Friday, August 31, 2007

Just in case you arrived here from a bookmark instead of through the website, I want everyone to know that we're having our fall sale for the first half of September. 25% off all potted hostas. Hope you all find something you need.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Parthenocissus 'Star Showers'

I know, I know, it's not the next day, but between computer problems and storms that knocked out our electricity for over a day, I'm just getting back to this. This is another of the parthenocissus, this one the most highly variegated we grow. The leaves are slightly smaller than the species, though the vine is every bit as vigorous as long as it is in a place it likes. It will ramble along the ground or a fence, or grow up a tree or a post. It is, unfortunately, difficult to propagate, so I don't often have much of it to sell. This is probably why I don't see it on the market much despite it's original hype. Worth having if you can find it with fall color as good as what it shows in the summer.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Parthenocissus 'Fenway Park'

Not your usual Boston Creeper. We started growing this one a few years ago, and the first one was slow, but once we figured out that it would like a lot of sun, it has flourished. This particular one was a small cutting this spring and has covered a 6 foot post in just a couple of months. The color is quite a bit more gold that what shows in this picture, though you might expect this color in more shade. On mild winters the new growth survives, but even if it freezes back, it comes charging up in the spring to start again. It is not overly agressive - just needs something to climb on. We also grow a variegated version with this same leaf shape - pink, white and green - which is equally lovely, but a little less hardy and which prefers more shade. Tomorrow I'll put up a picture of one with the more typical leaf shape, like the wild form, and talk a bit about it.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Monarch Butterflies

This is a Monarch Butterfly caterpiller I disovered yesterday. We have seen several pairs of Monarchs in the gardens in the past week. I always wonder if they're coming back, but somehow they always find our gardens again. We plant several different 'milkweeds' in the gardens and have the wild ones growing in the fields across the road. Quite a few different butterflies call our place home, but it is always special this time of year to see that the Monarchs have returned.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Fall Daylilies

Just when you think that the daylily season is over, the fall bloomers come into their own. This is Autumn Daffodil, about the first of our lates to bloom. It is a little taller than average, but most of our lates are quite tall - 4 feet or so. Most are also in the yellow or what I'd call fall color range. I often complain that you don't get the reds, purples, pinks and whites in the very early and late daylilies, but by this time of year, I think we're just happy to still have some blooms. There's no reason why daylilies have to bloom only for a few weeks midsummer. We have them blooming from early May until September. Now, I'll admit that the overwhelming bloom we get in July is much better, or at least much more, but in May and September, a single bloom can be quite lovely.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

This is taken in the front yard near the road. This is where the hosta obsession really got started. There is less grass now and more hostas, but even as much as we hate to more, I think you need a little (though very little) grass in some places. This garden was planted about a dozen years ago. We had hostas before that, a couple dozen varieties, but this was the beginning of the real collection which now numbers over 1000 varieties, not counting seedlings. The deer have eaten the leaves off of many of them at this point, but not to be deterred by the little fact of missing their leaves, they are starting to bloom and the deer seem to be avoiding them. I'm glad I'm not one of those people who cut off the bloom scapes on hostas. They are truly lovely and come in every shade of lavender/purple imaginable plus the lovely white ones, so nicely scented that are just starting to bloom. In a year of gardens really devastated by drought, heat and deer, the hosta flowers are a really nice way to wind down this strange gardening season.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Oak Leaf Hydrangea

Hydrangeas aren't for the most part dependable bloomers here, but the oak leaf variety are never fail performers. They will grow in sun or shade, though light shade seems to be their favorite. They bloom in July with white flowers, but as the blooms age, they turn light then darker pink and then by fall have aged to a warm brown shade. They make wonderful dried flowers for fall arrangements needing only to be cut and hung for awhile until thoroughly dry. They will last (barring destruction by marauding kittens) until you cut the next ones in a year. In recent years a number of named varieties have come on the market, including dwarf forms. The species isn't all that huge and the dwarfs aren't all that dwarf, but I guess there is some distinction. Deer occasionally will nip the growth tips, but otherwise seem to leave them along. They also seem pretty drought tolerant which has been a consideration this year for us. These are fairly inexpensive and readily available.

Monday, August 6, 2007


The first picture on the webpage "blooming today" is of a primrose. I was feeling guilty for awhile since they had finished their bloom and I hadn't gotten around to changing it, but I find that now, in the midst of this horrible heat wave, I have at last one primrose in full bloom. This is not uncommon. They begin their bloom at the first sign that spring might come soon and usually continue until the heat sets in, though we get sproadic bloom throughout the season and sometimes during a warm spell in the dead of winter. They seem to tolerate a wide range of light conditions, though some shade is helpful and those that get too much sun may suffer from leaf burn on the edges. We often rescue them from Lowe's in the spring when they have gotten a bit frosted, since, with damaged leaves removed, they soon begin to grow and look fine in no time at all. They come in every color of the rainbow and in various combinations. If you add in the various species, you find a family with not only various colors, but shapes that are low growing and also with very tall flower spikes - a little something for everyone.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Hibiscus 'Angelique'

As the daylilies wind down, the hibiscus are just getting started. We have scattered them throughout the gardens so that we can enjoy their size and colors wherever we are working. This is Angelique. She is a tall plant, over my head at least and lives at the edge of the bog along with quite a few others. The flower is about 6 - 8 inches across, not nearly as large as some, but unique in its pulled back petals. I don't think any of them have a fragrance, but since you don't have to get close to enjoy them, scent isn't as important I don't think. These all enjoy moist soil, even, as this one, at the edge of a bog, and also enjoy full sun.

Friday, August 3, 2007


If you want people to think your garden has moved to the tropics, this is the vine for you. Maypops are primarily a tropical family, but this one grows happily in zone 6. It comes up rather late after the heat sets in for sure and grows quickly, especially if you make sure it gets abundant water. The flowers are a wonderful shade of lavender and quite fanciful. If it can't find a tree or trellis to climb, it will just sprawl along the ground. It seems to be less than picky about its conditions and we have them growing in full sun and light shade. Some coleus or cannas will go nicely and give you a nice clash or colors.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Hosta 'Pandora's Box'

This is probably the cutest miniature hosta out there. Not new, but dependable as long as it gets a little sun. In too much shade it will just sort of fade away. Miniature hostas are every bit as hardy as the big guys, but there are a few things you might consider before letting the little ones loose in your garden. If you have primarily big hostas, the little ones will have a tendency to get lost under the others, or be stepped on while you're working in the garden. They are best at the front of the border, or you might try giving each one their own large rock to grow next to for protection. We have them scattered around, but also have two beds just for minis. One is very shady under a variegated dogwood and some witch hazels, while the other gets quite a bit of sun, only receiving protection mid afternoon from a row of chestnuts. Miniature ponds (try using large rubber dog dishes) are also a nice addition to the miniature garden. I've also mixed in some small astilbes, gaultheria procumbens, a fern or two at the back edge and some primroses for a little color.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Asimina triloba 'Variegata'

This tree is relatively new here, probably in the last 4 or 5 years. The variegation isn't there first thing in the spring, but appears when heat and sun bring it out in early summer. It is growing just like any other pawpaw, happily at the edge of the woods. It hasn't flowered yet, but I expect it will soon since it is now about 10 feet tall and looking more like a tree every day. This was just a chance seedling that showed up, not something we were breeding for or anything like that. Pawpaws are really lovely trees, purple bell shaped flowers in the spring and all of those yummy fruits in the fall. With the late freeze this year we'll not have any fruit this year, but the trees are pretty and nicely shaped if they're not crowded by their neighbors and so the fruit is really just a bonus.