Before

It appears a little catching up needs to be done.  A gardener’s life is always hectic in the spring but for a while I was doing just fine keeping up.  Not to brag but this spring was exceptionally well under-control, with weeding and seeding and cutting and moving all happening close to when they should… something that has never happened in years prior here at the sorta ‘burb.  I was even halfway close to getting all the new purchases into the ground within days of buying them, rather than nearly killing them two or three times before planting.  Let me tell you it’s amazing what a difference that makes!  But then the blahs hit.  Relentless mowing and trimming and spider mites and weeds and the whole ‘what’s the point’ thought process set in as June turned into July and the temperature and humidity tag teamed each other to new heights.  When you reach the end of your ‘around the garden weeding tour’ only to find yourself at the start of the next ‘around the yard weeding tour’ it can get a little discouraging, and to be honest that’s where I left off.  Most of the new plants and annuals were in the ground, the automatic drip lines to the container plantings were working, all the insects were well fed… so off to the pool, a weekend at Omi and Opa’s, some porch sitting, and then a week off to Disney to realize how good I had it all along.  Miles of trudging through 100F+ heat indices and then waiting on lines for every foreseeable human need can change a person, and I have returned renewed.  Here are a few late June/ early July highlights to begin my return to gardening. 😉

clematis ville de lyons

Clematis suffer here in poor locations with shoddy supports.  I finally moved ‘Ville de Lyons’ to a decent spot and she’s rewarded me with a wonderful show of flowers.  Now I just need to move a nice blue to the other side!

This post may seem entirely random because it is.  I don’t bother taking pictures when I’m disgusted with the garden so all the last few weeks can offer are a few furtive scurries outside when I felt like I had to get a few pictures onto the camera even though I knew there wasn’t much worth documenting.

common milkweed

Common milkweed right next to the front door.  Of course it’s the absolute wrong place for a weed so  I trimmed it down to two feet the day after it was flattened by a storm… only to see my first Monarch butterfly 24 hours later.

Speaking of documenting, I do have to tally up another $33 for two amazingly grown, full of buds, Japanese iris which I bought for myself as a Father’s Day gift.  I know I shouldn’t count them since they were a gift, but being that I was surprised with an actual gift certificate the next day I guess I shouldn’t push my luck so onto the 2018 tally they go.

iris lion king

Iris ensata ‘Lion King’ is a lot of everything.  Maybe this is my own personal point of ‘too much’ because I prefer the simpler purple one I bought the same day, but I guess we’ll see next year… assuming I can keep it alive 🙂

Add on a random tornado that touched down about seven miles down the interstate.  That’s the second one in about two years, kind of bizarre considering no one remembers ever having tornados here before.

tornado damage

Fortunately the tornado hit a purely commercial area, later in the evening after things had closed down.  Timing was everything.

Then the heat and humidity descended.  Heat for us means upper nineties so if the Southerners can excuse a little whining I just want to say it felt really hot.  Not hot enough to scorch the lawn yet (and spare me from all the mind numbing mowing) but it was hot enough to wake up every bug and blight and get them energized and inspired enough to take on the plant world.

june front border

Apparently thick haze wasn’t enough to mellow out the harsh light of mid-day, but here’s the front border just waking up from it’s June lull.  Some color, but still mostly green.

The big grasses are one of the plants which seem to thrive on heat and dry spells.

ornamental grasses

Along the street the variegated giant reed grass is looking awesome again and the pink fountain grass (Pennisetum ‘Karley Rose’) is flowering up a storm.  Last year all the rain had the fountain grass too lush and green and completely floppy.

One plant which did not appreciate the humidity were the hollyhocks (Alcea rugosa).  As the flowers began to open up from the bottom of the seven foot stalks, the orange spots of rust followed behind, creeping from leaf to leaf.  Just for the record I don’t remember rust on hollyhocks being such a plague years ago when my mother grew these.  It wouldn’t surprise me to find that this is some new strain which came into the country somewhere along the line, and has ended any hopes of fungicide-free hollyhock growing on the East Coast.

hollyhock rust

The orange spots of hollyhock rust working their way up from the base of the plant.  This will not end well.

