May 25, 2010

Frugality is Not Dead

This post is dedicated to my grandmother, from whom I inherited a love of gardening and an admiration for thrift - the virtue, not the plant (Armeria maritima is called thrift). Not that she will ever read it, since she doesn't have a computer. But after posting about my extravagant plant purchases this spring (see that post here), I feel the need to write about my frugal habits, too.

I have made use of seeds in my garden, which is a very thrifty way to get plants. Never mind about the entire flat of annuals that I nurtured on my kitchen windowsill for six weeks this spring, then set out in full sun with the cover on and STEAMED to death in a mere hour or two . . . no, let's not dwell on that. Instead, let's focus on all the new columbine (Aquilegia) plants that are growing from the seeds I scattered last fall. The top two photos show 'Melba Higgins', and the one below is 'Clementine Blue'. The new plants aren't blooming yet but should look something like the parents in these photos.

Actually, I didn't kill all of the seedling annuals - some of the 'Dolcissima Fragolino' petunias survived, so I planted them out this week. I ordered more 'Victoria' salvia seeds to replace the dead ones, and I hadn't used up all the 'Twinny Peach' snapdragon seeds, so I replanted those.

My other frugal habit involves a knife to divide plants. Along with two 'Blue Moon' wisteria vines, I ordered two 'Pink Double Delight' coneflowers from The coneflowers that arrived were large enough to divide into four plants each, eight total. You can see a couple of the little clumps above.

Last fall I cut apart my clumps of 'Walker's Low' catmint (Nepeta) to spread around the yard. They're just starting to bloom now, and will continue until October. I love this plant enough to put up with the seedlings that pop up all around the mother plant.

When I found 'Marcus' salvia at WalMart - definitely a store for the thrifty - I snapped up six pots and cut them into 11 plants. The 12th cutting didn't end up with any roots, oops. That's always the danger with dividing little plants. Marcus is supposed to be a miniature form of 'May Night', with slightly lighter-colored flowers and a similar long bloom time. I was in need of some low growers around the front yard, so I was excited to find these.

So there you have it, Grandma. I'm not completely lost to frugality. Phew, I feel better now.

May 17, 2010

Still Celebrating Spring

When I read other bloggers writing about their roses blooming, I think they must be having summer already. Roses are a summer flower, aren't they? Anyway, we're still celebrating spring around here.

The transplanted dark pink dogwood is blooming. I am so in love with this tree! An especially cold night made the flower color more vivid than usual. I'm still nervous about how it will do when the weather gets hot. Hopefully it will settle into its new spot and regrow roots quickly.

The clearance rack 'Katherine Havemeyer' lilacs are blooming for the first time. Unfortunately some of them are losing leaves and shoots to bacterial blight, but I think they'll outgrow the problem. I'm going to pull out more of the lawn that currently surrounds them to give their roots more room. I'll also make sure they get watered deeply and fed with low-nitrogen fertilizer this season, and that should help them withstand disease better in the future.

The white dogwood is also blooming, with lavender vinca flowers underneath. Sweetness! Soon the 'Stellar Pink' dogwood will join the show.

All my ferns are unraveling their new leaves. They're so interesting to me, even without any flowers. Did I mention how much fun I'm having with my new camera lens that goes down to a 2.8 f-stop? It creates some great blurry backgrounds to make the focal point pop.

Here at 2.8, the lens makes the bark in the background look like it's painted in an impressionist style. The sea pink (Armeria maritima) in the foreground is so pretty. Many plants have buds ready to pop open, and many of them are blooming for the first time in my garden. So I can wait a month or more for the roses, and continue to enjoy spring for a while.

May 10, 2010

Conquering My Collecting Tendencies

Did you know that all you have to do to avoid wrecking designs by collecting plants is to buy all your plants in multiples? Three, five or six at a time and you're cured! Wink, wink. So that's what I've been doing this spring. It makes me feel virtuous by design standards but my frugal conscience is squirming. Apparently I can't please both parts of my gardening personality at once.

