Thursday, July 22, 2010

A garden craft gets a workout

Voila! Hypertufa has arrived in my garden. Actually it's been hanging around for a couple weeks, but I've been busy.

Last month, I got together with an old friend to experiment with hypertufa at her place. She has a spacious backyard where messes can be made unobtrusively. I brought over some cheap plastic containers to use as a planter-type mold and, as I was unable to find some cheap plastic balls, I used her husband's old soccer balls for the spheres I had long wanted to make.

I won't give the recipe and exact directions here. They are everywhere. I will say my inspiration for making spheres came from Frances/Faire Garden. So, without going into boring detail, we mixed a bunch of stuff together in a wheelbarrow. We also sprayed Pam into the molds after laboriously cutting little circles out of the old soccer balls (this ought to have been an omen of things to come). We filled all the molds and then had some wine and dinner.

While the plastic molds came easily away after the requisite couple days, the soccer ball skins held onto their filling for some time, until finally, the guy working on our kitchen took pity and offered to get the leather off with his special tools.

And there you have it. Strange prehistoric spheres and a perfectly good planter.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The days of lilies and roses

… are passing quickly. Almost every lily I’ve got in the garden is either out of bloom, in bloom, or starting to bloom (except the speciosum rubrum). And Garden Walk is still over a week away. There are still plenty of buds, however, and I know I’ll have Black Beauty, tigrinum “Flore Pleno,” henryi, and maybe a few oriental hybrids persisting when the walkers come. Still, I can see an emergency trip to the nursery in my future.

I’m not really worried. The Garden Walk visitors are easy to please; they don’t seem nearly as fussy as, say, a group of 70 garden bloggers/writers might be. Good thing I won’t have any of those!

Some flower observations:

-A red climbing rose I remember cutting back nearly to the ground due to winterkill a few years back is slowly crawling to the top of the house, and blooming better than it ever did. The clematis near it seems somewhat troubled; maybe a similar treatment for different reasons next spring would help it. You can see both of them in one of these shots.

-This is the year of the hydrangea. I have dozens more blooms on every bush. Annabelle and ES Blushing Bride are kind of floppy but I’ll take that in exchange for the 4 months of flowers both give. The Alpenglow and Forever Pink are nearly florescent.

-Hostas are early as well. My unnamed purple variety will need to be deadheaded in a week or so.

-Strange anomalies include my rodgersia, which has great foliage but no flowers this year. What gives? And my rudbeckia hirta Herbstsomme is doing nothing. But it may be too early. Actually I am looking forward to the various rudbeckias, which come into their prime when the lilies are done.

And to close this Bloom Day post, I should mention that I am listening to an NPR On Point show right now that indicates the hot summer we’re getting in Buffalo and across the NE and MW this summer may just mean “summer as we now know it.” According to a new study. !!!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

A triumph for the home team

Of all the cool things that happened over this past weekend—and there was nonstop fabulousness every hour of every day—I have got to say that my proudest moment was when some of my fellow bloggers went with me to both sides of Niagara Falls, and afterwards there was unanimous agreement that the American side was—yes—better.

You see, for years we have been putting up with the universal wisdom (largely spread by taxi drivers) that not only is the American side not as scenic, but that there is no reason to go to NF, US at all. While it’s true that the actual city of NF, US is in bad shape, when you go to see the Falls, you don’t really need to see the city. What the US side has is a lovely park embracing the viewing area. You can walk across scenic bridges, get really, really close to the falls and rapids, meander down pathways, and always be surrounded by trees and plants.

Across the way, however, although the actual view of the falls is more spectacular, you are on pavement and hemmed in by a commercial strip of tacky tourism options—wax museums, souvenir shops, etc. The CA side has some great nature trails along the gorge, but I find the area close to the waterfall kind of built-up.

So it was nice to hear this corroborated. As for the rest of our blogger meet-up, others have taken much better pictures than I and detailed every event better than I could. What many might not realize is that much of it was as new to me as it was for our visitors. I had never set foot on Sixteenth Street, hadn’t visited the Lancaster gardens for years, and had never seen Mike Shadrack’s hosta paradise.

It gave me some ideas. Here are the rest of my pictures, though I did not really have time to take as many as other did. Check them out here.