Saturday, August 29, 2015

No Time In The Garden This Month

Health issues have denied me time in the garden for all of this month.  Desired plants are on their own and the weeds are rapidly reclaiming what is rightfully theirs.  There is still great beauty to be found if the pictures are carefully limited.  This ice plant is new here this year.  Three were ordered with one totally dead on arrival, the second nearly dead and the third showing some hint of life.  This single plant looks like it will divide with ease next season and soon there will be a row of bright yellow flowers edging this bed in front of the house.

Our cardinal flowers were totally on their own this season.  We usually pot up a dozen plants so that they can be moved inside when frost threatens but this year we found no time for this task.  Left to their own, their display this year is the best ever.  Again we tried to identify plants self sown from seed but weeds moved in and we lost track of the desired seedlings.  Some obviously made it as this is the largest appearance this plant has ever made here.

A close relative of cardinal flower is blue lobelia.  Blue lobelia is a highly invasive true perennial.  Unsure that we wanted this plant to remain, these plants were levered out of the ground with the root masses left on the ground.  Unfazed by this harsh treatment, these plants have flourished.  They need a more remote location away from our tended garden.  It may be too late to move them.

Clara Curtis Chrysanthemums continue to winter over here.  We have enough to plant an acre but how can one discard this hardy beauty?  Spent flowers need to be pinched off but this year that is impossible.

New England Asters have captured and held our fancy for years.  Their purple and yellow flowers just seem a perfect combination.  Hardy beyond belief, they quickly take and hold our enriched planting beds.  Plant breeders have worked with wild stock to create new color combinations.  Several years ago I traded some cash for a sad scrap of a plant.  After four years here it has finally produced a single flower.  It is not shown in this picture.  Every year we see this naturally occurring color sport in roadside ditches.  Never have we been able to steal one of these roadside weeds.  Last year one appeared on land that we own.  It was carefully moved into a planting bed so that we could see if the unnatural color remained.  It has.  This plant has expanded wildly in our rich bed soil.  Many divisions will be taken as we have wanted this plant for several years.

My decline in health may be telling me that it is time to leave these treasured thirty-six acres.  The twenty-one years spent here have been filled with more memorable experiences that one could expect to enjoy in an entire lifetime.  We will wait to see what comes next.

Friday, August 28, 2015

A Gardener's 50th Anniversary

Four years ago Ed gave me very special flowers for my 46th anniversary.  For our 50th the flowers are in the garden.  True you have to look for them among the lush weed growth, but who would not be thrilled with this huge red hibiscus that displays so much beauty for just one day?

The Gloriosa daisies given to me by of a dear friend years ago are almost past and gone to seed, but this beautiful flower is just getting started. It gives me a warm glow to look at it!

After all the years of letting these flowers reseed, this year I got this rare flower.  I have never seen one colored like this before.

The garden is filled with red cardinal flower now. It provides me with hours of enjoyment watching hummingbird antics in the garden.  No movie, concert or other night out on the town would give me more enjoyment.

Garden heliotrope not only comes in my favorite color, its "cherry pie" fragrance pleases more to me than some exotic perfume at any price!

Fresh picked corn, ripe tomatoes warm from the sun, new potatoes freshly dug from the garden are more delicious than food the best restaurant can provide.  This may all sound corny, but it is true!

 I thought I wanted a big garden party to celebrate our 50th Anniversary, and I guess I did, but now I'm so happy that Ed and I are still here together to enjoy the garden, weeds and all.  The rest just doesn't matter!

Monday, August 17, 2015

Beauty In The Wild Garden

Our garden is wild this year.  Grasses, weeds, Japanese beetles and deer that think we are the intruders have things in disarray.  All the rain has helped to encourage the wildness.  Many plants are taller than I am.  A mouse keeps building a nest in the engine of the garden tractor.  Weeds are growing everywhere.  Green beans, squash, peppers, basil, potatoes, onions, tomatoes... are all waiting to be harvested.  Worst of all Ed has hurt his back.  Just the same the scent of fragrant Gladiolas fills the air.  The purple and pink gladiolas and the snapdragons are putting on a terrific show.  Perhaps you can ignore the goldenrod in the background!

