February 5, 2013

Last Year's Flowers and This Year's Plans

I'm illustrating this post with photos from last year's garden.  Above is Veronica 'Purplelicious.'
There are actually a few flowers starting to bloom right now in my garden.  I couldn't believe my eyes last week when I noticed a bloom on a 'Pink Tea Cup' hellebore.  Last year it didn't bloom until March.  Of course the flower is kind of beat up from the harsh weather and not worthy of a photo.  There are also a couple of purple blooms on the 'Accent Purple' Aubrieta (rockcress).

Above are some flowers on 'Rolling Cloud' Siberian iris. 
I'm excited to get going on some landscaping in the backyard this spring.  Right now we have a bunch of small flower beds cut out of the grass around the edges of the backyard.  I'm planning to have the rest of the grass removed around the edges of the yard and just have lawn in the center.  It will give the roots of all the little trees more room to grow without competition from the grass and will make mowing a lot easier for my husband.  I have plenty of other project in mind for the backyard, but they'll have to wait a year or few.

Above are 'Mer du Sud' bearded irises. 
The challenge with removing the grass around the edges of our yard is keeping the grass and aspen tree roots from the neighboring yards from growing under the fence into my shrub/flower beds.  My neighbor to the north planted a bunch of quaking aspens right next to the fence we share, and the roots are already sending up baby aspens in my yard.  I still haven't figured out the best barrier to install in the ground under the fence.  Any suggestions?

Above are 'Blue Spectacle' tulips. 
I've been considering which shrubs to plant in the new shrub beds.  I've got plenty of perennials and trees blooming in spring and early summer, so I need to focus on late summer, fall and winter interest.  I've decided on twelve 'Green Mountain' boxwoods (planted in groups of 3 in several areas) for winter structure and six 'Little Lime' hydrangeas for late summer blooms.  I'm also thinking about planting two 'Mikkeli' rhododendrons in a new raised bed.  This type of rhododendron is hardy to zone 4 (!), and I think I could keep it happy in a raised bed with excellent imported soil, plenty of bark mulch and regular applications of acidic fertilizer.  

Above are blooms on an unknown Siberian iris.  Do you think it might be 'Caesar's Brother'? 
I'm planning to consolidate most of my perennials into a few perennial areas in the backyard instead of having them growing all over.  I need to be ruthless to get rid of some of my less favorite perennials so I'll have time to care for the ones that are left.  It's so hard to get rid of any of them, though.  And I always seem to find new plants that I want to find a place for . . . .   

Speaking of new plants, above is the first bloom ever on my 'Medallion' poppy plant.  I'm very excited to see blooms (fingers crossed) on the three 'Heartbeat' poppies I planted last fall.  I'm not a fan of orange-red poppies, but these rose and burgundy shades are fabulous.  I'm also hoping for first-time blooms on two 'Blue Moon' wisterias, an 'Alabaster' Epimedium and three 'Capital Red' tree peonies.  I ordered seeds for 'Polkadot Pippa' Digitalis (foxglove) and have also been drawn to 'Illumination Pink' Digitalis (currently available only in England) and an 'Lady of Shallot' English rose.  We'll see if I find places for those plants in the new scheme.


  1. Love the poppies! Can't wait to see your first blooms.

  2. Hi VW,

    Lovely photos; really brings home just how much I'm longing for summer!
    Your Iris may well be Caesar's brother; it does look very different to mine, but then I suspect I've been given the wrong one because it wasn't that lovely deep, rich purple like yours (and photos on the website I bought them off showed).
    My dwarf Iris are blooming now... Can't wait for the perennials to bloom!

  3. Gorgeous photos from last year VW :) You were so excited on FB about your plans I decided to check out your blog (finally!! I know, it's been ages since I've visited--sorry) and I know you are going to be so looking forward to the new landscaping plans. It will be wonderful to be able to follow through with some of your ideas and have someone else do a lot of it for you:) The ideas for the yard and garden seem to never end...it's an ongoing adventure!

  4. It's such a treat to see your flowers as we wait for spring. I'm also at that stage where I'm looking at the notes I made last year about what I needed to move/plant in the garden this year -- and just itching to get at it. -Jean

  5. VW, you really have a lot of changes coming up with the new garden spaces. The kids don't mind giving up the play area?
    I have no experience with Quaking Aspen, what a pain that it is sending up suckers. Hope you have found a solution.

  6. Janet, we are installing a sturdy new swing set and keeping the sandy 'kid digging area' in one corner of the yard. I think the new design is actually going to be fun for the kids - there will be lots of spaces for hide and seek and a path to run around, as well as a lawn space in the center. I'll probably post the plans next week. Jan, yes I am incredibly excited about this project! We just have to wait until the ground thaws so it won't start before April. It's hard to wait.


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