Sunday, August 19, 2012

Blush noisette

This is one of the energizer bunnies of the rose world. It dates from 1817 and was bred in France, though I had also read that it was bred here, in the south. Probably it's simply used a lot in the south. Mine is kept in a pot and brought into the root cellar in the winter; it's hardy only to 6 and not usually grown in cold climates. (Who knows if that's still a factor.)

BN is in bloom from late May through frost. There are tons of buds on each spray always--almost too many. It's a fabulous rose. It's also one of the first roses I planted here.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Dirt makes you happy—and keeps you young

Here’s the proof—lovely Sally Cunningham on the arm of daughter Alice as she approaches the outdoor “altar” for her recent wedding to boyfriend Jack. At 60+, Sally is one of the busiest and happiest people I know, in spite of the many frustrations of pulling together a career out of several occupations—gardening expert for Lockwoods Greenhouses, writer and speaker on plants and organic gardening, columnist for Buffalo Spree and the Buffalo News, and consultant for the National Garden Festival.

The wedding was the first opportunity I have had to see Sally’s garden, although I knew, with all her consulting and traveling, that her personal garden was all too often a case of the shoemaker’s children. However, the garden had clearly received some extra attention for this special occasion. It has a lot of cottage garden elements, and fits Sally’s country landscape very well.

Rustic touches include a swing, small treehouse, and a wooden ladder used to hold pots and other garden elements. The plants are our old favorites—rudbeckia, ferns, hellebores, many shrubs, and lots of pots thrown in for late season color. Sadly, Sally can’t have hydrangeas, as these would be eaten by deer, so she included them just for the day, sunken in the ground in pots. Check out what she says about the preparations here.

Wishing every happiness to Sally and Jack!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Miss 2012

Re: Garden Walk visitor comments. There is always one plant that everyone asks about. In the past, it's generally been strobilanthes (Persian Shield) that gets all the attention.

This year, however, my 8-ft tall Castor Bean (ricinus) is the one. Which is fun because then I can enjoy the look of horror in their faces when I explain how poisonous the seeds are (possibly the most poisonous plant in the world for this reason). Though not illegal.

Runners-up? All the colocasia (elephant ear)--do I bring it in, how does it get so big, etc. And the tall rudbeckia "Golden Glow." Size matters, it seems. At least this year.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Love the plant; can't remember the name

When I bought this plant at The Plantsmen in Ithaca, in April, it was just a black nursery pot with a few small weeds emerging. Once established in a shady spot, however, it did exactly what it's supposed to do: it grew big serrated leaves and tall stems with small but interesting yellow flowers.

But by then it was July and for the life of me I could not remember what this thing was called. Ken Parker, the native plant specialist at Lockwoods here in Buffalo, came to my rescue. "Stoneroot," he said, looking at my iPhone picture. And so it is. (Colinsonia canadensis, to be exact.)

This might not be for everyone, but it is one of a collection of woodland natives I've been gradually installing. It's medicinal too--supposed to be good for the kidneys. I'm sure mine could use the help, but for now I'm enjoying it for its clearly woodland aesthetics.

Sunday, July 08, 2012

A pretty weed, ID'd.

After pulling bales of this out of my garden a few years back, I encountered it again in a charming garden on Euclid, in Lockport. It's part of Lockport in Bloom. (No linkie from this mobile post.)

It looks great here, and I discovered its name: commelina communis (Asian Dayflower).

You've seen it everywhere, I bet, but it rarely looks as nice as this.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Re: satisfaction. You can get it.

And I already have it, lots of it. Lilium “Satisfaction,” that is. Every summer it’s the same. I puzzle over the pods that are hanging heavy on my various lilium stalks and wonder: “Which one is that going to be?”

It is all being revealed now. The physical evidence, as well as the online bulb ordering records, indicate that I added a lot of “Satisfaction” to the garden in the fall, as well as some “Conca d’Or” and Auratum “Gold Band.” So far, the first of these is earliest in bloom—though, as I’ve already noted, most everything will be early.

I’m OK with “Satisfaction.” It is forward facing, rather than down facing (as many of my lilies are), and it has a relatively mild scent. The colors are very like popular daylily colors. But sometimes I wonder if I’m not better off sticking closer to the species lilium, the ones that look closer to lilies as they would be in the wild. I’m looking forward to the Auratum for that reason.

For now, though, I’ll take “Satisfaction.”

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Hello summer!

When gardeners get together these days, the talk is inevitably of earliness. Ten day, two weeks, a month—depends on what plant you’re talking about, but they’re all ahead of their time. That will happen when you have ninety-degree temps (occasionally) before summer even officially begins. Not to mention the boost of hot weather we had in the early spring.

This is the first year I have had lilium regales and daylilies opening in June, and my hydrangeas have almost completely colored up, as you can see, above. Containers and hanging baskets have to be watered almost continually, and there's no rain in sight.

