Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The lily report, 2009

There are actually many lilies still in bud on the gwi property, but plenty are blooming now. I’m happy because I am deliberately not looking up all I ordered in the fall and spring to figure out what never came up and why. I secretly suspect a LOT of them did not come up. But like I said, I’m not going to look closely into that. And I’m not going to think about the two monster stalks whose buds I broke off accidentally before I got around to staking them.

What a good idea to plant more henryi (top) in my one sunny bed! If I do buy more lilies this year, I will surely add more of those. The other surefire success is the Amazing, which must be very closely related to the l. auratum (Gold Band lily, above).

Silk Road (above) is a winner, without question. It even came up in the black shade of the front yard, budding well after the Norways leafed out. And I am pretty sure this (below) is Grandiose, another orienpet from The Lily Garden.

New additions are these nice yellow turks caps. What are they? Where did I buy them?

And here is another variety that never fails: Scheherazade.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Garden Walk freakout post

Yes, this is the yearly panic attack about how unprepared my garden is for Garden Walk. Except that this time, I am SO behind that I can’t even get too excited about it.

However, we do, as always, have exhibit A, at top: plants bought at the last minute in the fond hope that they will provide some kind of color boost, negating the myriad flaws to be seen everywhere.

And then we have the unmulched, unweeded front beds. There are 4 bags of mulch in the trunk of my car. Can they exert some karmic power from there, magically making weeds disappear? My husband did trim all the flagstone growth. Trimming is much better than pulling; this way we have nice lines of green between the paving.

The wisteria is monstrous. Really, everything is. There has been so much rain. The roses haven’t liked that though, and there hasn’t been enough warmth for the colocasia to take off.

The pond plants don’t look right. I have to fix that. Please, let me remember to fix that. Please, let me remember to throw some mulch down. Please, make it stop raining, at least for the few hours early tomorrow am that it will take me to finish up.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Annuals: the GWI honor roll

Actually Mr. McGregor Daughter’s meme asks which annuals have failed and which have succeeded so far this summer, but I’ll cheat a bit.

I very rarely have failure with annuals, because I grow them in containers for the most part, and have learned to avoid any that I know won’t succeed (for example, I only tried zinnias once). Also, the summer in Buffalo has been rather rainy and dank, and everything’s getting a slow start, so I’m not quite ready to call anything a failure. (My annuals bloom through mid-October, usually.) Nonetheless, let the judging begin. All these images were taken on 7/21/09.

Lobelia can be fussy, but I’ve learned to give it lots of water and it is never baked in full sun in my garden. This true blue flower is irresistible, and if it’s common, you can sure see why. And here’s a clichéd combo for you: lobelia and diascia, which might like a little bit more sun than it’s getting.

Foliage annuals tend to do really well in part shade. For eight years, strobilanthes (Persian Shield) has been getting comments during Garden Walk; here it is with some coleus and Mojito colocasia.

I’ve never understood why people hate pelargoniums. They’re great plants, endure a lot of neglect, and the foliage is wonderful This is Fair Ellen from Select Seeds.

Nicotiana are fabulous plants, especially the traditional varieties which have stature and fragrance. I also have some sylvestris, not shown here.

Again, here’s a much-abused plant that has been greatly improved, but was always useful in shade. These are the Fusion impatiens, with some Blackie ipomoea.

At the very top, you see a wall planter I just filled with some lantana, which I have been using a lot lately. I find that the orange and red varieties have the most longevity for me. The tried and true annuals always work the best, as far as I’m concerned. However, there are some annuals I haven’t exactly failed with but that I dislike to various degrees:
Dusty miller (so, so sad)
Marigolds (meh)
Celosia (the worst!)

Here are some I’ve tried to grow and never did well with:
Sweet peas

But I do have one true failure. Year after year, I can’t get torenia to work, though I really like it. Strange.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Dune blooms

Last year at this time, I see that I posted about Golden Splendor trumpet lilies (above) and various annuals performing equally splendidly in their chosen positions. However, I am a stickler about these GBBD posts (somewhat) and I do feel that the images should be of flowers blooming where one can see them on that date. So, though I am positive they are blooming, I cannot see my Golden Splendors.

What I can see are these nice yellow flowers (above), bursting from some opuntia (prickly pear cactus) at the cottage next door, and—everywhere—the magnificent inflorescence of the yucca. I congratulate the owners of our beach rental; they have done a splendid job infusing the dunes with a good variety of hardy and I think mostly native plants. Apparently yuccas can be grown as far north as Canada, though I can’t see them on the GWI property. They just wouldn’t fit in.

And I must also comment that I’d hate gardening in the desert, and enduring these 90plus temps away from the ocean breezes. Snowy winters seem infinitely preferable. And yet—a view like this (below) seems worth forsaking all my Golden Splendors—at least for a few days.

As always, thanks Carol/May Dreams gardens for starting this lovely garden blogging tradition.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Road gardens

It’s hard to leave the garden in summer. It really is, and I know a lot of Northern and Midwestern gardeners who take their vacations at other times because they just can’t do it.

But I love the beach and the salt water and the waves and the margaritas and the company. Some things—dare it be said—are just as important if not more than gardening.

When one travels, however, it is possible to make gardens part of the experience—really easy, actually. This year, we stopped at a lovely park with an arboretum and a rose garden: Tanglewood Manor (top and above).

This was a pretty and carefully tended public garden, but when you’re a gardener, travel becomes more interesting. You notice every shrubbery at every roadside rest stop, every plant in every restaurant. But most of all I have been appreciating the dune plantings on a barrier island where we stay each summer. As everyone knows, these dunes are suffering from gradual erosion; planting grasses helps in a small way to maintain their slight hold. It’s clear that the owners of this property have taken care to keep up the vegetation on their dunes—I have met gardeners planting grasses where we have been staying here.

When you travel you don’t often think about gardening and the work of gardening but the impact of what is planted, what is just growing, and how all this is maintained has greater reverberations than we can imagine.

Friday, July 03, 2009

The all-American front yard

Should look like this as far as I’m concerned.

Or this. Or any other configuration that ‘s interesting and abundant rather than pinched and pedicured. That’s what I’m celebrating on this glorious 4th of July weekend.

I am thankful that I did not inherit a front lawn from the former owners of our property. Or a back lawn. Or, indeed, a pitiful little strip of side lawn. What I got wasn’t perfect, but at least it demonstrated that there are other ways to dress a house than with a patch of turf and some foundation shrubs.

As I walk around our neighborhood (where these images were taken), I see more and more people gardening in their front yards rather than merely maintaining them. This way of thinking differently about the front yard—as a vegetable garden, a rock garden, a place for interesting ground covers, grasses, and/or native plants—has spread throughout Buffalo and its suburbs, as well as throughout America.

If your idea of the perfect front yard includes turf, I think that’s cool too. What bothers me is the idea of people choosing it because it is the conservative or acceptable choice—or, horrors, because it’s all they’re allowed to do.

As we celebrate our freedom, I think we should find more ways to express that freedom in our gardening.