August 24, 2011

Time to Order Peonies

Along with bulbs, autumn is the time to plant bare root peonies. I have a few on order already: the herbaceous 'Kansas' from White Flower Farm and two 'Capital Red' tree peonies from Cricket Hill Garden. Last year I planted several from Swenson Gardens. Above and below are pictures of the first bloom from 'Paula Fay', which I picked up in a pot at Home Depot this spring. Once the plant matures, the blooms should show more of the yellow anthers in the middle.

I've gone peony-crazy in the past year. For a while I held back on buying any because I thought they all flopped over while blooming. But then I spent some time on the Swenson Gardens website and picked out a bunch of herbaceous peonies that don't need staking to stand up straight. I also splurged on a couple of herbaceous-tree hybrids, known as Itoh or intersectional peonies, and these plants don't need staking either. Finally, I decided to attempt some tree peonies (no staking!) from Cricket Hill. I've enjoyed looking at the gorgeous peony pictures at Peony's Envy and might order a few tree peonies from them in a few years. The floppy peonies that friends have given me will grow in the cutting garden and be enjoyed in vases. Oh, and I brought home a couple of potted peonies from my local nursery this spring. Yeah, totally peony-crazy.

Besides the staking problem, the other drawback to peonies is that they only bloom for a few weeks in late spring/early summer (they are hardy in USDA zones 2-8). But I've realized that everblooming plants with large flowers require A LOT of deadheading. I don't have time to keep up with too much of that, so I'm going to plan my gardens to enjoy different flowers at different seasons. Long-blooming plants that don't need deadheading (like 'Rozanne' hardy geraniums) are certainly welcome, too. Above is a no-name red peony that came from my husband's grandmother's garden after she passed away.

Peonies make fabulous cut flowers, lasting a week or so in the vase. Above is a bloom from 'Petite Elegance', one of those non-staking herbaceous peonies from Swenson Gardens. Peony foliage is a nice addition to the garden even after the flowers fade. During the summer, peonies are somewhat drought tolerant (though they'll grow more leaves and flowers with regular water, especially during the first few years). Peonies live a long time without needing dividing, so they're a great addition to the garden of a lazy or overwhelmed (ahem) gardener! They do take a few years to fully settle in and bloom heavily, but after that you can neglect them a bit and still enjoy a show.

These last two photos show the first bloom from 'Casablanca', also from Swenson Gardens. You can see that the giant flower is very upright without a stake. Swenson Gardens recommends that you cut the buds off for the first year or two to allow the plant to establish itself better, but I was too impatient to see the flowers. Eventually this plant will be 40" tall by 48" wide and covered with fragrant, pure-white flowers in June. Then it will provide pretty green leaves as a background for my summer-blooming flowers. Divine!

Here is the slightly out-of-control list of peonies in my yard. Many were purchased within the last year, and some of those haven't bloomed yet. Several have come from friends or relatives. Even the older ones have been set back by transplanting (sorry plants). But in future years I should enjoy an abundance of peony flowers in May and June.

Herbaceous Peonies
Casablanca (white)
Cindy's Pink
Cindy's Red
Coral Supreme (coral)
Felix Supreme (magenta)
Grandma Margaret's Red
Grandma Margaret's White
Guidon (mid pink)
Kansas (magenta)
Kathy's Pale Pink
Kathy's Pink
Paul M. Wild (crimson/magenta)
Petite Elegance (pale pink)
Pink Parfait (mid pink)

Itoh/Intersectional Peonies
Keiko (mid pink)
Kopper Kettle (copper/peach/rose)

Tree Peonies
Capital Red/Luoyang Red (to be planted this fall)

August 16, 2011

Daylilies in Pink and Peach

My favorite daylily this year is 'Frances Joiner', shown above and below. The rich peach color has looked especially good nearby lavender 'Rozanne' geraniums and vivid 'Pink Double Delight' coneflowers.

Here is Frances, glowing in the sunset. Really a pretty flower.

I continue to be impressed with 'Hush Little Baby', above, and am thinking of removing the 'Apricot Sparkles' daylilies in the west bed and dividing HLB to fill up that area instead. AS has put out a disappointing number of blooms - perhaps it really needs full sun to make much of a show. Yet HLB manages to bloom despite partial shade. And you can see its color is gorgeous.

Here is 'Millie Schlumpf', which is a prolific bloomer. As I write, the last few flowers from the first flush are finishing up, and new scapes are already appearing for a second flush of bloom. The pale color looks a little washed out in the summer sun, though.

This photo doesn't do a great job of capturing the rich colors of 'Autumn Wood', but it's going to have to do for this post. I really like the way this daylily fits into the front yard color scheme.

'Elizabeth Salter' is orange sherbet on a plant. Its color of peach is a bit softer than 'Frances Joiner' but still pretty.

Above and below are shots of 'Dublin Elaine' after a day of intense sun. The color fades somewhat through the day.

So far 'Dublin Elaine' has proven to be vigorous in its growth of both leaves and flowers. It is a recent All-American Daylily winner.

I'll finish with a picture of 'Jolyene Nichole' from morning, before the color fades at all. You can see lots of buds in the background - this pink daylily was a prolific bloomer this year. I hope to be able to say that about all of daylilies as the plants mature . . . but we'll have to wait until next summer to see.

