Start Your Engines!

Something odd got into me last week.  After what has probably been months of the usual laziness I started a few tasks.  Then I went on to new ones.  Before I knew it I was being productive, and although I feel more sore than accomplished, I do feel like I finally made a little headway.

front border rose aicha

I took a break on Sunday from porch cleaning to get a few photos.  Here’s the front border with the pale yellow, single blooms of the rose ‘Aicha’ mixed in with the blue of colombine (aquilegia)

This weekend I spent Friday digging trade plants and opening the pool, Saturday traveled on a gardening adventure, and then Sunday tried to make the yard more summer-friendly since it was awfully hot and that seemed the right thing to do.  Monday it was lawn mowing, trimming, watering… and I even started to pickaxe a few holes into the berm for more arborvitae plantings.  Finally today I finished the planting (just four bushes) but it felt like a major accomplishment since the hard-packed, rocky “soil” fought me all the way.

rose Aicha

‘Aicha’ is a beauty.  I hope she gets just a little taller so I can thread a small clematis through her for the ‘off’ season.

Tomorrow I’m home for a “Dr’s appointment”.  I’d also like to spend some time outside and see if I can get the vegetable garden moving, but we will see if new ambition beats the forecast heat.  In theory I could spend the day by the pool with just a few breaks to admire the iris, but for now I’m hoping ambition wins, since wouldn’t that be just terrible to waste a day off swimming and doing next to nothing?

iris historic sunol

The historic iris ‘Sunol’ (1933) growing in the foundation beds.  Usually it has a bronze flush to the falls, but perhaps that faded this year in the heat.  

Speaking of the lure of sloth, last summer I had hoped to reclaim some of the front border for more iris plantings but once things filled in it was a struggle to find open spots and as usual I resorted to edge planting.  Edge planting lets me shoehorn in a couple more plants along the outer fringes even if the outer fringe looks better empty.  If never looks that great having plants hanging off the edge of the bed like that, but when the place is filled that’s as good as it gets.

historic iris romeo

Historic iris ‘Romeo’ (1912) has a cool look to the falls which is different from the others I grow.  

So (again) the plan is to clear a few swathes where iris can go.  It’s been dry, which is good for bearded iris, but if the summer turns wet this gardener might be tempted to fill in with all kinds of annuals and various other showier things which are great in the fall… but are not iris.

historic iris elsinore

‘Elsinore’ (1932) is another somewhat unique historic iris which I like very much 🙂 

Regardless, I have faith that a few iris will again fill a sizeable chunk of the border.  I may have to resort to a few of the hardier ones which don’t mind some summer shade, but it needs to be done since a May without an overload of beaded iris is completely unacceptable.

historic iris indian chief

‘Indian Chief’ (1929) is not my favorite color, but the plants handle competition and some shade quite well, so of course it gets an invite.

So iris are on the to-do list… somewhere… and in the meantime I need to focus on planting and watering…. and weeding of course, but I think you know how I feel about a strong commitment to weed-free beds vs saving a few of the more interesting ones 🙂

scotch thistle

A big Scotch thistle(Onopordum acanthium) has come up in a spot reserved for phlox and snowdrops.  It’s as prickly as it looks and of course I love this (listed as noxious in several western states) weed.   

Even if the weeding doesn’t happen, hopefully I can at least show off a respectable vegetable-filled potager in another week or two.

perennial border

From a distance of greater than 20 feet, much of the garden doesn’t look bad.  I just wish it passed the five foot rule!

Wish me luck.  I’m already thinking that the best plan is to head to the nursery in the AM and start the day with new vegetable transplants… and likely a few more flowers…  Obviously deep down inside I know buying more plants doesn’t help the four new rose bushes, various overwintered tropicals, trays of sprouted seedlings, and the haul from last weekend’s rock garden society sale that are sitting on the driveway, but it’s more fun and I’m always up for that.

Hope you have a fun week 🙂

27 comments on “Start Your Engines!

  1. Eliza Waters says:

    Have fun, Frank. Remember to keep things in balance! 😉

  2. Tim C. says:

    love your iris! Can’t go wrong with a nursery trip — one can go overboard, but not wrong. What’s the use of priorities if you can’t shift them?

    • bittster says:

      Timothy, you should really write self-help books. With your latest suggestion in mind I’m adding a third stop on today’s trip. “more mistakes, faster”, right?

