Thursday, April 29, 2010

Windy windy day

Gusty, windy, some gusts up to 17 mph.  Blew the chairs and umbrella and everything all over. Temps in the  60s.

Pruned the Lynwood forsythia out by the road cut, but really, I couldn't find many older canes to chop out, even though some have real rangy growth.  They're still young plants.  I moved 3 big rocks from behind the forsythia to the Meadow's Edge to add as accents.

Moved the Worcester's Gold caryopteris to the Birch Garden.. the gold foliage was right in line with the new Ogon spirea, so I needed to separate them.

Went after roses and bittersweet on the hill, took a lot out, but my goodness, there's just so much, and poison ivy blankets the entire forest floor at the top.

It was impossible to do much more in all the wind.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Cold snap

Cold today!  After all the record breaking heat that has made everything leaf out two to three weeks early.  Today was chilly, in the 50s, and very very windy.

I planted the three new Home Depot saplings on the hill, a Shumard oak and two red maples:

Look at the tuliptree this year:

And look at how leafed out the whole yard is --- this was taken April 23!

Changed the hummingbird feeder nectar today.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

I am grateful

Overheard yesterday as I shopped at the garden center:

Dad, look here, these are dogwoods.

I was behind a tightly jammed stand of container trees, all about 5 feet high, and they blocked my view of the shoppers on the other side.  But it sounded like an older woman, and a man answered:

Oh?  The same kind I got?

I don't know, Dad.  The tag says Kowza.

What the heck are kowza trees?  I want dogwoods to replace the dead ones I got.

At that point an elderly man's face appeared amid the foliage.

Hi, I said.  Those trees are Kousa dogwoods.  They're a kind of dogwood that is a little bigger than your flowering dogwood.  And more disease resistant, I added.

They don't have flowers?  he asked, alarmed.

Oh, they do, I said.  Big showy ones.  White.

That's good, he said, relieved.  Cause I want to replace mine.  They got that disease.

Anthracnose, I said.  All the beautiful dogwoods around here have it, but the kousas don't get hit with it.

We chatted for a while, and his daughter came around to join us.  I told them the kousas were bigger than what he had, with a more rounded shape.  They both said that was good, they'd plant several 10 feet apart to allow room.  I suggested more space than that.  Oh, good to know.  I told them I was just another customer, not an employee, but they were very grateful for the help.

What about those other trees that are so pretty, you know, the ones that bloom?  Do they have those?

I took a wild guess and said, you mean Bradford pears?  They do sell them here, lots of them.  They're kind of a problem, though.  Pretty, but prone to structural problems, and they are actually invasive.

Oh I know, she said, there's a ton of them in the mall parking lot.

No, those were planted, I said.  Yeah, she replied, the town center has so many too, they're really invasive, aren't they?

Ummm.... get the kousa dogwoods, I suggested.  You'll be happy with them.

They thanked me sincerely, asked a few more questions, and went away very grateful for the help and advice.

And me?  I was also so grateful.  Grateful for the fact that I could offer even this modest advice and I knew what I was talking about.  I was such a newbie a few years ago that I also would have asked someone for "that tree that blooms", or "that one that has the bark".  I know so much now, and I can even help people as they decide to plant trees.

But I was more grateful for the fact that this nice man with the dead trees wanted to replace them with something pretty and hardy and growing.  He had to be 80 years old.  These container trees were $29 saplings.  He would never see them reach any size, and maybe never even see them bloom.

But he was planting trees.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Moving Dirt

Another warm summery day.... still in April!  Everything looks like early June, all leafed out, it's amazing.

A few holdouts are still on April time, and it looks weird to see them dormant while all else is so lush and green.  The Rose of Sharon is always late, and the clethra is still brown. Winterberry hollies just have small leaves.  The ornamental grasses are barely up yet.  Gaura shows absolutely no sign of any green at all... Gwen's are the same way, but I'll wait.

I think I lost all the crocosmia.  All of it.  The Lucifer and the yellow one too.

Today I put cardboard down to smother the grass on the far side of the dry creek bed.  Then topped with soil and made a berm on that side.  I'll put the aruncus there.

Moved more dirt around, filling spots in gardens and around the patio. There's still about 2 yards left, if not more.  I offered some to Olmsteads and they took several wheelbarrowfuls.

Sowed the cosmos seeds today!

