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.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Chanticleer - Part 3

I'm wrapping up my tour of Chanticleer today. My first two posts on it can be found here and here.

Following the path from the Ruin Garden we came to a potting shed and this rather large cold frame. Can you imagine having such a space to keep your plants in the winter? Put this on "Things I Really Want in My Next House"!

See the step stool in the middle of the picture?

The potting shed and the cold frame signaled we had arrived at the Cut-Flower Garden. Laid out in a series of rectangles, it just kept going on and on. Can you envision having the luxury of all of these flowers to cut and bring inside to enjoy?

There are fifteen pages of plants listed on the Cut-Garden Plant Guide.

Next to the Cut-Flower Garden is the Vegetable Garden. J and I talk about what we'd like in a home if we ever move out of the city. He wants a driveway. I want a space large enough for a veggie garden like this.

Bench in front of fence-growing veggies

From the nonstop color of the Cut-Garden we walked just steps away to Bell's Woodland. Opening in the spring of 2012, this is the newest addition to Chanticleer Gardens.

Plant list box shaped like a hornet's nest.

To traverse the stream, you cross a bridge created to look like a downed beech tree.

Beech tree bridge

Image courtesy of Sorta Like Suburbia

The plants are still maturing in the woods, but even so it was a tranquil place with pops of color here and there.

Following the path through the woods, we were led past the Tennis Court Gardens once again and back to the beginning where we started.

I'm really glad that J and I explored this garden. It's different than what I'm used to from my trips to Longwood - it seems more experimental - more wild - but really creative in its own way. It also has an air of relaxation with myriad places to sit and take it all in. I look forward to returning in the spring when everything will look very different but likely just as beautiful.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Chanticleer - Part 2

Earlier this week I posted about my visit to Chanticleer. I wanted to continue the tour with this follow-up post. It might be helpful to follow along with the Garden Guide map. Again, it was a really sunny day so good pictures were difficult to come by.

J and I left the Chanticleer Garden House, the main residence, and continued on to the Serpentine. This was filled completely with red and yellow sunflowers. It was a paradise for bees. Considering how worried I've been lately about bees, it made my heart happy!

From there we continued through the Bulb Meadow...

... and into the Asian Woods.

There were little seating areas like this one tucked away in many areas of Chanticleer

Stone steps leading to a stream

From there we walked on to the Pond Garden. I was admittedly a little stressed out in this area - there were so many little paths here and there and I didn't want to miss any of them! 

There were several different ponds feeding in to one another. Each had plantings all around them but ample space to step up close to the water and take it all in. This area had a very loose and wild feel, as if there was no rhyme or reason to the plantings. 

If you look closely, you can see a pond on the left of the above photo. To the right is a stone path leading over a stream and into another pond garden area. I didn't realize there were so many ponds until we'd gone up a hill and looked down below. Each set of plantings made you feel like you were enclosed in your own little universe. 

Behind the pond gardens and up a hill was an arbor. This started to set the mood for the Ruin Garden.

Arbor with intentionally overgrown plantings and stone steps

The Ruin Garden was built on the footprint of the now-razed home of Adolph Jr. (who, besides being an arborist was a decorated World War 2 spy!)  The original home was apparently too unstable to use as part of the garden so it was torn down. A new structure was built to resemble a ruined home. 

A giant stone head greets you on your way to the Ruin Garden

A fountain with heads in it. This was apparently the site of the bathroom. Get it?

If the garden designer was going for an eerie, abandoned feel here, s/he achieved it.

On from the Ruin Garden past Bell's Run Creek...

... and to a working water wheel surrounded by perennials and roses.

And with this post, we've gone two-thirds away around Chanticleer Gardens. I'll wrap it up with a final post, so stay tuned!