October 19, 2019

Planting Orienpet Lilies for Midsummer Blooms

I'm in the middle of planting hundreds of bulbs this fall, including nearly two dozen Orienpet lilies from B&D Lilies.  In past years I've planted a number of Orientals that have failed to grow vigorously, but the Orienpets (Oriental x Trumpet hybrids) are much more sturdy and floriferous, even when they face competition from other perennials growing nearby.  Above is 'LeVern Friemann,' aka 'Miss Feya,' which B&D Lilies recommends as the best hybrid lily ever created.  It has a beautiful fragrance, grows 5 to 6 feet tall, and can produce dozens of flowers on each stalk when established.

I planted six more 'LeVern Friemann' bulbs and transplanted a few that had become crowded.  One of the transplanted bulbs had produced 2 stalks taller than me and was as big as a cantaloupe!  These large bulbs need to be planted up to a foot deep to give room for the feeder roots that grow out of the stalk just above the bulb.  Roots growing from the base of the bulb hold the plant in place.

Last fall I planted some 'Purple Prince' Orienpet bulbs (from a different company) and enjoyed a few blooms this year.  Hopefully they'll settle in and put on a better show next July.  The flowers were trumpet-shaped and purplish-pink, not true purple.  I expect they'll blend well with the color of nearby 'Mini Mauvette' hydrangeas when the shrubs finally get large enough to bloom.

Here is a first-year 'Elusive' Orienpet lily planted with 'Chantilly Peach' snapdragons, 'Magical Desire' Hypericum and 'Beyond Blue' Campanula.  The peachy-pink color with a yellow center was really lovely, as was the fragrance.  On hot days the opening flowers were a paler color.  This summer an 'Elusive' bulb I planted a few years ago grew to nearly 7 feet tall in partial shade.  B&D Lilies recommends feeding lilies with fertilizer or nutrient-rich compost every year or they won't continue to grow and bloom well.

A stalk from a 'Pink Snowflake' Orienpet lily from B&D Lilies boasted 7 flowers, and it has survived whereas Oriental 'Casa Blanca' disappeared from the same area.  The aphids really liked this one, but they were easily washed off when I actually remembered to pull over the hose and do it.  The buds are sometimes pink (obviously these don't look very pink) but they open white.  Last fall I planted six 'Pretty Woman' Orienpet bulbs nearby, but they weren't from B&D Lilies so they were smaller in bulb and in growth this summer.  However I loved the almost-white flowers from 'Pretty Woman' and look forward to more flowers next summer if I can remember to keep fertilizing them.

These 'Royal Sunset' lilies are an Easter x Asiatic hybrid instead of an Orienpet but have been growing and reproducing prolifically for many years despite less than ideal conditions in my west garden.   Their color is really lovely next to my David Austin 'Lady Emma Hamilton' rose.
The other Orienpets I planted this fall were deep pink 'Fujian' and maroon 'Formia', and I expect a decent performance next year from them since they came from B&D Lilies.  I also made a second order from B&D yesterday of a dozen 'Red Velvet' lilies, as RV is a triploid Asiatic hybrid that is known for being 'tough as nails' while producing old fashioned candelabras of deep red hanging flowers that look so pretty in the garden.
I'm grateful for beautiful lilies that add showy, elegant flowers to the midsummer garden after the peonies have finished and while roses are taking a break from blooming but before the dramatic dahlias begin.  They definitely draw the eye to their large blooms on tall stalks, and their fragrance is a delight.  I'm also grateful that the blooms on these types of lilies last longer than their daylily cousins, so the deadheading is less overwhelming. 

September 20, 2019

Fall Floral with Dahlias

We're getting close to the first frost when all my dahlias will turn into black mush, but until then we've been enjoying them in the garden and in vases.  Above is peachy-cream 'Cafe au Lait,' rightly popular with prolific, big blooms on a stocky plant.  The maroon dahlia is 'Karma Choc' with an Angelica purpurea seed head at center.

I love the texture that umbel seed heads add to arrangements, including more Angelica and a green parsley seed head above.

A less mature 'Cafe au Lait' flower is still mostly closed with maroon 'Royal Purple' smoke bush leaves adding contrast.

Dahlias don't continue to develop after cutting.  This 'Cafe au Lait' bloom was cut after it had time to mature and open on the plant.  I've discovered that heavy dahlia flowers often need sturdy greenery stems to hold them up in an arrangement.  The forked stems of my Korean spice Viburnum have been especially helpful with this, as shown here.

After reading that 'Rip City' (above left) is English gardener-extraordinaire Sarah Raven's favorite dahlia, I planted several this spring.  But they were crowded by other plants and didn't produce flowers as large and full as expected.  As trees mature around the perimeter of my backyard, I have fewer full sun spots without tree root competition.  So I'm considering spraying Roundup on my two large 'Twilight Blue' Baptisia plants next spring.  They're in prime sunny positions with rich soil, and they produce flowers that are quickly hidden by the foliage and then grow nearly six feet wide by the end of the season.  They're taking too much space for plain green foliage and I want more room for dahlias instead.

A final 'Cafe au Lait' bloom is held up by Korean spice stems and joined by parsley and Angelica seed heads.  Dahlias are so showy that they make it easy to create lovely arrangements. 