  3. Pauline says:

    You have some lovely iris, more would be even better! Your flower beds always look really good to me.

  4. Chloris says:

    When overwhelmed by so many tasks to do in the garden a trip to a nusery is always a good option. I love your irises as they are a passion of mine. I think a life on the edge suits them as they can’t stand competition. I grow my own from seed and I’m always running out of places to put them.

    • bittster says:

      I saw you mention growing iris from seed and your seedlings look quite excellent to me. If I get any pods I’ll scratch the seed in and see what happens, although my problem will be wanting to keep every last ugly baby which sprouts… assuming I ever get them to blooming size!

      • Chloris says:

        Yes, that is a problem because none of the ugly babies will look ugly to you. They are all unique. It only takes three years at the most go get them to blooming size. Sometimes they do it in two.

  5. Looking great as always! We have had rain, rain, and more rain. Some days it is just cloudy and sprinkles just enough to keep me from mowing the yard. It is May 26 already and the garden and flower beds aren’t planted yet. I managed to get peas planted several weeks ago, but they didn’t come up well.

    • bittster says:

      Rain sounds good right now, but as usual -careful what you wish for! Glad to know I’m not the only one who’s working with a later calendar. Every year starts off great, but then there’s always something coming along to derail the plans. Or not. Sometimes it’s good to just sit back and enjoy things 😉

  6. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    All this talk about working in the garden is about to inspire me to get out in the garden. Whoops it is sprinkling. Darn won’t be able to do that garden chore that has been bugging me. Maybe tomorrow.
    Love seeing your iris. My bearded iris are finished.

    • bittster says:

      The bearded iris are going fast here as well. The rain isn’t helping… but I can never complain about rain after we go through a May dry spell. There’s something totally wrong about plants wilting and drying up in May!
      Of course a three day weekend which matches a three day run of rainy weather, well that might get a few complaints but my fingers are crossed there’s a couple dry hours in there as well. Maybe I can even pull a few of the (now luscious) weeds 😉

  7. Deborah Banks says:

    Your garden always looks great to me. I love the historical iris too; they are so tough compared to most of the newer fancy ones. I have to really search for dry places in my garden (ok, not this week, but normally), so I lean more toward the Siberian and Japanese irises, but that leaves quite a hole in the garden bloom schedule.
    I’m sorry that I missed seeing you at the ACNARGS sale in Ithaca last weekend. My realtor husband was working and we have an elderly dog in last weeks of life. I just couldn’t leave him alone for so long.

    • bittster says:

      I was thinking the same. My front garden has plenty of dry spots, but the back garden goes back and forth from swamp to desert depending on the rain, and that’s not what the bearded iris like. Siberian and Japanese do fine, but they seem to go over in a week some years and although the foliage is nice I’d prefer a few more days of color.
      I’m sorry to hear about your dog, that’s such a hard time to go through and you always question if you’re doing too much or not enough… or at least that’s how I feel. Good luck, and we missed you at the sale, it’s been a while!

  8. susurrus says:

    I wish you luck! It all looks gorgeous and I would say you had an ample sufficiency of irises.

    • bittster says:

      Thanks! I probably do have a sufficient amount of iris, but when was gardening about having just enough? Or maybe that’s just me thinking about roses now. I think I could use a few more!

  9. Cathy says:

    Sounds like you have plenty to do and plenty of ideas too. And it looks good so far – especially that gorgeous thistle! 😉 Beautiful irises too – I rather like ‘Indian Chief’ but I suppose you can’t beat blue for irises. Good luck and have fun! 😃

    • bittster says:

      That darker smoky color of Indian Chief really grew on me this year, and it’s such a nice contrast to the lighter shades. Plus it’s a really good grower, so I think it deserves a more prominent spot!
      Haha, speaking of ‘plenty to do and plenty of ideas’ who else does that sound like? 😉

    • bittster says:

      Thanks John! I did manage to buy more plants, but beyond that not much else got done… and now this weekend it’s cold and rainy and I’m absolutely ok with staying inside where it’s warm.

  10. I love that rose/aquilegia combination! And I second the comment on ‘Indian Chef’. Good luck with your projects.

  11. I feel your pain (literally!) with working in that hard-packed rocky “soil” – sounds just like mine!

    • bittster says:

      I always look around and wonder how all the other plants manage to grow in concrete. It’s a good reason for only buying and planting things with small root balls and then pretending like you don’t know the soil is impenetrable…

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