Six on Saturday- Summer Session I

Weather:  Cloudy 72 F / 22 C

With graduation in the rear view mirror, things have switched gears at my workplace.  Fortunately, the break-neck pace as lessened somewhat, allowing me to reflect on the year that was and to attend to long-neglected projects.  phd052518s.gif

The same holds true for my garden.  As I close in to the one year anniversary of the purchase of this home, it is time for me to assess what is working, what is not, and areas in which the garden can be improved.  The Six I’ve selected reflect this shift of mindset.

 

ONE-  IRIS

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Mr. A has surprised me again by planting two very large mounds of delicate iris just off of my patio.  These are beautiful and perfectly placed.   Unfortunately, there are random irises here and there (e.g. in a bed of phlox/monarda) that I will have to lift.   Summer Session I Project #1-  move poorly placed plants.

TWO- Trillium (?)

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This is another gift from Mr. A.-  This time a medium sized trillium plant (I think) just next to my veg bed.   While this plant is fine, the rest of this area has filled up with weeds.  Summer Session I Project #2- Weed veg bed.

THREE-   Rhododendron

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The rhododendron bush in my front garden is in full bloom this week and it is a showstopper.  Unfortunately, at 12′ high, it is incredibly overgrown and blocks out most of the sunlight from reaching our living room.  Summer Session I Project #3-  Prune rhododendron bush after flowering.

FOUR-  Tomato “Fourth of July”

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The first of my tomato plants have started to flower (yay!).  This hybrid is named “Fourth of July” given that it should be ready to harvest in most parts of the US by Independence Day.  Summer Session I Project #4- Feed Tomatoes (and other veg plants).

 

FIVE-  Black Swallow Wort

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This invasive weed is all over my garden (here it is in my monarda/phlox bed and is responsible for depleting the local monarch butterfly population. It has to go. Summer Session I Project #5-  Dig up swollow wart plants (major project).

 

SIX-  Gypsy Moth

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We have been having a very bad gypsy moth year here in New England.  They are ravenous eaters and have taken a liking to my apple trees. I’ve been fighting these guys on and off for the better part of four weeks, with less than stellar results.  Summer Session I Project #6-  Spray insecticidal soap on trees.

 

That is all for this week!   I hope it is part of your summer session I project to read up on gardens all over the world at Mr. Propagator’s fantastic #SixonSaturday site.

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Six on Saturday- Memorial Day Edition

26 May 2018

Weather:  Cloudy 85 F/ 29 C

It is Memorial Day weekend here in the States marking the unofficial start of summer.  Between the parades and cookouts, I plan to lavish some much needed attention to my garden. With luck, I will be able to lay down the last of the bark mulch, hill up my potatoes, and transplant the Solomon’s Seal to a different spot.  As each of those activities aren’t really photo-worthy, I’ve selected six plants that are currently taking central stage in my garden.

ONE:  Viburnum- Summer Snowflake

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This week was the first time I’ve seen this plant in bloom.  Mr. A (the prior owner) had planted this just outside of the family room window, therefore these beautiful flowers are visible both inside and out.

 

TWO:  Rhododendron

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This is the first bud to open on the giant rhododendron bush outside of the living room.  As it reaches over 12′ tall, this will be pruned after it flowers.

 

Three:  Mystery Shrub

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Beside the viburnum, this is another surprise in my garden.  All winter, I eyed the spindly stems and meager leaves with disdain.  I promised myself that I would wait a calendar year before I ripped it out.   I wasn’t expecting the density of blooms from a seemingly sickly plant.

 

Four:  Yellow Archangel (Lamium galeobdolon)

 

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I planted this in my garden last fall because I was looking for a pop of color in my shade garden.  Now that it is there, I am regretting it.  This non-native species has been labeled an invasive plant in Washington State.  I’ll keep an eye on it while I consider its place in my garden.

 

Five-  Maidenhair Fern

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What’s not to like about a maidenhair fern?

 

Six:  Hosta-  Komodo Dragon

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Last October, I bought this giant hosta, along with a few other hostas, in the 50% off section in the local garden center.  Given that the first frost around these parts is approximately October 10, I was worried that it would not make it through winter.  Thankfully, the combination of a warmer-than average October/November and a gratuitous amount of mulch allowed this (and the rest of the hostas I bought that day) to survive.  This hosta can spread to over two meters wide- I’ll have to move it if it gets that big.

