Thursday, October 8, 2015

Mists and Mellow

How did it get to be October so quickly? I am still in the garden, tying up the new raspberries and getting ready to plant garlic - and I think I am going to try fall sowing potatoes. Always something new to try! The rudbeckia I grew from seed this spring is really strutting its stuff at the moment. They are certainly doing better than the echinaceas, but of course they are perennials and the rudbeckia are not.
Another annual I shall certainly plant again is ricinus communis (Castor Bean) which didn't get as large as I'd hoped but still is making quite an impact.
The burgundy ones look the best but I like the red stems on the green ones. Those to the west of the house are big and doing well, but haven't produced seed, I suspect because they don't get sun until the afternoon. I hope to get enough seed from the ones in the photo to produce next year's crop! And speaking of seed, I am harvesting seed from Anne's giant bachelors' buttons (the ones I grew, I mean) to be able to plant them again. (*Update: They are Centurea Aloha alba - and there are 'rose' ones as well. Must find some. )I'll put them farther back in the border next year. They turned out quite tall.

The geranium "Rozanne" is in this same bed (and there's another one in another bed as well) and it has been blooming all summer and fall. It is certainly as good as everyone says.The cosmos are keeping on but man, did they ever get big as well! There are amaranthus in this bed too, but, unlike last year, they did nothing this time. Curses. I have some verbena "Bonariensis" here too, doing well. I actually saw some in parks in Dartmouth when we were there in September - catching on for municipal planting!!
I have harvested the cranberries in my cranberry bog - I think I counted 61 this year, up from 12 last year. And it's the big apple harvest I anticipated - we have had apple crumble and apple cake already, and they are only getting started ripening.The pruning last winter did no harm at all.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Heat Wave

      It's going to go to 31 degrees today, and the rest of the week will be in the high 20s. Not too nice for working in the garden, though I did do some renewing of shrub roses, cutting back a couple of Therese Bugnets, a Hansa, a Snowy Pavement and a Jens Munk.  I have more to do, but once it got to 11:30 I left the outdoors to bake on its own and came in. I did drag all the detritis to the burn pile, as roses like these have many too many thorns. They never compost down, the thorns, so for safety I have been burning them.  Not today, of course, but some cool damp day in September or October.
      I have been working on the pathways and seating area to the west of the house - finally got the landscape fabric and the wood chips spread for the seating area - now to work on the seats! I have a plan to sand down and spar varnish our old Ikea living room furniture - 2 loveseats and a sofa (or 2 two-seaters and a three-seater) and put outdoor fabric on the cushions. This may not all get finished this year! Anyway I could put them in the seating area, perhaps with the blue sunshade over them - or maybe we can get a screen house! (I have simply given up with the bloody mosquitoes - they are everywhere when I'm outdoors, probably because we have such good shelter - there's no wind to drive them away. I travel in a constant aura of Off when outside.) So, the woodchips need quite a bit of packing down, but we'll be able to get some of that done when it comes time to put the wood in the basement.  Tramp tramp tramp.
      It's a bit sunny there at the moment, but later on in the afternoon the linden will shade it - and there's usually a westerly breeze along the upper driveway that makes it nice for sitting. Or at least I hope so. The logs will be replaced by Island sandstones, as I locate them!
     We have been enjoying the woodland garden's coolness too - I put the hammock up in there, and it's a great spot for an after-lunch nap - or a reading spot. The lounger is there too, so Fred can nap too if he's having a day off. I have planted a couple of rhododendrons there - a Lepidote "Aglo" and another of the mini ones - like Karen Seleger but this one is white. And a tiny offshoot of Karen Seleger which was in the pot when I bought her, and I nursed her along in the cold frame and in the pot, but she wasn't showing any sign of growing so I put her in the ground too. I hope there will be enough light for them in there - of course we are planning to take down a few of the old pinus niger trees and that should improve things light-wise.
Invincibelle Spirit hydrangea

