Saturday, July 15, 2017

July Bloom Day? Aready?

In my neck of New England, July is notorious for hot, humid, sticky weather. Rain becomes non existent and days begin to soar into the 90s. The garden (and the gardener) can quickly become parched.

Not this year. At least not this year so far. Rain has been plentiful and beneficial. Yesterday the high temperature was in the low 60s, more than twenty degrees below normal. Last night I took some of the pictures for this post in drizzly weather wearing a light down jacket. In July. But I'm not complaining and neither are my plants.

When I started filling up the newly created gardens this spring I knew that if Mother Nature turned off the spigot I could be screwed. City water doesn't exist here; we're on a well. Last summer our area was in drought mode. I spent hours hand watering pots of plants I had moved from my old garden and plants I had heeled in. Everything struggled but survived to bloom another day.

So what have I got to offer up for Bloom Day?

No late frosts and plenty of rain has made for a lot of happy Hydrangeas.

Oh how do I love you Hydrangea macrophylla 'Lemon Wave', let me count the ways.

'Bloomstruck' is an Endless Summer introduction. I had a love/hate relationship with Endless Summer in my old garden and chose to leave both plants there but I have high hopes for this one. It's been moved twice in two years but is "home" now.

Hydrangea serrata 'Tiny Tuff Stuff'. Given the choice between a macrophylla and a serrata, I'll take the serrata every time. Tiny Tuff Stuff is new to me but so far I'm impressed.

H. serrata 'Kiyosumi' is much happier here on the north side of my house than it was getting hot afternoon sun in my old garden. I love it for the burgundy tone on the new foliage and the white lacecap flowers edged in pink.

'Little Honey' is the only H. quercifolia I am currently growing but that won't last long.

H. serrata 'Blue Billow' is sulking in my dry shade street garden. I may have to move it (yet again) but I'll wait til fall to decide.

Hydrangea paniculata 'Bobo' seems to be blooming just fine on the north side of my house.

Unfortunately Hydrangea paniculata 'Dharuma' is still sitting in a holding bed. Soon, I'll find you a home. Soon. 

After dissing daylilies somewhat on Instagram this week, I now have to admit that I grow a few. Only two are currently blooming though. Now that I have more space, I *may* add one or two more but don't quote me.

You won't find any 'Stella D'Oro' in my garden but I do grow 'Happy Returns'. Does anybody else grow plants they aren't crazy about but can't shovel prune for whatever reason? I do and you're looking at it.

'Indian Giver' is a daylily that will always have a spot here.

An unknown daylily I found growing at the edge of the woods in the front yard.

The rest.

Corydalis lutea is welcome to self sow all over my garden.

I should have cut back or supported Heliopsis 'Lorraine Sunshine' before it bloomed. Prematurely declining blooms are one of the downsides to summer rain,

Phlox paniculata 'Blue Paradise' (pictured with Rudbekia hirta 'Prairie Sun') is an example of another plant with flowers also turning to mush in all the rain.

A seedling from Echinacea 'Sombrero Salsa Red'. Something is eating the petals off my Echinacea this year.

I'd like to add more Echinacea to the garden but going forward I'll likely stick with more simple flower varieties not these mop tops like 'Coconut Lime'.

I could grow Astilbe 'Amber Moon' for the foliage alone. Cotton candy like flowers are icing on the cake.

Between the Astibes I moved and some I inherited I lost track and have no ID on this one. It is growing in mostly sun though and doing well which is likely a result of plentiful water. In the inevitable fall reshuffle I will likely move it to a shadier spot.

A hodgepodge of rain weary Persicaria amplexicaulis 'Golden Arrow', Digiplexis 'Berry Canary' and Calamagrostis x acutifolia 'Overdam'.

My poppy experience is limited. I picked up a six pack of 'Lauren's Grape' this spring. Hope it reseeds for me!

Agastache foeniculum 'Golden Jubilee' can reseed annoyingly but the foliage is hard to resist.