 

That’s all for me– time to pack things up to head to my neighbor’s cookout.   I hope the rain holds off!

If you are grilling from home today, I urge you to take a peek at the wonderful gardens showcased in Mr. Propagator’s  Six on Saturday  project!  Until next week…

Veg Bed Records

22 May 2018

Seed                                          Sow Date          Bed (A/B/C/D/E/F/G/H)   

 

Potato- Purple Viking                 5/4/18                               A

Potato- Desiree                            5/4/18                               B

Potato- Yukon Gold                     5/4/18                               C

Potato- Sangre                              5/4/18                               C

Lettuce- Salad Bowl                     5/4/18                               D

Lettuce-  Romaine Mix                5/4/18                               D

Lettuce- Salad Bowl                     5/20/18                              D

Lettuce-  Romaine Mix                5/20/18                              D

Carrots-  Nantes Half Long         5/4/18                                E

Tomato- Fourth of July                 5/20/18                             F

Tomato-  Chef’s Choice Orange   5/20/18                            F

Tomato- Brandywine Pink           5/20/18                            F

Cucumber- Bush Champion        5/4/18                               G

 

Beans- Beananza                           5/4/18                               H

 

 

 

 

Six on Saturday- Mr. A edition

19 May 2018

Weather:  Cloudy 55F /13C

After a few week hiatus, I am happy to be back to with my weekly contribution to the Propagator’s fantastic Six on Saturday project.  Lots of changes have happened in these parts once the all the snow melted and over these past few weeks, I’ve focused on some significant landscaping projects.  Although there are a few more projects on tap, thankfully most of the major changes are completed for this year.

As I am in the midst of the first spring here in my new home, I’ve been pleasantly surprised at the hidden (and not so hidden) plants that have appeared once the snow melted and the temperatures warmed.  These were not placed here by me, rather by the previous owner, Mr A.

While it is clear to me that Mr. A was a huge fan of flowering vines (wisteria, trumpet, hydrangea), flowering shrubs (azaleas, rhododendrons), and flowering trees (magnolia, camellia, dogwood), it is the smaller plants that have been a source of constant surprise.  Thus, I dedicate this week’s edition to Mr. A.

 

ONE-  Wild Ginger (?)

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I love this evergreen perennial at the base of my magnolia tree.  It is the first thing I see when I step out of my kitchen.

 

TWO-  Dogwood

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There are two dogwoods on property and both are in full bloom.  Unfortunately, they were planted in terrible locations with one situated next to my veg bed and the other (pictured here) elbowing for space next to two 125 foot pines.

The pines are a hazard, and will most likely be removed by the end of the summer.  That, unfortunately, will put this small tree at risk.  Given how close it is to the pines, I’m not sure if the workmen can maneuver around it.

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THREE-  Azalea

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There are four azaleas on the property, each in a different color.  This one is rather spindly, however its electric pink blooms are positioned perfectly outside of my living room window.

 

FOUR-   Lily of the Valley2018-05-18 09.49.46.jpg

These are slightly past their prime right now, however there is a thick blanket of them underneath the azaleas and other shrubs.

 

FIVE- Solomon’s Seal

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There is a clump of these under my winterberry tree next to the patio.  I believe they were planted to ring the pond, however after the pond was removed, these plants look out of place.  They are too tall for their position in the front of the bed.  I’ll most likely be transplanting them early next spring.

 

SIX-  Mystery Plant

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There are a few of these underneath the winterberry bush.  It is a very shady spot and they seem to be happy.  Does anyone have an idea?

 

That’s all for this week!  If you like this glimpse into my garden, I urge you to visit the other posts on Mr. P’s Six on Saturday site!  Until next week…

Catching up

14 May 2018

Weather:  Cloudy 73 F / 23 C

Over the tail end of March, we were hit by one more Nor’easter-  March 22nd (5″ of heavy snow).  As a result, I took the additional snowpack as an opportunity to shift focus a bit and concentrate on work, travel, and family.

After a very cold and raw Spring (high 40’s on Marathon Monday!), we have been blessed with three consecutive weekends with dry weather and mild temperatures.  As a result, it seems that everything has come into bloom at once.

As we are still in year one of owning the property, the driving force landscaping-wise  has been a gentle tug between allowing the prior owner’s planting scheme to come alive and wanting to put my stamp on my garden.  For the most part, I am generally patient and willing to see what Mr. A., the prior owner, had planned.  However, there were some areas I wanted to take care of as soon as possible.

