Monday, June 28, 2010

The Art Of Peeking In The Garden

For all season bloom it is important to use the art of peeking, especially in a small garden.  Sometimes it begins as an experiment to see if it works, like my plumbago under my daylilies.  Then there are some peekers you know will work such as Broadway Lights Shasta taking over for Red Rum Daylily (which will be cut to the ground when done blooming - will get a flush of new leaves but not as tall).

Gaura will bloom all summer from behind the impatiens, daylilies will bloom inside the Shastas, behind the roses.  Annuals in pots can peek out anywhere you need them, moving them if need be.  Nicotiana will take over for the daylilies by Rozanne and Perilla will grow quite tall to fill in around the Dahlias.  It's like a game called "What's Next," and with a little planning, you will always have something coming next into fall.

I am not real thrilled with some of the Clematis growing along the south side fence.  It should be sun, but it is not towards the back of the border because of the neighbor's foliage which I love so much in the spring.  I am going to choose more carefully such as bloom time so that the vertical garden is going all season. 

That's why gardening is such fun, there's never an end!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Major Storms And Tornado Warnings - Lilies

I took some photos of my daylilies and lilies late Wednesday afternoon before the storms hit.  I can't believe this weather, never before do I remember storm after storm without any let up.  Trains were stopped on the tracks, malls shut down, tornado signals shrieking to take cover and both sump pumps were working full time!

I don't remember a year like this with multiple storms, power outages and flooding.  I think we were lucky this time that we did not lose power.  I remember years ago when my children were little going to the basement with pillows and of course my purse.  Wednesday night I headed for the basement again, no purse, just my computer.

I had to cut back my Persicaria on Tuesday because it really took a beating in Friday's storm.  I deadheaded all of my roses, which have very little leafing out, and fertilized and trimmed back my annuals.  After the storms, I am sure there will be some further damage. 

I know there are some of my blogging friends that have been in the path of these storms, so I wish you only the best for your homes and gardens.  Thursday was bright and sunny, and I went about my garden work like nothing had happened.  Everything looked weeping and soggy but by midday were perking up and drying out.  Later in the afternoon I resumed my photo taking for Fertilizer Friday.  I am always amazed how quickly nature rebounds!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Thirty-Nine Steps

I think this was the name of an old movie, but it certainly became real for me as I climbed a hardly countable number of steps to my serious (serious because we do community service work) garden club meeting.  This was the last luncheon and meeting of the season, not beginning again until September.

The home we were at today is in a deeply wooded area, very high up, enough so that we were commenting on the lack of railings and our progressive eyeglasses.  This was a home without grass, which is a blessing in regard to mowing, but a lot of work considering the amount of plantings and the various levels in the front and back of the home.

Again, my anxiety level rises when I think of my ability to care for this type of landscape.  After lunch, we all trekked out to visit a member's garden close to my home.  It was a garden surrounding a 110 year old home, stained in a redwood finish.  This setting gave me a feeling of serenity, surrounded by natural meandering mulched paths bordered by large hostas, ferns groundcovers, daisies  and multiple woodland plants in various stages of bloom. 

Everything was small, contained, controllable and charming, even the small patio with potted plants and a dining table ready for an enchanting evening.

I have had small properties with definite planting restrictions and a large property where the sky was the limit.  I am now on a small property again, frustrated at times that I cannot grow all of the lovelies I see on blogs.  But, I remind myself that this is what I can handle.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Are You A Deadheader?

I am not talking about the Grateful Dead but us gardeners who religiously go around the garden each day decapitating plants. 

Many plants will bloom throughout the seasons if the dead flowers are snipped.  Many of the new petunias are self-cleaning and do not need to be snipped unless you prefer for looks.  During the season, prune from the bottom and the middle on these super powered petunias to keep them going until the end of the season.  Make sure you do not let coleus go to flower or they will stop spreading.  Geraniums need to be picked off when done and then the brown stems need to be snipped off (you will get many more blooms if you do this).  Don't forget, all annuals need to be fed.  I use a super bloom formula for all annuals - not perennials, about every two weeks.

