Friday, August 26, 2011

Skywatch Friday: Pre-Irene Sunrise

Sunrise Over the Poconos

 The calm before the storm?

My camera is still broken. All I can take are wide shots, so no flowers today. This is my first Skywatch Friday - a big departure for me. Click on the link and take a look at skies all around the world.

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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

My August Blooms: The Big Picture

Yesterday, Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day, it rained here. The deluge started the previous day, and before last evening our rain gauge (four-and-one-half inches) overflowed. I did not take bloom-day photographs in the rain. I took pictures a day late, and to make matters worse, the zoom/macro feature on my camera doesn't work since I dropped it last week. Consequently, today there are no macro photos of flowers, but just the 'big picture' of my August blooms.

Although the garden was rather wet when I stepped out onto the back porch this morning, I welcomed the cooler temperatures the rain brought. I am glad to see there are blooms-a-plenty in my hanging baskets and planters.

My favorite tea-pot planter is shown bottom-right, filled with coleus.
Stepping off the porch, I see the viburnum I planted in the spring enjoyed the extra long drink it just received. It grew a little, and while not very big yet, I have great hopes for it growing large enough to hide the ugly pasture fence.

Viburnum (bottom front)
I head toward the Woodland Walk with my poor, broken camera. The Grass Garden looks healthy. The Turks' cap lilies have finished blooming and the Chinese lanterns already cast their Hallowe'en glow.

Zebra grass, Chinese lanterns, Autumn Glow sedum, ladies' mantle and Turks' cap lilies.
Chinese lanterns glow under a canopy of zebra grass.
In the Woodland Walk the only bloom I find is a small, white foxglove.

The goldenrod is budding,  but no flowers.

Four paths in the Woodland Walk are named for grandchildren. This one, Calvin Court, is named for a nephew.

In the shade garden, the turtlehead is opening its first pink blooms.

Turtehead Chelone 'Hot Lips'
I find some flowers blooming in the pond garden as you can see by today's lead picture. On closer inspection I see liriope is blooming on the water's edge.

  Liriope 'Big Blue'
The water lilies have not opened their petals this early in the morning.

In the beds around the pond there are still some colorful blooms: butterfly bush, daylilies and zinnias strut their stuff.

Butterfly Bush Buddleia Dividi and Daylily Hemerocallis 'Chicago Apache"
The beautiful annual, Cleome, is at its best following the rain.

Spider Flower Cleome and Butterfly Bush
I fill some of the gaps when perennials decline with pots of zinnias and canna lilies.

One of my most reliable plants, and a beautiful groundcover, the perennial geranium is still lovely.

Cranesbill, Perennial geranium
A crocosmia adds a vibrant shot of red to the rose garden.

Montbretia Crocosmia 'Lucifer'
Many of the purple cone flowers have gone to seed, and the goldfinches love them. They visit my garden regularly during the day. They always fly away, however, before I can get a picture.

Purple cone flower Echinacea purpurea
The picket-fence garden that borders the kitchen garden is very colorful with purple obedient plant, yellow black-eyed Susan, and red roses.

The 'volunteer' pumpkins growing out of the compost bin have turned orange already.

I planted zinnias and marigolds in the kitchen garden. Look how high the corn is in the lower field, now.

Marigolds at the back, and beets at the front of this raised bed.

The peas and beans are finished, but there are still flowers and fruit on the squash plants, although I don't believe I've had as many zucchini as usual this year.

I check out the dill seed heads for swallowtail butterfly caterpillars, but none this year.

Next, I check the milkweed. Wow! I am elated to find my first monarch caterpillar. I am so.o.o excited! I planted the milkweed especially for this purpose, and I am delighted it payed off so quickly. I wish my macro was working, but I manage to get an acceptable picture.

Feeling very happy, I pick a bunch of cottage-garden flowers and carry them to the Woodland Walk. As there are few blooms there, I decide to cheat a little, and place a vase in my favorite seating area.

Obedient plant, black-eyed Susan, zinnias, and roses add color to the Woodland Walk.
I am a day late, but I am going to head over to Carol's wonderful blog, May Dreams Gardens, and check out what is blooming in gardens all over the world. Happy belated Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day.

