Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Goodbye Garden

You probably know by now I like movies, old movies, some new movies and those old horror movies with Bela Lugosi.  I looked around my garden today and everywhere I looked it was saying goodbye!  For some strange reason it reminded me of a favorite movie called The Goodbye Girl with Richard Dreyfuss and Marsha Mason.

I cut the Henryi Type 2 Clematis to the ground this year because it had become very woody.  It has grown quite tall and is putting out one huge bloom to say goodbye.

Comtesse De Bouchard has lots to say as a type 3 if we don't get a frost.  Look at all of those insect bites, many more than during the spring and summer.

Duchess of Albany is a type 3 saying goodbye with just one bloom.  Again, it is being eaten by insects.

Miss Bateman type 2, you have come back, so nice of you to visit before going to sleep even if is only one bloom!

The Rhodies will develop some reddish colored leaves, not to worry, this is normal for this time of year.  They will drop these leaves but will be perfectly healthy for new growth in the spring.  Remember when it gets really cold or really hot their leaves curl under.

I am finding it difficult to say goodbye to my Pineapple Coleus (which has become more veined as the weather has cooled) and the Pink Knockout Rose.  My rose has not made an appearance in two months, but it has come to say goodbye.

The tuberous begonias have done well all summer, I will certainly bring more of these into my garden next year.

The Volcano Phlox Pink with White Eye is blooming even after a traumatic hot summer planting.

This petunia has done nothing all summer, I have even forgotten its name, but now it is making a last hurrah!

The Italian parsley will hold up until November.  It takes a really hard frost to take parsley out.


Andrea orange mum and unnamed yellow cultivar

Unnamed yellow cultivar (I know I said I wasn't going to buy so many mums but I couldn't resist)

The pansies are beginning to fill out with the cabbages and red swiss chard.

Bright Lights Swiss Chard (the lights are the stems not the leaf)

Plumbago under the Arnie's Choice daylilies (this experiment worked in regard to having something that is growing under the daylilies after they are cut down in July)

Let's Dance is a new lace cap hydrangea that has suffered this summer with the heat.  It is now putting forth many new buds.  We'll see you next year!

The back border will soon be gone with the first frost.  Goodbye!

I am concerned about saying hello to anything in the next few months.  It has been so intensive during the spring and summer months, we need to figure out our discussions for those cold winter days!

I like Larry Conrad's idea about developing a forum for discussing what worked for us and what didn't and maybe coming up with some ideas for a better 2011.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Bulb Planting Time Is Here

My serious garden club met last week and had a serious workshop on fall bulb planting.  The person who spoke is a purchaser and bulb expert for a local nursery.  She was very knowledgeable and so excited about her favorite seasonal bulbs.


This is one of my favorite early daffodils.  It is similar to Tete-a-Tete but blooms for a much longer time period.

One of her favorite bulbs is Allium Schubertii  which is so large I asked what she did with the leftover spiked dried blooms.  She says friends of hers spray paint them white like snowflakes.

Allium Schubertii

When planting tulips beyond the species tulips it is recommended that they be planted 10" deep in our area (zone 5) to increase chances of them returning the following year.  I have to admit that I rarely plant anything this deep and do not count on my tulips coming back.  I have had better luck with the Emperor variety but they do not return with their typical large blooms. 

As far as rabbits are concerned, she told us if we walked over the area we had just planted it would erase the scent of the bulbs.  I'll try this, but it sounds too simple!  I have used chicken wire with plant stakes (this definitely works) and a granular product called Plantskydd for Critters (this product works well on the squirrels who are the main bulb diggers in the fall - works also on the rabbits in the spring but not as well on the babies who do not mind a bad smell).

Orange Emperor Tulips

Soil is a major factor in regard to tulips being return visitors, it must be rich  and loamy, not solid clay, with some bulb fertilizer mixed in (Espoma Bulb Tone was her recommendation).  Throw a little in the planting hole, mix with soil or put a little on top of the soil after planting and filling the hole.  Tulip leaves should be left on the plant until they turn yellow or pull out of the soil easily.

