Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year!

Yes, I'm posting like a madwoman tonight!  I got out of work two hours early for the first time in years and years.  My boss said it was a Festivus Miracle (he's obsessed with Seinfeld).

I figured I'd take a picture of the tree (blue spruce) before I rip it down.  It's so big I can't wait to get rid of it.  I'll have to go back to my tall, skinny balsam firs.  When do you take your tree down?  We always took ours down on New Year's Day.  Oh, and those are the curtains I made last year.  Like the ones in the living room, I simply added onto the insulated curtains.  They're a very subtle white print on pale gray.  Yes, it's in keeping with my desire to use more neutrals.  When I get sick of the toile wallpaper I want to paint this room Stonington Gray.  I still love the paper, though, even though it's been up for seven years.

I wish you and yours a healthy, joyful New Year.  May we all be in God's will.

Good-bye 2013

Here's a yearly wrap-up of what's been accomplished or is new.

1.  Expanded two front gardens.  It looks so much better now that there's a more cohesive look.

2.  Created a shrub border (three hollies were there but lost in the weeds).  I finally figured out what to do with this weird piece of land (the alleyway).  I just have to be vigilant to keep it weed-free now.

3. Traveled to Litchfield County (a couple times), Bridge of Flowers (Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts), Maine, Vermont and Newport, Rhode Island. Went to a concert (Robin Mark!).

4.  Lost almost 20 pounds.  Had to change my diet due to multiple stomach issues.  Clean eating, baby!

5.  Did some fearless gardening.  Threw out many irises which didn't bloom, were in the way or flopped too much.  Moved things around and divided stuff.  I actually threw stuff away.  Yeah!

Autumn Goodness

Yes, I know this is late and it's now winter.  Just pretend it's late October/early November.  This fall got away from me.  I think it was because I came down with severe tendinitis and was laid up for about three weeks.  My body's falling apart.  Sigh.

It seems like an exceptionally long and beautiful fall this year.  Here are some gorgeous scenes from around the yard and neighborhood.

Japanese maple with spectacular color this year.
Pretty weed oak tree I may let grow.
New viburnum with pretty fall color.
Beautiful pink glow on my neighbor's house.
Looking up the small hill.
Nice color at the top of the big hill.
Unbelievable gorgeousness in my neighbor's yard.
Can you believe this morning glory is blooming in late October? It jumped over from my neighbor's front yard, from about THREE years ago! Plants really like my gardens cuz that happens a lot!
It looks blue but it's really purple.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Changes in the Garden

This has been the year of change. First, the front garden got so overcrowded I semi-abandoned it. The pathway was impassable. So I transplanted the Invincibelle Spirit hydrangea to the new shrub border and threw away my mom's purple hydrangea. I think it was one of those "gift" hydrangeas that are meant for one-time bloom. It never got more than five flowers so it didn't warrant a prime real estate spot.
This year, a stellar year for hydrangeas, it produced only one bloom.

I also divided and replanted five hostas. The side yard received four hostas, including one from my mother's garden.  I moved most of the heliopsis to the left of the large butterfly bush because it was crowding the rose and Russian sage.  I've just decided this afternoon to move the heuchera to the side yard because it failed to thrive; perhaps it gets too much sun.  The fairy rose that never bloomed got replaced by White Flower Farm and planted in front of the large butterfly bush.  The old one went atop a stone wall behind the butterfly bush.  It's getting one more chance to bloom next year.

This year the Pinky Winky hydrangea seemed to  really be recovering from an unfortunate Roundup overspray accident back in 2008.  I'm glad I was patient.  Here it is in its fall color.
 I thought I 'd get a jump on next year's project, the side yard, and went to my favorite local garden center to see what shrub would work in shade.  The surfer-type dude suggested a viburnum.  What's not to love at 40 percent off?  I realized that there was a sunny spot next to the bottom steps, and also room for more shrubs.  Here come more hydrangeas on my wishlist--Blue Billow, Limelight, Royal Purple and Bombshell.  Surfer dude said they stock them all but I should come in April before they sell out.

All in all it was a decent gardening year.


Love this contrast of textures.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Finished Shrub Border

Yay, it's finally done!  This is a strip of land adjacent to my large backyard garden that I call the alleyway. Picture this, if you will: my garden is on top of a stone wall, and the alleyway is below it, but is on the stone wall that separates my property from my neighbor's. It slopes away from the garden. It's about the same size as the garden and I couldn't figure out what to do with it. I didn't really want more perennials down there since it's not the easiest place to access. I needed something low maintenance. I'd say it gets mostly sun all year.  My friend Holly gave me two large hollies several years ago and they went in the alleyway due to space and sun requirements.

When I first moved in, the alleyway was full of invasive Japanese knotweed. I spent a summer digging it out as much as I could. I then laid tarps over the area and sprayed anything that popped up with Roundup. I still get occasional stragglers. That stuff is hard to kill, but I'm no longer terrified of it as I once was. If I see it in my neighbors' yards or another part of my yard, I quickly poison it. You have to be vigilant.

So over the years the alleyway was neglected and became completely overrun with weeds. It's a tough spot to photograph, so you'll have to trust me that it was full of pokeweed and other huge and numerous weeds.
A complete jungle.
This June I started clearing it out and decided to transplant various shrubs from my mother's abandoned cottage garden. Wow, she has a lot of shrubs. But first I planted a deutzia that had self-sown in my front border. I'm not sure it made it because I don't seen any leaves, and it looks like two branches are dead. I placed it in between the hollies, toward the front, facing my neighbor's yard.

Deutzia, on the left, looking dead.
My Invincibelle Spirit hydrangea in the front garden flopped in a most unattractive manner after some horrific rainstorms so I moved it to the alley. (That garden is in the process of undergoing a major renovation due to overcrowding issues).

Invincibelle (brown blob near middle) looking quite vincible.
Then I had that hydrangea and an Endless Summer hydrangea sucker and create new plants, so they got transplanted. I also transplanted a huge hydrangea from my mother's garden. These are all grouped together.
Hydrangeas with spirea in front.
Then I transplanted an Anthony Waterer spirea, azalea, rhododendron and peegee hydrangea tree. The rhody was very heavy (over six feet tall) and didn't even fit in my car. My brother had to help me with some of these plants since they're all mature. While transplanting the rhody, I discovered a holly that had self-sown, but it looks nothing like its parents. Another freebie!
Free holly.
Hydrangea tree between hollies (they got a haircut).
Side view of the rhody, looking a little bedraggled.
  I can't wait to see all these plants in the spring.  There's a common pinky-mauvy rhody, hot pink azalea, and one hydrangea of unknown color.  Also, when the Invincibelle suckered, it seemed that the new plant had white blooms, which is my preferred color.  I don't know how this is biologically possible, but I never was very good at science.

I decided to use hay as mulch since it's so much lighter and easier to lug down there.  In the future I'll probably use wood chips like in my other gardens.  Lucy really enjoys the hay.

As I'm typing this I realize that I designed the garden as if looking at it from my neighbor's yard, instead of from my perennial garden or looking at it head-on, with the narrow part as the front.  Did I mess that up?