Coneflowers will rebloom if snipped, daylilies, most will not, some phlox will rebloom, like Blue Paradise,  May Night Salvia will rebloom, nepeta will rebloom, Gaillardia will rebloom, Becky Shasta will not rebloom (at least in my area).  Roses need to be consistently pruned to develop new growth, except for the Knockouts because they will bloom no matter what you do, except they will look messy.  I just performed surgery on my Rainbow Knockouts today so they will look beautiful for the rest of the season because they will bloom until November.  Take no prisoners if you are pruning a large Knockout.  I shaped them, cut out wayward stems and will fertilize them again (every six weeks - stop in August).

Don't be afraid to prune/deadhead, it will keep your garden looking beautiful!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Heat, Rain And Darkness

On Friday afternoon, we had 90 degree temperatures, a micro burst and then loss of power.  We just got power back this morning after two days of living like "Little House On The Prairie."  We bathed in cold water, put make up on in the shadow of light, cooked our meals on the open flame of the grill, listened to the radio (battery powered), wore wrinkled clothes, watched a Thin Man movie on a battery powered computer (didn't last through the movie) and drove around for hours looking for a generator.  We didn't have luck with the generator but picked up a spare battery for our back-up sump pump.

The wind was like that which Dorothy experienced in the Wizard Of Oz, whipping, turning, bending the small trees to the ground, splitting and uprooting the big ones.  It had even snapped several utility poles in the area.  We had very little damage, but all of the plants looked wind whipped.  Luckily I have learned through experience to anchor my trellises and clematis vines.

So today, Father's Day, we quickly went back to our normal way of life, automatic coffee maker, ironing my clothes, juicing up the computers, calling the cable company to get our TVs working, flipping on the air conditioning, warm shower and being able to see where I am putting my lipstick.  How fast we forget!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Things Are Heating Up!

Lots of rain and now the heat and the surprise of how fast all of these lush gardens will dry out.  They have put forth an unusual amount of soft growth and will certainly balk at the above 90 degree temperatures.  Even though we have rain, extra watering will be required especially for the plantings we put in containers.

Think about the growth on top of these containers, instead of letting the rain through, the plants act as an umbrella and many times keep the soil dry (check them out).  As I walk around the garden, I am very aware that it is bug, slug, mildew, insect and very soon Japanese Beetle time.  Deadhead what is done blooming and you will be rewarded with many plants another flush of bloom, probably not quite as impressive.  Daylilies are just beginning and it does not affect reblooming to pick off the mushies, but it certainly makes the plant look much neater.  I cut my daylilies to the ground when done and they put forth new fresh leaves, again much neater looking.  I am also experimenting with Plumbago growing beneath the daylilies to take over for the late summer.

In my area, when Becky Shasta Daisy is done it is done, very little reblooming.  So, I also cut this to the ground and it makes a new beautiful green mat of fresh growth.  No flowers, but it looks neat and I am also trying Plumbago under shastas.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

I Went To A Garden Party

I should say I went to a Garden Club Party (the fun group) at a gorgeous property that looks more like an arboretum than a backyard garden.  It is over three acres, and I know we did not see more than half of the woodland garden.  This property is owned by a real plantswoman who is a student of horticulture and has tended this expansive vista for almost forty years.

I dug plants here more than a month ago for a plant sale benefiting our local historical house, and today she opened her home for an end of the year festivity.  We all signed up to make an appetizer or dessert and had our last meeting of the season on the patio taking in the breathtaking views.  It has rained for the last few days, including during the morning and afternoon, but it seemed to have stopped just for our occasion.

Again, this is a property that requires a lot of work, daily work, until the snow falls.  The deer had broken through the protective fence and had a feast on some of the decorative containers, and I'm complaining about rabbits! 

This group is diverse, with different ages, backgrounds, small gardens, large gardens, no gardens anymore, and balcony gardens in the condo they have moved to as they aged.  Real gardeners live on through others efforts!

Wasn't it Ricky Nelson who sang, "I Went To A Garden Party," except he meant Madison Square Garden, not our type of garden!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Jack And The Beanstalk's Garden

It isn't often that I worry about plants getting too big.  I usually worry about them growing and thriving in the heat with a lack of moisture,  This year has been unusual with rain a few days each week.  I haven't had to water the lawn or my beds, but I find that the baskets and containers dry out because of the flower coverage that acts like an umbrella.  The plantings under my trees have also required water because of that umbrella effect.

