Six on Saturday: June 16, 2018 – still too much to do…

The to-do list keeps growing, but the good news is that the gardens have dried out enough to be able to do some work. I’m realizing that while sharing my gardens with other Six on Saturday gardeners, the real benefit is for me. The photos, often close-ups, make me stop and  take the time to look more closely at my plants. I see things I would otherwise miss.

  1. A friend gave me some  hydrangea stems. These are a week old. The trick is to dip the cut stems in alum before putting them in the water. They last much longer. Alum is used in canning and can be found in the spice section of your grocery store.

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2.  Three years ago I bought a package deal of six different clematis. This vine struggled and bloomed for the first time this year. I think it is Pink Mink. The bird netting behind it was an idea a took from another Six on Saturday posting. I stapled it to the fence to give the vine something to climb on when they overreached the trellis.

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3.  My Jackmani clematis has moved with me three times in the last fifty years.  It is glorious this year. This is the backside of the latice — right by one of my compost bins. Maybe that’s why this vine is so happy. The front of the lattice, which I see from the house, looks good too, but the backside is even better.IMG_6533

4.  Tomatoes in pots are blooming and the Sungold has small fruits. The blue tarp in the background covers 6 cubic yards of mulch yet to be spread. Currently the gardens remind me of my children’s bedrooms when they were kids. Dirty laundry on the floor and beds unmade. The gardens will finally look dressed when the mulching is done, but there still is weeding to do before that happens. I wanted to get mulch before the local landscaping supplier ran out. I like “pine fines” but can’t get it anymore. This mulch is triple shredded hardwood. I mulch beds every two to three years with perhaps a line of mulch along the edges in the more visible areas in the off years. We always seem to have piles of something in our drive. The neighbors don’t complain. They know they are welcome to wander in the garden.

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5.  The shasta daisies are getting ready to bloom. This is the first one this summer. When we moved to this house there was one clump. Over the last twelve years they have been divided and moved multiple times and survive in very inhospitable conditions. This clump is in partial shade and never gets watered or fertilized, but the white punches needed drama into the shade.

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6. Daylilies are starting to bloom. I was going to post a photo of the Stella d’Oros but this photo was too lovely not to share. I have no idea of the variety or where it came from. I doubt I bought it.

 

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I hope you’ve enjoyed my Six on Saturday for this week. The meme was started by The Propogator, a UK gardener. It’s a great place for new ideas.  This is the link to the rules if you’d like to join in.

Six on Saturday – May 26, 2018

Here are my Six on Saturday. Lots to choose from in the garden this week so decisions were difficult. The rains have made for lush gardens, however, every single helicopter off my silver maples has germinated in my flower and vegetable beds.   –Imagine silent screaming–   We’re having two dry days so most of the lawn got mowed yesterday and today. We’re still mowing around some standing water spots. I put my tall rubber boots on to go out with my iphone camera.

Tomatoes have been planted in raised beds and have doubled in size. Some have blooms. We are eating lettuce, arugula, kale and should have the first radishes next week. My bean seed germination has been spotty perhaps because I was using old seeds.

Here are the things I chose for today’s post.

  1. Another lovely, but nameless, azalea.

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2. One of the William Peter hostas is huge.  I like the combination of textures with the fern. No slug damage to the hostas thus far. Perhaps ringing them with wood ash from the fireplace (suggested by Fred in France) is working.

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3. This is a climbing yellow jasmine (Carolina Yellow Jessamine – Gelsemium sempervirens). I put it in a pot because I didn’t know where it was going to go. When I figured that out and tried to dig the hole, I hit yellow clay that could have been put directly on a potter’s wheel. Every day I’ve gone out to see if there is still standing water in the hole. Today I was able to make a little progress with getting the hole the right size, but rain is expected tonight. I don’t want to drown this healthy plant, but it needs something to climb on. I stapled some bird netting to my fence as I’d seen in someone else’s SoS post, so I’m anxious to get it in the ground. You can see the baby maple trees that have sprouted in the pot.

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4. Sundrops: My mother gave me the original clump and I’ve always know them as sundrops. Now I discover they are Oenothera fruticosa, a member of the evening primrose family. Mine spread almost invasively so last year I pulled out bucketsfull.

