Monday, June 30, 2008

Eomecon chionanthus

This is a Chinese Bloodroot which I have in a number of places in the garden. It spreads by underground runners and can get to be a bit much sometimes, but is easily pulled out where you don't want it. It is well worth that little inconvenience for its soft green leaves and delicate flowers. Be sure to wear gloves when you pull it because the roots will stain your hands a bright yellow. I'm not sure if it would be a good dye plant, but it might be worth investigating since it has such intense color. I don't usually use natural dyes in my basket making (laziness mostly since it is more work) but this might be fun.
It will grow in sun or shade, though will be more aggressive in a sunnier spot. I don't think it would like full baking sun, though I've never put any in that sort of situation. It is about 8- 12 inches tall with the flowers held above the leaves. The books say that it flowers in spring, and ours usually does, but it also may bloom in the fall which is nice because not much else where I have it growing blooms then.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Aegopodium podograria 'Variegatum'

It would be hard to find a prettier combination of icy white and bluish green than this Aegopodium. Unfortunately, it is also hard to find a more invasive perennial. I keep a patch of this growing because I love the unusual color. It truly stands out wherever it grows, but I also weed it out in any other place it shows up, almost exclusively by root runners, so that it doesn't take over, as it did before I realized its inclination to do so. It does bloom (tiny white flowers) and it stays about 8 inches tall. It likes shade and maybe a little sun in damp, 'normal' or even slightly dry places. It is a wonderful ground cover, filling in rather rapidly, if you have places where you need that sort of thing - maybe a slope you don't want to mow. Otherwise, you need to be ruthless in the weeding out of this lovely perennial, which I wouldn't be without, but which does need some control.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Opuntia 'Wasatch Pink'

I overslept this morning, so this will be very short. The cactus bloom is almost done, mostly just the common yellow ones right now, except for this lovely pink, not quite out yesterday.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Deer Damage - Part Two

I found out something yesterday when I was trying to take pictures of the deer fencing. When you try to make you fencing pretty invisible, you also make it hard to take pictures of. The one that worked is the one about which is how I've been making my 'gates'. I found last summer that if I used bamboo stakes and ran a few strands of monofilament fishing line between them, I could keep the deer out of our ponds where they found the waterlilies quite tasty and munched other things one their way to and from the ponds. I have expended this system this year to surround all of our daylily beds. I'm just using one strand, about 3 feet above the ground - too tall to just walk over and too low for a large animal to just walk under. Deer don't like to jump into a place where they can't see the ground, so I hope this works since you really can't see the ground in the daylily beds because with all of this rain the foliage is really thick and lush. I also am in the process of surrounding the whole 7 acres or so of gardens with the stuff. It is slow going and I've run out until I get into town to buy more. So far I've put up about 1500 yards of the stuff. I've put a 'gate' every so often by simply using a hose washer which will slip over the bamboo stake. I started out with bought stakes, but then realized that with our lovely bamboo grove, I could just use the old canes and so have been cutting them. We thought about some sort of traditional fencing for the perimeter, but anyone who has put up any sort of fencing on less than flat ground knows just how hard it is. I know this system isn't anyway near perfect, but I am hoping that they'll just stay in the woods where there is plenty of stuff to eat instead of trying to find a way to get in here.
My other deer fencing is around the vegetable garden. I have always had a 3 foot chicken wire fence around it to keep out the rabbits and groundhogs. Unfortunately about the time the tomatoes are getting ripe, the deer would hope in and finish everything off. I bought some black mesh fencing, very light and virtually invisible unless you're right next to it and 7 feet tall. So far so good. It wasn't hard to put up and looks like the kind of mesh we've always used over blueberries to keep the birds from eating them. The deer are out of the garden, not I just have to keep all of the weeds out !
I haven't finished the front of the property since most of the deer come in from the back where we back up to thousands of acres of woods. Yesterday when I was sitting at the computer in the front room, I looked out the window and there was a very large 8 point buck looking in at me. Needless to say he was quickly shooed out and told not to return. Yeah, like he really listened to me.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Deer Damage - Part One

