Wednesday, June 21, 2017

A garden at 11 years

I'm really enjoying the garden this year, with most of the plants grown-up.

Hedgerow's Gold and unnamed Hydrangea
I whacked the big main branch of the Hedgerow's Gold dogwood last fall because it was sticking out into a path, and now finally it's looking like it will make some shade for that hydrangea behind it.
Deutzia Magician
This is my Magician's fourth or fifth year, and it must really like where it is because it's gotten a lot bigger since last year, and was covered with flowers this year. I really love this shrub.
Strawberry Saxifrage
The strawberry saxifrage flowered really well this year. It doubled its size last year, even though I started cutting down on how much I watered then. I'll continue to do that this year, unless we have a lot more heat.

Heuchera Licorice with Carex Everillo
My Licorice heucheras are still performing like crazy, even though I've never divided them. When I look out from my dining room window and see these flower spires against the dark shadows under the ferns, I just feel like everything is good. I don't do anything for these except weed around them, and look what they give me.

Unknown Peony
Quite a few years ago—five or six—I bought what I thought was a hellebore, sans tag, at the end of the season. I found out it was a peony the next year when it sprouted more leaves, and ever since then it's been getting bigger and giving me more flowers—six or seven this year. As astonished I am at how big and luscious these are, I'm gob-smacked at how cool and soft the petals are to the touch. they don't feel like any other flower I've ever had my hands on, much softer and more alive-feeling even than rose petals.
Squier Strat with anty peonies
The deep baby/rose pink of these is intense, and matches my Fender Squier Stratocaster perfectly. (I also have a camellia that same pink, which accounts for the guitar being named Cammie.)

They do lighten after they've been on the bush a while, but they still look great. I just wish mine weren't always covered with ants. I'd love to bring them in the house. Better outside.

Monday, June 5, 2017

A month of actual spring

Aruncus dioicus, Astrantia, and Wayside King Royale
For a few years I've been complaining about how the weather goes from 50's to 80's and sometimes 90's in just one day, laughing at us as we wish for a slower, friendlier transition. But this year we've already had two weeks with most of the days in the upper 60's and 70's, with just a few days colder or hotter—and it's really been nice. It's also been dry enough to get a lot of my spring work done—weeding, clean-up, weeding, and weeding. So it's already starting to look like a real garden around here.

The camellias are done, the rhodies are in mid-bloom, and the early perennials are starting their show, like the goatsbeard and red astrantia above, with a favorite daylily, Wayside King Royale. I really enjoy the goatsbeard—I never have to do anything for it except cut down the dead plume stalks during cleanup, it doesn't make babies, and it seems to be staying pretty much the same size, leaving room for its neighbors. I don't have many combinations here as nice as this one.

Nicotiana and Salvia Vista Purple
This morning I finally got to upgrading a pair of nursery pots in the front, and putting my favorite red nicotiana in them. This year they have have to share with this large-flowered salvia that I've never tried growing before, called Vista Purple. The nicotiana bloom every day till frost kills them; I hope the salvia is as happy.

Temporary shade for new starts
Unfortunately for them today and tomorrow are going to be sunny and around 80, so I got out one of my hydrangea umbrellas to shade them till it clouds up again on Thursday. I have four of these that I got at Ikea for $4 each, in a white & gray pattern. I stained them in hydrangea shades of blue and purple with acrylic inks from my studio, and they still look new after two years in the elements.

It's really nice to have so much nice weather to enjoy my garden before the real heat arrives.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Hail damage in hostas


My Guacamole hostas came up strong as ever this year, bless their tough little roots, and looked great until we had a little spring hail shower a couple weeks ago, giving me some classic examples of hail damage. These were tiny hailstones, maybe an eighth inch or less in size, and the shower only lasted a few minutes.

Sometimes you see hail damage and you think maybe it's slug damage, but this is what a tiny bit of tiny hail can do.



