Saturday, October 30, 2010

End of October

Today was cold, in the low 50s and breezy.  Cloudy.  But earlier this week, before a front came through, we had balmy days.

At one point during the week, I was sitting in the Adirondack chair at the far end of the yard next to the Birch Garden.  There was a blue sky, it was very warm, windy, and all the colors of fall were dancing around in the gusts of wind.  Yellow leaves began raining down in swirls and eddies, and they sparkled as they were blown around.  It was a bright shower of leaves glittering in the blue sky.  A magical moment.

Today I spread more of the Espoma gravel vole bloc in the front garden.  That's two big bags, covered up with some compost.  I took out some of the sedums that the voles had really eaten off at the roots.  I had put out traps, and they apparently ate all the peanut butter bait, nothing left of that at all.  But the traps were unsprung.

I didn't know the gooseneck loosestrife (Lysimachia clethroides) turned yellow in fall.  It looks really nice in the container with the still green foliage of the soapwort, with its dried arching gooseneck flower spikes still on.

The sourwood has lost all its leaves and looks so small and sparse.  Is it thriving?  It looked ok this summer, but does not seem to have grown even an inch.

Does it even seem much bigger than it was in 2007?  I guess.

The black gum behind the dry creek bed also seems to be ok, but hasn't grown an inch.  And its naturally tiered structure is getting flatter and flatter and weirder.  The top seems to be missing.

Sourwood and Black Gum are both slow growers... but are these ok??

A shot to end with:
I love this view, but the dry creek bed looks a little too structured and neat, like a symmetrical trench.  It needs more variation and some rougher-shaped edges.  And some plant stuff spilling around it.  Hmmmmm.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Warm October

Rainy today but very warm, in the high 60s overnight!  Summery.

Fall color is still going great.

Mums and Stewartia

Doublefile viburnum, Blue Ice amsonia, Dimity fleeceflower

Looking back

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Autumn Day

50s today, but sunny and calm, very nice day to work outside.  Jim cleaned up the garage, brought in the patio furniture and drained and stored all the hoses.

I cleaned up the gardens some more, cut down the geranium wlassovianum even though they still had color.  But without the dried tangle below, the blueberries and amsonias in the Northern Exposure garden look neater and nicer.  This is the first year the blueberrries have some red fall color, but the amsonia taebermontanas haven't turned yellow yet.

I took the kiwi vines out of the white bottomless planters... the soil kept falling out even though I had put hardware cloth in the bottoms.  I chopped them pretty severely, then wrangled the rootballs pretty roughly.  Repotted them in the 14 x 14 square plastic pots and then put the white plastic trellis into the soil... right into the remaining roots.  Some pretty rough handling, I'm afraid!

I also pruned off some large branches at the bottom of the Blackhaw viburnum to limb it up a little into the tree like form I want.  And I took off some tall suckers.  I want to keep this narrow and tree shaped in between the two air conditioners.

The Blackhaw has a dense twiggy branching pattern, and the branches go every which way, so pruning for shape is a challenge.  The Blackhaw doesn't have much color yet.

Isn't this combination of mums and Stewartia pretty?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Fall Clean Up

Today is wet and rainy, in the 40s.  A front is coming through.

Yesterday was partly sunny and in the 50s.  I spent most of the morning out in the yard pulling out the ratty daylily foliage, cutting back the spent stalks of monarda and veronica and coreopsis and other perennials.  I chopped back the heleniums... they were so gorgeous and sunny and bright in the wet summer of '09, but got all brown and ugly this summer.  Even with watering it was just too dry and hot for them.  But they're keepers for next year.  I yanked most of the zinnias and marigolds out.

Berries on the aronia
I found bittersweet seedlings everwhere.  There was even a large fully grown plant twining tightly around an aronia stem already!  I untwisted it and pulled that right out. 

I pulled out all the purple coneflowers from Meadow's Edge. They just never did well, always bug-eaten and floppy and unattractive.  They're gone, and will be replaced with Karl Foerster grass in the spring for a more meadowy look there.

Sprayed the front walk garden with vole deterrant, we'll see if that helps. Tunnels are everywhere.

