Six on Saturday – Getting an Early Start – 7-14-18

  1. It’s too hot to work in the garden past 10 a.m. I can begin watering early, but on this particular morning the colors in the sky beckoned me to walk to the water’s edge so I abandoned hoses for watching the sun rise on the Miles River.

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2. When I got back to the house a few minutes later, I fastened on my toolbelt and began working. I don’t know where I acquired this small toolbelt but I couldn’t garden without it. There is a place that perfectly holds a pair of Fiskars scissors. The orange handles mean I don’t often lose them. They are inexpensive and the tool I use as much as my Felco pruners. This time of year I carry a roll of plastic tape with me as there always seems to be something that needs tying up. And I always have to have something for a drippy nose.

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3. The dusty miller is blooming. I don’t remember seeing it bloom before. This variety wintered over in a pot where a slip of coreopsis was tucked in this spring. It keeps blooming as long as I deadhead it.  The  whorls on the upper left are the remainders of clematis blooms.

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4. Rudbeckia is beginning to bloom and will be gorgeous in another week or so. They droop in these dry conditions but perk up after watering. They are a reliable perennial in my garden withstanding flooding and drought and clay soil.

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5. The veggie beds are not producing well with the heat and dry conditions, but I am harvesting cucumbers. The bumble bees are busy on the cucumber blossoms. The *&%$ squirrels ate the two gorgeous Shah tomatoes I had a photo of last week. I was not happy!  My bed of tomatoes at the community garden is beginning to produce. I’ll be canning tomato sauce in a couple of weeks

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6. Quite a few of the Hens and Chicks (Sempervivum succulents) are sending up blooming stalks. The rosette at the bottom of the stalk will die so there will be some maintenance required on these hypertufa planters I made last fall. I have tried some of the other colors of sempervivums, but the green ones reliably winter over and spread for me.

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I hope you enjoy 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 – July 7, 2018 – Rain Dance Visualization

I am writing this on Friday morning, obsessively checking the weather channel radar map to see if the predicted 80% chance of rain is going to get to us. Sometimes it just doesn’t transit across the Chesapeake Bay to the Eastern Shore. The ground is cracking and I will lose plants if we don’t get significant rain soon. I can’t water enough to keep up. The gardens are looking sad with a few exceptions. Note: it is now almost 7pm and the rain has just skirted around us. My rain dance visualization had no effect. Tomorrow I will haul hoses.

Here’s my six. Only photos that don’t show the desolation…

  1. This small tree is a Vitex or chaste tree. I prune mine to keep it from getting too tall. It’s glorious for a couple of weeks. A native of the Mediterranean area, it doesn’t mind our summer dry spells.Pruning the suckers on the bottom is on the “to do” list, although they do hide a wonky stem that was the result of someone, who shall remain nameless, backing over the plant when it was small.

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2. A couple of years ago I had a wheelbarrow that I didn’t know how to dispose of. So I painted it purple, put potting soil in it and planted it with mint.  I learned my lesson about the invasive quality of mint years ago as a newbie gardener. Now it only goes in elevated pots or containers as the roots will escape through drainage holes. This spring I replaced the soil in the barrow, replanted rooted cuttings and put a chartreuse coleus in the front (because I had been at a nursery and couldn’t help myself). The pot on the right side has left over SunPatiens from planting the window boxes in the front of the house.

I put a drip irrigation hose in the mint which is keeping it fresh, but you can see the drooping yellow jasmine by the fence. I need to run some drip to it.

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3. The cleome that were tiny two weeks ago are going to town despite the drought. The window boxes are planted with SunPatiens which do well given the late afternoon sun on the front of the house. I have drip irrigation in the boxes.

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4. This is heliopsis Burning Heart. I ordered it last spring and it was puny looking when it came. I’ve parked it in one of the raised beds so I could keep an eye on it.

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5. Tomatoes are coming on. These are Shah, a white variety, which I’ve never grown before. The seeds were included with other seeds I’d ordered. Shah’s leaves are different as you can see below the tomatoes. There is also a Sungold in this pot. The leaves of that variety look like traditional tomato leaves.

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6. The photo below shows what happens when you wait too late to prune. I had already cut back the red twig dogwood once but it was over powering the avocado sculpture so I cut it back again. A couple of days of temperatures in the high 90’s with blistering sun and this sun scald is the result. Tony Tomeo wrote a great blog post about summer heat and plants.

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I hope you enjoy 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 – June 30, 2018 Ditch Lilies Mean Summer Is Here

Summer is here. We are hot and dry. The first six cubic yards of mulch has been put down. I promptly ordered another six yards. I don’t mulch every year and I want this effort to last for awhile. We’ll take our time spreading it in the cool early morning hours. The front of the house looks dressed up now.

Lots of things are blooming now in the garden and it’s hard to choose just six. I noticed some deer damage on a couple of hostas and sprayed Deer-Away. The squirrels are busy digging up my tulip bulbs. They really went to town after I put down the mulch. Why is that?  I wonder if I will have any tulips next spring.

I am not seeing many bees in the garden. That has me worried. The first two cukes were picked two days ago and we’ve started eating beans from the garden. The sugar snap peas haven’t produced well this year and will get pulled soon to make room for another crop of something.

Here are my Six on Saturday.

