Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Summer Wrap

        Record-keeping has been poor electronically, although I do have a Lee Valley Garden Journal (from my sister for my birthday) to which I have been more faithful. However, I can't add photos to it, so I still like this format for the more colourful reviews of the garden. So here comes a photo essay of the summer!
        This was my 'Garden Treasure' Itoh peony, the first one of my Itohs to bloom. It had two blooms, and, while they didn't last very long, they were beautiful while they lasted. It bloomed after the tree peonies, but before the herbaceous ones. It was probably 20 cm. across. Glorious. Other Itohs still to bloom are 'Callie's Memory', 'Cora Louise', and 'Hillary'. Here's hoping for 2018. 

     One of the nicer herbaceous ones, and a new one which hasn't bloomed before, was this lovely very-pale-pink with  pale yellow centre, called 'Immaculee'. It fades to white as it matures, and it had five (5!) blooms this year. A keeper for certain. Other herbaceous yet to bloom are 'Henry Bockstocke', 'Raspberry Sundae', and 'Felix Crousse'. These are all from the Veseys fall sale. There are even more but I can't remember them all. But they are all written down!


    Roses were good this year as well. This one, a Gallica called 'Tuscany Superb' did particularly well this year - it was covered in buds, and so bloomed over quite a long period. It's a bit lax, and I have to get going on making supports - both for the lax roses and the peonies! The commercial peony rings available here are quite inadequate. I bought this rose years ago at Cornhill Nursery - they don't sell it any more because it only blooms once, and "people won't buy them if they don't repeat bloom".  Glad I got there when they were still selling this one!
       The Philadelphus did itself proud this year, blooming like a good one. I feel I should be propagating it, as it is such a good bloomer (the first two I planted never bloomed at all, so this is why I am so pleased!). I have had remarkable luck with propagating cuttings this year, particularly weigela and hydrangea. And Anne gave me a pot full of Viburnum plicatum f. tomentosum 'Mariesii' (Summer Snowflake) which is one of the ones which is not susceptible to viburnum beetle, and 5 out of 6 have rooted! And I have moved them on into individual pots. They are tiny so far, so shall spend the winter in the cold frame, but there is potential to have viburnum once again.
       The Cornus Kousa 'Satomi' bloomed this year, although the blossoms weren't terribly pink - it suffers from lack of full sunlight, which will continue until the oak tree is cut down. It's a tough decision to make, cutting it down, as it provides lovely summer shade to the south side of the house and a cool place to sit and enjoy the view. However, its demise is inevitable, just not sure when.  The Kousa was lovely, however, and now there are fruits! From which I am harvesting seeds. Just for the fun of it.

       My Kalmia, 'Heart of Fire', bought at Lakeland Nursery in Dartmouth in 2011, bloomed this year, though not prolifically. I am a member of several garden groups on FB and one, I think the Atlantic Rhododendron one, had lovely photos of different kinds of Kalmias - and now I want them all! To name a few: 'Galaxy', 'Keepsake', 'Raspberry Glow', 'Sarah', 'Little Linda' and 'Minuet'. I have them listed on my iPod Touch so if I visit a nursery - not here - I can consult the list. They are all so lovely. And they are never sold in local nurseries. I wonder why - I think they are quite hardy.
         And so to my late summer favourites, the hydrangeas! I just have one lacecap, 'Bluebird', but I have decided that I must have more. This one comes out blue, but turns pink later. I did a bit of feeding and mulching where I have my hydrangeas, which is to the west of the house, and there was a macrophila called 'Cityline Mars' which has been languishing behind some phlox, in a bit of a low spot, so not much sun or moisture, probably. Anyway, I hoiked it out and put it up where it can be seen. I also dug out 4 'Annabelle' hydrangeas from under a fir tree - these are progeny of ones I dug out of Mum's garden many years ago - and put two of them in the "hydrangea walk" at the top of the west path. And I bought a new one, at Home Depot for $15 at the end of the season - it was labelled paniculata 'Grandiflora' Pee Gee and had 3 blooms not yet out - they have come out now and I suspect it is NOT a Pee Gee- as it has those larger bracts - similar to the lacecap above - which the standard PG doesn't have. Ah well. I put the other two "Annabelles' in a new bed under the white pine, straight out from the front door - and then decided to make it into a blue-and-white bed, adding another white hydrangea (paniculata 'Kyushu') and some lavenders, blue fescue, and various salvias and later monkshood (moved from another bed). I'm trying to leave some holes in case the Veseys sale is wonderful again and I get some more peonies or....
       Other bloomers this year in the hydrangea department include 'Pinky Winky', 'Incredibelle', 'Burning Embers' and my favourite, 'Vanille Fraise'
I had to put in an expanding fence to keep the blooms off the ground, but then it grew these two big, upright, branches, one of which bloomed - so I suppose I shall be able to cut off the lower branches one year soon. It is backed by another 'Annabelle', bought from Sandy in Summerside last year (and doing incredibly well) and on the lower left, one of those exotic indoor ones we bought after Easter two years ago for 99 cents each. I bought 3, one died, and the other one isn't blooming. But for 99 cents who cares? I  had them in pots outdoors last winter, so this one will be the test of their survival. But isn't the bloom great and colourful?                                                              This is a closeup of 'Vanille Fraise', speaking of colourful. You can just see, behind these hydrangeas, a half-price Japanese acer, Acer palmatum 'Tamukeyama', which I planted in July. In looking it up, I discovered that, according to one site, this is the perfect 'beginner' acer, easier than all the others to grow. Fingers very much crossed.  









