Tuesday View: The Front Border 7.4.17

Its mildly disturbing how quickly the weeks roll by, but once again it’s Tuesday and time to check in on this year’s view. ¬†This week marks a new month, a definite turn to summer, and for those in the US it’s Independence day so bring on the picnics and barbecues and fireworks ūüôā

street border

A lush, robust Tuesday view. ¬†We have not wanted for water this year and many of the plants are bigger than I’ve ever seen. ¬†The bugs are thrilled as well, and I don’t recall any other year which had this much ¬†buzzing and flitting and fluttering .

I’m declaring this the year of the lily in my garden since it seems as if bulbs all over are putting out more blooms than ever. ¬†I have special to me seedlings which have surprised me with their first flowers but I also have some of the fancier hybrids which have finally settled in.

lilium red velvet

Lilium ‘Red Velvet’. ¬†It may not show well in the garden because of its dark, saturated color, but check out that dark, saturated color!

The Asiatic hybrids are some of the most popular of the early lilies, but I’m not all that crazy about the shorter, upright facing forms. ¬†I like the tall downward facing ones, and if I had more room I think I could easily collect a few… hmmmm… new bed idea?

lilium red velvet

‘Red Velvet’ is in its second year here and about five feet tall. ¬†That’s an excellent eye level flower for me, and perfect for close inspection.

Now I won’t go on about the scarlet lily beetle, since as of yet they have not reached our little valley, but for those of you afflicted by this pest I extend my sympathies. ¬†I dread the day they reach here and that will likely be the year the lilies are given away to better homes. ¬†I’ll just grow sunflowers if it comes to that.

street border

The mailbox is destined to be engulfed with sunflowers this summer (they’re the big leaves in the center). ¬†No idea what kind they are other than birdfood leftovers, but I do know they’ll be awesome ūüôā

The street side of the border is beginning to show some color again as the lavender colored perovskia, pink coneflowers (Echinacea), and a lonely yellow rudbeckia open up.

street border

Weedy or wildflowery? ¬†If I ever get around to mulching I’ll try to neaten up the first foot or so of the edge so it looks like I planned all these plantings… which I didn’t ūüėČ

A few years ago I tried adding a few named varieties of Echinacea purpurea to the border… well actually it was just two, and neither were the more exotically colored forms which you see out today… the plants seeding around now are just more of the average form, which in my opinion are still awesome, but don’t be fooled into thinking you need every seedling which comes up. ¬†I rip out plenty each year, and if I were smarter I’d do it again now while they’re in bloom in order to select out the smaller, less exciting flower forms.

echinacea coneflower

Sometimes it amazes me that flowers this nice just grow all by themselves in some midwestern prairie.

As you probably know, these coneflowers (Echinacea purpurea) are North American natives and not far removed from the wild forms which dot the prairie landscape.  For a minute I might ask myself why I bother with other more troublesome primadonnas from landscapes far removed.

echinacea coneflower

More coneflowers

Have I mentioned spring and now early summer have been perfectly watered? ¬†They have, and the hydrangeas and pretty much everything except for a few iris and dahlias are looking all the better for it. ¬†Plants are lush this year and on top of that it seems all the good bugs are swarming while the bad are sparse. ¬†You know that won’t last, but for now the only thing which seems too lush are a few of the ornamental grasses and this Eryngium.


Maybe it’s just early but this normally steely blue and gray Eryngium (species unknown) is just mostly green *yawn*… we will see how it progresses…

The late planting of annuals is also a work in progress although I have high hopes for a later season of full plants and bold colors… if not entirely tasteful or well thought out colors ūüôā

mixed border annuals

The newest bed expansion is still filling in. ¬†I believe there’s already plenty here and just needs to fill in, but it makes me anxious to see open ground in July. ¬†

I guess the only thing left work-wise for this summer is mulch. ¬†I couldn’t garden without mulch and this year I’m treating myself to a load of shredded bark mulch rather than a temporary bandage of grass clippings or shredded leaves (which were used up elsewhere months ago). ¬†This time of year I only cover the outer most foot or two of beds since the inner sections are already covered in plants. ¬†It’s not that I wouldn’t mind mulch there as well, but for as much as I plant and replant, this perfect coating of shredded neatness would be dug in and over within a few months and for me that doesn’t sound like a worth-it kind of investment.

rose campion lychnis

A common upright sedum with a few small up and coming coleus and a patch of rose campion (Lychnis coronata).  To me a sunny garden without sedum is just nonsense.  

