June 19, 2019

Poppy, Iris, Allium & Sage in the June Garden

Making the northwest corner of our backyard into something beautiful has taken several years (since 2013) and plenty of false starts and transplanting.   But this year it's finally looking good to me.  Alliums have been the stars for the past couple of months.  First 'Purple Sensation,' then 'Globemaster,' then 'Ambassador' (the tallest ones blooming above), then Allium christophiii and Allium schubertii.  'Millenium' alliums are just starting to open this week to continue the allium show into July.

In this side view of the main NW bed, short A. christophii are blooming at front.  One spike of a 'Masterpiece' lupine is on the right.  I need more - the color and longevity of this Westcountry hybrid are amazing!  The 'Royal Purple' smokebush leaves echo the lupine to provide sharp contrast to all the shades of green foliage.

Here is a closer shot of a 'Masterpiece' lupine as it finished its long bloom cycle.  'April Night' salvia blooms at left of the photo.  Obviously the salvia didn't bloom in April.  This spring was an odd one.  After a mild early winter, snow covered the ground from the first of February to the middle of March.  The early-blooming perennials that would have started growing in slightly less cold March temperatures waited until the snow melted.  Then a few warm days started the June-blooming perennials growing until May and June flowers all bloomed together instead of in a long procession.

Another side view of the front of the NW bed.  The firework-esque flowers of A. schubertii are at front left, while purple-tinged leaves of a 'Berry Awesome' hibiscus are opening just behind.  Spikes of 'Caradonna' salvia stretch upward at right.

I can't remember if these iris are 'Mer du Sud' or 'Rippling River,' but they smell amazing and need support so the sprinklers don't topple them.  I like the way the little 'Boulder Blue' fescue grasses look with the blue-violet iris above.  A hosta planted near the tree at the back of the photo died over the winter, but that left room to set a bench there.  It's a great spot to sit and admire the rest of the garden.   A baby 'Harlem' poppy shows its first flower at right of center.

Here is another view of that 'Harlem' poppy bloom with A. christophii at front.  I love pink poppies!

Perennial 'Medallion' poppies bloom on the backside of the NW corner with more 'Caradonna' salvia and 'Totally Tangerine' geum. 

Oriental poppies are kind of fussy, as their leaves go dormant after blooming and leave a bare spot in the garden.  But their giant tissue-paper petals are so lovely while open.

In this view looking back toward the gate, a 'Kansas' peony is about to pop open at front.  Matching 'Dusseldorf Pride' armeria bloom along the path.  And those lovely bearded iris are at center.

A quick photo of the NE corner sports an interesting color scheme with cobalt 'Venice Blue' veronica and chartreuse leaves from a 'Neptune's Gold' eryngium, 'Diane's Gold' brunnera, and a chlorotic foxglove.  The sweet soft yellow flowers of 'Banana Daquiri' geum are finishing up their bloom time at right. 

The view from the SE corner looking north looks lush and green.

The east backyard garden is fluffy with leaves and a chartreuse froth of lady's mantle flowers.  This morning I set up a black metal arch over the path in this area.  It matches our black metal birdbaths, benches and obelisks.  I'll share photos later.  It will look better when the clematis grows over the top, but I love it already! 

June 6, 2019

Scenes from the May Garden

We're well past tulips by now, but I'm finally getting these May shots posted.  Above are 'Shirley Double' tulips with blue 'Jack Frost' brunnera and 'June' hosta in the background in the east backyard garden.

The color combinations in this area were fun this spring.  In this view you can also see the 'Negrita' purple tulips and lilac colored creeping phlox.

One more picture of the east side here.  This was right as the 'Spring Snow' crabapple trees were losing their white petals all over the path.  I planted a contorted filbert at the end of the path a few years ago and it's growing large enough to make a pretty spot for the eye to stop as you look down the path.

This little spot of the white garden holds a 'Peppermint Ice' hellebore with a 'Vestal' wood anemone at its base.

'Black Hero' tulips returned this year along with fall-planted 'Double Maureen' and 'Spring Green' white tulips.

Here is a broader view of the white garden.  This year I planted fuzzy silver 'Big Ears' Stachys byzantia in the broken pedestal fountain.  If the plants in the fountain don't make it through the winter, I can just get more divisions from my ground-planted clumps.

This shot shows the white garden at left and the start of the mauve/chartreuse east garden at rear right.  This spring I installed two black metal obelisks to support my 'Claire Austin' and 'James Galway' roses, as both types are supposed to be good climbers and they both fell over constantly last year since they only get sun from one side.  I also ordered a matching metal arch to place over the path at the border between the white garden and the east garden, but it's on back-order until the end of this month.  I've already got a 'Vancouver Fragrant Star' clematis planted and ready to train over the arch when it arrives.

In the northeast corner of the backyard my dwarf 'Popcorn' snowball viburnums both bloomed heavily.  The small shrub at front came mail-order while my local nursery was unsure if they could find one for me, but they finally did get a larger shrub in stock so I found a place for it as well (at rear of photo).  The chartreuse leaves of 'Diane's Gold' brunnera add cheerful color to this corner, but I'm going to have to transplant some of them to shadier positions as the leaves burn quickly even in morning sun.

