Sunday, May 27, 2007

Springtime Waning

We are now entering that weird in-between time where it doesn't feel like spring anymore but it isn't quite summer yet either. The last of my spring bulbs have finished and the black locust are blooming.

OH! The black locust has such an enveloping, wonderful scent! I look forward to its bloom every year. It is a wonderful garden tree in that it grows FAST but strong; provides dappled light; offers interest in the way of bark (older trees), leaves, flowers, and generally inedible bean shaped fruit; it has a narrow canopy footprint, and the leaves are small enough to leave where they land. The problem comes in their aggressive seedlings. This tree has quite a few offspring every year and they will not be denied! The saplings are very thorny (they lose their thorns as they get older) and the entire root must be dug out to get rid of them. You could also let them grow until they are an inch or two thick and cut them down, but even then the tree will try to sucker. They actually are much easier to remove than elm, though. I spent an hour yesterday cutting elm sapling out of my lilac bush - and I will have to do it again and again because I can not dig out the root where they are.

Another item blooming right now is my dogwood.
I have not noticed any scent with it, but the shrub is beautiful enough.

They are not necessarily easy to grow, no matter what you hear. The majority of the other variegated dogwood around town look pretty shabby. Other than a fertilizer spike at planting (which I do with most of my shrubs) I didn't do anything special with this one, I guess I just got lucky.

If you give this a try, I would suggest growing it in full sun as I have noticed about the other variegated dogwoods around town, the more shade they get, the less happy they look.

One plant that really doesn't mind a little shade is the columbine. Several years ago I started some Barlow columbine from seed. I originally had four plants. They weren't too keen on exactly where I had planted them (a little too close to the pine, I'm guessing) and one by one they died over a two year period. The spring after the last died, a couple of their offspring showed up. And now I get new ones every year.

These are just two of the Barlows that I have this year. My husband and I remembered the columbine munchers from last year and were right on top of them this year. I squished them right on the leaves while they were still tiny. They didn't stand a chance.

Here is the rodgersia with it's flower. Not a real impressive flower, but it's the leaves that I want. This plant at maturity will be about hip high. Not as big as the astilboides (which I just found out is related to the rodgersia), but still a very interesting plant.

I want to get a mass of them growing to help fill in the Asian shade garden that we are expanding. Again, it is not meant to be a true Japanese or Chinese garden, it is merely inspired by them; Fusion, as my husband calls it. And hopefully it will be an inspiration in its own right.

This is the work that I did yesterday. It was supposed to rain all day, so I got up started my runs to the compost center as soon as they opened at 8am and figured that I would just get loads until it started to rain. I was able to get enough to lay out the whole garden. My idea here was a Taoist theme of "going with the flow". I think out of all the philosophies that I have studied, Taoism makes the most sense. If you have not read The Tao of Pooh I highly recommend it.

The path is a river, an old river, the kind of river that has over the years gone from rushingly trying to push its way through the world to gently and wisely finding its way through. It is not concerned with the speed of the journey, it values the journey itself. This river guides those traveling it through the garden slowly so that they may enjoy the journey too.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

New Template and More Plant Shame

As you may have noticed, I tweaked my template. I'm not sure if I like the background color yet, but I think that the title/header turned out great - featuring a picture of my very own "Princess Irene" tulips. Love them!

And here is another of my favorite tulips - "Blue Parrot". I know, they don't look like parrot tulips since they are only slightly frilly; but that is what I like about them. They are one of the most feminine looking tulips I have ever seen. Very delicate looking, yet TOUGH! They are growing in mostly shade under two pine trees - and still blooming every year!

The oak tree that I moved last Sunday is still doing well. I am not calling it a success yet, but I am less worried about it now. I still have not identified it. Here is a picture of the bark (isn't it cool?) and the leaves. Does anyone know what it is? My best guess is a burr oak, but I can't find any pictures of the juvenile leaves and bark.

And now on to the shame...