Pamela x

A dear gardening friend painted this sweet stone for me.
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Saturday, August 6, 2011

Vines For Vertical Interest

With August came rain and relief from the terrible heat. When it's not raining, the humidity is still high so l feel uncomfortable working outside, but I'm happy to have a break from watering. I am sad, however, to see that many of my perennial flowers have started the downslide to autumn: forming seeds, dying back, flopping over. My garden has definitely passed its peak, so rather than record what is/is not blooming right now, I will document my love affair with vines.

An important element of English cottage-garden style is vertical interest. The reason may be that in England growing 'upwards' solves the problem of gardening in a small space. You can create vertical interest with fences, walls, screens, trees, tall shrubs and structures such as arbors and pergolas. I use all those vertical elements in my garden and enhance them with my favorite vines. Clematis is top of my list ...

Clematis growing over a tuteur.
Clematis spp
Forgive me if I show photographs you have seen in my previous postings, but this one bears a repeat performance ...
Clematis over the kitchen-garden fence.
Clematis Jackmanii 'Tie Dye'
Sweet autumn clematis is not for everyone, as it can be extremely aggressive, especially in areas where there are no killing frosts. I just cut it right down to the ground after it has finished its fall blooming, and it comes back the next year to climb to the top of the wrought iron trellis.
Sweet Autumn Clematis clematis ternifolia
The same trellis has another clematis and a rose climbing its front ('sweet autumn' is on the back of the structure).

Clematis x Jackmanii 'Mrs. Cholmondeley'
Below is a photograph of the aforementioned wrought iron trellis with the climbing rose (which blooms after 'Mrs. Cholnomdeley' and before 'sweet autumn' has climbed very high).
Climbing rose Rosa 'Iceberg'
Of course, climbing rose isn't really a vine as it doesn't twine around support structures, or attach to them with aerial roots or adhesive pads. I tie mine to a trellis.

Climbing rose Rosa 'Improved Blaze"
Clematis makes a wonderful companion planting for climbing rose. You can see it to the left of the rose in the picture above, and in more detail below.

Clematis spp.
For about a week in the spring we enjoy the fragrant blooms of the multiflora rose which grows profusely in our Woodland Walk. The rest of the year, H.H. battles with it in an attempt to keep it under control, as it is so very invasive. I wrote an article about multiflora and other wild roses for that you can read by clicking here.

  Rosa multiflora in the Woodland Walk
Multiflora rose grows over the arbor at the entrance to the Woodland Walk.
Multiflora rose blossoms
The grape, a vine we enjoy greatly, grows over our small deck.
Clematis and Grape Vine over the deck.
The grape vine over the pergola makes the deck a shady retreat.
The grape is a very hardy Concord. This year has been a 'good' year for grapes according to a local winery owner, and we do have more fruit than previous years. I hope to make jelly, or at least some juice.
The grape vine has many bunches of grapes forming this year.
Honeysuckle Lonicera sempervivens over the arbor into the shade garden.
I talked about my red honeysuckle in my last posting, How I Beat the Heat.

Honeysuckle Lonicera sempervivens
I also have a yellow honeysuckle. You may remember this photograph from a previous posting ...

 L. sempervirens  'John Clayton'
 Honeysuckle will tolerate some shade, but finding vines for shade can be  a challenge. I have four: climbing hydrangea, schizophragma, Virginia creeper and black-eyed Susan vine. Black-eyed Susan vine is an annual. Some years I plant annual vines in full sun, such as Morning Glory and Sweet Pea, however I have had no luck with the latter.

The slow growing climbing hydrangea has not bloomed for me yet. Actually, it may never bloom as it is in full shade, and it would like to receive a little sun. The attractive cinnamon bark in winter makes it very desirable.
Climbing Hydrangea Hydrangea anomala
Japanese Hydrangea Vine Schizophragma hydrangeoides
Virginia creeper grows profusely in the Woodland Walk. It makes a thick groundcover as well as vining up some of the trees there.

Virginia creeper Parthenocissus quinquefolia
My favorite annual vine, black-eyed Susan vine, grows in a planter in the Stone Garden where I plant it every year in full shade. I place the planter in this spot to hide the air-conditioner unit.
Black-eyed Susan vine Thunbergia
It often flowers more profusely through the back of the trellis, which we can see from the dining-room window ...

Finally, in the kitchen garden, pole beans provide vertical interest, and make a wonderful tepee for our grandchildren ...

What is your favorite vine?

Happy gardening!
Pamela x

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