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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Spring Containers

Container planting has to be one of the most rewarding types of gardening. When it comes to containers, you can be in full control. Chose the ideal type of soil, the bloom season, the light conditions (after all, you can move those containers around) and of course, the watering requirements.

Just the other day I posted about ferns in the spring gardens. Ferns are wonderful in containers, this photo was taken the other day in the Lincoln Park Conservatory in Chicago.

For those of you who haven't read my other blog, Old Country Gardens, I've just returned from the most wonderful four days in Chicago. The plantings were amazing, street corners, parks, median strips, sidewalk plantings and of course lots and lots of containers.

I thought I was taking too many photos but as usual, I now wish I had taken twice as many!

Visible from the hotel room window was this amazing array of planters. Best of all was getting to walk past it several times a day.

The weather was quite harsh, cold downpours, gusting winds and bright sunny days with nights near freezing. Yet look how lovely these hardy spring plants look!

The color combinations were spectacular, I couldn't get enough of the blues and once you add some gold, wowza!

Color combinations don't have to be hot or cold, I found this yellow, green and white arrangement very pleasing.

Putting all those colors together was even better, you could hardly guess that it was so cold that my fingers were numb while pressing on the camera button.

Three cheers to the folks of Chicago for showcasing such a lovely city!


Friday, April 23, 2010

Spring Ferns

There's something about ferns that fascinates me. When it comes to the botanical names, I'm totally lost. Even the common name often eludes me but I just love ferns in the garden.

This top image is a fern that showed up here without me planting it. If I had to guess, I'd call it a hay scented fern. It does smell yummy when you pot it up and drive around with it in your car.

The Cinnamon Fern is another one that I've been adding here and there. I just adore this fuzzy stage as they first begin to grow and that cool cinnamon stalk that emerges in late spring is bonus.

Last year I saw a lone fern for sale at Fox Hollow Farm. It didn't have a name tag but I just had to add it to the garden. For some reason I couldn't find a photo of it from last season so I'll have to wait and shoot one this year. It formed a perfect whirl, round and round.

Probably the ugliest fern in the beginning of the season is the Japanese Painted Fern. It almost looks like it's dead and yet each day more of it emerges.

Here's one of the few shots I could find of a fern once it's totally unfurled from it's early spring stage. Not a great photo, I do know this is one of the Painted Ferns, possibly 'Ghost'.

Got Ferns? Let me know what does well for you!


Friday, April 16, 2010

Delay in open garden...

Please note that the grand opening day for Melanie's Perennials will be May 1st.

Much as I had hoped to open the garden tomorrow, April 17th, life has given me a challenge to overcome first. This past Wednesday I underwent a lumpectomy and will not be able to lift or dig for a while.

The good news is I can take lots and lots of photos in the mean time and plan on sharing them with all of you.

Hope to see you May 1st!


Wednesday, April 14, 2010


One can always find Pulmonarias in Herb books. They've been grown for their medicinal properties for hundreds of years and are more commonly known as Lungwort. Most books state that the young leaves can be added to salads but I can't imagine trying them as they are hairy as can be...

Supposedly Pulmonarias clear congested lungs, I've also read that they are an ingredient in vermouth. Perhaps that's why another book states that they can cause liver damage? As always, I'll remind all of you that just because a plant is an herb, I do not recommend eating them without knowing more about the plant. This is one that would not pass my lips.

Most Pulmonarias have spotted leaves, in the summer some will also get powdery mildew but since they are already white, it doesn't bother me much.

Quite commonly Pulmonarias have pink flower buds that once opened, quickly change to blue or vice-versa. There are quite a few varieties on the market now, not only does the flower color vary but the amount of spotting on the foliage is another distinctive trait.

The most vigorous Pulmonaria in my garden by far is Pulmonaria angustifolia. Surprisingly, this one has no spotting at all on the leaves. The blooms are the most heavenly sky blue color imaginable.

Out front near the street in barren soil I've been growing Pulmonaria 'Dora Bielefeld' for at least 10 years. As you can see here, it has quite a clear pink bloom. I wish I'd had the forethought to move it to a better location and see what it could really do when grown in rich soil.

There are also pristine white Pulmonarias. The name on this one escapes me, I do know that I've divided out some pieces and shared them with gardening friends. While white is not my favorite color in the garden, it is a most welcome addition to the shade corners that Pulmonarias seem to tolerate.

My recommendations on growing these lovelies is to give them a spot with several hours of sunlight (preferably softer, morning light), rich soil that has been amended with compost and water during dry seasons. Other than that, stand back and watch them bloom!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Kim's Garden

The other day I met some gardening friends for a workshop at my friend Kim's home in Huntington Bay. The weather was perfect and of course, so was Kim's garden.

I was torn between working on making the hypertufa troughs (read more about it on my Old Country Garden blog) and taking photos of the most wonderful spring display of blooms.

Little vignette's were all over the place, this one was my favorite!

Kim's mother Joan has a garden on one side of the house. Joan was always such a talented gardener that it was no surprise to me to see how lovely her newest creation has taken off. Even with health issues Joan has done a great job here.

Looking down closely you can see how lovely the Lysimachia nummularia 'Aurea' looks as it wends it's way around the stepping stones. This side garden is so stunning that it deserves it's own post in the future.

One last shot, a close up of the weeping Cherry tree. Isn't it breathtaking?

I thought I'd finish up today's post with some good news...I'm taking a hiatus from working retail, need to deal with some health issues but I will also be able to spend more time in the garden. So stay tuned, Melanie's Perennials will be open for business soon, maybe this coming Saturday, April 17th!

Can't wait to see all of you again,