Friday, April 29, 2011

First Nice Day of Spring

Callery pear is blooming
Cool, partly sunny and in the high 60s today.  It was the first nice day of April... the 29th.  The past few days have been drizzly, gloomy, gray.  But things are starting to leaf out.

I got up at 6 a.m. to watch the royal wedding, then headed out and got the following done today:
  • Moved all the Grow Lo sumacs to the hazel garden. Three more just came from Forestfarm.  The ideas is to have a massed ground cover there.
  • Planted all the Chocolate Chip coleus under the Orange Dream Japanese maple.
  • Planted three new Midnight Rose heucheras in the back of the Birch Garden.
  • Planted three new Physostegia Miss Manners (and divided two) in Meadow's Edge.
  • Planted all the inkberry hollies and fothergillas and the dwarf Oriental spruce in the new Secret Garden border.  Jim dug the holes for me.
  • Planted the pots for the patio: violas and pelargoniums.  Some say violas want full sun, some say full shade.  Huh?
the view today of Olmstead's side yard

So late to leaf out, they look dead against all the greening up that is going on: the winterberry hollies, the clethra (really dead looking) the lespedeza (but there is new growth at the bottom, the voles didn't kill it), the ceanothus New Jersey Teas (same thing, new growth, but a lot of black branches).  Also late to leaf out: black gums, river birches.

first Geum bloom of the season
Magnolia 'Elizabeth' getting ready to bloom

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Monday, April 25, 2011


More damp, more clouds, more rain.  High 50s today, so not so cold, but still dreary and wet. We got over half an inch of rain the day before Easter, now drizzle today.

Despite the soppy wet ground and drizzle I planted more trees.

I put in two Lowe's trees that are a good 5 feet tall: a Red Oak and an Autumn Blaze maple.  I had poor luck with two other Autumn Blaze maples from Lowe's (lost both a couple years ago) but we'll see how this one does.  Both went at the foot of the steepest part of the back hill.

More moves: I moved the two tiny white pines from the Road Cut to the edge of the meadow right behind the black gum, where I can see them and they will provide some structure.  One of them I planted three times in three different holes until I got it right where I wanted it.

I moved the bearded irises --- again.  I had just dug them up and divided them and put them in the Birch Garden (you're supposed to divide in fall, oh well).  Now I dug the divisions up and moved them to the front walk.

They are so pretty, but I just can't figure out where to grow them.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter Sunday

Easter is very late this year and so is spring.  There really hasn't been a nice day all month... a few hours of pleasanter weather, but otherwise cold, chilly, windy and wet.

Deep thick fog today, Easter Sunday.  It rained all yesterday. 

Two days ago we had a frost and I had to cover the goatsbeard and gauras that I had just planted out.  Frost is always hardest at the dip where the dry creekbed is.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Stepping Stones

In the 40s today, off and on sunshine, and a blowy gusty fierce wind. 

It's still overly cool and that's a blessing when there is still so much digging and earth moving to do.  We finished shaping the new Secret Garden border, and I added stepping stones bisecting the area, which I really like:

The ones in the grass are set into the ground so Jim can mow over them.

Now, plant shopping.  

Finally, after so many weeks waiting for this 'Okame' cherry to bloom, here it is:

Some other spring scenes this cool windy day:
From the front door.

Lynwood forsythias by the road are in bloom.

East side.  Redtwig dogwood branch leafing out.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Moving Day

Cold, wet, mid 40s, overcast and soggy.  Where is spring?  Despite the cherry in full flower now and the forsythias too, it was too gray today to take pictures.  Maybe tomorrow.

I used Holly Tone on the yellow looking meserve hollies on the berm, and on the yellow leaved dwarf buddleia 'Blue Chip" in the pot.

Today was moving day.  I moved a bunch of plants around:

The male kiwi vines 
The pots in front of the meters do not work there.  One pot was in standing water, like the rosemary was, and despite reaming out the drainage hole, it wouldn't drain.  The potting soil smelled rank.  The white plastic trellis, stuck in the two pots, just wobbled around disturbing any roots.  So I took them out, moved them to the far side of the patio wall, under the 'Bloodgood' maple, and we'll see if they scramble along the brick wall. I had to take out a big clump of Becky shasta daisies (I moved those to the back of the berm where they may peek up above the hollies.)
can I get the two vines to scramble on the wall, and up the deck posts?
These poor male vines have been abused and misplanted and replanted twice now, and badly handled since I put them in last year.  The female vines (to the left of this picture at the porch), look great.

