June 25, 2015

Shady Haven

Trees grow slowly around here, but we're finally starting to enjoy some shade in the backyard.  The northeast corner above has become deliciously shady during most of the day.

While looking at this view, it's hard to believe that the backyard was barren of anything except lawn when we bought the house in 2007.  Dwarf 'Thumbelina Leigh' lavender shrubs are blooming at bottom left, and soft yellow perennial foxgloves (Digitalis grandiflora) lean toward the bench at right.

There is still plenty of sunshine in the backyard, but we are especially grateful for maturing trees during our current heat wave.  We are supposed to reach 107 degrees Fahrenheit (41 Celsius) in a few days, with temperatures hovering around 100 for the next week.  Our average high temperature in July and August is usually 84, with June even cooler.  This is the price we pay for a gloriously mild winter, I guess.

The warm season has run through many flowers prematurely, but I'm finding the differing shades and forms of leaves pretty enough even without a lot of flowers.  In fact, I'm planning to replace the roses at the focal point of the backyard sunny garden with a 'Red Dragon' contorted filbert.  The filbert won't bloom but will have beautiful twisted branches all winter and interesting maroon leaves for much of the growing season, while the roses only spend a couple of weeks at their peak each year.

Of course the garden still features plenty of flowers and deadheading chores in some areas.  'Peach Blossom' Astilbe above is finishing up a few weeks of lovely bloom.

This is the same view from a wider angle.  Just look at how full and fluffy the 'Shademaster' honey locusts have grown!

'Let's Dance Big Easy' mophead hydrangeas and 'Pearl Deep Blue' bellflowers (Campanula) grow happily under the honey locusts, with some pink 'Giles Van Hees' Veronica in the background.  No, the hydrangea leaves are not supposed to be chartreuse.  They're just iron deficient this year.

The 'Hall's Purple' honeysuckle continues to scramble up the swing set.  Recently I read that Hall's Japanese honeysuckle is very invasive through its berries, but this purple-leaved form has not produced any berries for me.  I haven't seen any suckers, and I keep it trimmed around the base to avoid rooting at the nodes.  

 Here's another shot of a honey locust, with a chartreuse 'Sutherland Gold' elderberry shrub (Sambucus) at right.  A 'Fama' pincushion flower (Scabiosa) blooms lavender at bottom left.  I really love this variety of pincushion flower, as its blooms are large, showy and long-lasting on the plant or in a vase.

The other corner of the backyard (southwest) is also filling in with green.  The columnar 'Spring Snow' crabapple trees (Malus) along the west side of the fence don't provide much shade midday, but in the evening they cast long shadows across the yard.

'Bridal Veil' Astilbe is in full bloom in the shaded part of the white garden.  The white spikes echo the variegation on the leaves of 'Jack Frost' and 'Looking Glass' Brunnera below.  White delphiniums lean drunkenly in the background, just begging for me to give up on them and plant something easier.  Now I'm definitely in the editing stage of gardening, with finicky or lackluster plants giving way for better choices - often repeats of plants that are working elsewhere.  Not that I'm going to be doing much gardening until the heat recedes, of course.

June 19, 2015

June Garden

These photos are from the beginning of June, before a heat wave left many plants looking a little toasted around the edges.  Above is the west garden.

The year's first flush of bloom on my 'Abraham Darby' rose featured large, citrus-scented blooms.

'Eglantyne' seemed especially fragrant this year with the warm weather, and passersby commented on the sweet Old Rose scent.

My climbing 'Teasing Georgia' bloomed mostly at the top, so I learned that next year I need to prune it more aggressively to keep the flowers at eye level.

My 'Comtesse de Bouchaud' clematis also bloomed at the top, which was fine since it's not very tall yet.  I'll have to prune it hard next spring.  It's such a lovely color of cool pink.

Chartreuse lady's mantle blooms are lovely but they reseed like crazy.  I need to deadhead earlier than I did last year.

A true blue 'June to Remember' Siberian iris plays well with the chartreuse.  These irises don't bloom for very long, but their grassy foliage is a nice addition during the rest of the growing season.

White 'Snow Queen' Siberian iris and 'Casablanca' blooms brighten the white garden, along with a lingering white 'Mount Everest' allium and spikes of 'June Bride' heuchera.
After returning from a week long family trip, I have been trying to catch up with deadheading and other garden chores.  There is a lot to do this time of the year, but my children have been a great help. 

June 8, 2015

The Last May Flowers

Today I have more scenes from around the garden to share.  These photos are from the end of May as it's hard to keep up with all the flowers this time of the year.  Above is a 'Coral Supreme' peony in full bloom.  The light in this photo makes it look more pink than coral, but normally the coral color is pronounced.

Here is the west garden as the 'Walker's Low' catmint (lavender flowers) and 'May Night' salvia (violet flowers) reach their peak bloom.  A few 'Pure as Gold' and 'Evening Tidings' bearded iris are also in view.