Daffodils are another story, they are not quite as fussy but do benefit from being fertilized.  If your daffodils have ceased blooming profusely then they need to be divided.  They form many bulblets around the main bulb and just send up leaves and maybe one flower.  I had to divide Mount Hood last year and am not sure what to expect his year in regard to bloom.  When done blooming, daffodil leaves should be left standing, not braided, tied, cut or buried under dirt or mulch.  I have gotten much better about overplanting bulbs with plantings that cover the bulb leaves. 

Mount Hood Daffodil

Hyacinths are also prone to splitting into several florets instead of that compact large bloom when they are newly planted.  Our presenter said that this is also due to them not being planted deep enough.  I am afraid I am a big offender of the not deep enough crowd.  I guess I am too lazy to dig ten inches deep!

In order to have a good start for bulbs the soil needs to be cooled down to 60 degrees before planting.  I am not always planting in regard to soil temperature as I plant when it is comfortable for me to be working outside.  It has never been a problem in regard to bloom whether I plant in September or December (you can plant bulbs up until the ground is frozen)

Early Sensation Daffodil (blooms very early and for about three weeks)

Amaryllis and Paperwhites were dealt with briefly and no mention was made of the Christmas variety which blooms earlier than any of the regular amaryllis.  Check all of these bulbs out on and 

Our presenter recommended that the amaryllis bulbs be saved from year to year for rebloom.  After the plant is finished blooming she said to let the leaves grow for awhile and then cease watering and put in a dark area.  When you notice that green tip beginning to form again at the top of the bulb, then it is time to begin watering again and give the bulb some light.  It was recommended that the amaryllis be planted in good potting soil half way down with the other half of the bulb out of soil.  Amaryllis will also grow in pebbles and water but for holding over for rebloom soil is a better medium.  Paperwhites are a one-time bloom plant, enjoy and throw away.

Christmas Amaryllis (There are many colors to choose from)

Paperwhites Ziva

If you live in a southern climate many bulb companies will ship pre-cooled bulbs.  Happy planting!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Around The Garden

I can't believe another week has gone by.  I am noticing many changes in our weather even though it has been very warm.  The leaves are whirling with many already on the ground, my faux pumpkin blew down the alley (not heavy like a real one) forecasting a changing temperature over the next few days.  Our highs are predicted to be in the sixtys rather than eighties.

The Sweet Autumn Clematis is lovely on the pergola and has not even fully opened yet.  The wind has blown many of the petals all over the patio.  I watch this grow over the summer with not a bloom on it, it shades the patio, and when it blooms it is well worth the wait.  I am going to cut it down in the fall this year just to get all of this off the pergola.  We'll see if it survives, have cut other type 3's down in the fall and they have been fine.

With the first frost the coleus will be gone.  Coleus has been one of my best performers this year becoming  wilted with the high heat but always bouncing back with a little water.

Inky Fingers intertwined with Bronze Sweet Potato Vine amongst the boxwoods, always does well in this environment.

This is a section of the alley garden that shows most of the plants growing there, just repeating as you travel the approximately thirty foot length. 

This is Agastache Blue Fortune, very fragrant and usually covered with bees.  It is not a problem in the alley but I would not recommend it for anywhere where you pass by often.  Next to it is Sedum Autumn Fire, supposedly a replacement plant for Autumn Joy.  However, it's color is not as vibrant, flower heads not as big, but it does not flop and stands through the winter.

Perilla is a wonderful plant to fill in the border.  It is an annual in my area and related to the coleus.  It can get to be about four feet high and has a stronger stem and leaf structure than coleus.

Diamond Frost Euphorbia pairs very well with roses and allysum.  It is fairly cold hardy but will succumb to frost.  It has been recommended to plant with pointsettas but you will have to pot it up and bring it inside if you are in an early frost area.

After Becky Shasta was done blooming and cut down the Plumbago took over and I did add some marigolds.  I am redoing this garden, less Beckys and more phlox and daylilies.

Purple Dome Aster is just beginning to bloom.  The rabbits really did a job on this in the spring and I thought it would never bounce back.  It has really filled out because the rabbit pruning.

