Monday, April 19, 2010

A Work in Progress

'Climbing Old Blush' in bloom on April 15th. Unlike many Chinas, which have the counter-intuitive habit of darkening with age, Old Blush starts out raspberry pink before fading to a beautiful light pink.

I got 15 yards of compost and 2 loads of screenings last week, and this weekend Gene rented a bobcat so that he could move it around. He used the screenings to raise the entrance to the stalls behind the house and even the footing in the round pen. I weeded and spread compost.

I am also in the process of re-working a place near Climbing Old Blush. The original plan was to have a combination of Baptistias, Carolina bush pea, rugosa roses, tall bearded iris, woodland phlox and Iris virginica in the spring, with Brazilian blue sage, summer phlox and dahlias taking over later in the year. Can you see the flaw in this plan? Brazilian Blue Sage tends to take over. In the middle and on one side the iris have been shaded out, and the woodland phlox and Iris virginica are struggling in the dry shade of the Baptisias and sage. Have I mentioned how very dry conditions can be in the floodplain?

So currently the Baptisias stand alone looking like elegant stands of Asparagus among the freshly spread compost. I should be grateful that the Baptisias are alive at all. I didn't know if flimsy plastic pots would keep voles out, as mice will chew through anything, but fortunately voles are not as persistent as mice.

On to Plan B, which is to add more Baptisias and underplant with ephemerals. So in preparation I have sunk plastic pots into the ground and mulched the top with gravel. I'll be sowing Baptisia in pots on the porch to set out in early fall. The ephemerals I want to add include:

Dicentra spectabilis
Virginia bluebells
Trout lily
Species tulips (which, like the Baptisia, will have to be protected)
Mid and late season daffs. So far I'm thinking Sweetness, Sweet Love, Pipit, and Petrel, but I've just started looking.

Cl. Old Blush on 4/18

Old Blush never disappoints. One of those fragrant roses
that does not smell like a rose, more like Juicy Fruit Gum.

Time to get the seeds started too. As it turns out, the amsonia at the back bed isn't gone at all, but came up and is more beautiful than ever. So tonight I started all of the seed I collected the last 2 years. This is the amsonia that grows wild here in several places on the farm.

The back of the bed is difficult dry part-shade, due to 2 nearby loblolly pines. The ultimate plan is to have Baptisias, Eastern columbine, amsonia, and Carolina rose there.

The version of Eastern Columbine that I really like is the pastel version.

A 2-for-1 picture

There's some Money Plant from DH's grandmother's garden which is
struggling some in the current dryness but still adds a lot of color.

Jacob's Ladder, wild geranium (Geranium maculatum), and blue violets are in there too, which are fine if it gets dry; they just go underground as the amsonia did. The Baptisias will be fine once established, it's getting them established that has proven problematic. They're going to need some help the first year or 2. Usually once the planting prep work is done all I have to do is plant them and forget. They will be worth the trouble though. This is a Baptisia alba/ australis seedling that's about 4 years old now.

The charcoal stems that it inherited from its alba parent.

For the last 3 years I have been reading and re-reading the Harry Potter books, and have been thinking that I could use a little magic other than the magic of spring. Accio Beardtongue! Not only would the beardtongue appear, but it would planted and watered in, just like that.


  1. The baptisias look awesome. This is a fairly new to me plant and I just love it. I wish it would grow a bit faster though. You have it in a good spot because even without the other plants it still shines.

  2. Old Blush is a star.

    I agree about the colour of Eastern Columbine.

    I wonder what Dahlias you would have gone for?

    Good luck with your seed sowing.

  3. Rob I had a Rothsay Reveller there (you can see it here and here, which I moved in the winter of '08/'09 before a severe cold snap. I ended up putting it elsewhere the next spring because it got so enormous. I didn't stake it, and it sprawled a good 3 feet around.

  4. Sweetbay,

    That Old Blush is another WOW plant in your garden. Your baptisias are beautiful and you have so many. I used to have the blue it got huge and was lost in the addition construction. WE do have a Carolina Moon baptisia and a bright yellow one too.

  5. Beautiful shots, especially of the pink of the rose on the black arbor, but I also like the kitty tail among the columbines.

