Thursday, July 31, 2008

Garden Envy

I just had to share. I love my garden, but once in awhile, I love other gardens more... I went on a lengthy walk last night. I used to walk every day, but have since lost the mojo required to do it, (and it reflects on the scale and in my clothes, just FYI). I tried walking last night, and was delighted to see I could still make it on the nearly 3 mile trek I once breezed through. The motivating factor are the gardens on the roads I walk. I had not been to that edge of town since spring, and I wanted to see what was blooming over yonder.

There are a few nice gardens in town, some more well tended than others, but there's one immaculate, super human garden I envy deeply. I love the house, too, which makes matters worse. In the 4 years I've lived in town I've watched this garden grow. I think it was relatively new when I first spied it, as the plants seemed young, and I seem to remember watching some of it get planted. I'm 29 years old, and have been gardening in my own real yard for only 4 years now. I have no formal training, and I'm the queen of impulse. This garden is the opposite of mine, yet it seems to achieve the kind of look I'd love to have in my yard.

First, they have no lawn left. After my kids are grown, if I'm still stuck on a suburban lot, I'm likely to have little grass left, too. Second, they have adequately spaced everything out and the plants have aged and grown proportionately. I, on the other hand, crowd everything in, never allowing plants room to stretch and reach their full potential. Third, they have consistent red rock type ground cover. I can't seem to keep a nice ground cover, even a mulch in place. Finally, they seem to have had help of the professional sort, as each plants height and and depth are so well thought out it's down right dreamy.

Additionally, I somehow overlooked how many roses there are in this enviable garden? How did I not see them before? They're all massive, and well-established, so I know they're not new. They made my roses look puny at best. I know, good things come to those who wait, but I've mentioned, I'm the least patient gardener there is around. For sure. Many of my roses will never be this big, as I've simply not given them the room to be. I almost wanted to come home and dig up everything around each rose... (see, impulsive to a fault).

I tell you, spending some nice time gazing at their garden last night had me dying to get home and dig everything up and stretch it all out, clear more grass, add mulch, you know, re landscape my whole nearly one acre plot. I don't want to move everything, but there are some things I don't like about my garden right now, and given the 90 degree days, upcoming vacation, and pending winter I should, no, can not dig and move too much. I can't even prep new bed space b/c we're so dry lately the ground is hard as, well, clay. Don't get me wrong, I move things all the time, fearlessly, but I know I'll not be here much in the coming weeks to keep transplants well watered and tended to. Argh.

I fear this winter will find me planning lengthy moves, expanded beds, and simply more health for my plants. I see more drifts of one variety, more planning, and not-so-haphazard planting. I just feel so helpless not being able to start right now, but I guess that's part of my problem... not waiting, not planning.

So, here I'm having these restless emotions about my garden, and I open up April 2007 Country Living to find this quotation in an article about a garden, "One of the greatest things about gardening is that it's never done." Exactly. My feelings from just a few hours ago amount to me having a truly great problem: ideas, and plans, and a never ending passion for improving and loving my garden.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

For the Love of Flowers

Sure, there are a few areas of the garden I hope to someday 'specialize' in. I hope I can master roses, and each day I love dahlias more and more, but when it comes right down to it, I just love flowers. I'm addicted to a good bloom. Any kind. Almost any color. I have a place in my heart for a real workhorse plant, one that blooms with profusion, endlessly. Added bonuses if it's a smell-gooder, or self-cleaner. This last few weeks I've been taking pictures of the blooms that catch my eye, and I thought I'd share them all with you!
Annual salvia:

Various hardy geranium:

A self sowing black eyed susan, before it mildewed...

