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September 2008

August 2008

Spiny balls and other exotics!

High 80 F
Low  59 F
This past week I had the pleasure of visiting Tower Hill Botanic Garden in Boyleston, MA.  I have posted about this public garden in the past and it is run by the Worcester County Horticultural Society which is the third oldest such society in America.  Unlike the Massachusetts Horticultural Society which has  apparently been mismanaged for years, Tower Hill is a jewel and still under development with plans which are phased in and implemented with precision.   The horticultural staff always has something new showing in their gardens and on Wordless Wednesday I showed this plant, Swan Flower or Spiny Balls, Gomphocarpus physocarpus. Dawn from Tower Hill did identify it for me but I don't think she knew that I took the picture while I was at Tower Hill on Wednesday of last week.  I thank her for the identification.  This plant is about four feet tall and really quite interesting.  As you can see from this next picture, spiny balls is an apt name. The honey bees were all over it.Dsc_0062_2 I will look for seeds for next year 's garden.  The veggie garden at Tower Hill is always outstanding and this year's them seems to be music.  Dsc_0058 The fanciful harp  and the copper G clef Dsc_0068 are just two of the whimsical items which make this garden edible and interesting.  Dsc_0064 The beds are a feast for the eyes.Dsc_0065   I had not seen this pepper before and it is a beautiful yellow with purple streaks. Dsc_0056 The container area is also color coded.Dsc_0057   I think it helps to have a greenhouse to get the garden started. Dsc_0071 Sometimes the simplest of plantings make a memorable impression as does this container planted with the succulent and placed on the water fountain. Dsc_0078 The borders are lush and full Dsc_0073 as the summer starts to unravel and thread its' way toward the shorter, cooler days of fall.   The sun is much lower in the sky as evidenced by the dramatic shadows and backlighting of annualsDsc_0046 and  grasses.  Dsc_0033 There are thoughtful, interesting plantings in all directions at Tower Hill. Dsc_0049 It is an exceptional place. 

Late summer garden

High 80 F
Low  50 F
This is the time of year of great temperature disparity.  It is chilly in the morning but as the day progresses, layers must be shed.  The garden doesn't seem to mind.  The blue plumbago, Ceratostigma plumbaginoides,  is showing its' fine colors and while it is blue, the flower buds are definitely red, creating a nice contrast.  This nice little ground cover blooms in full sun or partial shade and, while it is listed hardy to Zone 6, I have never had problems with it in my 5b garden.  It fills the gap over the spring flowering bulbs and produces nice foliage well before the blooms appear.  Another late blooming flower is the Tricyrtis formosana ' Amethyst' . Dsc_0038_2 It is best up close as it has very small, orchid like blooms.  I guess you could mass these plants for better effect but the intricate little blossoms do draw one closer to them. Dsc_0040 The form is a bit gangly but they are unique flowers well worth a second or third glance. The gentians are also starting to show color.  Dsc_0053 This is a new species which promises to be a beauty (I promise to dig out the tag when it blooms).   Lest you think that there are only small flowers blooming this time of year, the disco series of Hibiscus are blooming with flowers so overblown and large, they look otherworldly. Dsc_0054_2 I am never sure if I like this Hibiscus as it lacks subtlety with it's frisbee sized flowers but they are hard to ignore.  What do you think of these Hibiscus and do you have any in your garden?

View from the bench

High 75 F
Low  50 F


The  bench by the fish pond has a great view.  Tucker and I often have morning coffee sitting on this bench.  The water hyacinths have had a good year.  They don't always take over the pond but this year they must have really liked the weather. Dsc_0044_2 This is the view from the bench across the pond to the far garden. I am thinking of cutting another bed along the far edge of the pool and planting some screening shrubs and grasses so that there is a sense of seclusion to the fish pond.  What do you think?  I am open to suggestions. I have thought of this for several years but haven't implemented any ideas yet.   Dsc_0045 Looking a bit more to the right, the grasses are providing a bit of privacy behind the waterfall. Until this spring, the waterfall had been silent for several years. Dsc_0048 The ledge around us seems to attract lightening and since the power source is in that far off garage just visible in the picture, it has been a task to replace the power line.  Hopefully, this latest one  will weather all storms.Dsc_0024   The new filter is working well and the fish seem quite happy although they do have voracious appetites in the summer. Dsc_0046 Looking to the left from the bench, the rhododendrons and the Kousa dogwood edge the woods.  The deer have limbed up the rhodies quite nicely. Dsc_0025 The Kousa is sporting many berries which are starting to color for the fall display.  The volunteers in this garden include this Verbena bonariensis Dsc_0049 which is providing a hold for one of the morning glories.  Sometimes nature's plan is more interesting than any the gardener can create.   

