Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Annuals for the Cottage Garden

Rudbeckia hirta 'Prairie Sun', Verbena bonariensis, and
Cleome hassleriana 'Rose Queen'

About a year ago, we erected a post at the entrance to our driveway displaying the number of our house. Like other residences in the county, we were assigned a new number to make it easier for police, fire, and ambulance services to locate our home in an emergency. Previously we had a rural route address that was confusing, to say the least, especially with the enormous increase in the population of the area. Always thinking of his feathered friends, H.H. added a bird house to the back of the post and a bluebird quickly took up residence. County law mandated the exact location of the post on our property and I thought it looked a bit lost at the corner of the large lawn.

I am not showing the house number which faces the road.

I set about "improving" the appearance of the house-number post by adding a rock and some plants. The rock had a natural dent in it so I filled it with soil and planted stonecrop there.

Eventually, I planted the sedum 'autumn glory' and the liriope in the ground, but it was a very small grouping in that large grassy setting. During the winter, as I made plans for the next garden season, I decided to make a flower bed behind the sign. It was mandated that I could not plant in front of the post, so I designed a bed behind it. The new garden is more or less triangular in shape and approximately 40 square feet in size. I prepared the plot using the 'lasagna' method, layering newspaper, mushroom compost, peatmoss, and topsoil. Click here to read more about my lasagna gardens. I edged the bed with rocks from the stone rows that border our fields, leaving the large 'sedum-planted' rock in place.

The fun part was deciding what to plant. I wanted a garden with plants that bloom from June to October, and that could be used for cutting. I decided annuals best meet the blooming-time requirement. I grow zinnias from seed every year, so that was an easy choice and I added cleome, globe amaranth, and gloriosa daisy.

This is my 'before' picture. The photo at the end of the posting shows the 'after'.
I added a small statue.
Cleome, Zinnia 'Zowie! Yellow Flame', and globe amaranth
Gomphrena globosa 'QIS Purple' Globe Amaranth
The Globe Amaranth has violet colored clover-like blooms that are very attractive to bees and butterflies. They are very tolerant of heat and humidity and don't need special growing requirements. Gomphrena means "everlasting" in Latin and these flowers are wonderful in dried arrangements. The plant is believed to have medicinal qualities.

Globe amaranth
'Zowie! Yellow Flame' is the first semi-tall zinnia with a unique bicolor pattern. Each bloom flames with a scarlet-rose center and yellow petal edges. There is no other zinnia with this fiery design. In addition, this bicolor pattern is consistent from one plant to another. As expected, there are more desirable traits from 'Zowie! Yellow Flame.' Gardeners will be glad to learn 'Zowie! Yellow Flame' is easy to grow from seed, young bedding plants or flowering potted plants. 'Zowie! Yellow Flame' will prove its long flowering season with dazzling blooms from early summer to final killing frost. During this season-long color, 'Zowie! Yellow Flame' blooms can be cut for bouquets. The University of Maryland conducted cut flower trials and found 'Zowie! Yellow Flame' had a vaselife of up to two weeks.  Source: Colorado State U.
Zinnia 'Zowie! Yellow Flame'
Cleome is sometimes called spider flower.

Rose Queen spider-flower Cleome hassleriana ‘Rose Queen’ (1800’s)

George Washington and Thomas Jefferson both grew this exotic South American annual. The cultivated variety ‘Rose Queen’ is listed in an 1836 seed catalog and is still offered in many seed catalogs today. Seed pods and stamens appear like wispy whiskers that add a delicate effect to a reliable bloomer of rose buds which open into fluffy light-pink petals which present a two-tone effect. Source: Smithsonian Gardens
Cleome hassleriana 'Rose Queen'

The common name for verbena bonariensis is tall verbina. It makes an architectural statement with slender, willowy stems that stand up to 6 feet tall and do not need staking. It then branches out widely near the top where rich lilac-purple flower clusters stand alone, as if they are floating. This Verbena makes a great see-through plant. Source: Fine Gardening

Verbena bonariensis
Rudbeckia hirta 'Prairie Sun' and sedum

Gloriosa daisy is a short-lived perennial that is usually treated as an annual. If it doesn't survive the winter, I am hoping it selfseeds, as I am sure the cleome will do. This unusual strain is taller and features golden petals with yellow tips, surrounding a green central button or cone.

Rudbeckia hirta 'Prairie Sun'

The new flower garden greets you as you enter our property ...

Compare this view with the 'before' picture near the top of the posting.

Did you make a new flower bed this year?

Happy Gardening!

Pamela x

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Monday, July 15, 2013

English Cottage Garden Style: Update for GBBD

Two years ago on this date I described the elements of English cottage-garden style (click to read the posting). I discussed "planting for 'abundance,' using old-fashioned flowers, adding structures to create 'privacy,' utilizing lots of pots of plants, making informal pathways, and including 'whimsy' to give a sense of enchantment." At that time, I came to the realization that I had achieved my garden vision. The hard work didn't end there, however, because all gardens are a work in progress. Let's tour my English cottage garden for an update.

Planting for 'abundance' -

I widened the perennial border along the kitchen garden fence which gives a greater feeling of 'abundance.'

The widened border is on the right; the kitchen-garden border is on the left.

Looking from the other end of the fence, the widened border is on the left ...

 Old-fashioned flowers

Some old-fashioned flowers I added are: another variety of phlox (don't know the name), verbena (an annual here), and hollyhocks -- the latter given to me by my dear friend Katharine.

New phlox with yarrow 'the pearl.'