The irises
I moved the bearded irises ('Beverly Sills' and 'Immortality') to the Birch Garden, and divided them into about a dozen plants.  Boy, did they multiply in one season.  I then moved some of the languishing Siberian irises out of the Birch Garden and into the wet Meadow's Edge.  I also divided these.  We'll see what they do, if anything.

The goatsbeard
When I planted the Aruncus dioicus last year it just about up and died in the hot spring and summer.  There was literally no above ground growth on it when I dug it up, potted it, and brought it in to the porch for winter.  It survived and is putting on growth in its pot.  I planted it out by the creek bed. 

(I didn't think it would recover, and ordered another one from mail order. I guess I'll put that one in the new garden on the east side where it will get afternoon shade.  Then I can see which does better.  They are slow to establish, I know that.)

Then I moved some cushion moss to make a little vignette in the birdbath that always rusted:
some vermiculite and mosses.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Snake Shapes

Pleasant, in the low 60s today.  Nice in the morning, overcast in the afternoon with a chill wind.  Another good cool day for hard work cutting gardens.

The 'Okame' cherry is thinking about blooming. . . .  thinking, considering, maybe, might do.  It still hasn't burst into full bloom yet, but some pretty pink blossoms have opened.  The 'Lynwood' forsythia out by the road has burst into bloom, though.

We got over two inches of rain yesterday.  The rosemary in the big bowl had several inches of standing water in it --- fatal for any plant, but particularly for rosemary, which wants dry soil.  The holes at the bottom had become completely blocked by thick roots.  I tipped the bowl, used sticks to ream out the holes, and drained the pot.  No easy task; that's a heavy bowl, especially with water in it.

We finished cutting the new garden on the west side, but the shape is a little too snake-like.   I want to widen the very left most side, to accommodate a largish Pagoda dogwood, and I want to make the curve curvier to the inside on the right.
More work to do.  Jim did a fantastic job adding soil from the Envirocycle pile to this garden.

Refilled the hummer feeders today.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Secret Garden

Very cold today, in the high 30s and low 40s, but chilly, damp and with a biting wind.

Flowering trees and leafing shrubs will not open; still nothing but tight buds on the 'Okame' cherry.

A good day, though, to cut the new sweep of garden that will link the west side walkway plants with the Birch Garden further out.

The idea was to make a Secret Garden, enclosing the space in a circle of overlapping half moon gardens with some openings out into the yard.

What we ended up with is a big sweeping S mirroring the curves of the border along the bluestone walkway to the back.

It still needs some shaping to get real curves in it and to finish the edges.  It doesn't form an interior circle, but with low and high plants it will offer a space with some privacy.  Much more to do to shape it pleasingly!

Jim worked like crazy on it, and together we got most of the space cut, if not the final edges and shape refinement.

It was so unbelievably cold that I did all this hard work digging and hauling and getting up and down, in my parka.  My ski parka!  I didn't even work up a good sweat.  But boy am I tired tonight.

Just as we finished it started to rain.

I'm thinking shrubs and an anchor tree, not a flower garden.  Let the Birch Garden be the flowery cottage garden, and let this area grow woody plants for a sense of enclosure.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Tax Day

Abundant sunshine, cool, in the 50s.

April 15, tax day: the Golden Peep forsythia has burst into bloom.  The Lynwood forsythias and the Okame cherry are still waiting but almost there.

This remaining single specimen looks much better than the low raggy line of dwarf forsythias.
4/15/11, with the tiny newly planted boxwood next to it

I took all the strawberries out of the crowded pots where they have never done well and transplanted them to the garden under the sweetbay magnolia by the hatchway.

Today I ripped out the vole damaged bun shaped false cypresses along the front walk.  They had no roots.  And I took out the new little iteas, which came right up, rootless.  I see no signs of tulips this year, but a few onion bulbs are coming up.  Now it looks like this, kind of barren:
The two pots next to the center one have gaura that likes hot dry sandy soil.  I may plant them in the ground, they're really pretty all summer and might add nice movement and color to the front walk, against the brick wall.

A year ago this strip looked like this in spring:
We brought the deck furniture up (after Jim sanded the deck) and had a glass of wine in the cool evening (no breeze), sitting out there.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

More New Plants

Almost 70 today, sunny with a cool breeze.  Another good day to cut edges and dig holes.

I planted the Serbian spruce behind the hazels and 'Elizabeth' magnolia. 

