Friday, August 29, 2008

Hangin’ in there

Thanks to almost daily rain this summer, which sounds much worse than it is, because the showers have mostly been brief in duration, the garden can still justify the term lush and retains a good amount of floriferous action.

But all this rain has meant that things get long and lanky. Hence I’m still pruning, staking, and arranging. At top you see a container rose that basically has become a trellis and vehicle for annuals. It has clematis and black-eyed Susan vine coming up, while its base is covered with abundantly growing sweet potato vine, the black and chartreuse varieties.

Elsewhere, an Abraham Darby rose was way too tall, so it’s being held up by an obliging Black Knight butterfly bush.

And late summer is when I really depend on the tropicals, as well as the annuals. I just don’t have enough sun to make it as an all-perennial gardener. Tropicals will put up with a lot as long as they have humidity and we’ve had that. This castor bean certainly would have preferred sun, but I’m enjoying it in its truncated condition and hope by the end of September it might be a lot taller.

Lessons learned? Start the castor bean sooner or buy plants. Put down slug bait a lot sooner and use the other slug-deterring methods as well. Sooner. Try cutting back the rudbeckia hirta early—tricky, though—so it doesn’t tower over everything quite as much. Tracy Sabato-Auste’s book will help there. I have to write this stuff down so I remember …

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Magnificence and decay at Sonnenberg

Remnants, originally uploaded by EAL/GWI.

Located in beautiful Canadaigua, NY, this mansion and its garden are amazing, but much of it is in dire need of repair. Still, we loved wandering through. The Japanese and formal gardens are in pretty good shape, but the water/rock gardens had been emptied and are under renovation. Then there is the mansion itself, which is preserved as it was when used as a summer home.

The greenhouses were like stepping back in time. I found them charming in a strange way. You'd almost think the ghosts of Victorian gardeners were taking care of the plants. The statuary above was just before the succulent house. I love Victorian greenhouses and their formal gardens. I know they're not for everybody. I'll have more on this tomorrow--the iPhone posting is cumbersome.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Variegated ears

Right around the time ears of corn are best here, the elephant ears really come into their own. I have them all over the property—mainly the Black Magic and Illustris, but also these two variegated types, one from Plant Delights (Nancy’s Revenge, close-up and larger view above) and one from Brent and Becky’s, (Yellow Splash, below).

These are slower to get going than the reliable Illustris, which fills a container (below) in no time, but patience is beginning to be rewarded. We’ve had tons of wet weather, too, which is OK, but they do like some sun and especially heat to develop their unusual striations. There’s still plenty of time; I look forward to enjoying these—and seeing more dramatic marking—later and through most of October.

This is where variegation makes a lot of sense. I don’t really need a variegated columbine (don’t the leaf miners do that job anyway?) but an ear is a big leaf, when all’s said and done and it’d be pretty boring if they were all one color.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Georgian Bay flowers

Georgianflowers.jpg, originally uploaded by EAL/GWI.

Here are few lobelia (?) by the lower dock. I believe the show is better in the spring. Anyway, if you ask me, I think the rock formations steal the show. They, the trees, the clear water, amd the many tiny, unspoiled islands, are the most beautiful elements of this place.

Roughing it on Georgian Bay

Georgian, originally uploaded by EAL/GWI.

This is the guest house for the cottage where we're staying. It was built by my friend's/hostesses brother. The main building is much older. We're swimming, canoeing, eating, and, of course, drinking. I'll post some wildflower shots later, though I fear they are all quite common, and you'll scoff at me for not knowing what they are! More later.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Best August ever

It’s been way too long since I posted—sorry! And what a tumultuous time it’s been in the garden. Although we’ve had more mid-summer rain than I ever remember, it hasn’t hurt the plants; they’re lush and floriferous. A climbing red rose (above, left) I’d given up on completely is now taller than ever and filled with buds as are most of the roses—in August!

Many lilies are still in bud, including all the speciosum rubrum and album. Then there are these lovely hybrids (above); you’ll say they’re Stargazers, but I think they’re the Summer’s End. They’re taller than the Stargazers and the petals are a bit too recurved. I look forward to smelling the much-vaunted rubrum scent when those emerge. Old House Gardens swears by it, but I have my doubts.

As last year, I’ve done some overhead shots from my husband’s study window and I thought it would be fun to compare them. The biggest difference is the monstrous rudbeckia hirta “Herbstomme.” Above is this year and below is last year. The ground cover around the pond is different, but you can scarcely see it. As always, the irrepressible trumpet/wisteria looms over all. I have to do something.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Stop me before I buy more!

It could have been inspiration brought on by chatting with Sally Cunningham, our local guru, on her radio show. Cunningham advised a listener who wanted late summer flowers to go to the garden center and see what’s blooming now.

Or maybe it was just lazy Sunday boredom. I finally had enough of puttering around in the yard and needed an outing. A couple of Buffalo-area nurseries are just as good or even better than visiting a botanical garden; they have acres of healthy plants, both outdoors and in the greenhouses, while the area near the cash register is like a gift shop.

First, I visited just one garden (tiny bit of it above) on the Ken-Ton suburban garden walk—these are inner-ring suburbs that lie close to the Buffalo city limits. Mentee Ron had clued me in to this massive garden last year and I had to see it. It was everything he said it was, and I plan to post on Garden Rant about it Wednesday.

So, after the garden visit and lunch, fully primed for plant buying, I hit Lockwood’s, arguably our best nursery. There I found some fill-in shade plants: I am still tinkering with a couple front beds. I also got some tall purplish meadow plants that I hope will give all the other giants in the sun corral a run for their money. Any plant in this space must be at least 5-6 feet high and must be able to attain that height quickly, before being vanquished by its neighbors. So I bought a filipendula (meadow rue) and a vernonia (ironweed). The shade plants are great blue lobelia, a white Japanese anemone, and a black mondo grass (put out by Hort Couture, a grower I’d never heard of before). And what the heck, how about some annuals for one of the street planters that didn’t make it. There was a three-fer sale on the Proven Winners.

That’s a lot of purchases for August.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Lush and late

Today I did nothing but mooch about in the garden, with brief interludes of movie watching and one very short t-storm. It's the typical Buffalo weather pattern this summer; you’d think this was a coastal area. Unusually for the season, I have many lilies still blooming, including these henryi (above).

And these Sheherazade. There are also many l. speciosums in bud, and small buds at that. The roses are having a rather large flush—for my roses, that is. You see the Abraham Darby here.

All over town, many of my fellow gardeners are being taken by surprise by the rudbeckia hirta Herbstomme. I see it looming over every other plant in sight as I drive around town. And I see that I’m not the only one who unthinkingly put it near the front of the border. I haven’t really wanted to take pictures of this bed until it was in bloom, as it’s such an overpowering presence. May as well at least show it with flowers and they are just now appearing.