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?

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Leaf Peeping in Vermont and New Hampshire

My sister decided on the spur of the moment that she wanted to go to Vermont a couple Saturdays ago so we all piled into my car and went all the way up the Quechee Gorge.  It was a bit cloudy and chilly but what beautiful scenery!  It wasn't as crowded as I thought it would be.  There is a bridge which spans the gorge and here are shots from both sides.

We also went to Woodstock, which was pretty crowded.  Here are both sides of a covered bridge, of which Vermont has the most in New England.

On the way home I took a wrong turn and we ended up in New Hampshire, where I believe these shots were taken.

 It's been wonderful this fall to enjoy the season, rather than stress about painting the house.  I have one coat of yellow left on the last side, which should only take a few hours.  Right now I'm working on replacing the trim pieces that had rotted, which has been a nightmare.  Another nightmare is rehanging my front door, after taking it down for painting.  Logic would tell you that if it fit before, it'll fit after painting.  But nooooo.  Nothing is easy is an old house, it seems!

Roadtrip - Kennebunk and Rockport

Last month we took an overnight trip to Maine.  I had been wanting to schedule this trip since I read about visits by the bloggers at An Urban Cottage and For the Love of a House.  We stayed at the Elizabeth Rose House bed and breakfast, which was lovely and very conveniently located right off of the highway.  On our way up we stopped at Rockport, Massachusetts.  My parents used to travel all over New England and often would take my three brothers, sister and me along, but I don't remember having seen this gorgeous town before.

Famous views of the pier.

We also passed through Gloucester and that's on the list to visit again, as it's another beautiful seaside town.  We then continued on, through an absolute deluge, up Route 1.  The next day we went to the Bush compound, with gorgeous scenery along the way.

The Texas flag was flying, as well as the flags of Maine and the United States, and that means George H. W. is in the house.

My favorite spot, however, was Old House Parts.  I thought I'd died and gone to heaven.  Tons of old doors, windows, shutters, fixtures, etc. were there to be had.  I bought a doorknob to match the missing one on one of my two front doors.  The young man was so knowledgeable and knew the age of everything.  For example, he pointed out that my front doors are in the Craftsman style, not Victorian, and that the original interior doorknobs were probably porcelain, not glass.  I could have spent hours there and wish I lived closer so I could incorporate more antique elements into my house, like light fixtures.

We then traveled up to Kittery to L.L.Bean and the surrounding mecca of outlet shops.  I'm not a shopper so I'll spare you any pictures. All in all, a great time was had by all! I want to go up more often because it's really not that far away.