This is a view from near the top of the hill, looking out over the daylily fields.
This is the view from the same spot last summer at the same time after the deer had come through. The drought was hard enough on plants last summer, but once the deer came through there were no more buds left to bloom. Quite depressing. Even the usual deer deterrents didn't work.
What we use:
Liquid Fence - We've been using this product since the company first started in business and most years it works quite well. Starving deer will eat even the most gross things, so last summer nothing worked. They even ate holly leaves and I can't imagine anything much worse to chew on.
Repellex - Tablets you put in the ground which are then systemic and make things taste truly awful. The main ingredient is Bitrex which is sometimes listed as the most bitter substance know. We bought some straight Bitrex once to mix in with other repellents, and the powder was so bad that if Hank opened the jar 20 feet away to mix it, I could almost instantly taste the stuff. I think I'll stick to the tablets, though I still wear gloves to keep them off my hands. These work especially well for bulbs that might be tempting to underground pests.
The third thing we use, the name of which totally escapes me right now, it a powder which is blood based, like we used to use blood meal to repel rabbits, and is more difficult to use. It probably works as well as or better than the others, but because of the mixing and straining, I just don't use it as often.
All are expensive, but when you think about the value of the plants the deer might gobble up, the cost is pretty minimum, even with our large garden. All need to be reapplied every few months, but things like daylilies only get sprayed when in bud.
I had hoped to put up pictures of my new fencing system, but the state argiculture inspector chose yesterday to visit, so pictures didn't get taken. Barring interruptions today, I should be able to show you what I've been up to in tomorrow's post.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Hemerocallis - Daylilies

The earlilest daylilies each year are yellow. Lots and lots of yellow. Not that I don't appreciate their cheery faces in the morning when I'm sure it's too early for any daylilies to be blooming yet, but I'm always waiting for the first 'not yellow' daylily to bloom. That's when I figure their bloom season begins in earnest. 'Chicago Gold Coast', above, is usually among the first non-yellows to bloom. It is a rich gold, a large bloom and our large clump seems to bloom on forever.
This little guy is 'Blood Drop'. (Not sure right now if that's one word or two) It is one of the super miniatures, not just the flower which is probably under 2 inches across, but the foliage which is less than 10 inches tall. A perfect little flower for the front of the border. The red color is deeper in person and the flowers are held just at the top of the foliage.

This is one of the first more modern form daylilies to start every year. 'Wings of Chance' is recognizable from across the garden. Much brighter than this picture gives it credit for. It is growing at the edge of a large pink flowered rose. Not good planning colorwise, but they seem to get along all right.

This one just started blooming yesterday. 'Dragon's Orb' is another small one, creamy with a hint of pink and a darker eye.

I'm sure I've recently taken a better picture of 'Painted Face', but couldn't find it this morning. It is at the top of a hillside bed in front of some deciduous hollies so it stands out nicely from the dark green background.
Daylilies scapes are popping up everywhere, so the season is almost upon us. It will seem
almost like magic - I'll go out some morning and there will be color everywhere - as long as the deer don't come in and eat all of the buds like they have some years.
Tomorrow, ideas on deer control that have worked, at least sometimes, for me.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Typha (Cattails)

This first cattail is a miniature, Thypha minima. It has a cylindrical rather than a flat leaf and is only about 15 inches tall. It is the perfect plant for a tiny pond with a miniature waterlily. All cattails grow in shallow water. They need still water and won't be happy in a flowing stream. Even this tiny one will multiply aggressively if happy, so be prepared to thin it at least once a year.
Here's a closeup of the bloom on the miniature cattail. Most years they are round balls as opposed to the longer blooms on the larger cattails.

This is the midsized version, Typha laxmanii. It is probably about 3 feet tall and has more slender flat leaves than the huge cattails we know from damp spots on the sides of roads around here. It is delicate and lovely, and, again, will need dividing once a year after the clump reaches the size you want. We have this one growing in a pot in the pond so it can be away from the shallow edge. When potting up things to put in ponds, forget about the good potting soil and use a heavier garden soil or you'll find that all of your 'dirt' has floated away once the pot is put in the pond. A topping of gravel or sand on top of the pot will also help keep the dirt in and provide a little weight to keep it in place, especially in the beginning.

