Monday, June 15, 2015

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - June 2015

What a strange year so far. Almost no spring weather - just hot and dry. And then it cooled down a bit, but still no rain. The last week or so it's been raining more, for which I'm grateful, and it's really hot again. Some of the flowers seem off - blooming too early. And it's that time of year where the late spring flowers are done and the early summer ones aren't at their peak yet so there's not a whole lot going on. But green is a color, too, right?

Back yard:

Lonicera sempervirens 'Major Wheeler' finding a home on my fence

The allée:

Coreopsis 'Mercury Rising'

The last of the blooms on Penstemon 'Dark Towers'

Nepeta 'Walker's Low' . Can't wait to divide these things!
Phlox 'Blue Paradise' is just starting. And it's really purple, not blue.

The pharm:
Echinacea in front of the hydrangea. I feel like it's early for echinacea.

Callirhoe involucrata spreading on the sidewalk. This is the only place it's doing well.

Gaillardia. I feel like it's early for it to be almost done!

More echinacea. When they flop, it's a sign that it's super super dry!

I wonder if the weirdness will continue this year. It really makes me regret all of the aerosol hair spray I used in the '80s!

Thanks to May Dreams for hosting this monthly event!

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Holes in the allée

The allée is still a newer garden. It was started a tiny bit in 2012 but I dug out the rest in 2013. I've added plugs, divided plants, and last fall I bought about $200 worth of perennials and planted many of them there.

But still, when I walked through it this week I noticed that there are a lot of holes. No, not those kinds of holes. We're fortunate that in this part of the city (and probably in many parts of the city), we don't have to deal with moles or voles or other critters. The holes I have are embarrassing because there is nothing growing in them.  I'm sure when I plant new flowers in late summer/early fall that I have a plan in my head but I didn't realize that the plan included leaving great spaces of nothingness.

I seem to have three categories of holes: Places where there's nothing because the plants around it get bigger; bare spaces left when bulb foliage dies; and then just pure poor planning on my part.

To wit: I know that I didn't plant a lot here because the ninebark will eventually be 8 feet across, though since that probably won't happen for several more years, I need to plant and then move when the ninebark takes over. 

And this is a tough spot because when the hibiscus gets going in July, it crowds out everything around it. So instead of giving it space, apparently I planted right next to it and then left blank spaces closer to the pathway. Awesome.

These next two pictures show problems that arise when the bulb foliage finally dies. Then, there will be absolutely nothing in their places. I need to work on some choreography in these spots.

Then there are the spaces of nothingness or just really bad planting on my part. Like here - apparently I like to plant on diagonals. 

Here next to the back door - I know it wasn't this empty last year. There were some Geranium 'Rozanne' and more than one Coreopsis but I guess it didn't come back. I planted some annuals there but I have to do something about this. It's a tough area, though, since it gets stepped on all winter when the bench isn't there to block that route.

Under my Eastern redbud (which had TWO flowers this year, by the way, an improvement over zero so it gets to stay), I planted two Amsonia hubrichtii last fall. I know they'll get larger but right now they're just sprigs and it looks so bare.

Or this - let me just bunch plants together around a hole of nothingness, and then plant some annuals in there to try to mitigate the damage.

As you can see, I have a lot of work to do. This mainly involves online shopping for new plants but may also include moving some things around and dividing some plants. For now, I'll just sit here in the a/c and window shop online.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Early bouquet

I'm very book smart but have no common sense, so when Neighbor M and I were admiring my Baptisia bushes yesterday and she told me that she cut some of her own for bouquets, it was as if she had showed me a unicorn farting rainbows and giving out gold for free. My brain is stuck on the cutting peonies, zinnia, and rudbeckia for anchors for bouquets but baptisia? Never would have thought of it on my own and very happy she thought of it for me.

B. australis species, 'Twilite Prairieblues', 'Solar Flare Prairieblues', and Nepeta 'Walker's Low'

Which late spring/early summer plants do you use in bouquets?

Friday, May 15, 2015

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - May 2015

This week I looked around and had my annual, "And just like that, everything is green again!" moments. You're so desperate for any signs of life after one of the coldest winters on record and then boom - everything is suddenly SO alive. It's been one of those busy years already (though it's my own fault for over-volunteering). I can't believe it's already mid-May and I feel like I'm terribly behind in both the garden and the blog. I even had a mental April 2015 bloom day post written but never got the chance to put pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard. So without further ado, les fleurs!

The Pharm (Front Yard)

 Creeping phlox on the front wall:

This is not Photoshopped. You really do need sunglasses to look at this azalea.

Azalea, allium, iris, and Nepeta "Walker's Low"

Euphorbia polychroma 'Bonfire'

Abeille Allée (Side yard)

Peony 'Bowl of Beauty'

Allium. I really need more of these for next year.

As I'm the one who plans the vacations for J and I, I made sure to time it so that I'd be home to see these iris. I missed them last year (my first year having them). It was well worth it to change up our week!

Sibirian Iris 'Frommymotherii'

My lilac bush. Last year I thought it was mostly dead. This year it really filled out!

The back yard

Lonicera sempervirens 'Major Wheeler'. This 2-year-old vine is blooming for the first time.
I bought it to replace my climbing roses that had RRD.

This hellebore was three-quarters dead in the winter but is blooming strong in the spring. Go

Baptisia australis 'Prairiebluesomethingus'

Lots of things growing, not a tremendous amount of color yet, but that's okay because there is life growing all around and it's not 10 degrees outside! Thanks to May Dreams for hosting, as always!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

The state of early spring

This was the first day of spring this year in Philadelphia:

Neighbor M's yard, but you get the point

The ground was bare on the last day of winter but Mother Nature can be a bitch so she was like, "Spring? I'll show you spring, suckers!" Oy.

