Monday, July 30, 2007

Cooling trend

It's been hot and muggy recently. Here's my attempt to beat the heat: a tangled bouquet of Phlox panticulata "David," Japanese painted fern, and white-rimmed hosta leaves.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

So this is summer . . .

What's not to love about a glorious summer weekend? My pleasures are simple. This chaotic medley of sanvitalia "Sunbini," Cape daisy Osteospernum "Lemon Symphony," yarrow Achillea x "Summer Wine," and mealy-cup sage Salvia farinacea "Victoria Blue" makes me smile.

Up close, it's clear why these plants are so compatiable. The dark eye of the Cape daisy echoes the blue of the sage and the maroon of the yarrow. Although not visible in this detail, the tiny yellow flowers and reddish stems of the sanvitalia add more depth.

Other sources of happiness: the ever-changing kaleidoscopic show of daylilies . . .

. . . and the first dahlia of the season, "Matthew Juul." After my very unsuccessful attempt to over-winter dahlia tubers, I am a convert to just treating them like annuals. Yes, I am totally lacking moral fiber. Easy way? That's the path for me!

What glorious weather it was for working in the garden. Long over-due tasks can now be checked off the list: tie up and fertilize the dahlias, deadhead the shasta daisies, mulch the summersweet and forsythia bed, spread compost around the base of the Pieris japonica and dogwood, prune and fertilize the climbing rose, and weed, weed, weed!

Friday, July 20, 2007

Still more irises . . .

In an earlier post, I claimed that there was an iris for every spot in my garden. How little I knew! During a recent visit to my siblings'-in-law house in Worcester County, I was delighted to discover another type of iris: Japanese iris (Iris ensata). The plants' elegant stems, topped with blossoms in a lush shade of velvety deep purple, rose from an under-planting of lilac-blooming catmint. Beyond, the garden rolled down across fields to the Nashua River. It was sunset. Lovely.

How to capture that evening iris scene in my own little yard? Okay, I've got the slope. Kind of. No river at the base, but it is damp. Japanse irises like damp. And this spot could definitely benefit from beautification.

In order to learn more about Japanese irises, I took a brief run down to Tranquil Lake Nursery in Rehobeth, MA. The beds of Japanese irises, all labeled, were in bloom.

The "Catherine Parry" variety boasted large, intensely colored blooms.

"Returning Tide" was more subtly hued. Lovely, too.

These irises are best planted in the fall, so lots of time to do more scouting.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Summer wine bouquet

A bouquet in the colors of merlot, shiraz, and pinot noir: sedum "Vera Jamison," shasta daisies, peony foliage, coleus "Mississippi Mud," and yarrow Achillea x "Summer Wine."

Monday, July 09, 2007

Hot and bothered

It's hot, it's humid, and it's hard to get out into the garden. Nevertheless, the mid-summer perennials (astilbe, shasta daisies, and catmint) are celebrating the summer weather in full flower.

The sweet peas have been putting out a bloom here and a bloom there--how can they be so darn stingy?--as the lower portions begin to die off and the upper parts reach up to sunlight.

Early July and, like those sweet peas, I need to catch up on lost time!

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Seven random things on the seventh day of the seventh month, 2007

Horticultural wizard and eye-opening photographer, Carleton Gardener, over at Skippy's Vegetable Garden tagged me. What fun!

But how to organize my thoughts sufficiently to pull seven random facts from the mental chaos? Here's what's at the top of the jumble:

1. I trained as an archaeologist and have excavated in the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and Pennsylvania. Now, I work in a museum and dig in my garden.

2. Experiential learning about gardening came to an early abrupt end after I planted potatoes among my mother's climber and hybrid tea roses. I stuck to potted plants for many years afterwards.
(Yes, it's always the mother's fault . . . )

3. In graduate school, I had a little garden in front of my row house in West Philadelphia. The only plants that I could get to grow were impatiens and monarda. Man, that was one ugly garden.

4. My childhood dog was a beagle/terrier mix named Shrimpy.

5. Swimming is my sport, and I have the broad shoulders to show for it. I raced competitively as a kid (breaststroke and freestyle) but now restrict myself to ocean swimming. I love strong surf.

6. I also love sushi. Maybe I'm part seal?

7. Places that I've lived: Chevy Chase (MD), Philadelphia (PA), Oxford (UK), Brookline (MA), and Belmont (MA). My dream house is somewhere along the coast in Little Compton (RI), and its garden is full of challenging plants--delphiniums, sweet peas, roses, oriental lilies, lady's slippers--all flourishing.

I'll have to play tag later . . . time to visit an iris nursery . . . and work in the garden!

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Consolida cross-fertilization

After a week away, the garden calls out for weeding, watering, and deadheading. Annual larkspur (Consolida ambigua) are in full flower everywhere. They have even found a home--albeit it cramped, arid and, due to the adjacent dryer vent, blastingly hot--in a window well.

Usually, these self-sown plants bloom either the palest pink or a jolting electric blue.

This year some crazy crosses have sprung up. Here, white and purple blotched blossoms are bundled into a tight pompom. Where did that single solid purple blossom spring from?

Another plant has retained the familiar open, loosely held habit but boasts lilac and purple speckled flowers.

From wherce comes this range of shapes and colors? Too many to be a mutation, so perhaps the result of cross pollination? I am not so skilled as to collect and separate seeds by flower color. These crosses are a happy surprise!