So that’s a pretty full Tuesday View. ¬†As usual thanks go to Cathy at Words and Herbs, and I invite everyone to give her site a visit to see what her view and others around the world look like this week. ¬†It’s always a treat and I’m sure they probably mulched weeks ago. ¬†Happy fourth, and have a great week!

Tuesday View: The Front Border 6.20.17

The summer solstice is just a few hours away and this week’s Tuesday view should fit right in. ¬†The abundance of summer is starting to show, and it shouldn’t be long before the next flush of color begins.

street border

Things aren’t that different this week but I did get the chance to do some major weeding and cleaning out, and (to me at least) it shows. ¬†

Besides thinning the iris and removing their spent flower stalks -a brutal process of ripping nearly half the plants out- I’m also well into filling the empty spots. ¬†Each summer I make room for plenty of annuals and tropicals (or they make room for themselves) and this year I have an additional two or three foot wide expansion strip which needs filling.

sunflower seedlings

A few healthy sunflower seedlings have popped up near the mailbox and I’m going to call that perfect. ¬†It’s one less space which needs manual filling. ¬†

Filling the new bed is much less trouble than I thought it would be. ¬†There are always a few spare canna roots which get planted, plenty of reseeding annuals which come up on their own, and this year I’m adding bunches of coleus cuttings which I started off of the four new-to-me mother plants which I picked up here and there.

verbena transpants

Verbena bonariensis transpants look terrible for the first day or two after transplanting but bounce back quickly. ¬†I didn’t even bother watering these and I’m sure most will turn out fine.

So this year’s main annual color will be coleus, cannas, dwarf zinnias and plenty of other odds and ends which tend to follow me home, and as far as following me home this spring may have been an all time record as far as high numbers of purchased plants and low numbers of self grown seedlings. ¬†I still think I stay well on the cheap side of frugal though since the majority were either six packs or clearance purchases, but I do snap every now and then and end up with something exciting or new. ¬†To ease my conscience I try and take cuttings or overwinter a few bits, so I guess it’s the horticultural version of reuse/recycle.

arundo donax variegata

A few hot days and the Arundo donax variegata has burst on up out of the ground. It does makes a statement I think.

As I continue to add and add and add I hope the bed takes on that super full, overflowing with color and texture look. ¬†For that to happen I’ll need a few more things, and there are still no signs of anyone starting zinnia or gomphrena seeds (my reliable standards), but I’m sure something will work out. In my opinion annual plantings should be a little more spontaneous and different each year otherwise what’s the point?

As usual thanks to Cathy at Words and Herbs for hosting this weekly update, and if you have a chance to give her blog a visit please do, it’s always a pleasure and I’m sure you’ll enjoy reading about other Tuesday views from around the world… or even better yet consider joining in!


Tuesday View: The Front Border 5.23.17

So Tuesday is here again and although I just posted the view last week it would be a shame to ignore the irises which have come along since then.

street border

The Tuesday view showing the beginning of iris season.  Still lots of green but the iris are peaking!

Bearded iris are a favorite, and the older “historic” types just beg to be planted en masse in this full sun, often dry, and always exposed, location.¬† There’s little I have to do for them other than give them a little attention in June when I remove the spent flower stalks and pull up any borer infested plants I find.

iris ambassadeur

The view from the other end.¬† For now iris ‘ambassadeur’ is center stage, but will soon be swamped by the variegated arundo donax grass which is only just¬†beginning to sprout.¬† ¬†

Besides the color these older iris also are also very generous with their lemony and grape fragrances.¬† My favorite is this bitoned iris¬†which was growing in my parent’s garden when they bought their first (and current) house back in¬†the 70’s.¬† After years of wondering, this spring¬†I am officially naming it ‘Folkwang’, a German iris introduced in 1925 by the nursery of Goos & Koenemann.

iris folkwang

My newly named iris¬†‘Folkwang’ plus¬†a lonely little lupine and a few alliums.

To search for a name for years¬†may be a little obsessive, but¬†it’s not like I was at it 24/7.¬† A little looking here, a little looking there until finally I found one which really looked close.¬† To seal the deal I searched high and low for a source, ordered myself a rhizome, planted it out last fall (and a few others of course), and finally this spring got to compare the named one to my own.

iris folkwang

I think it’s a match.¬† Iris ‘Folkwang’ on the¬†right and a flower of my unknown to the left.

