Thursday, April 26, 2012

Believe It Or Not

It is difficult to believe how much our blooming cycle has been thrown off by the unusual March weather.

I have never had a rose bloom in April!  My roses bloom in June, but not this Rainbow Knockout that looks like it has a little frostbite.

Endless Summer Hydrangea (has not been a good bloomer in my area) has also been nipped but it looks like it has lots of buds this year.  I did not cut it back at all this year and held off on the fertilizer (just a light sprinkle).  This may not be the best year to judge the results because of our milder winter.

Some of the Type 2 clematis are blooming.  This one is Bourbon, grows about six feet high and I will have to cover it again for the patchy frost warning.

This is Ramona and also is a type 2, can't cover this one because it's on the arbor.

Type 2 clematis are a little more work in that they require careful pruning in the spring and every so often need to be cut down after blooming to rejuvenate them and get rid of a lot of dead wood.  I think it is worth growing some of them because of their early bloom and large flowers.

Wow, I have never had this many berries forming on Amelanchier Regent, birds will love it!

Allium in the border takes up hardly any room, a great bulb to layer where there is lots of other foliage to hide the ripening leaves.

I am going to use less annual fillers in the border this year, impatiens are susceptible to downy mildew, and these are what I have usually interplanted.  I am thinking Verbena Bonariensis might work well and take up little space.

I have given up trying to reposition my pansies in other areas, the heat always gets them!

Foolproof perennials, Heuchera Villosa Purpurea, Heuchera Southern Comfort, Heuchera Pistache and Japanese Painted Fern all happy together in part shade.

Raspberry Splash Pulmonaria looks better as the season goes on, decorative leaves all summer.

Persicaria Polymorpha is creeping up towards the grid, hope it holds it firm this year during the storms.  It is such a striking plant and will bloom all summer if not whipped around by the wind. 

The carex grass has just about covered the fencing that keeps it off the path.

This might be the year for Thunderbolt Hosta, not very pretty when there are only two or three leaves.

Rainbow Knockout
It is important to prune your roses each year, opening up the center, taking out all stems that are pencil thin and leaving some thicker and thinner canes.  Don't forget to feed them and they will reward you with gorgeous blooms.  I bring mine down to about twelve inches and they fill out and up beautifully!

Have a wonderful weekend!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

A Cool Morning Trip With Piet Oudolf

It is probably my fifth time going through Piet Oudolf's book Designing With Plants, and each time I find the philosophy overwhelming but I am determined to master it.  I read it all the way up to Wisconsin and even fielded questions from my husband on what it meant to have a plan that didn't look like a plan.

I have tried Dianthus Firewitch at my home with no luck.  It does just great in Wisconsin, don't know why because the temps are not that different but the air sure is, very little pollution and cooler evenings.

Roy Diblik who is part owner of Northwind Perennial Farm has worked with Piet Oudolf on the Lurie Gardens in Chicago's Millennium Park.  Northwind is located in Burlington, Wisconsin which is very close to my Wisconsin home.  I have frequented Northwind many times over the years and have said before that it is the birthplace of Panicum Northwind grass, one of my favorites.  Roy does not have a degree in horticulture and grew up on a small lot in Berwyn, Illinois but he has become one of the most influential plantsman in recent history. 

Nepeta Walker's Low does great up here no splitting in the middle like mine back home in the alley garden.

I cut down Coreopsis Zagreb a few inches so that it will spread and become more bush like, more blooms.

One of the questions my husband asked was could I duplicate a Piet Oudolf garden in my small space.  I had to think about this and stated that I could definitely use his philosophy regarding repeating plants in color, form, structure and mood rather than duplicating the same plants throughout the garden. 

He did a much smaller garden at Midwest Groundcovers in St. Charles, Illinois (where I had a writers workshop in the fall) and it was very impressive.

This pathway leads up to the front door with boxwood, dianthus and daylilies.

The Knockout roses had gone crazy because we didn't come up in time to cut them back for the season.  With the unusually warm weather they had grown to five feet tall in every which way.  I had to make the hard decision to cut them back severely and possibly miss a first flush of flowers.  I did it and fertilized!

The Hidcote Lavender was very overgrown and I usually cut it back to new growth in early spring.  However, with my late arrival this year or should I say early spring this did not get accomplished.  Again, I decided to do it now!

Sedum Autumn Joy has taken over Salvia May Night, will need to move this.

Sedum Vera Jameson does great but there is one along this path that I have replaced twice, must find out what it going on in the soil.

Shasta Daisy Snowcap

This is an example of volcano mulching done by the landscaping company that takes care of the grounds.  The maple tree is stunted so there may also be a problem with the burlap and twine underneath the soil.  The University of Illinois recommends that the burlap be cut away along with the twine when a tree or shrub is planted.  Many times these products do not decompose as we are told by nurseries and landscaping companies.

Echinacea Magnus and White Swan do well in this climate.

All of the plants at this Wisconsin home require minimal amounts of water because we are not always there to take care of them.  Even the Knockout roses survive under these conditions.  I used to put in some annuals but have given up on this as they require more care than the perennials.

I won't be doing too much Piet Oudolf up north but I have incorporated some of his recommendations in regard to preferred perennials.  However, back home, I will work more with his philosophy rather than the planned garden look.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Around The Garden

We are definitely back to a more normal springtime, cool nights even frost warnings and daytime temperatures in the fifties.  I covered my clematis which is just about ready to break into full bloom.

Clematis Bourbon
This is a smaller clematis, about six feet, perfect for a teuter.  It is covered right now with a black plastic bag because of a possible frost.  Clematis do very well if the flower is closed up tight but these are open and will be more susceptible.