Moved the zenobia from the Birch garden to the edge of the patio where I can see it up close.  It looks like it's struggling... also late to leaf out, and not much of a root system when I dug it up.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Gardens are in!

Dry, breezy, 60s, sunny.
A spectacular day, perfect for heavy lifting and putting in the gardens.

We finished filling the driveway gardens, and all plants are in.  I moved the witch hazel 'Diane' from the dry creek bed to the new garden beside the driveway.

I thought it would be such a hard job, but it dug up easily.  The root system was pretty sparse, which might explain its lack of vigor in blooming.  I hope it does better in the loose, well draining soil of the new garden.

The beds are planted, mulched, I added stepping stones to the driveway extension bed.

Also planted the clematis Bees Jubilee next to the stand for the hummingbird feeder at the edge of the patio.

Geums are blooming!

Everything is so far ahead of schedule this year... it looks like mid May!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

This is April?

Again in the 60s, cool, lovely day.  A good day to do the hard work of moving soil and building the new gardens.

This is April?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


60s today, but cool and windy.

Envirocycle delivered 6 cubic feet of topsoil and compost today.  Here's what it looks like:

Good stuff.

I planted the variegated redbud by the creek bed, but I think it's actually too high... might have to readjust the rocks of the creek bed edge.

Also planted the Elizabeth magnolia, that was pretty easy.  Jim helped, shoveling all the dirt!  So much more to do.  Rain coming tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

April Day

Warm, in the high 60s, sunny, partly cloudy.  Still too warm for April.


Dirt is coming tomorrow.  I gave up on Bluestone and called Envirocycle.  Six cubic yards for $198 including delivery.

The shape of the new gardens is final.

The Oklahoma redbud is blooming:

All the black and white tulips came back, looking good:

The dogwood is blooming, but I'm not crazy about the watermelon pink color:

I planted the Japanese maple Orange Dream in the Birch garden, at the back.   I originally thought it would be a good small, narrow tree to finish the west walk as you get to the curve of the walk, but it's too shrubby, and doesn't tolerate wind and afternoon sun too well. 

Retractable awning arrived today... an 18 wheeler had to negotiate the cul de sac!  Yikes.  It's huge, 150 pounds, 13 feet long, taking up a whole strip of the garage right now in its tubing.  We'll see if we can get it installed.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Japanese maple

Windy and cloudy today, in the 50s to 60s.

Bought a small Japanese maple today at Bosco's: Acer palmatum Orange Dream.  Beautiful foliage, the label says it stays 10 feet tall, 5 feet wide, so perfect for the end of the new driveway extension garden, just before you get to the curve in the path.  But online sources say it is shrubby (not tree like) and gets twice as wide, to 10 or 15 feet.
acerĀ  palmatum

Can I keep it pruned so it stays open and tree like?  I want something to draw the eye to the curve as you come down the walk.... narrow, upright, a "beacon".  I thought maybe a bodnant viburnum, which is upright and to 10 feet tall (winter blooms, fragrant, fall color), but nobody has it, even online it's hard to find anywhere.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Storm coming

Another hot day, in the 70s, very nice, sunny.  But it feels stormy this afternoon, and rain is coming in for Friday and Saturday.  We need it.

I planted the male kiwi vines in the containers in front of the meters this morning.  Then spent some time finalizing the shape of the new garden at the top of the driveway, I think it's done.  Just need planting dirt.

Got bags of mulch today and spread 1 bag (2 cubic feet) each under the three willows, the grass was already taking over after I had cleared out under each one earlier this spring.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

We Need Rain

Light frost last night, 32 degrees when I got up, but sunny, and in the 70s this afternoon.  This is just not typical April weather.  Everything has leafed out too early.

Bartlett came by today and inspected.  They treated the Austrian pines for white pine weevil and sprayed fungicide on other trees.  The white birches need some serious pruning for development and form, so I've asked Bartlett for a quote.

After March's 5 inches of rain, it's been 14 dry days and everything is drying out.  We need rain.
  • Watered the katsura tree and the dappled willows.
Planted the Epimedium rubrum under the maple in Meadow's Edge.  Divided the helenium.  Pruned the dappled willows after discussion with Bartlett.  The branches I did not prune over winter are rangy and have leaves at intervals, so I chopped off a few.  The stumps of what I pruned last winter are bursting with new growth.  Next year: coppice them.

Dug up the gooseneck loosestrife and planted them in containers with some soapwort.

