Monday, September 15, 2014

The Mary Mary Awards ... and the Winners Are...

Mary Mary and I were sitting on the bench a few days ago just looking around and thinking about the 2014 garden season - you know ... what worked and what needs work for next year.   

There were definitely some winners this year, some losers and the jury is still out on a few things.   Today the winners. 
The oak stump is rotting away under the not-at-all-level planter and will will soon be gone - replaced with a few more azaleas - hopefully re-bloomers.

In first place is certainly the front bed.  Have been working on this one for at least five years - since we had to cut down a big oak tree.  The dogwood seems to have survived some awful attack on its bark.  I unwrapped it a few weeks ago to see how it was doing, and it seems to be growing a thicker layer under the damaged bark, but more importantly it bloomed and now has many berries, so water is definitely making it up the trunk to all parts of the tree.  It will still bear some watching, but I think we may have made it.  And the grasses I planted are doing well, as are the azaleas in the spring and chrysanthemums in the fall.  Need to add more grass and more 'mums, as well as working on the irrigation for next year. 

Another winner was the "old" miniature rose I revived.  After too many years of neglect, a monthly deep feeding combined with a weekly shot of fish emulsion has brought it back to life - full of new growth and covered with flowers most of the summer.  It was a grocery store purchase at least 10 years ago, but has been a joy this summer.   
 Echinacea 'Double Scoop Cranberry' PPAF

The cone flower I put in this big pot has been spectacular!  I want to get some more interesting colors going in the planting bed next year. 

The new bed under the elm appears to be a winner, altho it's probably too soon to really tell.

Friday - the losers. 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Wednesday Workdays

This was so not my plan.

Labor Day weekend.  A final chance to kick back for a long weekend in good weather.  [My next one is Thanksgiving and one can hardly count on nice weather then.]

I had plans, of course... a couple of movies 
[Philip Seymour Hoffman in "A Wanted Man".  PSH at his excellent best playing a angst-ridden spy; it was difficult to watch without wondering how much of his own demons were showing thru, or was it that the character's demons were supplementing his own?  And, Pierce Brosnan in "The November Man."  Remington Steele still does it for me!]  

A picnic supper at an outdoor amphitheater with opera and Broadway to follow, and a bit of work in the garden early in the mornings.

Big Box had mulch on sale for the weekend, so I planned to stock up on that and probably dump a bit of it around; feed the roses; plant a few fall veggies and put up critter fencing.  You know  - simple stuff like that. 

 Maybe even a bit of work on the "Euonymous problem".

You may remember that I started earlier in the summer - when the weather was cooler - to kill the creeping Euonymous and spent much of the Fourth of July weekend working to pull it off the elm and clean out this "island", but i ran into yellowjackets.  We had to call in a bee man and get him to find and remove the nest.  

Then I planned to put half bricks in to raise the border, build it up with webb-dirt from the compost pile, and eventually plant it with a groundcover.  The plan has always been to do it in mid-September or early October ... certainly not now.

The best laid plans of mice and gardeners ...

Saturday morning was cool and the mulching went well, so I decided to put in some of the half bricks to extend the border, and maybe just move a bit of dirt around to get started.  I even watered it in a bit to help settle it.  Sunday I went back to Big Box to get more mulch and the rest of the bricks and was able to finish off the border before the heat was too bad.

Then Monday morning, I went for a final load of mulch ... and they grabbed me by the throat - flats and flats of Creeping Jenny.  
Not on my radar at all.  I had planned to fill that bed with pachysandra, but the light dancing across that table of Creeping Jenny called my name.  I could see the same light pulled in under the tree.  I had to have it.  With no price in sight, i sought out the manager and she quoted something way too high for groundcover this late in the year.

"Is there a flat price?"  I asked.

"If you want a flat, I can sell it to you half off," says she.

"I'll take two flats!"

