Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Weigelia 'Rubidor'

If I've got the name of this one wrong, someone please let me know. It's what I remember, but it's early and I'm still sorting out my 10,000 or so pictures as I move them back into the computer and this is a recent one still just identified by a number. Anyway ... this is a plant that you just can't miss in the garden. It is a 6 foot tall and wide shrub like yesterday's entry, but the foliage is a screaming yellow/chartreuse. If that weren't enough, the flowers are hot pink. Although it seems like an unlikely combination to create a pretty vision, it actually works quite well. Full sun, prune after bloom. Right now the hummingbirds seem to be enjoying the rebloom flowers. Like the variegated one, this one reblooms regularly throughout the season after its first major bloom, which is always a plus for any shrub.
Daylily season is winding down. Yesterday was the first day where there were whole sections without bloom. The garden beds where we have a lot of late bloomers planted look just as good as ever, actually better than a few weeks ago, but we are definitely on the downside of the peak bloom. Because we have planted varieties with such varied bloom seasons, we have had daylilies blooming in the garden since mid-May and will likely have some until frost. It's not the overwhelming display of July, and mostly yellow and gold, but daylilies that bloom over such as long season are a welcome addition to the garden.
I was awakened by a thunderstorm (and a cat sitting on my chest bathing) at 3 this morning, so I expect it will be a little wet to work outside this morning and rain is predicted throughout the day. The gardens will be happy - and my kitchen will get cleaned.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Weigelia 'Variegata'

A lovely shrub, this Weigelia. It is an older variety, but still lovely. The leaves are a medium green with a creamy variegation, though it often fades to almost white in the sun, and sun is the best place to grow this. It is not for a small garden since it is about 6 feet tall and just about as wide. I do prune it mercilessly on the side next to the path so that walking around it is still possible, and so ours is a bit un-symmetrical. The flowers are white flushed with pink and it blooms heavily in the spring and then sporadically for the rest of the season.
There are newer version of the variegated one that are smaller, probably only 3 feet tall. One that we've gotten that I don't have a picture of handy (still working on re-populating my computer) is called 'My Monet'. The variegation is more bold than this one and it is just as hardy. We picked that one up at Lowe's last year, so I expect that it is readily available.
Tomorrow, my other favorite Weigelia.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Variegated Horseradish

Well, the computer is back, but for some reason, to replace my modem, they felt the need to wipe my hard drive clean, just to be sure it wasn't the problem. Not a good thing. I have gotten most everything put back on, but the pictures are taking a long time to download again from storage. At least everything was backed up and I won't lose anything, but it is still a real pain in the butt to have to spend the time getting everything back the way I want it when the modem has been a problem since I bought the computer and had nothing to do with anything on my hard drive.
As for today's pictures, this is a variegated horseradish we have grown for years. It is just like the plain, old, green variety as far as using it for eating, but it is just so much prettier. We grow it in light shade and it seems happy. I mostly use it for an ornamental since I hate processing the horseradish. It is a job for when you really need your sinuses cleared out. You dig next to the plant and cut off a piece of root. Wash it and peel it and cut it into small pieces. You then put it in the blender with some vinegar and turn it on until it looks like what you buy in the market. Very easy, but there is no way to keep the fumes contained. It is delicious done fresh like this and keeps well in the refrigerator. I think, at least for now, I'll just keep growing it as a pretty garden plant, though.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Papaver spmniferum

Poppies this morning. They are blooming all over the yard. Last summer, after poppy bloom, Hank collected seed and spread it everywhere - and I mean everywhere. This year we definitely have more poppies, though some are in places where I really didn't want or need poppies. I think we'll just let the ones in appropriate placed seed themselves and give away the rest of the seed. We have plenty of requests already. The first picture is of a 'normal' poppy, what most of ours look like, though the colors vary from this dark one to much lighter pink ones.
The second picture is a type that appeared from last years seeding for the first time. I love the fringed petals. We're definitely going to save seed from this one to plant for next year. I've never seen this variation before. I happen to love pink flowers, so that is even more reason to spread this one around a little bit.
It promises to be a cool and sunny day, just perfect for getting things done and getting laundry to dry on the line. As usual I have much more to do than there are sunny hours in the day and definitely much more to do than I expect I'll have the energy to accomplish.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Computer Trouble - again!