Whiteflower Farm order came today: 2 male Actinidia kiwi vines, and 3 bunchberry Cornus canadensis.

The little bitty tuliptree I unpotted and planted out in the meadow yesterday is looking very limp and stressed.  I hope it takes.  We did have a light frost last night, and it only has a little herbaceous growth, it's not really a sapling yet.

I did more cutting and shaping of the new gardens, still more to do.  Working at the top of the driveway, I smelled a beautiful fragrance... it's the daffodils!  Perfume on the breeze.
Early spring light:

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Return of the Tulips

A little cloudy, a little sunny, pretty nice today, in the 60s.
  • Fertilized today.  Spread some granular  6-6-4, a light dusting, in all the gardens.
  • Watered the buckeyes.
All of the Queen of Night and White Triumphator tulips came back up!  The white are opening first, then the dark purple.

I didn't do any work on cutting the new garden beds today, although they still need some expanding.  Needed a break, and there's no dirt available to do the planting anyway.

Instead, I planted the blue junipers under the far birch (took out the deer magnet hostas).  Also planted the two new kinnikinnik plants in front.

Divided a few tiarella, split one of the Miss Manners physostegia, transplanted what I think are tiny nepeta seedlings next to my cement bench... we'll see if they can take the dry under the birch.

Thought about dividing the two astilbe, but I think I'll let them go one more year.  They're really big and full, coming up great.  I don't really have a good shady place for any divisions.

Planted the little volunteer tuliptree seedling that I wintered over in a pot.  I put it out in the back meadow.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Spring is coming on too fast

Sunny and cool. breezy.

The wild cherry at the edge of the road on the back hill is in bloom.
Is the bayberry supposed to green up very late?  Everything is way ahead of schedule due to the record warmth last week, but the bayberry is still brown.  Is a late emerger? Or did it die over the winter?
Other plants that I know are late emergers: the winterberry hollies next to the bayberry.  Amsonia, Rose of Sharon, and all the birches are late.

Already getting ready to bloom now in mid April: the geums have opening buds, the doublefile viburnum is budding, the blueberries have little flowers, as does the kinnikinnik.  The tiarella are ready to be divided, they have almost open blooms.  The Deutzia gracilis is almost ready to open.  So early this year!

I did more digging and shaping the driveway garden.  Still more to do, but with no idea when I'll ever get a delivery of planting dirt, there's no hurry.  No word from Bluestone, and they probably can't even get to it until next weekend now, if at all.  I hate trying to do a project without the needed materials.  I know it's only mid April, but I want to get this done.  The magnolia is blooming, I really wanted to plant these trees when they were dormant.  Grrrr.

Isn't the new spirea Ogon a charmer?

Sunday, April 11, 2010

No Dirt Today

Cool, sunny, low 60s.

Bluestone didn't show up today.  They were supposed to deliver a truckload of dirt, and had confirmed today, but no dirt.  I'm back to being frustrated about trying to get garden plans completed when dependent on landscaper commitments.  Sigh.

I did cut out the garden along the driveway around the spring witch hazel.  Jim helped.  There was so much sod to remove, and it's still too small, I need to expand it more.

Don't like the shape yet.  I didn't lay it out first, just started removing turf, and it's an odd shape.  More work to do, so maybe it's good the dirt didn't arrive yet.

This new garden will have the existing spring hazel, the moved witch hazel Diane to its left.  The Cornus mas will go behind the spring hazel, it will get taller (need to keep it limbed up).  Then the lacecap hydrangea to the right.  Nice combo, just need to get the garden size and shape finalized.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Where to put the Magnolia

Sunny but very windy and cold today, in the 40s.  Later in the afternoon the sun had warmed things up into the 50s or low 60s, but still very windy.

I transplanted the nasturtium and zinnia seedlings into individual pots.  Next time instead of sowing  them in flats and then transplanting, I'll just put individual seeds into the individual pots to start.  The nasturtium seeds are large, easily handled individually.
I removed the sod for the new magnolia, and fussed some more with the shape of the other gardens where the redbud and stewartia will go.  Big pile of dirt gets delivered tomorrow.  It's so hard to picture eventual mature sizes.

I'm especially confused with where to put the magnolia, and how to extend the plantings along the driveway.... don't know where to put them!  The Norway maple will get so large and dominate the foot of the driveway, so I don't want the magnolia too close, but where I've cut right now leaves a huge gap between the maturing maple and the spindly little magnolia.  It doesn't do anything to screen Olmstead's side of their house.  And yet .... their mature sizes will be so different.

