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Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Visit

This past Monday I had the pleasure of hosting garden writers Felder Rushing and Darrell Trout in my garden. While I have met Darrell a number of times in the past, I knew little about Felder so made sure I checked out his website before the visit.

Seeing that Felder was into garden "junque", I made sure my "junque" was in tip top shape. The golf bag that is always out on my front lawn quickly got a companion although I do think I need to dress her in something more appropriate than my old nightgown.

The garden was just past peak bloom but close enough that it made little difference. This is what one of the front borders looked like.

Quite a few daylilies were still strutting their stuff. My garden is mostly filled with spider daylilies or ones with unusual forms like this 'Murphy's Law'. I find that they compliment the garden as a whole while the round ruffled tetraploid daylilies seem too stiff and formal for my country style of gardening.

The Helenium 'Mardi Gras' was just beginning to bloom. I look forward to two months of glorious color from this fantastic perennial.

The Stokesia (Stokes asters) are also at their peak and multiple photos were taken of them. I missed out on this shot, the lighting wasn't right.

Still, the tour was glorious. At the end we sat in my garden swing and talked about gardening on a whole. We were surrounded with waving blooms, daylilies, Lysimachia clethroides (gooseneck loosestrife), Mondarda (bee balm), Echinacea (cone flowers) and more. It was heavenly!

I'm going to cut this short right now since the clouds are thick and I want to run out and take some photographs this morning.

Wishing all of you a wonderful day!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Garage Sale Today!

We are having a garage sale today. Cross your fingers, a monster storm just blew through here and we're heading out there now to set-up.

Lots of garden related stuff, birdhouses, toys, games and girls clothing. I'll be pulling stuff out of the attic and basement all day.

Say "Hi" to my mom and to Emily who will be manning the table. All proceeds go towards a computer that Emily needs for school this year.


Thursday, July 23, 2009

Slug Bait

One thing that's for sure during a rainy season is lots and lots of slugs. My garden has never had a slug problem in the past but this year I see quite a bit of damage from those nasty creatures.

Slugs love shady spots and Hosta are like candy to them. Yet, some varieties of Hosta are slug resistant. I don't know if it's that they don't taste good or that the leaf is thick enough to make it difficult for the slug to eat.

One thing it's not though, is location. As you can see in this photo, the dark Hosta 'Grand Marquis' is hole free while the white variegated Hosta above it looks like swiss cheese.

There are a number of remedies to rid your garden of slugs. I save egg shells and put them around delicate plants. Slugs will also crawl into bowls filled with beer and then drown but I have an aversion to emptying bowls full of dead slugs. One organic product that I've had excellent luck with is named 'Sluggo'. I think I'd better pick up a box or two!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

What's my name?

I always have a tough time when people ask me for a plant name. You see, plants have more than one name. They have a true botanical name and many of them have nicknames. Some people only want the nickname, others use the botanical names and some people don't care either way.

Most of the time I use the botanical name although some plants have such charming nicknames that I can't resist using them. This photo shows Lysimachia clethroides but its nickname is Gooseneck loosestrife. You can easily see why this is its nickname as it looks just like a big gaggle of geese with their heads sticking up.

Besides their true botanical name, specific plants also have cultivar names. Daylilies are one of the few plants that I break the rule on, their botanical name is Hemerocallis but I just don't want to be bothered calling them that (or typing that over and over again). The true name of this plant would be Hemerocallis 'Raspberry Goosebumps' but I'll just call it a daylily. It happens to be one of the top performers in my garden this year.

Echinacea purpurea is nicknamed purple cone flower. I really don't know why it's called that as the cones are orange and in real life, the petals are more a dusty pink than purple.

Platycodon grandifloris is another name I rarely use in the garden. The nickname of Balloon flower is easier to say and certainly understandable when you see how the buds blow up like little balloons.

Yesterday I saw this unusual bloom on a balloon flower and just had to grab my camera and take it's picture!

If you want to be a good gardener, I really recommend that you make the effort to learn the botanical name besides the nickname. When you use nicknames, you can end up with the totally wrong plant. For instance, many people call daylilies "lilies" and yet there's also bulbs that are called lilies. If you are shopping for plants and ask for orange lilies, you could end up with Asiatic lilies which will stay in one spot or the orange roadside daylily which will run all over your garden.

As for being able to pronounce those names correctly? Don't worry, you don't have to say all those names, just have a good idea of what they are. The spelling doesn't even matter that much, you can always google the name and it will tell you the correct spelling.

