Monday, May 31, 2010

May is Over

May 31, sunny, breezy, beautiful, in the 80s but the wind was cool and sweet.

I watered, we really need more rain.  Everything is done and planted, I just need to add some mulch.  May is officially over, and now the 3 hot months of summer start - June, July, August - and any kind of strenuous garden tasks stop.

Now, just weeding, watering and enjoying!

The clematis viticella alba Luxurians is blooming.

The dappled willows, Salix Hakuro Nishiki came back great this year and are really colorful waving in the breeze.

The baptisia Twilite Prairieblues is an odd color, but it looks nice from the kitchen window.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Memorial Day Weekend

Cloudy and threatening all day, humid, 70s, but no real storms.  A brief sprinkle came through late in the afternoon.

Saw a hummingbird at the feeder today!

Finally, today, the last of the 6 yards of soil was used up, spread about in low spots in the gardens.  I cleaned up the tarp, washed down the pavers, and we now no longer have a pile sitting at the top of the driveway.  We had previously moved about a yard or two to a spot in back of the spruces, and are keeping that covered for any future uses.

So, all the major garden tasks are done as of Memorial Day.  Now all that is needed as summer arrives is some mulch, and ongoing weeding, watering, and minor tending.  Just as planned.

I'm liking everything... except the very end of the new garden along the west walk.  I still want another tree to finish the "allee" feel as you get to the corner.  Something to frame the maple in Meadow's Edge as the walk turns.  Must be small and architectural!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Top Ten Day

A Top Ten day, cool, breezy dry... after all the oppressive heat this was gorgeous.  High in the 70s, hot in the sun, cool in the shade.  Sunny all day.

I planted European ginger in the Northern Exposure garden to create some foliage texture.  Added 6 more epimedium Frohnleiten under the dogwood.  Added a different kind of Myosotis (forget Me Not) under the new redbud, so it's a mix of a darker and lighter blue now.

Planted an annual Nicotiana in the back of the birch garden.  Added three artemesia Silver Mounds in the front of that garden.

And I added more of the geranium wlassovianum in the new garden along the west walk.

Bought two gauras Siskiyou Pink, but I planted them in big pots instead of in the ground.  Hopefully I can get them winter over inside.

The allium moly is a real surprise:

The Oenothera is blooming, so pretty:

And the knock out roses!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


Today was a record breaker, at 99 degrees.  Humidity was over 50%.  Then, finally tonight a brief thunderstorm rolled in, bringing hail and rain.

Impossible to work in the yard at all today, although I did plant a blushing pink knockout rose by the front steps, and weeded a little.  Also tried planting out the zinnia seedlings, but it was so hot, and the ground was so dry even though I had watered yesterday.  So this rain is welcome, even with hail.

The zinnia seedlings really didn't work out.  Too little, and spring came on too fast!  I don't think I'll try seeds again.  They get lost in the emerging spring stuff.

I love the spirea frtischiana Pink Parasols... looks good the year for the first time. 

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Ninety degrees today and humid.  This is unbelievable.  Too hot to do much.

I did move all the sedum kamschaticum to the front of the Medow's Edge and I really like the pop of yellow color and the curvy mounded forms.  Later, when they are no longer blooming, they will be nice green mounds, breaking up the scraggly looking liriope.

In place of the sedum, I put in two carpet roses, which have bright red blooms and should keep blooming all summer.  Nice jolt of red.  These will be low, and wider than tall.  I miss the mounded green foliage of the sedums spilling over the walk, but I hope the groundcover roses will do the trick.

I watered today --- everything that was newly planted, including the oak and two maples I put on the hill.  So hot and uncomfortable.  But we haven't had any rain for a while.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Birch Garden looks great

Too hot and humid.  It's only May.  This is really putting a crimp in my schedule... it has been so summer-like that I can't get much done in the garden.  Another sticky day, in the 80s.  By late afternoon a breeze kicked in and the clouds dispersed, much nicer.

I still need to move what's left of the dirt pile from the top of the driveway.  Too hot.

I want to move these sedum kamtschaticum to the back garden (Meadow's Edge) where the yellow orange will go better (maybe replace the struggling liriope at the front edge).  Too hot.  Here in Northern Exposure they bloom when the weigela does, and I don't like the contrast.  I got some scarlet groundcover roses to go here instead.