The side of the driveway appears to be very well drained, the soil was dry and crumbly even after all our rain.  Good thing, magnolias do not like wet feet.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Hot and windy

Too hot and windy again today to do much in the garden.  It's only 82 degrees, not the 90 degrees we hit yesterday, but I'm waiting for the cool to return before cutting gardens and doing heavy work out there.  It really is hot!

Good news -- Bluestone will deliver a truckload of topsoil on Sunday, and the weather will be cooler next week.  Besides, I'm completely rethinking the design of the new gardens, what to put where.... getting the variegated Cornus Mas messed me up.

I got two low junipers from Gledhill today, Silver Mist Shore Juniper, to plant under the farthest birch.  I'll take out the hostas there now... they just get decimated by the deer, and they don't do well there competing for water with the birch and sitting in the sun.

Also got 2 more Massachusedtts Kinnikinninik to replace the two I lost to winter this year.

And 4 Epimedium alpinum 'Rubrum' which I'm going to try to stuff in at the maple's roots in Meadow's Edge.

Everything is leafing out in this weather... the tree, the blueberries, perennials are popping up.  yikes.

Love this picture of the Dragon's Blood clover intertwining in the Sedum Angelina.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Hot! and Summery! 90 degrees!

It got into the high 80s today (it's actually 90 right now on my weather widget), sunny and windy and too hot to do much outside.  Jim mowed with the new rider tractor.

This weather has me so mixed up.  I KNOW we will have cold and even frosts again, it's only early April.  But things are pushing up, perennials are emerging and it feels so much like late May, that I'm anxious that I won't get stuff done before the heat of summer.  I still need to dig the beds for the plants along the driveway (need dirt.. no answer from Bluestone).  It feels like I'll be doing it in the misery of hot summer, but really, it's only April.

I did manage to plant the pieris today.  Look at the ratty brown heathers:
They need to be replaced.
So the Bisbee's Dwarf pieris went in here, a nice green behind the spreading mounds of green waxy sedums (Sedum kamschaticum Weihenstephaner Gold):
I also planted the Valley Valentine pieris under the porch window.  And the Ogon spirea out in Meadow's Edge, where it should fill the empty area nicely.  I hope.  I moved some purple coneflowers to put it in.

The yellow root is blooming before it leafs out!

The Golden Peep forsythia is a problem.  I cut out the dead wood, not sure what the problem is or what I should do here.  Fill in with more cuttings?
And, a final note on this hot summery day as I sit in my conservatory (porch):
I have seedlings!  Zinnias are popping up, and I think I even see a little hint of nasturtium peeking up.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

New Broken Arrow plants

Rainy and damp this morning, but it warmed up and was partly sunny by afternoon, a little breezy.  In the low 70s.

Jim drove me down to Broken Arrow to pick up the three ceanothus plants they didn't have when we were there in mid March and picked up the other new plants.

In addition to the Ceanothus americanus (New Jersey Tea) that will go under the new Stewartia monadelpha, I got:

Pieris 'Valley Valentine', a nice evergreen anchor that will fill the last space at the edge of the porch, next to the Rose of Sharon.  Should get to 7 feet tall.  It's exactly 6 feet to the bottom of the east porch windows, so I may get a slight view of the deep rosy flowers in April when it blooms at maturity.  The female kiwi vines are behind it, against the porch and deck wall.

Also got a dwarf Pieris, called Bisbee's Dwarf, to replace the clump of 3 heathers at the curve in Northern Exposure.  They may be fine and green up, but now in April they are ratty brown.  I'm giving up on heathers.  Maybe in containers.  The tiny Pieris will be just 2 or 3 feet tall and wide, and will be evergreen -- something to hold interest at that end of the corner and to bloom early (white flowers).

Also got a Spirea Ogon, which everyone raves about for Meadow's Edge.   It will have bright foliage, lasting well into winter.  It's in flower now, with soft white frothy blooms.  Maybe put this where the Hamamelis Diane is... it can get quite large.
And I got a Cornus mas!  But I did not realize it is 'Aureo variegata' and has golden splashed leaves.  I originally wanted to put it where the Hamamelis 'Diane' is now, behind the dry creek bed, but with the variegated redbud in front, I dunno about the two variegated small trees together.  Where to put this?

