Thursday, October 27, 2016

Fall - Love it? or Hate it?


I have such mixed feelings about it.

In college days the return to school was exhilarating.  Football season, reconnecting with friends, new housing, new classes, new, new, new - so much to love.

Today it's more about cooler temperatures, putting the garden to bed, and the end of hazy, hot and humid August days.  I still love all of that, and as a "returning coed" i do have a new class that i am enjoying.
Chrysanthemum 'Volunteer' (far left), Chrysanthemum rubellum 'Clara Curtis' (center), and Chrysanthemum 'Show Off' (right).  'Clara Curtis' actually came from our previous yard and has bloomed for more than 20 years.  Quite a girl!
But, i am not so happy to see all the flowers dying, the cooler temperatures, and the prospect of cold and damp January and February that suddenly seem to be just around the corner.

Guess i'm never satisfied.

And, then the chrysanthemums bloom - and love/hate is forgotten and replaced with only LOVE.
Mixed with some straw flowers (annual) they make the perfect fall vaseful.
On faith I ordered a handful of "real" chrysanthemums in the spring - all in shades of burgundy and coral.  Only three of them made it thru the summer, but what a gift!  Enough to get me to order some more to add for next year.

With the last roses on the bushes, the last dahlias standing proud outside my sunny window, and the pansies just starting to perk up from replanting, there in all their glory are chrysanthemums ... enough to cut and bring in the house.  


Monday, September 26, 2016

In the Blink of an Eye

Three months have flown past since my last post ... seriously.  I have been a lazy slug.
The nicest dahlia this summer.  It's supposed to be pink - and occasionally i do get a pink bloom - but i assume it's reverted to some of its parent genes to produce this interesting blend.
It's not that nothing has happened.  There's always something happening in the garden, but it was so easy to fall into that summer lethargy of reading, evening drinks on the deck, and the doing the least work necessary in the garden.  That, and taking a class in "Perennials" is how i spent my summer. 

I have realized that in Central Virginia gardening is really a spring and fall activity.  For so much of my life i have been fitting it in around family, work and my other activities that i did not know that, even given all the time in the world, it's simply too hot and muggy all summer and too cold and damp all winter to really plan on a few hours every day in the garden. 
Ageratum 'Artist Purple' and Ecomis 'Katie' (pineapple lily) blooming in July.
Since my retirement plan was to spend nearly every morning out there, at first it was a disappointment.  Then i realized that i can stay caught up in just a morning a week for most of the summer, and have time to do other things - like be a slug.

We are now into the cooler, more comfortable days and once again i wake up anxious to get outside to see what i can get done.  I'm invigorated with new ideas and enjoying the dirt under my nails once again. 
The star of the summer veggie garden.
So, plans aplenty for the fall - and i will try to share them with you over the next couple of weeks.  No promises for posting, altho i will try to do it at least weekly.   
Got sucked in by the photo in the catalog.  This sunflower was supposed to be a deep burgundy.  Instead, it was ... brown.  Tried to cut off all the blooms before it had the chance to re-seed for next year.
On the education front, this semester I am taking "Irrigation Design and Installation" and hope to figure out a way to install a simple irrigation system in the back beds and the veggie garden.  I have no desire to dig up the whole yard to put in a "real" lawn system.  I don't care about watering the grass.  Years of cutting it "long" have given me a deeply rooted turf that pretty well takes care of itself - even in the driest of summers.  

Newly planted re-blooming azalea.  Have decided that all future azaleas will be the Encore series.  Why not have the blooms twice a year?
Instead, my goal is better water coverage for all of the perennial beds with less wasted water than I currently have with my overhead sprinklers.  Will probably not do anything until spring, but am working my way thru both a class project to design a full system and a stealth project to also design a "beds only" plan that i hope to actually implement.   

Think of a margarita on that little table in between - well, actually two.

So, have a late afternoon beverage and enjoy the sunset.

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!!