Off to see what's in bloom today,

Monday, July 20, 2009

Tropicals in Pots

Last month I had the pleasure of touring the learning gardens at SUNY (State University of New York) Farmingdale. They are known for their tropical plantings but it was still early for those tropicals to shine.

I just love the structural form of these containers. At first I used to buy cheap containers that looked like real ones but over the years I've learned to save up and buy a few good ones when they go on sale. There are containers in my garden that are 25 years old and they're in perfect condition. The cheap ones look cheap and I get tired of them very quickly.

This afternoon I have an appointment at Farmingdale. I hope to enroll in their ornamental horticulture program beginning late August. Imagine that, me in my late 40's becoming a college student!

I'm going to try to get there early so I can take more pictures. The tropical plant material should be twice as lush as it was last month.

Wish me luck!


Saturday, July 18, 2009

Final Days

Today is one of our final sale days of the season. Temperatures are just getting too warm for gardening. We've still got lots of daylilies in pots, many are in bloom.

The garden is in the middle of a color explosion, there are so many things in bloom that I couldn't begin to list them all. Very few shade plants are blooming so I'm really enjoying this 'Red Volunteer' daylily planted as a single specimen in the Hosta bed.

Out front there are many varieites of cone flowers, balloon flowers, Monarda, Phlox, and so much more. The Sedums that weren't pinched back are putting out buds, the butterfly bushes have the largest bloom tresses ever!

We'll be open for buisiness today but please park in the street as we have a dumpster in the driveway. Next Sunday (July 26th) we'll be setting things out by the curb for a massive garage sale. It will be our last sale day until late August or early September when we start some serious gardening workshops here.

Stop by and say "Hi"!


Thursday, July 16, 2009

Take a look!

The gardens continue to explode with blooms but sometimes it's the foliage that grabs you. One of the best Hosta here is 'Dream Weaver'. It's grown to a large specimen size and this year (well maybe this week) it is my favorite Hosta.

Another shade plant that has foliage which stops everybody in their tracks is this Brunnera. I'm guessing this is the variety 'Jack Frost' although it could also be 'Looking Glass'. The foliage is rough and hairy so the slugs seem to be staying away. Unfortunately this has been a banner year for slugs.

Those alliums I've been photographing in the last two weeks are really putting on a show now. I love the pink heart on this one.

Another phenominal hardy Geranium is this varitey 'Jolly Bee' which has been blooming non stop since I bought it in May. What a delightful plant.

Last but certainly not least, the incredibly bright yellow blooms on Ligularia stenocephala 'Little Rocket' which is doing a great job of settling in here in semi-shade.

Off to run a multitude of errands, I'll be back to update the sales info asap.


Tuesday, July 14, 2009


When it comes to gardening I'm definitely a perennial expert. Shrubs are a foreign language to me. I've worked hard over the last few years to add a large variety of shrubs to my garden so I would gain experience with them but still have lots of learning to go!

I took the photos of these Hydrangeas at Planting Fields Arboretum this past Sunday. Unfortunately I couldn't find the names of the specific varieties. I liked the blue and white combination on these blooms.

Hydrangeas come in blues, pinks, whites and purples. If there are other colors, I haven't seen them yet.

When it comes to growing Hydrangeas, their name says it all. They need to be hydrated, that means lots of watering. Since we just went through one of the rainiest springs on record, the Hydrangeas here should be fantastic this season.

Up close against the house they had pink Hydrangeas. You can change the color of your Hydrangeas by changing your soil. If you have acidic soil like we do, you could add lime. One word of caution though, many other shrubs like acidic soil. If you have Rhododendrons or Azaleas next to your Hydrangeas, you should be prepared to keep your Hydrangeas blue because those other shrubs do not want to have lime near them at all.


Saturday, July 11, 2009

Creatures great and small

Look carefully behind the Monarda stem. Do you see what I see? Yes, the hummingbird is still here, now it visits the stands of Monarda in the back and the front yards. If I knew they'd come for the Monarda, I'd have let it grow out of bounds years ago.

Another hunt and seek here. I have such fun looking for small things through my lens. The blooms here are Veronicastrum, just beginning to bloom.

These drumstick alliums have been featured in my blog before. Obviously they are well loved by other creatures too.

Standing by the Echinacea, there are so many butterflies and moths flying around that it's a wonder they don't tangle in my hair. I could stand there for hours and hours watching them.

Yes! It's a Monarda and Yes! It's not red! Now just how cool is that ;-)

Off to bed, tomorrow (today for most of you readers) is a long day. I'll be at Planting Fields arboretum and Martin Viette's nursery for most of the day.