So maybe naming an unknown iris does border on the obsessive, but in the grand scheme of things it’s nothing when compared to how much time I spent this week planting dahlias and cannas and getting a garden ready for the whole half dozen people who might notice… yet again I digress.¬† It’s iris season, it must be enjoyed.

iris rhages

Iris ‘rhages’ looking a little pale this year.¬† Usually the flowers show much more spotting, but it’s still a beauty.

There are¬†a¬†decent amount of¬†iris around the garden¬†but to be honest I think I could use a few more.¬† In past years I spread iris ‘Rhages’ to the other side of the driveway, and they’re now the more impressive clumps compared to the little batch I have growing next to the mailbox.

iris rhages

Iris ‘rhages’ plus more iris next door in my BIL’s garden.¬† I wonder how he’d feel if I added a few other colors…

I am trying and trying so hard not to give in to the temptations of the newer, bigger, flouncier bearded iris.¬† They’re so much more of everything, but I just don’t find them as carefree and reliable as the older sorts, and in my garden once the pool and lawn chair start calling I need a certain amount of carefree.

bearded iris

An unknown modern iris which a friend forced onto me.¬† I couldn’t just let it die so in an out of the way corner of the garden it flowers and offends only me.¬†

I’m trying to decide which other iris I should add to the front street border.¬† Should I stick with the blue tones or just throw everything out there?

iris picador

I go back and forth between love and boredom on the mustardy reds of iris ‘Picador’.¬† I’m just not sure if this color will work out front so in the meantime it stays out back near the meadow.

I might have to make an exception¬†for a cousin of my newly named ‘Folkwang’.¬† Iris ‘Vingolf’ is also a product of the breeding program of Goos & Koenemann and was introduced a year earlier in 1924.¬† I’m sure I could fit a clump of these out front.


iris vingolf

Iris ‘Vingolf’.¬† A shorter stouter iris, perfect for along the edge of the bed where the foliage will pick up once the flowers fade.

In this dry and sunny bed the foliage of these historic iris usually holds up well and looks decent throughout most of the summer.¬† It reminds me that with all this focus on grass trimming, canna planting, and Tuesday views, I’ve missed another monthly focus on foliage with Christina at Creating My Own Garden of¬†the Hesperides so I’ll try and sneak that mention in as well.¬† Here’s a bed across the lawn from the street border, it’s highlight are a¬†few lusty verbascum ‘Governor Aiken’ seedlings¬†which appeared¬†last year and were just too healthy to pull.

verbascum governor aiken

Verbascum and a whole bunch of other things looking Maytime fresh.¬† The ‘Tiger Eye’ sumac suckers look so innocent right now and of course there are more iris, variegated this time.

So there it is, the Tuesday view and a few other things all still posted on the appropriate day… assuming you are visiting from the Atlantic time zone… I suggest you take a look at Words and Herbs and see what others around the world are seeing this week.¬† Maybe it’s iris season there as well and I can’t help but say that’s a good thing.

A Commitment

Around the end of January I passed the four year anniversary for this blog.¬† There wasn’t a big celebration to mark the date,¬†nor a small one, and to be honest I wasn’t really sure where to go from there but I guess I finally¬†have.¬†¬†Just to state the obvious, this blog doesn’t have any rigorously defined purpose or goals so I can’t say weather it’s been a success or not, but one day it started and it’s been going ever since.¬†¬†At the time I just wanted¬†a spot to go on a little too much about favorite plants and plantings and¬†a¬†space to ramble¬†on a little¬†too long¬†about things I find interesting and looking back¬†I think I’ve been staying¬†exactly on message.¬† Pretty impressive if you ask me, but it brings me around to the title of this post.¬† In case you’re wondering¬†the¬†commitment¬†mentioned is¬†that I finally signed up for the bona fide paid version¬†of WordPress.¬† The free version I’d been using was nearly out of storage space and it was either that, delete old posts,¬†or start a new blog.¬† For about $3 a month I decided to keep plodding on.

self seeded phlox

Last August’s view of my least favorite garden bed.¬†

I suppose now is as good a time as any for a quick look back on how the blog is going, and the painful truth is it hasn’t turned into the moneymaker I was hoping for.¬† There have been few if any lucrative endorsements, I haven’t developed any¬†‘SortalikeSuburbia’ product lines, and the movie deal my friend was so sure of has yet to materialize.¬†¬†I feel bad about the last one especially since he was so¬†determined to play himself in the big screen version.¬†¬†I hope he’s not too disappointed when I break the¬†news to him.

