January 3, 2019

January Update

After a lovely holiday with plenty of family visiting, my kids have returned to school and I have a few quiet minutes to blog.  I was sad to hear last month of the passing of David Austin, creator of English roses like 'William Shakespeare 2000' and 'Lady's Blush,' above.  I grow nearly two dozen of his roses and they bring me joy. 

I've added to my garden books collection recently and am completely delighted with this one, 'The Secret Gardeners,' about the gardens of some of Britain's famous creatives.  Sting (that's part of his garden on the cover), Andrew Lloyd Weber, Ozzy Osbourne, Prue Leith (my daughters love The Great British Baking Show) and others are included.  The pictures of the varied and beautiful gardens are plentiful, large and gorgeous.  I'd highly recommend it for anyone who loves English style gardens.

After going back and forth about whether to store my dahlia tubers over the winter, I tried wrapping some in plastic wrap and storing them in my deli drawer (37 degrees) in Tupperware containers.  I've lost about half due to rot from condensation from the fridge, but they might freeze in my garage and the basement is too warm.  We'll see how that goes.  I've already ordered some new types (three each of Rip City, Belle of Barmera, White Onesta, Melody Pink Allegro, Great Silence) from Longfield Gardens and may have to order more if my fridge tubers all mold.  Fingers crossed that at least some make it through, like 'Cafe au Lait' above. 

I'm counting down the days until I can pot up dahlia tubers and plant seeds under the grow light I set up in my bathtub.  Above is Ammi, or false Queen Anne's lace. 

And I should mention my amazing moth orchid (Phalaenopsis) that bloomed for an entire year.  I bought it at Costco early last December with two blooms stalks that lasted until May.  Once those were cut back (I cut just above the growth node down the stem from the previous stalks) it immediately sprouted two more stalks that bloomed until early December.  Now it's sending two more stalks out from the next set of nodes.  Amazing!   It seems very happy with all the indirect light in our dining room addition. 
I'm looking forward to another year of growth and beauty in the garden.  Although reading about the gardens of the rich and famous has reinforced just how small my quarter acre garden is, I'm delighted and grateful for a spot of my own to nurture. 

November 19, 2018

Six Months Away From Peonies

In our garden, the first peonies start blooming in May and the last ones finish in June.  So we're about six months away from scenes like the one above with 'Kansas' blooming in back of 'Caradonna' salvia.

This one is either 'Felix Supreme' or 'Paul M. Wild,' with an 'Ambassador' allium blooming tall.

Whatever the last one was, this is the other.  It was a bit floppier and needed a support ring.

'Buckeye Belle' is one of the first peonies to bloom in my garden.

BB is a remarkably dark color that creates interesting color schemes in the garden or in a vase.

I think this one is 'Red Charm,' another early bloomer.

'Coral Supreme' is a large plant with huge flowers that bloom early.  It hasn't been a good cut flower for me, though, as the petals turn brown the day after cutting.

  This is another shot of 'Coral Supreme.'  I also have two 'Coral Charm' peonies, and they are less vigorous plants but better cut flowers.

'Green Lotus' is an unusual peony with thinner, crinkly petals in shades of white and green.

Although GL starts white, as it ages is develops reddish streaks on the petals.  I suppose that coloring is interesting in its own way, but I'm not a fan.  The flower above is just starting to show a hint of the reddish streaks.

'Casa Blanca' is a large white peony that smells like fresh linen.  This is my favorite fragrance of all my peonies.

'Rivida' has fewer petals than many peonies, so it stands up without staking and makes a nice contrast to the 'bomb' type peonies.

This unnamed pink looks nice in the garden or in the vase.

An arrangement like this is six or seven months away, sigh.  At least my hellebores will start blooming in just three or four months.  This fall I transplanted my 'Black Mulberry' peony to a sunnier spot and planted a new little start of pale yellow 'Lemon Chiffon.'  The other plants continue to mature each year, so I'm looking forward to the best peony season yet in just half a year.

October 29, 2018

Hardy Chrysanthemums

Most fall-planted chrysanthemums don't make it through the winter around here, but there are some hardy mums that are perennial in zones 5-9 if planted in the spring so their roots can get well established before winter.  Mulching well, planting in an area with good winter drainage and waiting to cut back dead foliage until spring also increase the chance of mums surviving cold winters.  Last spring I planted several types of hardy mums in my garden.  Above is 'Jessica Louise,' which is still blooming in my yard despite many frosts in the past month. *In my original post I mixed up some of the mum names.  I think I've got them correct now.

Earlier blooms on 'Jessica Louise' were this lighter shade of peachy-pink.  I've noticed that color tends to deepen on chrysanthemum flowers opening in color temperatures, though the color often fades as the flower ages.

Last week I was surprised to find enough flowers to create this arrangement.  My garden looks very bare overall, with many perennials cut to the ground.  But the mums, violet asters, 'Chantilly' light salmon snapdragons and a few 'Princess Alexandra of Kent' roses were still in bloom.

The little rusty-red mums are 'Fireglow,' and the coral ones are 'Whippoorwill.'  I'm excited to grow some large-flowered mums next year for arrangements.  Many of the showiest mums aren't hardy here, but there are a few selections available from online companies.

Here is 'Fireglow' in the garden.  It didn't get full sun so it leaned toward the light.  Next spring I'm planning to transplant it to a better spot.

Despite arriving this spring as a tiny plant in a 6" pot, 'Whippoorwill' grew to 3 feet tall and wide by fall.  It was planted in good soil with plenty of water and nearly full sun, which are ideal conditions for mums.  The mums I planted in mostly shade didn't grow well (especially since the slugs devoured them, but I've already bought bags of iron phosphate to spread next spring to reduce my slug problem).  Next spring I'm going to transplant poor slug-eaten 'Pink Crest' and purple 'Medicine Bow' to sunnier spots. 

The vase above includes coral-peach 'Coral Cavalier' and purple 'Medicine Bow.' which surprised me when it opened more buds after the tree leaves dropped and it received more sun.  Bluestone Perennials has a large selection of hardy mums, and I'm happily planning which ones to order next: creamy 'French Vanilla,' salmon-peach 'Homecoming,' golden-orange 'Ticonderoga,' amber 'Cheerleader,' fuchsia 'Debutante,' shell pink 'Helen Mae,' golden lavender 'Fall Charm,' 'Red Volunteer,' and white 'Nor'easter.'

'Mickey' was a lovely bloomer with typical orange-red fall color.  Here are the first flowers in September.

By the end of October, after numerous frosts, 'Mickey' looked a little worse for wear but still sported good color.  At the right is a non-hardy mum whose name escapes me. 
The past few years have found me beefing up my fall garden with more dahlias, sedums, asters, hardy mums and Japanese anemones.  Last week I planted one 'Honorine Jobert' anemone (the classic tall single white), three 'Lucky Charm' anemones (compact purple foliage in spring and dark pink single flowers in fall); and three 'Pocahontas' anemones (bubble gum pink double flowers, compact, and supposed to stay in a clump instead of running all over).  I already grow light pink single Anemone robustissima, whose spreading is a pain to contain but it's so pretty that I keep it.  It's delight to keep planting new perennials and imagine how much prettier the garden will be next year.