Well now it’s official, the first roses are in bloom.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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”.
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.
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.
I’ll leave you with just a few favorites as we enjoyed the older iris plantings.
…and there were peonies as well. The entrance to the building next door had a nice smattering of peonies filling its beds.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 😉
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.
Here are a few more from out back.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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”.
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.
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.
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.
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 🙂
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.
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.
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 🙂
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…
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.
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.
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!
The weather has suddenly caught up to the calendar and we’ve been suddenly and brutally been thrown into our first hot (90F, 32C) days of the year. I was battling cold and the chance of flurries Sunday and by Tuesday we’re turning the air conditioning on. Go figure. Better get some pictures and a post up before the tomatoes start ripening.
I was enjoying the long, cool, spring, but with two days of hot winds and beating sun everything has jumped ahead again. I always fall behind on posting at this time of year, but this post has really got to go up quick since by tomorrow morning I suspect most of these flowers will have been done in by the weather….
The hellebores will hopefully still have another week or so in them. Without any late freezes it’s been a great year, and I’m suddenly itching to grow a few more!
I grow a few from seed every year, and would have started many more but lately it seems I’ve been running out of room. The words ‘thinning the herd’ have come up, and now I’m looking at a few plants with a critical eye and an eager shovel. I need room for more seedlings, my favorites deserve a chance to spread their seed ;).
I’m probably being delusional. It would be a struggle for me to get rid of any of the hellebores, even the ones which might deserve the ‘less pretty’ title, and in case it’s not already obvious, I really lack the focus and conviction to ever draw a line with plants. Who knows though, one afternoon anger management might fail me and out they will come.
This spring even the messiest, most unevenly colored hellebore ends up being a favorite. Green flowers in particular win me over immediately.
Green flowers and other ‘curious’ blooms are always welcome here and this year I’m seeing a little success in that always curious plant group, the fritillarias. Fritillaria uva vulpis, aka fox’s grapes, is back for a second year and even though it took the convincing of a friend to sway me towards keeping them, I’m glad now that I did. They at least look a little ‘interesting’ rather than the straight ‘blah’ I saw last year, and perhaps they’ll continue to improve next year as well.
The snake’s head fritillaries (Fritillaria meleagris) are showing off as well. I love them, and and it makes me happy to see seedlings and clumps forming as they settle in to the soggiest parts of the garden.
The white ones add a little contrast, but the checkered patterns and colors of the darker ones really wow me as they unfurl each spring. Fyi I’ll need to spread the seeds of these around as well!
By the end of last week the front border was at a peak with all the leftover hyacinths, corydalis, and the start of the midseason daffodils. From the right angle the bed looks packed with color and I was thrilled, and a few days later it still looks nice but half of what was in flower has been melted by the heat. Now the first tulips are coming on, and hopefully in a few day you’ll tolerate a few photos of that as well!
Here are a few highlights along the curb.
Behind the house the back garden is showing off as well. In three days all the green has turned to flowers!
Flowers aren’t the only color out there. This spring I’m finally seeing the awesome foliage which inspired me to hunt down my very own plant of Iris x robusta ‘Gerald Darby’. Thanks to Nan Ondra and her blog at Hayefield, I’ve been coveting this plant for years. Now I’m seeing that the wait was worth it.
I’ll spare you most of the other foliage photos, and the overabundance of daffodil photos to just leave you with a few more scenes from around the garden. The primroses enjoyed last summer’s rain and look promising for once in their (short) lives… such a refreshing change from their usual near-death appearance.
Under the weeping cherry the three day cherry bloom is over, and the spent petals are now decorating the ground. It’s a perfect complement to the last of the hardy cyclamen, which (not to rub it in) have been blooming since March, through storm and ice and heat, -unlike the short lived cherry.
While the earliest bloomers are still up and growing and building energy for next year, it’s a great time to do a little moving around and dividing. I created what I hope will soon become my very own trailer park snowdrop bed. It’s filled with the most messy and common double flowers, the ones all the classier growers look down on such as ‘Flore pleno’ and her variously marked variations such as ‘Pussey Greentips’ and ‘Lady Elphinstone’. I’m sure someday they will grow to wow even the most rarefied galanthophile.
While I’m moving snowdrops and boulders hopefully I’ll still have the time to enjoy a few daffodils and tulips. They’re opening as we speak and hopefully the winds and downpour which are barreling through this afternoon will spare a few. I managed to take one last photo out the back door before the storm hit and as you can see it was full on spring today.
My fingers are crossed for the weekend. If things work out as planned there will be plenty of time and energy for all the things which need doing… if history repeats itself there will be plenty of sitting around and little work. We’ll see who wins.
For the record I’ve spent $15 on pansies and then $14 on lettuce and more pansies. The rabbits have already eaten about $8 worth of the lettuce. It happens. Have a great weekend!
$15 for an exceptionally restrained first visit to my favorite garden center
$14 lettuce, onions, and more pansies, also essential
$576 total so far for the 2018 gardening year.