Monday, August 29, 2011


Gorgeous, sunny, cool day.  The storm roared through, dumped 5 inches of rain on top of the steady inches of accumulation from days before, then departed.  Sunshine and clear skies today.  The ground is awfully squishy.
The wind was not so bad.  Irene was a tropical storm when she arrived here.  There is flooding and power outages and trees down all over the state, but we never lost power, and had little wind damage.  

A silver maple on the hill broke apart, but that was it.  Zinnias flopped over.  The flowering tobacco couldn't be propped back up, so they had to come out.
Today the deck furniture is back in place, a few of the toppled annuals are staked, and all is as if the storm never came through.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Ready . .

We brought in all the containers and any loose things like plastic pots in preparation for the tropical storm headed directly at us.  It is a Category 1 hurricane in North Carolina and will reach us as a windy wet tropical storm, but not a hurricane.

But it is very big and it is very slow and the track consistently shows it coming smack over northwest Connecticut.  We turned the deck chairs upside down, brought in the umbrella, and put the glass panel back in the porch door.

This will be a flooding event, and to be safe, after Katrina, NYC has shut the subways, and airports from DC to Boston are closing (Becky has to get out of Dulles today to get to Zurich, and I am sure her flight is canceled.)  New York has mandatory evacuations for areas near docks at riverside.

But boarding up the windows?  C'mon, that is excessive.  The realty company is spending all morning today putting plywood over the windows on the empty house next door.  A year on the market, uninhabited.  There were interested buyers before I left for Santa Fe, but I don't know if they made an offer.  This looks like the company has given up and declared it abandoned.

I really hope they will come back after the storm and take down the plywood.

We are ready.  There is kind of an excitement, waiting for the winds to pick up and the rain to start.  It is gray and overcast this morning.  It should come over us tonight and tomorrow.  A big slow mover.

It reminds me of waiting for a blizzard, watching out the window to see the snowflakes start!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Back From New Mexico

Returned from a week in Santa Fe and everything looks great.  We got rain while I was gone, then another half inch yesterday and overnight.  A massive hurricane is bearing down on us for Sunday.

The butterfly weed has rebloomed and is gorgeous orange.  I love how the Karl Foerster grasses weave among the plants in Meadow's Edge.  They are still wispy, but will get bigger next year.

The caryopteris is blooming in jewel tones of amethyst.

Hydrangeas are blooming.  Look how defoliated and awful the birches look in the distance in this picture.  Bleeeah.

The lespedeza is starting to get its "wild" look, and little tiny buds are lining all the branches.

Thursday, August 18, 2011


I bought two new hummingbird feeders, since the old ones did not have a way to keep wasps and yellowjackets out.

The hummers are incredibly busy, always flitting among the feeders, the sages, other nearby flowers, even the white blooms on the sourwood tree.  They are very aggressive.  When I sit in the rocker on the patio or in the chair on the front porch, the female buzzes me, hovering right smack in front of my face to tell me to go elsewhere.

Today on the front porch she got within 12 - 18 inches of my face and absolutely stayed there until I moved.  Very threatening for such a little thing!

We often see two of them dipping and diving in the air.  I'm not sure if it is a battle, with one driving the other off, or if they are a pair. 

It is so amazing to see these little guys constantly at the feeders and constantly hovering, buzzing and flying around the garden.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

August Explosion

After a few days of rain and gloom, it is a beautiful sunny day, blue sky, temps in the 50s overnight, 80s today!

I can't get over what a beautiful month August is in the garden.  June was so depressing, gloomy and the garden totally pooped out, with nothing going on after the knockout roses went by.  Daylilies were eaten, the annuals looked perpetually stunted.

Now, in August, all is exploding and the garden never looked better.

I deadheaded plants and they are reblooming: the ornamental basil in the pot on the deck.  The orange butterfly weed, the nasturtiums in pots, all in a second flush.  The coreopsis.  The cranesbill has never looked fuller and bloomier.

Sage, both the Lady in Red and the newly purchased black & blue sage, are blooming wildly and the hummers love them.  Lobelia, both the red and the Ruby Slippers are gorgeous.  

The annuals -- zinnias, marigolds, angelonias, etc. -- are now lush, the plubago blooming like crazy.  It all looks so good, and the grass is green from all the cool wet weather this month.  An explosion of August, not the tired dry month I always think of.

Hummers, butterflies and bees everywhere. Everything is looking just the way it should! And in the midst of everything looking so good, I am off to Santa Fe for a week on Friday.

Friday, August 12, 2011


Another cool, dry day in mid August.  Quite surprising.

The paper birches have never done very well.  In a wet spring they put out too many leaves, then when it gets dry and hot in summer they self-prune and shed the excess.  It looks terrible.

This one is the worst, but all three look awful, even though cooler temperatures have returned and we had good rain a few days ago.  Not sure what to do.  They are too big to take out, the bark is lovely in winter.  Replace them someday?  Dunno.

I do love the red pops of lobelia in the distance in Meadow's Edge and must get more!

On another note: I haven;t been getting any more voles in all the spring traps I set out, so I picked them up today.  Managed to spring a plastic snap-trap on my finger.  Idiot.  It hurt.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Is This August?

A sparkling, clear, cool day!  Not what the "dog days of August" would imply.  All our hot and miserable and dry weather was in July, this year and last year too.