This is a prettier version of the large cattail, Typha latifolia 'Variegata'. It's a bit hard to see in the picture, but the leaves are vertically striped green and cream/white. It has always been a harder one to establish, but once it finds a spot that is to its liking, it will provide a nice accent for your pond or bog.
Jane - in foggy Appalachian Ohio this morning

Monday, June 23, 2008

Garden Tour

Not a plant this morning, but definitely garden related. This is Bubba who is about 12 years old. He is inviting you all who are withing driving distance to see some lovely gardens and support our local Humane Society (also know as the Cat Shelter). I'll just copy the news release as they sent it to me. We're not on the tour this year, though we have been a number of times. The gardens are always varied and worth visiting.

News Release
For Immediate Release Contact:
June 21, 2008 Katie Davis
(740) 447-0020 day and evening

Garden Tour to benefit Humane Society

Athens, Ohio ( June 21, 2008)—The annual Athens County Humane Society garden tour
will be held on Sunday, June 29, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Tickets may only be purchased on the day of the tour, inside the Athens County Visitors
and Convention Bureau, 667 East State Street, in Athens (located next to the City Pool
and in front of the Athens Community Center). Raffle tickets for a Mary Dewey
ceramic cat may also be purchased there on the same day.

Garden tour ticket prices are $8.00 for adults, $5.00 for seniors – and free for children!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Ranunculus 'Buttered Popcorn'

A quick note this morning about one of my favorite plants. This is Ranunculus 'Buttered Popcorn' and is one of the Buttercups. The leaves are decidedly different from the common field buttercup, but the flowers are identical. It is just coming into bloom and couldn't be cheerier. It grows in sun or shade and damp or dry, though in dry and sunny conditions it may wilt a bit in the afternoon sun. It can get a bit 'enthusianstic' at times, but is easily kept under control. I just enjoy it and let it choose where it wants to grow (and it will decide all by itself) and just keep it out of places where it would be a bit too much for its neighbors.
Out this morning to see how wonderful everything looks after out surprise inch of rain last night. We have been a bit dry lately as promised showers have mostly gone north and south of us without watering our gardens. Maybe fears of another summer of drought were premature.

Saturday, June 21, 2008


Before I get started naming each of the Ajugas I've decided to include this morning, a bit about them in general. They are wonderful plants which add much needed color in spring with flowers in blue, white or pink. They can be quite invasive though they are also quite easy to contain (or just plain rip out). They are also quite adaptable to sun or shade, damp or dry, though baking sun without adequate moisture will be a challenge. The said, here are some I especially like.

The first is 'Tricoloris' which has at least 3 color, though there are often shades of many more. This grows under our white flowered redbud tree. And oh yeah, another thing about ajuga. Even though it seems to sport unusual colors or variegations easily, it reverts back to a plain green just as easily, so you need to be ready to remove the reversions lest they take over the entire plant.
Next is 'Silver Beauty' which hasn't had a reversion problem for me. The color is a grey/green with white, mostly on the edges. A medium increaser and quite lovely in my white garden.

This one, 'Rainbow', unfortunatly was eaten by something a few years ago. It grew under a forsythia and was noticed by everyone. The color really was this pink.
'Planet Zork' is really some sort of mutant with a pulled string edge on the leaves and a crinkly surface. It is also more upright. This pictures is not the best, but this one seems to revert way too easily and turned into plain green in a few years despite our best efforts to keep it from doing so.

'Pink Torch' is one of my favorites. The leaves are a plain green with some burgundy highlights, but the flowers are a true, clear pink, darker than the picture. It's leaves are always the same, but you may have some plants that revert to blue flowers. Just be sure you cull them out while they are still blooming because after bloom you'll never be able to tell which ones they are.

'Mini Crispula' is the only non-aggressive Ajuga I know of. It slowly expands it's tiny clump. It is an extremely dark green with some burgundy highlights in sun and just twists and wrinkles all over the place. Nice for a rock garden or someplace where it won't be overwhelmed by other larger plants.

Last but not least, is 'Caitlin's Giant'. This has large leaves of green highlighted by burgundy and is most aggressive. Not a friendly garden plant, but an excellent groundcover where not much else will grow. It will work on slopes or flat, sun or shade. The color is much better in the sun. More water = larger leaves, so be generous with this one.

