Annabelle

It was a dry spring, but based on the weather pattern we’re in now it won’t be a dry summer.  That’s fine with me since I hate watering, but others with different summer plans will disagree.  I took advantage of a break in the rain today and finally cut the grass.  Pretty much everything is lush and thick due to the extra water and the hydrangeas are no exception.

I grow “Annabelle” in a couple places around the yard but here at the edge of the orchard is the plant that seems happiest.annabelle hydrangea

I think this plant came from a small shoot I felt bad for and stuck into the ground while planting daffodils.  It does well amongst the weeds and always puts on a great show with these volleyball sized bloom clusters.  “Annabelle” is one of the arborescens type hydrangeas.  Hydrangea arborescens is the species and it’s a different species than the less hardy florist hydrangeas (the blue/pink or purple ones), oakleaf hydrangeas, and the late summer h. paniculata (the big white or pinkish late summer bloomers).  They’re native around here and are commonly found along creeks and streams, just in a little more modest bloom form.  annabelle hydrangea“Invincibelle spirit” (pink) and “incrediball” are also arborescens types that have recently come out, but the first has a pink color that I’m not crazy over and the second just hasn’t found its way into my garden yet (it’s supposed to be less floppy).  Arborescens hydrangeas are easy and reliable bloomers.  I cut mine back completely in the spring and that’s about all I do and still get a great show.  Water is about the only thing they might ask for.  Mine are in full sun and in years of less regular rain the plants wilt, die back, and the blooms get crispy edges due to my neglect.

“Annabelle” has been around for a while.  She was found back in 1910 in the wilds outside of Anna Illinois by Harriet Kirkpatrick, and it was her and her sister Amy that brought the original plant into their garden.  After decades of passing along from gardener to gardener “Annabelle” hit the big time in 1962 when she was introduced to the nursery trade.  She’s still a great garden plant.  This is a larger clump that slowly spreads a bit each year via short runners.  If I had a big yard with a little shade I think I’d have to spread these out to fill in a huge swath of white.annabelle hydrangea

Adios Spring

It always gives me a sense of sadness when spring rolls into summer.  All the anticipation, the return of growing things, and the new life makes spring my favorite season, but it goes too fast.  One after another things rush into bloom, have their day in the sun (or freezing drizzle) and then are gone for another 11 months.  It’s definitely a “gather ye rosebuds while ye may” season and it comes and goes in a rush as we hurry to get everything done before the heat and humidity settle in…..

When the first rose opens I call it summer and I face the fact that not all the projects are going to happen like they were supposed to.  So time to regroup, sit back, and get into porch and pool mode.  A couple 90 degree days push it along and before you know it spring is a memory and you’re into the lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer.

Clematis “multiblue” is carrying over from spring.  I bought it as something else and got this overfluffed flower.  Not something I would pick for myself but its become a favorite.  A “didn’t happen” project from spring was moving it out of the veggie garden and getting a real structure for it to grow on instead of bush trimmings…..clematis multiblue

Clematis “Ruutel”  is also struggling along in a less than deserving position.  I have trouble finding spots for clematis,  I think I prefer them growing up small shrubs but never manage to get a good pairing.clematis ruutel

A new favorite for this time of year is “Ray’s Golden Campion”.  It flowers during my spring lull and does a good job covering dying spring bulb foliage.  I have some seed left and will be starting a few more this summer, they were a gift from Nan Ondra at Hayefield and I couldn’t be happier with the color of bloom and yellow leaves…. it’s another plant that could use better companions though.ray's golden campion

I think this is peony “Do Tell”.  It’s blooming happily in the middle of the vegetable garden.  The reason I’m not sure of its identity is because out of a bag of three this is the only one matching the description.  Now I’ve never seen an ugly peony (yet) so it’s not the worst thing to have happen, but I guess it falls under the ‘get what you pay for’ heading…. they were clearance Van Engelen and the other one (the third hasn’t bloomed yet) is a big fat fragrant double pink so it’s win-win so far.peony do tell

Just about all my plantings are on the redo list.  Sometimes it’s not entirely my fault, but I guess it depends on how you assign blame.  By definition I never really “planted” any of these iris, they’re the result of using not-quite-ready compost as a top dressing before putting down shredded wood mulch.  It speaks of the hardiness of bearded iris that the rhizomes could survive a couple of months in the rotting compost pile and then still come back to life but I guess it also speaks of my laziness.  I never actually prepped the soil in this bed, just planted the stewartia and hostas right into the turf, covered the in between grass areas with a couple of layers of newspaper to smother it, covered the paper with compost and then topped off with mulch.  No one seems to mind and maybe when I plant better things here I’ll do soil prep.yellow bearded iris

I did do soil prep for the tulips but in the vegetable beds it’s easy.  They’re starting to die down now which means bulb digging and then bean and squash planting.  Even though I did go through the effort of soil prep, I may have done some shallow planting last fall.  I don’t think they’re supposed to be this close to the surface and showing signs of sunburn.  It will be interesting to see if shallow planting effects bulb size since usually deep planting is recommended in order to keep tulips from splitting.  A real problem is that bunnies like to eat the exposed bulbs.  It’s possible this isn’t the first shallow planting of tulips and bunnies may have attacked last year.  But they need their vitamins too.shallow tulip bulbs