A garden which actually enjoys some heat and humidity is the tropical bed.  The cannas have yet to take off but given a little water and fertilizer I know they will (and I’m even more confident about that since this photo dates back to the end of June).

june tropical garden

The red of ‘Black Forest’ rose continues to heat up the tropical border, but a few other things are filling in.  Verbena bonariensis and the first dahlias are just a few weeks away.

I would guess there are plenty of hot and dry spots in South Africa, so it doesn’t surprise me that the prickly daisy flowers of Berkheya purpurea look fresh and happy opening up in the heat.  I haven’t quite figured out yet why I like thistly plants, but this prickly, perennial mess is one of my favorites!

Berkheya purpurea

Berkheya purpurea looing as good as it gets in the rock garden.

Another mess which absolutely thrills me is the meadow garden.  In early July the grass is just beginning to dry off, and the golden rudbeckia and orange butterfly weed fill it up with color -even if golden rudbeckia are one of my least favorite colors.

meadow garden

The meadow garden with a smattering of aspen saplings which have been allowed to sprout up.  Of course they’ll end up casting too much shade, but right now I love the rocky mountain meadow look.

I leave you with one last bit of randomness.  I’ve been nursing a ‘Chuck Hayes’ gardenia along since picking it up at the nursery late last summer.  I tried the same thing the year before but of course killed it just as it was about to bloom, but second time must be the charm.  With the new plant I carefully did nothing other than take it into the garage to escape the worst of the winter, and then water just enough to keep it alive.  No silly fertilizing, or repotting, or anything else that would mess with the healthy plant that I had, all I did was wait patiently as it set buds and then finally decided to open up a few which had been forming all spring.  On the first day of the most brutal, heavy, enveloping humidity ‘Chuck Hayes’ opened a bloom and filled the air with his Southern perfume, and it was just like I hoped it would be.

gardenia chuck hayes

Gardenia ‘Chuck Hayes’ in bloom.  Another catch it while it’s still alive moment in the garden.

And then the blahs hit.  It’s really not as bad as it sounds since I’ve already seen the other side, but to make a long story short, the garden survives.

$33 worth of gifts to myself

$738 total so far for the 2018 gardening year.

Wordless Wednesday: July Approaches

delphinium

Along the front porch the delphinium patch has so far avoided the usual violent summer storms. 

delphinium flower

Close ups show a bicolor effect which I never notice from further away.

rose black forest

Never sprayed and a little ragged, Rose ‘Black Forest’ is still unstoppable in the tropical garden.

lilium regale

Regal Lilies (Lilium Regale) perfume the ‘potager’

alcea holyhock

Hollyhocks in the front border.  It’s been at least 30 years since I last grew these (even though I still hesitate to admit I’m no longer 30).

Berkheya purpurea

Berkheya purpurea in the rock garden… which still lacks rocks…

And Then It Was Summer

Well now it’s official, the first roses are in bloom.

rose john cabot

Rose, possibly ‘John Cabot’, opening up at the far end of the front border.

I don’t think anyone out there dislikes roses.  They might not like growing them, but to dislike them or harbor worse opinions seems out of the question and even borderline suspicious to me.  There are a few roses around here but I’ve tried to hold back.  Rose Rosette Disease is in the wild roses all around us, and I’d hate to see it jump into the garden and decimate any big plantings I might end up putting in.  Unless they’re irresistibly fragrant of course.  The workhorses I have right now are barely fragrant, and at the start fo each summer I always give a little thought to adding something with a fierce perfume.  This year I’m thinking rugosas, and we’ll see if I can hold strong or not.

lupine red rum

A surprising return from last year, ‘Red Rum’ lupine.  I still think it’s amazing and of course want more.

The front border along the street is still riding high with the last of the iris and alliums and a returning lupine star from last year.  I was sure the lupine would would be a one and done wonder but here it is in year two looking even better.  Between the lupine and some new allium schubertii I’m really pleased how it looks.  Usually the iris are followed by a lull, but not this year!

allium schubertii

A closer look at Allium schubertii.  Not super showy, but definitely super cool.

