June 25, 2016

Summer Astilbe Love

My favorite plant right now is astilbe, as it's contributing the most dramatic color to the garden now that the big flush of June perennials and roses is winding down.  'Montogomery' astilbe is shown above.

Remember this photo from late May?  At bottom right you see the deep red buds on 'Montgomery' contrasting nicely with the sage behind it.  The buds on pale colored astilbes aren't as showy, but I imagine buds on other deep colored types make a similar effect.  By the time 'Montgomery' finishes blooming, its buds and blooms will have yielded color for nearly two months.

This week I transplanted some tiny divisions 'Sunny Border Blue' speedwell (Veronica) and 'Fama' pincushion flower (Scabiosa) to the northwest corner to add more color during this time of year, but for now 'Montgomery' is providing the pizzazz.

The butterfly bushes, Russian sage and three new little 'Ava' agastache plants are starting to bloom in the NW corner and will add color until frost.  After being cut back to the ground last week, 'Caradonna' sage (salvia) and 'Moulin Rouge' astrantia will eventually send up new leaves and flowers.  Thank goodness for astilbe to fill the gap.

Six clumps of 'Peach Blossom' astilbe are jazzing up the northeast corner of the backyard as well.  'Blue Pearl' bellflower (Campanula), bubblegum pink 'Giles Van Hees' speedwell (Veronica), and the chartreuse leaves of iron-deficient mophead hydrangeas add color above.

The puffy spikes of astilbe blooms really make an impact in a part-shade, well-watered garden.  They are not happy in hot, dry gardens.  Astilbe hybrids come in pink, red, lavender, purple, white, peach and coral.  They are hardy in zones 4-8.  Some stay less than 1.5' but others reach over 3' tall.  Established clumps are easy to divide with a sharp knife.  I started with one 'Peach Blossom' plant several years ago and now have six large plants.

Here in the NE corner the first peachy-pink bloom of a 'Jolyene Nichole' daylily is echoed by the 'Peach Blossom' astilbes in the background.

My three 'Bridal Veil' astilbe plants are still in bud but already add texture to the shade garden against the north side of the house.


Soon they'll open and look like this photo from last year.

After admiring the three types of astilbe already in my garden, I really had to have some more.  So I popped over to Gibson's Nursery and picked up four pots:  'Visions in Red' (above), 'Visions,' 'Rheinland,' and 'Maggie Dayley.'  Since the weather was cool enough for dividing, I went ahead and cut them all in half and planted the eight plants in partly-shaded areas of the backyard that need more color right now.  Actually 'Maggie Dayley' is supposed to bloom in late July-August, but that's fine, too.  I'm excited to watch these new little plants get established and then strut their stuff next season.

June 15, 2016

Kopper Kettle Peony in a Vase


'Kopper Kettle' peony blooms work as well in a vase as they do in the garden.  This Itoh hybrid peony requires no staking to keep the flowers upright.  It grows 2.5 feet tall and 3.5 feet wide and is hardy in zones 4-8.  More sun means more flowers, but afternoon shade keeps the blooms from fading as quickly.

In this arrangement I also used coppery-pink buds from Filipendula hexapetala, cream buds from 'June Bride' heuchera, and chartreuse buds from lady's mantle (Alchimella mollis).

White hellebore (Lenten rose) blooms that had aged to green added texture along with green buds from 'Blueberry Muffin' viburnum.

The young shoots from my 'Scarlet Pearl' snowberry bush (Symphoricarpos) had a coppery cast that echoed the color of the peonies.

What fun it is to create an arrangment with garden flowers that are a little different from what one usually sees in floral arrangements.

June 10, 2016

May Color Play

Here are a few more pictures from May.  It has been fun to see various color schemes come and go as plants come in and out of bloom.  Above purple 'Globemaster' Alliums bloomed next to the maroon leaves of my 'Red Dragon' contorted filbert (Corylus avellana 'Red Dragon').  A clump of 'Caesar's Brother' Siberian iris is shown in the upper left corner.

I'm still working on filling the edges of the pathway with low plants.  Above 'Firestorm' Geum and 'Dusseldorf Pride' thrift (Armeria) added color to the west curve of the backyard path.  This combo will be even better next year as I recently added several 'Dicksen's Gold' bellflowers (Campanula) with chartreuse leaves.  Magenta, golden-orange and chartreuse are so vibrant together.

The deep maroon leaves of my 'Royal Purple' smoke bush (Cotinus coggygria) played off the blooms of the 'Kopper Kettle' Itoh peony.  You can't see in this shot, but the base of the peony blooms showed maroon streaks that perfectly echoed the color of the smoke bush . . . it's a match made in heaven.


A combo of different colors and forms appeared on the east side of the house.  Fluffy chartreuse lady's mantle (Alchimella mollis) danced below linear 'June to Remember' Siberian iris while a 'Glboemaster' Allium joined the mix.


Here is the east garden area a couple of weeks prior to the previous shot, when pink creeping Phlox, 'Gladiator' Alliums and chartreuse leaves of an 'Ogon' (or Mellow Yellow) Spirea and 'Lime Rickey' Heucheras provided the color.


In the white garden a 'Snow Queen' Siberian iris bloomed behind a 'June Bride' Heuchera.  
There has been a lot of cleanup work to be done lately as the tulip and other bulb foliage turned yellow and various perennials finished blooming and needed deadheading or trimming back to the ground.  Today I'm happy that steady rain is giving me a good excuse to take a break.