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.

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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Six on Saturday- Storm Cleanup

10 March 2018

Weather:  Clouds then Sun- 39 F/ 4 C

Another crazy week weatherwise here.  Just five days after being hammered by Nor’Easter Riley, another Nor’Easter (Quinn) covered the area with a thick coat of heavy, wet snow.  Given the temperature was just below the freezing point, the snow had the consistency of school paste, which was too much for many of the trees in this area.  Whole swaths of the northeastern United States lost power for days due to felled trees.

While we escaped a loss of power, unfortunately we lost one elm tree in the back garden and lost large limbs on other trees including a maple, cedar, and my favorite tree-  the magnolia (Grrr.)

Despite this last gasp of winter, there are some solid indications of spring!  Clocks will be changed to daylight savings time at 2AM tomorrow morning meaning that it will finally be light out when I return from work.  Moreover, the garden is slowly coming alive with new growth. Here are six things that are happening in my garden at present:

ONE-  Felled Trees

My husband and I spent the bulk of today chopping up the elm and large tree limbs that came down in the storm.  The chainsaw I had given him for Christmas has come in handy!

 

(We’ll stack the wood neatly tomorrow, I promise!)

TWO- Maple Sap Collection

Here in New England, a sure sign of spring is the proliferation of maple tree sap collection buckets.  My sister-in-law has been making her own maple syrup for years and this year she asked if she could tap the maple trees in our wood.  She will need to collect 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup, thus she collects sap from multiple families.  Now that the weather is getting warmer, the sap is flowing quite regularly.

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THREE-  Crushed Crocus and Mystery Plant

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As I shared previously, the crocuses have finally appeared, however, the heavy, wet snow this week crushed most of the blooms.  Despite this setback, today I discovered other unidentified plants growing in my chimney garden.  There are hostas in this bed, however it is far too early for these to make an appearance.  It is a mystery!

Hopefully, this will be solved in a few weeks once these plants become large enough for me (or a reader) to identify.

 

FOUR-  Climbing Hydrangea

When we purchased the house, the climbing hydrangea had taken over almost all of the west wall-  damaging the shingles with its tendrils. Last December, we pulled about 2/3rds of the vine down. Ever since then, I was worried if the vine would ever come back.  Today, my fears were allayed when I saw bright green leaves sprouting from new growth.

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FIVE-  Azalea

I walk past this azalea almost every day on my to my car.  Today, I glanced over just as the clouds parted and the sun began to shine.  Clearly, the shrub survived the snowstorm and its buds are beginning to swell.

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SIX-  Marigold Sprouts

The seeds I had planted two weeks ago have begun to sprout.  I will thin these once a second set of leaves start to emerge.

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Those are my six for this Saturday!  With luck, we will avoid major storms next week!

The Six on Saturday project is inspired by The Propagator‘s fantastic garden blog.  I encourage readers to explore his site! 

Six on Sat- Bombogenesis revisited

3 March 2018

Weather:  Cloudy and Gale Force Winds-   37 F/ 3 C

March:  In like a lion, out like a lamb…

Well it must be one hell of a lion!  Like many contributors to The Propagator’s fantastic #SixonSaturday project, the start of March 2018 was unprecedented.  Unlike the snow and polar temperatures that continues to impact Europe, our ferocious beast came in the form of ANOTHER bombogeneseis.

As some may recall, we were impacted by this very rare (or so we thought) weather event back in January.  While the ‘cyclone bomb’ continues to ravage the coastline (as it had in January), thankfully we only have to contend with a dusting of snow and high winds. However, this storm was too much for a large tree and it came crashing down-  blocking the street and taking down power lines.

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I took these photos before the snow arrived (Friday afternoon).  Given that the winds are still howling, I will hold off on trekking outside to take additional pictures of the garden until it is safe and the power lines are secured.

I send well wishes to the Propagator and the rest of his garden-loving minions as we all cope with this unusual weather!

Six on Saturday- Better Late than Never Edition

25 February 2018

Weather:  Rain 39 F / 4 C

It has been a very busy week in this part of the world.  Not only did we have weather reaching the 22 C /70 F range, Mother Nature also graced us with a spot of snow and freezing rain…just to keep us on our toes.

The garden is finally coming alive, albeit much more slowly than I’d like. We’ve been blessed with significantly above average temperatures for the past two weeks, which have not only revved my spirit, it also sped up the growth of some items in my garden.  Winter weather is in the forecast, therefore a few more weeks of preparations are in store before Spring truly begins!

Here are my #SixonSaturday for this week.  Apologies to all for being tardy with the write up.

ONE and TWO-  Compost Pile

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With the warmer weather yesterday, my son and I assembled the third compost bin.  This was a Christmas gift from my in-laws and was sitting in my cellar for the past two months, unable to be used until the weather improved.

Once we assembled the third bin, I took the opportunity to turn my leaf mold pile (Bin #1) and transfer the contents of my Fall/Winter compost pile (Bin #2) to the new bin (Bin #3) so that I can begin a new pile for this season while waiting for the other one to break down.

 

THREE:  Crocus

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(Apologies for the blurry picture!)

With the exceptionally warm weather, about 1/2 of my crocus bulbs that I planted last year came into bloom.  I definitely need to plant more of these (and other bulbs) this autumn.

 

FOUR-  Install a New Birdfeeder

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The prior owners of the home left us garden ‘shed’ (three sides/no roof) filled with discarded lawn and garden items. Because there has been so much to do, my husband and I have largely ignored this area of the garden.  To my son, however, the shed is a treasure trove and yesterday he unearthed this bird feeder. Together, we cleaned the feeder and installed it in a spot that we hope will not be susceptible to the throngs of crafty grey squirrels that inhabit these parts.

 

FIVE-  Yard Cleanup

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Unfortunately, I live in the area of the United States with the highest risk of Lyme disease.  Thus, during tick season (April-October), I avoid putting myself in danger by foregoing any garden work near woods, tall grasses, and other places with thick undergrowth. A patch of my garden connecting the patio with the main garden suffers greatly as a result of this willful neglect. When I surveyed this area on Saturday, I found that leaves were still unraked and weeds ran rampant.

The unseasonably warm weather provided me an opportunity to rake out the undergrowth of the trees next to the patio. I cut back tons of bindweed as well as scores of unidentified growth. Because of rain, I was not able to finish, however plan to do so next week if the weather works out. I’ll then put a layer of weed barrier fabric down before covering this area with mulch. This must be completed within the next two or three weeks before the ticks return.

 

SIX-  Seed Starting

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Seed starting has begun!   I am taking advantage of the deep windowsills in my office to start my seedlings. These propagators sit above a radiator thus they should be toasty warm while basking under the grow lights. This week, I’ve started cosmos and marigolds.  I’ll start my lettuces and other veg once I obtain a firm date from the landscapers on when my raised beds will be prepped.

That’s all for my #SixonSaturday!   I hope you check out what is happening in gardens all around the world by reading The Propagator’s fantastic blog.  Happy gardening!