You may have heard it mentioned that someone here is going through an iris phase.  It’s true, and I guess it’s been building for longer than I’d care to admit.  Two years ago ‘Bayberry Candle’ was added, and this year I’m seeing how a flower which is not bright nor flashy, can still be rich and amazing.

iris bayberry candle

Iris ‘Bayberry Candle’ (1966)

It’s possible there have been other iris as well.  ‘Gerald Darby’ was showing off his purple foliage earlier in the year and now has sent up several purple tinged flower stalks topped with several elegant (purple of course) flowers.

iris gerald darby

Iris ‘Gerald Darby’ in bloom.

These later iris are part of what I call the ‘water iris’ group.  That term would likely make a more knowledgable iris grower cringe, but for me it’s one of the beardless iris which do well enough in occasionally soggy, and my always clayish soil, even to the point of sitting in water.  I put the invasive yellow flag (Iris pseudacorus) in this group, and although it’s a little too sloppy for me I do have the brown veined ‘Berlin Tiger’ version which will hopefully not seed around and spread as much as the standard variety.  This one has the distinction of being one of my most expensive iris, since even though the original plant was free from a friend (thanks Kathy!) I may have been tempted to search out similar varieties, order them from far away, and then add other things just to round out a decent order…. and I’m still thinking I should add a few more this summer…

iris berlin tiger

The finely veined flowers of iris ‘Berlin Tiger’ are pretty darn interesting.

Moving out of the iris world it’s also peony season.  On the plus side my garden is too small and this gardener is too fickle to invest in bunches and bunches of these.  I’m counting that as a good thing since if it weren’t set up that way I’m sure I could devote quite a few beds to these opulent flowers and surely I’d go overboard.

peony Do Tell

Peony ‘Do Tell’ wallowing in a weedy side bed.  I hope you believe that it’s been cleaned up since this photo was taken 😉

At this time of year the gardener is spending most of his time weeding and mowing, but what he really needs to do is finish planting.  Last weekend overwintered bulbs went into the tropical garden, and in an attempt to buy some time from the weeds the lawn clippings were collected and spread around as a mulch.

the tropical garden

Not the most attractive soil cover, but it sure beats an ocean of verbena and prickly lettuce seedlings.  In a few weeks you hopefully won’t even notice it under all the new growth.

I do prefer thick perennial plantings as a way of crowding out weeds rather than the trouble of mulching and cultivating, but a full bed in June doesn’t leave much room for all those annuals I’d like to still add.  Hopefully this doesn’t become a regret in August.

allium nigrum amsonia hubrichtii

Amsonia hubrichtii in front with its oddly icy colored pale blue flowers, and Allium nigrum rising up in the center.  I’ve been warned that the allium will be impossible to get rid of, so I pretend to be happy with its multiplying and just let it be.  

Maybe I will whack a few things back today and sneak a few castor beans and cannas in.  I also have a few orange marigolds which should really class things up, so maybe this weekend…  In the meantime here’s one more picture of my little darling ‘Red Rum’ lupine, I honestly look at this plant a million times a day.

lupine red rum

One last view of ‘Red Rum’.  The color is exciting, just try to avoid spelling the name backwards.

All the best for this weekend.  Hopefully you are either well into it or have already had an excellent time of it, I know I plan to 🙂

I just have to avoid the temptation of nursery hopping this weekend… in the hopes of finding some fragrant rugosa roses.  We’ll see.

An Iris Visit

Although it was a struggle to break away from the garden during this (I should be) busy season, a friend convinced me to take a day and ride out to The Presby Memorial Iris Garden in Montclair NJ to finally follow through on a promise to visit.  Word was that the hot weather and rain had been tough on this year’s show, but that was all lost on me the minute we pulled up to the entrance and saw the beds full of color.  I was way too excited to be there, and just in case there was any doubt left, I’m absolutely a plant nerd.

presby memorial iris gardens

Looking across part of the Presby iris gardens towards the building which houses the Citizens Committee which oversees the gardens.

