Sunday, July 27, 2008

Talk of the garden

It's always fascinating to see which plants are going to get the buzz during a garden tour. This year the winners were the usual: henryi lilium, strobilanthes (Persian Sheild), and-a new contender-the Alpenglow hydrangea.

Now, this was interesting. Because they weren't so much admiring the plant as much as pressing me for what I add to the soil to make it the deep pink it is. This image does not really do that justice, so take my word-it is a very deep, true pink.

This is the damage that the changeable Endless Summer and other hydrangeas have done. People are just assuming they have to add stuff to create color-and in my experience that never really works, by the way. Just according to what I have seen: your milage may vary.

What I do is buy a named cultivar that stays the color it's supposed to be no matter what. I add nothing. But boy were people giving me an argument about it. It seems the gardening world (at least that portion that attends Garden Walk) now assumes all mopheads morph according to additives.

Oh, this oriental lily hybrid ("Amazing") got a lot of compliments as well.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Garden Walk shots

I woke up this morning to this. Apparently this is the ONLY weekend my neighbor could do it. Fortunately, most of my action is in the back, but it does rather impede things on the sidewalk.

Here are some nice young walkers, exiting the garden.

I'll keep adding to these as the day goes by. I'm too stupid to figure out how to plurk them--and this is easy.

Most people remark on the lilies. This year is a good year for them.

The flowers are taking a break.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Creeping catastrophe, Batman!

Even if thousands of people were NOT going to be looking at my garden this weekend (but they are, they are, they are!), this would bother me. I’ve sort of noticed it, but yesterday I took a good hard look at the groundcovers surrounding the pond, and many are almost completely eaten. The creeping jenny in particular is pretty much down to stem.

I had seen damage, had sprinkled some slug repellent, had cut it back (usually that works with the lamium) but nothing seems to have helped. Well, it’s unacceptable. So I enabled myself to go to the nursery and buy an assorted mix of more plants than I will need, including some ajuga, a new bigger-leafed type that spreads wonderfully; some St. John’s Wort (I guess, I had never seen this chartreuse type before); and a couple other things, including some new jenny. Because I can’t stand looking at it. These plants will fill in nicely. They will look like a new planting, but that will work around the pond. There is some established campanula and dicentra that will give it backbone. Not to mention the lilium, shrubs, and vines.

I also bought an orchid for one of the guest rooms, to add to the other 3, so Michele or Susan will think I have amazing success with orchids. Ha.

(Sorry for this image—it’s too blue. I took it while I was driving, with the flash off.)

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Freak out!

It occurs to me that I haven’t been obsessing about Garden Walk nearly as much as I usually do. The summer has flown by—and I can scarcely believe the event is NEXT WEEKEND! So a little freaking out is in order.

The main thing is the former rose bed (now has perennials, a couple roses, clematis, and lots of lilies). Except that it isn’t a bed. Or a border. It’s more like a bricked-in corral. Yes. The OK Corral. Where murder and mayhem happen every single day, not just one afternoon. Currently, the towering rudbeckias (better view a couple posts down, here at extreme right) are effectively blocking view of the heliopsis and trumpet lilies, so I’ve been twisting plants around using stakes. You almost have to treat it like a big, crowded vase, where everything has to be arranged just so. But it’s not just that. I am going for a purple, yellow, and white scheme, but I have a climbing red rose that must stay. So much for that, as it is now putting on a huge growth spurt, and will not be denied its moment. Plus there is a red clematis (its red clashing hideously of course with the rose).

Then I had to decide which was uglier, the meadow rue or the sidalcea. This is really close, but I decided I had been hating the sidalcea for much longer, so that will be ripped out, to be replaced by Russian sage (furthering the doomed purple, white, yellow scheme).

This is depressing, so I’ll continue the freak outs later, ending this first one with a truly monstrous weeding imperative. They are everywhere, between the flagstones throughout and in every bed. My husband says he’ll pull all the flagstone ones, but I know his back will give out before he’s even a quarter of the way through. So that’s me too. It’s not just Garden Walk either—Susan and Michele are visiting for the weekend, and I imagine a few other bloggers (I know Apple and her sister, for example).

It will be great! But this week will be hell. Tomorrow I’ll post about all the money I’ve spent.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Looking on the bright side

Having been rather ill-natured about my rudbeckia, it’s only fair to celebrate what’s going right this month. Above is an image you’ve seen on this blog many times: Golden Splendor trumpet lilies. They are offered under various names by several companies; I’ve tried a few but I don’t know which are which. Old House Gardens says their bulbs are the true ones, but I seem to remember they were out of stock when I ordered them. So … whatever. They come up reliably year after year and seem to last longer than the regales or the pink ones. I tried a Copper King variety, I think it was called, and it only came up once. These yellow ones are faithful.

