December 22, 2008

Don't Buy a Plant Reference Book - Just Google It

Here's a photo of my collection of expensive plant reference books that I rarely use anymore. Like so many other aspects of my life, the internet has completely changed the way I look up information on plants. I remember a college assigment to create plant information sheets on a large group of plants. It was such a chore to dig around in books and old catalogs to find the necessary information and a picture. Now all that knowledge is at my fingertips every time I turn on my computer. Another advantage of looking up plants on the internet is that I can find information about the newest introductions. Many of these cultivars aren't in my reference books, since they were introduced after the books were published.
After learning through sad experience that catalogs don't give much information about a plant's shortcomings and often don't have an accurately colored picture, I usually do some extra research on potential buys before ordering. Google is an excellent start. I search for the cultivar and common name or occasionally the latin name. For example, I might type 'Barbara Mitchell daylily.' The first result to come up for this search is from the Dave's Garden plantfiles. The Dave's Garden website allows users to upload their own photos, comments and ratings about plants. I find it to be an excellent resource. If the plant I'm researching doesn't pull up the DG plantfiles as a result, I'll often go directly to their search page. The drawback to this approach is that I'm not a member, so I can't search more than 10 times a day. Anyway, the plantfile on the Barbara Mitchell daylily lists the height, width, bloom time and other data. It also includes seven reviews of the plant from actual gardeners and thirty-eight photos! Barbara Mitchell is a particularly popular daylily, so not every plantfile will include so much information.
If the DG plantfiles aren't enough, I'll click on some of the other search results. Of course different online catalogs give different bits of information, so I can get to know a plant better by reading several of their descriptions. When I was doing a lot of research about the trees I wanted for my yard, I found some excellent information on university websites that came up on the Google search.
Another plant reference website that I should mention is This wholesale nursery is known for selling well-grown specimens of the best plant cultivars. If a plant I'm considering is grown by Monrovia, that's a point in its favor. Their website is beautifully designed and very informative. In addition to their plant search feature, I love the 'Inspiration' section of the website. It features gorgeous pictures of various styles of gardens, a quiz to help you define your style, and information about public gardens throughout the United States.
I do agree that nothing can replace the comforting feeling of settling into a soft couch with a book in hand, but now I can save my book budget for other types of gardening books. If you absolutely have to have just one plant reference book, I'd recommend the American Horticultural Society's Encyclopedia of Garden Plants, nicknamed the plant bible at one nursery where I used to work. For friends who need help narrowing down the dizzying selection of plants for their yards, I recommend Sunset's Top 10 Plants series. Here's the link for the Northwest version, and Amazon also offers versions for California, the Mid-Atlantic, the Midwest, Florida and the Tri-State region. After reading a nice review of it on another gardener's blog (wish I could remember whose it was), my garden book wish list includes Plant-Driven Design.
Happy researching!

December 18, 2008

Swinging In the Snow

We didn't have to worry about the kids falling off the swings today, with two feet of fluffy fresh snow to cushion their fall.

And is that a line of soldiers with tall caps marching by? No, just snow piled high on the tops of our neighbor's mini-gazebos.

Hubby told me (after the fact) he helped leaf-raker boy climb onto our tacky tin awning to scrape off the heavy snow, then held his hand as he jumped off. Um, mom wouldn't EVER encourage her kiddo to jump off the roof, snow or not. Hmm.

The scene from our front porch. Join us for lemonade? With a high of 19 degrees F, we could forget about ice cubes and just use our fingers instead.

Abraham Darby's Demise Decoded

For non-rosarian readers, I should explain that the disease that troubled my Abraham Darby rose bush (see my last post) was rust. The cloud of orange dust around the poor bush came from the fungal spores that spread the disease.
The big three rose diseases are blackspot, rust and powdery mildew (downy mildew is a more serious rose disease but is thankfully rare and so isn't included in the short list). All of these are caused by fungi. Blackspot (BS) and rust spores need 4-5 hours of moisture to begin growth, so they're more of a problem in humid and/or rainy climates than in places like Spokane. Powdery mildew shows up when days are warm and nights are cool, and it doesn't need moisture to germinate. I see it around here in late summer and fall.
Dee at Red Dirt Ramblings just posted a great treatise on blackspot control, and many of her practices will help with rust control as well. The best prevention for powdery mildew seems to be ample water, as water-stressed plants are more susceptible to the disease. I'm not well versed in all the organic and non-organic fungicides out there, but I like Dee's suggestion to start with the least toxic treatments first.
In his book about English roses, David Austin noted that rose-growers of yesteryear used to get a sense of satisfaction from all the spraying required for healthy rose bushes. Gardeners nowadays are wiser or lazier or both and don't want to deal with the sprays, so disease-resistance has become an important aim for hybridizers. Of the english roses, 'The Mayflower' is advertised as being completely resistant to the big three rose diseases, and most of the newer english roses are listed as highly resistant. After my Darby debacle, disease-resistance is a priority for me when selecting new roses.
Added January 15, 2015 - I decided to give Abraham Darby another try a few years ago, and I haven't seen a speck of rust on him here in Spokane.  I'm so happy to once again enjoy his sumptuous flowers and citrus scent in the garden and in the vase.