An all volunteer Committee runs and maintains the gardens, and their work is amazing.  There were several people out and about tending the beds, either deadheading or staking, and I’m sure that’s quite a job considering how many plants are being grown here and the maintenance needed to keep them at their peak.

presby memorial iris gardens

A bed of more modern iris (~1970’s) stretching upslope behind the house.

Personally I tend to prefer the older and simpler forms of historic iris (older than 30 years) but I’m only human and the fluffy, ruffly, overblown flowers of the modern tall bearded iris are very tempting.

iris 'wings at dawn' 2014

Iris ‘wings at dawn’ (2014).  A ‘space age’ iris due to the little tabs ‘launching’ off the falls of the flower.

This might have been my first time around so many iris.  They put on quite a show and I can see how the garden drew in hundreds of visitors the day before when the weather was nicer (but much hotter).  In spite of the fact I had actually brought an umbrella along, a light drizzle started shortly after we arrived and normally I’d complain about my luck, but actually the fine mist only added to the relaxing effect of the pearly light, glowing colors, and nearly empty gardens.

presby memorial iris gardens

A mixed planting near the house.  

My friend and I slowly took in the plantings.  We went back and forth between admiring each bloom to admiring the overall setting and figuring out which varieties we had and which we absolutely needed now that we’ve seen them in person.

presby memorial iris gardens

Long iris beds follow the contour of the land along a small creekbed which separates the gardens from the rest of Mountainside Park.

Although I was mostly interested in seeing all the older iris this garden is known for, here’s just one more that’s “too much”.

iris montmartre 2008

Wow.  Iris ‘Montmartre’ (2008)

Before making the visit I saw an online comment calling the gardens “small”.  I guess I can believe that.  Some people could probably walk the gardens and take a selfie in just over 20 minutes and then hit lunch, but just for reference we iris lovers strolled about in the rain for about two hours before feeling we’d gotten a fair dose of iris.

presby memorial iris gardens

Iris stretching off along the street towards the woods. 

I did enjoy spending too much time admiring some older iris I’d never seen before.  They have a grace and elegance which some of the newest varieties lack and to be honest I might have added a few more to my wanted list.  Now would probably be a good time to mention the annual grab bag sale the gardens host as they replant beds each summer,  and also next month’s annual Historical Iris Preservation Society (HIPs) rhizome sale.  Both are excellent means by which a historic iris addict can add some of the seldom offered older varieties.

iris 'titian lady' 'melanie' 1941

White iris ‘Titian Lady’  and the rosy ‘Melanie’, both 1941 introductions.

I’ll leave you with just a few favorites as we enjoyed the older iris plantings.

historic iris 'ariane' 1930

Historic iris ‘Ariane’ (1930)

historic iris reingauperle 1924

I loved the tall historic iris ‘Reingauperle’ (1924).

historic iris 'waverly' 1936

The light rain was perfect for bedazzling the flowers of ‘Waverly’ (1936)

…and there were peonies as well.  The entrance to the building next door had a nice smattering of peonies filling its beds.

presby memorial iris gardens

Peonies outside the gift shop.

presby memorial iris gardens

Iris and peonies holding up to the rain.

Thanks to Trish for meeting me there, and thanks to the volunteers who make this show happen each year.  It was great seeing such a nice garden and it has me wondering how difficult it would be to start something similar in my neck of the woods 🙂

Have a great week!

Summer?

People who keep up on these things will notice it’s been a while since my last post.  Don’t be concerned.  Springtime is when a gardener should be out in the garden and not on the computer, and although not all that much is getting done a few things do.  “Lazy” might be the word of the day most days, but it still beats looking out a window at snow so I hope all is good.  This Monday we are into the Memorial Day weekend, and to many this holiday kickstarts the summer season.  Spring always goes so fast but I’ll give it a little longer before I announce summer.  To me summer starts with the first rose bloom, not the first stretch of heat, humidity, gnats and baseball, so please humor me and join in on a gloomy ‘late spring’ walkabout.

front border

Out front at the mailbox, columbine and iris are putting on a colorful show.  