Verbena w/ delphinium:


Butterfly Bush


Foxglove 'Camelot Cream'

Dahlia kisses Verbena


Various Stokesia"

Various Delphinium:

Annual trailing phlox:

Trumpet Vine:


'Green Envy'

'Orange Meadowbrite'

Cosmos 'Little Princess'

Zinnia 'Orange Profusion'

Another zinnia:

Oriental Lily 'Stargazer'


Coreopsis 'Sweet Dreams"


I tried, really I did, to not include roses in this post, but this 'Hot Cocoa' is knocking my socks off:

Non stop blooms from 'Golden Showers'

Brother Cadfael w/Scentimental in the background:

jasmine (I overwinter indoors).

Angelonia 'Serena Purple'

Friday, July 25, 2008

Dew Kissed Rose

Just a quick picture to share... some dew on the first blooms on my Oklahoma rose. Taken last week in the garden. Happy Gardening!

A Growing Love for Dahlias

Not all of my few Dahlias are blooming yet, but a few have started to open up. My love affair with dahlias is still very young. I bought my first last year. I nice old woman in Farm and Fleet told me they were pretty easy to care for, simply "stick them in dirt in a pot in the window sill now (March), bring em' out afte frost, and dig them up and store them in the basement for winter." Sounded easy enough, and the pictures of the packages were so beautiful! I grabbed a "Kelvin Floodlight" and "Lavender Perfection" for somewhere around $3 a tuber, and proceeded home to plant them.

I was so excited to see them towering high within weeks, and come May, when I could move them outside, they continued to please me. One was 3 feet high with buds! Last spring it was the most exciting thing in the garden for me, until my son came swinging on by with this arms flailing and demolished it. It never did bloom! All season. I was so bummed. But the Lavendar Perfection opened a few stunted flowers for me, enough to make me want to try storing them and growing them again in the spring.

I read up extensively on storing them properly. I really wanted to get it right. I found out peat moss was the most reccommended storing medium. I also read it was important to not let dahlias dry out before you store them. I dug them up burried them in a bundle of peat moss, packed in a loose grocery store bag with holes poked into it (for air circulation), and set them nin a box with my other tender bulbs. One of the two tubers I stored made it out of winter fine, the other shrivelled up, and didn't look good, so it was placed into the trash (wish I would have tried to see if it would grow, just incase). I didn't label them when I stored them, but which ever survived is thriving in the garden, just has yet to open a bloom.

My 50% success rate was enough for me to try more this spring. I was not, however, so gung-ho that I wanted to pay a lot for the dahlias. I limited myself to clearance, or deep sale finds, (again $2-3) and came home with 4 more varieties this spring. They are truly NOT dissappointing me!

This Arabian Night is magical to me. I've never seen such a dark, velvety red color. I regreat where I placed it in the garden, but you live you learn, and nest year I'll put it somewhere better. There are few perennials and annuals this hue, so I'm excited to have it. I'm picturing it with some minty winter blue colored foliage & some bold white or blue flowered perennials next year?

This one below was supposed to be 'Fuego' an incredible autumn hued impression dahlia, but instead I think I got an old Bishop of Llandolph (sp?). Totally not complaining, I love this bright deep red color, and the height is darn right charming. I love how clean the blooms are, the most solid red, untouched, and sparkling like a painting.

This big un' is Procyon. I also love it. It offers such a bright color, almost a dark bright melon orange, I can't help but smile when I see it from across the yard. It's in a pot, and I'm not entirely happy with where I placed it, but next year, I have better plans... definately going into a flower bed, probably behind some of my red roses.

By far, the killer beauty in the garden is this fringed dahlia, 'Fringed Star.' I have it in part shade, heavy morning sun, and it's pumping out these huge surreal flowers. They're bigger than my hand, to give you and idea. The color's a pale coral, with a creamy yellow center. I did jet spray the center of these blooms with the hose a few times to deter any pests. It seems to have worked. I see this one with some low growing black eyed susans next year... I am really growing to love this one, and will be wishlisting some large fringed dahlias for sure next year!!

Any tips on storing? I'm really looking to improve my success rate! :)
Happy Gardening!