Another new to me plant: the annual butterfly weed Asclepias curassavica. I do believe I'm quite smitten.

Salvia guaranitica 'Black and Blue' is a staple in my garden. It's a winner in the ground or in containers.

Clematis 'Etoile Violette'

Clematis 'Madame Julia Correvon' is starting to wind down

Spigelia marilandica is one tough plant. It's one of my go-to plants for dry shade.

Gooseneck loosestrife (Lysimachia clethroides) has a well deserved reputation for being a garden thug. The variegated variety does run but is less aggressive. 

Planting containers in the spring is what I do. Usually I have them in place before adding the plants but this year I planted them in anticipation of a patio that doesn't exist yet so I used my imagination. Maybe by August bloom day they will be in place.

OK this post has gone on long enough. I had hoped to get it published earlier but you all know how that goes. I want to thank Carol at May Dreams Gardens for hosting this monthly event. If it wasn't for her I'd never get off my patootie and put a blog post together.

Home sweet home!


Friday, June 30, 2017

Patio Project Ground Zero

On Tuesday I was flung back to reality from my first Garden Blogger's Fling. What an adventure it was touring fabulous gardens for three days around Washington DC, MD and VA with an enthusiastic crowd of like minded garden geeks. Meeting some of the people behind the lenses and computers of the best garden blogs in cyberspace was icing on the cake.

Prior to the Fling, I met up with a few long time friends from my old Gardenweb days and spent two days touring gardens in the West Chester, PA area. Five full days of garden touring is a lot even for me but I returned home full of ideas and ready to hit the ground running.

Back in February, I wrote about plans we had to install a patio at this house along with the proposal from one of the garden designers we consulted. You can read that post HERE.

Scott Hokunson of Blue Heron Landscape Design was the second designer we consulted. Both Dave and I were impressed by Scott's design process and his vision for the space. After some revisions back and forth, we ended up with an exciting design that was also surprisingly budget friendly.

At just a bit over 750 square feet, this patio with be about 50% larger than the one I had at my old house. We've chosen irregular blue stone to reflect the casual, country feel of our home. The final design does not include sitting wall A. Sitting walls were one of my wish list items. That extra rub on the Genie's lamp apparently paid off.
The fountain from my other house is making a comeback. You can see it just to the left of the third sitting wall. I often gaze longingly at pictures of it in my old garden. I'm so glad we made the effort to move it here.

We decided to deep six the original fire pit/fireplace idea. The precast units just weren't doing it for me and custom built was a budget buster. Instead, we will be resurrecting an existing fire pit just off the back lawn at the edge of the woods. Okay, I admit the pictures in this post require the reader to dig deep on the imagination front. But it's going to be great! Trust me.

An existing fire pit that had been overgrown by trees and saplings makes a comeback.

Speaking of tree removal, kudos to Dave for single handedly felling at least a dozen medium to large trees. Selectively removing trees opened up the space significantly. The backyard now receives a healthy dose of my favorite morning sun. Never fear though, even without these trees a large portion of our two acre lot is still heavily wooded.

Much to my delight, patio installation work finally began yesterday. Weather permitting, construction is expected to take three weeks.

Looking east from just below the deck.

Soon I will be relaxing here every night with a glass of wine. After working my ass off creating all the new gardens.

We (I mean Dave) still has to center the breezeway door and install a French door in place of the double window.

The concrete footings are for an 8' x 4' deck step that will transition French door access to patio level.
Dave had such a fabulous time installing those footings. Aren't DIY projects the best?

Imagine the mixed border I will be planting just beyond the patio. As soon as the backhoe comes along and scrapes off all the existing roots, stumps and vegetation and I spread 100 yards of topsoil I can get to it. It's going to be great!

Look at this great pile of rocks that were uncovered during excavation! Some will be incorporated into the design.
So we're off! Sometimes I get tired when I think about all the work that still needs to happen just to reduce the exploded bomb look back here. But I began the process with a vision for this space and am so beyond thrilled to finally see it start to come together.