Thursday, June 22, 2017

Chapters of Bloom

         
      I have been being a bit sluggish myself but the garden is coming along apace despite me. In the amazing resurrection chapter, my hardy hibiscus is coming up (the one from last year. Nothing on the new one, so far) and my tiny white rhododendron (either Sugar Puff or Milky Way, curse my terrible memory and record-keeping) in the shade garden, eaten up by bugs last year, is coming back! I don't seem to have recorded when I planted it or ever photographed it in bloom (though before being eaten last year it was covered in buds) so I feel I must lavish attention on it.
        In the finally-decided-on-a-location chapter, my Rheum palmatum from the Veseys spring sale,  beside my faithful Japanese peony and in front of the rose/clematis trellis. I wanted a showy spot and I hope this is it. I popped in a lot of other things from the sale to the right of this, including the Amsonia "Storm Cloud" and a pink coreopsis (berry chiffon), hardy hibiscus Vintage Wine, as well as a number of Centaurea and rose campions. No bloom on any of the fancy peonies in the back yet, though one on the very right-hand edge is showing two buds, and they are the same shape (though smaller) as the tree peonies. Anne has the same and she says it is Garden Treasure, a peachy-yellow Itoh. I hope so! It will be the first of the Itohs to bloom.
        In the Oh-my-goodness it worked chapter, the ajuga "bed" around the maple tree with alliums rising up above the foliage, just as I imagined it. I am super pleased. There's a bit of grass and the ajuga is starting to bloom, curse it, but otherwise it's perfect. Or as perfect as ajuga can be made to be.
      
  In the bloomed-before-but-I'm-still-thrilled chapter are Clematis Elsa Spath, not far from the Itoh, the variegated wiegela, and the dark red tree peony, doing some funny thing with the colour of the outside petals. Each of the tree peonies has five blooms, and the red one is quite a bit later than the white this year, perhaps because the red is in more shade.


       And blooming-under-extreme-difficulty is my Minnetonka rhododendron, planted last August and looking splendid coming out of the snow, then badly burned by spring winds on its north side. But the south side has buds, and is starting to bloom, and the north side is putting on new growth, so perhaps all will be well.
    Now I must get out and construct a cage over  my hardy bush cherries, if I intend to save any of them from the birds this year. I bought 10-foot pieces of pvc conduit yesterday, thinking they would be long enough, but I think the bushes are more like 15 feet, end-to-end. Must get out the hacksaw and get cutting.  