The no-name asiatic lilies pictured above were calling my name over at Home Depot, so I brought home three, then nine, then three more little four-inch pots and planted them in clumps throughout the front yard. In the right of this photo you can see a baby chrysanthemum - I ordered nine of these from Bluestone Perennials this spring. Supposedly they'll grow to full size by fall - stay tuned to see the rose-colored blooms. On the bottom left you can see one of the five 'Rozanne' geraniums I brought home from my local nursery. Soon it will be covered with light blue-violet flowers. Two types of dahlias were also planted - six of one and twelve of another type. A few more 'Walker's Low' nepeta were added. And the 'Emerald Cushion Blue' creeping phlox count is up to fourteen.

Here is one of the twenty-four (BIG gulp) 'Big Blue' liriope (lilyturf) that I planted this spring. Six came from the local nursery, some of which were divided and two of which went into pots on the front porch. Bluestone had a half-price sale, so eighteen more were ordered from them. They're making good edging along the new front beds. Nope, no plant collecting in my front yard, just solid design. Finally.

I added six more 'May Night' salvias to the six already planted in the west flagstone path bed. Soon the six golden 'Stella d'Oro' and six peach 'Apricot Sparkles' daylilies will be blooming in concert with the deep blue-violet spikes of salvia. Oh, my beating heart - those colors will be sumptuous together. Then the lavender catmint will start, and the bearded iris in gold and violet, and the pink penstemon . . .

In the backyard, there's still some collectitis going on. But I sprinkled seeds of deep blue-violet 'Melba Higgins' columbine (about to bloom above) throughout the hodge-podge beds. Hopefully they'll tie the collector's corner together a bit? I've also edited those beds to include a mostly consistent palette of iris (German, Japanese and Siberian), peonies, roses and delphinium. It's looking less like a holding are and more designed! More pictures will come later when blooming starts.

I only brought home one of these 'Fire and Ice' hostas from Lowe's. Like I have any more room for hostas with two dozen different types already . . . but this one was so full and pretty that it came home anyway and will go into a pot for a while. I'll admit that there is currently no design involved in my hosta museum, but eventually they'll be divided out into a coherent scheme.

In other garden news, the lady's mantle is leafing out and holding water drops gorgeously, just like it's supposed to. This tough little plant didn't even flinch when the temperature dropped down to 26 degrees F last week. Much of the newest growth on other plants succumbed to the hard freeze, but the plants themselves survived and will eventually outgrow the damage. Phew. Happy Spring!

May 3, 2010

A Purpleicious Spring

I don't have the new veronica named 'Purpleicious' (yet?) but I do have many pretty purple and blue flowers in my yard this spring. The no-name dwarf purple irises from my friend Robyne have multiplied exponentially since last spring and are scattered in the western beds along the flagstone path.

I planted eight little pots of Aubrieta 'Axcent Purple' along the flagstone path. The color is so perky and cheerful this time of year. I keep debating what color would look best alongside it. Golden yellow, deep pink, or maybe a coral? Hmm.

Last year someone helped me identify muscari 'Blue Spike' in my yard. Can someone suggest which one this is? The color is true blue and very sweet.

Here is another dwarf iris called 'Banbury Ruffles'. You're supposed to wait 6 weeks after bloom to transplant iris. Maybe I'll wait that long, or maybe I'll get impatient to divide and transplant these cuties all around the front yard. Iris survive almost anything, especially these vigorous dwarves.

And here is the muscari 'Blue Spike'. I actually think the flowers look weird up close, but the deep periwinkle color is pretty from far away. These are planted along the west flagstone path.

There are 14 clumps of 'Emerald Cushion Blue' creeping phlox in the front yard, and I'm planning a few more. Most of my other phlox plants are completely smothered in blooms right now, but this one is newly planted and has fewer blooms this year - it must have been growing in more shade at the nursey. Next year it will do its part with the others to tie the front yard together during spring.

I think even plain old Vinca minor is pretty in bloom, and I like using the stems in floral bouquets. I don't have large areas for it to spread, however, so I need to dig my clumps up and put them into pots before they take over everything.

There's plenty of purple and blue-violet to come soon - salvia, delphinium, columbine, clematis, ajuga, catmints, lilacs, hardy geraniums, pincushion flower, violets, campanula, lilyturf, plus Siberian, Japanese and full-sized German iris. 'Blue Moon' wisteria are in the mail. I love these colors!