December 15, 2008

Abraham Darby's Demise

The sad affair began in the spring when my friend Sandy introduced us. Abraham Darby had shown up on her California doorstep the week before with nothing but a cardboard box for a home. Despite his obvious poverty, he offered her a beautiful peachy-pink blossom and requested a place to stay. Though Sandy was impressed with his effort – how did he manage to produce a flower for her while inhabiting that little box? – the peachy-pink color didn’t quite fit with the cool pinks around her home. Not wanting to turn the poor guy away, she brought him over to meet me.
My color scheme wasn’t as restrictive as Sandy’s, and Abraham promised more of those wonderful blossoms. So I found a place for him near the northwest corner of my home. It was dark and damp there in the mornings, and he really deserved a better spot, but my space was rather limited while living in the northern half of a little duplex.
Abraham settled in and soon offered me more of his beautiful, fragrant blossoms. He nodded with delight as I sniffed and sighed and sniffed again. I found myself looking forward to seeing him each day. My husband rolled his eyes when I talked about Abraham. Was he jealous? My heartbeat did rise a bit when I walked past dear Abe, but I didn’t think that made me unfaithful. If I ever tried to get too close, Abraham quickly reminded me to give him some space. He was a just a bit prickly.
Sadly, our relationship soon changed. I guess I was expecting a lot from him without giving as much in return, and the stress made him vulnerable to illness. One day I noticed a few orange sores troubling him. I made the proper inquiries and brought home some spray that was supposed to cure his problem. Applying the medicine was inconvenient and unpleasant, but I loved him enough to do it regularly for a while. I changed from the delighted recipient of Abraham’s generosity to his caretaker.
Sandy heard of the problem and inquired regularly about her old acquaintance. How is Abraham today, she would ask. The medicine didn’t completely cure the problem, though regular application kept the poor guy from completely succumbing. As fall arrived, Abraham became sleepier and sleepier. He slept through the dark days of winter, and I hoped the rest would do him good.
Spring arrived, and Abraham outdid himself for our first anniversary. He handed me a beautiful bouquet with a tangy lemon scent. I smiled and hoped our future together would bring many more anniversary bouquets. But the sores soon reappeared in profusion. If I happened to bump into Abraham, I was quickly covered with orange filth. He felt embarrassed, and I felt guilty. I knew I should be spraying him more often, but the inconvenience kept me procrastinating.
In desperation, I moved him from his bed to a place where he’d be farther off the ground and could enjoy more of the morning sun. But the upheaval was like a nail in the lid of his coffin. By this point he was too weak to appreciate the warm, dry sun. I found myself sighing in sorrow instead of delight.
The time came for me to leave California and move far, far away. I briefly considered bringing Abraham with me and trying to better control his illness, but knew it would be a doomed effort. His disease had progressed too far, and I worried about him infecting others in my new home. I had to abandon him.
My heart was heavy as I left Abraham behind in a cloud of orange dust. He had given me so much joy, and I tried to focus on those memories instead of the disappointment, guilt and sorrow that troubled the latter part of our relationship.
I still think of Abraham Darby when I see a peachy-pink flower, though no other rose could compare with his magnificent blossoms. I remember his fragrance when I bite into a tangy-sweet slice of lemon pie. Occasionally I see his picture somewhere and am tempted to renew our relationship. Maybe the dry air here in Spokane would be a tonic to his health, and I do have a spot where he could bask in the morning sun. Maybe I'll call and invite him over someday, but I hesitate for now. He broke my heart once, and I’m not ready to risk it again.

Meet Abraham Darby

Added January 15, 2015 - I decided to give Abraham Darby another try a few years ago, and I haven't seen a speck of rust on him here in Spokane.  I'm so happy to once again enjoy his sumptuous flowers and citrus scent in the garden and in the vase.

December 12, 2008

Hurrah for the Gardening Husbands

I'm not talking about the husbands who love gardening for its own sake, though I think they're cool. I'm talking about husbands like mine, who love their resident gardener enough to tolerate and even support the habit! At least my husband knew what he was getting into - we spent part of our honeymoon wandering through Butchart Gardens on Vancouver Island, Canada. He smiled and nodded as I endlessly named flowers and expressed opinions on which ones I liked, and I knew I'd made a good choice when I picked him. By now he's had ten years to soak up the gardening minutiae about which I like to speak. He knows how to create good soil and could name most of the plants in our yard, though he might not admit that in public. Last year he planted seven rosebushes and fourteen large trees, dug out sod for new beds, worked manure into the soil, and even transplanted a prickly rose bush all of 10 inches without much grumbling (it looks SO much better in its new spot). The garden wouldn't happen without him.
Today is his birthday, so here's a special thanks to dear hubby - you're great!

December 10, 2008

2008 Garden Additions

Note to self: refer to this post when my garden's progress seems SO SLOW! 2008 was my first full year of gardening at my Spokane home, and I planted all sorts of things (in addition to plantings from late summer/fall of 2007). No doubt later years will include more editing: transplanting and shovel pruning. But 2008 was a year to start experimenting. Barren beds were planted with baby perennials, bare root english roses, a few lilacs and hydrangeas and fourteen 15-gallon sized trees. Here's the list:
Anemone 'Party Dress' pink
Anemone 'Queen Charlotte' pink
Aquilegia 'Melba Higgins' (columbine) dark purple
Armeria mauve and hot pink (thrift)
Astilbe 'Red Sentinel' red
Delphinium 'Green Twist' white/cream/green
Delphinium 'Magic Fountains' White
Delphinium 'Magic Fountains' Purple
Decentra 'Alba' (bleeding heart) white
Gleditsia 'Shademaster' (honeylocust - 5 of these)
Helleborus white
Hemerocallis 'Barbara Mitchell' (daylily) light peachy pink
H. 'Big Smile' yellow/pink/cream
H. 'Dublin Elaine' pink/cream double
H. 'Elizabeth Salter' melon pink
H. 'French Tudor' rose
H. 'Joan Senior' white
H. 'Jolyene Nichole' rose
H. 'Lady Emily' rose-lavender
H. 'Lavender Stardust' rose-lavender
H. 'Millie Schlumpf' pink
H. 'Moroccan Sunrise' rose-lavender
H. 'New Testament' pink
H. 'Seminole Wind' rose
H. 'Siloam Double Classic' peachy-pink
H. 'Sue Rothbauer' pink
(um, kind of went nuts on daylilies, eh?!)
Heuchera 'Green Spice' green/plum/cream leaves, cream flowers
H. 'June Bride' white flowers
H. 'Palace Purple' plum leaves, cream flowers
H. 'Patricia Louise' green leaves, rosy flowers
Hosta 'Dancing in the Rain' cream/lt. green/dr. green leaves
H. 'Patriot' white/dk. green leaves
H. white edges on leaves
Hydrangea 'Blushing Bride' white
H. 'Limelight' cream/green/pink
Iris ensata 'Momogasumi' (Japanese iris) white/mauve
I. germanica 'Coming Up Roses' (bearded iris) pink
I. dwarf violet from Robyne
I. dwarf purple from Cathy
I. dwarf blue from Cathy
I. dwarf maroon from Cathy
I. 'Full Tide' periwinkle blue
I. 'Mer du Sud' blue-violet
I. 'Perpetual Joy' lavender
I. 'Pink Bubbles' dwarf pink
I. purple w/ruffles from Cathy
I. 'Pure as Gold' yellow
I. 'Rapture in Blue' light blue
I. 'Rippling River' deep blue-violet
Iris siberica 'Blueberry Fair' cobalt/white
I. siberica 'Just Because' periwinkle blue
Lillium 'Casa Blanca' (oriental lily) white
L. 'Stargazer' (oriental lily) crimson/pink/white
Liriope spicata (lilyturf) purple
L. muscari 'Big Blue' blue-violet
Malus 'Spring Snow' (crabapple - 6 of these) white
Nepeta '6 Hills Giant' (catmint) violet-blue
N. 'Walker's Low' periwinkle
Paeonia from Gma Margaret (peony) red
Prunus 'Kwanzan' (flowering cherry - 3 of these) pink
Pelargonium (ivy geranium) scarlet
Rosa 'Charles Rennie Macintosh' (english rose) lilac/pink
Rosa 'Crocus Rose' (english rose) cream
Rosa 'Eglantyne' (english rose) pink
Rosa 'Lichfield Angel' (english rose) cream
Rosa 'Teasing Georgia' (english rose) yellow/apricot
Salvia 'May Night' dark violet-blue
Scabiosa 'Butterfly Pink' (pincushion flower) mauve
S. 'Butterfly Blue' lavender
Syringa 'Katherine Havemeyer' (lilac) pink/lavender
S. 'Krasavitsky Moskvy' white
Wisteria 'Black Dragon' violet-blue

Whew - guess the garden did make some progress in 2008!

