Saturday, March 14, 2015

Wake up, Garden!

Suddenly, it is spring!

One day the garden was covered in snow and ice. And the next - little growing things are peeping here and there! Surprises around every corner. I went out the other day to spread out the last remaining snowmounds, and here is what I found:

Eranthis hyemalis emerging from the near-frozen soil

Galanthus elwesii unfurling among patches of snow
Meanwhile, the rose garden was still covered in snow:

Rose garden in late winter

Just a few days later, the snow is all gone, though the ground is still frozen solid in spots. The snowdrops and Aconites are in their prime, however, and the daffodils and even some tulips have already started to push through the soil in warmer spots:

Eranthis hyemalis in mid-March
Galanthus elwesii (Giant snowdrops) in mid-March

These little bulbs are tiny, few, and not likely to stop traffic. But oh how we cherish these first flowers of spring!

In a warm zone by the house, even these giant crocus have already started blooming. They really should not be the first crocuses to bloom - my little species crocuses should pop first - but these have a head start due to their warm sunny location.

Crocus vernus 'Flower Record in mid-March
I've already started my spring clean-up chores - cutting back old foliage, trimming away dead wood, raking back leaf litter to expose and warm the soil. The warm fresh air reinvigorates the garden and the gardener.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Rose Garden in Autumn

I didn't specifically design this garden with Fall Color as the focus, but plenty crept in anyway.

Rose Garden in Fall: Cotinus coggygria 'Purple Cloak', Lamb's Ears, Euphorbia polychroma

The dark purple leaves of the Smoke Bush (Cotinus 'Velvet Cloak') gradually turn intense orange and red, and the nearby Cushion Spurge (Euphorbia polychroma) also colors up nicely. The Lamb's Ears are evergreen (or ever-silver) and continue to add color to the scene well past frost.

Euphorbia polychroma with Cotinus in October

I love the muted peachy-coral colors of the Spurge in Fall - this is one of my favorite four-season perennials.

Cotinus coggygria 'Velvet Cloak' in October

Cotinus foliage is colorful from Spring through Fall as well. I struggle to keep this fellow in bounds, as it wants to grow into a ginormous shrub/tree/monster. I cut it to the ground in spring, and still end up trimming it back several times a year. Highly worth it though for the color it provides.

Anemone 'Alice', Sedum 'Autumn Fire', and Austin Rose 'Sophy's Rose' in October

There are Fall flowers here too - double-flowered pink Japanese Anemone 'Alice' is a fall-bloomer, and it tumbles through the brick red florets of Sedum 'Autumn Fire'. In the background, reddish-pink 'Sophy's Rose' has a second flush of bloom in Fall.

Anemone 'Alice' with Sedum 'Autumn Fire'

Japanese Anemones are wonderful plants, but their tall flower stems do flop all about in an unmannerly sort of way. It looks best if with sturdy neighbors to lean on. Sedum performs this duty admirably.

Sedum 'Autumn Fire' in September

Sedum is of course incredibly common and found even in the gardens of those who do not garden. Its popularity is quite deserved. Though not a "show-stopper" by any means, it is a stalwart four-season plant. It sits there quietly looking charmingly indestructible from spring to fall and even into winter. It is perhaps even more popular with bees than with gardeners, and we are always eager to accommodate these fuzzy little pollinators. Sedum's only potential fault is that if given too rich a soil, too much moisture, and/or too little sun, it will become floppy and open up in the center. A diet of lean soil, strong sunshine, and periodic division should prevent this problem.

Gaura lindheimeri in September, with Yew and Lamium 'Orchid Frost'

Another fall-bloomer in the Rose Garden is Gaura lindheimeri. I wanted a bushy, airy plant for the back of this bed. I am not sure I'm entirely satisfied with the Gaura - it seems to be lacking in "oomf" so far. But it does bloom for a long period, from late summer throughout fall. The pale flowers show up nicely against the dark yew foliage.

September in the Rose Garden: Chrysanthemum 'Mammoth Lavender', 'Blue Point' Juniper, Euonymous fortunei 'Tricolor', Heuchera 'Sashay'

This Chrysanthemum is smothered in bloom in September. It is one of my first Chrysanthemums to bloom, and appears to be hardy (survived the horrendous winter of 2013!) This cultivar has a low, compact, bushy habit (with no pinching), and very large flowers. In reviewing these photos I realize that the fall flowers in the Rose Garden are all pink... I do like the pink color against the bluish foliage of the Juniper and Euonymous here. The foliage of earlier-blooming Iris sibirica and Iris tectorum continue to look fresh and spiky in the background. The giant weedy hole in the picture is where some recently transplanted roses used to be. It is now filled by a large hosta, which will hopefully appreciate the semi-shady conditions better than the roses did.