We also grow one called 'Chocolate Chip' with narrow leaves in a chocolate color and an unnamed one with white flowers. Many more exist in various colors or leaves or flowers and all can be quite useful in the garden despite their sometimes bad reputation.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Albino Fern

I found this fern frond when I was weeding yesterday. It is on an Ostrich Plume Fern which is otherwise perfectly normal and all green. Alone, it wouldn't survive for lack of chlorophyll (hope that's spelled right - it's early), but attached to the main plant, I should be able to enjoy it for the season. There is a little green on the stem and veins, so that should help somewhat, but not all that much. It is still to be seen if this oddity returns next year. We often get albino seedlings in daylilies which die rather quickly, but this, being a part of the main plant, is more like a hosta sport, or different eye on a 'normal' plant.
Dragonflies are busy everywhere. We had virtually none here before we started putting in ponds and now there are at least 8 different types from the large black and white spotted ones to tiny irridescent blue ones to the brick red ones. I wish I knew all of their names, but there seem to be so many that look almost alike that I fear I'll never get this one figured out. I'm taking pictures so maybe that can be a winter project.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Wonderful Weather

I had hoped to post pictures of some of our Ajugas this morning, but Blogger seems to be having a bad day and only gives me a 'this webpage can't be displayed' when I try to put them up, so I'll just use the time to do some more weeding. We've been having wonderful weather the past few days with temperatures in the 70s with low humidity. The only problem with all this nice weather is that I just keep on weeding with no excuse to stop to cool off. These are the days when I fall asleep right after supper. So .. off to weeding for the day. If Blogger is working this evening (and I don't fall asleep) I'll try and get the pictures up then.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Ground Covers - Part 2

These ground covers were all listed as hardy in zone 6 when I bought them, but I have my doubts. I often now see them listed as zone 7, so I expect there would be more happy in a warmer zone than I have here. This first one is Saxifrage 'Harvest Moon', a lovely yellow saxifrage which will brighten up a shady place like almost nothing else. I rambled around all over the place for a year or two then decreased until it was no more.

This is Lysimacchia 'Peach Cobbler' shown here in a little shade. In more sun it is every shade of peach and yellow imaginable. I have kept this in pots over the winter and planted it out each summer, but seem to have lost it over the years. Pretty yellow flowers too.

This one, Lysimacchia 'Persian Carpet' only lasted one summer but had nice green and purple, slightly furry leaves. Wish I could grow it again, but it wasn't happy here.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Ground Covers

Golden Irish Moss is by far one of my favorite ground covers. It will grow in sun or shade, but I think it prefers light shade to blazing sun. This is the golden version of Irish Moss (Sagina) and grows on the ground, but will also 'crawl' across rocks and is wonderful between the stones on a path. It will take a little foot traffic, but I always feel guilty walking on plants. Flowers in midsummer are miniature and white.
This is Hydrocotyle 'Crystal Confetti'. It was terrible to get started, but now is happy. The Hydrocotyles are usually edge of the pond or shallow water plants and much larger than this one which has leaves much smaller than a dime. As with the rest, mulch is not a good idea since they are very shallow rooted and need to get down into the dirt. As most of these are only an inch or so off the ground and dense, they make their own mulch and will tend to cut down on weeds.

Lysimacchia numularia 'Aurea' is one of my favorites. This picture was taken in light shade. In full sun the leaves would be absolutely bright yellow. It will grow sun or shade, damp or dry and just kind of wanders around. I haven't had it smother things, though I keep it away from small plants. It seems to work well under shrubs.

Kenilworth Ivy is another one I had trouble getting started, though it is now a nice sized patch. The leaves are tee tiny as are the lavender flowers. This is in half day sun.

Saxifrages are a large family. This one is stolonifera. Leaves are veined silver and backs of the leaves are reddish. Flowers are tiny and white and held on fairly tall scapes. Shade is preferred.
Sorry about not getting up the promised cactus pictures, but I need to spend some more time sorting them out. They will appear in a day or so.

Sunday, June 15, 2008


I guess this is what most people think of when they think of poppies - crepe paper orange flowers on tall stems. If that's all you know, get ready for a surprise. Though far from complete, I've put together a show of some of the different sorts we have growing in the garden. The oriental poppies have mostly finished their bloom for this year and are quickly going dormant. This is one of their drawbacks in the perennial border in that they leave an empty place where just last week there were flowers. They will return in late summer or early fall and be evergreen all winter (at least here in our mostly zone 6 garden) unless they're eaten by rabbits or deer who seem to be their biggest enemies. They don't seem to bother flowers or buds, but in the winter when there isn't always all that much else to eat, the green leaves, even though really unappetizing to me with their fuzz, seem to be a taste treat for the critters. If you're thinking of transplanting poppies, the best and only time when you're likely to have success is when they reappear after their dormancy. If you can find potted ones in the spring to plant, these seem to work fine too.