       I have been doing some propagation- the "Invincibelle Spirit' hydrangea had a broken limb that wasn't quite severed, but the blooms weren't coming out on it, so I cut it off and made up 9 cuttings. I had started a pot of Glowing Embers hydrangea earlier - still no sign of roots but I'm no givin' up! And the other day I pruned a lavender and had to take off some lower, dead stuff and one bit had some live stuff above, so I have a couple of pots of lavender. And, a propos of the woodland garden, I took some sprigs off the yew at the Hall, and I have them in pots now, too. I'm mostly using the shelf under the East window in the office for this - it is MUCH TOO HOT in the polytunnel for this stuff.
      Apparently yew loves the dark, and while I have not been able to source any of the fancy particular ones I've read about (that don't grow too big, etc.), I figure the bog-standard variety will be challenged enough in the woodland garden to stay a reasonable size. That's what I'm hoping, anyway.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

August is upon us.

New berberis and goat's beard

      After a gloomy almost couple of weeks we are getting a good long stretch of sunshine. The gloom didn't actually result in a lot of rain, so I expect that there will be a need to water very shortly.
       I confess that, after potting up 8 tomato plants in the greenhouse (and one on the veranda) I ran out of room and steam, so some are out in the open garden. I can only hope that they don't succumb to the dreaded blight. They are all grown from supposed "blight-free" seed, so I may hope for a tasty outdoor crop. The quinoa plants, large and mainly healthy when they were planted out, are doing what they did last year - just shrivelling up on the stem. I don't know what to do to make them produce. We have had home-grown potatoes - one pot has been sacrificed, and they were very tiny - but now the commercial ones are starting to be a good price, so I may just leave the rest to swell a bit more.
      The Cornus Kousa is losing its bracts at last, though I have hopes of a few fertilized fruits as a result of them being available to the pollinators for such a long season.  I'll be trying to germinate them for sure. It feels like I've been away from the flower garden for a while; I have been working on weed suppressing and laying more wood pellets on the west side - and now I'm having to buy them so that is painful. But, I've put weed barrier and wood pellets on the big circular area for seating, and will attempt to get it all packed down like the original pathways are. It will not be easy - the pathways have been there for 3 years or more! I suppose when the wood goes in we'll be tramping it down quite a bit. I would like to put the patio table and chairs out there, though it doesn't make a lot of sense as it would be so very far from the kitchen.
     While the rains were upon us I started to make valances for the five big schoolhouse windows, using the rest of the vintage linen we found at Value Village. I had used a part of it to cover the Mission bench we got last winter, and I have enough left to make five valances exactly 16.5 inches long. I am lining them (of course) and allowing a tiny quarter inch to roll to the inside at the bottom. I know what the sun does to linen.
       I am waiting patiently for the raspberries, as we had the usual terrible crop of strawberries - I think I made a dessert for the two of us - once! Yesterday I found a ripe cherry on one of our three hardy cherry shrubs. It was on the one which had bloomed most profusely in the spring, and there had been small berries, but they all dropped but this one. Oh well, maybe next year! The shrubs look really healthy - but I am wondering if they need some sort of pruning. They have a lot of very low branches, which might come off, if that doesn't just stimulate more growth down there. AS the shrub cherries are a new thing, the pruning books aren't much help. Anyway, it looks like there will be lots of raspberries again - barring acts of god or whatever. Plagues of locusts.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Summer Fullness

China Doll
        Roses are continuing to bloom well, and the hydrangeas are developing blossoms. I keep buying new plants - I finally got a berberis, one of the lovely ones with the pink veining. I think I am going to put it in the shrub bed by the white pine. The new goats beard is blooming down there now, and the white potentilla (just starting to bloom) will be on the other side. It will be a nice foil for them.
It continues hot (for here) and dry, and so bloom is rushing by. The foxgloves are climbing up into the sky daily. The cornus Kousa is still looking the same, the blooms unfaded. What a good plant it is.

         I am finally dealing with the space along the foundation between the verandah and the little deck, formerly the home of a lot of broken glass and docks. I am putting down wet newspapers and then natural cedar mulch, quite thickly, and I plan to leave it un-planted - at least until after I get the East side of the house painted - a job for this summer.  There are shrubs in front - a weigela (possibly Wine and Roses) and a Persian lilac, Minuet - and I planted up a big, big grey planter with a globe cedar and some trailing plants, tradescanitas, ivy and a fuschia. The area is looking good for the first time ever.

