Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Memorial Day weekend: changing of the guard

Even if our local swimming pool isn't scheduled to open until July, Memorial Day weekend marks the end of spring and the beginning of summer, garden-wise, in this neighborhood.  It's time for changing of the guard.

On Duty:
Two new pots of "Sugary" grape tomatoes
Dahlias in both side beds and along the back of the house
Siberian irises from a work colleague
"New Dawn" roses fertilized with 1 1/4 cup of Rose Tone
Joe Pye weed (Eutrochium purpureum) "Gateway" cut down to 2 feet
Shasta daisies pinched back to 6 inches

Spent tulip bulbs
Weeds, lots of 'em
Marsh marigold seed heads
Lots of gardening energy

Monday, May 16, 2011

Water feature wannabe

My relationship with the the wet area in the backyard has matured from one characterized by jumping in with both feet to a series of negotiations.  I dig around a little or move some rocks in the stream bed or cut back the edging and then wait to see what happens.  The volume and course of water is unpredictable: sometimes it pools in one of the channels, other times it flows to the far end of the raingarden, or it simply finds its own way and eases on to the lawn.

Marsh ferns (Thelypteris palustris), variagated sweet flags (Acorus gramineus "Golden Ogon") and dwarf goldenrods (Solidago x "Little Lemon") were planted last fall along the sides of the stream bed. These three plants work perfectly together because they each bring a different texture and color to the mix.

Yes, I guess that it's still pretty chaotic.  That vision of ferny stream banks and water lazily meandering around grasses may never quite be realized.  

At least we're no longer referring to this area as "the swamp" or "sinkhole," though it may not yet deserve the label of "water feature."

Monday, May 09, 2011

Drive-by shootings

My workday commute is about three miles, door to door.  In a New England rush hour blizzard, the trip can take three hours.  More typically, thankfully, I'm in the car for about a half hour.  Lots of other commuters travel the same roads, so there is plenty of stop and start driving.  Sometimes when I'm waiting at a red light, I'll see an example of  horticultural horribleness, but more often, I glance over to see something that makes me think, "Wow!  What a great idea!"  I grab my camera and take a quick shot before stepping on the gas pedal.

Like this little raised bed, bounded by an asphalt driveway, concrete sidewalk, and a stockade fence. The play of the deep rose color of dangling dicentra flowers and upright tulips, kicked off with chartreuse foliage--is that a euphorbia?--and a breeze of white daffodils energized the start to the work day.

And passing this mossy copse of paper birches makes me appreciate that my route goes by mansions inhabited by folks with buckets of money to spend on whimsical gardening.

Of course, topping off a wall with masses of spring bulbs is a guaranteed bulls-eye! It's hard to miss with daffodils, grape hyacinths, and beautifully-laid stone.

Wonder what drive-by thoughts our little patch inspires.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Spring sunshine

We may be headed into some grey, wet weather over the next few days, but this past weekend was the perfect New England spring: sunny, cool, and breezy.

The weather was great for those necessary but not very interesting tasks: cutting down old growth, weeding, spreading compost, and edging beds.  The most intellectually challenging--and emotionally difficult--task is tidying up perennials.  It's hard to dig up (and even discard) those plants that have wandered outside of where they belong. Teasing wayward daisies out of clumps of lady's mantle, rooting lilies of the valley up from the lawn, re-bedding larkspur that had seeded in all corners of the yard and always, trying to contain this boisterous mass of marsh marigolds . . . but it will be well worth the hard heartedness come summer.  In the meantime, these yellow jolts of happiness definitely spread their own spring sunshine.