December 4, 2008

Some Trees are like Teenagers . . .

. . . or toddlers (or fill in the blank with the age of your kids) . . . they make a big mess that someone else has to clean up! I was reminded of this picture when reading a post from Floridian blogger about some of his palm trees (though no doubt his are well-cared for and tidy). The palm fronds in the picture above came down from a tree in the neighboring apartment complex during a windstorm. We counted nearly 100 of them in our tiny yard, and they were each 6 feet long. The sides of the fronds were lined with very sharp, inch-long thorns. Some of them got caught in the nearby dawn redwood tree (another messy tree in suburbia, though it's perfect in a forest) and threatened to fall on my kiddos if they played outside on a breezy day. Lesson learned: when you plant a tree, be prepared for the maintenance that will be required when it gets big.
Other trees that are better kept out of small suburban yards: Colorado Blue spruce - who has room for a 30-foot-wide-at-the-base tree? And they're so unsightly with lower branches trimmed and knobby scars showing.
Dawn redwood - who needs a 300 foot tall tree shedding a continuous stream of twigs into their yard?
Poplars & Norway maples - their weak wood means branches could break off and smash your windows, cars, kids.
Quaking aspens - they'll eventually send up hundreds of suckers in an attempt to take over your yard. This I know from experience. The previous owners gifted me with three quaking aspens, plus their numerous babies. Removing them is on the project list for next year.
Lest this become a rant, I should note that there is an appropriate place for almost any tree. I love to see aspen leaves dancing in the wind on a mountainside. Perhaps a pasture would be graced by a giant, fast-growing poplar - if it falls over in a windstorm, it won't hit any houses. Other trees are best enjoyed in the forest or on a 5-acre spread.

November 29, 2008

My Favorite Evergreen Shrub: Otto Luyken Laurel

Above is a picture of one of my favorite shrubs: Prunus laurocerasus 'Otto Luyken.'  In my zone 5 landscape with slightly alkaline soil, there are relatively few choices for broad-leaved evergreen shrubs. Rhododendrons, azaelas, pieris and other acid-loving shrubs look sickly here without extensive soil amendment and maintenance. Many others just can't handle the cold. Otto is hardier than other laurels, and it makes a nice choice for the evergreen backbone of a bed or for a low hedge.
Otto is a mid-sized shrub - about 3-4 feet tall by 5-6 feet wide at maturity. The flowers aren't especially pretty - clusters of tiny white flowers form white 'candles' on the shrub in spring and (less heavily) in fall. But I don't grow it for the flowers. In fact, I kind of wish it didn't flower. I am drawn to this shrub for the glossy, dark green leaves that give it a polished appearance all year long. I love elegant plants, and this one fits the bill.

Above you can see a laurel nestled into the landscape on the left.  Its dark leaves are a nice contrast to the lighter greens around it.  Other details on this plant: it's rated a 6 on the OPALS scale (an allergy scale with 10 as the worst). That's a so-so rating, considering that it's a shrub, not a tree.
Monrovia rates Otto as hardy for zones 6-9, but it's growing just fine all around my zone 5b neighborhood (click the link for more photos and info from Monrovia's site). After a particularly bad winter we might all be pruning some dead chunks out, but that's OK with me. One note for growing broad-leaved evergreens at the edge of their hardiness: these plants continue to lose water through their wide leaves even in the winter, but when the ground freezes the roots can't absorb water. Drying wind exacerbates the problem, so they'll do best in a protected site. Young plants that struggle in the winter while their rootball is small might do much better once the roots grow deeper, into the nonfrozen soil.
Added May 28, 2014 - After a couple of harsh winters, my laurels died almost to the ground and had to be pruned severely.  I noticed that the one I had purchased from Monrovia had very little browning compared to the less expensive shrubs I had bought at a big box store.  I dug up a couple of those other ones and replaced them with Monrovia versions.  Even though the tags say the same name, it appears the Monrovia really does use superior propagating stock.  I would not recommend this shrub to my neighbors unless they bought the Monrovia version. 
Otto hasn't had any insect problems for me, but I wonder if it would suffer from scale in milder climates.
When my shrubs get larger, I plan to use the foliage in flower arrangements.
I purchased my shrubs in 2007 from Home Depot at $5 for a 1 gallon-sized pot. They were tiny but affordable. I needed one more and couldn't find it at HD last summer, so I splurged and bought a 2-gallon size for $25 (a Monrovia version) at the local nursery. It's much larger and prettier.
Since I can't grow pittosporum and all the other broad-leaved evergreens I loved in California, I'm especially grateful for dear Otto. If you live in zone 5b to 9, you might consider this shrub for your yard as well.

Added May 28, 2014 - Other broad-leaved evergreen shrubs in my yard now include 'Green Tower,' 'Green Mountain,' 'Green Velvet,' and 'Wee Willie' boxwoods.  I also have 'Scallywag' and 'Little Rascal' hollies, which turn purple in winter and have lovely dark green leaves in summer.  The hollies are a little prickly, unfortunately.  I planted three 'Helsinki University' rhododendrons in the protected east part of my backyard and they were unfazed by our -5 degree winter last year.  Supposedly they are hardy down to zone 3, and I just mixed peat moss into the soil and use acidic fertilizer on them to keep them happy.