I killed the delphinium that the nursery guy gave me. I feel awful. It was in a small pot and dried out overnight. I really should have re-potted it as soon as I got it home. I almost cried. What could I do but vow to have the best damn looking delphinium bed this year?

SO, I went to another nursery today with the specific purpose of buying delphinium. I left without any since their stock looked a little iffy, but did manage to purchase 7 clematis!! And they weren't cheap - but I had to have them. They had "Blue Ravine". My early readers may remember the pictures that I posted of my "Blue Ravine" clematis - simply STUNNING! But I killed it last year. Noticing a pattern here? I was trying to straighten what it was climbing and *snap!*

I didn't get ALL Blue Ravine. My gazebo has 6 legs and I want to plant a clematis next to each one so my gazebo will be covered in clematis. I didn't want it all covered in one color though - that would just be overwhelming. I chose another clematis to alternate: Comtesse de Bouchard. The Blue Ravine is a repeat bloomer, blooming May-June and then again in August. Comtesse blooms June-September. I think this will be perfect since they will most likely only bloom together in August. Comtesse's selling point, besides the blooming time, was that the vine takes on the look of shiny copper wire as it ages - just beautiful!

So six legs, seven clematis. What was the seventh clematis?
Well, we fell in love with this one and just had to have it:

It is "Betty Corning". We loved the way that it resembled a trumpet lily. The foliage is very fine and delicate looking which makes this a very feminine/lacy looking plant. We really don't have a clue where we will put it either. *Sigh* I have to quit going to nurseries.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Free Tree

Mother's Day was another very busy day. I started weeding and adding compost to the delphinium bed, but got sick of running into the half dead ornamental plum so I had my son cut it down for me.

Then there was a huge gap that I was not happy with. Seeing as we did not get a tree the day before, I wasn't sure what to do. But as you may have guessed - I am obsessive. I did not want to wait to fill the gap so I started finally digging out an oak that I have been meaning to move for a couple of years. It was a gift from the tree rats, but they planted it too close to the high line. I didn't move it yet because I had no idea where to put it and I heard that oaks were not easy to move successfully. But it was either move it or chop it down, so why not give it a chance to live?

OMG! They are not easy to move at all! I was digging in 85F heat for about an hour and a half! I had fully intended to dig a good three feet down before cutting the roots (oaks have a tap root system - a series of thick roots that grow practically straight down), but the spot it was in was tight and I kept hitting roots. Even though I hacked up the roots more than I wanted to, I did finally get it out and move it to its new home.

Sorry it's so fuzzy, but it was dusk when I took this picture. You can see the remains of the plum between the dogwood and the oak. I was actually happy that the plum died - it was way too close to the dogwood and I didn't want to move it.

This oak so far hasn't seemed to even notice that it got moved. I watered the crap out it yesterday and feed it to give it a boost. I still have not gotten any root stimulator, otherwise I would have used some of that too. I am crossing my fingers and hoping for the best. This is an absolutely lovely tree and I think that it fits the spot nicely. I figure if I can keep it happy for a couple of weeks it might just stand a chance.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Happy Mother's Day!

I have been in a funk for a couple weeks due to, I'm guessing, all the stress that the changes at work have been creating[1] - and that garden-pillager didn't help either! But yesterday I had a great day. I woke up around 9am, made some coffee (Farmer Brothers ROCKS!), and nestled into my couch to order some bulbs from Breck's before their $25 coupon expired. Here's what I ordered (all of the following images are from the Breck's catalog):

I liked my Arabian Mystery tulips so much that I just had to have more. I originally bought these from a nursery in the Twin Cities that has an awesome fall bulb collection - but they sell them in open bulk bins, so I'm never 100% sure that I'm getting what I think I'm getting.

The Sunrise tulips speak for themselves!

The Trout Lilies looked perfect for our Zen garden[2], they reminded me of pagodas.

The Exotic Emperors just caught my eye. The combination of colors looks so elegant. I can't wait to see these in person!

After I sent my bulb order in, I slammed the rest of my coffee and headed out to the garden to get some weeding done before heading off to work.