I have had to move my rooster container to the back of the garden because the Rozanne geranium grew twice the size it has been for the last three years.  It was covering the cascading petunias causing them to not flower.  I hope they will be revived.  My large patio containers had to be moved out of the shade created by my Autumn Clematis which has already covered the top of the pergola (something it usually doesn't do until August).

My Persicaria is eight feet tall this year, and I have secured it with some thin garden wire, also wired my Miscanthus Udine so it doesn't flop with the excessive rain.  The containers by the back arbor and path also had to be relocated in order to receive more sun.  The lilies, clematis, phlox and daylilies are so large this year they have overshadowed the Costco containers, so I moved them to the front of the arbor.

It's an unusual season, slugs are out in full force, mildew is settling in, the rabbits are finding lots of juicy stems, but the "garden police" are out there keeping order!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Around The Garden

I think I am a day late this week, missed Fertilizer Friday, and it is supposed to rain again today.  It was very humid yesterday, close to 90 degrees, not a day to be working outside.

There is a lot blooming, so I'll just stay in the back garden today.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Rain And More Rain

Rain makes everything grow giant, it makes plants fall over that would normally be upright through the season.  Rain is not always friendly to our gardens, mold, certain insects, damaged flowers.  Whatever, we have had lots of rain, and I look out at the garden and see weeping everything.  The larger roses are bent to the ground and everything else is green, green, green.

My Huchera Villosa Purpurea are huge, Lirope Spicata taller than ever, Boxwood Chicagoland lush and bigger than ever.  Endless Summer Hydrangeas are full size and my hostas August Moon and Halcyon beyond expectations.  I am not going to complain about rain, but enough is enough for now!

Monday, June 07, 2010

Peter, Peter, You Naughty Rabbit

Many of us are saying these words right now.  Beatrix Potter knew, as Peter was her pet rabbit before she wrote all of those charming stories about ducks, squirrels, geese and rabbits.

Rabbits are very timid animals, they like to live in burrows digging intricate tunnels called warrens that interconnect to nurseries called stops.  Rabbits have very good hearing and ears that turn in every direction, with great eyesight and a sense of impending danger.  They do not drink water like other animals, but they split plants and suck out moisture.  They do chew plants, bark, vegetables, etc., and regrow their teeth if whittled down on the bark of bushes or trees.

Rabbits can have up to eighteen babies at a time and reproduce many times throughout the year.  I learned today that the babies are vorciferous and will eat anything even though the smell is bad.  I was told that the taste needs to be also bad to discourage the babies.

I am using a product that seems to keep the rabbits controlled, but I noticed my new baby has eaten everthing down to the ground, asters, roses, hosta, phlox, etc.  So, in addition to my granular, I bought a taste bad spray for the babies!

I don't see any rabbits running in a zig zag, standing like a statue, or thumping their back feet when I appear in the garden (all things they are supposed to do when danger is near).  They are obviously not afraid of me!

P.S. I have included some photos of plants the rabbits don't seem to like yet!

Friday, June 04, 2010

Around The Garden

I can't believe it has been another week in the garden.  There have been lots of changes and not all for the better.  We had a huge storm early Wednesday morning and many of my plantings suffered damage from the heavy downpours.  I will be cutting all of my Carex back on the north side of the house because most of it got flattened.  The Persicaria on the south side also lost several large stems, bent to the ground.

The Centranthus in my alley garden is leaning heavily, but I hate to trim it back since it was in full flower.  I am thinking if I don't the cars will be rolling over it.  My shorter plantings seem to have come through the deluge much better.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Pretty Much Picasso

The vote is not in yet, but I am not sure Picasso would like his name on a flower that does not deserve the kudos that he normally expects.

This new introduction from Proven Winners has the color attributes that you would Ooh and Ah over but so far I am not seeing the performance.  I have placed it in three different planters around my garden and even though it is growing well, I am not sure what this flower really looks like.  It doesn't seem to open fully and some flowers split when trying to open. 

None of my specimens looks like the photo put out by Proven Winners, and one gardener per Garden Rant asked them if they photoshopped it.  Proven Winners denied that it was anything but the real thing.  It is touted as a vigorous grower supertunia but it won't matter if it does not have a distinguished flower.  The colors are wonderful, magenta with a lime green border - so the jury is still out.

What do you think?