November 22, 2008

Good gardening books for a winter afternoon

I love a good book on a winter afternoon, as reading helps me forget that it's dreary and cold outside and all my plants are frozen. Here are a few of the garden-related books I've enjoyed.
First some nonfiction . . .
Northwest Top 10 Garden Guide
By Sunset Books
I recommend this book to friends who are just starting to get into gardening or who are newbies at working on their landscapes. It narrows down the overwhelming selection of plants to 10 choices for trees, shrubs, perennials, annuals, bulbs, veggies, etc. The only problem is that our Spokane climate is different from Seattle, so some of the plants listed won't work here. But it's still a good start. Versions are available for California, Florida, Mid-Atlantic, Midwest and Tri State regions as well.
Flower Confidential: The Good, the Bad, and the Beautiful in the Business of Flowers
by Amy Stewart
This nonfiction book takes you on a world-wide tour of the floral business, from greenhouses in Ecuador to auctions in Amsterdam to airports in Florida. I found it fascinating.
The Earth Moved: On the Remarkable Achievements of Earthworms
by Amy Stewart

Another nonfiction book by Ms. Stewart. It gave me a much greater appreciation for the worms in my garden. I've been meaning to get to a nearby pasture to collect nightcrawlers to transplant to my garden.
The English Roses: Classic Favorites and New Selections
by David Austin
Of course this would be on my list! It's coming out in paperback soon at a lower price. I love to peruse the gorgeous pictures and vivid descriptions of Austin's english roses.
Allergy-free Gardening: The Revolutionary Guide to Healthy Landscaping
by Thomas Leo Ogren
I have bad allergies - March is pretty miserable for me - so I was very interested to read Professor Ogren's writings on allergy-causing plants. I've consulted it numerous times when deciding which plants to include in my landscape. Very useful book.
And now some fun flower-related fiction:
Julie and Romeo
by Jeanne Ray
I laughed out loud while reading this story about the owners of competing floral shops who fall in love, much to the chagrin of their families. Very upbeat and fun. I've read several others by Jeanne Ray and laughed over all of them, especially 'Eat Cake.'
All of these books are available at, or maybe in your local library.

November 19, 2008

Living on the Edge

A flower bed often benefits from being hemmed in by good edging plants. Fountain shapes or tidy mounds are my favorites. Here are a few plants that fit the bill.
Daylilies - you can see how nicely the yellow Stella d'Oro daylilies edge the front of the tiny bed below. This picture is from my tiny Santa Clara, CA garden. RIP - we moved in May 2007 and the next renter probably let it dwindle away to weeds. I had just 3 years there in mild-climate-heaven, and a very strict budget (um, more like NO budget). So my garden was created with starts from generous friends. Good thing the growing season was so long there - more than double our season here - so things grew a lot each year.
I prefer daylilies - like Stella - whose flowers are borne on scapes that are similar in height to the leaves. I really don't like the ones whose flowers tower above the leaves on huge stalks.

Liriope muscari (clump-forming liriope) - the following photo is of a small plant I ordered from Bluestone Perennials a couple of months ago. I'm keeping it in a pot on my kitchen window over the winter in hopes that it will grow to a decent-sized plant during the months that it would otherwise be sleeping outdoors. These plants are very sturdy (not troubled by pests, OK in sun or shade, drought-tolerant once established), though marginally hardy in my zone 5. They're evergreen in milder climates, so I'm not sure if it will just turn ugly yellow or die back to the ground here next winter. I won't find out this year, check back in spring 2010 to find out!

Thrift or Sea Pink - the following picture was taken in November after numerous frosts, but you can see how the plant is still trying to flower! There's just one plant here, but you can imagine how nice a row of these would look along the edge of a flower bed. These plants love sun and are evergreen in mild climates. I especially love the types that have hot pink flowers. They're fun to include in a small bouquet or nosegay.

Heuchera - here is a photo of Green Spice heuchera, also taken in November. All of my hostas are long gone, but the heuchera leaves stand up to the cold longer. Heucheras like to avoid intense sun and heat, and have tiny flowers on tall stalks in summer. I like to use heuchera leaves to surround a little nosegay of flowers, tied all together with raffia or floral tape. I also have heucheras with plum-purple leaves and true-green leaves. Love em all.

Other plants that would be good for edging include: campanula 'Blue Clips', small hostas, violets or annual alyssum. Sorry I don't have pictures of those to post.
Note to self - I need more & better pictures to post! I'm asking Santa Claus for a digital SLR camera for Christmas, then maybe I'll request a macro lens for Mother's Day (though I was going to ask for a dogwood tree instead . . . hmm). So next year I'll be sure to take lots of pictures, hopefully better ones than I can capture with my point-and-shoot camera now. Of course, June 2009 will make just 2 years since we bought this home, at which time nothing worth keeping was growing in the flower beds (exceptions - 1 dogwood and 2 lavender bushes - everything else got trashed or will be trashed soon). So my yard as a whole won't be gorgeous for some years ahead. But individual plants should start looking good. My mantra - patience is still a virtue!

November 18, 2008

David Austin Groupie

My favorite catalog arrived recently - the David Austin Handbook of Roses. My hubbie laughs that no one else gets so obsessed over a catalog, but I've read other blogs and I know they DO! Copies of past editions are dog-eared and cut apart. Some of the pictures have ended up framed on my basement wall.

The image above is 'Lady Emma Hamilton', who graces the cover of my 2009 edition. I'm generally not a fan of orange in my garden, but the picture is so lovely that I'm tempted. Actually, not too tempted. After hours of study - both researching the best roses and figuring out where I can squeeze them into my yard - I finally narrowed down my list.
Qualities that I'm looking for in a rose are: shrubby, rounded growth (stick-like hybrid teas are NOT allowed in my yard), good health (I had to shovel-prune an Abraham Darby rose who disappeared under a cloud of orange rust spores in my Cal. garden), good for cutting (unfortunately, some English roses, like 'The Countryman', shatter soon after being picked), good hardiness (I'll mulch a few roses each winter, but most of them need to stand up to my zone 5 cold). Ordered for next spring are:
Claire Austin - supposed to be the best white in Austin's collection, though it's not pure white - a slight touch of lemon, it says

Queen of Sweden - won't this look great with Claire in arrangements?

Francine Austin - again, I'm excited to use the tiny flowers in arrangments

Sister Elizabeth - a sweet little shrub

William Shakespeare 2000 - also touted as good for cutting

LD Braithwaite

And since my hole-digging-superman hubbie suggested that a yellow rose might be nice in the garden, I picked up a Teasing Georgia from the local nursery last month:

I already have a few of Austin's roses in my yard.
The quickly-shattering 'The Countryman' - delicious fragrance while it lasts, though

Crocus Rose - the perfect cream to match my dining room decor - love this one on my table in a vase - lasts well in the vase, plus a great shape for the shrub

Lichfield Angel - another cream one to cut for my dining table vases, though I find I prefer the shape of Crocus Rose to this one. If you're choosing a cream rose, I'd just go with Crocus Rose.

Eglantyne - I have 4 of these in the front, great for cutting, love the soft pink color and button-eye, nice fragrance. A very nice rose.

Charles Rennie Macintosh - this one was a feast for the earwigs last summer, but the blooms are a sweet, cool lilac-pink. Maybe some systemic insecticide will be in order for next summer.