From this angle you can see the iris more clearly.  They smelled delicious, but by today they are all done blooming.  Many plants will fly through their bloom cycle this week, as we are in the middle of a heat wave with temperatures reaching 96 F today.  My kids are at school without any air conditioning, poor things.

'The President' clematis is spectacular in full bloom.  I hadn't noticed before this year, but its flowers have a pleasant scent.

To the east of the house in the backyard, an unknown Itoh peony blooms magenta above 'Clementine Blue' columbine.  My other Itoh peonies fade quickly, but this one holds its color perfectly well until the petals drop.

This 'Rotlaub' Rodgersia has taken a few years to really get going, but this year is leaves are large and striking.  They are cinnamon-colored when they first appear, then mature to green.  In the background of this shady bed are white bleeding hearts (Dicentra spectablilis alba).  

This is the same bed as the photo above but from the opposite side.  White Lenten roses (Hellebores) have matured to green at front while maidenhair fern (Adiantum pedatum) sways delicately above.  
After attending a graduation party last weekend in a friend's backyard, I had the delightful thought that in coming years (starting six years from now) we can have four graduation parties in our yard, right at the peak of June bloom.  Gardeners love nothing more than visitors when the garden is looking good! 

June 2, 2015

Poppies! Orange and Violet Serendipity

Four years ago I ordered three maroon 'Heartbeat' poppies, but there were shipping delays and the plants grew slowly, so this was the first year that buds appeared on the plants.  I was excited to see how the deep color worked with the violet and mauve color scheme that is blooming in the northwest corner right now.

However, when the flowers finally appeared they were not maroon.  They were in-your-face, traffic stopping, construction barrel reddish-orange.  Ugh!  I was so disappointed after four years of waiting.  But then my daughters kept crooning over how beautiful they were, and my husband pointed out that orange and violet look pretty good together.  Even my three year old son liked the 'puppies' in the garden.  Hmmm.

I kept gazing out at that corner from the dining room window, my window upstairs, and the bench under the arbor nearby.  I even pulled a chair out to the middle of the path so I could stare right at the poppies and other colors.  I considered how the orange poppies were a deeper version of the rosy-orange 'Totally Tangerine' geum blooms (at bottom and right above), so all those orange flowers created a nice connection throughout the area.

I pondered how the purple spikes of 'Caradonna' salvia and deep blue-violet flowers of 'Caesar's Brother' Siberian iris made a beautiful background for a pop of reddish-orange color.  I even found myself liking the way the orange played off the mauve-purple globes of 'Ambassador' allium hovering above.

I can't believe it, but I decided that I really love these reddish-orange poppies!  So I transplanted the third plant from another spot to a place of honor at the center of the bed among the salvia.  That little plant still isn't blooming this year but will be big enough to flower next year.  We're looking forward to even more of those giant poppy blooms in years to come.

Orange and violet are kind of fabulous.  Who would have thought?  Of course I did go ahead and order three more of the 'Heartbeat' poppy plants.  I have other spots where I can put them, and they make a nice color echo of the 'Moulin Rouge' astrantia  (barely visible in the center above) in this area.

All is well in the northwest corner after all.  It is especially enjoyable to sit on the bench under the arbor and watch countless bees feasting on all the flowers.  They really love the purple 'Caradonna' salvia, but they also frequent the 'Totally Tangerine' geum.  The geum flowers bend over and sway precariously each time a giant bumblebee lands on them.  It's kind of funny to watch.

This is part of the view from the arbor.  After I decided that I liked the color scheme, I couldn't stop taking photos.  In the background, 'Pagan Purple' delphiniums are getting ready to bloom.  Rosy-red 'Montgomery' astilbes are also in bud next to the path.  The parade of blooms will continue . . .

I mentioned in my last post that we did some transplanting in this area on Memorial Day.  In addition to moving the tree peonies away from the sprinklers to curb the Botrytis rot they've been experiencing, I made room for another butterfly bush.  You can see one of the magenta flowers of 'Miss Ruby' above.

This butterfly bush will provide color to the area after the salvia, allium, astrantia, Siberian iris and poppies finish blooming (the 'TT' geum blooms all summer).  The magenta flowers look especially nice next to the dark 'Black Negligee' Cimicifuga leaves at the base of the photo.  And of course we will enjoy watching butterflies on 'Miss Ruby' from the arbor bench.

Here's another shot of fabulous orange and violet.  'Caesar's Brother' Siberian iris are in the front with 'TT' geum at back.  The upright, grass-like leaves of the iris work really well against the airy sprays of rounded geum flowers.  It's a fun challenge to try to mix different forms as well as colors into a beautiful whole.

I guess the moral of this story is to keep your mind open when planning your garden.  Gardening is definitely a trial and error process, and sometimes serendipity graces the scene with unexpected beauty.