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5. This groundcover was left over at last year’s Green Thumb plant sale so I brought it home and stuck it in the ground. It looked terrible all last summer which was quite dry. But this spring it is lush and blooming. Can anyone tell me what it is?

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6. This photo is why you should walk your garden every day. When I went out this morning the hardy gardenia my neighbor gave me was blooming. I had to stoop to get the fragrance but when this gets to be three feet tall it will perfume the garden. Gardenia jasminoides ‘Kleims Hardy’

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That’s my Six on Saturday for this week. The meme was started by The Propogator, a UK gardener. This is the link to the rules if you’d like to join in.

 

 

Six on Saturday: Azaleas and Clematis Take the Stage

We had some torrential downpours which flattened many of the bearded iris. That’s a shame, but we needed the rain. I was out early in the week taking some photos and am glad I did. We have now had close on five days of almost solid rain (over 16″) and things are getting beaten up.  Despite the weather, the azaleas and clematis are taking center stage and I will have azaleas blooming until the end of June.

  1. My favorite azalea is Martha Hitchcock. It layers easily so I have propogated multiple plants that are now through out my garden. This is a lovely place to sit unless the wren nesting in the bird house above the bench gets upset. Another wren built a nest in a pot turned on its side on top of the woodpile which is under roof. I don’t know if these are house wrens or Carolina wrens. I’m no better with bird names than I am with plant names. And birds don’t sit still while I consult my bird book.

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2. Clematis Abilene. The perennial orchid below the clematis was given to me by a gardening friend for my May birthday several years ago. I don’t know the name, but I think it is a native. It has colonized enough that I will have some to share. The color of the orchid mimics the color in the clematis and the strappy foliage adds a different texture when both are through blooming. A happy coincidence. You can see more azaleas behind the clematis blooms.

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3. Azalea Rosebud: My high school boyfriend gave my mother this cultivar as a gift when she was first beginning to propogate azaleas. So ever after it was known, in our family, as Rosebud Don Park. None of my other boyfriends — or husbands for that matter — ever got an azalea named for them by my mother.

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4. I bought this clematis on a Green Thumb bus trip. I searched to see if I had been smart enough to stick the tag in the ground, but I couldn’t find it. It is the palest of blue fading to white. The flowers are six inches across. This is climbing on an obelisk on the edge of my azalea garden. Honestly, this photo is just flower porn.

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5. Another nameless clematis is now blooming on one of the trellises at the back of the garden near the shed. These SoS posts are going to shame me into keeping better records. It looks sort of purple where the sun is hitting it, but it is a deep true blue.

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6. False Cypress Lemon Thread: the plant in the foreground in this photo was given to me last week by the same friend who gave me the native orchids in #2 above. She said it would grow 5-6′ tall and 6-8′ wide. I wondered where I could put something that would get that big. I did a little research and those sizes are what it might grow to in thirty years. It will be someone else’s problem long before then.

I found a spot where it will give me a lemon pop when nothing else is demanding attention. The location gets morning sun and then dappled shade through the river birch clump. I’ve learned not to plant dark foliage in the shade where it is difficult to see in the shadows.

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That’s my Six on Saturday for this week. The meme was started by The Propogator, a UK gardener. This is the link to the rules if you’d like to join in.

Six on Saturday – May 12, 2018

This is the time of year when I take a walk around the garden in the early morning and then again in the late afternoon. There is something new to see every day.

  1. Amsonia –  I have several Amsonia hubrichtii, commonly called bluestar. A friend gave me several and last year I shook the seed heads around, but I don’t see any volunteers. I would love to have more because the thread like leaves turn golden yellow in the fall. The fall foliage photo was taken at Chanticleer, a garden in Pennsylvania. You can see why I would want more. The flowers are brief and a pale blue. This year I’m going to save seeds and try to start some plants in pots.

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I have another kind if amsonia that I dug from a local garden that was going to be bulldozed. It also has blue flowers in the spring but the foliage is different than hubrichtii. It also self-seeds with a vengeance and once a clump is established it is difficult to remove. I keep a couple of clumps in some areas of the garden where not much else will grow, but I don’t let them go to seed. Eventually I’d rather have all hubrichtii.