Geranium 'Patricia' in October

Geranium 'Patricia' continues to produce a smattering of black-eyed magenta flowers throughout Fall as well as Summer. The foliage of this Geranium does not have appreciable Fall color.

Austin rose 'Eglantyne' in Fall

The reblooming Austin roses do continue to spit out blooms well into Fall, although it is not of course their peak season. Here is tall, fragrant 'Eglantyne' lashed to an obelisk in October.

Quince 'Aromatnaya' - Fruit on tree in October

Finally, my Quince tree is located at the back of this bed, and in 2014 it produced 4 large yellow fruits. I made them into a delicious quince candy. Even though Fall is not the focal season of the Rose Garden,  tucking in fall-interest plants here and there means there is still plenty to enjoy.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Rose Garden in Late Summer

The Rose Garden continues to be interesting throughout the summer, even beyond peak rose bloom.

The Rose Garden in July

First of all, I have tried to include good foliage plants throughout the garden, to carry it through lulls in blooming. There are a purple leaved Cotinus 'Velvet Cloak', snowy white Salix 'Hakuro-Nishiki', silver Lamb's Ears, bushy green Euphorbias, Sedum, and various dwarf evergreens.

LA hybrid Lily 'Red Alert', with Cotinus 'Velvet Cloak' and foliage of Peony 'Bartzella'

But there are some mid- to late-summer bloomers in here too. These stunning red LA Lilies bloom in July. This type of lily is said to be fragrant, but I do not detect much of a scent.

LA hybrid lily 'Red Alert'

I grow LA Lilies not for their fragrance but for their appearance - they have much better flower power and substance than regular Asiatic Lilies, with the same or better bright color range. They seem to increase rapidly.

Clematis 'Etoile Violette'

Clematis viticella 'Etoile Violette' also blooms in mid-summer, from late June to July. It has very dark purple flowers indeed - almost too dark, I'm afraid - they recede a bit too much for me. A lighter background might help to show them off better.

Rose Garden in July: Clematis, Barberry, Yew, and Quince tree

It is a very vigorous and free-flowering clematis, however, like all viticellas. This is only its third year - it will presumably get bigger than this with time. It climbs a trellis in the back of the Rose Garden, behind a young yew, Barberry 'Crimson Pygmy', and Quince 'Aromatnaya'.

Rose Garden in July: Allium tanguticum 'Summer Beauty' and Sedum

Another July bloomer is Allium tanguticum 'Summer Beauty'. It is an unusual Flowering Allium, having mid-summer blooms and foliage that remains healthy and attractive all season. (Most Alliums bloom in spring and deteriorate horribly immediately afterwards.) Not a show-stopper, by any means, but a valuable contributor for the Dog Days of Summer. It flowers in front of the Quince and Barberry, near Sedum 'Autumn Fire.' The roses in the picture are recently transplated Austin 'Sophy's Rose' - hopefully they will add their red blooms to the picture in future years.

Russian sage (Perovskia atripicifolia) in late summer

Russian sage (Perovskia atripicifolia) blooms in July through August. It is a large, sprawly, wispy plant whose charm I find difficult to capture in a photograph.

Prunella grandiflora 'Freelander Blue' and Euonymous fortunei 'Tricolor'

At the Sage's feet are a vibrant Self-Heal (Prunella grandiflora 'Freelander Blue') and the variegated evergreen Euonymous fortunei 'Tricolor'. The Prunella is new, but so far very satisfactory. It has a low, creeping profile, and smothers itself with dark blue-purple flowers from late June through August. Hopefully it will prove hardy.

Rose 'Eglantyne' and Salix 'Hakuro-Nishiki' in July

Of course, some of the roses continue blooming through the summer as well, although their peak bloom is in June and September. The fragrant pink David Austin rose 'Eglantyne' throws off blooms continuously all summer long as it sprawls all over its neighbors.

Mid and Late summer are not my favorite times in the garden - I find the heat and drought oppressive, and there are no peonies in July... :-) I therefore tend not to emphasize summer bloomers in my plantings. However, I have learned that good foliage plants, plus a smattering of blooms, helps keep the garden together until my next favorite season - Fall - comes along.
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