Friday, July 10, 2009

Daylily Close-ups

One of the newer focus of daylily hybridizers are "teeth". They are sharp edges on the petals. This daylily 'Double Pompon' has some wonderful teeth on it, the funny thing is it's from 1972 so I guess those teeth have been around longer than anybody realized.

'Curly Cinnamon Windmill' has to be in my top 5 favorites. When you've grown hundreds and hundreds of different varieties, that's saying quite a bit! I am going to have a hard time leaving this daylily behind and will have to gift the whole clump to somebody nearby so I can visit it.

Karol Emmerich's 'Cast Your Net' has the most romantic pattern etched in Lavender. I don't really collect patterned daylilies, they look amazing when you stop and stare but I tend to choose plants on their overall design value in a garden.

Another Karol Emmerich's (the name escapes me right now) has been opening perfectly every day. Karol lives in Minnesota and if you want to collect daylilies that are hardy here on Long Island, then try some of her beauties!

One of my favorite hybridizers is Tom Polston of Dayton Ohio. Tom's daylilies are rock solid hardy and beautiful to boot. This is 'Raspberry Goosebumps', what a delicious name :-)

'Frosted Amethyst' is another older variety, I find that more and more often I fall in love with the older, tried and true varieties instead of the newest creations.

'Try It' was on the wish list of all three visitors today. These lucky ladies were first to sign up to reserve plants that will be dug in the next few weeks. Just about everything here will be up for sale so if you get a chance, stop by and put your name on some true collectors plants.

Today was a tiring day so I think I'll get to bed early. I never got to live-head the daylilies this evening, that means getting out there right after dawn tomorrow morning.

Sweet dreams,

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Two is better than one!

Ok, I couldn't help it, I just had to play with last night's post. This morning I revisited those glorious Allium in the garden. The drumstick varieties now have these darling little tufts coming out of the top!
As for the unknown Allium, there was this set of "twins" growing into each other and shedding their papery husks together.

In the middle of the night we had torrential rains that totally decimated some of my plants such as the Monardas. It was nice to still have something to focus upon this morning.


Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Just one

How many blooms does it take to stop me in my tracks? With these drumstick Allium, just one is enough.

Actually I have about a dozen of them in total and in real life they are only about the size of a quarter. But it's enough, enough to stop and just stare with amazement at the beauty in a single bloom.

My intention was to just post one photo tonight, just one. Those of you who know me well are probably laughing pretty hard right now. I guess that for me, flowers are like tortilla chips, I can't stop at one!

But come on, look, here's another Alium, I don't know the botanical name, it was a pass-along plant many years ago. What I can tell you is I've spent quite a bit of time in the garden just watching them slowly emerge from their papery shells.

Ok, I'm going to sign off quickly before you have to sit through a whole compendium of Melanie's latest Allium blooms :-)

Hope to see lots of you this weekend here in my garden or on Sunday at Planting Fields Arboretum. I plan on shooting hundreds of photos there if the weather cooperates.


Sunday, July 5, 2009

Echinacea - Purple Cone Flower

The common name of Echinacea is Purple Cone Flower. I really don't know why it's called that because in my eye, the flower is closer to a dusky pink and the cone itself is definitely orange. Whatever the reason, I just couldn't have a garden without this wonderful perennial.

If the name Echinacea is familiar to you, it's because they use this plant to make a herbal product to help when you have a cold. I've never tried it so I can't tell you more about what it exactly does.

At first the flowers open very flat.

Quickly the petals begin to relax and curve downward. The cone becomes more pronounced. (How do you like the daylily 'Primal Scream in the background?)

Before you know it the petals are all the way down. The plants grow quite large and are covered with blooms in various stages so you can see many different flower forms on one plant.

Echinaceas turn me into a touchy feely person, I just can't resist feeling these cones over and over again. They apparently are quite attractive to a host of other creatures such as butterflies, bees and best of all, come autumn they bring flocks of bright goldfinch to the garden.

This year I have a new variety blooming in my back bed. I had tried one of the fancy yellow varieties there a few years ago but it died. Somehow it must have cross pollinated with the pink ones there because this year I have these luscious white blooms.

I've seen the white varieties in other places and grew them myself many years ago but they tended to limp along. This one is quite different, to begin with, it's chin high on me and I'm 5'7" so that's pretty high for an Echinacea. I'll be keeping my eye on this beauty!

One more note, Echinacea make great cutting flowers so if you have the, include a few in your bouquets.