messy flower bed

This spring it’s as far as I got with the cleanup.¬† There just wasn’t enough vim or vigor¬†left to tidy up a bed when you just don’t care about it.¬†

So my blog is officially¬†worth $3 a month to me, even if it does sometimes remind me that parts of my garden looked better off before than after.¬† For $3 a month I do enjoy scrolling back during the winter and reliving past seasons and flowers,¬†but the more valuable part is¬†I get to enjoy all the blogging friendships I’ve made along the way.¬† Friendships are always good, and plant friends are¬†the best, even when they’re the kind of friends who have nicer things and¬†you keep¬†trying to duplicate them… which of course I can’t blame them for since there’s a 99% chance I would have kept adding more plants even without them ūüôā

planting grass seed

Anything which didn’t thrill me was composted.¬† It’s been a rough spring for the underperformers and this bed was no exception.¬† I even tossed a fothergilla and some Siberian iris in order to plant grass, so if anything¬†this bed¬†will at least look neater than before… although it’s only the second time ever that¬†beds have been turned back to¬†lawn!

So four more years of questionable content, mediocre writing, and aimless ramblings, and hopefully somewhere along the way a few good things come out of it.  You never know about those movie deals!

grassy slope

Another area which might need more commitment…¬† I’m kind of curious to¬†see how this rock hard, sterile fill behind my MIL’s yard develops.¬† It was a pleasantly weedy meadow before, but after the fill was dumped I needed a pickaxe to level and grade.¬† Once life gets a toehold here I think it will be a great spot again, you’ll have to trust me on that one.

It’s been rainy and cool here this weekend, but with a pile of mulch to spread the cool part doesn’t sound too bad.¬† Unfortunately the mulch is¬†for next door, so no excitement here but maybe a few new plants will be snuck in to break up the monotony of fresh mulch beds.¬† It will be my community service for the week ūüôā

Tuesday View: The Street Border 04.11.17

Two weeks have passed since the last Tuesday view, so it’s about time we see what the melted snow and furious warm-up have left behind.¬†¬†If I remember correctly this photo was taken in the late afternoon, shortly after our Tuesday high of 86F (30C)¬†had begun to cool off and¬†allow some relief to plants more accustomed to snow flurries and frost.

spring mixed border

The early daffodils and hyacinths have sprouted and come into bloom in a matter of days.  As recently as three days ago I believe the grass was still brown!

These catapults into warm weather always leave me a little irritated.¬† I’ve got a ton of cleanup to do but the lawn is still a melting-snow-mess of soggy ground and matted leaves.¬† Fortunately the front yard dried out¬†enough for me to get around without making too¬†muddy a mess, and I was able to rob the neighborhood leaf dump for some free leaf mulch to top off the¬†border.¬† The mulch went a long way in covering up all the debris I was too lazy to pick up, and¬†I just managed to get it on in¬†what seemed like the last hours¬†before too many of the spring bulbs had sprouted.

spring mixed border

Yellow ‘Tweety Bird’ daffodils with a bunch of¬†hyacinths which need dividing.¬† There’s never enough time to get all these things done.¬†

Besides the daffodils and hyacinths there is also a noticeable increase in the corydalis population.¬† Last summer I managed to find and dig a few dormant bulbs¬†and immediately replanted them¬†along the street.¬† They’re all the pink ‘Beth Evans’ but if I get to it this summer I’ll mix in a few of other spare colors¬†from around the yard… assuming I remember to dig them before they¬†disappear completely in May, they go fast.

spring mixed border

I’m aiming for a mix of corydalis, eranthis and snowdrops in this part of the bed.¬†¬†It’s an¬†area which will become¬†a thicket of butterfly bush (buddleia) by August so the bulbs will¬†be able to rest comfortably in the shadows until next spring.

Nothing is ever perfect though, and last spring’s early warmth, late freeze damage, and then¬†relentless cold rain are coming back to haunt the tulips this year.¬† ‘Tulip Fire’¬†(Botrytis tulipae) is a fungal disease related to the gray molds which thrive in damp, cold weather.¬† It shows as spotted and distorted (or scorched) leaves which will ruin your tulip show.¬† Wise gardeners will dig up and dispose of the infected plants and avoid replanting tulips for about three years and possibly resort to fungicidal sprays, but the less wise gardener might respond differently.¬†¬†He might ignore the problem and hope¬†better tulip weather¬†will bring some relief in future seasons.¬†¬†It’s more of a prayer approach and sometimes this method works out better than you can imagine.¬† Sometimes it doesn’t, and we’ll keep you posted.

tulip fire fungus

The spotting and distorted sprouts of tulip fire infected tulips.

