Review of 2013

The gardening season started with a total re-do of the brick. Thanks to some friendly donations of newspaper, the walkways turned out great with hardly any weedage seeping through the cracks! At the end of the season, the height and spacing appear to have made it through quite nicely. Here’s a pic just following the major leaf clean-up just before Thanksgiving:

Garden “bones” exposed

And so it is the happiest moment when the beds are put to sleep. Richly productive manure wraps each bed in a protective, nutritious layer. Thanks to Jerry and Gail at North Shore Equestrian Center for the black gold!

In reviewing goals I had set out in early June,

Goal 1: creating a stronger visual barrier between the quad and the fence on the south side of the quadrant.

Before view of the south perimeter.

Before view of the south perimeter.

(look past the lovely Crocosmia and red tomato cages, dear Reader!) Work here was tough. Both KP and I were stung by nettles that had sprouted there! Ouch, ouch baby. Not only was it treacherous, but it was also major ugly. It resulted in uninspired photography. Here is one distant capture of the area with joe pye weed and hypericum.

Southern Border (under development)

Southern Border (under development)

With the close of the season, though, KP got a yen to clean out some vines and pesky locusts. Look forward to next season when I can fill in even more desired plantings that aren’t too tall. We want to preserve the view across the channel in hopes of having a viewing platform. Or, since it’s all fantastical at this point, a hot tub.

Goal 2: creating sequential and continual interest throughout the summer.

caldium

HD caladium

IMG_3980

Dahlia success!

This year was better than previous. I believe the antidote was cutting some stuff back after blooming and filling in with later blooming annuals. Of particular note, loved the Catharanthus roseus (aka Vinca) so I must be sure to look for it next season. The two versions of Caladium were absolutely awesome and 100% worth the few bucks HD charged. Here’s one version (left). These dahlia (right) I picked up from the local nursery, also from a bag, were awesome. No idea (unfortunately) as to the varietal name. The photo on the package also indicated this was more of an orange-ish red, but grew to be a brilliant brick red.

Goal 3: I wanted to do less maintenance along the perimeter and front of house; move detail work to quad so that more of my time and attention is focused on plant maintenance in the quad. The outcome? I did less in those peripheral areas, simply because I didn’t have the time or energy. Essentially, I just ignored them. But with guilt. Some unseasonable weather had given me two sunny days in the 50s so I was able to rake and tidy the nautilus and the south border bed.

What didn’t do so well ?

  • The anemone didn’t do so well, but that may be because it is year 1. The purple “Mr. Fokker” came up white. Hope springs eternal for better blooms next season!
  • One practice I don’t want to repeat for next season is salvia in the quandrant. I edged the southern end of the quadrant with this tall beauty. You may recall the tiny babies (left) that grew huge and attracted many bees. It was a bit intimidating to walk through the gauntlet of nectar-collecting bees! No one was stung, but the size and magnitude of the salvia probably contributed to the tomato delay. Since the picture on the right, I’ve cut them back and mulched them. If any of the plants overwinter, I’ll move them to the perimeter.
Salvia "indigo spires"

Salvia “indigo spires” Memorial Day weekend

salvia0928

Salvia “indigo spires” -late September

  • In mid May, I sowed directly two varieties of carrots and beans around a configured repurposed trellis. The beans were failures. Only one trailer ever reached the top of the trellis and bloomed. The carrots didn’t need the shaded, protected area I created by the lean-to’s. They too (like the tomatoes) didn’t produce fruit until late September. The Atomic red’s were somewhat disappointing but the Amarillo yellow’s were quite profuse. As directed on the seed packet, I planted a smattering late in the summer. I’ll check to see if they’ve matured and been fruitful when we’re back in Southampton.
Amarillo carrots

Amarillo carrots

Tomatoes, September 22

Tomatoes, September 22

      • The tomatoes suffered from their late start. Almost exactly around mid-September, I noticed that the tomatoes were all of a sudden growing differently. I believe that because the sun was lowering, the tomato plants were missing the early morning sun, and then had to compete with the salvia for the afternoon sun. I didn’t see green fruit until late August, and no ripe fruit until late September. By that time, it was getting too late in the season for any profusion. While I neglected taking photos of the ripe fruit (drats!), the tomatoes were beautiful and very, very tasty. Here’s some shots of their evolution:

P.S… The tomato cages from Gardener.com lived up to their advertising. I didn’t have to tie any plants to the cages, and they cleaned up so nicely at the end of the season. Easy squeezy.