 There is a variety of annuals in a new bed that I will describe in detail in an upcoming posting ...

Purple verbena dots the space above cleome and zinnia

 I have two colors of hollyhocks ...

Alcea. Red hollyhock

Alcea. Pink hollyhock

... they tower above the new picket fence-

Structures -

The fence that you can see behind the hollyhocks is new. We built it in front of the ugly pasture fence. The pasture fence's ugliness bothered me for years -- when taking photographs of the pond I would try to exclude it from my pictures. Now I don't have that problem ...

The fence behind the pond sports a new arbor leading into the shade garden.

We also added an arbor to the kitchen garden's entrance ...

Plants in pots - 

This is one element that changes every year. I move containers of flowers around to areas of need throughout the season. I sometimes take the hangers off a hanging basket and place the pot in a bed if there is a bare spot to be filled. 

Calibrachoa in hanging basket.

I used various types/colors of fuchsia in containers this year ...

Fuchsia, begonia, and ivy in stone container.

I hang baskets of flowers on gates and fences ...

The five window boxes along the tractor shed are stunning this year. And the best part is they require no deadheading ...

Supertunias, bacopa, and purple fountain grass

Whimsy -

I am always on the lookout for whimsical items that will enhance my garden. This was purchased last year from a local nursery ...

Praying fairy in the hydrangea bed.

Followers of my blog know I use mirrors in my garden. Here is my newest one acquired by H.H. from a flea market ...

My latest mirror in the stone garden.

I am sure my garden will continue to evolve. It changes every year and I enjoy looking at photographs and making comparisons. It is difficult to work in the garden this week, however, with a sweltering heatwave in progress. The daytime temperature is expected to stay close to 100 degrees F. with high humidity for the next 5 days. I do my daily gardening chores very early in the morning in an effort to beat the heat. I hope you are experiencing more comfortable weather.

I am linking with Carol who graciously hosts this meme at May Dreams Gardens.

Wishing all my gardening friends a Happy Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day!
Pamela x

'Tie dye' clematis -- abundant as always.

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Friday, July 12, 2013

Four Outstanding Gardens

As soon as you approach Beth's front door, you know this must be the home of a very creative gardener. Visiting Beth's garden on June 30 as part of Monroe County Garden Club's 2013 tour, we discovered a lovely retreat where an in-ground swimming pool once stood. The perennial borders were ablaze with color, reflecting Beth's unique style ...

Beth believes 'time began in a garden' and the time she spends there is 'a daily reminder of God's beauty in creation'. Such beauty ...

We were drawn to the pond and its variety of fish ... 

One of the joys of garden tours is gleaning ideas to copy. H. H. decided he must add some 'unusual' fish to our pond, and I decided I MUST HAVE  a floating garden ...

Small Floating Garden
Beth's colorful potting shed is a bright destination.

The next garden on our tour revealed another sanctuary -- this one created by Susan who aptly calls it her 'Garden of Eden.' Note the hand-painted rain barrel at the back of the front flower bed. The rain barrel is part of the "Retain the Rain" art contest sponsored by the Pocono Arts Council and Monroe County Conservation District. About 20 rain barrels are on display in the boroughs. What a great way to educate the public on the importance of rain water conservation! There is a rain-barrel-art scavenger hunt coming up, and I marked the date on my calendar, as I would like to see all the barrels and post about them.

Rain barrel art in the herbaceous border.
 Susan's garden features vegetable boxes, ponds, waterfalls, an herb garden, a rose garden, and more.

Octagon-shaped raised bed in the center of the garden.
 The garden is surrounded by a 6' high white privacy fence -- a perfect background for so much color ...

One of the many water features in this garden.

In my favorite corner of this garden, a very elegant serpentine weeping cherry shades a small pond ...

 Raised boxes house some healthy looking vegetables ...

 I left feeling envious of the raised trough that is deep enough to allow for vegetables that require different root lengths, and high enough to save the gardener's aching back ...

Susan's "VetTrug"

A third garden we visited contains a beautiful perennial border that is mainly in the shade. Sue W. was motivated to create this garden after a sever ice storm. She expanded the planting area each year and is rightfully very proud of her accomplishment ...

Sue's lilies are stunning ...

I need more lilies in my garden!

 I do not have much success with astilbe, so I was impressed with Sue's red astilbe plants ...

Love the Japanese mounding grass that adds brightness to the shade grass. I would consider this grass for my garden as it is very slow growing, taking 10 years to mature according to our guide, and stays low to the ground ...

The fourth garden we toured had another stunning water feature. Kelli's pond is very natural looking ...

I admired Kelli's water forget-me-not and she gave me a piece to take home. This plant can be invasive, but she says it is easy to pull out, and I plan to cut it back after it flowers each year.

Water forget-me-not.
 Kelli's garden is a reflection of her childhood, her travels, and her family. It is a beautiful, private oasis.

If I had to choose a favorite bloom in this garden it would be her double dark red coneflower ...

Echinacea 'Southern Bell'
Although these gardens are only a few miles south of my home, I was amazed to see so many more blooms than I have, including Kelli's butterfly bush. I don't expect mine to bloom for several more weeks ...

Buddleia davidii

Before leaving Kelli's garden, we lingered again by her beautiful pond ...

We wished we could have visited more gardens on the tour, but time was very limited, as our grandson was anxious to leave for Gettysburg.  We were away for four days celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg. Our grandson loves the Civil War reenactments.

Union soldier grandson at Gettysburg, PA

On our return, my own garden was peaking ...

My cottage garden today.
... my next posting.

Happy Gardening!!

Pamela x

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