After a few years off there appears to be a relapse in someone’s iris addiction.  I blame the internet of course, but I guess I’m also somewhat responsible since I did plant the little boxes and bags which arrived at my door.

front border

The rest of the front border.  You may notice the moth-eaten look of the ‘Gold Cone’ juniper.  I fear it’s juniper blight and there’s a strong possibility I’ll lose this little treasure.

Some readers may already know this, but I much prefer the older iris over the newest and latest.  They’re all beautiful but the older varieties (often referred to as historics) seem a little hardier, a little less disease prone, and a lot more fragrant than the modern color bombs that grace the covers of most iris catalogs.

iris pallida variegata

The variegated leaves of Iris pallida ‘variegata’ are awesome even when the plant is not in bloom.  There’s also a heavy grape fragrance to the flowers on this one.

Many of these iris come via the Historic Iris Preservation Society (HIPS), an organization dedicated to saving iris who’s introduction dates back further than 30 years.  It’s a noble cause, but watching varieties which I remember as being the latest and greatest slip into the ‘historic’ category does not help at all when it comes to clinging to my youth.

iris lighthouse 1936

Iris ‘Lighthouse’ (1936 introduction)

I’ll spare you from too many photos this year.  More may come, but for now it’s just the few which looked decent in this morning’s rain.

iris kashmir white 1912

Iris ‘Kashmir White’ (1912).  Not bad for a 106 year old iris.

Due to drainage reasons, the tall bearded iris grow best in the front yard, and out back it’s a little more hit or miss with rot and disease.  Surely better spacing, site and soil prep could help, but that sounds like a lot of work to me and an occasional miss is made up for by a few hits 😉

garden arbor

The potager, looking far more flowery than vegetably.  Holiday birch branches have made their way into the arbor and a few snowball bush cuttings (Viburnum opulus ‘Roseum’?) have exploded into full sized shrubs.

The newer iris usually end up in the vegetable garden, since that’s the only ground which is typically not packed with plants during the midsummer iris planting season.  I think the gardening books call it ‘succession planting’ when a spring crop of potatoes is followed by a summer planting of new iris rhizomes.

iris port wine 1950

A new one for me.  Iris ‘Port Wine’ (1950) will surely find a spot out front next year.

Here are a few more from out back.

iris mme. Chobaut 1916

Iris mme. Chobaut (1916).  You can’t tell so much from this photo, but the modern iris behind has flowers about twice as big… but also a bunch of foliage and rot issues…

iris color carnival 1949

I’ve grown Iris ‘Color Carnival’ (1949) for at least 30 years so in my defense there are a few sentiment issues going on with my attachment to it.  Color-wise it has a lot going on, and the variegated grass sure doesn’t help.

There’s plenty more going on but with the rain and weeds and general messiness here, and I’m a little hesitant to expose it all, but how about a primula?  Primula sieboldii seedlings are doing well enough but I have to ask if anyone knows the secret to growing them well.  Mine are carefree in general, but seem a little shy when it comes to flowering and I’m wondering if it’s a sun thing, overcrowded thing, or fertilizer thing?

primula sieboldii

A few Primula sieboldii seedlings from American Primula Society seed.  I could easily fill a garden with these 🙂

Another issue I should touch upon is the budget thing.  You may remember I’m trying to keep a track of gardening expenses this year, and even if it’s only a half hearted attempt I think May is still too early in the year to give up completely.  Let me wrap this post up by getting a few things off my chest.  $7 for plants I picked up on a random nursery stop.  $8 for plants I picked up when shopping for someone else.

deck planters containers

The deck containers were planted up this weekend.  I’m struggling to stick with purples and yellow this year… although having a color theme is not something I’ve ever succeeded with before…  

I’m trying to cut down on plastic this summer, so new planting containers have been a problem.  Terra cotta is nice (but heavy), so to keep things a little new I’ve been keeping my eyes open for anything else which might fill in.  Metal might be an option.  At $18 a metal laundry tub has been put to use as a water garden with a dwarf papyrus to start.  We’ll see how it works out, and before anyone starts critiquing my budget-math I want to point out this is not a gardening expense since I may start doing laundry in there at any time.

deck planters containers

Perfectly hardy painted ferns have been put to work in the annual deck containers.  I couldn’t resist the colors and patterns, and with a connection to the drip irrigation lines they should do even better here than in the often too-dry open garden.  

