Monday, June 29, 2015

Rained-out Garden Tour

My sincere thanks to those brave people who visited my garden on the rainiest day of the year. They reinforced my belief that gardeners are a hardy lot! It began to rain at my house at 7:15 am just as I was deadheading the miniature roses and making some final touches, and it didn't stop until mid-morning of the next day. It was very disheartening after all those weeks of hard work: composting, mulching, weeding, and planting. Visitors, with raincoats and umbrellas dripping, arrived in ones and twos, but no more than a dozen in all. I am so glad the tour organizers are trying to reschedule the event. There were six gardens on the tour, and I am sure the other gardeners feel the same way.

I took some pictures a couple of days ago to post on Facebook, hoping to tempt some of my 'friends' to come on the tour. I am so glad for those photographs as it was impossible to take pictures in the rain.  Come take a virtual tour with me. It is raining again, but you don't even have to get wet this time.

 As you enter our property the purple cone flowers are coming into bloom in the small butterfly garden. There are phlox, liatris, milkweed and cleome in this area. If you look top-left you can see the horseshoe garden under the flag. Let's go there next. 

Butterfly Garden.

I added a bit of stained glass to the foot of the clematis in the horseshoe garden to hide its bare roots. The rose campion is still the star of this garden.

The Horseshoe Garden

The cottage garden was between blooms: the peonies and roses just finished, with the flower buds of the shasta daisies, phlox and other cottage garden perennials about to burst open. Few blooms, but layers of lush green foliage.

 Except for the hollyhocks! They stole the show.

Hollyhocks tower over the cottage garden

 I added a wreath on each door and ivy in a birdcage.

Frogs are said to love the rain, but even they were sheltering out of sight.

 Next, into the shade garden where some of the hosta blooms are about ready to open.

Shade Garden Planting.

 My grandson, Jonathan, spent a couple of days with us prior to the tour date, and weeded and tidied the miniature gardens. Each one is so lovely and special, like Jon.

One of five miniature gardens

Through the clematis-covered arbor we enter the kitchen garden. The pink blooms of 'Comtesse de Bouchard' look very striking with the purple petals of 'Tie Die.'

Since this picture, the vegetables have grown in leaps and bounds, due to the rain.

The Kitchen Garden

 We finished making the new, shorter Woodland Walk and H.H. planted shrubs at the entrance. The pathway is along a swale, which is doing its job of collecting rain water and preventing it from flooding our basement. We knew this was a drawback for a 'Walk' but it was the natural path to take. It is a beautiful walk when it is dry. There are pictures in my previous posting.

I'm joining Helen at the Patient Gardener's Weblog for her End of Month View. Helen's garden in England is beautiful -- check it out.  

There were some advantages to having the event in the rain:
  • I was able to give each visitor a private tour, and answer many questions.
  • When the rain was light, the garden colors were softer and even more lovely if that is possible.
  • I was overwhelmed with feelings of gratitude for people making the trek through the rain.
I love showing people my garden, rain or shine. I hope you enjoyed the tour from the comfort of your home.

Pamela x

Bees love the hollyhocks.

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Thursday, June 18, 2015

Summer's Eve

These hot and steamy June days, early morning is the best time to enjoy my garden. Mr. Robin waits, nervously, atop the weeping redbud for me to pass before feeding his mate sitting on their eggs. Mist shrouds the bottom field at sunrise, enhancing the beauty of the oats planted there, and defining many spider webs that catch the morning light. I enjoy the peaceful beauty surrounding me and I love the morning chorus of birdsong.

I try to begin my gardening chores early, before the heat sets in, with so much to do before the County Garden Tour only a week away. We hoped to be ready by now, but days of torrential rain have hampered our efforts. Even with all the problems Mother Nature sends our way, the garden is still looking beautiful. New blooms appear daily, and I can't begin to show them all in this posting, so I will focus on a couple of changes in the garden: a new trug, some different plantings, and the new Woodland Walk.

I love to celebrate each season with a gardening gift to myself. With summer a few days away, I treated myself to something very special: a large planting trug for the patio. It places herbs and vegetables closer to the back door, and its height eliminates bending and kneeling when gardening. One day, when I can no longer maintain a large kitchen garden, this trug will contain all the vegetables H.H and I need. Isn't it grand?

In the middle, I placed a trellis over a tomato plant.
A dozen herbs plus flowers such as marigolds and nasturtium.

The spirea in the cottage garden took center stage this past week, and in a future post I'll show what's new in this area.

Yellow yarrow flanks the spirea.

For the first time I planted morning glory to climb two trellises. Actually, I also planted them over the pea tunnel in the kitchen garden, but those seeds may not have germinated, because I soaked them too long while I waited days for the rain to stop.

Morning glory on one side of the arbor. There is a mature clematis on the other side.
The pea tunnel was the center of a big problem this spring. I planted snow peas to climb over it, lettuce under it, and other cool-weather crops next to it, as I do every spring. Nothing appeared and I puzzled why? I knew there was nothing wrong with the seeds as I used 3-4 packets of different vegetables, all new for 2015. The bed, a raised one, contained my usual mix of compost, peat moss, and top soil. It could only be the soil mix. I knew the compost was very mature, made from kitchen and garden waste and manure from my mini horse, Dude. It could not possibly be too hot. Then a light bulb came on ... We stored Dude's manure in an area under walnut trees ... juglone must have poisoned it. Many plants will not grow under walnut trees because of the juglone their roots emit. I posted about it here.

The solution: dear H.H dug all the soil out of the bed and refilled it, this time using mushroom compost with peatmoss and topsoil. I planted bush beans and sunflowers there. They all germinated and are doing fine! Lesson learned!