A perfect little double daylily. I wish my computer was this perfect. Unfortunately, the modem stopped working (again) and it's off to Toshiba. I'll try to keep up with posting, but no promises until my main computer is back home again. No time anyway since with these cooler temperatures come much longer gardening days. Lots of weeding and pruning getting done and some long neglected sections of the gardens are becoming lovely(er) again.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Ajuga - the rest of them

Since I had mentioned Ajuga in my post on ground covers, I thought I'd post a few more pictures to show the variety that is available.
This first on is my favorite (well maybe one of my favorites), at least in the spring when it is in bloom. I just love the baby pink flowers on Ajuga 'Pink Torch'. There is, or was, a version with smaller pink flowers, but I don't see it on the market any more and it has died out here, so I imagine that it wasn't very robust. The color is actually a bit darker pink than this photo would indicate.

This one is Ajuga 'Chocolate Chip. I moved some of it last year because it was in too much shade and the colors weren't showing up like they should. In eough sun, this one has shades of brown and deep burgundy along with several shades of green. The leaves are less ajuga-like and and skinny. Much more slowly spreading than most of the others.

Ajuga 'Mini Crispula' is one with very wrinkly krinkly leaves and always seems to stay as a small clump, though it does spread slowly. It is one that definitely needs sun. I lost my original clump when that garden filled in and had too much shade. I replaced it this year, putting it along the walk up to our door so I can enjoy it more often.
Ajuga 'Planet Zork' was available for several years and you either loved it or hated it. It had puckered upright leaves and looked like a real mutant. It had the bad habit of reverting to a plain green ajuga. Ours eventually died out and I won't replace this one.

This is Ajuga 'Rainbow'. We had a rather large area with this but it got too shady and then it was eaten by the deer and never recovered. I haven't seen it offered recently but would replace this one if I could. It definitely added a different color to the garden that most people weren't expecting in a foliage plant. And yes, this is the true color, not retouched in any way.

'Silver Beauty' likes some sun, but is also happy in shade. Another one that deer seem to find tasty, but I have enough of it in different places so I don't think they'll be able to totally do it in. The color is a mistly sort of grey/blue/green with some white edging. It is a bit more vigorous than some of the tempermental ones, but not to the point of being invasive.

Ajuga 'Tricoloris' should probably be more like multicoloris for all of the shades of red/burgundy, green and gold. It needs some sun to bring out the colors.

This last one probably has a name, but don't know what it is. It was a gift from a friend and came with out a name. I'm not sure I've seen a white flowered version offered in catalogs, but it is thorought hardy and spreads sort of quickly. It will always have a home here.

Ajugas are mostly easy to grow except for a few tempermental ones and most are well behaved. Bloom is in the spring when the low growing mat of leaves suddenly is covered with 6 inch tall or so spikes of flowers which are pretty long lasting and good as cut flowers in small bouquets. I don't remember any scent to the flowers. These increase mostly by runners like strawberries. This time of year you will see a large parent plant with a ring of babies all around. You can move the babies elsewhere as soon as they have roots, leave then where they are, or just compost or give them away if you've reached your quota on ajuga. At any rate, they are a quite versatile and useful plant in the garden and not worthy of theor sometime reputation of being a garden problem.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Ground Covers

I'm off to town really early this morning, so I'll not have time right now to finish this post. Enjoy the pictures and I'll tell you all about them while I eat lunch.
Never got back to the computer during lunch, just ate on the run. Anyway, now I have time to comment on these photos. This first one is Saxifrage stolonifera. It is a lovely ground cover for shady places, and as the name indicates, it increases by stolons - just imagine a strawberryplant where a runner starts out and forms a new leaf/plantlet on the end that takes root and then that one makes another plant and another and another. This on runs along bricks edging a bed near my outhouse and covers quite an area near a pond by my root cellar. It is not invasive and never seems to bother other plants. It seems to intertwine with a running Tiarella I have very nicely.

This one is Hydrocotyle 'Crystal Confetti'. Not all of the Hydrocotyles are well behaved. Some of the larger leafed kinds can be quite invasive, but this one is tiny, only an inch or so tall with leaves smaller than a dime. It needs dappled light and doesn't do well in either full shade or full sun. Average garden soil that is neither too wet nor too dry will keep it happy.
Lysimachia numularia 'Aurea' (hope I got that right and spelled correctly) is known around here as Golden Pennywort, thought I think there is another plant also known by that name. It will grow in sun or shade and even in pretty damp places. If in sun, be sure it is not too dry. The more sun, the brighter the gold color. It is bright. This one will kind of creep all over the place, but is easily kept under control and doesn't seem to bother things even when it grows right up close to them. On mild winters it is evergreen here in our garden. Even when it dies back, it regrows so fast in the spring that it doesn't matter.

This cute ground cover is a real miniature with leaves and orchid-like flowers only about an eighth of an inch across. It would probably be good in a garden of miniature plants, but pretty just about anywhere with it's sky blue flowers in the spring and early summer. It crawls over rock walls or just on the ground. We have it in a place with morning sun and dappled afternoon shade and it is quite happy.