The Birch Garden is looking spectacular, except for the hole on the left front where the gaura was.

I like the soft purple nepeta in front of the deep purple salvia, and the pink snapdragons and pink mallow Zebrina in front.  The mallow is crowding out the gas plant, which is looking a little better this year (slow to establish).

Best view is from the bathroom window!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Blooming Now

Warm, humid, in the 70s and 80s.  We went to Ludlow for our anniversary on Saturday and stayed overnight at the Governor's Inn.  Visited Edith Wharton's The Mount on the way back, coming back on rte. 7 through Lenox.

When we got home, so much was in bloom.

As of May 23
  • Red peony Blaze is velvety and intensely red
  • Sweetbay magnolia has light yellow blooms, but still no fragrance
  • Amsonia Blue Ice looks dark blue - purple - navy
  • Knockout roses are prolific and all opening now
  • Allium moly are brightly yellow, and coming up all over
  • Stars of Persia alliums have opened.  Only 2 in Birch Garden this year
  • Bright red Dianthus are cute in the Birch Garden
  • Sedum kamschaticum in orangey yellow
Camassias and Tiarellas have now faded.

Friday, May 21, 2010

80s again, sunny, light breeze, lovely day.

I planted the 10 free trees from Arborday today.  In the past, I've had very limited success planting them out in the field, and almost no success keeping them in pots for several months.  So this time I am trying planting them in right away on the berm in back of the spruces.  I'll keep them there a full year or two and then, if they take, plant them out in the field.

I finished the small garden at the end of the west walk.  The idea is to create a shady lane, drawing the eye toward the curve of the walk and to the big maple in back.
I think I need a small tree where the new garden is, instead of the gray pot.  I want more of an "allee" look, leading to the sunny spot where the maple is.

In that small focal point garden I have the gray pot with dwarf butterfly bush Blue Chip, irises (yes, I'm going to see if I can grow bearded irises) Beverly Sills and Immortality, and a Russian sage for Jim, who has always wanted one.  The red pot has a tiny twig of a cutting from my favorite (now defunct) heather.

Yesterday I changed the hummingbird feeders.

Alliums are coming out along the front walk.  I like the yellow Allium moly.

Peony Blaze is blooming... incredibly vivid, and surrounded by intense purple May Night salvias.

Amsonia Blue Ice is in bloom.

Monday, May 17, 2010

New Black Gum

60s, humid, and overcast today, with some sun.

Bartlett came today and removed the poor linden, then ground the stump.  They took the better part of a whole afternoon to plant the new tupelo, and were very careful, and cleaned up after.

Then they pruned the paper birches from this:
To this:
Nice job.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Saturday in mid May

Beautiful day today, breezy (actually windy), low 60s, sunny.

I planted the Alaska mixed nasturtium seeds in the ground today.  Planted two more spicebush shrubs in the field. 

Watered the katsura, buckeyes, and some perennials in the Birch garden. 

I got 3 German irises (2 are 'Beverly Sills') and a Russian sage to add a little garden at the curve of the walk.  The idea is to draw the eye along the walk to the curve, framing the maple in Meadow's Edge beyond.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Not So Much Rain

Damp in the morning, sunny and humid in the afternoon, in the 70s.  We keep getting forecasts of massive rain storms, and all we've gotten from the last 3 rainstorms is less than a tenth of an inch, a quarter inch, and now last night less than 2 tenths.  We need more rain than this.

I took out the slow to emerge big white gaura in the Birch Garden, and when I dug it up the roots were soft and slimy.  Had to go.  I've now lost all the gauras I had. I moved the Albury purple St. Johnswort there (also slow to emerge, and then in the summer it seeds everywhere), and divided the Sundrops and put a division there.

I put the Frosty Morn sedum in the Meadow's Edge... I don't really like it so much, and it's been planted everywhere, but we'll see how it looks here.

Planted herbs around the patio; lots of parsley around the birdbath, and marjoram and basil along the wall. 

Ordered plants from Lazy S today... my favorites that I want to extend: Wlassovianum geranium, Frohleiten epimedium, and I am going to put European gingers in Northern Exposure where the bergenia is now.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Got a Gap

60s today, cool and partly sunny.
Isn't this pot of violas beautiful?