        My Kalmia, which did not bloom last year, has some bloom this time. I am very pleased. I was worried that it wasn't getting enough light, but apparently it likes part shade. There are a lot of low branches which I would like to prune off, mainly to make more plants. It's a lovely specimen.

     The heat is such that I don't get a lot done outdoors any more; and there is still a lot to be done - edging beds, planting in the woodland garden, siding the shed! Not to mention the painting. Ah well. I do get to enjoy all the lovely blossoms.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Phew what a scorcher!

It's not really hot (like in BC, where there are 60+ forest fires) but it IS humid, with rain forecast for this afternoon and tonight. It's the kind of day where sweat runs down your face just while you're walking.
     The garden is doing very well. The Kousa is still blooming away (what good value) and just lighting up the area under the canopy of the white oak. Roses are coming out - the red one on the trellis,  Henry Kelsey. Dublin Bay is planted there too but doesn't do much. Though that bud in front, with the reddish leaves, might well be DB. Never say die in a garden.
Henry Kelsey on the trellis
        The white rosa multiflora has just started to bloom, I hacked it back quite severely this spring so it is not the mound of bloom it usually is; but it is putting on a lot of growth for next year. It's a lot like raspberries - blooms on last year's growth but the branches from the years before that have no bloom at all and eventually they die. Thus necessitating a clearing out.
     I have three clematis out - Nelly Moser by the deck, and Elsa Spath and Niobe in the beds by the lilacs, beside the path to the vegetable garden. The peony is full out as well - not a great colour combination, but I'll forgive a clematis anything.
Clematis Elsa Spath with peony
     I have lost the Nelly Moser by the door - last year it was huge, and this year it's gone. I have finally decided, too, that it does not matter AT ALL what kind of pruning it says on the package is required - in my garden they ALL die back to the roots every year, and begin again from the beginning AND everyone I know who has clematis says the same. The tiny dried out THREADS of branches that are left in the spring could not and do not sustain life. I am going to look for some more and different kinds- Joyce has a Markham's Pink that blooms really early and with quite a different bloom to these.
     I have had linum (flax plant) in the garden by the house on the West side for a couple of years, pretty but never blooming, but this year I was surprised to find one of them in full bloom! Quite pretty and delicate, as is the harebell, also on the west side. I feel I should be moving the similar things together as they may not have much impact on their own with rowdier and showier plants.

Linum usitatissimum.
Campanula rotundifolia
Aren't they sweet? The harebell had expanded greatly from the tiny pot I bought at The Brickworks three summers ago.
     The campanula crowd is expanding in my garden, though I seem to be specializing in blue ones only. Ah well. They are not orange. I planted a bunch of dwarf ones from seed, and I don't know anything about them, like how dwarf and if they are blue. But I have some dwarf blue ones from last year and they are TINY! I shall have to get going on the Alpine area at once, and move them all in. Decidedly more bloom than plant. How gorgeous. 

Monday, June 22, 2015

Weather warning

The garden has been progressing by leaps and bounds, and I think the revelation recently has been the many alliums, purchased at the Veseys sale, and now showing themselves to be some of the loveliest of the breed, and ones that I have been wishing for, for ages.
The spiky stars on this one are especially glorious. I have to say, though, that the white ones are a bit of a disappointment. From the distance they look a lot like giant dandelions gone to seed.
We are having a wild weather day today (remnants of a tropical storm, I believe) with plenty of rain, though luckily not so much wind. The lupines and other tall things just couldn't stand it. I am especially appreciative of my sturdy hoop house in weather like this, as many of the more delicate things are safely indoors at the moment.
My Cornus kousa 'Satomi', planted late in October and fretted about all through the long, long winter, is doing well. Its leader was bent away over by the snow, so I have it in a splint and many soft wraps, and it seems to be coming out just as well on the top (above the bend) as the rest of the plant. I have to say I was worried when it went in - it was balled and burlapped (and then stuffed into a large pot) and the soil around it was pure Holland Marsh (the area near Toronto, On., where such things are grown) - heavy dark grey clay, in a solid mass and almost baked from its long summer on the pavement at the store. I soaked it but didn't dare hack at it too much for fear of breaking off all those valuable rootlets. Anyway, its bloom cycle is fascinating! When it started out, there were tiny green leaflets surrounding small globes - some bright green, some darker. The leaflets - bracts, I now know - have gotten brighter green, tinged with pink, and they are lifting themselves daily above the leaves. Today, in the rain, the bracts are starting to really look like flowers.
blooms and bracts