I'm only ordering one of each of these, so I can evaluate them before committing to large groups of them in my final plan. Currently my backyard beds are all test gardens. I'll pick my favorites, divide out the best perennials and order more of the best roses. The others will be given away or kept in a corner.
Note - all the above pictures are from the David Austin website,, where you can order your own free catalog!

November 17, 2008

Landscape Design Process - Backyard

This is in honor of Abby's backyard - here's the general process you take when planning a landscape.
1. Create a Base Map - House plans or a property survey are a good start. Measure the dimensions of your home and yard and plot them on graph paper (1 square = 1 ft.). Plot existing patios/decks, sidewalks and vegetation you want to keep. Indicate windows and doors. Also indicate overhead or underground utilities. We called a utility hotline to have all our underground utility lines marked. Make several copies to use in later steps.
2. Site Considerations - On a copy of the base map, indicate site conditions that will influence the design, ie zoning ordinances, topography, drainage, views to enhance (ie curb appeal) or block for privacy. Where will you need walls or walkways?
3. Functions - As in all design, you should think about function first, then form. In your backyard, will you be grilling, dining, lounging, swimming, sunbathing, playing on a playtoy or playhouse, growing fruit trees, growing veggies in a plot, growing flowers to cut, showcasing a collection of plants, creating views from your home windows, framing lovely views that extend off your property, screening ugly views, creating privacy, blocking hot sun or cold wind, watching birds or butterflies, playing catch or flag football or frisbee? When you have your list of desired functions, indicate with freehand bubbles what functions different areas will have. Play around a bit with different ideas. Don't worry about specific shapes or plants yet. Also draw where foot traffic will flow through the yard.
4. Borders - After figuring out where you want different functions (like outdoor rooms), create the borders of the different areas of your yard by using a general theme: square or rectangle shapes, circles, or smooth curves. Curves should be bold - avoid squiggles. Avoid narrow angles between converging lines. You might sketch several design ideas, using a ruler and compass or even bowls or cups to get the outlines you want.
5. Height - Build on your border design by considering the third dimension - height. Ensure adequate drainage by making sure the ground slopes slightly down from the house. Crease a sense of privacy and enclosure around gathering places with walls and/or ceilings made of shrubs, trees, vines or building materials. Direct traffic without blocking views with borders of low shrubs.
6. Materials - Select non-plant materials for terraces, walls, edging. These should complement the materials with which your home is built. Avoid using too many different materials. Consider maintenance costs when comparing prices.
7. Plants - First decide the size and general type. For example, you might want a row of shrubs about 8'T by 6'W along one side, a 20' tall flowering tree in a corner, a low groundcover in one area, and a perennial bed to fill another spot. Start with the largest and move to the smallest plants. Plan space for the mature size of the plant!!!! It's hard to believe that a tiny baby tree will someday grow to be 50 feet tall and wide, but it happens.
Of course you'll go back and forth between the steps a bit to make adjustments, but this is the general process.

November 13, 2008

Garden Plan

I've been thinking of a design for the garden bed that I see as I sit at my dining table. The bed isn't there yet, we have to reconfigure the sprinkler system, rip out grass and improve the soil first. But it's fun to think of what I'll plant there in a few years.
My inspiration comes from a crimson rose bush planted next to a lavender bush that I pass on my walks around our neighborhood. Both plants are kind of ratty-looking, but the color combo always makes me sigh with delight. Deep cherry red next to cool blue-violet. Delicious.
Note - all these pictures are from catalogs, so I'll note the website and call it free advertising.
The bed will be edged with 'Big Blue' liriope (14" tall x 12" wide), available from I love to put a fountain-shaped plant at the front edge of a flower bed, and I LOVE blue-violet flowers against the crimson roses that I'll plant behind. These bloom early to late summer.

Just behind the liriope will be big groups of stargazer lilies (about 3' tall), available from These will bloom when the roses aren't blooming as heavily, in mid-summer. And if there are any crimson roses blooming, the crimson-pink-white lilies will blend beautifully. Plus they smell delicious.

Behind the lilies will be staggered 'LD Braithwaite' english rose bushes (4.5' tall x 4' wide), available from I convinced a friend to order some of these last year, then fell in love with the flowers when I saw them in her yard. These should bloom mostly heavily in early summer and early fall.

In the spaces between the staggered roses, I'll put dark blue-violet 'Pagan Purples' delphiniums (4-6' tall x 2-3' wide), available from They'll bloom with the roses in early summer, and if I cut them back they'll bloom again with the roses in the fall.

I'll punctuate the planting with groups of 'Worth the Wait' siberian iris (about 3' tall), available from The upright, spiky clumps should be a nice contrast to the other plant forms in the bed. These might bloom with the roses or earlier, but either way I'll like the leaves for the rest of the season.

So that will make a beautiful view from my dining table. And all of these flowers put together would make a lovely, fragrant cut-flower arrangement ON the table as well. Add a bench, an arch, some clematis growing over the top . . . and I'll have a place to enjoy it from the middle of the bed, too.

October 22, 2008

True love? That's bull!

About a week ago, my husband surprised me with proof of his love: a pile of cow poop. I was SO excited! Actually, the cow poop was in the form of 20 bags of composted steer manure from Lowe's. And he spread 10 of the bags into the new flower bed he had just cut out of the grass for me. That manure will rot away all winter and create fabulous soil for my plants - especially the rose bushes I hope to plant there next spring.
You see, the big secret to a great garden is - da-da-dum - great soil. If your soil is good, even cheapo plants from WalMart can thrive. But if your soil is compacted and barren of nutrients, the most expensive plants from the nursery will struggle to grow and bloom well. A soil high in organic matter (like rotting manure, leaves, or the product of your compost bin) allows plant roots to easily grow through the soil. It retains water better and feeds beneficial organisms like earthworms. You might not like slimy worms, but your plants love them.
Composted steer manure is the easiest, cheapest way to improve your soil. You can buy 1 cubic foot bags of the stuff at Lowe's, Home Depot or WalMart for just over a dollar apiece. Spread a couple of inches over your garden soil before planting. The worms, rain, sprinklers and your planting shovel will mix it in eventually, so you don't have to rototill it in. Most of the composted manure that we've purchased hasn't smelled like manure. This last batch (in green and lavender bags from Lowe's) was an exception, and our yard smells like a dairy. It must not have been allowed to rot long enough, but the smell will disappear in a month.
So here's a big Thank You to my husband! I don't ever need more diamond jewelry as proof of your love, but I'll happily take manure once in a while.

October 14, 2008

Flower Arrangements

As noted in my last post, I'm planning to order a Yves Piaget rose. I fell in love with it when my friend Sandy let me cut hers for arrangements. Here's a picture of one arrangement. Yves Piaget is the mauve rose. Too bad the picture can't capture the wonderful fragrance!