For a purple fan like me these tall stately, elegant flowers are a very special treat.  The pinks and purples are no accident.  Ed knows they are my favorite and the Acidanthera bicolor  lends a lovely fragrance to the group.  The snapdragons have been blooming for a long time. I love tall snapdragons because if you cut them back they rebloom till frost.

Most of my double pink poppies have gone to seed by now, but a few late bloomers here and there add their beauty to the chaos of the other self seeders around them.

 These asters look great. They have shot right past the Gloriosa Daisies leaving them in the shade.  Not all of Ed's asters look this great, but we are talking about beauty here!

I honestly think this is the most beautiful daylily I have ever seen. The peach and gold seem to light up in the sunlight.  It was sold to us as "Spring Fling" and apparently it is not.  Spring Fling is supposed to be pink and Ed knows I like pink, but whatever name  this flower may have, I think it is strikingly beautiful. It has a soft fragrance and a glow that can be seen from inside the house.  It's golden glow and perfect petals last just one day but perfection is rarely achieved and seldom lasts.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Sweet Surprise

Summersweet, Clethra ainifolia, is described as a native plant with a natural range from Maine to Florida.  Ocean currents from the south create a milder climate for coastal Maine despite its more northern location when compared with us.  We frequently experience bitter cold after plants have begun leafing out.  Recently our early weather features days of unseasonably hot daytime temperatures.  Warmth draws leaves out to open just before a late frost blackens them.  This year the cold was late and severe.  The Summersweet  bushes took a hard hit that I expected would kill them.  They all produced a new set of leaves but flower clusters are sparse.  We are pleased to have them still with us.  The only flowers on this bush are directly over the warmth of the stone wall.

The natural form of this plant features pure white flowers tipped with golden brown pollen.  The brown detracts from the purity of the white.  From a distance the flowers appear to be near death.  Their scent is the real draw.  Drifting on the breeze, the sweet smell of these flowers will pull one near.

Summersweet reproduces by root runners.  This offshoot was placed in the shadow of the gravel bank hill to give it protection from late frosts.  Unfortunately it is next to a heavily used deer trail.  All of its flower clusters have been eaten as well as much of its new growth.  We need a larger cage here.

Ruby Spice is the name of this cultivar.  Pink hides the color of the pollen making this a pleasant appearing flower.  Purists will likely prefer the natural form of this plant.

It is uncommon for Becky to want her picture taken.  Her wild sunflower drew her in.  Rodents may have planted this seed from flowers that grew on our property.  We figured that the telephone pole would prevent this sunflower from interfering with our neighbor's mowing.  We did keep the side shoots trimmed to give him a clear path.  This variety of sunflower is usually covered with numerous smaller flowers.  We hope its appearance here pleases our neighbor.  Becky loves sunflowers because they are so cheery!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Two Stars

Our Oriental lilies suffered greatly from late spring cold.  Some did not flower at all while others managed only damaged incomplete flowers.  This cluster of Salmon Stars is the exception.  This is only their second year here and youth may be a factor in how great they look.  Our older Salmon Stars did not even make an appearance this year.  For several years they were reliably magnificent and now they are simply gone.  That may be the reality for plants that are grown so far outside of their natural climate zone.

Salmon Star features subtle colored flowers and understated scent.  Many lilies are so heavily scented that being near them approaches an overpowering experience.  For these, the smell is soft and sweet whether caught on the wind or with a pollen stained nose placed close.  This flower could inspire a classy perfume.

This cluster of Cardinal Flowers has been undisturbed for two years.  The wall shields them from the heat of afternoon sunlight and this location in a low spot between the road and a hill provides plenty of moisture.  Last season insect damage left these plants with almost no leaves.  This year stored heat in the wall protected them from late spring cold.   This spot seems to meet the plants requirements so it will remain theirs.  The clear bright red color puts Cardinal Flower at the top of our must have list.

The deeply grooved capstone to the left is another favorite here.  This stone suffered repeated strikes from farm machinery before it was moved out of the field.  A neighbor allowed me to pick stone from alongside of his field and this was among the group moved here.  Seeing this stone reminds one of neighborly consideration that was more common in days past.

Health issues have kept us out of the gardens for the past several days.  A comparatively short period of time must pass before a return can be attempted.  In the meantime the plants are on their own and the weeds are firming up their hold on garden ground.