And with that my plans for the rest of the morning changed.  Home I hurried with work to do.  More dirt to carry from the compost pile, and then two dozen plants to set.  While I doing it, I put in a zillion of the 'Tete a Tete' mini-daffodils, too.  And, then mulched and watered.  I know I've made work for the next month, because it will have to be watered two or three times a week until the temperatures drop and the fall rains start, but one needs to be flexible.  N'est pas?

You have noticed, of course, that Lysimachia nummularia 'Creeping Jenny' is a color that might be considered yellow-green.  And, perhaps you also noticed that the hinoki grass i added to the front beds is a similar hue.  Could it be that i am letting a little bit of that side of the color wheel creep into my plantings?  Perhaps that is a question for another day.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Hot, hot, hot Flowers in the Housebll

Summer has returned to Central Virginia after an extending vacation somewhere in the middle of the country.  Yesterday the August heat and humid came slip sliding back into town.  How can I complain, tho, when it arrived on the next to the last day of the month?  It begs the question of what September will be like, but for now I shall proceed fat, dumb and happy and assume that September will be like .... well, September. 

The next question is: "So, what's in bloom in the garden?"  Answer: "Not a heck of a lot!"  
Most of the summer flowers are looking tired and spent and the fall blooms are still lying in wait for cooler nights.  In two weeks there will be plenty of chrysanthemums and some asters, but right now everything's just waiting - mostly for rain.

Except for the zinnias!  Wonderful zinnias.  The pinks that I put in as bedding plants in May are complaining of thirst, but the seeds are another story.  There's just one small problem ... they are yellow, and red and .... oh, horrors! ... orange! 

 I do not grow orange flowers. [And, i avoid red when I can.  Yellow is ok, in very small numbers and carefully placed.]  Last year they were  two shades of pink mixed with cream, but somehow I ordered the wrong mix this year.  They are gloriously happy in the cutting garden and brought a hot, hot, hot rush of color into the house. 

The only little bit of cool I managed to bring in was this bit of heliotrope that was growing in a pot on the deck.  Add a couple of tiny dahlias and some silver-white salvia and how much cooler could I want?  [I think the heliotrope will not last long in a vase, but the fragrance is worth trying!]

With Labor Day literally just over the horizon, summer is gone, but there is so much to look forward to in the fall.  Come have a cuppa on the shady deck and let's enjoy just one more hazy, hot and humid summer afternoon.  And, we'll still smell the heliotrope.

Thanks to Jane for hosting us again this month.  Be sure to stop by her house and see what's happening there. 

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Wednesday Workday

You're probably saying, "hey! not much work going on this summer!"  and you would be correct.  I can't blame the weather - it's been delightfully cooler than normal and way, way, way less humid.  In short ... great gardening weather. 

May thru July I could easily blame work - and I did - but things slowed down in August and now I really do have time to spend outside in the afternoons.  Bottom line .... I'm lazy and have enjoyed a summer-long read-a-thon.  Until Saturday.  Was walking thru the nearby big box garden center when I saw this:

A huge pile of big, colorful pots - on sale!  Seriously, $6.00 for a 22-inch pot.  Somehow two of them came home in my van.  Imagine that!

And, they found good homes.

In the front, I replaced an older, boring gray pot.  It has a rust-colored chrysanthemum and and red sedum [i think it's Sedum 'Red Carpet'], so is just coming into its good season. 
Can't wait for the hinoki grass to get larger and fill in a bit more.   Probably need to order six more to help that process along a bit.  The ones I got from White Flower Farms have done much better than the ones I got locally, so will go back to them. 

In the back, I moved the blueberry bush into a larger home.  It is finally growing well - perhaps responding the the systematic feeding that I have done this season. 

You can see below that I put about half of the sedum here to help fill in.  And, while I was in the area, I cleaned up the weeds and dead leaves and mulched.  Now, I need to level up the pot! 

There is already a nearby patch of Sedum 'John Cheepers', which is very similar in shape and size, but green, rather than red.  I think they will be happy together.

Now, if I can just keep the birds from eating all the blueberries!