Tomato plants in August

Tomato plants in August

      • The celery seeds and the celery seedling plants I bought were a disappointment. The seedlings I started didn’t survive, and the seedlings seemed a bit deformed. Out of a full flat, only 4-5 survived the early fall. I’m now wondering if their proximity to the hellebores caused that (given the density of anti-freeze the hellebores produces, maybe?)
Sad celery

Sad celery

Perhaps the annual and perennial lessons gardening teaches is to look to future seasons for future successes. It is with those hopes in mind that I first offer thanks to all friends and neighbors who contribute to my happy gardening experience. With love and peace to all,
Nancy

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Belles of the Midsummer Ball

Happy late summer. I’ve been busy caring for and watering lots which is a feeble excuse for not updating the garden’s progress. So, here goes…

These are plants that I actually look forward to each and every summer. First, the crocosmia…

Crocosmia "Lucifer"

Crocosmia “Lucifer”

My son picked this plant for me one mother’s day. Perfectly named for him during his early teen years (Lucifer), wasn’t quite sure what to expect as it was early in the season and the plant had not yet bloomed. But when it did, I fell in love.

This plant is so exotic and tropical looking, but it is perennial in this zone (zone 7ish). Hummingbirds LOVE this plant and so I’ve moved it several times to allow for them to visit and suckle from a vantage point we can watch without interference.  The plants are quite stately and do not require staking. Even after the blooms fade, the seed pods are architecturally interesting and stay strong from weeks afterward. Before the end of August, I will cut them back at the soil level, just to give other bloomers more space.

Since its introduction to the quadrant, I’ve added more (more is more, in this case!) by purchasing the bulb packets in early spring from HD. Must be careful though, because these cheaper packets aren’t always labeled with the specific color. Some of these packets have less red, orange-ish colors. KP’s Canon has difficulty with these intense colors, unlike my as-yet-to-materialize-Nikon-7100. But I took one of those shots and posterized it, and this view enables you to see crocosmia’s beautiful structure:

crocosmia "posterized"

crocosmia “posterized”

Absolutely, 100% in love with the Casa Blanca lilies…

Lilium "Casa Blanca"

Lilium “Casa Blanca” nearly ready to burst open

…and I didn’t know until this post that this species is part of the oriental lilies, like “Stargazer”. I always assumed it was part of the Hemerocallis family – a style of lily I always thought I preferred.

Lilium "Casa Blanca" in full bloom

Lilium “Casa Blanca” in full bloom

These show girls bloom every year in the last couple weeks of July, serenading quadrant parties with their fragrant wafts of perfume. Some find the fragrance cloying, but then again they’re not in the quadrant!

As you may have noted, these blooms become top-heavy very quickly and have to be staked. Here’s another shot in combination with plain ole fancy-red dahlia’s and the caladium:

IMG_2179

Mid-summer is also a time when holes start appearing in the garden, hence the red dahlia. Behind it, I’ve since planted a deep purple “dinner plate” dahlia, which I’ll show you when it starts taking off.