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Finally catching up

        Blooming has begun, with my first rose (Fru Dagmar Hartrup) out yesterday evening, along with the tree peony "Flight of Cranes", only 5 blooms this year but I love every one of them. The tree peony plant has put on substantial growth as well, and is looking very healthy.
        Because I'm retired now, I have been working hard on improving the many unimproved or even "no go" areas in the garden. This includes three cold compost piles, which I am harvesting. I have also installed four hardware cloth bins in different locations, as per my composting guide, which recommends that you'll be much likelier to compost if you don't have to lug stuff for miles. I also made a compost sling for moving loads of dry browns which I raked in the spring. It's not so useful now, but will come in handy when it comes time to turn the hardware cloth bins. Another "tidying up" thing I'm trying, is building some 'hugelcultur" mounds, with some of the many branches and tree trunks which we otherwise have to try to burn. The mounds are covered with sods and eventually break down the wood underneath, and in the interim can be used for planting. I will probably just plant trees and shrubs on them, as they are in the shade areas. I have made two on the north side, and am going to use them to bolster our wind protection on that side.
         This week I have been trying to get things planted. Vegetables and flowers. We had our usual bonanza at the Veseys bulb sale (June 2 this year) and I have mainly potted up the rooted things rather than trusting them to the ground and hoping. I have finally created my "Hot" bed, hot colours, that is, and, contrary to what I just said, put quite a few crocosmia bulbs in there, of which there is still no sign. Ah well. I am putting in a few blue things as well, for contrast with the yellows & oranges. I put in two dark blue salvias, doing well, and I have still got a Veseys Amsonia to go there, but I want it to get a bit more established in the pot before it goes out.
            In my shade garden I have added quite a few things, including six more hellebores, the ones originally from Veseys and grown on by Van Kampens. 4 French Kiss, one each Rio Carnival and True Love. Looking forward to spring! My little rhododendron which bloomed so well in the shade last year was attacked by bugs in the late summer, and has not come back. Very disappointing. Oh well. I still have two others, larger ones, there, and the white one is blooming well, though the pink one lost all its leaves and, while the leaves have grown back it just has a couple of blooms. it is doing its best, poor thing. I shall go around with some of this great compost I've been mining, and give them a boost.
         Must get back out there. Before I go, I want to claim success with my allium/ajuga bed, however. I lost quite a few alliums to that whatever-it-is that makes the stems go weak and fall over (and I tried splints. They just fall over again in a different place) but because I had planted so MANY I still have a nice show - and it looks like they will go on for while yet. Result.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

My Garden Right Now, Take 2

           In the wake of Chelsea the gardeners of the world are taking stock again, so here I am. As before, I am very behind British gardens, with very little in bloom yet, but there is much potential. I shall be caught up in no time.
       This is the same view from March, with the raspberries leafing out and the vegetable garden going in, first bed is kale, beets, peas and carrots, just coming up. Second bed was tomatoes last year, so will be other things - probably zucchini and butternut squashes, cucumbers, etc. plus pole beans and maybe second sowings. Under the carpet is the new tomato patch, plus leeks, beyond that is onions and garlic, and then potatoes. There is a mixture of early tomatoes and flowers in the 6th bed. Espaliered apple is blooming!



On the other side of the lilac hedge. Again, not a lot of bloom, though the lilacs are on the verge, and the Solomon's Seal is doing well. I like the colours and textures of this view, though, and I can't wait for my purple-leaf birch in the foreground to come into full leaf. There will be many roses out soon just to the left, and the hydrangea peteolaris around the corner is about to bloom too.  In a couple of weeks you won't know the place!



         Today I finished edging "Primuland", where there are quite a few blooming things. It is looking well, and I am sure that it will be terrific when the primulas and other things fill out a bit more. I am building an associated "hot" bed next to it, where I shall put the yellow and orange flowers I've been finding jarring in the regular, pink-and-white-and blue beds. I think there will be blue in the hot bed as well, though, for contrast. I am not a hosta-lover, so my one and only hosta is at the very bottom of this bed - a little cutie called mouse ears.





Monday, March 27, 2017

Still awaiting spring

      We have had yet another storm, with 30 cm. of new snow, so the tiny signs of spring (can you see some crocus and other bulbs peeping out?) are now covered again. I got out last week and did a bit of raking on the south side of the yard, and pruning some evergreens to bring a bit more light in to the "Primuland" bed, just in the upper right of the photo.
      And then the snow came. The seeds in the house are coming along apace - I've pricked out about four dozen tomato plants and there are quite a few more to come.

       The peppers I was so proud about have come a bit of a cropper...I put the flats on the bottom shelf of my mini greenhouse in the living-room, under lights, and one of the cats decided that as it was on her level it must be a new kind of cat grass. Thus I've lost about half of one flat and a third of the other. She obviously didn't like the taste, because she just beheaded them or pulled them up - and left them. They still don't have true leaves so I can't prick them out yet - but I have put them up high and only have pots of seeds which haven't yet sprouted on that fateful bottom shelf.
       Here's the most recent snowfall. The sun is warmer now, so it's going fast, even though the temperature hasn't been above zero - much - since. I did get out to the polytunnel on Saturday to do a clear-out, dumping pots of dead plants and sorting all of the pots into sizes and shapes (round vs. square).  I found the temperature and humidity gauge in a trug and started to record the highs and lows as I did last spring. I will need to have some proof of above-zero in there at night before I dare to put any of the precious stuff indoors now, out there. I did use an electric heater in there last year, but it's not quite so crucial this time - no wedding flowers to grow!! 
        I put in this photo because I had left my rake in the south part of the garden and there it is - resting until the snow goes again.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Stormy