This is Azalea Karen with daffodil Thalia coming up in the middle.  I have another one next to it that is at least a week behind, has buds but just beginning to bloom.  This is a mystery to me right now!

Allium Purple Sensation

Variegated Solomon's Seal

Dicentra Eximia
I have cut away some of the Solomon's Seal so that this small plant which blooms all summer has some exposure.  Don't hesitate to trim out plants that overshadow others.

The pansies will take the light frost but it seems just as they are doing great it is time to pull them out and plant the summer containers!

Monday, April 16, 2012

What Could Be Better?

I asked myself this question as I drove to meet a group of fellow gardeners.  We all volunteer for the University of Illinois Extension Services and are as different as the plants in our gardens.  Two are expert vegetable gardeners, one great with trees and shrubbery, one with a botanical background who keeps taking all of those additional botany courses, me with a love of perennials, design and containers and last but not least, one with a design ability with perennials and annuals for town home properties.

Dicentra Spectablis Red Valentine

Before I purchase more plants I need to be aware of space.  I just added the Red Valentines to the north side of my home.  They are deeper colored than the pink varieties, bought at Home Depot for $8.99 each.

Of course lunch is the big priority and we are going to a place that can be either breakfast or lunch.  I have never been a fan of breakfast food (would love a ham sandwich with coffee) so I will be ordering lunch.

Then on to one of our favorite plant stops where two of our U of I volunteers work, have also invited them to eat with us.  I can't wait to show you some of the new introductions at least new for my garden.

I really wanted to buy this bergenia but hesitated because the leaves have always browned for me at my previous home, I resisted.

Dicentra Spectablis Goldheart
I could not pass this one up as it is a focal point in the spring garden.

I did not purchase any of these but what a great display.

These deep magenta shooting stars were lovely, but I passed on these also.

Geranium Bob's Blunder
I could not resist this one, great reports from other bloggers, leaf color and blooms throughout the seasons.

Panicum Shenendoah
This is a smaller grass that I bought for my back border where there is so little fall and winter interest.  Make sure you see some red veining so that this grass will preform true to form, supposedly beautiful red tones in the summer.

Cimicifuga ramosa Artopurpurea

I did buy this one to go with two others that I have next to the fence in the back border.  It is shady back there and sunnier in the front, like two different situations.  They are wonderful in August and September with white fluffy flowers.

Hakonechloa macra aureola
I really wanted to put it here by the pathway but I think there may be too much sun in this area, have to rethink this one.

This is Ajuga Chocolate Chip on the same pathway, one plant, gone wild this year.

Brunnera Angel Wings on the same path, not too sure about this one a couple of weeks ago, but I have changed my mind, love it!

Heuchera Miracle
I took a chance on this one last fall because it said "Sun", but had none of this great veining showing.  I am loving this one also!

Oh well, I had better be careful what I buy, can I find more room in my small garden?  It seems like I always do!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


As I walked through the garden, I finally realized how much layering for succession blooming I have done in the past few years.  Interplanting for continuous blooming cannot be haphazard, i.e., nothing invasive or plantings that cannot be cut down after blooming.  Lilies don't count because their stalks are so slender other plants can easily grow up around them.

I have lilies coming up throughout the garden with daylilies, roses, phlox and shasta daisies.

Lilies coming up in the front garden behind daffodil and daylily foliage.

Lots of layering here with roses, shasta daisies, phlox, daylilies, lilies, and snapdragons.

Short to tall all the way back, Heucherella Stoplight, rose, daylily Amelia, phlox Blue Paradise and David

Lilies are great to plant between early flowering daylilies like Happy Returns.

Lilies are great coming up through groundcovers placed behind flowering spring shrubs and bulbs.

Foxglove and phlox are just meant to be layered behind shorter plantings.

The rhodies are behind a stone wall right next to my front door.  They are attractive all year, but it is refreshing to look down and see hostas and ferns taking over the show.

Little Lime Hydrangea  is leafing out through the daffodil foliage, grows about three feet tall.

Allium and daffodils come up through Sweet Woodruff in the spring only to be replaced by phlox, iris, daylilies, roses and clematis.

I treat bulb foliage in different ways depending on where it is located and how much it interferes with other plantings.  I give most of the daffodil foliage a little haircut when all of the blooms are gone also cutting off the seed head in the process (this conserves energy for flower production next year).  I come around again a month out and cut a little more foliage off to let in light to other layered plantings.  My last cuts around the end of June just low enough so they do not interfere with other plants and in most cases this still leaves quite a bit of foliage.

I have never had a problem with the daffodils returning for a stunning display the following year, never have left my daffodils yellowing and sprawling all over the ground unless they are in a garden bed where I don't see them.

Blue Spike Muscari coming up in the same area where daylilies will enhance the summer garden.

Heuchera Southern Comfort coming up through the groundcover

Starlight Hydrangea

Even behind and next to Brunnera Silver Wings there are lilies and daylilies taking over.

Valerie Finnis Muscari and Geranium Magnificum are spring bloomers and can be cut down when done blooming for Heuchera Carmel and Heuchera Miracle to fill the area.

There is a row of very large bleeding hearts on the north side of my home, but as we know bleeding hearts die down during the summer with no redeeming qualities except yellow foliage and stems.  This is a Japanese Painted fern ready to take over.

Peach Flambe Heuchera is getting ready and I will remove a few stalks of the bleeding heart to give it more light.  This will not affect the next years blooming of the bleeding heart.

 Stoplight Heucherella coming up under the bleeding heart

Carrots planted under the daylilies - by the time the carrots need lots of sunlight the daylilies will be cut down.

The radishes look very lush don't they?

Same scene a day later, the rabbits have made a visit!