There's a gap in the Birch Garden where the gaura is slowly coming in... but I think I'll take it out.  It's too slow showing up and just leaves a big hole there as everything else fills in.  What to put in there??
You can see what a big bushy filler it was late in the season last year.  Photos from May 31 last year show it had filled in and was getting bigger... not so this year.

A lot of dark purple in the early May Birch garden:

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Freeze Overnight

Rain today, 40s.

Yesterday when I went out in the morning there was a solid sheet of ice covering the birdbath (I had turned off the heater).  Thermometer says it got down to 30 degrees, and it must have been there for a while overnight.

When I looked at the new hydrangea serrata, the leaves were black and crispy.  There are flower buds that I can see; I wonder if the freeze nipped the buds too, and there will be no flowers (if it even survives).

The newly planted Sheffield Pink mums also looked crispy and frost stricken.

Yikes.  After all those days of 80 degrees, when it seemed summer had hit full blast, I can't believe we had a freeze.  I'm so looking forward to the new hydrangea and the mums... will they be ok?

On Monday Hope's Mothers Day gift arrived: a new antique birdbath:
I put it under the maple in Meadow's Edge.  We'll see if birds prefer the openness of the one right by the patio, or if they like more protection from the maple above the new one.

I finally put up the fairy house that Greg gave me for Christmas.  There were no tree trunks big enough for the door, so I made a condo under the deck stairs.  The fairies seem to like it (the little lantern really does light up at night:

Saturday, May 8, 2010

10 things

Thunderstorms rolled in at 5 a.m., and the power went off until 10 this morning!  Rained almost half an inch, which was really needed.

I thought I would take inventory today, and list what I am liking about the garden and what distresses me as of Spring 2010.

Ten Things I like:
  1. The back hill is filling in and growing.  Trees are leaping up.
  2. Finally like the right side of Meadow's Edge, with camassias and Ogon spirea and the happy  geums next to the stump.  Love the stump.
  3. Dry creek bed.
  4. Doublefile viburnum bloomed this year and looks ready to fill out and grow.
  5. Paperbark maple is growing and getting some shape finally.  Love the stewartia monadelpha next to it. And the Bloodgood maple, and the Crimson Queen too!
  6. The little cabin and gravel walk whimsy under the redbud, so sweet.
  7. The whole west walk, nice composition when the grasses grow.
  8. River birches, wow.
  9. Love my sourwood.
  10. Glowing burgundy heuchera at the edge of the Birch garden, seen from afar, and the geranium wlassovianum too.

Ten Things that I don't like:
  1. The gaura Whirling Butterflies didn't come back.  Try it in pots? And lost all the crocosmia, except maybe one.
  2. The sweetbay magnolias always look iffy in spring, but they fill out much later.  Need to be patient, they look skimpy and unwell at this stage (May)
  3. Witch hazel blooms are nothing to look at.  Maybe with time and maturity (and having replanted Diane to the new bed?)
  4. Spicebush plants are not really thriving... they're ok, but slow growers, both in the field and the ones on the berm.  They did bloom this year, slightly.
  5. Lost both persimmons.
  6. Holes in the low dwarf forsythia hedge, I'm losing entire central branches (voles?)
  7. Don't like the pinky purply clematis planted under the hummer feeder.  Get something with prettier color next year.
  8. Bayberry was beautiful and a strong grower all summer, but got winterburn and is still brown looking even in May (new buds, it is coming back, though)
  9. Front walk is still not pulled together, but better now with the itea and bulbs.
  10. Epimediums are slow taking off under dogwood (Frohnleiten)

Friday, May 7, 2010

Two more cartloads

A little cooler today, sunny, breezy, in the 70s.  The first 6 days of May all hit 80 degrees or more.

I took two more cartloads of soil up to the top of the hill, that's 16 bucketfuls in total.  I planted 3 of the rhododendrons, covered them up with leaves, and we'll see how they do in that deep shade.  The fourth rhododendron looks like it has a snapped stem, but the roots might recover.  I'll keep it potted maybe till next year.

Jim and I removed half of the remaining pile of dirt and put it behind the spruce berm, on a tarp, and covered by another tarp.  There's still a small pile in the driveway!