It was perfect weather - cool and sunny. I don't like heat. I prefer high 60s to low 70s. I can take higher temps if the humidity is low, but around here it gets really humid - not Florida humid, but pretty damn close.

I was getting so much done in the garden that I decided to skip work (which I can do pretty much at will since I am in charge of my own scheduling at my job - nice, huh?). I weeded pretty much all the beds in the main garden and even moved some plants around - including those Greenland Tulips that I have been meaning to move from under the burning bush for years. Even though they weren't really flowering anymore because they weren't getting enough sun and were being strangled by the dense root mass of the bush), they were still multiplying nicely. I also noticed that some had moved themselves from under the bush into more sun and were actually blooming pretty well (I left those alone). I hope that means that the move will get these tulips blooming again; they are such lovely tulips.

I lost an ornamental plum tree and over half of my delphinium, so SSB said we should go to Funkie Gardens to see if they had any trees that we could put in the area. I always love a trip to Funkie Garden. They specialize in hostas and unusual perennial plants - hence the name. Well, $136 later we didn't have a tree, but we did have some very nice plants!

2 Eupatorium maculatum 'Carin' (Joe Pye weed)

2 Pulsatilla vulgaris 'Rubra' (pasque flower)

2 Trollius c. 'Golden Queen' (globe flower)

1 Iris cristata 'Eco Bluebird' (wood iris)

2 Heliopsis h. 'Prairie Sunset' (false sunflower)

1 Athyrium niponicum 'Burgundy Lace' (painted fern)

1 Tsuga canadensis 'Cole's Prostrate' (dwarf hemlock)

2 Silphium lanciniatum (compass or cup plant)

The last one I was not familiar with at all. I got it because the leaves and base were so intriguing and it said that it could get up to 7' high!! When I got home and Googled it - well, it wasn't what I was expecting - and I have two of them! I'm sure that I can find some place to make these work.

On the way home we stopped at another nursery that I usually get my delphinium from. They only had one variety this year, so I only got two hoping that I could pick up a couple more colors some place else. The guy selling me them was excited that I had such a big bed and commitment to growing delphinium. He told me to hang on, disappeared for a few minutes and came back with a small pot with a delphinium in it. He said it was a gift to me. He had grown it from seed himself. Aw! I was so touched! I promise to take good care of it.

I felt so good by the end of the day; content and happily tired! What a great early Mother's Day!

[1] I work at a pharmacy and one of the pharmacists quit, leaving only one pharmacist. And of course the one that left was also the one that made my job around there much easier. The other bookkeeper also left leaving me in charge of ALL the business management. That bumped my hours up about 20 more hours a week as well as giving me a whole new pile of things to learn and sort out.

[2] The Zen Garden is named so because it is inspired by Japanese gardens and our cat, Zen, is buried there.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

I Feel So Violated!

I came home from work early to get some gardening done.

First I mowed the lawn. That really makes the garden look so much better. It works as good as a day's worth a weeding.

Then I actually got down to weeding. As I was weeding my candy lily bed I noticed that the Bright Parrot tulips that I had planted nearby had been beheaded. It was a real ugly beheading too - the stems were shredded. Strange, I thought. As I leaned in to examine, I saw that two of the bulbs had actually been pulled right out of the ground and left to bake in the sun.

Those damn squirrels!!!

I replanted the bulbs thinking to myself that I should have remembered to put hair around these bulbs since they were fairly new. Then I hear my neighbor calling to me from across the street. He wanted to tell me about something that he had seen yesterday -

- a woman was in my garden picking my flowers.

WHAT THE HELL?!! Who the hell would do that? Someone obviously that feels that they are so damn important that they alone deserve the right to enjoy those flowers, those flowers that they did not buy, plant and slave over. Flowers that were not in THEIR YARD!!!

My neighbor said that by the time he decided she probably wasn't a friend of mine, she was gone. I told him that no one has permission to pick my flowers. I don't even pick my flowers!!