Moving to the horseshoe garden, which was new last year, the plantings have filled out beautifully. The Sweet William is especially lovely. Snapdragons reseeded themselves all over the bed, and I added some I grew from seed. If their blooms are as lovely as last year, they will be quite stunning.

The Horseshoe Garden
Bearded iris around the birdbath, and clematis climbing the trellis.

The many native plants in the horseshoe garden attract pollinators and I am reminded this week is Pollinator Week.

Native plants in the horseshoe garden include the red rose campion.

As planned, we closed the old Woodland Walk which became too big to maintain, plus I'm afraid of the bears we see in there. We created a shorter walk and added some shade plants. I am thrilled with the results.

The bearded iris in bloom along Bluebell Creek at the entrance to the Woodland Walk.

The Woodland Walk is a cool place to celebrate hot summer days ...

The Woodland Walk is ten degrees cooler than the rest of  the garden -- lovely!
Heuchera and brunnera tend to be avoided by deer. I sprayed them with deer repellent to be safe.

Returning to the main garden, I planted all the containers and window boxes last week.

Coleus I grew from seed welcome you to the Stone Garden.

The last chore (a big one) is to finish mulching flower beds, then we should be ready for the BIG TOUR!

I am linking with Donna at Garden's Eye View for her 'Seasonal Celebrations' meme and with Beth at Plant Postings for her 'Lesson Learned' meme. I'm late for 'Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day', but will link to it in case you didn't yet visit Carol at May Dreams Gardens. Thanks, ladies, for three wonderful blogs and for hosting these three special memes.

It is a beautiful time of the year ... how are you celebrating your garden on summer's eve?

Pamela x

A simple container of calibrachoa at the front door.

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Sunday, May 31, 2015

Birds, Bees, and Beautiful Blooms

Bee on Rhododendron

Let's take a critter-walk and see what creatures are enjoying my gardens today. The bee on the rhododendron has pollen all over its butt and feet -- a pollen-bum-ble bee perhaps. (So sorry for the bad pun.) I am thrilled with my beautiful rhododendron blooms following the dreadful winter damage the shrub endured. It looked so dead, with brown curling leaves, that I thought I would need to remove it, then it burst into bloom and surprised me. My friend, Karen, lost nine rhododendrons this winter to anthracnose, an airborne fungus, that seems to have affected many rhododendrons in her neighborhood. Karen says the harsh winter only exacerbated the extent of the damage. I checked the underside of the leaves of mine for the tell-tale brown spots and saw none, thank goodness. I probably should devise some sort of winter protection; my rhodie is an only child, so I don't want to lose it.

Surprising number of blooms on my winter-damaged Rhododendron 'Roseum Elegans'.

Not only bees, but butterflies also love the rhododendron flowers.

American Swallowtale Butterfly on Rhododendron.

Continuing our critter walk, there is a great deal of activity in and around the pond with vocal frogs, millions of tadpoles, and the koi enjoying the warmer water.

Yellow Iris Iris pseudacorus blooming in the pond.
This frog enjoys the waterfall
Mr. Bull Frog
All koi, except one, survived the harsh winter.

The May stars of the cottage garden, the beautiful Allium 'Globe Master', are a new addition: I planted the bulbs last fall. I was previously put off by its common name, ornamental onion, but now wish I had grown some sooner. The shape -- tall stems topped by rounded blooms -- is a nice contrast to my other plantings. With contrast in mind, I previously grew foxgloves for their their spiky form, but had little luck with that biannual. A great advantage to allium: the deer don't want onion breath, so avoid eating them!

Allium 'Globe Master' punctuates the Cottage Garden

 The birds are busy building nests. I love the morning chorus that increases in volume daily. We have been watching the purple martin house with interest, but again no purple martins took up residence.

The ten-year old purple martin house.

This year, a tree swallow claimed the attic condominium.

Tree swallow carries straw to build a nest.
Admiring the view from his new front door.

We are thrilled the phoebe returned to make a nest on one of the ledges H.H. nailed under the eaves of the tractor shed.

Eastern Phoebe

New visitors to the back yard feeder, purple finches, stop by frequently. Their musical warble is a welcome addition to the morning chorus. They love sunflower seeds, so I hope they enjoy the sunflowers I planted in the kitchen garden when they bloom.

Male purple finch.

A pair of robins nested on the pergola over the main entrance to our house last year. They returned and rebuilt the nest that the winter winds and snow had damaged. The female is sitting on a clutch of eggs. When we go in and out of the house, very close to the nest, she just closes her eyes. Maybe she thinks if she can't see us, we can't see her.

Recently, H.H. took down the suet cage and replaced it with a hummingbird feeder. Before he could remove it, a redbellied woodpecker finished off a remaining scrap of suet.

Of course, the squirrels are interested in the bird feeders. To distract them, H.H. placed a squirrel feeder on a tree some distance away.

Squirrels, for all their faults, are always amusing to watch. It's fun to see them going in and out of the new feeder.

Peanuts  keep the pesky squirrels away from the bird feeders.

Finally, on our critter walk let's check on my goat and miniature horse.

Billy Goat found a piece of corn to chew on.

Isn't the viburnum near the paddock beautiful with its lacy white blooms? And isn't Dude cute? He is waiting patiently to be led to the pasture where he can enjoy the new orchard grass growing there.

Blooming Vibernum and hungry Dude

I hope you enjoyed this short critter-walk. Many more creatures enjoy my spring garden including humming birds that returned this week plus several other varieties of birds and butterflies. Hopefully, I can share pictures of them soon. Now I must take care of Dude, and continue planting, composting, and completing the million-and-one tasks necessary at this busiest time of my gardening year.

Happy gardening, my friends!

Pamela x

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