I might as well post some other pictures of arrangements that I've made. Here's one with white roses from Costco and light blue plumbago from my California garden (a vigorous shrub that isn't hardy here in Spokane).

The following picture is of a bouquet that I did for a wedding in California. I love the warm yellow and coral roses with a touch of cool lavender larkspur.

Here's one I made for my sister's wedding. We ordered the red roses from, and they were shipped directly from Costa Rica (or somewhere else in South America) to our door. The stems were 3 feet long, and the flower heads were giant! They opened beautifully over several weeks. We bought a few additional roses from a local Costco, and they didn't compare at all in size, beauty or longevity.

This final picture is of a cute bouquet that I made for a very low-budget wedding. I cut the pink Bonica roses and white daisies from my friend Abby's yard. I cut floral foam in the shape of a 'T', stuck the stems into the top part, and wrapped the bottom of the foam in a sandwich bag, taped it with clear packing tape, and wrapped ribbon around it. Very unconventional, but it worked just fine for the wedding!

Yummy Rose Photos

I was just doing some research on the rose Yves Piaget, which I plan to order bare root next spring. I found the website of the company that hybridized Yves Piaget, Meilland of France. There are some GORGEOUS pictures of roses on their site, and some are available to download for your desktop. If, like me, you cringe at the thought of the long winter ahead, it helps to have some beautiful pictures close by! Enjoy -

Cut rose pictures:

Rose tree pictures:

Backgrounds & calendar:

October 11, 2008

So Much for Restraint

A few months ago, I wrote extensively about my front yard design scheme. I called it "Pretty in Pink." The idea was to contain my plant-collector tendencies by limiting the color scheme to light pink and white. I have since learned that blending pinks is a difficult endeavor.
The four Eglantyne roses that I planted are a lovely, clear pink. Softer and sweeter than bubble gum, but similar. I also planted a number of daylilies, all advertised as pink. When "Hush, Little Baby" bloomed for the first time, I had an obsessive-compulsive-colorist panic attack. The color of this "pink" daylily was NOT pink! Well, at least not in the way my roses were pink. It was pink the way raspberries are pink, a deep color with a lot of greyness or muddiness mixed in.
Pictures of Eglantyne rose (available from and Hush Little Baby daylily (available from

Now I personally prefer raspberry-type pink over bubble-gum-type pink indoors. I think soft greyed colors are easier to live with on walls and curtains. But I'm drawn to clear hues and pastels outside, and clear pink was what I'd pictured out front.
So out came all 9 "Hush, Little Baby" daylilies and all 7 "Sue Rothbauer" daylilies (good thing they were still tiny). They were transplanted to the west side of the house. In their place I planted one each of several softer pink daylilies, thinking maybe they'd blend better with the roses. I included Barbara Mitchell, Seminole Wind, New Testament and Millie Schlumpf (love the name!). None of them bloomed, so I'll find out next season.
Pictures of New Testament and Millie Schlumpf daylilies, both available from

All of this has led to an expansion of the color scheme. If I couldn't find the perfect pinks (on plants that I liked), then I'd have to add lavender and possibly soft yellow. So far I've planted Nepeta "Walker's Low" (catmint), and I'm considering where to put "Big Blue" liriope. "WL" catmint won the perennial plant of the year award a while back for its long bloom season of lavender flowers and its overall toughness. It LIKES intense sun, heat and drought (once established). That makes it great for a few spots that the sprinklers don't hit very well. "BB" liriope has the same fountain shape as daylilies, though with spikes of lavender flowers. It isn't as tolerant of intense sun and heat, though, so I'll have to be careful about placement so the leaves don't fry next August.
Pictures of Walker's Low Nepeta (available from and Big Blue Liriope (available from

No doubt I'll be transplanting a few more things next season. Maybe none of the new daylilies will work with the roses. But hopefully I'll have things settled by the time the plants grow large enough to be difficult to move. Because my husband wore out his manual labor enthusiasm while planting 14 trees for me last month. Who knows how I'd convince him to move big daylily clumps AGAIN, all for the sake of the perfect pink scheme!

I'm Back!

Obviously it's been a while since I posted anything. However, the first frosts have melted my hydrangeas and mushified my zinnias, so I won't be spending as much time out in the dirt (though I do have to get a few transplants into a new flower bed next week). What else to do during the long Spokane winter than read and write about gardening? My fingernails will be happy about the switch from dirt to keyboard.
I've learned a lot from this season of gardening as new plants have bloomed for the first time (note - dayliles are never really lavender, no matter how the catalog picture looks). I find myself thinking a lot about color. Some of my great plans didn't turn out so well. I've realized that it's much more difficult for me to create a cohesive design in my yard than in my friends' yards, because they don't have 200 plants on their "absolutely-have-to-have-this-in-my-garden" list. I do. Possibly more than that, and I just haven't met them all yet.
I'll share what I've learned in coming posts . . .

July 16, 2008

Flower Bed Design Ideas

One way to design a flower bed is to focus on combining different plant forms. Some plants have fountain shapes, some are very upright or spiky, some are roundy-moundy and others are low and spreading. A nice design often makes use of several of these forms together.

Here's an example that combines 4 different plant forms for a beautiful late spring show:
1. tall upright - violet siberian iris
2. tall rounded - pink peony
3. fountain - white 'Joan Senior' daylily
4. low mound - reddish-coral heuchera (aka coral bells)

In the above example, you'd want to put the taller siberian iris and peony in the back or middle of the flower bed, with the daylily and coral bells toward the front or edge. Depending on the shape and size of the flower bed, you might plant groups of 3 of some or all of the plants. You could create a beautiful border by repeating this grouping of 4 plants several times in a rectangular bed.

Here is another group of plants using this design, but these would be good for a sunny summer border.

1. tall upright - green/magenta/brown 'Green Envy' echinacea (coneflower)
2. tall rounded - red/crimson 'Darcy Bussell' english rose
3. fountain - yellow 'Stella d'Oro' daylily
4. low spreading - lavender 'Blue Clips' campanula (bell flower)

And finally, this grouping would be perfect for a shady area:

1. tall upright - white 'Honorine Jobert' japanese anemone
2. tall rounded - pink or blue 'Endless Summer' hydrangea
3. medium mound - green/white-leaved 'Patriot' hosta
4. low mound - burgandy-leaved 'Palace Purple' heuchera

June 29, 2008

Great Plant Photos

If you like browsing through gorgeous flower photos, here are a few links. Click on the small pictures to view a larger version.