          We had another snowstorm last night. Didn't stop school, as it was over by morning, and warming up. However, there was enough for the snow man to come and clear the driveway. Yesterday I had a look around at the places where there were bulbs last year. There was snow, or even where the ground is bare, not so much as a tiny blade showing, this year. I'm trying to channel my disappointment by seed-starting and watching gardening shows from last year. I planted a LOT of bulbs last fall (Veseys bulb sale again) and am especially anxious to see if they survived - I bought snowdrops again and hope that they will make it. I would love to have some snowdrops!
Last year's white crocus, up and soon to bloom
         Last year we had bare ground and crocus! I do like the "go back 12 months" thing about iPhoto. I don't like much about it so I should admit to liking that. In looking back I discovered that I was working on wedding stuff - making a 1930s-style sandwashed silk charmeuse wedding dress, and building a "Paper Moon" photo backdrop, also for the wedding, with my sister. She helped greatly with the dress as well,  and both turned out. The photo booth is still at my house, I'm looking for a home for it. The moon takes up a lot of space.  But it features in a lot of photos!

          I'm also channelling my energies into knitting, trying to finish up some of the many UFOs on my Ravelry project page.  I'm trying to finish one thing before starting something else, but somehow it's more interesting and fun to do something new. Even though I know that finishing something is easier, in that I already have a head start. I'm bored! I want to go outside!

Friday, March 10, 2017

It's Fuchsia Season

          Today I nipped out the growing tips on three of my (attempted) standard fuchsias. (I'm using "Fuchsias The Complete Guide" by George Bartlett as my bible for this project.) One is 21 inches, one 31 inches and the other is 35 inches. I think the last two are the bare minimum for full standards (G.B. says fulls are 30 to 42 inches) and I don't really know how the tops will grow and whether their "trunks" will still be this length when the top grows out. (The 21 inch one will be a half standard.) It's so thrilling. I have them in rather large pots (G.B. recommends 3 inch ones, and mine are 5 inches square) so I hope they will not get discouraged. I am supposed to leave the leaves on the stem "until a head is formed" so I'm not doing anything else at the moment. I'm to keep pinching out the tips of the side shoots to get a bushy top, but they're too small for that yet. I have two others which still have some room to grow up their flower stick so I'm not going to stop them yet.
      
        In other fuchsia news, I have overwintered a number of them in the cold garage (kept at 4 degrees C.) and when I checked recently some were coming into bud and leaf. I have re-potted them all (except one) and am hopeful that they will survive. I had two tiny ones I was especially fond of in baskets by the front door, and so far only one has sprouted. However I keep spritzing the other one and I hope it will survive. This photo shows them before they got hung up outside last summer. I don't know which one I like best, but if one doesn't make it I guess I shall prefer the other. They both suffered quite a bit from neglect over the summer (forgetting to water them was the problem) so I should be pleased that they want to keep growing for me.
The one I haven't re-potted is covered with small sprouts so I am keeping it going, for taking cuttings (I'm greedy, I know). I had a huge "Swingtime" fuchsia in a large pot for several years, so I re-potted it - and it turns out that it is them as I now have 5 separate plants. Not much sign of growth so far but I am hopeful. I just re-potted them this week.  They had a lot of root.
           After Easter last year the Superstore had hydrangeas in lovely printed tins for 99 cents each. We got a few, and I checked their zone - it was 6 which is just a bit better than our 5B. So I re-potted them and kept them outdoors in their pots all summer, and brought them in to the garage for the winter. When I got the fuchsias out of the way I discovered that the hydrangeas were coming out in leaf as well! The white one even has flower buds. Is it planning to bloom for Easter? It is "Alaska" and the two others are "Bottstein" a reddish - purple. One of those bloomed last summer in the pot! I feel like I should re-pot them, but they are in quite big pots, hard to manage indoors. And I think I should leave the blooming one anyway. Pretty great for 99 cents. I plan to put them outdoors eventually with lots of protection, but for now I'm just so happy with them for surviving.
           I was getting quite pessimistic about my seed-starting abilities, as there were no signs of either peppers (planted 10 Feb.) or tomatoes (planted 28 Feb.). They yesterday, the tomatoes showed up! And today the peppers have popped out.
3 kinds of tomatoes: Sweet Million, Mountain Magic, Mosaic Mix

Peppers: New Ace. 

            Planted another tomato today ( a heritage variety from my sis) and I am optimistic they will be along shortly. Now that the fuchsias are in the house I can bring in my wire shelving unit from the garage and get the seedlings under lights and moving along. Today I also started seeds of nemophila "penny black" and scarlet flax, which was lovely last year. Roll on summer.