How about to the left and behind the roses at the top of the driveway?  Fruit can be messy, poor fall color.  May be too wide spreading for there, but if I keep it limbed up, and narrower it might overarch the roses nicely?

Monday, April 5, 2010

Day after Easter

Another unseasonably warm day, sunny, windy, but in the 70s.  Unbelieveable for early April.

I spent another hour or so on the back hill pulling multiflora roses and bitersweet.  There's so much of it.  I'll keep after it

It's been so warm that I was tempted to divide perennials today... and I did.  Geum (now there are 6 on the right of Meadow's Edge and 3 on the left) and Geranium wlassovianum (now have 7 plants).  It's probably too early, but they were greening up and starting to form nice mounds of foliage!

I moved rocks from below the little boxwoods to extend the dry creek bed a bit.  The bed is cut for the redbud's location right in front of the creek bed (my new Cercis Silver Cloud) but I need dirt.  Jim has called Bluestone twice now, but no response (need 6 cu. yards).  I get so frustrated... I want to get these trees planted and I want to do it when it's cool in April, but you never get a response.

As a little side rant, that's one of the problems using a landscaper in any of my gardening efforts... you're on their time, their schedule.  They come when they can, or when you can finally get ahold of them.  That's why the Birch Garden, Back Strip and Meadow's Edge weren't installed until the very end of September in '07... that's when he came to dig and fill with dirt.  He just showed up, and we were going out, so I wasn't there when he cut the shapes of the gardens.  And then I was left to plant perennials in early October... not good.

So here I am now, wanting to get these projects underway in early spring, but I can't until some time later whenever we can get Peter... and then who knows when he can deliver the 6 yards of soil.  I'll be digging and planting in the heat in late May or June.  Aaack.  OK, enough of rant.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Full On Forsythia

Another warm sunny day, breezy, in the 60s, low 70s.  Just beautiful.

The forsythia are now in full bloom everywhere.  Stunning!  They really are very common, planted just about in every yard, but there is nothing sunnier and no prettier yellow.

The Okame cherry is also at maximum bloom, a really pretty pink.  I do despair about its shape:
Today I brought the deck furniture up, and got out the hose reels and connected everything, so I'm ready for watering!

I also ordered some plants from a nursery called Rarefinds.  I have it in my head I want to put great big evergreen rhododendrons at the very top of the hill, in the wooded area right along the road, hopefully to look naturalistic.  There's a sort of "saddle" area that dips and is the most exposed to the road.  I want screening there (the house across the street leaves a megawatt floodlight on all night that  beams into our back windows).
So I ordered 4 Rhododendron maximum, the ones that you see around old homes that get huge, up to 12 feet.  I'll need to bring some dirt up there, there is no real diggable soil.  But if I can add some dirt and plant these while small, they may naturalize nicely and form a big evergreen wall among the trees.  Scheduled for delivery the week of May 3.


Friday, April 2, 2010


Beautiful, sunny, in the 60s.  The grass has completely greened up and buds are suddenly everywhere.

The meadow is still squishy and has standing water after all the rain.  The yard is better, but still moist.

I tried to cut rose canes on the hill and in the meadow on the east side.  Got several, and used the VineX, but the nasty gnats that torture your face were out, and were driving me nuts.  I keep at it, probably have cut or pulled or treated a third of the roses and bittersweet so far this season.  Maybe that's optimistic.

Added compost to the liriope in Meadow's Edge garden.

Later, in the afternoon, the gnats were gone, and I started expanding the Meadow's Edge garden at the far right, for a place to put the variegated redbud.  But it was awfully wet, and digging up the sod was mucky work.

I put the hummingbird feeders out today to try to attract the early male scouts.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Forsythia and Sunshine

The sun is out after all the rain and today was in the mid 60s, really nice.

The Lynwood forsythia at the road cut is blooming pretty exuberantly.  I'll need to do some thinning of the older canes right after the flowers are gone.  I'm not too happy with the Golden Peep forsythia along the house foundation.  There are nice full ones blooming, and then some gaps in the middle.  I'm not sure what is going on, why the middle ones are languishing.
I finished the last two willows, cutting out the sod in the area below, and adding a bag of compost to each one.  Did some weeding in all the gardens, everything is so wet and so easy to pull now!

I removed the pincushion flowers from below the doublefile viburnum.  That's where the nasturtiums will go.