Monday, March 25, 2013

By the front sidewalk

Many of the daffodils are blooming, but I haven't taken many pictures because I am
still in the process of cleaning up the garden. It'll be a miracle if I get the garden cleared
before the main spring show, but in the meantime, the birds still love the cover.

So, back to the archives (cue strumming harp) ...

Soon after the house was moved and DH put in a new sidewalk I put in bearded iris next
to it. At a beautiful old house in Carrboro that had been turned into doctors' offices I
saw a line of daylilies and then of iris next to the sidewalk and thought how elegant that
arrangement was in its simplicity.

The pictures of the iris below are from April and May 2008 and 2010.

April 2010

'Quaker Lady' 2008

Peach noid 2010

'Celebration Song', 2010

'Everything Plus', 2010

The iris were very successful the first year, and then they started quickly melting away over the next couple of winters. I believe a large part of the problem were voles laughing as they tunneled through the loose sandy soil and munched on the iris rhizomes. (Prissy was snug in her heated bed at the time; her resume would read "Excellent huntress. Hunts only under ideal conditions.")

I started adding spiderwort and foxglove to fill in the
gaps, but conditions were too hot and dry for the spiderwort.

Desperate times call for desperate measures. So I called upon -- Pink Showy Primrose.
Yes, the plant many know as a thug disguised as a princess in a lovely pink frock.

I'd actually managed to kill pink primrose a couple of times and it languished by the vegetable garden for a few years before seeing an opening and taking off. What did I have to lose? After all, nothing else was doing all that well there, and I wanted something low-growing and spring blooming. So, in the primrose went, and it loved the sandy soil and spread everywhere.

Primrose beside sidewalk and vegetable garden in the background.

Happily, other things have managed to co-exist with it, like Pink Muhly and Swamp Sunflower and Summer Phlox (added at the same time as the primrose ) and especially Bidens. Bidens didn't have any trouble coming up through it at all.

Besides the narcissus added for very early color, I also planted Allium sphaerocephalon after seeing it on some blogs. It has a rich black raspberry color and its effect lasts a long time, as it's beautiful both in bud and flower and opens over an extended period of time.

Some foxglove for height variation...

Four o' clocks, Mexican petunia, Bidens and Muhly provided color later in the season.

The final result in September and October was a bit tall and crowded. The sidewalk is narrow to start with, and with the hydrangeas on one side and Bidens on the other, it was difficult to get along the sidewalk when the plants were soaked with dew or rain without getting wet too. This, despite the fact that I cut back the plants several times. At least the overall effect was colorful. :)

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Lots more flowers in the vegetable garden

The flowers are just as important as the fruits and vegetables in our vegetable garden, since the garden is in a conspicuous place. A vegetable patch can be ugly in the middle of summer. Picture corn stalks falling over and tomatoes and cantaloupe vines running amok and then dying spectacularly. This ruining usually occurs in the middle of summer when I'm more concerned with avoiding heatstroke than tidying the vegetable garden after I've completed the rest of my chores.

In the beginning the vegetable garden was quite open.



The roses were small. This swamp rose is now over 6 feet tall.

So I planted a lot of seed grown Gulf Coast penstemon to fill in the gaps.

Belinda's Dream in 2008, before being grown over by the swamp rose and 'Veilchenblau'.

The flowers in the vegetable garden are around the perimeter, with the exception of the perennial sweet pea. We used a little metal stand for the sweet pea, which served its purpose for a couple of years before snapping off at the bottom in a wind storm. Later the sweet pea grew on the teepee with the Marabar spinach before that fell over too.

Lovely but not fragrant alas.

For a while there was also a Sombreuil rose on the wires
also meant for raspberry vines. The garden in 2010.

Then the raspberry died and 'Sombreuil' is much too thorny to have in the inevitably tight quarters of a vegetable garden. G. ended up taking the wires down.

The picture below is from spring 2012. All of the roses have sized up except for 'Hansa'. Some of my rugosa hybrids (Hansa and my 'Therese Bugnet' seedling) had severe dieback over the winter last year. After a mild dry winter?? The TB seedling may be gone and the 'Hansa's are still struggling. I hope they don't come down with RRD this year. I've noticed some roses showing a decline before showing full-blown symptoms. Will have to wait and see.

See how much better Hansa looked in 2011?

These rugosas (seedlings of R. rugosa rubra and 'Hansa') need to be cut back to allow more room in the garden, but they do make a good hedge. Deer don't eat the rugosas here and the way the vegetable garden is designed/ has turned out there aren't many easy ways out, so I think they may help keep the deer out. If the deer were hungry enough they would eat everything, but that hasn't been the case so far.

'Pink Pillar' is one of the two truly warm-colored roses I have, both of which are climbers. 'Crepuscule' is the other one. The predominance of cool-colored roses is more the result of natural selection than personal choice, but this way the warm-colored roses make a lot of splash in an ocean of cool colors.

The combination of orange and candy pink somehow works with this rose.

The drainage in the part of the bed next to the drive is half dry, half wet, because the run-off from the roof of the house and from further up the hill runs down the edge of the bed and seeps under the rocks the keep the bed from washing out. The wild Indian strawberry loves the moisture and has formed a thick carpet on its own under the swamp rose and the other plants.

DH buried a 2" pipe that carries the overflow from one of the rain barrels to the edge of the
vegetable garden, next to the R. Palustris scandens. Louisiana iris 'Sinfonietta' thrives there.

Broccoli, sweet peas, Antique Rose Emporium Rosa palustris scandens, rugosa, and 'Veilchenblau'.

R. palustris scandens


Buddleia 'Petit Indigo' is just far enough away from the edge to keep its toes out of the damp. As you can see the term "petit" is just for the size of the flower panicles and the leaves, not the actual size of the plant.

Hibiscus 'Anne Arundel', Phlox 'David's Lavender', and Formosa Lily. The hibiscus is a seedling of 'Anne Arundel'. I love the deep pink color of the flowers. The plant itself is tall and slender, unlike my light pink hibiscus which is more a round shape.

There's room for a few daylilies next to the driveway as well, although they're started to get a little crowded out.

'Pandora's Box'

I don't know the name of the pink daylily ~ it may be a seedling.


'Meriam White'

The north end of the bed gets a lot of moisture as the water that runs next to the bed at the edge of the drive turns and heads toward the ditch and eventually into Middle Creek. This area is home to seashore mallow, more daylilies,

Iris japonica,

amaryllis (Hippeastrum x johnsonii) and crinum. Crinum bulbispermum doesn't have a good fragrance but it's a striking plant, with its tall umbels of blooms and long curving tapered leaves. I bought it a few years ago at Plant Delights and stuck it in dry spot (ironically in the floodplain, on a small ridge that's still feet lower than where it is now), where it sulked. Once moved to richer, wetter soil it started putting up scapes of pink and white flowers with regularity.

Next to C. bulbispermum there is a white crinum and Crinum 'Ellen Bosanquet', a crinum from the 1920's that in my opinion may still be the loveliest out there. I got this crinum in a trade but am 99% sure this is Ellen based on the flowers, and although not apparent in these pictures, the distinctive ruffle-edged foliage. Both of my white crinums (a pure white from Niche that blooms early and 'Royal White' (C. digweedii), which blooms later and repeats) and Ellen are sweetly fragrant. Each one has a distinct perfume. The Niche crinum is just wonderfully sweet, 'Royal White' reminds me of Ivory soap (as does H. x johnsonii), and 'Ellen Bosanquet' has warm spicy undertones.

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