A summertime stroll with a couple surprises

I think I’ve been pretty good this summer keeping up with the garden.  Usually I have so many more weed patches and unplanted pots, but this year  things look a little better.  I know, I know…. prep soil first, have a plan, buy new plant with a spot in mind, don’t plant more than you can take care of, keep low maintainence in mind….  but that’s not how I roll 🙂

I finally cut, bent, and put together the rebar arbor I’ve pictured in my head for the last two years.  Last summer it was a single span, this year I doubled it for more stability and wired in a few cross braces.  I really should throw a little concrete around the base…. but I’ll wait till it blows over this autumn before I learn that lesson (again).

rebar garden arbor

Arbor going into the vegetable garden. The rebar alone looked a little bare, so I went out back and ripped down a few grape vines to bulk it up, and give the vines a little something to hold on to.

Since we’re in the vegetable garden, here’s the early garlic harvest.  This is the first year I managed to plant it properly (in October), and I’m pleased.  I’m even more pleased since these were stray, sprouting cloves I found in the bottom of the vegetable crisper which were planted out rather than thrown away.

garlic harvest

Garlic harvest. The ones I actually bought from the garden center specifically for planting are a later variety and yet to be harvested.

Last winter was one of the coldest, snowiest ones I’ve experienced living here, so you can imagine my surprise to find some gladiolus overwintered.  I vaguely remember there being a few thin little wisps of gladiolus leaves here last summer (I must have missed some of the tiny cormlets when the mother bulbs were lifted) but never gave them much thought.  This year they’re back, and voila, the little things surprised me even more by blooming!

phlox 'bright eyes'

Not only was the gladiolus a surprise, but the color coordination with the phlox, verbena and pole bean blooms is better than anything I could plan!

I only finished laying out and digging up the vegetable garden last summer, prior to that it was lawn and a holding bed for some of the plants brought up from the old house.  One of those plants was a wisteria vine, and when I moved it the remaining roots put up a couple suckers.  Surprise again when one of the suckers actually put out a bloom!

wisteria summer bloom

Not many gardeners are avant-garde enough to combine sweet corn with wisteria, and the fact that I’m considering building another arbor or tuteur in order for this guy to stay here says a lot about the haphazard design of my garden.

It surprises me that I would actually post a photo of this mess.  It’s the unfinished steps to the deck, and it’s were I like to sit with a drink thinking about all the tasks I should be finishing up instead.

tropicals in containers

Tropicals in pots, geraniums on the steps, and plenty of weeds. I actually did trim them all back yesterday but I’m sure they’ll have rebounded by the time I take another picture.

From the steps I get a good view of the vegetable patch -I like to call it the farm 🙂 , and the sunflower patch.  Last week I noticed this quilled version in with the others.  The rolled up petals are different enough to be interesting.

quilled sunflower blooms

In the center is the quilled version of the regular sunflowers. The flowers are nice enough, but it’s the coming and going of the goldfinches and sparrows that keeps things busy around here… as well as the angry little hummingbird who tries to chase everyone away.

I’m getting the feeling yellow is a little passé as far as being a fashionable color -if it ever was- but I clearly have a problem with “acquiring” yellow leaved plants.  “Isla Gold” Tansy is one of my favorites with its finely cut foliage and drought tolerance.

isla gold tansy with bon bon sedum

‘Isla Gold’ Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare) in front of ‘Bon Bon’ sedum. Don’t let the stupid name throw you off, the sedum is also a great plant.

Around the house in the front yard I finally gave up on the way-too-dry-and-hard-to-water spot by the lamppost.  I trimmed the ‘Tiger Eyes’ staghorn sumac back to the ground and let it and its suckers fill in the bed.  Too much yellow?  I don’t think so, and I no longer have to water this spot.

tiger eye sumac

I hope the plant police don’t find me. ‘Tiger Eyes’ cutleaf sumac (Rhus typhina “Bailtiger”) is a patent protected plant, and here it is propagating itself without corporate approval.

Another weedy spot has been the front street border.  I should probably do something about this since it’s a slightly prominent location which everyone who passes sees… but I’m a little bored with it right now.  Maybe once this bright red standing cypress (Ipomopsis rubra) blooms and some of the other annuals take off I’ll like it again.  I wish I had some nice mulch for it though.  I’m constantly jealous of compost rich gardeners and the ones who flaunt their piles of aged leaf mould,  and I think I’m close to breaking down and raiding the yard waste dumped by my neighbors in the nearby woods.  I’m sure my mother in law will be horribly embarrassed.

selfseeding annuals

More golden yellow in the form of rudbeckias, this time tastefully paired with red standing cypress -which almost has a touch of orange in the blooms. If people complain I’ll remind them the ipomopsis is a southeast native plant and hummingbird friendly, hopefully that will distract them from judging my trailer park color combos too harshly.