August 28, 2019

August Lilies, Allium, Dahlias, Hardy Hibiscus

The Northwest corner of the garden has been colorful in August with perennial 'Berry Awesome' hardy hibiscus blooming for the first time along with 'Lavern Friemann' (aka Miss Freya) Orienpet lilies standing out against the 'Royal Purple' smoke bush at right.

The lilies are sturdy, tall and sweetly fragrant.  If the breeze is right, we can catch their scent on the patio.  I am a big fan of the Orienpet hybrids.  They are much more vigorous in my garden than the Oriental lilies I've planted over the years.

On the back side of the bed the lilies mingle with tall 'Jeana' phlox and Russian sage (yet to bloom in this shot).

'Berry Awesome' hibiscus deserves another picture.  Each flower lasts only two days before it wilts and needs to be deadheaded.  But the flowers are so large that each one makes a big impact.  The mauve-green foliage was pretty all season even before the flowers appeared.

Here is the view of the whole Northwest corner bed in August, with 'Millennium' allium in full bloom in front.

The mauve allium looks nice with maroon 'Rip City' dahlias planted nearby.  On warm afternoons, this allium was covered with pollinators.  Absolutely swarming.  So don't plant it next to a walkway where you might be stung if you brush against a honeybee.

Only one of my 'Karma Choc' dahlia tubers made it through the winter in storage, but its flowers echo 'Rip City' and work well with the color scheme in this area.

I can't resist sharing another view of this corner in the late afternoon light.  This is the best bloom year so far for the area.

One peek at the Northeast corner reveals that the honeysuckle still hasn't grown all the way across the swing set frame.  Maybe next year (I've been saying that for years). 
This summer we've been fighting against a huge outbreak of root weevils.  Unfortunately I didn't realize what was causing the notching on plant leaves until the root weevil population exploded.  Systemic neonicotinoid pesticides would do the best job of killing the pests, which chew on leaves in their adult form and chew on roots as larvae, but bees and other pollinators are also harmed by that type of pesticide.  So we've sprayed Neem oil several times.  It seems to have slowed the root weevils but not completely wiped them out.  I'm hoping to get spraying earlier next year, in the few weeks after the adults appear but before they start laying eggs.  And the neighbor's aspen roots keep sending big shoots into our garden, so we keep pulling them up.  Thrips continue to abound.  There is always a battle to be fought in the garden, but we enjoy the results so much that it's worth it.

August 15, 2019

MidSummer Garden

I am late in posting these photos from July, but there were some pretty areas last month.  Above is the space behind the swing set with chartreuse leaves of 'Diane's Gold' brunnera, lavender flowers on short 'Pearl Deep Blue' campanula, 'Peachy Seduction' yarrow, purple-pink spikes of 'Very Van Gogh' veronica, 'Chantilly Peach' snapdragons, and 'Magical Desire' hypericum berries toward the back along with the last of the butter yellow Digitalis grandiflora foxglove blooms.

A few weeks later the 'Deep Pearl Blue' campanula was mostly done blooming but I had planted more upright 'Beyond Blue' campanula next to the snapdragons.  The snapdragons will keep blooming throughout the growing season, although they get rangy and fall over and have to be trimmed occasionally.

Along the front of the swing set, 'Big Smile' daylilies did their thing with 'Rozanne' hardy geranium and 'Ritro' echinops (globe thistle) at back.  The thistle plants do look weedy, I suppose, but they grow well despite partial shade and competition from tree roots, and the interesting ball flowers stick around for a long time.  They will reseed like crazy if I don't deadhead in time.

On the east side of the house, 'Comtesse de Bouchard' clematis bloomed with a matching 'Charles Rennie Mackintosh' rose and bud spikes of 'Purple Candles' astilbe.

A week later the tall PC astilbes at back were in full bloom with 'Maggie Daley' astilbes in front and 'Cape Cod' hydrangea blooms right behind the bird bath.  I have a hard time getting mophead hydrangeas to bloom, so I was excited to see flowers on this second year plant.

The white garden has been less than inspiring lately.  'Ester Reed' daisies at front are always floppy.  The 'Annabelle' hydrangea bloomed well but other plants haven't made much of an impact.  The white 'David' phlox at right has bloomed for a long time, but the single plant looked lonely.  I need to divide it and replant several clumps throughout the bed.

One evening the view of the backyard from the gate featured shades of green and maroon that I liked even without flowers.

Here are 'Millenium' allium plants just starting their long bloom time.  As they opened the mauve color became more intense (I'll share more pictures in the next post).  This plant is definitely a winner.  It leafs out early, grows vigorously, shrugs off pests, and the fountain shape looks great at the front of the garden.  It's rated as deer resistant, but pollinators love it.  I mean they really love it - on warm afternoons there are dozens of honeybees, butterflies and other little pollinators swarming on the flowers.  You might not want to plant it right next to a walkway so no one gets stung as they brush by.

Along the path in the NW corner, 'Visions Red' astilbe bloomed vigorously along with the last violet spikes of 'Caradonna' salvia, 'Summer Beauty' allium, and newly planted 'Sapphire Blue' eryngium (sea holly).

Another perspective on the NW corner reveals 'Blue Paradise' phlox (divided and transplanted last year so it's still small), 'Darwin's Blue' veronica, and a few floppy drumstick alliums.

A final shot of the west garden includes 'Walker's Low' catmint, 'Royal Sunset' lilies, 'Hush Little Baby' daylilies, and 'Early Sunrise' coreopsis.

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.