In early April, I hired a landscaper to take care of some onerous prep work.  Specifically, he removed the undergrowth (juniper bushes, assorted saplings, etc. from the site of my proposed vegetable bed and the front garden.

 

VEGETABLE BED

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January 2018-  Side Garden

 

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April 2018-  Side Garden

 

After the landscaper did the prep work, my husband and I installed our raised veg beds.  The 10″ high beds were filled with compost and soil and the area between was mulched.

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The bed is currently planted with potatoes, lettuce, carrots, and beans.  Cucumber and tomatoes will go in this upcoming weekend.

FRONT GARDEN

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January 2018-  Front Garden Corner

 

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April 2018-  Front Garden Corner

Currently, there is a mountain of mulch on this spot as this space will remain fallow for a while.  The two large 125 foot pines (the same species as the one that fell over the winter), will be removed sometime this summer.  Hopefully, the dogwood tree (between the pines) will survive the pine tree removal.

We plan to plant grass/flowers in this area, however this project will most likely wait until next Spring.

PATIO AREA

In addition, the workmen labored on the 12′ x 20′ patio area. Like the rest of the garden, the patio had a lot of potential, however needed a lot of attention.  Specifically, between the area between the wisteria and the winterberry bush was a half-buried man-made pond.  Apparently, last year the real estate agent told the prior owner to bury the pond (including the motor!) in preparation for the showings.  In the time between our purchase and us moving in, a thick carpet of weeds had taken over.  Moreover, the half filled pond became a breeding ground for mosquitoes and other annoying insects… it had to go.

The workmen removed the pond by pick-axe and shovel, not only clearing the area, but also discovering the stepping stones and brick that had been buried underneath.  With the newly discovered bricks and tiles, the workmen created a pad for our grill and a small path through the garden.

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January 2018-  Patio  (pond is buried behind the center barrel).

 

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March 2018-  Patio- Specifically the half-buried pond, vinca, weeds.

 

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April 2018-  The structures to the right of the patio are industrial-type garden light fixtures.  They worked for about 20 seconds before they blew out a fuse.  I will have to call an electrician to take care of the rogue wiring that had been put in to power these lights and the pond motor.

We will mulch most of this area to provide us some time to think about a planting scheme.  This bed is very shaded, therefore, most likely a combination of ferns, hostas, and other shade-loving plants will be installed next Spring.

 

KITCHEN BED

In late April, I dug out the 1.5′ x 8′ bed that runs parallel to our kitchen.  It had been filled with a hodge-podge of plants-  monarda, phlox, and some non-flowering daylilies.  I pulled out the entire bed and amended the sandy soil with compost.  I kept the monarda, however the other plants were composted or gifted (my mother in law wants to give the lilies a go).

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April 2018-  Kitchen Bed

I’ve since planted up this area with butterfly weed, lupines, astilbe, and red-hot pokers.  In addition, I transplanted monarda and heuchera from other parts of the garden.  The left side of the bed is very shaded while the right side gets more sun, therefore the planting scheme has been a bit tricky.bedFILLED.JPG

May 2018-  Partially filled Kitchen Bed

 

CHIMNEY BED

The area beneath the chimney has been a work in progress.  When we first purchased the property, the spot was dominated by a overgrown climbing hydrangea and invasive vinca plants.  Last Autumn, I had ripped up most of the vinca (it is still a work in progress as it constantly reappears!) and planted a variety of hostas at the base.  Over the winter, the chimney sweep ripped down most of the hydrangea, made brittle by the freezing weather.

This Spring, I’ve discovered that the bed had been home to some dormant spring bulbs (hyacinths & daffodils) that harmonize with the crocuses I had planted last October.  In preparation for this season, I trimmed the ragged parts of the hydrangea and was happy to see that it has returned more vigorous as ever.

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January 2018-  Post major vine removal, pre final trim

 

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May 2018-  Fuzzy picture showing Chimney Bed, Hydrangea, Daylilies.  They base of the hydrangea was cut down to approximately 3′ tall.

 

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May 2018-  Garter snake-  an unexpected visitor to my Chimney Bed.

 

OTHER AREAS

The rest of the property is a work in progress.  The February-March Nor’easters hit us hard with multiple trees damaged or uprooted.  We have chopped up the a number of the felled trees, however there are still five or six medium sized trees that still need to be taken care of.  This is in addition to the three giant pines that will be professionally removed this summer.

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