“Blue Satin” -or maybe ‘Blue Bird’, I forget- rose of sharon (hibiscus syriacus) always looks a little out of place or a little weedy to me, but the color is interesting and it just laughs off drought and abuse.  The white variety “Diana” (a sterile variety) still needs to be acquired, I keep forgetting to take a cutting of my mother’s bush in NY.

blue satin hibiscus

As close to blue as you get in rose of Sharon, “Blue Satin” is a cool color but reseeds freely, and the seedlings though nice enough are all more purplish.

You can’t help but notice the big clump of arundo donax ‘variegata’ (variegated giant reed) growing at the end of the bed.  Wow,  I love it.  It will easily reach 10+ feet by autumn and if frost holds off we’ll even see the seed plumes.  This variety will begin the season with a crisp white/green variegation, mellow to yellow around now, and then go green as soon as temperatures peak for the summer.  It’s invasive down south, so keep that in mind, but the huge clumps I used to see down in Texas were quite impressive.

arundo donax variegata

Still bright, this clump should ‘green out’ in the next few weeks if temps go up… the cool summer has kept it brighter for longer than usual.

A few pennisetum “Karley Rose” divisions (also patented, so please don’t tell anyone I split my clump) are still gaining momentum here amongst the black eyed susans.  They would have done better without all the company but I just couldn’t rip out the daisies.  I’m sure by next year the grass will just muscle it’s way through and form a big clump to hopefully balance out the big hydrangea.

karley rose pennisetum with black eyed susans

Pennesitum ‘Karley Rose’, rudbeckia hirta seedlings, and erynginum in the shadow of the almost blooming ‘Limelight’ hydrangea.

I’ll end with a non yellow.  Verbena bonariensis is starting to open up all over the borders and I wish I had more!  Serves me right for having ripped so much out this spring.

verbena bonariensis

Finally something to balance out all the yellow, but is that a prickly thistle coming up through the middle of the clump!? Who missed that weed?

You might notice in the last picture that there’s a mild green tint to the lawn.  I’m afraid I’ve gone over to the dark side, and have begun to water the lawn.  The brown straw mat I looked at all last July and August was just too depressing, and if I can just get it to the next thunderstorm (tonight I hope), things should stay green for at least another week or two.  Honestly I only ran the sprinkler one day, and the back lawn is responsibly dead….. but I may or may not have also fertilized the day before I watered…. sometimes even good people stray.

Have a great week!

Finally…. mulch is down

It might take normal people a weekend to get their mulch spread, but I went for the one week plan.  The biggest time drain was sprinkling the mulch down in between emerging  clumps and working the wheel barrow back into a bed that was filled with soft sprouts.  On top of that I was trying to stretch every mulch dollar by walking the fine line between too thin and too thick and trying to figure out just where exactly my limited mulch supply would go.  Oh, and did I mention the allergies and sinus infection?

The newly renovated front bed got a nice top coat, showing off the mix of tulips I put in last fall.  This is what a weak moment during Van Egelen’s fall clearance sale will get you. It’s the Scheeper’s mix, made up of all Scheeper hybrids.  Not sure if the color is a good choice for in front of the orange brick….. but oh well, colors don’t clash in May   🙂front bed

"isla gold" tansyThe mulch looks so neat and tidy, and it does look better than before when dirt was splashing everywhere and weeds were popping up by the thousands.  Look how it sets off this “Isla Gold” Tansy.

The tansy is one of my favorites right now.  I’ll be the first to admit I’m going through an I-need-everything-with yellow-foliage phase, but the lacy foliage, the fresh color, and the fact it keeps this color all season are just a couple reasons for my smitten-ness.  Did I mention it even has little buttons of yellow blooms in late summer?  I bet it would look great then with a blue salvia.

Right now I could pair it with polemonium reptans which is in bloom.polemonium reptans

polemonium reptansThe polemonium comes from my parent’s house.  The original planting was there when they first purchased the house over 40 years ago and has been going strong ever since, without dividing or anything.  You could trim it back after blooming if you want but I never get around to it.

Probably about half the beds are now covered, but in order to complete the job I’m guessing it will take another load.  Together the two loads will run about $660.  That really kills my garden budget for the year, but mulch costs are easy to pass by the boss.  I sometimes think that if our yard was just mulch beds, lawn expanses and a few rounded yews she’d be happy.

It’s May and tulips and daffodils are blooming all over the place.  There’s more to do than time to do it but I need to post a few tulip pictures.  They really rule the yard right now, and here’s a well mulched batch of “apricot impression” and some mixed lily flowered tulips.  After the tulips fade this bed will hit a lull for a couple weeks,  and I’m working on that, but usually hostas take over and a couple coleus find their way in.  So it all works out well enough.tulip apricot impression

There are more tulip pictures.  A lot more.  I’ll be catching up on those next.