 Around the corner in the left entry border, the Helleborus  x 'Kingston Cardinal' is blooming. Helleborus_x_kingston_cardinal This flower blends in with the leaves a bit too well and came dangerously close to a major raking incident. Dsc_0026 Daffodils andDsc_0028 ChionodoxaDsc_0025 make a great combination but mine are not planted together.  This is something I hope to correct in the future.  In the front by the walkway the violas are plantedDsc_0001 and Tucker looks over the gardenDsc_0035 trying to find a squirrel to chase. 


Lost in the fog!

High 71 F
Low  44 F

Check out that high for today!  It was breezy though which kept the little black flies from swarming.  I did see them even though this was the first warm day we have had this year.  It always arrives well before the gardens are cleaned out.  The top photo is the Garden Supervisor, Tucker, on his morning rounds.  He is a bit miffed as I didn't walk all the way down into the field.   I didn't realize what a stiff breeze was blowing until I reached the top of the pasture. Lots of birds were singing this morning and the new bluebird house on the fence post has an occupant.  Not a bluebird.  Dsc_0021_2 I believe this is a Carolina wren and she was quite perturbed that I disturbed her inspection of the house or her nest building.  She flew out and started chattering.  The wrens sound very pretty to me when they sing.
I took some pictures of the gardens from the deck above them this morning so you can get an idea of the work that lies ahead.  Dsc_0042 Here is the left handed mitten looking quite unraveled.   The long border is above it against the stone wall and it faces north.  Dsc_0041 This is the Florida bed because, as you can see, it is shaped like the peninsula of Florida with the spine of ledge running down the middle. Dsc_0043   This is a shot down the center showing how they relate to one another.  All need raking and clipping and fertilizing and compost spread and this is but  a quarter of the gardens.  That does sound like a whine.  Sorry!  Like Jodi at Bloomingwriter, my mantra is 'one bed at a time'!  On the other side of the house are some other beds. Dsc_0031 This view is towards the east border, which is half cleaned and below the, hmmm,Dsc_0030 I haven't named this far one against the wall on the right side of the picture but the garden by the tree is the entry garden and along the wall...the left walk border.   Yeah, that's it, the left walk border.  All looked gray this morning but these white crocus opened in the afternoonDsc_0047 to reveal their saffron colored centers andDsc_0049 this purple patch lit up the leaves.   Dsc_0028 The clear baby blue of the chionodoxa was magnified with moisture.  Each new day the garden reveals more of her earthly and Dsc_0060_4
Scilla siberica

somewhat unearthly charms. What is charming you in your garden today?