August 9, 2011

Tropical Hues in the Midsummer West Garden

The west flagstone garden has morphed into a new color scheme for summer. Lilies of several types and a 'Lady Emma Hamilton' rose have supplied tropical shades of rosy-orange that look cheerful against the lavender of catmint and bellflower. Above is an unnamed dwarf asiatic lily with 'Walker's Low' catmint (Nepeta), 'Blue Clips' bellflower (Campanula) and yellow 'Early Sunrise' tickseed (Coreopsis) to the sides.

Here is a wide view of this garden in July. For views of this area in June, click here. To see the garden in spring, click here.


This shot shows spots of color from asiatic and longiflorum-asiatic lilies. Despite growing in half shade, the 'Walker's Low' catmints have been blooming for a couple of months now.

Here's another picture of that unnamed dwarf lily. The color seems to glow and reminds me of a tropical-flavored smoothie. I brought home several of these lilies last year from Home Depot and am pleased to see that all have baby shoots growing around the original. In a few years these will be nice clumps instead of a single stalk.

This is a 'Royal Sunset' longiflorum-asiatic (LA) lily. These lilies started blooming as the asiatics were finishing up, which was perfect for keeping the color going longer. I didn't order very many of these lilies from Brent & Becky's bulbs, but I planted them in groups of 2 and expect them to multiply into good clumps.

Here is a cluster of 'Lady Emma Hamilton' english roses against a backdrop of golden 'Jethro Tull' tickseed (Coreopsis). LEH doesn't have as many petals as some of the english roses, and I wonder if that's why the bush is able to put out such a continuous stream of blooms despite getting only a half day of sun. Add a delicious fragrance to its attributes, and this rose is a winner.

'Golden Sunrise' tickseed and 'Blue Clips' campanula don't mind the intense heat of the summer sun bouncing off the west wall of my house. In the center is an out-of-focus 'flower' from 'Hair' allium. I took so many pictures of these strange flowers and all of them were out of focus. Maybe my camera didn't recognize them as flowers, ha! The 2-inch flower heads didn't make as much of a show as I'd hoped - they just looked kind of weedy. Maybe they'll multiply and look better in a few years.

Above are some 'Smoky Mountain Autumn' daylily (Hemerocallis) flowers. I have 6 small plants of this variety, and they have put out a respectable amount of flowers for their size and the part-sun conditions. I have been less impressed with 'Apricot Sparkles', which is supposed to be a blooming machine but seems to resent getting less than a full day of sun. It has been very stingy with its small peach flowers this year.

The 'Hush Little Baby' daylilies are such a gorgeous, vivid pink that I wish I had a good spot in full sun for them. But they're blooming all right here in the west bed. Their color stands up well to the blazing summer sun.
The rest of the season holds more of the same for this garden. Many of these plants should keep blooming until frost. The english roses (including 'Crown Princess Margareta' and 'Teasing Georgia' on the trellises) should have another heavy flush of bloom in September. So far this area has had good continuity of bloom, so we'll see if it continues until frost cuts it all back in a couple of months.

August 3, 2011

Classic Combos of Pink and Blue

Some time ago I read a gardening magazine article where the author suggested in a patronizing tone that planting a border of pink and blue (actually blue-violet) was the most that could be expected from some gardeners. What a narrow-minded view, I thought. Other color combinations might be more exciting or trendy, but that's no reason to throw out the classic. Above are white 'June Bride' heuchera, light pink 'Sister Elizabeth' english roses and burgundy 'Munstead Wood' roses.

Although I enjoy creating different color combinations elsewhere in the yard, I plan to always have at least one part of the garden planted in classic pink and blue-violet and white. I love this classic color scheme just as I love classic Audrey Hepburn dress styles. Above are 'Pagan Purple' delphiniums.

So this post features some pictures from earlier in the season showing some of the classic color combos in my backyard garden. Above are 'Clemantine Blue' columbine and pink Armeria.

The spikes of double 'La Belle' Campanula (bellflower) flowers above have proven to be good cut flowers. White 'Esther Reed' daisies planted nearby are a nice companion in the garden or the vase.

The 'Blue Clips' campanula that I brought home from my grandma's house a few years ago has proven to be a sturdy plant that expands quickly enough to allow me to pass lots of starts on to others. I have found that it gets floppy with too much TLC, though, and has a better form in more challenging conditions. Above it's growing next to needle-like Asparagus fern foliage.

Perhaps my favorite campanula right now is 'Pearl Deep Blue', shown above. It's compact form is never floppy and the flower color is deeper than the other two bellflowers shown above. Here it grows nicely at the feet of a 'William Shakespeare 2000' rose (definitely a classic!).

Perhaps a little less classic are true blue flowers, like the 'Tanz Nochmal' siberian iris shown above. Siberian irises take a few years to get established in my garden, but this year I had a great show from 'TN'.

Here's a wider view showing some blue 'Tanz Nochmal' with 'Meidilland White' roses in front and 'Pagan Purple' delphiniums behind. This trio made a pretty show together for nearly a month.

This final shot shows true blue 'June to Remember' siberian iris blooms. The dogwood growing nearby has begun to shade this clump too much, so I didn't get as many flowers this year. Transplanting it to a sunnier location is on the To Do list for next spring.
If you find yourself enjoying classic color combinations despite raised eyebrows from garden design snobs, then I'm with you. There's plenty of room in the garden world for all types of color schemes and garden designs, and I hope to remember to enjoy them all.