Among other combo’s I’m enjoying this summer are the black-eyed Susans, with the sedum as pictured here:

Rudbeckia fulgida "Goldsturm" with sedum

Rudbeckia fulgida “Goldsturm” with sedum

This was moved to the quadrant, in accordance with LTEG 1 as noted here. Yes, I do take my garden planning very seriously 🙂 The rudbeckia is doing really well in the quadrant and the haphazardly placement among the slowly maturing sedum is making me happy.  BTW, this also satisfies LTEG 2, too, in that these two plants are coming into maturity just as the Alaskan poppy is dying out. It did leave space next to the roses, and so I’ve filled that in with a *NEW* (yes, NEW plant!) species – an annual vinca. Here’s a close-up of this hot coral color:

Catharanthus roseus "cora red"

Catharanthus roseus “cora red”

Absolutely love the little white eye in the center. Too bad these are annuals; must remember to adopt early next summer. To completely fill up the space, I also added some cosmos “Sonata Carmine.” They’re looking a bit ragged from the mid-summer on-sale bin, but hopefully they’ll perk up and add some color towards the end of the season.

What I’ve learned? Loving the hot colors: can’t have enough reds, oranges and magentas. Also, time to credit two sources: 1-a great online plant finder for the Latin names, and 2-KP for taking the photos.

Spring shoots leaving and moving

The end of spring is drawing near. It’s a wonderful time. A good garden dose has been distributed and yet there’s MORE. So much more to enjoy.

The end of spring is a deadline of sorts. By the start of the first day of summer, the general assumption is things had better be pretty set. No more moving of shrubs, planting of trees. There’s lots of time for heaving in of annuals, but if you’re a good gardener you’ll be wanting to have major tasks out of the way by summer soltice.

So I started thinking about my own progress with spring preparation goals. Most interesting when I reflected on this was that I did indeed have goals. Similarly surprising, I hadn’t yet articulated my goals for the spring. (blogworthy benefit)

Here are/were my goals for spring 2014:

Goal 1:   create a stronger visual barrier between the quad and the fence on the south side of the quadrant

Goal 2:   create areas with sequential and continual interest throughout the summer

Goal 3:   do less maintenance along the perimeter and front of house; move detail work to quad so that more of my time and attention is focused on plant maintenance in the quad.

Here’s what I did:

“Goal 1:   create a stronger visual barrier between the quad and the fence on the south side of the quadrant”

To do this, I moved the hypericum from the quad, north side, to new beds created adjacent to the fence. [note to self: add future post on creating new beds!] And I also started moving the Joe Pye weed from the south stretch to the most western south stretch. I added the hypericum from  the north side the quadrant to do two things – alleviate the constant trimming (hypericum can be a vigorous grower) and coax something with a smaller profile in that area for greater color exposure from the new room in the house.

(pic of new back beds not available)

“Goal 2:   create areas with sequential and continual interest throughout the summer”

To accomplish this, I purchased some bulbs from HD:

I planted Caladium underneath the Baptista. It will be shaded by then, I think, between the Crocosmia and Casablanca lilies (wait until you see these lilies)

I planted some anemone on either side of the walkway for section 4 and 3:

"section 3"

“section 3”

"section 4"

“section 4”

Can you see the red circle? Planted there and then in section 4 “The Bride” Anemone. Towards the extreme right in section 4 is Scarlet Flax. Here are snaps of the packaging:

Anemone

Anemone

Scarlet Flax

Scarlet Flax

Of course, I’ve already forgotten where I planted “Mr. Fokker”… I think in section 3 somewhere. I may have also missed the timing on the scarlet flax. Will watch and see what shakes out with that.

In case you’re wondering, the big leafed plant adjacent to the anemones in section 3 is hollyhock, a biennial. Started it from seed last year so we should see some gorgeous blooms this year.

Can’t do a garden without some lovely salvia to brighten up the late summer and fall. I planted indigo spires on both sides of the front of the quadrant, just behind the boxwood:

Salvia "indigo spires"

Goal 3:   do less maintenance along the perimeter and front of house; move detail work to quad so that more of my time and attention is focused on plant maintenance in the quad.

Long-term extended goal 1 is to move the plants requiring maintenance out of the perimeter gardens and into the quadrant, because that’s where I want to spend my time. So, the Joe Pye weed is migrating up to the north side of the yard to aid with establishing a perimeter. More pics to follow.