This last one is Ajuga 'Caitlin's Giant'. Ajugas are a bit invasive, but make great groundcovers and have spikes of blue, pink or white flowers in the spring. Most are blue. The leaves come in a variety of colors and shapes also. It likes shade or sun, but too much shade is detrimental to some varieties. Caitlin's Giant seems to be the most hardy of the bunch and the largest. Ajugas also increase by runners, though I think they sometimes seed also since I sometimes find patches in new spots.

There are tons more ground covers out there, but these are some of the better behaved ones and pretty easy to grow. Avoid Ivy and Vinca right up around plants because they are not good neighbors except for larger trees. They make excellent ground covers, though, for shady spots where you want to cover a bank or have something spilling over a wall. Vinca now is available in several varieties with variegated leaves and with either the familiar blue flowers or white.
Off to weeding and pruning and potting and digging and planting and ...

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Galeobdolon argetatum

Another lovely groundcover, this one probably about 8 inches tall and wonderfully green and silver. It gets intense yellow flowers in the late spring. It forms a dense mat through which no weeds will grow and loves shade, even under trees where the ground is pretty dry. This makes it a perfect thing for problem spots. Unfortunately, it can create it's own problems. Once established, it is difficult to remove since it makes crowns and can't just be pulled out unless the soil is very loose. You end up having to dig it out - just ask me all about getting rid of some. I guess I should have suspected this, since no weeds grow through it, but it seems to kill off anything it is growing around, so it really has to be in it's own spot. It crawled around a Blue Angel Hosta, one that was at least 3 feet tall and 4 feet wide - a really big hosta. This year it is barely a foot tall and wide. I have removed the Galeobdolon from around it and it seems to be recovering.
I think this used to be lumped in the the Lamiums at one time and it is reminiscent of them, just with quite a bit larger leaves and a more upright habit - actually more like a Lamiastrum.
Despite its drawbacks, it is a wonderful plant for a problem spot and for that reason, a good bit of it gets to live at the fringes of the gardens.
Tomorrow - some friendlier ground covers.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Aegopodium podagraria 'Variegatum'

A lovely plant with a now as lovely Latin name, though it is known around here as Snow on the Mountain. There is also at least one other plant that also goes by that common name, so I don't know it everyone everywhere calls it that.
Its color is a blue/green/grey and it has chalk white edges. Height is about 8 inches. It sometimes blooms with a rather undistinguished flower, but not always, and it spreads primarily by underground runners, not seeds. It is quite a standout. Its one drawback is that is spreads. Its one strong point is that it spreads. Not really a contradiction. It you are looking for a ground cover that will spread rapidly and cover a shady hillside to help stop erosion, this could be just the perfect plant. If you are just looking for a nice garden perennial that will be well behaved, you should probably look at something else.
Hank planted some years ago, long before we met, and I am still keeping it under control. Short of ripping out the entire garden and starting over, that's the best I can hope for. Since I can't get rid of all of it and because I really do like the looks of the plant, I opt for just keeping it in a small patch and ripping out the rest. Not a perfect solution, but it's working for now.
Tomorrow - more groundcovers to beware of.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Daylilies - Peak Bloom

This is the time of year when the garden goes from green with a few splashes of color, to color everywhere. Dayliliy season is at its peak. This photo is taken the top of the hill to the west of the gardens. Where I was standing is about 200 feet above the barn (rusting roof in the picture), though it is hard to tell in the picture. The daylily beds continue off the the left for quite awhile, but it is impossible to get them all in the same shot, and no photograph will do justice to the riot of color present. It's one of those things where you just have to be there. And no matter how much I like this view, my day always includes a walk through all of the daylilies sometime during the day to take pictures and just enjoy them. I don't rush and it usually takes me about an hour. On sunny days I walk early in the morning before the heat and sun fade the flowers. On cool or cloudy days I often wait until late afternoon when I don't feel the press of other things to do and can truly take my time and just enjoy the garden.
In addition to taking pictures, I usually carry a large, flat bottomed basket into which I put daylily blossoms. One of the nice things about daylilies is that their bloom last one day whether they are on the plant or off, so I pick just the blooms and leave the scapes with the buds remain on the plants. The blooms then get put on my kitchen windowsill where I can enjoy them when I am cooking and washing dishes - or if I get carried away and pick too many, they might find their way to almost any place I can enjoy them for the day. A note if you do this - be sure to add them to the compost pile in the evening before you head off to bed, because no matter how good they still look and how hard it is to trash what look like perfectly good flowers, by morning they will be no more than limp puddles of used-to-be flowers and will be just a mess to clean up. Better to remember them in all of their beauty and to wake up to dead, mushy blooms.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Red, White and Blue

As a sort of 4th of July themed post this morning, I'm putting up pictures of some of my favorite red, white and blue flowers. Most are perennials, though a couple are dependably self seeding annuals.
This first one has got to be one of my favorite clematis, a bright red flowered one, Clematis texensis. It is a species and pretty carefree. I never trim it or do much of anything to it except be sure that it is climbing up it's support and not covering eveything on the ground near it. The species clematis are not as fancy looking as some of the others, but they just bloom and bloom. I also have ones that look similar in yellow and blue.