I planted the 5 mums, Chrysanthemum rubellum Sheffield's Pink.... 3 in the new extension garden at the top of the driveway, and two in the new garden alongside the driveway.  The rubellums can be floppy, so be sure to pinch them.

Pinch mums in late May or June when shoots are 6 inches tall.  Pinch again when 6 inches tall.  Continue pinching until July 4.  

Or,  for the simple version, wait until mid June and then cut plant back by half, cutting just above a leaf node where the leaves join the stem.  This will reduce staking.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Two cartloads

80s again.  Sunny, breezy.  Just beautiful, except we need rain, and I need to get some stuff done in the yard when it's not so hot!

Nevertheless, I loaded up two cartloads on the John Deere and drove out into the meadow and hauled the dirt up into the woods where I want to plant the rhododendrons.  I have obsessed all spring about getting this done.  Hard work.  I use 4 buckets... they don't hold much, but I have to schlep them up that steep hill one at a time.  So, two tractor loads, 4 buckets each... I now have 8 buckets of dirt up there to plant in.  Maybe tomorrow I can get 3 loads done.   The idea is to smother the weeds and vines on the floor of the woods, get these rosebays planted in the fresh dirt, and then let them go.

Planted the aruncus behind the dry creek bed.

Divided a few of the Epimedium Frohenleiten under the dogwood.  I want them to spread.. can't find any more of this variety, although nurseries have lots of other epimediums (planted alpinum Rubrum under the maple in Meadow's Edge.

I am not liking the liriope in front of Meadow's Edge... many didn't come back and the ones that are coming in still look ratty and are struggling a little.  Might rethink the idea of an edge of liriope, and just have a few specimens, but not a row.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Cloisters today

80, sunny, breezy, beautiful day.  Took the day off and went to northern Manhattan, to the Cloisters.
Great trip.  Saw a venerable old corneliancherry dogwood... will the one I planted by the driveway look like this?

I loved the interesting gnarly twisted quinces in the herb / food garden.  Their bark was all mottled.  I later read up on making quince jellies and paste.  These are not the Japanese quince bushes, these are Cydonia oblonga:
Yesterday I planted a pretty purple alyssum around the blueberries where there is an empty spot (the gaura didn't come back).  I still love gaura, but this is the third time I've had failures with it coming back after winter, try it in pots maybe?

Almost all the crocosmia failed to come back.  Only one has any shoots at all.

The four Rosebay rhododendrons that I want to plant in the "saddle" depression up at the edge of Wadhams Road arrived today.  Poorly packed (from Rarefinds). one has its stem completely snapped off.  Now I need to get the dirt up there to build up some planting areas.   Also got a Goatsbeard, Aruncus dioecious, from Rarefinds, which looks good.

Camassias are blooming.  I really like them with the orange geum, and the whole right side of the Meadows Edge garden is now more to my liking.

And tiarella are blooming in an increasing drift:

Monday, May 3, 2010

No Rain

Stormy, hot and sticky, but it finally broke late in the day, down to the 70s.  But we got no rain from all the storms passing through.  Less than one tenth of an inch.

I feel so out of sorts ... had wanted to get more done, move more dirt, add more fill and cut more edges in all the gardens before summer.  And put in herbs, and some additional perennials. Divide some.  But summer is already here, and it's too hot to do much.  I know the temps will get more reasonable, but I have the mid-summer feeling now in spades!  And I don't want to do much heavy work in the yard.  I feel like I really missed spring.

The aronia look so much bloomier than any other year... lovely.  And the doublefile viburnum is going great.  Tulips are now gone.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

I'm melting

High today in the 90s, very expectant, humid, threatening weather, but no storms yet.  It's 82 and sticky inside the house!  We're putting the a/c on.  Forecast is for severe thunderstorms, but they're not here yet.  We really need rain.

The aronia are blooming.  Very delicate and nice.

Camassias are up and ready to open.  The deep purple salvia May Night are opening.

Everything is so early.

The doublefile viburnunm is starting to bloom:
Both of the Blackhaw viburnums (West walk and Spruce berm) have aphids.  I cut off most of the affected branches where the leaves had curled and withered.  It's not a severe infestation, and they'll be ok, but still.

The Blackhaw by the a/c units has one lone blossom in the rear, hard to see!