For now though there are plenty of other distractions to keep one from dwelling on the loss of a few tulip blooms.¬† Here’s another view of daffodil ‘Tweety Bird’ and the spreading corydalis.¬† I think it looks very promising.

spring mixed border

Early spring color in the front border.

It looks colorful at least, and it’s a welcome relief after all the snow of just a few weeks ago.¬† Let’s hope it lasts for a few days at least.

The Tuesday view is a weekly visit to the same spot each week of the growing season.  Cathy of Words and Herbs hosts, and I highly recommend a visit to see what her view looks like and to see what others around the world are enjoying this week.  Have a happy Easter!

GBFD August ’16

They say better late than never, but according to that theory just about everything I do should be better… and I know that’s not the case, so I’ll let you be the judge.

I’ve let a few too many of Christina’s Garden Blogger Foliage Days pass by without a decent post, and that’s a shame since I really enjoy her prodding us to take a monthly step back to look past¬†all the flowers.¬† The flash of flowers often catches the eye and as a result foliage often fades into the periphery¬†of subconscious thought, so on the 22nd of each month it’s not the worst idea to look around and consider what the leafiness of your garden is doing for the bigger picture.

lasagna garden bed

The bed-which-I-can’t-decide-what-to-do-with just before we left on our camping trip.

I showed the above picture just a few days ago and although I knew there were a few weeds sprouting I just didn’t get to them before we left.¬† Let me just insert here that this is not going to be the “decent post” which GBFD deserved this month because it’s a post on only one type of foliage, and that’s the quick growing green of crabgrass and other uninvited leafy pests.

weedy flower bed crabgrass

The same bed exactly one week later.¬† A bounty of rain, heat, and sunshine plus a fertile soil (the dumping spot for our rabbit’s used bedding) have greened up everything.¬† Even the clover and creeping Charlie have filled in any last remaining dead patches in the “lawn”.

I spent a recent afternoon clearing out all the lush growth.¬† The bed is empty again¬†but this time I stuck a few stray cuttings here and there and with a little luck perhaps I’ll have some more varied foliage for¬†September’s GBFD.¬† At the very least it might give the weeds a little competition since apparently there’s¬†not much slowing them down now.

Thanks for humoring me with this ‘foliage’ post and if you haven’t already been over please consider giving Christina a visit to see¬†what others have done¬†this month with their posts.¬† You won’t be¬†disappointed.

GBFD April ’16

Imagine my¬†embarrassment when I saw it’s been¬†nearly two weeks since my last post.¬† I know¬†the exact reason for the pause but¬†right now just ¬†don’t want to get into the ugly¬†truths about mixing brutal cold fronts with fresh spring growth.¬† Instead I’ll focus on the beautiful sunshine of a cool spring morning and join in for a very quick visit to celebrate¬†Garden Bloggers Foliage Day with Christina from ‘Creating my own garden of the¬†Hesperides’.

muscari and blue fescue

The grayish leaves of blue fescue (Festuca glauca) alongside the blue flowers of grape hyacinths (Muscari).¬† Please ignore the freeze burned tulips to the left of the photo…

Thanks to Christina for the monthly¬†reminder to reexamine the contributions foliage makes to the overall look and feel of the garden, and this month¬†it’s a¬†border of blue fescue which has me most pleased with foliage effect.¬† This border was switched up last spring when¬†I divided and spread¬†a few clumps¬†all along the foundation plantings, and this spring it has filled in with a lush vigor¬†which really shows off¬†the bed.¬† Now that the fescue is making me happy I’m fixated on a clump of blue muscari¬†growing just behind the grass clumps.¬† There’s a strong possibility this will be divided and spread along as well since I like the combination.

The fescue and muscari¬†are extremely common plants and both were free shovel-fuls from other gardens.¬† It kind of makes me reconsider that bucket of plant labels which no longer¬†match living partners… but not enough to cure that plant lust¬†for all the new goodies ūüôā

See?¬† I promised it would be quick.¬† Please visit Christina’s blog as well, it’s always a pleasure to see and hear about¬†the foliage¬†others across the globe are enjoying in their own gardens, and have a great weekend!