Sunday, September 11, 2016

Always Remember

 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends. John 15:13 (New International Version)

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Gardener Changes

I think my gardening style has grown up.  I initially loved cottage gardens, with their many colors, and crammed-in, higgledy-piggledy look.  Now I want more calm, more order, less chaos.  I've never liked plants that look tropical or flop over.  I also want to stay away from invasives or those that self-seed too readily.  I pulled out the beautiful obedient plant last year (it's actually way not obedient).  This year the phlox have seeded everywhere and I need to keep an eye on it.  I suppose I should deadhead it right away, but who can keep up with that?

As I get older I am concerned about the high-maintenance roses I have.  They require a lot of pruning, watering, deadheading and fertilizing.  I suppose I could just keep the knockouts and other shrub roses that don't really need a lot of fussing over.  For the past two years I've had five roses out back that barely flower, if at all.  Three of these are from the beginning, in 2006.  Maybe they're just worn out.  I don't know.  I'd like to pull them out and replace them with Lady Elsie May, which is an Energizer bunny of a rose, and huge.

Then I remember this:

The other problem is that because the side yard slopes severely, I can't easily bring mulch to the shade and back gardens.
That's little Lucy last year.
In concert with my new streamlined approach, I prefer the look of cedar mulch rather than leaf mold.  Hopefully, as the new gardens mature the plants will cover most of the ground.  In the original garden I now have four groundcovers - thyme, myrtle, ivy and plumbago.  This was my mother's sage advice because I wouldn't be able to maintain this large garden without them.

I've also become interested in extending the gardening season from its peak in mid-July.  I used to get a third flush of roses but not in recent years.  This year I've worked on the "bones" that will enhance the winter garden - the "transplanted" arbor and new boxwood.  I also decided to plant the new garden in front of the front porch (see below) as a winter and early spring garden, with a (transplanted) dwarf blue spruce, Alberta spruce, redtwig dogwood, possibly boxwood, and spring bulbs.
My favorite plants continue to be roses, hydrangeas, cranesbills, oriental ilies, hostas, barberries, peonies and foxgloves.  I tolerate the drooping peonies because who doesn't love their over-the-top beauty?  This year I actually staked them all in time, but alas, the April snowstorms took a toll on their blooms.

Gardening Changes Part II

I've been spending a lot of time in the backyard this summer while contemplating and implementing changes to my first garden.  As a result I decided I could no longer abide the 12-foot barberry next to the deck.  I chopped it all down (after waiting for the baby catbirds to leave the nest).  It had morphed into five separate "trees."  What was left was a stone wall and planting area below that I thought might look cute.

I have been enjoying sitting on the previously rarely used patio ever since I planted the shade garden on the north side of the house.  I really wanted to plant a tree or shrub on top of the stone wall, something smallish like a redbud, witch hazel or viburnum.  But there's really not enough room.  I could plant something below the wall, in the lawn, but that would close in my small yard.  So I decided on a row of four Green Mountain boxwood, with a Countess de Bouchard clematis climbing the deck post, and plants below the wall.

I transplanted a Graham Thomas rose, dwarf Hameln ornamental grass and daylilies from the front Heritage Garden.  They had all been crowded out.  I'm not sure what colors the daylilies are; the pieces got mixed up so it could be a combination of yellow, burgundy and orangey-red.  I'll probably have to move things around next summer.  I also transplanted pale yellow foxglove from the back garden.  I love them and it'll be a nice clump, next to the rose, which is a warm pale yellow.  I also transplanted a big clump of Shasta daisies from the back garden.  I did buy a Montauk daisy and Concorde Japanese barberry on sale.

Yellow foxgloves are on the lower left.
The grass had become even more dwarf due to crowding.
I had asked the neighbors to give me their bags of leaves, with the intent of shredding them with my new machine. Well, I never got around to it, but that's OK because when I opened the bags, I found they had mostly composted. I spread them over the garden, and it looks great. I think next year this will be the way to go with all my gardens. I can only imagine how huge all the plants will be.

Here are the sad looking plants post-planting.  You can see the circle created by the former barberry, with hostas surrounding it.

A before shot during a misguided "blue house" period.  I had chopped this bush down previously a few years ago when my co-worker, who had been laid off, thought he would build me stairs off the deck.