I admit the ferns were an impulse buy.  They made up nearly half the $48 I spent on super special plants for the deck.  I guess add another $46 for other necessary annuals.  Oh and $7 for feed store annuals, but ignore the $7 I spent on poultry grit.  The grit will likely be used for topping seed pots and and amending bulb soil, but you never know.  A friend has chickens now and it’s not the worst idea to be prepared for any possible chicken-sitting or chicken-daycare which could possible happen.

summer porch

Add $6 for a clearance dieffenbachia which although slightly browned should recover nicely. 

Did you notice the (perhaps too many) new metal buckets gracing the back porch?  At $3.50 a piece I thought they were reasonably priced, and even better when they rang up at the register for $1.50.  When I commented on the price I got a “well that’s what they’re coming up as”, so of course I went back to the Mart the next day and got more.  Another eight was probably more than I needed, but they might make decent planters someday… but not today of course.  Today they are decorating accents and perhaps beverage containers, and in no way a garden budget item.

summer porch

In response to a ‘you should put some pots out front’ request I pulled a few things out of the garage and set them around the porch.  $14 for the one new plant in the red pot, an expense which should fall under ‘gift’ or ‘home accent’, but in a wave of generosity I’ll add it to the garden budget.

So that’s where we’re at.  There’s still tons of stuff to plant due to someone having seeds and being bored in February.  There are still dozens of homeless succulent cuttings, unplanted coleus cuttings, tubs of tubers and summer bulbs, and even more started seedlings in the garage under the grow lights… but that can wait.  Right now it’s still damp and dark outside.  Maybe dark and damp make it a good morning to grab a second coffee and put the porch furniture to use and just think about what needs to be done.  I use that excuse often and rarely run into regret.

Have a great week!

$129 in nursery indiscretions

$705 total so far for the 2018 gardening year.

I’m So Funny

And I am unanimous in that opinion.

My mother in law lives next door and has the wonderful fortune of being able to look out upon the Sorta Suburbia gardens whenever and for however long she wants.  She rarely comments, but did make a point of mentioning how “terrible” the lawn looks with all the dandelions.  I had to agree.  There’s too much brash yellow, and I reassured her that it will look much better once the creeping Charlie spreads some more and adds a cooling wash of pale lavender to all the green.  She was not amused.

dandelion lawn

All the colors of spring

For as well as I grow the common dandelions, the other sorts have been remarkably troublesome.  I managed to kill the ones with a delicious purple tint to the foliage, and the pink ones never really took off.  Fortunately my seedlings of the white dandelion (Taraxacum albidum) are finally settling in.  This Japanese cousin of the golden dandelion appears to be much tastier than its common neighbors, and eventually I had to resort to caging it in order to keep the bunnies away long enough for it to establish.

taraxacum albidum

taraxacum albidum

While I consider how best to establish a patch of white dandelions in the lawn I’ll leave you with another weed.  When we first moved here I brought along a small wisteria which originally came as a cutting off my parent’s vine in NY.  After a few years in the veggie bed it moved again into the meadow garden and made a habit out of looking out of place for four years.  After losing its buds to late freezes for the third year in a row I took a saw to it.  Fortunately the roots suckered in the vegetable garden and being that I’m far to lazy to search them all out, I left one.  Its fragrance filled the yard yesterday evening, even stronger than the struggling (intentionally planted) lilacs.

wisteria tree

A wisteria twig… perhaps someday a tree… or maybe I should build a pergola here 🙂

So for all my efforts the best things in the garden right now are weeds.  Come visit and I can finally be the person who gets to say “Oh that old thing?  I should really just rip it up, it grows like a weed for me”.

…and Tulips

The daffodil season was here and gone so quickly, I barely noticed.  Hot winds wilted the mid season bloomers and singed any flowers just opening.  It was all a little rude, but you’ll have that when you garden on a hilltop and the weather decides to finally heat up.

tulip garden

A few daffodils escaped the wind.  Having too many helps in this regard.