On the back hill my prized little Norway spruce that had been growing leaps and bounds was completely and totally whacked by a deer.  The entire top leader was chomped off and the bark stripped all the way down the trunk to the middle of the plant.  I cut it down to the middle, took off all the side branches but one to try to start another leader.  Then, in anger, I sprayed the whole area with what was left of the Plantskydd.  Actually, the sprayer was clogged (of course), so I just poured the foul stuff all around.  Pheeeuw.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Black Gums in Fall

Ancient Nyssa sylvaticas in Elizabeth Park.

New Black gum in my front yard.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Ladies in Red

Cool today, in the 50s.

Sprinkled elemental sulfur around the sourwood and the blueberries, and lime at the base of the new redbud.

I discovered that the Lady in Red salvia that I had planted out in Meadow's Edge last year seeded itself.  It doesn't winter over, but there under the fading perennials and flopping zinnias were some seedlings, quite small this late in the season, but a few were even blooming.

I potted them up, and will keep them, along with the two potted ones I had all summer, on the porch.  Let's see if they winter over there in the protected space.  I do like them, and last spring I had to go to several nurseries before I found two to buy.

I now have 15 pots of Lady in Red!  I f they all survive, I will be able to mass them along the patio wall near the hummingbird feeder.  The two I had were nice, but hardly a visual impact.  15 of them, or even half a dozen if that's all that survives, will look great massed together.

I finally did something with the strip of garden I cut along the west walk --- I had been debating all summer what to put there as the final "frame" as your eye travels from the driveway down the walk to the back yard and garden.  I had considered all kinds of trees for vertical impact.

In the end, I moved the new Tardiva hydrangea to the "frame" spot and I will let it grow tall, maybe not as a standard, but I'll try to prune it to be narrow.  The dusty rose blooms in fall will complement the rusty hue of the Stewartia monadelpha preceding it.
Hardly visible in this photo, the Tardiva is right in front of the irises and should rise up above them.  Then, to fill in the arc of this garden strip, I moved the baptisia that Becky gave me from her garden (it's been moved about 4 times already now).  That will fill in that whole space with nice clean foliage all summer.  Haven't seen it bloom yet, I hope it's a pretty blue.

I moved a couple geums to the front of Meadow's Edge with the others.  Hello, who is this?

I'm anxiously waiting for the Sheffield Pink mums to burst out.  Buds are everywhere, and the plants really filled in to form big green mounds.

After looking wiped out in late summer, the Whirling Butterflies Gaura looks great again.  These are in pots, and I am going to see if they winter over on the porch as well.

Friday, October 8, 2010

I Have Returned

I'm back from Switzerland and Italy and when we got back I found that the long summer drought had been broken.  Smashed, with almost 4 inches of drenching rain in the days just before we returned.  And then it rained off and on in the week since our return.

The grass is lushly green, everything survived.  There were high winds while we were away: the weather station recorded a max. wind gust of 57 mph!!  The leaves of the smaller more drought stricken trees are all blown down.  The maples on the back hill were so gorgeous at this time last year, but this year they are denuded.  No color out there this year, : (

The sourwood is denuded on half its canopy, although the flower sprays held on.

But all in all the gardens look good.

The Montauk daisies are in full bloom, the only contrast to the reds and rusts in the Birch garden right now.  The two clumps that are in Meadow's Edge are not blooming... too shady?

The Sheffield Pink mums have not yet bloomed, but there are tight buds everywhere.

Deer damage is evident on the ceanothus, New Jersey Tea plants.  Two of the three are chomped.  And one of the Sheffield Pink mums had been oddly pruned:
While I was gone the bulbs I ordered came.  Today was sunny and breezy and finally dry, so I planted them:
100 Galanthus (Snowdrops) under the Crimson Queen Japanese maple in front.
50 Colchicums 'Speciosus Albus' (White fall crocuses) in front near the steps.
12 Tulips 'Groenland' along the front walk.  They are pink with green striations.

I finally like the sedums 'Frosty Morn' that were planted along the front walk.  Last year they were so floppy and a funny dusty color, that I ripped out most, and ended up putting them in Meadow's Edge.  The couple that remained in the front walk are light and pretty and fluffy and adding some brightness this year.  They look much better.