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.