Fortunately I have way too many bulbs coming along, so even if a few are less than perfect there’s still plenty more where that came from.

narcissus conestoga

Narcissus ‘Conestoga’.  You may notice the birch branches cut as holiday decorations last winter have found a new home as part of the parterre archway.

The daffodils were missed, but to be honest I wasn’t all that in to them this spring.  They’re overcrowded and in need of digging and replanting and as I thought about it this week I decided many will find their way to the compost pile this summer.  As long as we’re being honest here I may have even filled a wheelbarrow with a few hundred ‘less favorite’ bulbs yesterday in an effort to speed up the process.

tulip garden

As the daffodils fade the tulips take over.

I was pretty sure last year that the tulips around here were on their way out.  Tulip Fire has hit the garden, and it’s not uncommon to find the spotted leaves and twisted stalks of bulbs affected by this fungus blight.  Late freezes, hail damage, and a wet spring for two years running have helped spread the disease around the whole garden but this year’s turn to drier weather seems to have slowed the fire.  I had my doubts last spring, but now I’m happy to say there are many more tulips surviving than I thought there would be 🙂

tulip garden

Although the heat brought the tulips on too fast and also fried many of the blooms, the color is still great.  Don’t look too closely though, there are plenty of signs of Tulip Fire here as well.

I’m sure there’s a lesson to be learned here.  Maybe I shouldn’t just plant any bulb I can find… maybe I should be more faithful to the ones I have… maybe I’m not a good person to look to for tulip advice, since all you’ll learn here is that playing around with too many tulip bulbs might just leave you with a disease.

tulip garden

I promised abstinence last summer, but by the time autumn rolled around there were again more tulips.  Exotic parrots proved irresistible although these came up with a few fringed tulips mixed in.

Fortunately I have enough space to let these things run their course.  Tulip Fire (Botrytis tulipae)  is specific to tulips and shouldn’t bother anything else, and between thinning crowded clumps and removing overly infected leaves, maybe I can control it somewhat without resorting to chemicals.

tulip garden

Other parts of the garden still have plenty of the stray tulips which always seem to hitchhike in with the compost.  The colors might be a mess but it makes me smile!

Enough about my problems.  Out along the front border I didn’t expect much of a tulip show (given all of last summers rain) but to give in to a little bragging, I think they’re glorious.  Not public garden glorious, but for me and my crappy soil, with all my weeds and mediocre budget, and lack of chemical support, I’m going to claim glorious 🙂

tulip garden

Even an ugly duckling which sprouted up out of a patch of shorter tulips can steal the show.  It was supposed to be a ‘Pricess Irene’ mix…

I bought smaller packs of bulbs last fall from a new supplier and results have been mixed, but the year before that it was the ‘Incendiary mix’ from Van Engelen that earned a click on the proceed to checkout button.  They were amazing last spring, but I think they’re even better this spring… who cares if the flowers are a little smaller…

tulip garden

Tulips in the front border.  It’s perfect right now, the spring bulbs are up yet the weeds are still too small to notice.

Ok one more issue.  I noticed a few of the solid orange tulips have ‘broken’.  Broken color means the tulip has been infected with a tulip breaking virus which causes the color to streak.  It’s the virus which brought on several of the most beautiful historical tulips ever, but it’s still a disease.  I shouldn’t let them stay.  For as pretty as it looks I don’t like the way it’s spread this year, and even if I don’t have a tulip growing livelihood to protect I think it’s time to do the right thing.

tulip garden

Orange tulips streaked with flames of yellow.  It wasn’t there last year and is likely a tulip breaking virus.

All these problems are forgotten the minute I look at the next best thing.  There are still late tulips on their way and I think they’ll be just as amazing… even if much fewer in number.

tulip garden

The twisted fat buds of the last of the tulips, the parrots.

We just had a “lively” thunderstorm barrel through and I wonder how the flowers made out with all the wind and rain.  I’m hoping for the best but even if that’s not the case I noticed a few bearded iris nearly open.  There’s always a next best thing at this time of year, but it still goes too fast.

Have a great weekend!