Siberian Iris:

Bearded Iris:

English roses:

Fungus Gnats

My sister asks what she can do about the tiny flies on her indoor cactus plant. First of all, the tiny flies are called fungus gnats. These pesky insects pose little or no threat to plants, but they get annoying to us people. The best treatment/prevention is to avoid overwatering. So, little sis, just let your cactus dry out for a while in between each watering. For most houseplants, you should let the surface of the soil dry out before watering anyway. With a cactus you could let it get really dry in between waterings. If fungus gnats get too bad, some people recommend putting an inch-thick layer of sand on top of the soil. There are also sprays - like Gnatrol - to kill the little buggers.
I really should get some sand on all my houseplants. Last winter I grew about 100 delphiniums from seed in several windows around my house. I needed to keep the soil moist for the little sprouts, which led to an unfortunate increase of fungus gnats. The delphiniums are happily planted outside now, but the gnats live on in my numerous pothos, philodendrons and other houseplants. I really hate it when one flies up my nose when I'm falling asleep . . . and I'm embarrassed to think of what visitors must think if I don't explain the situation. I'll have to put sand on my next shopping list!

Hardiness Zones & Heat Zones

I was asked about hardiness zones, so here's some info on that topic. The USDA created a hardiness zone map to indicate the usual low temperatures for different areas. This is very helpful in determining whether a plant will survive winter in your area. Most plant tags will indicate the plant's hardiness zone. Lower zone numbers are assigned to colder areas. You can grow plants that are hardy in your zone and all lower (colder) zones. For example, I am in a zone 5, so I can grow anything listed as hardy to a zone 5,4,3,etc. Sometimes you can get away with planting something one zone higher than yours, if you plant it in a protected area (like on the south side of your home). You can find the USDA winter hardiness zone map at this link:

Sunset magazine has also created a hardiness zone map. It uses different numbers and is much more specific than the USDA map. It considers factors like rainfall, length of growing season, humidity and summer heat, but it isn't as commonly used. You can find this map at:,20633,845218,00.html

The USDA has also created a heat zone map. This is important in areas that get quite hot in the summer, as some plants that laugh at severe Montana winters will cringe and die during an Arizona summer. You can find the heat zone map at this link:

These zones are very helpful, and I would strongly recommend that you figure out which zone is yours and always check plant tags before buying. My friends in Des Moines, IA and most of the Wasatch Front in Utah are in USDA zone 5. My lucky friends in Santa Clara, CA are in USDA zone 9. Oh, how I miss California . . .

June 4, 2008

Hooked On Iris

Bearded iris (also known as German Iris) are one of those plants that people go nuts over - like roses, daylilies and hostas. There are thousands and thousands of cultivars. I recently ignored my kids for a couple of hours so I could research some fabulous choices for my garden. A few of my choices are reblooming, so they should bloom once in spring and then again in late summer or fall. I generally prefer flowers of all one color, as I think they make a better show when mixed into the garden. These are called "selfs" in the iris world. All of the following are selfs. At first I tried to balance my color selection, but I was completely seduced by the blues. Blues are hard to find for the garden, so I went ahead and ordered a bunch of them!
All of these iris are available from If your order totals $80 or more, everything becomes half price, in which case you pay $40 (or half your total) plus shipping. That makes for a good deal, though the plants seem expensive if you buy them full price.

Reblooming yellow - 'Pure As Gold'

Reblooming white - 'Immortality'

Rosy pink - 'Coming Up Roses'

Short rosy pink - 'Pink Bubbles'

Cranberry - 'Cranberry Ice'

Dark purple - 'Titan's Glory'

Light Blue - 'Rapture in Blue'

Medium Blue - 'Full Tide'

Medium blue/violet - 'Rippling River'

Medium blue/violet - 'Mer Du Sud'

Garden Disasters to Avoid

There are plenty of mistakes to make in your landscape. Thankfully, most of them are easy to repair. The repairing process often requires some shovel pruning (that is, to dig up the plant and throw it away). The worse mistakes involve trees, because problems in big plants are big problems. Here are a few disasters to avoid.

1. Planting trees with weak wood. Poplar (also known as cottonwood), willow and tree of heaven are examples of fast growing trees with weak wood. Beware of any tree that grows 5 feet in a year - they're usually weak! This leads to messy twigs all over your lawn after a breezy day, and huge branches all over your lawn after a heavy snow or ice storm. Other trees with breakage problems are Norway maple and Bradford pear.
2. Planting trees too close to your home. All big trees start as little trees! Cute little Christmas trees of blue spruce will eventually get 25 to 30 feet wide at the base, so don't plant them 5feet from your home. Maples and other large shade trees will eventually develop big roots that buckle sidewalks and driveways, so don't plant them right next to concrete.
3. 'Lawnmower Blight' on trees. Lawn mowers and trimmers damage tree bark, which can kill a tree. The live tissues in a tree trunk that suck water up and transport sugars down are just inside the bark. Damaging those tissues hurts a tree just like hardening arteries hurts people - and can eventually be fatal. Prevent this problem by planting trees in beds or leaving a ring of bark around the trunk.
4. Buying a plant without checking hardiness. Of course this doesn't matter for annuals, but you should check the tag on everything else. We're a zone 5 here in Spokane, as is Des Moines, IA and most of the Wasatch Front in Utah. That means I can grow anything hardy to a zone 5 or lower (lower equals colder). Home Depot is full of plants that are hardy to just zone 6 or 7, so beware.
5. Planting a large vine on a small trellis. Wisteria, Boston ivy, climbing hydrangea and many types of honeysuckle are huge, vigorous plants. Wisteria grows 25 to 30 feet or more. Climbing hydrangea can get 80 feet long. Vigorous means that these plants will work really hard to reach their full potential, so you're in for a lot of pruning if you try to keep them to 10 feet. Choose a small vine (like clematis) for a small area instead.
6. Allowing vines to climb up the sides of your home. Yes, it's beautiful. I love it, too. But having a vine on the side of your home is like laying out a welcome mat for insects. It also increases the humidity right next to the wall, which can lead to mildew. The tendrils or suckers that vines use to hold themselves up can pull apart your brick or siding. English ivy and others will leave brown marks behind if you ever pull them off. So put your vines on a trellis or the fence.
7. Planting aggressive groundcovers in your flower bed. A plant makes a good groundcover if it spreads quickly. That's bad news for its neighbors if they're less vigorous and you're not willing to referee frequently with a shovel. Use groundcovers with care.
8. Planting old-fashioned shrubs that require lots of pruning. Grandma didn't have a lot of choices, so she had to plant shrubs with gangly shapes and huge sizes. But there are many shrubs available today with smaller, more compact shapes that are appropriate for small or medium-sized yards. Check the tag. Shrubs in the 3 to 5 foot range are very useful in today's yards.