Garden Shots

High 83 F
Low  53 F
Just a few pictures to end the week.  The above is a picture of the 'Grandpa Ott' morning glory which re-seeded itself near the fish pond bench.  It is curling around the legs of the bench on the groundDsc_0036 and also climbing the plants in this garden.  I am enjoying it next to the amaranthus leaves.  Dsc_0033 The bench is an inviting place to sit, watch the fish and frogs, and have a morning cup of coffee.    I need to take a picture of the view from the bench but here, at least,Dsc_0047 is a view of the bench.   Have a great weekend!

The pool garden.

High 79 F
Low  59 F (so far)

I am fortunate to have a pool.  I don't show it on the blog much as it seems a bit showy to do so but there it is.   I feel very lucky to be able to enjoy a swim every few days or so.  Tucker loves to swim.  He uses it the most but when you live in the country with limited diversions, a pool is a very nice thing to have. The gardens around the pool include a border on the left side which has assorted Lilium and daylilies and also some annuals. Dsc_0314 It looked great when the lilies and the huge delphiniums were in bloom.  It needs some cleaning right about now and looks best in a long shot.  Dsc_0019 The veggie garden is on the other side (on the left in the second picture).  Since the area has to be fenced by law because of the pool, even in the middle of nowhere, it is a good area for theDsc_0017 vegetables.Dsc_0316 It is not too big which is why the corn patch went in last year.  The pool garden is a separate room because of the fence. Dsc_0313  I love the gate which the EM made.  It is simple and frames the view both into the pool area and looking out toward the ledge border.  Dsc_0325 A sense of enclosure can be a very good feeling don't you think? 

Lavender Lace

High 83 F
Low  55 F
In the garden there are those perennials which are standouts with no need to elbow their way front and center.   Perennials such as peonies and phlox always catch ones' eye with their big, showy flowers and subtle fragrance but a garden made up of only the 'showgirls' would be sensory overload for those of us who enjoy the subtlety of fine foliage, delicate stippling and gem sized flowers.  I have not met a garden connoisseur or even a basic plant lover who favors the wild abundance of vivid annuals to the elegance of a well planned perennial garden.  I think there are many more of the 'understudies'  playing their roles to perfection and adding charm and interest to the border than the 'showgirls'.  That is the way it has to be.  Too many stars will spoil the show.  One such plant is meadow rue or Thalictrum rochebruneanum 'Lavender Mist'.  Mist it is as it raises its' tiny but perfect blossomsDsc_0039 up over its' delicately textured, mounding leaves on wiry but sturdy stems.  The plants in my garden have been more vigorous in past years and should probably be lifted, divided and given a fresh bath of compost.  I think this plant looks better in good sized groupings to enhance the veil like effect of its' airborne flowers and I must add some more to this planting.   This Thalictrum is native to Japan and mine flowers fairly well in high canopy shade.  The foliage is somewhat like that  of columbine which is also in the Ranunculaceae family although I have yet to see leaf miner damage, which seems to be standard on columbine leaves, on the leaves of this plant. Dsc_0038 Another big advantage to growing this meadow rue is that it is blooming right now in the garden which is a bit later than the phlox but before the colorful asters and sneeze weeds come into bloom.  It is airy and ethereal and a great addition to the border.   Are any of you having success with this or other species of meadow rue?

One year later!

High 75 F
Low  54 F

It is so easy to get overwhelmed with gardening chores and priorities must be set.  The GFSD was started over a year ago and it was designed for winter and spring interest as the garden would be hidden in the summer by the corn crop.  The mulch was purchased this spring to keep down the weeds but other, more visible, gardens required more immediate attention.Dsc_0002   The GFSD has suffered as the mulch was not put on the bed and since the corn crop failed it is very visible to me as I walk around the garden in the morning. I am not proud of the way it looks. I did  work hard this weekend to try and bring order to disorder.  The EM harrowed the corn patch once again and the plan is to plant a cover crop for the winter. Dsc_0007 I spent most of Saturday weeding this border.  I know, it looks pretty dismal. In addition, I did have a couple of shrub failures.  The Disanthus cercidifolius, a shrub which seems to have no common name, leafed out this spring but a late frost shriveled the leaves and it never put out another flush. I will get another as it has a lovely cercis/redbud like leaf and beautiful plum fall coloration.  The other two deaths in the border were two out of three Microbiota decussata which is a lovely shade loving evergreen ground cover.  Oh well, spit happens.  Don't you love to get dirty in the garden?  We have had quite a bit of rain lately so the weeds came up easily but some of them were pretty mighty.  The after shots were taken on Sunday. Dsc_0010 I worked on Sunday and the EM mulched the bed. Dsc_0011 It needs just a touch of raking and a more well defined edge but it looks considerably better. Tucker loves to lie in new mulch. Dsc_0012 Now I have to start thinking about extending the 'river of bulbs' in this bed. Dsc_0005 Is anyone else thinking of bulbs this time of year?