And this woman can't even be bothered to replant the bulbs that she pulled out of the ground in the process!!

I felt sick. I was so irritated that I just couldn't even finish my gardening.

Besides robbing me, and all my garden fans, the enjoyment of all my hard work, this stupid woman has me completely re-thinking plant choices and placement now. I hate the fact that I am now very hesitant to buy more interesting plants and feel like I have to hide them.


She better hope that I never find her!

Sunday, May 06, 2007

More May Shots

I love bulbs and my bulb beds are looking so good this year. They are filling out wonderfully.

These Bright Parrot tulips that I got from Breck's last fall just bloomed today. They are AWESOME!! I'm so glad that I got them last year, because they aren't in the catalog this year. I have to say that I was very impressed with the quality of the bulbs that I got from Breck's. So even though they are fairly expensive, I think that they are worth the money - especially if you use the $25 coupon that they send every year. I will be using it again this year!

I got these as a mixed tulip bag - they were ALL purple! Which is just fine, because I like purple.

A shot of my main bulb beds. You can see the Gavotas blooming just on the other side of the path.

These are my favorite tulips - Princess Irene. This picture is pretty good at highlighting their color, but I think that seeing them in person is far better.

This is another lily tulip. I can not remember the name. I bought it on special and stuck it in the ground without recording it. It is in the big berm, which does not seem to be very friendly to my bulbs. I have lost every one that I have planted in it except this one (which was a pack of ten).

The rodgeria leaves have unfurled. They still have quite a bit of growing to do. This plant gets a few feet tall.

"Elizabeth" magnolia in bloom. The tree is only in its second year at our house, so it only has three blooms, but they are just amazing.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007


The month of May, all two days of it, has been good to me so far. My bulbs have been blooming like crazy.
This variety is actually called "Maytime". It is my husband's favorite tulip.
It is a lily tulip, a very uncommon type. In fact, the only garden that I have seen them in is mine!
I highly recommend them, and I'm sure you can see why.

This is my rodgeria. I got this from a local nursery last year. They didn't actually have any for sale, the owner actually dug this from her own personal stock since it was the third year in a row I had come there looking for it and they still couldn't get any from their supplier. I had planted some about five years ago and promptly killed it the following spring. I hit it with a shovel while digging. Oops!
I was actually worried that this replacement wouldn't make it because I didn't cover it for the winter. It actually did quite well. I started with three stems last year. This year there are at least eight!

The other plant that I was fretting over this spring because I had forgotten to cover it for the winter was my Astilboides tabularis. I was so relieved to see the beginning of three stems over the weekend. What a relief!

These tulips are in my front corner bed (~7 years). Both are from different mixed bags that I got from the Home Depot (Are you seeing a trend here? The Home Depot actually has some really good deals on some very good bulbs. I give them the Thumbs Up!)

I got this China Rose bush as a root stock last year from Jung and never got around to planting it. It seems to be fairly happy in this plastic pot though! It really exceeded my expectations for beauty - and as a root stock it was CHEAP!

We had to move this "Luscious" pear tree from our front woodland garden a couple weekends ago since that garden is soon to be our rain garden. We bought it for about $8 in late summer 2005. Last year we got four plum-sized pears from it, and they were the BEST pears that I have ever eaten! I HIGHLY recommend this variety. It is was developed for northern gardens too! I am hoping that it tolerates the move well and still produces some fruit for us this year.

I forgot what these tulips are - "Apricot Beauty"?

The foreground flower is "Red Riding Hood" greigii. They are a strikingly red multi-flowerer with interesting leaf patterning. I was expecting them to multiply, but they have not. I gave some to my parents. They planted them in almost full shade in zone 3-4 and they say that they are doing swell even 6 years later!

This last bunch is a mixed Darwin variety - well it was supposed to be mixed, but it seems that one variety won out and has been multiplying well over the years (~8years). I liked the way that the peony cage framed them in this picture and the sunlight gives them an ethereal quality - making them a good bunch to end the post with.

I will be posting more pictures as more things come up!