Plan now to avoid headaches later. Happy planting!

Scheming in the Garden

Walking through a nursery or flipping through the pages of a catalog to buy plants can be very overwhelming. Where to start? What to buy? One thing that helps to guide your choices is a color scheme.
Color is the aspect of your garden that people will notice first. A simple color scheme can tie many different plants together into a cohesive picture. Too many different colors can look chaotic. Big blocks of color are most effective in large gardens or areas that will be viewed from far away. Small areas or those that will be viewed up close can be planted with smaller areas of each color.
Color also influences the mood of the garden. Warm colors such as yellow, orange and red feel cheerful and invigorating. Cool colors like blue, purple and green feel calm and restful. With all those green leaves around, it's no wonder that gardens are relaxing places. Of course there are exceptions to these catagories: cool pale yellows, warm lime green or turquoise, etc.
Colors that oppose each other on the color wheel often look great together. Purple and yellow are one example. Or think of how wonderful deep red roses look with deep green leaves surrounding them. Orange and blue would create an adventurous garden. The primary colors - red, yellow & blue - make up a bold scheme. Perhaps a more common garden scheme is a pastel version of the primary colors - pink, pale yellow and pale blue (which often ends up lavender in the garden). Personally, I love combining the deep jewel tones of red, magenta, purple and blue. The famous English gardener Gertrude Jekyll was known for combining a hue with its pastel version and white together - ie. purple, white and lavender.
Don't forget leaf color when desiging. New cultivars of many shrubs and perennials come in maroon, grey-blue, lime green, pink, orange, etc. Heucheras are an excellent example of a plant with leaves in a huge range of colors.
I'm currently helping a friend with a design in the following scheme: white, blue-violet, and accents of maroon leaves all set against the dark green leaves of otto luyken laurels and candytuft. It should come out very sophisticated. A few touches of magenta would really add some pop - perhaps she can try that in her pots.
There are a few color combinations that really don't work, in my opinion. I especially dislike pairing two similar but clashing colors together. For example, mauve next to salmon pink is just ugly. As is light neon yellow next to golden-orange or turquoise next to dusty country blue. Blech.
And what is the best way to choose your color scheme? Think of flower arrangements, or even go and visit a floral shop. It's easier to see which colors move you when they're placed close together in an arrangment. When you find something that takes your breath away, translate it into your garden.

June 3, 2008

A Pretty in Pink Front Yard

Your front yard is the face you present to your neighborhood. Ideally it should be beautiful, tie into the neighborhood, and enhance your home's appearance. Often the front yard is more formal than the back.
A riot of color in the yard draws your eye away from the house, which is good if your house is boring or downright ugly. My home is kind of blah right now, but I'm hoping that it will eventually be lovely (after a few home improvement projects). So I chose a limited color scheme of light pink and white for the flowers in my front yard. I incorporated a lot of dark green leaves as a backdrop for the flowers, with a few variegated plants thrown in for some pizazz.


I inherited a pink dogwood tree from the previous owners, which is nice most of the year and fabulous when it blooms for a few weeks in spring. Eventually I plan to add a couple of 'Shademaster' honey locusts or 'Kwanzan' flowering cherry trees.


For the evergreen backbone of my yard, I chose 'Otto Luyken' laurels and 'Emerald Gaiety' euonymus. The laurels have small white flowers in spring, but their greatest beauty comes from their glossy, dark green leaves that stick around all year.

The euonymus have white and green variegated leaves that take on a pinkish hue in the winter. Thus my color scheme is present all year long! Both shrubs stay fairly small (in the 3 to 5 foot range), which is appropriate for my medium-sized front yard.
The only other shrubs in my front yard are 'Eglantyne' english rose bushes, with light pink old-fashioned blossoms (available at

Unlike the awkwardly upright hybrid tea roses commonly found in gardens, english roses are bred to form a bushy, rounded shape. And once they get started flowering - in June at my house - they keep going until heavy frosts send them into dormancy. Few shrubs offer flowers over such a long period.


I planted a white-flowering 'Clara Mack' wisteria along the porch railing. I also plan to plant a couple of 'Henryi' clematis (white) to grow up the drainspouts.

My love for perennials is always in danger of overwhelming the ordered, restrained look that I'm going for in my front yard. To keep things under control, I limited myself to perennials with tidy shapes, planted them in groups, and repeated them in several places throughout the yard.

Upright perennials: these were placed in the center or back of beds.

I planted the siberian iris 'Rolling Cloud' (white flowers in summer) in several places because I like both the dainty flowers and the upright, spiky clumps of leaves.

I included the bearded irises 'Pink Bubbles' (pink flowers in spring) and 'Immortality' (white flowers in spring and fall) in areas where I could surround their informal, sword-shaped foliage with neat, mound-shaped plants.

I also included 'Casa Blanca' white oriental lilies for their delightful fragrance and beautiful summer flowers.

Mounding perennials: these plants keep things hemmed in around the edges of the beds. The daylilies

'Hush Little Baby' (pink),

'Big Smile' (pink/white),

'Joan Senior' (white),

and 'Jean Swann' (white)

flower at different times through the summer. Their fountain-shaped foliage frames my rose bushes nicely.

'Green Spice' heuchera was included mostly for its silver/green/plum variegated foliage, though the little creamy-white flowers are dainty and nice.

Snowdrop anemones add dark green foliage and elegant white spring flowers in areas where they can get a bit of shade.

White candytuft (Iberis) is smothered with white blooms in spring, then covers the ground with glossy green foliage the rest of the year.

This spring I enjoyed purple crocus (my only break with the color scheme - after a long winter I just needed some color). Also blooming were white 'Mount Hood' daffodils (though they opened pale yellow and took a few days to fade to white), pink hyacinths, 'Upstar' pink tulips, white peony-flowered tulilps, and finally white and green striped 'Deidre' tulips.

The only annuals in my yard are in hanging baskets - pink zonal geraniums and pink/white verbena. I prefer to spend my budget on plants that will come back each year.

Although I'd like to include a lovely picture of my yard, it just isn't possible right now. We just moved in last summer, which isn't much time to put in a landscape. For budget reasons, I planted gallon-sized shrubs; bareroot roses, daylilies, and iris; tiny starts of perennials; and I even grew the candytuft from seed. Needless to say, everything is really small right now. I also planted just one perennial plant in many areas where I eventually want three. After the single plant gets large enough to divide, I'll have my three for the price of one. I expect the yard will look quite nice in about 3 years. In 5 years it should be completely filled in (except the trees will still be small, of course). I'll definitely post a picture. Until then we'll just have to imagine it all . . .