Thursday, August 30, 2012

Made Some Moves

It was 50 degrees this morning when I woke up!  Cold.  It's been sunny and dry, so once the sun is up it gets warm.

I moved some things around today.

The Aruncus dioicus, goatsbeard, has not done well out by the creek bed.  It has been there a couple seasons, and does not grow.  Leaves are scorched.  So I dug it up and moved it to the back of the Birch Garden.

The back of the Birch Garden is never seen, unless you walk around behind.  It's kind of an empty spot and has always been a problem to fill.  I'll see if the goatsbeard will grow there, in a little more shade perhaps.

We'll see.  If not, it will come out and something else can fill the area behind this garden.

Then, in the vacated area by the creek bed I put in a dwarf Alberta spruce that had been sitting in a large pot on the deck.  Pam gave me this, and I didn't know where to put another dwarf Alberta.  I think this spot is perfect.

I have always struggled with how the Meadow's Edge Garden and creek bed blend into the wild meadow beyond.  I think the dense, landscapey solid form of the spruce makes a definite statement, especially with the hardscape of the bed and bridge --- this is the end of the tended garden.  The wild is beyond.

I am not a fan of dwarf Alberta spruces, but I have them along the foundation, as everyone does.  They hide the utilities along the west side of the house.

This use of the little cone out in the far garden actually pleases me.  The contrast of the dense dark shape punctuates the small leaves of the jumble of meadow plants.  It looks intentional.

I actually like the foundation spruces better too.  They are filling in, and once again they offer wonderful contrast in shape and density to the small jumbled leaves around them.  Dwarf Alberta spruces look good as a foil to other plants, but they look lumpy and uninteresting by themselves.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Ordered Plants

Cool at night, good sleeping weather in the low 60s.  The days are still warm and humid, but with a taste of fall coming.

I ordered plants today from High Country Gardens.  First off, the Kintzley's Ghost honeysuckle to put on the metal obelisks in front of the meters.

White daffodils for the top of the driveway.
Early spring --- White Tete a Tete 'Toto' (miniature, 8" tall)
Mid spring --- Jamestown (1 to 1.5 feet tall)
Late spring --- plenos odorous (fragrant, a foot tall)
Very late spring --- poeticus recurvus (A foot tall, spicy fragrance)
also called Pheasant's Eye
And more:
A blue salvia.  I have such trouble with black & blue sage (Salvia guaranitica), so I'll try Salvia reptans and see how that does.  I'll keep it in a pot for the first year to get to know it.  It looks to be bushy with grassy foliage.  Photos show deep blue flowers.

And I ordered three more little Gro Low sumacs to keep adding to the groundcover mass in the Drive By garden.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Back From Denver

We got back from our weekend in Denver and the garden looks fine. In fact, everything seems to have put on a late summer growth spurt. It all looked wet and lush.

The weekend was spectacular. No travel problems at all, the Inn was a charmer, although the room was uncomfortable. Our time with Greg and Sass was great. The Denver Botanic Garden was a treat. I was surprised, though, how much of it was devoted to water gardens, Monet reproductions, and water lily ponds. In a dry climate!


We spent a morning touring the garden, and Greg was so patient to walk around with me, asking about all the plants.  I found a honeysuckle that I simply must have -- Lonicera reticulata Kintzley's Ghost -- and wrote about it on my main blog.

This is where we ate breakfast each morning in Denver.

And this is the reason we made the trip. First time to see him since Christmas, and first time to meet the new person in his life!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Unexpected Rain

An inch of rain fell last night as thunderstorms rolled through at 4 in the morning.

Forecasts have predicted scattered showers for days, but we have not seen any materialize, and this storm, with a full inch of rain, was unexpected.  Wow.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Out Planting on a Summer Day

The intense humidity of the past couple days broke and today was a little better.  A sunny summer day in the 80s, but before the heat hit, I was out planting the new shrubs I bought.

I put in the new ninebark from Warner's at the back edge of the Drive By garden.  I actually took out the struggling Picea omorika I had planted in 2011, and put the ninebark in its place.

The little Serbian spruce looked good all last year but when the heat hit in July it started dropping needles and continued to lose them, even when well watered.
Last year, when it looked good
When I dug it up, there was no root growth at all.  The clumps of dirt clinging to the original rootball were heavy.  Very heavy, sodden and clumpy.  It did not look like the spruce had sent out any root growth from the ball that had been in the container.  No growth all year.

So now there is a dark leaved Physocarpus 'Summer Wine' there.  It is supposed to be smaller and compact, compared to the typical ninebark.  And more upright, all good attributes for the back edge of this garden.
photo from Missouri Botanical Garden
I also planted the new buddleia I got from Natureworks.  It is Buddleia Flutterby Grande Sweet Marmalade.  What a mouthful.  Very blue-green grayish foliage and little orange flowers.  Interesting.  The light color of the foliage is nice between the red leaved Rosa glauca and the new dark red ninebark.
photo from Natureworks
It was pretty uncomfortable by the time I got done before lunch, but it felt good to have these new plants in the ground, watered in, and mulched.  Can't wait to see what they look like next year.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Lovin' the Rain

Storms today, and we got almost an inch of good soaking rain.  8 tenths of an inch in total. I love it.