Just so I didn't think I was making it up that it was REALLY COLD this year, I checked and February 2015 was the coldest February in Philly since at least 1990 (as far back as I looked). March 2015 has been the coldest March since 1996. March came in like a lion and is going out like a lion in need of a parka.

So, even though I still need a hat and gloves to walk outside, the sun is bright and walk I do, looking for any little sign of life. There are a few.

Thank god for crocus

The little red wormy heads of peony

Phlox 'Blue Paradise' starting early

And I have some blooms inside. My Thanksgiving cactus, for example, felt bad for me and rebloomed. A late-planted amaryllis in the kitchen makes cooking more bearable.

Onward to better days ahead. How are things for you in early spring?

Saturday, January 31, 2015

The winter garden

In case you hadn't heard, the Northeast had a blizzard last week. Here in Philly we got a whopping one inch of snow. I was let out work early on Monday and then had off on Tuesday in anticipation of an historic storm and then...nothing. Fine by me! I didn't have to shovel, had a snow day, and the light coating still made the garden look pretty.

Four seasons of interest is something I'm verrrry slowly working on for my garden. I have a long, long way to go but there are still some things that look nice right now.

It's hard to believe that a few years ago, I hated the way Echinacea looked in the winter and cut it down for being too brown. Now, I leave the seed heads for the birds to eat and enjoy the way snow looks on them.

Sedum 'Autumn Joy' that I didn't cut down in the fall as I usually do

Rosemary (and parsley) in the front yard veggie garden

My first ornamental grass, Panicum 'Ruby Ribbons'

Nandina 'Firepower'

Cornus 'Arctic Fire'. Neighbor M and I use it for Christmas decorating so it's been
pruned a lot in this picture. It's still quite large.

Helleborus x hybridus 'IForgetus'

Chamaecyparis obtusa 'Cross' Compact'

As I sit here by a fire and peruse the latest issue of Fine Gardening magazine, my mind knows that we still have a couple more months of winter temperatures left, but my heart is dreaming of spring. Still, I'm tolerating it better this year when I can see bits of winter interest here and there.

What's going on in your winter garden? Any must have plants for winter interest?

Friday, January 2, 2015

Things I'd Like to Do in 2015

I stopped making New Years' resolutions a long time ago and I've been recently moving away from making goals. Instead, if I write a list of things I'd like to do, I'm not as hard on myself if it doesn't get done or doesn't turn out the way I want. Something about "things I'd like to do" means less pressure in my perfectionist-oriented brain. So with that being said, here are some initial thoughts about things I'd like to accomplish in my garden this year. They're all interrelated.

Plant a greater variety of annuals

I've been buying the same 4 packets of annuals from the grocery store every February for years. Orange/red marigolds and three types of zinnias.

I'm really bored of them and by the time late summer rolls around, I always regret not having a better variety of annuals to compliment the perennials. But they can be expensive if I buy them from my local nursery (and probably treated with some sort of chemical). So I'm going to grow my own and branch out from the old standbys. If it works out, I'll be able to fill in the gaps in my perennial beds and have enough to fill up pots for my front porch and back patio. Now, the only thing I need to do is to figure out which flowers I want.

Don't be so damn cheap

I have a hard time not being super frugal. This is partially why I don't buy a lot of annuals (see above) when spending some damn money would make my garden look nicer. I have no problem spending on perennials but seem to have a block when it comes to annuals, furniture, accessories, etc. So in the interest of stimulating the economy and making the garden look nicer, I'm going to try to get rid of the internal struggle that tells me not to buy and just do it.

Make inspiration a reality

I have hundreds of photos of gardens I've visited that have inspired me, whether it was the stone of a pathway or a striking flower combination. I'd like to revisit those pictures and figure out how I can make some of those inspirations work for me in my own garden. It'll take some money (see above) and planning, but I do love a good Excel spreadsheet. I think I have to remember that I can get overwhelmed so I only need to pick out one or two ideas for now. I'm already mentally arranging my embarrassing back patio, and have decided to enlist some professional design help for the front yard.

Do you make resolutions, goals, or lists of things to do in the new year? What's on that list for the upcoming gardening season?

Monday, November 10, 2014

I'm trying to put the garden to bed...and it's not working

I can't remember the last time I was this busy with work and things and other responsibilities. I'm struggling to get all of my garden work done, especially since it's dark by the time I get home now. It's tough to plant bulbs by the light of a lamp post.

There was also a big project (more later when I can bear to show the results) that took up many of my weekends in October. On the bright side, at least I'm not addicted to caffeine pills like Jessie.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - October 2014

I'm trying to hold off the dread that comes with writing the last Bloom Day post of the year. Pretty soon I'll be seeing nothing but gray skies and dirty snow but for now, the fading blooms in the garden are keeping my spirits alive. And hopefully at this time next year, I'll have a lot more to show for the end of autumn after making some recent strategic perennial purchases.


The back yard

Ipomoea lobata, an annual vine, grows along my fence

The old reliable Sedum 'Autumn Joy'

Caryopteris x clandonensis 'Iforgettheexactname'

The allée

Geranium 'Rozanne' and my Energizer bunny, Coreopsis 'Moonbeam'

Not flowering but lovely foliage from a hibiscus

The Pharm

Annual I overwintered for Neighbor M (and then took some). Can'trememberus 'Thenameii'

Butternut squash is still blooming

The end of the Russian sage

A bee on the Gaillardia

Aster 'October Skies' along the front wall. The dead looking stuff to its
right is creeping phlox.

Aster 'Alma Potschke' surrounding an echinacea seed head

And that's all she wrote for 2014 Bloom Days! Thanks to May Dreams for hosting.