With the recent rain and cool temps, everything looks wonderful.  Pam's friend Julie came for a tour earlier in the week and it all looked good.

You can't really see it in this picture, but I sit in the rocker on the patio and look through the red salvias to the hazy purple Russian sage, and the cardinal flowers are just beyond, echoing the intense red of the salvias in front.  It all just works, although hard to capture in a picture.

I definitely need more cardinal flowers to make more of a stand in Meadow's Edge!

The Ruby Slippers dark wine colored cardinal flower by the patio wall is starting to bloom too.

The Rose of Sharon is blooming and the panicle hydrangeas too.

Even the last tardy bottlebrush buckeye that is so far behind the others is now in bloom!

It all looks so good, and the lawn has greened back up too.  I have much to do, and some plants to move or change or plant, but I just don't want to tinker with anything right now!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Some Thoughts

Summery, 80s, still humid.

I like the way the plumbago towers are working.  The light blue is nice.  Maybe instead of replacing these with clematis on iron tuteurs, I should just keep the plumbago (it can winter over in pots on the porch?)

The Rose of Sharon is blooming, but I thought after 3 years it would have more height.  Instead it seems to be filling out in a shrubbier form.  I want it to rise high enough to fill part of the dining room window, and it just barely peeks into the corner now.

From the back of the Birch Garden.  The Orange Dream Japanese maple is coloring.  The agastache keeps going all summer.

I like how the small petunia 'Baby Duck' has filled in.  And the new black eyed Susans (not Goldsturm, these replacements are fulgida var. fulgida).

And the smokebush has returned to its translucent reddish color, not so brown looking as it was in the high heat earlier in the summer.

And the panicle hydrangeas are blooming.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Contract Sent

Hot and oppressive.  We got 1.33 inches of rain yesterday, a much needed soak, but it didn't do much to bring cooler temps or lower humidity.  The lawn is starting to recover, and the summer plants look good after the rain.

I sent the contract off to Designs of Mann to start the design work for the secret garden!  Also to hire them for a day to cut and expand new gardens and put some steps off the patio.  Expensive.  But.

I am collecting picture ideas to give a sense of what I want in the secret garden.  I definitely want the roses out.  Smokebush more to the center of the top of the driveway, and add a rosa glauca (let the Jim Dandy winterberry fill under the arching canes of the rose.)  Gravel, or maybe irregular stones.  Random boulders interspersed at the edges.

Picture Ideas:
Love the smokebush!  Maybe low stone walls?
More low stone walls around the gravel
Random boulders, plants spilling

They will draw up a plan for me, and I can add my ideas.  This should be interesting.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Garden Club

Last night the garden club met.  I'm not sure what purpose the club serves, and I am having a hard time staying interested in it.  The people I want to see are the ones in the garden bookgroup (Peggy, Jane, Cheryl, Betsy), so I see them already.  The other members I don't get any connection with, gardening or social.  The business meetings seem to be about nagging people to go weed the little garden strip on Loeffler Road.  They do arrange tours of gardens that I should take advantage of.

The group is all women my age, no men, no younger gardeners, and there doesn't seem to be much real plant knowledge.  They seem to have mostly perennial and flower gardens.

Anyway, Kevin Wilcox from Farmington Valley Nursery was there to talk about trees and shrubs, and although all of the plants his slideshow presented I already knew, I did learn the following:

When pruning a cut back shrub like Cotinus smokebush, or Lupulus golden hops vine, root prune it as well in early spring.  Otherwise, the roots get very large and store enough energy to fuel too much growth as it leafs out and it gets too big even in one season.

(Cut the new growth of the smokebush back a second time in spring when it has leafed out to about three or four feet high.  Cut the newly emerging rowth back by about a third then.)

So it was worthwhile after all.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


Absolutely beautiful day today, not humid, in the high 70s and sunny.  Just the slightest breeze, and it brings the spicy sweet fragrance of the clethra blooms to me on the deck.  Wow.

Makes me want to spend time outside, plan new gardens, think about changes!

  1. Install Pam's patio garden
  2. Plant the doublefile viburnum rooting that Cyndy gave me
  3. Take out the knockout roses finally (move one to Pam's)
  4. Move the smokebush over toward the center a bit
  5. Put in a rosa glauca?  Maybe?
The smokebush will be large, even if I coppice it each year.  This is the one in Mann's garden.

I can just let it grow in and enclose that left corner of the pavers, put in a rosa glauca to its right.  But perhaps I can move it toward the center enough that I could still walk by it to the left, to get into the secret garden.  Let it be the screening plant where the roses were, and don't plant the rosa glauca there after all.    Hmmm.
Rosa glauca gets leggy.  It's a nice vase shape, but I may need something under it for screening (small dwarf itea 'Sprich'?)

Here's one we saw on the Wintonbury garden tour, and another one on a tour in Simsbury:

They seem to want to lean out.  Graceful.

So. . . . should I take out the knockout roses, and just move the smokebush over to be the screen in that area at the top of the pavers?  Will that do?  Or include the rosa glauca underplanted with a small itea?

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Much Needed Rain

It was getting awfully dry again, but on Monday night a thunderstorm came through and dropped over half an inch (.67) of wonderful precipitation.

Everything looks better.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Front Lawn

We fought the lawn and the lawn won.

Even after fixing the sprinkler heads, pruning the willows that were blocking the irrigation stream, and even with cooler temps at night now, we have a disaster of a lawn.