  6. Your garden looks VERY large, I don't know how you do it all!-- Randy

  7. Amsonias and baptisias, you can't go wrong! Both are wonderfully natural looking beautiful plants. But both are slow to establish, late to come up (for me) and test our patience. But when they do get going, they are worth it. Your photos of both are an inspiration for me to be patient with mine.

  8. I love the tall spires of the Baptista (never heard of it before!) it looks stunning - I'm a sucker for spires at the moment it would seem!

    The garden looks wonderful, I also love the rose, so romantic!

  9. All of your blooms are wonderful. How old is your Climbing rose? It is really wonderful. I like the Baptista with the white and purple flower in the bed with the two colored irises.
    Your rugosas must be at their peak of fragrance now. Mine were lost after the riprap was put in....too much for them to handle. I miss their fragrance. Will be getting a Hansa for the new house.
    I like the idea of sinking the pots, topping with gravel and then adding seeds.....we have such an issue with voles here in Seaford.

  10. Forgot to mention that my Amsonia is no where near blooming.!!!! Mine is hubrechtii. Think I will be using its current status for the GGW photo contest.

  11. I noticed that my "Old Blush" was blooming yesterday. I've moved it so many times that it is still small and I'm surprised it hasn't died on me. Love the baptisia. I bought "Purple Smoke" last year and I hope it blooms this year.

  12. Old Blush looks fantastic on that trellis.

    I haven't tried baptisia yet but have a couple seeds to start. Yours are lovely.

  13. Well, I understand your need of magic, so much work in Spring. I would love to use magic, to get rid of all the snow..
    Amnsonia, such a lovely plant, lovely blue color too. I'll try to find out if it stand a chance up here in the cold, winterly north..
    Enjoyed your garden pics as always :)

  14. Thank you everyone for your comments. Janet I think one of the Climbing Old Blushes is 5, the other is 4 and grown from a cutting of the first. Hansa is perhaps my favorite rugosa -- so velvety and fragrant!

  15. Your Old Blush rose looks so pretty on the arbor. Do you prune it much in the early spring?
    I am looking forward to my baptisia blooming-I just planted it last year.
    There is so much to do in the spring garden-I am looking forward to finishing up indoors this week so by the weekend I can do some serious gardening.

  16. Thank you Carolyn, the only pruning I do of Old Blush is to remove any dead wood and that's it!

  17. The climbing rose is beautiful. You have such a variety of flowers. I have garden envy! Carla

  18. Well. I have been a kid in the candy store the last few minutes reading this post and the one before it (How did I miss it?!) - Your roses, native azaleas, and baptisia are so beautiful! And the amsonia! And the columbine! I have to go to bed now, as I have to get up early for work. I will surely have sweet dreams.

  19. Things are looking really great, Sweet bay. I will always think of your pretty climbing rose now when I smell Juicy Fruit gum :)

  20. You may be feeling a bit disappointed and frustrated with this area, Sweet Bay, but the gorgeous rose and other blooms make up for anything not blooming. A whole area of baptisia and amsonia sounds wonderful to me! In fact, it reminds me of the Lurie Gardens in Chicago that I saw last year. The baptisia and amsonia were in full bloom and planted everywhere--just beautiful. You have your own Lurie right here:)

  21. Sweetbay, that 'Climbing Old Blush' and its changing colors reminds me of one of our favourite climbers: 'Summer Wine', which starts out a deep coral bud and transforms into many stages until it is a light pink. And what's not to like about the name? ;)

  22. You have such a big area, and it looks good to me, but I know when you have something in mind, you want it to be that way. I think your baptisia may be a different kind than mine. The stems on mine don't grow straight up like yours, and it doesn't get as full of blooms as yours. I love yours!

    I am glad you pointed out there was something else in the photo with your cat.

    Oh, and that rose is beautiful!

  23. I just clicked to see rothsay reveller on your reply.

    I reckon I could re-kindle my previous dahlia bug. I only grow 'bishop of llandaff' in a pot at the moment, that could change!

  24. Climbing Old Blush looks super on your arbour. It makes a nice entrance to the wooded section behind. The pink columbines are very sweet, and I like your Baptisias in the meadow garden. You have a lot of space in your garden.


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