The 'Royal Raindrops' crabapples happened to bloom during the week when temperatures climbed to the mid-80's, unusually warm for May, so their color didn't last long. 

In this shot the RR crabapples have already morphed to their summer maroon leaves while the matching 'Royal Purple' shrub starts to leaf out at bottom.  'Purple Sensation' alliums bloom next to chartreuse Euphorbia polychroma at the front of the bed.

That purple and chartreuse together is such a vibrant combination.  'Purple Sensation' is one of the less expensive allium bulbs and it sure provides great bang for your buck.

Here is a final shot of the northwest corner in May.  I love how the maroon leaves provide interesting color contrast to all the green even when there aren't many flowers in bloom.  Last night I took more photos of the early June garden and will try to post them soon.  Obviously I'm slowing down on posting to this blog - life is getting busier - but I'll try to keep documenting the garden each month during the growing season.  After years of thinking this or that area will be so pretty in a few years, I'm delighted that many parts are finally maturing and looking as I'd hoped. 

May 2, 2019

Spring Tulips

The pastel Darwin hybrid tulips have exploded into bloom into the front yard as they do every year, but I'm especially enjoying a bold colored new display in the backyard. 

Above is 'Palmyra,' which is my new favorite this year.  It's similar to 'Black Hero' but earlier blooming and more maroon.

'Palmyra' is planted with 'Orange Princess' and 'Negrita' in the main sunny bed in the northwest corner of the backyard.

Happy spring!  The bright sun shining on these colors makes my heart swell.

Several chartreuse Euphorbia polychroma are also blooming with the tulips.  This is a fabulous perennial for a long period of early color that repeats every year, but it needs to be deadheaded carefully after bloom as the sap can cause a rash but it reseeds heavily if not cut back.

'Orange Princess' is a sport of 'Princess Irene' and has lovely dark flames on the outsides of the petals.  You don't see them during the day when it's open wide, but in the evening they are visible.

The west path is in bloom with 'Crown Princess Mary' double pink tulips as well as purple aubretia and 'Blue Spike' muscari.

I planted 'Exotic Emperor' tulips in the white garden last fall and they're pretty with fluffy variegated white aubretia at their feet.
It's funny to me how I always seem to have too many bulbs to plant in fall but never enough blooming in spring.  I've just made several bulb orders from Brent and Becky's Bulbs, White Flower Farm, and John Scheepers, so I'm already looking forward to those new additions for next spring.
Our mild winter turned frigid and snowy at the beginning of February and continued to pile up snow until the middle of March.  But now we're enjoying beautiful spring weather and colorful flowers.  I've been doing a lot of planting and transplanting, so as always I'm looking forward to seeing how my changes play out later in the season.

February 28, 2019

Tour of Allerton Gardens on Kauai, Hawaii

My garden is buried under two feet of snow right now (at the end of February?!), so my husband and I especially appreciated a sunny escape to Kauai earlier this month.  A highlight for me was our tour of the Allerton Garden, created by Robert Allerton and John Gregg beginning in 1938. Above is their beach house as seen from the tour bus window on the drive into the garden.

This 83-acre garden was named one of Nation Geographic Traveler's "50 Places of a Lifetime in America," and it was truly stunning.  Above are the Morton Bay fig trees featured in the movie Jurassic Park.  Our tour guide said that Steven Spielberg kept filming as Hurricane Iniki approached the island (in 1992), so the storm scenes in the movie were very real.  After the film became such a success, Spielberg gave generous bonuses to the camera crew who kept working in dangerous conditions.  Iniki was the largest hurricane to hit Hawaii in recorded history, and the destruction it caused kept Allerton Garden closed for three years afterward.

I was amazed at the beautiful scenes in nearly every direction.  Even though I only had my less-than-stellar cell phone camera with me, I enjoyed snapping shots along with the rest of our tour group.  This garden is only open for guided tours, which were not inexpensive.  My husband kept joking about writing a book entitled "Kauai on $400 a Day." 

Even the less famous giant trees were majestic.  A full time team of seven gardeners cares for the garden.

This garden is quite different than the English cottage gardens I love so much, but I fell in love with it.  What a beautiful gift the Allertons gave to us by choosing to share their creation with the public after their deaths.

It was fascinating to see giant versions of many plants I have grown indoors in pots. 

Here's a photo of me with some of these monster-sized houseplants for perspective.

The use of water in the garden was extensive.  A spring was channeled through many stone waterfalls and pools.

Here is one of the pools with feral chickens sauntering nearby.  Hurricane Iniki set chickens free on the island and they proliferated in the following years.  We also saw them around the hotel pool, on beaches, in parks and in parking lots.  Lots of roosters.  Lots of crowing all day long, but I found it amusing instead of annoying.

The Mermaid Room featured this pool that was shaped with undulating sides that cause the water to pulse out the lower end.

Another waterfall and pool.  In my garden I would be rather proud of myself if I created just one scene like this, and Allerton Garden had so many. 

Giant bamboo arched over these steps.  If I had to pick one word to describe the gardens, it might be giant.  Or breathtaking.  Or gorgeous.  The tour was a lovely experience and well worth the time and money.

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 bloom 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.