2. Viburnum plicatum Kern’s Pink  – this lovely viburnum opens with pale pink petals, then turns to white. It is also a plant I brought with me to this house. Another tiny plant purchase that was worth the wait.

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3.  Bearded Iris  – the ones on the right looks more pink than they are. They are not my favorites but they do well in a dry area of one side of the house and aren’t susceptible to borers. I’ll keep them. I have a number of varieties, all of which came from friends or the plant sale at the Woman’s Club of St. Michaels.

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4. Pumpkin contest – my writing partner, Laura Ambler, has a sister who keeps trying to have an annual pumpkin contest. A couple of years ago she gave a bunch of us pumpkin plants and we were to see who could grow the biggest pumpkin. All the plants were doing well and then, almost overnight, all succumbed to borers. Not one of us got a pumpkin. We are trying again and were able to choose our pumpkin plants which Julia had named. I picked  a pot that had two plants. They went into the garden on Tuesday. I am declaring war on borers, so any suggestions are welcome. I will consider noxious chemical warfare.

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5.   A hardy gardenia has replaced the Korean Spice Viburnum (carlesii) which used to be outside our bedroom window. It grew much to big for the spot where I’d planted it. And it bloomed on last years wood, but I never could get the hang of when to cut it back. The gardenia was a gift from my new neighbor who has a blank canvas garden and is thrilled to have anything I dig up to share. She took the Korean Spice and planted it in a more suitable spot in her yard. Last weekend I watched as her husband moved 7 cubic yards of topsoil to the new planting bed by their back fence. Heroic effort! The spots on the leaves are pine pollen.

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6. This is a section of the back yard of St. Michaels Woman’s Club. An activity of the club is the Green Thumb group which meets monthly with a variety of gardening programs. Each May we have a plant sale in which members bring divisions, plants they no longer want, or the extras they have grown from seed. Most of the plants sell for 1 or 2 dollars. We raise a little bit of money for the club, but the real benefit is that club members can purchase plants they know do well in our area.

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For a number of years I was in charge of the plant sale and joked that my garden is a memory garden, planted with the leftovers from the plant sale. I may not know the scientific name of the plants, but I know the names of the women friends whose gardens they came from.

That’s my Six on Saturday, a meme started by The Propogator, a UK gardener. This is the link to the rules if you’d like to join in.

 

 

Write on Wednesday – May 9, 2018

Finding the time…

If you are a writer who is passionate about gardening or a gardener who is passionate about writing, spring is difficult. Finding/making time to write has to be slotted in between garden tasks that must be done at a certain time. And often that timing depends on the weather.

We’ve had a cold, wet spring so many garden tasks were pushed forward. Now there seems to be a brief spell of relatively dry days with temperatures in the mid 70’s. I have tomato plants that need to get in the ground so they can have a week of cooler temps before it goes into the 90’s. And seeds that need to be planted. Some of these tasks can be accomplished when I have a half hour. It doesn’t take long for me to put in a row of pea seeds. And sometimes you just have to spend a little time in admiration mode because gardening can be meditative and therapeutic.

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I suppose there are writers who can write in ten-minute slots. I am not one of them. I must shift gears in my brain and “be” in the story. It’s not always so easy to come out, either. So, unlike planting a row of lettuce, writing for me needs a chunk of time. More than an hour if I’m honest. Otherwise I’m just proofing what I wrote the last time I was at my desk.

And it’s not just gardening that gets in the way. Appointments and volunteer activities vie for attention. My daughter-in-law blogged something that hit a nerve. “Sometimes I wish I were not quite so disciplined. It’s like when I tell the husband that I wonder what it must be like to be incompetent. No one asks you to chair any committees, no one expects you to show up and do what you said you would do…people just give you a pass and you can do whatever you feel like doing. The husband says he doesn’t think incompetence sounds that attractive but I’m not so sure.”

Don’t get me wrong. I’ve gotten pretty good at only raising my hand for volunteer activities I want to do, but I do get asked because people know I’m organized and will do what I say I will do. And sometimes what I’ve said yes to gets in the way of my writing. The thing I am not good at is putting my writing at the very top of the list.

If you have any tricks about carving out your writing time and putting yourself first, please share.