In my garden, containers and annuals are very important. Here’s a pretty juxtaposition of a jasmine I overwinter every year with some white petunias in an old coffeepot. I have over 30 containers in various places, and I rely on them. You can control what’s going on in them so much more, sometimes, than in the beds.

The rudbeckia that ate my garden and other scary quandaries

Well, I’ve done the research and I see, sadly, that the rudbeckia “Herbstomme” I have does get to 7 feet tall. It is not hirta, as claimed by the nursery; instead, it is (arguably) laciniata (though Alan Armitage says some think it should be nitida). Nonetheless, here it is, whatever it’s called, towering over everything right at the front of my lily/perennial bed. You can see it hulking over some rather tall trumpets. Of course, everything pretty much has to be tall in this bed, because it has a sizable wall all around it, one that cannot be dismantled, unless you’re one of those who enjoys sawing rebar.

I must say in passing that Alan Armitage’s new Herbaceous Perennial Plants seems excellent; I will have to review it soon. It has all the information I was looking for, and how often does that happen? Even if it’s information you don’t want to hear.

My second problem (I will only share 2 this post) is where to put the boehmeria I bought from Plant Delights. It’s a foliage plant, mostly, with large, showy, serrated leaves and seems like it will get big. Such a plant belongs in shade, I feel. I like foliage, but if there won’t be any decent-looking flowers, then I would like shade-tolerance, please. How did I not notice that the care says “sun/part sun?” Well, we’ll just see about that.

Stay tuned for more hideous and unsightly dilemmas as we enter the final days before Garden Walk.

Friday, July 04, 2008

The weed jungle experiment

Ever since we moved in, the two beds alongside the alley and the back of the garage have been a mixed blessing. They get full southern and western exposure and have been great for plants that need sun, especially roses. But the HUGE caveat is that they are inaccessible. None of the hoses really reach and the one soaker barely has a trickle by the time the water gets that far.

And the weeds. So far I have done no weeding in these beds and the results are as follows.

Weed jungle #1 (top). This has an unknown rambler, the climbing Golden Showers, just out of its first bloom, oriental lilies, and a ton of fleabane and less attractive weeds. You see the edge of a massive pokeweed on the right.

Weed jungle #2 (above). This has what I took to be a failed transplanted Carefree Beauty, some always-bud-blasted Obdam double daffs, knautia, rusty hollyhocks, Rose of Sharon, and LOTS of weeds. I thought at least I should take the dead Carefree Beauty out, but I saw leaves on it. You can’t really see it behind the weeds.

I’m wondering what will happen if I leave them alone. It is such a pain, as the weeds are virulent back here and I just don’t have the time to deal with it. Everything has to be hand-watered, and the water tends to run out into the alley. It’s an alley, for chrissakes! Why can’t I have weeds here? Except I look at my neighbors carefully maintained alley beds and sigh.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Grow ‘em in a pot

Ok, I promise, this is my last rose post. For a while. I am impelled to write more on roses—even though I really don’t have many—by the impressive performance of my two container roses. One is the Blush Noisette, about which I posted before. Nuff said. The other is a mystery rose. It was billed as Gloire de Dijon, and of course I bought it, sucker that I am. From Home Depot, no less.

Of course, it’s no such thing (close-up above), and I have no idea what it is. The blooms are light apricot and come quickly, followed by lovely seedheads. What I love about it is that it, like the Blush Noisette (which IS a Blush Noisette), has assumed somewhat of a standard, tree-like form. I suspect they’d both like to be climbers, but that isn’t really allowed, as I have to bring them both in for the winter. This year, they stayed in the garage, but they should be in the root cellar. Their plastic pots are kind of crummy, but there’s no chance of re-potting them. They’re too damn big. Anyway, a ceramic pot would be too heavy. I guess a resin pot might work. What I do is plant them with sweet potato vine, which nicely covers the pot, completely by mid-July. I also have some vines trailing up them, which you can’t see: Black-eyed Susan and an unusual clematis. It remains to be seen how both do.

The point is is that roses work very well in pots. You will probably have to protect them in winter, at least in my zone, but the pot seems to help them avoid many of the common rose problems. And in my experience they seem to bloom better. You have to use a water-soluble fertilizer—the slow-acting ones are not good for pots.