Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Wednesday Workday

Two days before Halloween and all the work that got done in the garden today was to wander around in wonder that it still looks so good.  Fall is finally here, altho it was 85 yesterday and 75 today.  Tomorrow night will be 40, tho, so the times they are a changing .... and soon. 

In a way, i will welcome the cooler weather and in a way it will make me sad. This long warm and dry fall makes me wonder if we will soon be changing our expectations of the seasons - we haven't had a normal one in nearly two years now.  So, what will the new "normal" be?

It's been unseasonably dry this September and October [am still watering the garden] so our "color" is mostly muddy this year, altho the crepe myrtle and dogwood (above) look pretty. 

Am getting the last blooms of the roses and the panicle-type hydrangeas have lasted well.
The David Austin Rosa 'Sister Elizabeth' looks wonderful after a summer of struggling with critters and black spot.  
The new hydrangea 'Little Lime' is still blooming, even while the older blossom heads dry nicely on the plant. 
The last of the fall blossoms are finally out, as well.   We moved this daisy-type chrysanthemum from the old house 15 years ago, and have moved her around several times.  She still blooms reliably. 
Chrysanthemum rubellum 'Clara Curtis'
And, then there are the surprises:  Flowers on the blueberry bush ...

and a few Pincushion flowers ...
Scabiosa c. 'Butterfly Blue'
and, most intriguing of all ... the ranunculus that I planted last fall for spring blooming (which did absolutely nothing) has put up greenery.  It will be killed by the winter cold and will not bloom, but it did try.  [That is, one of 15 tried.  It is not in the cards that ranunculus will thrive and bloom here.]

So, I cut a handful of hydrangeas for the table and was very happy with my wanderings.

Let the goblins come!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

October Abundance

The dahlias languished all summer.  I was really disappointed, since i had hoped to use them to supplement my other cuttings.  I planted six different types - ranging from white to a very dark burgundy and in different flower types.  Sadly, they struggled and only three of six even made it far enough to set buds.

Three weeks ago they suddenly decided to bloom and they have been gorgeous.
This may be the prettiest one i ever grew.  It looks like a lotus and is about five inches wide.
A chrysanthemum type, with the 'Double Scoop Cranberry' cone flower. 
Another chrysanthemum type in a rich pink.
Am planning to put them in a slightly sunnier spot next year and look for another source.  Anyone got a dahlia supplier that you can recommend?   I prefer the smaller ones, so that I can add them to arrangements. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Wednesday Workday

Finally.  Another project done.

Once I decided that the Emerald arborvitae was not coming back, I started planning to re-do the area.  Its death is totally on my hands.  I did a poor job of teasing out the roots and then did not water enough.  I know better.  They need two (two!) inches of water a week for the first six months - at least! - sometimes longer, and i forgot it last winter.  [That's the big drawback of planting in the fall.  Who wants to water in the winter?]  I promise to do a better job this winter.  Seriously.

The last couple of weeks in September were really gorgeous here, but i was unexpectedly busy at work and not able to steal extra time in the afternoons to work outside.

Two weeks ago - tiller all serviced and ready to go - i gathered plants and mulch and set to work.   First, tilling the entire area - which was not so easy given the large root system still under ground.

Then I laid out the plants.  The pot is a place saver for the tree.  Then I moved that large clump of 'Lady's Mantle' from the left side and spread them out to form the back "border" of this bed.
You can see the remaining root in the center.  Am hoping it will rot quickly now that I have tilled out so much of it's root system. 

This is a shady area with a few hours of sun in the summer, so i am trying to bring color using greenery and contrast.
In addition to the arborvitae [Thuja occidentalis 'Emerald Green'], i put in a dozen lilyturf [Lirope 'Variegata'] and three Mocha Heuchera [Heuchera x villosa PP 18386].  Then i have left enough room between the plants and the foot path to put in some annuals next spring.  Am thinking a begonia with the green and white variegated leaves. 

Unfortunately - actually it was fortunate - the rains came before i could get the mulch down.  It took two weekends, but the bed is finally done and mulched.  All that remains is to remember to water - two inches a week!

Saturday, October 4, 2014

An Old Friend Returns to Work

Mitchell likes to tell of a day - about 20 years ago - when he came home from work and I announced that I had purchased a tool.  He was thinking screwdriver or wrench. 

I was thinking Mantis tiller!

Having watched too many infomercials i decided it was exactly what i wanted.  You know ... he was always willing to dig me a hole, but often not really available when I needed it dug.  And, little projects just pop up unexpectedly when one would like to move a little dirt....  and a girl needs a small tiller. 

Best purchase I ever made!  Light, easy to start and maintain.  Perfect for me!  [Mantis has in no way paid me to say these nice things - i really do love my Mantis!]
Main back "garden" pre-tilling.  Bird bath has not moved.  2002
Bird bath is just to the right of the statue. 2014

She - this is such a hard working tiller that she is clearly female - dug beds at our old house for several years, and then moved here with us more than 14 years ago.  She dug all my beds, except the cutting garden. 
Side of back yard.  Same bird bath.  2002
The beds continue on to the right.  2014

About three years ago I couldn't start her.  Just couldn't.  When I finished up whatever I was doing, I put her in the shed and ... well, forgot about her.  This summer I really wanted to re-do a bed and really needed the tiller, so I finally took her in for a bit of TLC and she returned to me last week with a brand new carburetor and all ready to tackle whatever I could throw at her.  

We'll share the results in a couple of days, but it's nice to have my partner back.  She's raring to go turn over the cutting garden.  I think next weekend ...