  1. I always called these common orange day lilies Ditch Lilies because they filled the ditches along the sides of the roads in the rolling hills of Maryland (on the western side of the Chesapeake Bay) where I used to live. When I googled Ditch Lily it seems that is one of the names they are known by so I have to get over thinking I made that up. On a walk one day I saw a double so I dug it up and brought it home where it thrived. When we moved I carried some of the tuberous roots with me and now have a whole section blooming near Shasta daisies in some very inhospitable soil. When the ditch lilies bloom I know summer is here.

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2. This Raspberry Wine monarda was brought from a reading garden I helped install at our local library. (Those of us who weed that garden feel entitled to bring home extras.) It is a lovely berry red and the bumbles like it. It grows about 4 feet tall but is prone to mildew. Behind the monarda are elephant ear leaves from tubers I left in the ground last winter. These are the leaves that I made cement castings from last summer. Leaving them in the ground was an experiment. Now I know I don’t have to dig and store the roots over the winter.

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3. In the front of the house the cleome have been thinned and mulched and are beginning to bloom. It will grow 24 – 36″ tall and blooms all summer. The tallest can be cut back and will send out blooming side shoots. I’ve mulched very heavily so I’m wondering if this will inhibit the cleome’s self-seeding. I need to edge the beds, but that may or may not get done. Getting mulch down before the hottest summer weather was the priority. I understand commercial landscapers have a motorized tool for edging. Maybe I can find one at a tool rental company. It would look more finished if it was edged.

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4. A seating area overlooking the azaleas is ringed with a small hosta that has lovely purple flowers. It spreads even in this dry area of my garden which only gets occasional watering. Surprisingly I have seen little slug damage to my hostas this year. Maybe those ashes from the fireplace (that Fred, the French gardener, suggested) helped.

The white blooms are on a variagated leaf hosta. I just had to include the lovely photo. It makes me want to be a painter. Maybe in my next life…

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5. Butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa) is native to our area. I have several clumps that the Monarchs will soon be visiting.

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6.  Northern Sea Oats can easily become invasive. I am very careful to cut the seed stalks back before they ripen and fall, but I’m considering removing them because it’s another gardening chore I have to remember to do. I certainly do love they way they wave in the breeze and they are lovely in flower arrangements.

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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: 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: 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.

 

 

Six on Saturday – May 5, 2018

Spring/Summer has arrived on the mid-shore. Temperatures by the end of the week were in the high 80’s. I think we had five days of Spring. The gardens are popping now with azaleas and bearded iris. We always called them flags when I was growing up. I am going to use these posts to try and find — and possibly remember — the scientific names of some of my plants.

  1. Solomon Seal was planted several places around my garden last year. I marked the spots with a small landscape flag because I was given roots and needed to remember where I had planted them. These little plastic flags are available by the bunch at my local hardware store. You can see two splotches of pink in the upper right corner of the photo. I use these a lot for things that come up late or things I am watching. Supposedly the little bell shaped flowers on Solomon Seal are fragrant, but I’d have to lie on the ground to get a whiff.  I believe this is Polygonatum odoratum variegatum although photos from plant sources show two bells instead of one.

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2. New varieties of azaleas bloom every day. Lots of hostas emerging and the slugs have not attacked them….yet. You can see a pink flag where another Solomon Seal is emerging.

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3. One of my favorite hostas is Frances Williams. (Hosta sieboldiana ‘Frances Williams’) I bought a tiny plant thirty years ago at a stand by the side of the road and carried a clump it to our new house eleven years ago. It is suscepitble to sun scald and the slugs think I plant it just for them. For now it looks lovely.

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4. A repeat blooming yellow bearded iris (species – Iris germanica) was the first to open in the garden. I am a sucker for pops of yellow. Just behind the iris are some of those allium schubertii I planted last fall. Most are coming up, but not all of them have buds. Odd. At the top of the photo is soldago or golden rod. More yellow in the late summer garden against large clumps of miscanthus Morning Light. The wire cage is to protect a fall aster from the bunnies.

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5. The azaleas got thru the winter just fine but my one rhododendron (Rhododendron catawbiense ‘Roseum Elegans’) did not fare so well. It set lots of buds, but decided December was a fine time to bloom. So there are not many blooms and some are deformed because the bud began to open too early and then it got really cold. This was the best bloom I could find.

We have lots of pines in our area and the yellow pollen coats our cars, plants and eddies in the parking lots. You can see it on the rhodo leaves.

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6. The river birch (Betula nigra) in the middle of the picture below is leafing out. I top mine every two years so they stay in scale with my garden and take on a more weeping form. I didn’t do enough research when I planted them. They can grow to 70 feet which would be fine for a two story house but not next to my one story rancher. The tree on the left with the reddish leaves is a flowering cherry that is getting ready to bloom. It’s gorgeous briefly. The small leafed maple near the deck is from a 6″ seedling that someone gave me. I put it in a small pot, then a larger one, and finally in the garden about four years ago. I don’t want it to get much larger.

Seeing this view of the garden gives me pleasure. It doesn’t show the barren plot on the right, near the shed, that sorely needs my attention and is not, at the moment, a pleasure to look at. I’m in contemplative mode about that bed, thinking about what I should do with it. For the moment it is not under water.IMG_6036

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.