Thursday, April 27, 2017

Small pleasures

 It's been really nice to finally have a few hours in the garden this month, between the storms and showers.


It's a season of small pleasures this spring. Like the violet hue of the siberian iris leaves as we were coming out of winter last month. Never seen that before.


The perkiness of a stand-up hellebore looking at the sky;


The pink, yellow, and blue of the heuchera, Yellow Hammer rhody, and the forget-me-nots;


Two days before I took this photo, this camellia had nothing but buds on it. Then—boom!


And the new leaves of the Shirasawanum Autumn Moon coming out of their pink wrappers;


And last but not least, the fractal-like leaf colors of a hardy cyclamen seedling popping up in a new spot yards away from its ancestors, where I'm happy to have it.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

A Huge Plum Harvest...but not for me


After not having any plums last year (probably due to bad pruning) I was really amazed to find my Italian plum tree to be literally covered with plums this year! I was late to get into the garden this year and haven't done much because of ankle & wrist injuries, but in July while they were still small, I thinned 150 of them, only taking every third one or so. Early this month, they began turning purple, and by mid-August it looked like a Christmas tree, covered with purple fruit! I started feeling them and last week they were feeling very slightly soft, and I started checking them every few days.

Sometime between Friday and Tuesday morning, the squirrels pulled every single one off the tree and took a few bites out of the stem end. I was hoping that I could find at least one on the ground that hadn't been nibbled, but nope. Shut out.

No comment on how much I wish I didn't have squirrels here.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Flowers in January!

I don't want to jinx anything, so I won't talk about our weather so far this year, but I've been keeping an eye on my Arnold's Promise Hamamellis, just waiting for it to pop out in bright yellow. It's usually the first to bloom, so I wasn't paying any attention to the Jelena, which usually blooms a few weeks later and is a much younger tree. I noticed a bunch of stuff on the branches, though, from my window, and went out to check:


It's got a few dozen flowers already, and Arnold is still working on his first ones!

The weeds don't look too bad yet, except in one small area, but after the winds we've had, it looks like The Land Of A Thousand Branches. Plenty of cleanup to do later.

I also spotted this fungus, which I've never seen before. Sorry it's a bit blurred, but I love the form. It really looks like a log-eating fungus, and I suspect it's coming up from the filbert stump I cut off and buried last year. Welcome, pretty one!


And the licorice fern is really having a good year with all the rain we've had, even hanging off the playhouse roof! I love this stuff too—what's not to like?


The rhodie buds are getting nice and fat, and hellebore buds are popping up all over. I really love how you can have flowers in the winter, on the dull, gray, damp, cold, gloomy, frigid, blustery, near-freezing, shivery, otherwise cheerless days. It's one of the best benefits of gardening.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

A thousand paintings in my garden



As on many other Sundays, I started the morning googling new-to-me artists and artworks, and found quite a trove of them. Looking at the great variety of locations and subjects made me feel that all the work my garden requires is like a great anchor around my neck, keeping me here working on it when I could otherwise be out doing plein air paintings and exploring beautiful places. Then as I was opening my back bedroom window, I looked down across my blooming red daylilies and geums to the billowing zebra grass just starting to show its warm-weather stripes, past the blue mopheads of the Nikko Blue hydrangea, to the soft cloudy light reflecting off the metal barn roof. I brought out my camera to take a photo, and ended up taking a dozen as image after image clicked in my mind as being so very paintable.

Daylily Apple Tart
I took back the words of my lament and ate them as quickly as possible, and laid my misplaced remorse at the feet of Mother Nature, as I resolved to honor these works of life in more, and hopefully better, paintings.

Jackmanii clematis in Big Apple Kousa dogwood
The now voluminous Nikko Blue
Mixed perennials with my new armillary
Satomi Kousa dogwood, the second tree I planted here
Daylily Chicago Ruby
Looking up through the Satomi
The Fairies' table