Divided some of the 'Weihenstephaner Gold' sedums along the front edge of Meadow's Edge to make more (took out a few more liriope).

Planted the 'Blau Doneau' hydrangea along the east side (will have to cover it if we get more frosts).  Also planted the 'Winter Gem' boxwood on the east side.

Half of the Whiteflower Farm order arrived today.. awfully early for planting.
  • 6 Karl Foerster grasses
  • 6 Violas 'Rebecca' (where to plant these?)
  • 3 Astilbe 'Bridal Veil"
Getting really busy now!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

New Plants

Cold rain all day.  Grim, gray, drizzly and chilly, although the bright spot is all the grass has completely greened up!  The best thing for such a day: new plants.

I got a Serbian spruce (Picea omorika) at Home Depot.  This will go between the Elizabeth magnolia and the witch hazels near the driveway.  It gets to be a big tree, but relatively narrow and there's just enough room between us and Olmstead's.  I think it will tie together the magnolia and the hazels, and offer a little definition and screening along the property line.

At Gledhill I got a little boxwood (Winter Gem) to go on the new east side, and a couple bunchberry plants to add to the small patch under the Bloodgood maple.

The plan for the east side: existing stewartia and existing forsythia, then the Winter Gem boxwood for evergreen structure.  Then the new goatsbeard that is coming mail order.  The viburnum, and then the transplanted Blau Doneau hydrangea.  I already moved the foxgloves.  I can put some of the dug up liriope under everything.

Yesterday I dug up one of the struggling Bosnian pines (Pinus nigra) that was up on the dry hillside.  It's a little deformed and hasn't grown much, but I put it in at the end of the Nishiki willows, to anchor that jutted-out corner by the drainage outlet, and to screen Scott's house a little (some day).

The forsythia are finally starting to bloom.  Not much to show in all this cold and rain but there is definite yellow.

Monday, April 11, 2011

First Warm Day

It reached the low 70s today and was quite warm and nice.  There was still a cool breeze, though, and it felt unsettled.  Rain tonight.

Got a lot done! 

Jim and I recut the small garden by the driveway to mirror the line of the driveway's edge.  Took out a ton of sod --- and it was hard work--- just to make it slightly bigger and straighter.  I removed the mums and planted them around the patio and behind the paperbark maple.

Unfortunately with the curve on the other side, it now looks like a giant footprint.

I'm tempted to cut 5 varying little gardens on the right and make it actually look like a giant foot.  Or maybe not.  I might just expand the left side curve a little more so the "heel' isn't so obviously foot shaped.

Here was the wiggly amoeba shape last fall:

I transplanted all the perennial foxgloves to the new east side garden.

While I was at it, I moved a sundrop from Meadow's Edge to the Birch Garden, I divided a nepeta and put it next to the bench under the birch, I divided one of the Husker's Red penstemons to fill in a spot nearby, and I moved and divided one of the Frosty Morn sedums to Meadow's Edge to "mass" with the others.  Fun moving things around and making more plants on a warm spring day!

You can see the grass is greening up, but still no forsythia or cherry blossoms yet.

Sunday, April 10, 2011


In the 50s today, quite nice in the morning, but a cold sharp wind came up in the afternoon.

Another good early spring day to do hard work.  I spent the entire day edging and filling existing areas, and it took all day to cut, edge, remove the spreading grass (seemed like it was one blade at a  time!) and then fill with some fresh soil.  I only worked on the east side around the spruce and cotoneasters.

Jim and I spent a long time trying to figure out what to do with the area behind the top of the driveway. Design issues!  I want to create a secret garden with overlapping paths and multiple entrances... I think we can do it.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

New East Garden

At last a lovely day.  Still cool, but it got into the low 60s and was very pleasant.  Just a light breeze.  Still the forsythia is just brown twigs, not quite ready, and the 'Okame' cherry has not opened up its buds yet.  Night time temps have been in the 20s.

I put out the hummingbird feeders for the first time, to attract the early scouts.  Last year I put them out April 2.

Jim did an incredible job of filling the newly empty east side today with the soil + compost from Envirocycle.  The strip is now raised up quite a bit (some undulations to accommodate the window well and the plants already there).

With the new level, the more expansive edged curve, and with the insulation along the foundation bottom now hidden, I like this a lot!