I have already cut many flower heads of Limelight Hydrangea and have more to cut over the weekend for drying.  I will leave some to winter over and turn a light tan in the winter.

I will also be cutting some of the plums of Miscanthus Udine for indoor decorating.  They turn a beautiful pink as the weather cools.  This is not a grass that I would recommend be left standing for the winter, however, it is very difficult to cut it down when it looks so beautiful.  Last year I left it and it was a major chore to cut down when flattened by the snow.

Panicum Northwind is a great grass to leave standing over the winter.  It will turn a light tan and even with snow will pop back up when it melts.  It is usually about March when you will notice it is not as upright, but this is okay, it's almost spring.

Variegated Solomon's Seal is a plant that has held up through the seasons and the heat.  It is a fast multiplier and loves a shady or partly shady area.

There is a great deal of work to be done in the garden this time of year.  When I wait too long it is miserable trying to work outside trimming and cutting.  I am trying to keep ahead of this, knowing that if I don't pull some things out early it will be difficult to do this in a few weeks.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A New Beginning

I went to my "Fun" Garden Club meeting this week and it was great to see everyone after a very long hot summer.  It's funny, no one talked about gardening, but our mission was to tell something about ourselves that no one knew and to give a little gardening or household tip if we wished.

Fall by my back garden shed

The lunch was wonderful, chicken salad with grapes, homemade rolls, salad and fruit salad, with little chocolate somethings for dessert.  We all love the lunches but what is most appetizing is the company and conversation, about our summer trips, gardening successes and failures and looking through the book of planned adventures for our group.

We have a very mixed group, young, middle-aged, older and oldest.  It makes for a delightful experience when someone shares that they used to be a flight attendant when they wore those sleek little military type caps with the wings on the front, when they could not be married and they had to be under a certain weight.

My other friend who also belongs to the serious group brought a picture of herself showing an activity that no one knew she was a sculler on a boat with many others from her college, another has written a children's book awaiting to see if it has been accepted.  We found out someone else from our group has a small floral design business and another is a super organizer with demos of her methods.

Oh, it is so great to be back with all of these interesting people!

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Four Seasons

One of my favorite movies of all time is The Four Seasons with Alan Alda and Carol Burnett,  The concertos by Vivaldi were mesmerizing as they wove through the story of these couples lives, and whenever I hear them I think of not only the movie but of all the seasons of the year.

My favorite season is spring with fall running a close second.  I am sure you can guess which are my least favorites, summer and winter, funny because as a child summer and winter were my favorites.  Oh, but that must have been before I became a gardener!

Could this be the last rose of summer, I hope not!  This double Knockout has put forth one beautiful rose after not blooming much all summer.

I am really liking the look of this Chocolate Chip Ajuga that I put between the cracks of the new bluestone walk under my arbor in the back garden.  Right now, it seems like a very controlled ajuga and you can walk on it without any damage.

I wish I had paid a little more attention to Boltonia Pink Beauty by caging it in last spring rather than letting it flop until the summer.  It is really stunning under the dogwood but not as pretty as it could have been.

One lone white campanula amongst the allysum

This was a $1.97 mum from Home Depot last year that I wintered over in the veggie garden and then transplanted into the border.  It is now about two feet tall and two feet wide.  I did pinch it back all summer, but I just don't have room in my summer garden for mums.  I might have to do them in pots for the summer.

This is Festive Ursula in the blue resin pots back by the arbor.  I am sure it is an early mum, but I just liked the color.  This one I might winter over in the veggie garden.

Helga is one of my favorite mums beginning to bloom by the garden shed.  Even though it is classified as an early mum, it lasts a long time and is not susceptible to insects or slugs as are some of the white mums.

I began cutting my Limelight today for drying, strip off as many leaves as you can because they do not dry well.

When they are stripped of leaves, you can put them in a tall bucket or vase to dry - no water, usually takes no more than a few days.

The Unique Hydrangea is handled in the same manner, leaves stripped and put in a vase or bucket to dry.  They are more pendulous than Limelight

Unique Hydrangea with Limelight Hydrangea