Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Ongoing Projects Part II

The garden east of the house is just a little over 2 years old but has filled in quickly considering its youth. I saved a lot of plant material before we moved the house and have put that in. There are still holes and it'll be interesting to see how many losses there are after this extremely wet winter.

Feb '10

So far for spring effect there is the polyantha 'Marie Pavie', columbine, the rugosa 'Hansa', Phlox pilosa (from Gail), a mystery Gallica hybrid nicknamed Delia's Purple, a fragrant mockorange grown from a cutting, Gulf Coast penstemon, foxglove, and bearded iris. Off to the right, the small white rose is the polyantha 'Clotilde Soupert', and beyond that is the China 'Archduke Charles'.

May '09

There is also Carolina bush pea and foxglove beardtongue.

For summer and fall there's purple coneflowers, summer phlox 'Robert Poore' and 'David', a hibiscus seedling, grasses, asters, skullcaps, seashore mallow and blue mist shrub 'Longwood Blue' and 'Dark Knight'. The repeat roses chime in again in the fall too. During the summer they're pretty much a write-off due to the Japanese beetles.
July '09

The big green blob to the left of the tulip poplar in the background is aster 'Miss Bessie'. She gets big, which is why I can't let her into the garden next to the house.

There are several plants which may or may not do well, like the blue mist shrub. It likes a poor sandy soil best, but does well in poor clay soil too -- even wet clay soil, but add rich to wet and it may die. I'd have put it next to the house, but it needs to be somewhere a little away from main traffic. It's actually very fragile and will break off even if rubbed against. I always want to have it somewhere in the garden, however. I love the blue-violet flowers, the silvery fragrant foliage, and the way it blooms in August and is just like a breath of fresh air at that difficult and very humid time of year. Coneflowers are another one that may be iffy. Conditions for these plants will not always be this iffy -- the bedding will not be as rich and moisture-retentive as it breaks down and is absorbed by the plants.

If I lose the coneflowers I will start more from seed, as I love the combination of purple-pink and orange. My favorite is is the wild-type seed from the NC Botanical Garden. The petals fold down, but the color is brighter and longer-lasting than that of 'Magnus'.

The below picture provides an example of what the garden looked like in early days (April '08) while the beds were still being constructed. We had a pile of clean shavings that were left when we had to board the horses while the house was being moved. After 6 months some of it was beginning to break down, so I used that as a base, along with compost, and then eventually mulched with hay to keep the weeds down and help break down the shavings further. You can see the mushrooms popping up next to the iris.

June '08. I did not finish with all of the beds that make up the garden until the fall of 2009.

The bones of this garden are mainly deciduous shrubs: Japanese beautyberry, the rugosa hybrid 'Sir Thomas Lipton' and other rugosas. There's also a trellis next to which are planted a young 'Crepuscule', an 'Alchymist' and a violet clematis. I would have loved to have used more full-sun native shrubs as the backbone of this garden, especially a few evergreens, but couldn't think of any that aren't too dense and dark, don't get too tall, and like this much moisture. (These beds, by the way, can be much wetter than the beds right around the house -- those are bone dry.) Heck I would have loved to have used tea roses, but 'Georgetown Tea' has gone by the wayside already. I didn't want very many tall plants in this garden, because I didn't want to block the view downhill to the pastures. We have so many evergreens here anyway -- the loblollies and the voids and spaces of woods and pasture are really the bones of the landscape. The idea was for this area to be a billowy mid height cottage-type garden with lots of whites and pinks and purples and violet-blues, with some yellow thrown in for contrast.

This garden consists of islands and streams that allow water to drain away from the house

July '09

such as 'Blush Noisette', to the right in the above picture,

and this little island bed. Parts of these beds will likely alternate between sopping wet and desert dry, and the plants within will likely flow and ebb too, depending on the conditions that they thrive in. This fall I added a bunch of spiderwort divisions, Iris virginica seedlings, Gulf Coast penstemon, Scutellaria integrifolia, Crinum digweedii (an actual scientific name), hardy ginger lily and Hemerocallis citrina (a daylily that seems to like a lot of moisture) to the edges of the beds.

These H. citrina seedlings and other daylilies were added in 2007/2008 and look happy.

Littlewing is responsible for giving me the daylily bug. :) The year before I got a number at really good prices, and some through trades; also, being a compulsive seed collector, I will grow more.. Here's a few:

'Fairy Tale Pink'

'Lavender Deal'

'Bryan Paul'

I want a lot of bearded iris up here, but in some areas it'll have to be water and Siberian Iris.

