Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Wednesday Workday ... or Archaeology for the Urban Gardner

A freak storm blew thru last Thursday night - many of you got pieces of it, too.  Sadly, it took down our beloved plum tree.  

It was the first tree that we planted and had flourished for 16 years - even providing plums last year.  It had survived both Isabel and Gaston and a derecho last year, but something was different this time and over it tumbled. 

Our "tree man" has complained about it for years - he thought it was too close to the house (12 feet) and is sure that it had weak roots on that side and that's why it fell.  We thought it was a perfectly wonderful source of shade for the deck and loved the look of the red leaves against the yellow house.  Guess i need to find a good picture to frame and let it be a good memory. 

No matter what we do in the future, we have to get the roots out before we can do anything.  We may end up calling someone with a "stump eater" to just grind it up, but first we are trying to do it ourselves.  The tree man thought he was being helpful when he pushed the stump back into the ground and raked the dirt back around it - or, maybe that's just the professional way for him to clean up a job.  We would have preferred that he leave it alone, since we have had to dig out the dirt again to get to the roots. 

Normally, i spend about an hour each morning hoeing out dirt from the roots, and then Mitchell comes back later and cuts off as much as he can.  As you can see ... we have a long way to go.

But it's also an opportunity.  This has always been a shady place, but if we take the tree man's advice and not replace the tree, it opens up the space for another shrub and perennial border.  I think i need to go thru my class notes and look for shrubs and plants with long bloom seasons and fragrance - and things that we don't yet have somewhere else.  

If you don't have shade, at least you should have fragrance.  Don't you think?

Monday, June 13, 2016

Sunday - What's Bloomin' Now?

We're in that best of all months in the Central Virginia garden.  Everything is even more lush than usual with all the rain in April and May, but the two very late freezes have caused some interesting [perennial] bedfellows.
Something new opens almost every day, making my morning strolls oh, so satisfying. [Is there anything in the world better than taking that first cup of tea - or coffee - and just wandering around looking for what's changed since yesterday?
Today was the first day that i could wander thru and gather posies for the table and have way more than i needed.
Hydrangea, yarrow, bachelor's buttons, lavender, bee balm, and Budeleia globosa. 

And, then there was this:
Yes.  It's aster.  Not due until September, but happily blooming with the first of the lilies.  I love June!!

Sunday, June 12, 2016

What Were They Thinking?

On days like today, i find myself wondering about the Founding Fathers ... what were they thinking?

Was it this?

Or, perhaps only this?

And, what do we do now?

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Wednesday Workdays - Lots of them!

Clearly, i have not been hanging out at the keyboard keeping you up to date.  Rest assured that i have been either in the garden or learning more about plants, so that i can get back to the garden!

One of the things i love most about retirement is that i can do what i want, when i want ... within reason.  So, here's what i have been working on recently. 

The Veggie Garden.

Somehow, i just can't call it the "potager", even tho that is what i had planned.   It came out too rustic for that fancy colonial name.  When we left it in October, it looked like this:

and now it looks more like this:
I've been harvesting greens (lettuce, spinach, kale and arugula) since April, but also broccoli for a month now, and English peas for the past week.  We are loving all the fresh food, but experiencing the "farmer's dilemma of having to eat the same thing for many days in a row.  I really don't want to freeze any of it, but it may come to that. 

The tomatoes are setting small fruit and we may have many sweet potatoes in the fall - time will tell.

The Cutting Garden

Sweet peas were my big experiment this year and they have done well (see first photo).  I have cut two large bunches and hope to have two or three more small bunches before they are bloomed out.  The spot was good until early May, but as the sun has risen in the sky the shade has encroached.  (Retirement has also given me a lot more time to follow the track of the sun.  I hope that will help in future planning.)  I'll plant them (the sweet peas) again next year, but will move them to the back fence where it is sunny all day.

Dahlias and zinnias are up and will be blooming in a few weeks.  Meanwhile the roses and lilies around the yard are starting to bloom so i will have flowers for the house.

The Front Entry Garden

Have been working on this area for a couple of years and it's still "in progress".  The chrysanthemums have all died, so have replaced them with small everygreens and removed all the vinca minor.  i also did a big pruning on the azaleas to clear back the walkway and re-shape the entire area.  The dogwood has canker and is dying, but there is a volunteer crepe myrtle coming along fast to replace it.
A new plant for me - Distylium 'Blue Cascade' - whose new growth is red that "fades" to green and then to blue.

Other than that, it's been weed, weed, weed for the past month.  A friend recently described her garden as "oppressively green".  It's the perfect description for these last weeks of "cooler" weather before the heat and oppressive humidity of summer arrive.