I'm trying to stick with things that are blooming now (which is why you don't see any peony pictures even though they fit the color scheme) and the yarrows are in their glory in this midsummer heat. Achillea 'Paprika' is, I think, the best red. It is always what used to be called fire engine red - before fire engines stopped being red. It will grow in full sun or light shade, though its preference is definitely for more sun. It tolerates a bit of drought, especially after it blooms. This is good as a dried flower, but will loose a bit of the color and by the darkest days of winter, most achilleas are more of a beige.

Monarda, Bee Balm, is also blooming all over the garden right now. This one is 'Cambridge Scarlet', the first one I got and which I brought here from West Virginia when I moved to the farm here. It will also grow in both sun and light shade, and like the yarrows, is happier in a sunny location. Bees (and butterflies) really do like it. I like working around it because of the lovely minty scent when you rub against the leaves.

Nicotiana sylvestris is an annual, though I have never been without it even though I first planted it at least a dozen years ago. The seeds were a gift from a friend and I always think of him when it blooms. This is a big plant, as tall as I am on a good year, and has sweetly scented blooms. It has a tendecy to overseed and so I need to think the seedlings. It doesn't bloom until late summer and is just coming up now. No chance of this one being bothered by late spring frosts.

Another annual that self seeds happily here and which blooms from late spring until frost is Tanacetum parthenium. I actually started out with the gold leaf form, but over the years most have reverted to green, but the flowers are the same cheery white balls and are a staple in my flower arrangements. These are about 2 feet tall, so I have to selectively think the seedlings so they don't overwhelm their neighbors.

The last white flower for this morning is Phlox paniculata 'Delta Snow'. There is the slightest bit of pale pink in the center of the blooms, but you have to be close to see it so the overall effect is definitely white. These aren't quite blooming yet, but will be soon and will have flowers into the fall.

I think that my all time favorite blue flower is just the Chicory that grows by the side of the road. You can't beat the color. Proper name for this one is Chicorum intybus. I've never tried transplanting it into the garden, but might do so since the county has gotten so efficient in mowing the roadsides, that we don't have much near the house any more.

Blooming now is also the Baptisia australis. The blue is deeper than the chicory, but about the same shade. These are tall, and though they are covered with seed pods, I've never had them self seed here, though I'd sure like a few more. They are tall and easily seen above other plants. Full sun and at least a bit drought tolerant.

Last is Forget-Me-Not. I've written about this one before, but it remains one of my favorite blue flowers and would be even without the history behind my plants. It will be covered with blooms in late spring, but will continue to bloom all summer and fall until frost, though there won't ever be quite as many blooms as the initial flush of bloom in the spring.

I know there are many more red, white and blue flowers in the garden, but this is just a sampling. Today I know there will be a lot of red and white daylilies out there.
I hope you'll all enjoy a relaxing day of picnics and friends and family (and flowers).

Friday, July 3, 2009

James Biaglow

Another of our Ohio hybridizers, the late James Biaglow, was a backyard hybridizer who created some pretty spectacular flowers. I only grow 3 of his introductions, but they are some of my favorites.
This first photo, and the first of his that I added to the garden is 'Raptor', a dark purple with a slightly lighter eyezone and quilled sepals.
This next is 'Ghost Dragon' and this picture, as the one of 'Raptor' just doesn't do it justice. It is a large flower and the color is lighter while the eyezone is darker. I'll try again for a better one as soon as it blooms.
The last is 'Cinco de Mayo' and you couldn't ask for a brighte bloom. It is tryly visible from a distance. There are lots of eyed and edged daylilies out there, but this coloring is pretty unusual for one, most being either white, cream or yellow when they have a red eye.

Sorry to have not written for the past 2 days, but, as my ISP is fond of saying, "We are having connectivity issues". With a limited time to write in the mornings, if they're not working right, I just have to wait until the next day.
The weather here has been wonderful for gardening - cool and cloudy with occasional sprinkles. The plants just love it and we've been able to transplant some things to better locations in addition to getting a whole lot of weeding done. It's amazing how much more work you can do at 70 degrees than at 85.