The plants by the porch (Rose of Sharon, Pieris, the small trellis with Actinidia climbing it) all look great.  There is a beautiful groundcover Deutzia gracilis next to the Rose of Sharon that I want to spread and surround the rock and the feet of the Rose of Sharon.  The Pieris will get much bigger (but check those blooms already!!)

In the long empty space I think I will plant:
  1. Dawn viburnum, tall upright, vase shaped and narrow.  Woodland Gardens located a 15 gallon plant for me!  Can I even handle that?  It will go between windows to soften the flat expanse of windows and siding.
  2. I'll take the Blau Doneau hydrangea out of the pot and put it near the gas vent (will it keep it warmer??)
  3. The pale yellow perennial foxgloves will go near the existing round dwarf pine on the right.
  4. Lilyturf.  I'll put in all the ones I dug up from the front of Meadow's Edge,
  5. Should I add the Goatsbeard Aruncus diocious?  Too big?  Too wide?  Hmmm.
Other ideas?

Friday, April 8, 2011

Curvy Curves

50s again today, cool and overcast.

I spent the day cutting the edges of the strip along the east side, now that the Golden Peep forsythia are out.  It is so hard for me to make curvy curves!  I tend to cut S shapes that are like slalom courses, very tight and very unattractive.  I really want just a straight line under the windows, but I need very wide very gentle curves coming in from each side.

So difficult.

Still cool, and still very cold at night, below freezing.  No sign yet of forsythia blooms on the 'Lynwood' big ones out by the road, and no sign yet of 'Okame's' cherry blossoms.

Icy overnight temperatures.  Tweet!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Making Great Progress

Cool again today, in the mid 50s.  Another good day to do hard work in the garden.

Six yards of soil plus compost arrived first thing this morning.
Nice!  I laid out two overlapping big blue tarps to catch it all
Really?  Were the tarps even necessary?
With a second day of cool nice weather, the list of tasks is getting done quickly.  Today I got all this done:
  1. Fertilized all the containers with 4-12-4 to get the roots going (except the nasturtiums in the strawberry jars, they do not need anything).
  2. Pinched the two dahlias in pots that have come up and added more potting soil.
  3. Repotted a couple of the tiniest salvias (Lady in Red and Black & Blue?) that seem to be coming up.  Not sure how many survived... of all the cuttings I took, very few seem to have even tiny leaves.  Still early.
  4. Completely redid the hose reel at the back patio.  The narrow moss green lightweight hose is unusable, it won't unkink or reel up.  We got a new reel station, I got everything as tightly fitted as possible, and put one of the old heavier hoses on it.  Used earth staples to hold the front in place so it won't tip.  All I want is a simple usable system.  Got new spray heads.
  5. And finally, Jim and I got all the Golden Peep forsythias removed!  Except for one large, good looking one at the end of the row in front of the meters, all the rest are gone.

I also potted up the remaining sweetpea (Painted Lady) seedlings.  I am trying a small pot with a very small teepee, and I am trying a pot that allows them to trail down out of the pot in a cascading effect!   We'll see if that works.

    Wednesday, April 6, 2011


    Mid 50s, calm in the morning but windy in the afternoon.

    Finally a cool but nice day to work outside!  I got so much done, and had to remind myself it doesn't all have to get done in one day.

    Woodland Gardens has located a 7 gal. Cornus mas for me for $112.  I think I will get that to replace the tiny decapitated one planted last summer from Broken Arrow.

    It's alive, and even blooming at the lowest branches, but I don't think I can save the top half even with the purple clip holding it together.

    Planted the black gum out in the meadow, and the common witch hazel toward the front. Soil was too wet, and sucked with each shovelful.  But it's either sloppy wet out there or cement hard.

    Moved two tiny ArborDay saplings (red oak and a pin oak) that I had planted last winter on the berm to spots on the hillside to fill in some gaps. 

    Had a great time in the cool morning just wandering around gathering more rocks for the dry stream bed!

    Removed all the 'Goldsturm' rudbeckias.  I'll need to keep any seedlings out, as the replacement rudbeckias I am planting in the same spots will look a lot like 'Goldsturm', and if 'Goldsturm' grows, I'll have the same bacterial leafspot problem.

    Then I fussed with the side of the deck --birdbath, chair, I planted the Alberta Spruce from Pam in a container:
    When the 'Bloodgood' Japanese maple leafs out it will be a nice little one person sitting area and it's the only spot that gets afternoon shade.

    Planted the sweetpeas in a container.  Moved the clematis viticella to the hummingbird feeder.  I need to get a 5 foot tall tutelier for it to climb on. 