Nonetheless, I’ll take it. I’ll take it over the triple-digits they’re having down south. They said this would happen, and it’s happening.

Those of us on garden tours are a bit concerned, but it’s also a good lesson. You can’t depend on flower power alone in a garden. There has to be structure, foliage, texture, elements like water features and sculpture, and some sort of design that holds it all together even when all your lilies are bloomed out (as mine may be by Garden Walk). But most of all, the garden needs to be an attractive and comfortable place for the gardener to hang out. Because it’s too hot to garden. Or at least that’s what I’m telling myself.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

FOTD: Poppy envy

It seems like almost every gardener has the conditions to grow these successfully and well, but I've never gotten into poppies. I just don't have an open sunny spot to spare for them. But after visiting Asheville North Carolina for the annual garden bloggers' get-together, I might need to become bitter about this.  I saw beautiful poppies in almost every garden, including a blue variety gardener Christopher Mello had carefully culled and selected to get (below).

They say the best way to do it here in Buffalo is to throw the seeds on the snow in February or so. Maybe next year I'll try.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

FOTD: a solution for hybrid tulips

Many say their hybrid tulips come back year after year. That’s nice for them, and I think, given proper conditions, it is possible. It’s not possible on my property, and, even if it were, I’m not sure I’d want to give up that much in-ground planting space to tulips

What I’ve done is create two circular raised beds in front and plant hundreds more in containers. (And plant different species tulips throughout the garden every fall.) The hybrids are treated as annuals, for the most part, and composted yearly.

A first-year tulip bulb is almost magical. I wonder if it would just come up without soil or water, as long as it had a proper chilling period. All I do is throw the bulbs in pots, out them in the garage, take them out in April, and voila.

Friday, April 06, 2012

FOTD: Never enough

Species tulips are just as elegant and interesting as hybrid tulips, but they are small. You have to have a lot of them (sort of like crocus) and you have to observe which ones have the healthiest return rate throughout the seasons and plant more of those types.
Pictured above is humulis “Persian Pearl,” which is one of the most beautiful species out there. I love the combination of it and batalinii “Apricot Jewel,” below. That’s the other thing about species—they can bloom at any time between early April and late May depending on variety. Something else to watch.

And always plant more.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

FOTD: Doubling up

Horticultural purists aren’t big fans of doubles. They feel hybridizers can unnecessarily complicate a simple form, making it fussy and ungainly. I don’t like all doubles, but I do enjoy double tulips. Most are scented and they seem to last longer that the singles, especially Black Hero, the double of Queen of the Night. The ones here are Montreaux, as forced by the local botanical gardens for their spring flower show. Double tulips, for the most part don’t seem to buckle under their own weight.

This can’t be said for double daffodils, which emerge earlier and can get clobbered by spring rains. They stems don’t hold up the way tulip stems do. I’ve had these Obdams for years, and they invariably end up face down in the mud. But they’re still lovely.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

FOTD: Hellebores, again

A man walking by the house asked me about these today, and I was glad to talk about them. I now have ten, several of which have grown into fairly large clumps. But I never would have gotten addicted to them if not for three important factors:

-Interesting varieties in different colors and double forms are now commonly available, especially from Plant Delights, and they seem to be just as vigorous as the single whites I started out with. It looks like I have Onyx Odyssey and Kingston Cardinal, and (maybe) Ivory Prince, as well as some I can’t guess at.

 -They have a really long flowering period. They start in April (March this year) and the flowers hang on through June.
-They not only love shade, they can thrive in dry shade and compacted, root-ridden soil. 

I am considering carpeting the entire front garden in them. 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

FOTD: Behold the Parrot

Over the top? Pushing the envelope? Gorgeous beyond belief? Parrot tulips are all that and more, and this is why it is mystifying to me why more gardeners don’t grow them.

It’s possible that parrots don’t return year after year like  … oh, that’s right, very few hybrid tulips return with regularity. Or maybe some feel they’re expensive? Yeah, that must be it—I’m sure I paid all of $8 for the group that yielded this bouquet.

Actually, I couldn’t care less if other gardeners embrace parrots. The only thing that will make me upset is if the demand gets so minimal that I can’t find them anymore. Expect organized dissent when that happens. As for these parrots, a blend from ColorBlends wholesale, they have more than fulfilled any and all expectations of pleasure that I ever expected. In fact, I’d be disappointed if they returned next year. It would lessen the drama.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Flower of the Day

For some time, I have been at a loss about how to invigorate this blog. I already post weekly on another, much more widely read blog, and—to be honest—the task of writing for this blog had become onerous. At best. How many blogs does one person need?

Indeed, in these days of Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, do we need blogs at all? Maybe we don’t. But blogs are not really about need or readership. They just exist. This blog exists, and in order to keep it that way, I’ve decided to turn it into a project, namely the flower of a day project.

Today’s flower is a hellebore. A fancy one.