Before the storms hit, we went down to Northford to Natureworks and I picked up an interesting Caryopteris divaricata 'Snow Fairy' --- neat, small shrub with variegated foliage that smells like green peppers.

And I got an interesting buddleia with pale green foliage and orange, very modest blooms, almost more like little lantana flowers than big butterfly bush spikes. It's called Marmalade. Yum.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Fixed This, Fix That

Hot and humid today, but it was hot and drier a couple days ago, and quite nice.

All summer I have been fussing over the wavy line of the garden along the edge of the patio.  I kept thinking "when cooler weather comes I'll get down on my hands and knees and chop out a nicer curve".  Sod removal, hauling the cut sod away, and edging on hands and knees is cool weather work.  Later.

But on Tuesday, at two in the afternoon, in the full sun and the middle of a hot summer afternoon, I got the edger, and cut a curved line.  I can't believe I just did it in the heat and sun.  It took all of twenty minutes.

Then I went back today and in another 20 minutes finished cutting the edge, took another 15 minutes to clean it up, and another 20 to spread a bag of mulch.  It was much more uncomfortable (more humid) today, but easily done. Fixed.

I need the ajuga Chocolate Chip to spread a little more.  The grass is a little trodden where I was working at the edge, but it is a much nicer curved line than before.

Some other needed fixes:
The thyme at the top of the patio looks terrible.  It gets some kind of rot in the middle and browns out.  Too wet there?  Even though it is on a sharply raised little berm?

I think I will chop it back, put up a low wall of staggered interlocking stones to edge the pavers, and let what there is drape over the wall instead of trying to hold the rise with the thyme plants.  I dunno.

Can I do this little project myself?  Home Depot has the wall components, they are small and meant only to make a low edging wall.

It had looked so great the first year when 12 plugs made a gorgeous carpet under the knockout roses.  The roses are gone now, and despite planting 18 more plugs, they didn't take.  This needs a fix.
This looked so good at one time
Some more fixes:
The plumbagos didn't do anything this year.  It's green and healthy and growing.  Even blooming a little, but overwhelmed inside the twig cage.

Last year the plumbagos were awesome towers, blooming a away.
One of the plumbago towers last year, 8/8/11
Clearly I don't have plants anywhere near as robust or flowery this year.  A disappointment.  But I can fix this next season with other climbers in these twig tuteurs that will scramble and vine and flower much better.  What to get . . . ?

Monday, August 6, 2012

Aahh, The Relief

Thunderstorms rolled through yesterday and it rained hard.  We got almost two inches of rain!!  The relief to me and to the plants is incredible.

The humidity broke, today is partly sunny and dry, and just lovely.  Everything looks good after a rain, although the storms did beat down the grasses and a few perennials.

It was cool and pleasant enough to plant.  I got a Ruby Spice clethra at Warner's over the weekend.  I had wanted to put one on the right side of the spruce berm where the white ones (mismarked? they were supposed to be Ruby Spice when I bought them) are.  So here was a big one, and let's hope it really blooms pink!  I put it in right behind the lower Hummingbird clethra.

Here's something that has been bugging me all season.  The two pots of gooseneck loosestrife that are nestled behind the yellowroot along the spruce berm are doing nothing.  No blooms.  Are they too crowded in those pots?

I thought the arching white blooms would be nice in between the low yellowroot and in front of the dark green hollies and evergreens.  Pffft.

I need to take them out and put something more interesting in the containers now.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Ideas from Lee May's Garden

Hot and humid for several days.  In the 90s.

Wednesday we went to Lee May's garden, always a treat.  Such an interesting place.

He had a striking southern magnolia called Bracken's Brown Beauty.  It has rich brown undersides to the leaves, and is dense, narrow and upright.  It may not be entirely hardy here, although his is growing beautifully.

The picture I took doesn't show its full impressiveness or rich, glossy leaves.

This one from an internet nursery shows it better. It's fuller -- Lee's is more open growing in shade.

Like the sweetbay magnolia, it keeps its leaves over winter, but they look bad.  Then it drops leaves in spring, and leafs back out.  Not the best look (that drives me nuts with the sweebay), but by late May it looks good again.  In the early years expect dieback and browning.  Southern magnolias will adjust to winter hardiness after a few years when the roots establish.

I could put it in the Drive By garden if the struggling spruce doesn't make it.

Fragrant white flowers.  Lovely narrow shape.  I like it a lot.

I also liked the Opuntia cactus he grows, and want one in my gravel garden.  A hardy cactus in Connecticut!

Lee's garden has so many wonders and interesting things. I'd like to duplicate the stand of narrow blue ribbons tied to spiral tomato stakes -- I have the stakes already.  The ribbons catch the wind in a breeze.

Where would I put them?

One last shot, apropos of nothing, and not from his garden, but from mine.  Black eyed Susans and zinnias in bloom.  Happy Summer!