    When the golden hops arrive I will put them in where the clematis was to climb up the side of the garage by the front porch.

    Tuesday, April 5, 2011

    My Heart's Not In It

    50s, rain today.

    During a lull in the showers today I went out to the back hill to cut back the multiflora rose and bittersweet and poison ivy.  It was cool and humid, not a bad day to battle with the tall stalks and weeds there.

    In past years I have allocated several days in early spring to really routing out the invasive stuff, and have taken pleasure in getting the job done.

    This year I kind of give up.  My heart's not in it.  I did pull down the worst of the bittersweet vines that were choking some trees all the way up into the canopy (despite my efforts of the previous year).  And I routed out a few new rose canes.

    But meh... it's nowhere near as rewarding, the Vine X container leaked, my gloves and pruner got slippery from it and all had to be bagged and thrown away (the second container is not leaking, I can still use that for spot treatments.)

    multiflora rose
    In the open meadow to the east there are dozens of new roses.  I can't possibly keep that cleared, and I might as well let it fill in and become a big impenetrable barrier... maybe it will even stop the deer from using that path through the meadow.

    On the hill I'll continue to free my new trees from any choking vines, but I can't really keep the area cleared.  Let it take over, it does anyway, and I'll just cut down the worst vines on the trees each year as I see them, and be done.

    (When I came in a shower started and in the downpour all the VineX I had applied moments before was washed off I'm sure. arrrgh)

    Monday, April 4, 2011

    Still waiting

    Cold rain.

    Ordered 6 cubic yards of soil plus compost from Envirocycle.  Delivery Thursday.

    Last week too cold to work on the back hill cutting back invasive stuff.  Or planting saplings.

    This week too wet to dig up the rudbeckias for replacement.  Or the Golden Peep forsythia.  Or the amsonia 'Blue Ice' from under the doublefile viburnum's spread.

    Still waiting to start major spring chores.

    Still waiting for the 'Okame' cherry to bloom.  Waiting for the tiniest yellow bloom on the decapitated Cornus mas.

    Still waiting.

    Sunday, April 3, 2011

    New Garage Layout

    Mid 50s today but very gusty, windy and raw.

    We spent the day rearranging the garage.  Since there will be no shed (don't get me started...), I need some kind of set up in the garage for gardening materials that can't be stored outside on the potting bench.

    We moved the car to the far bay, put the John Deere and trailer and wheelbarrows in the near side and set up shelving.  Here's how it looks now:
    In the process we cleaned out a lot of stuff and freed up space.  Much neater.  The challenge will be to keep it neat.

    It's been so cold, especially at night.  How cold?
    • Still no blooms on the 'Okame' cherry.  Buds were all well open on March 27 last year.  It's now April 3 and nothing.
    • The 'Blau Doneau' macrophylla hydrangea had leafed out in its pot in the garage.  It was getting quite green and leafy.  I put it on the porch where it gets more light, but repeated overnight temps in the low 20s have turned the leaves black and mushy.  I think the roots are fine and it will leaf out again.
    In the wind today a garage item went flying and lopped the Cornus mas in two again.  Sheeesh.  There is just the tiniest strip of bright green under the skin of the pencil thin twig top.  I put the purple clip back on to hold it together.

    At the very bottom of this little twig shrub a yellow bloom is getting ready to open.  But will the leader stem survive and graft back together?

    Saturday, April 2, 2011

    A Start . . .

    Cold and partly sunny, in the mid 40s.

    Despite continued below normal temps, there is a definite cast of green in the lawn finally.

    And I have made my first nursery purchases!  We were at Pam's today helping her sort and take stuff to bulk waste, and on the way home we stopped at Woodland Gardens in Manchester.  They had full stocks of wonderful woody plants out already!

    Really nice, unusual plants, and I started scooping some up.

    I got:
    A very tall Black gum sapling to add to the back hill (or to the meadow in front).  I've had trouble finding tall saplings anywhere... huge BandB trees and little ornamentals, but nothing tall in a couple gallon pot that I could plant.  It was only $24!!!  Look at the height!

    A large 'Tardiva' panicle hydrangea... I have several on order to form my new "hedge" by the curve of the walk, but I may cancel those and go back and get 2 more of these larger gallon pots.  'Tardiva' has been hard to find, supplanted by other hydrangea cultivars lately.

    A native witch hazel (virginiana) to add to the meadow where the only other survivor still  grows.