Louisiana Iris 'Sinfonietta'

Siberian Iris seedling

I've also put zigzag iris Iris brevicaulis underneath the Japanese beautyberry, along with several starts of purple violets. I want this stuff to spread, because I need the groundcover. I. brevicaulis is a native iris that likes part shade; it's one of the iris used in the hybridization of Louisiana Iris. While not itself a water iris, it tolerates flooding just fine and is also in one of the beds in the floodplain.
It's the latest iris I have and often blooms in early June on short stalks. It has an eye catching powder blue/violet color that reminds me of Ageratum and Asters.

Part III: The Vegetable Garden


  1. Your garden islands are truly lovely. Some plants I recognize and others are new to me. But, I do love the roses the best :^)

  2. Love your flower and garden shots. We have a lot of Irises here, both cultivated and wild - but they don't bloom until late June or early July. This year it feels like an early spring so we may have them in June.

  3. Oh my! You have a lot going on! I love those roses, Iris and the Day Lilies!!! Beautiful!

  4. Your beds are lovely! I think my favorite picture is the one with the horse looking out over the bed. You certainly have a green thumb. Now I know where to send my garden questions. Carla

  5. It is my plan to share Practically perfect Pink Phlox Pilosa everywhere it can grow! Thanks for the link...Sweetbay, You must have soil that's deep and rich...Your garden islands are always lovely. Fantastic photos~Fairy Tale Pink is gorgeous! gail

  6. Your garden is beautiful! I love how you have planned for the country vistas and views. When it's blooming, I'd love to see a photo of your mystery Gallica.
    ... Connie

  7. The white irises are especially lovely but why stop there? Everything is lovely. I can see you're a real plant lover.

  8. I love your Siberian iris seedling. It has more white than any of mine do. The H. citrina is so pretty grouped in large numbers!

    Thanks for the link:)

  9. What a fabulous tour and retrespective on this garden. You have done so much! I love the vistas and think you were bang on to not block the view.

    Oh, and those white iris's - gorgeous! :)

  10. Oh, waht a lovely parade of flowers. Hopefully you will have it all when spring comes.

  11. Sweetbay, I've mentioned it before but want to say again how much I enjoy the wide shots you use in your posts. Makes me feel like I'm right there with you walking around looking at your gardens.

    Lavender Deal with the white phlox is my favorite photo. And also the one of your horse looking over the fence admiring your flowers:)

    We had a couple of Blue Mist shrubs, but they've been gone for a few years now. Didn't do well even though they were planted in poor clay soil. Maybe it was too wet.

    Thanks for mentioning the red-cockaded woodpecker. They don't come this far north, according to my bird book. But now I am familiar with a new bird.


  12. Oh my SweetBay. Fantastic pictures once again that have me gasping and ooohing and aaahing over your lovely gardens. I just love all of your purples and your day lilies, roses and iris. Sigh.

    Thanks again for a wonderful tour of your lovely country gardens.


  13. Just beautiful! You can tell you put a lot of thought and work into creating the different beds. It must be difficult to plant in those areas where the soil moisture changes so much. The Daylilies and Iris are so pretty!

  14. The blue iris is just beautiful and I love the Fairy Tale Pink daylily. You have an amazing collection of plants and they all seem to flow together so well.

  15. It is always very interesting to get a broader view of someone's garden instead of the usual close ups of flowers. You have a wonderful selection of plants. I love the Irises, Roses and Lillies - always the stars of the stage wherever they appear!

  16. It's all so beautiful and you've done so much work. I hope everything comes back for you. Do you know I killed blue mist shrub not once but twice? It's not for here that's for sure. I hope yours comes back.

  17. Your garden is such a labor of love. You've made it a very beautiful spot. What a joy it must be to be surrounding by such beauty.
    I love seeing the longshots and especially love the shot of Prince posing so beautifully.
    Enjoy those projects and thanks for sharing your gorgeous garden :)

  18. That first daylily photo is phenomenal and I'm not a daylily convert (at least not yet). Too funny about getting obsessive ~ it happens to us all for one plant or another, doesn't it?
    Hard to believe your beds are only 2 years old. They are chock full. I love your garden but you already know that. :-)

  19. Hi Sweetbay

    I'm enjoying the tour.

    You grow an enormous variety of plants. There's a lot of progress for a little over two years


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