Sunday, January 10, 2021

Calendar for 2021

Each year I make a calendar for G. to hang in the rooms in the office he works in. I have found making calendars to be a little harder than I first expected. Sometimes the printing doesn't pick up well on the light and shade, and sometimes the pictures just don't translate well to a calendar page. I've learned to buy a trial calendar to check it before ordering the rest. I use Shutterfly since they seem to have the best picture quality of the companies I've used. The other companies I've tried are Cafepress, Zazzle and Mixbook.

We haven't had much snow for several years, so I thought the best way to portray snowy white was in flower form. Clockwise from top: Hymenocallis, apple tree blossoms, an Atamasco lily, and a noid white iris.

Our native Jacob's ladder Polemonium reptans

Eastern redbud with bumblebee. Redbuds are immensely popular with bees when they bloom in March; they drone like a hive with all the bees buzzing about.

A shot of the big perennial bed in late April. Baptisia alba and 'Purple Smoke' with rugosas in the background.

Swamp roses from Antique Roses Emporium lining the big perennial bed and the beds beside the neighbor's pasture.

'Ada May Musick', with that watercolor blue purple eye that I love in a daylily.

A noid yellow daylily, with a now noid peach from Wayside. 'Bleu Celeste' and Monarda 'Raspberry Wine' in the background. I have several yellow daylilies, and while I could in all honestly proclaim practically each one as one of the best, this one really is one of the best. The flower has a lovely graceful form and the sweet fragrance is outstanding.

Summer phlox 'Robert Poore' with carpenter bee. Carpenter bees and swallowtails absolutely love summer phlox.

Bidens with bumblebees

All pictures are of the shrub 'Old Blush' except for rugosa rubra in the bottom left.

I made a collage in Shutterfly that I can't easily replicate elsewhere, so I just put up the three pictures that I used. They feature a red maple I nicknamed the apricot maple due to the color of its spring flowers and its fall color. Sadly, we don't have that tree anymore; it had multiple leaders and started to split down the middle. Eventually one trunk was going to end up across our driveway and another across the neighbor's fence, so I had to have it removed.

Clockwise from top left: 'Jesse's Song' and noid white; Verbena 'Homestead'; 'Jesse's Song' again; and 'Crimson King'.

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Pruning without a clue

There isn't much going on in the garden right now, but there is a lot to do. The caveat to this simple and slightly ominous statement is that it's wet. So very, very wet. We got an additional 2 1/2 inches over the long weekend which we did not need. The water table is very high, making heavily trafficked areas a muddy mess. This fall we got a load of screenings (grit) which G. used to raise up the entrance to and floor of the stalls, but we still need more. That will have to wait until summer. He used our new tractor with a front loader (inherited), which has been worth its weight in gold.

During a wet winter like this taking care of the horses takes about 2 1/2-3 hours a day. That sounds incredible, but that's how long it takes. Currently we're having to hang all of their hay in nets at night as it gets spoiled by putting it on the wet ground. Dealing with farm work in the mud for so long every day is not making me want to deal with my least favorite garden chore, which is clearing vines, blackberries and briars.

 So there is a smaller chore in the garden that I've been working on instead. There are two beds north of the well that are filled mostly with rugosa roses. I didn't plan it that way, I just had a ton of rugosa roses I'd grown from seed that I had to plant somewhere.

Below are a few pictures documenting the beds' early years.
The beginnings of the beds, April 2009. 
Beds March 2010, not yet planted. I used hay the horses didn't finish or couldn't eat as mulch. 
I finished putting the rugosas into the ground January 1st, 2011, but I also put out Bidens seeds since the rugosas were so tiny. September 2011. 
March 2012
April 2012
View across one of the beds, August 2013. I planted seashore mallow along the edges too. 
View across beds, May 2014

In the fall the rugosas have nice color and some have extremely nice color. I've noticed the rugosas with the single fuchsia flowers turn the most vibrant hues in autumn.

Over time the rugosas have gotten a little scraggly, and a few have died out. The only pruning they've received is removal of dead wood. But after 10 years I felt they needed a little rejuvenation, so I cut the top third of the rugosas in the western bed. I may do the same in the eastern bed, or I may leave that one alone to compare. I don't really see how pruning can hurt them, as they still have plenty of cane left and bloom on new wood, but who knows. Certainly not me. I don't know what I am doing. I have always been afraid to prune roses, afraid of opening them up to disease by cutting them. But rugosas are tough and there's starting to be a bit more deadwood than is easy to deal with.

This fall I dug up two Japanese beautyberries I'd planted along with the rugosas, along with approximately two dozen beautyberry seedlings. To fill the void left by the mature beautyberries, I planted a swamp rose. I planted two other swamp roses on the far edge of the western bed to help round it out and give the 3 other swamp roses there more company.
Arrow on left indicates where 2 new swamp roses were planted; the arrow on the right the location of the Japanese beautyberries, now replaced by a swamp rose. The swamp roses are from Antique Roses Emporium and are not the species rose. 

Besides these changes, I want to add more variety to these beds as they are just largely rugosas, but I haven't figured out what I want to do yet. I might even eventually turn one or both of the beds into goldenroad and aster beds, since goldenrod is making itself at home already.

Friday, January 1, 2021

Desert Island Gardens

In Desert Island Gardens, a game started by Noel Kingsbury and Annie Guilfoyle and posted about by danger garden, players choose 5 gardens, 1 book and 1 item to take with them on a desert island. I'm hopelessly provincial so most of my garden choices are local.

1) The sisters' garden in Chapel Hill is the quintessential Southern Garden with dogwoods and lots of azaleas, along with hundreds of tulips and many other flowers. It's locally famous and hundreds of people visit every Easter.

2) Blogger Carolyn Aiken's garden on beautiful Prince Edward Island. It's the ultimate romantic style garden.

3) The Coker Arboretum on the UNC Chapel Hill campus in Chapel Hill. It's a scenic and peaceful oasis in the middle of a beautiful campus. Originally it was a swampy area where the faculty grazed their cattle (I've actually seen pictures in the alumni magazine of this) but the swampy areas have been turned into a stream and the area into a lovely garden with many interesting plants.

4) The NC Botanical Garden in Chapel Hill, set in the piedmont of NC. There are display gardens featuring mountain and coastal plain plants by the older buildings, as well as a medicinal garden with some non-native plants, and more display gardens by the newer buildings. They have a seed distribution program for members (non-members can also buy the seeds for a small price) and it's just a great place for learning about native plants. There are also hilly trails that are great for bird watching and even seeing flying squirrels.

Plymouth Rose-Gentian

Grass pink orchids

Pitcher Plants

5) My own, because I made it and I love seeing all of the wildlife thriving in it.

OK, in case 5 is against the rules, I'd pick somewhere that isn't really a garden but looks like one on a grand scale: Enlow Fork, Pennsylvania. Large glades full of blue-eyed Mary under an open canopy along a river, with Virginia bluebells, several species of trillium, Mayapple, violets, and wild native geraniums.

Picking one book is difficult. Very difficult. But in the end I would choose A Southern Garden by Elizabeth Lawrence, and the item a shovel. If I got off the island I'd want to visit Longwood Gardens because Dirr mentions them often in his Manuel of Woody Landscape Plants.
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