This is Papaver 'Carouse', one of the few multicolored ones.

Though not an oriental poppy, 'Double Tangerine Gem' bloom at about the same time. It is a smaller flower on a very delicate looking stem that allows it to wave in the breeze. If you want to pick poppies for an arrangement, they need some special treatment to keep them from wilting almost immediately. As soon as you pick them, right there in the garden, you need to cauterize the end of the stem with a match or a lighter. Poppies have a sap that will flow right out of the stem and cause them to wilt. You need to seal the stem to keep them. If you do this you can enjoy them for many days in the house.

This is a pretty recent addition, 'Helen Elizabeth' which is actually a bit more pink than the picture shows. Although I don't know who it was named for, it always makes me think of my great aunt of the same name.

A lover of all things purple, I just had to have 'Patty's Plum'. It seems to be a more difficult one to grow, though all poppies are to some extent difficult, and I bought this one at least 3 times before it was happy here. It is now a very large clump with many blooms.

This is 'Watermelon Baby', which is I would suppose a child of Papaver 'Watermelon', a much larger version in the same color which in person is a very dark, ripe, watermelon pink.

This is not an oriental poppy, but rather Papaver somniferum. It is an annual, rather than a perennial, but it self seeds easily and so you'll have more of these than you want. They don't transplant easily, though it is possible to do so when they're small, but after bloom when the seed pods dry, you will have all the replacement you could possible want. Just shake the seeds out as soon as they're ripe and they'll be up next spring. The foliage is even different on these, a light green with leaves all the way up the stems and a very soft texture. These are sprinkled through out our gardens in the sunnier places which they seem to love, even in the gravel scree where our hardy cactus live. So next, I think we'll do cactus pictures.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Dracunculus vulgaris

One of my favorite 'odd' plants is Dracunculus vulgaris. I think it is related to the Amorphophallis types since it has the same mottled stem and seems to come up almost overnight. The foliage on this one is variegate with a creamy stripe down each leaf segment. The plants comes up as soon as the weather warms and it seems like I have to wait forever for the spathe to appear. It starts out green with just a purple lip.

As it starts to open, you see the purple inside and the center where the pollen is appears.

As it continues to open the color deepens and gets more velvety and the center gets larger. It doesn't take long for the flies that pollinate it to appear. As gorgeous as it is, it does have one drawback. In order to attract the flies for pollination, instead of a sweet smell like most flowers, it smells like rotted meat. Not just a little, but from many feet away and quite strongly.

This is about all the way out. The bloom lasts only a few days and then just kind of melts away. Mine has made some offsets for the first time this year (we've had it for at least 5 or 6 years) so next year I will divide it. It likes full sun and very well drained soil and definitely attracts attention in the garden.

Thursday, June 12, 2008


Lamium 'White Nancy' was probably the first one we got. If you don't know Lamiums, you should. They will grow in problem areas where other plants up and die. They can take dry shade, which is one of the harder places to get things to grow. There are limits, but they do seem to be quite adaptable.

I'm not sure we still have this one in the yard. This is 'Helene Dohr'. I have found that the variegated ones are less robust than the edged leaf ones. They also have a tendency to revert to a larger leaf, not all that pretty form that is hugely aggressive and needs to be kept under control. I mostly just pull it all out. I don't have a picture of it, but trust me, you'll know if yours has reverted.

This is 'Golden Anniversary' a new one we got this year. It is pretty similar to 'Anne Greenway' but the colors seem a little more subtle.

This has always been one of my favorites, 'Beedham's White'. I suppose it is for the white flowers since the leaves are anything but white with their glowing gold color and cream mid-leaf stripe.

Another older one, 'Red Nancy'. There is also a 'White Nancy' with white flowers and similar leaves.

Last but not least, is Lamium album 'Friday'. Still a Lamium but much different. It can take more sun and is an upright plant. It seems a bit more difficult to grow, though it also seems to be able to disappear and reappear a year or two later in the same, or maybe even a different place. Slightly ephemeral, but lovely none the less.