becoming more colourful

I can't wait for further developments. Gardening is so exciting!
Summer is no time for knitting, I know, but I have been working on a lacy skirt - pattern in the latest Drops catalogue - made with some Patons Grace I bought at the Spinrite factory two summers ago. How quickly I have come to use it! Things usually marinade in the stash for much, much longer before they decide what they're to become. It's quite a nice pattern, and I have bought some lining as it is quite lacy.Now to finish the top part and figure out how to line it.
Should be a good dancing skirt!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Welcome to 2015

      Just checking in to report progress, especially on all of those Veseys great buys last year. Garden time is here and I can't be spending time indoors!!
After a record-breaking snowy winter (almost  550 cm. in total) spring arrived sluggishly. It was very chilly long into April, but the snow FINALLY all went (people were still finding snowbanks in June in some places) and I got the plants, started in the house, out into the poly-tunnel at last. While the snow lasted we took advantage of our extra height (on snowshoes) to do some pruning up high. Fred did the spruce hedge and I tackled the apple tree. This will be the big fruit year for the Golden Delicious so I didn't think it would affect the fruit production. I never get to harvest the ones at the top of the tree anyway.

     These are striped squills, from Veseys, never had these before. Anne has the blue ones, Siberian, we think, and they are amazing. Very bright and visible blue. These were lovely, though. They are in the south corner of the bed beside the house. The fritillarias did really well there this year, and the spring anemonies have spread in an amazing fashion. I love that their seed heads are almost as attractive as their blooms.

       I dug this bed by the lilac hedge about a foot wider and put in a lot of the tulips and grape hyacinths I had bought at Veseys there. (Next fall I shall prepare ahead of time!) But they did well, in spite of the fact that they went in in November. I had bought quite a few daffodils, but there weren't many of those in evidence this spring. It may have been too late for them. I am pleased that only one of the peonies didn't make it. I am looking forward to a bloom on the "Callie's Memory", it is an Itoh and was listed in the catalogue at $59.00.  My 3 bearded iris "Immortality" has one bloom between them, but the 3 "Ziggy" German ones don't have any. They are alive, however! There are many perennials I haven't yet seen - pink buttercups, Petrovska, baby's breath. I may have spotted the papaver "Harlem". Fingers crossed.
     I am planning to make a "woodland" garden in the area to the north of the shed - the trees are mainly evergreens, unfortunately, but there are larches, which allow in some Spring sunshine from the east. I need to beef up the evergreens at the back because the spruces are getting on in age and their lower branches are dying back, so the chilly northerlies are getting in. I am thinking cedar as it is quite dark back there.
     Anyway I planted a clump of Erithroniums at the edge (Veseys, $2 for 5) and they were the sorry-est-looking bulbs you've ever seen. But look! They bloomed! and they are doing well. I have bought a spurge at the Flower Patch, and I may move my geums in there as well. Then the oranges and yellows will be together. I have to build up some beds for plants along the edge by the fence, and then a path to a seat at the back, in front of the cedars. It would be a great place for rhododendrons on the other side of the path.  I have a couple of cornus alternafolia there too, bird-planted I think. One for sure is a keeper.

     Anne was over for a couple of days to help shore up the poly-tunnel - we put a frame around the bottom and a 2x4 ridge, and plastic doors front and back. It seems to be holding up against the wind, though I don't know if it will be able to withstand snow load. I should be able to stick a couple of posts up under the ridge, though, and that might help. Of course,  I don't know if it will be enough, if we get the amount of snow we had last winter!

To this

From this

Much better!!!