Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Lily Season

For as long as I can remember I have loved the smell of lilies. As I began gardening, I learned not all lilies carry that heady, intoxicating lily-smell. Nevertheless, I fell in love with bold colors and forms of the less-scented asiatic hybrids, and made plenty of room for them in my garden, also. Last spring I spent a wad of birthday cash on lily bulbs, adding to my collection. This year, I have more lilies than ever, and I am loving it!

On of the first lilies I ever planted was this "Crimson Pixie." I found it at Home Depot when we first bought our home 6 years ago. It blooms vigorously, and has spread reliably. I now have a dozen bulbs growing throughout the front garden bed. The color is a firey, orangy-red.

This spring I added "Conca d' Or" to the garden. I had on a wishlist for sometime, and found the plant available at my favorite shop, The Flower Factory, early this spring. Imagine my delight when I also saw some of these beauties on clearance at Walmart for $1.60 a plant! I wish I would have bought more! Arguably, this is the most scented lily I have ever grown! I put it in the front bed, about 12 feet from the front door, when more than half the blooms were already faded and done (it was on clearance) and the scent permeated the whole front walkway for days. I can't wait for next year!

I love this "Algarve" for it's pure pink long-lasting blooms.

I made the amatuer mistake of buying a pack of "Mona Lisa" bulbs and planting them individually in various spots throughout the back bed 2 springs ago. After they are done blooming this year I plan on putting them all in one spot together, creating the looks one large plant by next year.
"Bernini" has unique ruffle-edged petals. The bulbs have been slower to come along than other have planted, but the medium pink coloring is great, and I think it will looks great planted beside the yellow and white Conca d' Or. I can't wait to see more in the years to come.

This gorgeous and pretty fragrant "Alessia" was a steal at Walmart for $4 this season. I planted it in front of a juniper, so in years to come I expect the white and yellow blooms to glow in front of the blue green juniper backdrop.

"Golden Splendor" is the creamiest, buttery yellow!
And I love the red stripes on the reverse. Yum!
An unknown lily, sold as "Pink Heaven," skirts the back entrance to the garden, and smells awesome. Wish I could identify it! the quest continues.
"Royal Sunset" was a clearance find at Home Depot last year. I'm not regretting the purchase one bit... the colors are fantastic!
Hope you enjoyed my pictures of lilies!
Happy Gardening!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Dirt On My Garden

I recently did a post on my family blog about the "real" me. Following a trend in blogging where we seem to put our best foot forward, often presenting a false front of perfection to our blog readers, I thought such a topic would be applicable on the garden blog as well. Well, anyone who gardens knows, gardening ain't always pretty. In fact, it can be quite dirty, and downright messy. After a friend of mine asked to see the ugly side of the pretty pictures I am always posting, I ran right out, and had no trouble finding the DIRT.

We had a huge willow removed by the city this early spring... may have even been winter... a while ago. Remember that? Yeah, my husband still has these huge log pieces sitting in the driveway. Not neatly stacked or nuthin'. Just sitting there randomly, beside the crack garden. You know, the garden he's apparently growing in the crack between the driveway and the street (see bottom of the picture)? I also have about 30 hostas in a pile in front of our garage door. Anyone want some? I've been meaning to Craiglist them. I have already given plenty away, too.

See this mess below?
This is my black gold, or compost pile. This year I was too lazy to spread all of it over my flower beds. Theo tilled it for me several times, and instead of using it, I planted huge pumpkin plants in it. We'll see what I do if the pumpkins actually grow. I have only grown one tiny pumpkin successfully, ever, so the odds are not in my favor.
How about these badly damaged canna leaves? Japanese beetles are here, and they looooove cannas. I can't keep up with them when it comes to the cannas. They eat fast and deep.

The Japanese beetles are also eating the roses. They seem to love the David Austin rose "Brother Cadfael," the most. How heartbreaking is this?

Right about this time of year you will also find some of my less strong roses covered in diseases like black spot. I have a habit of going around picking up the yellow leaves, but that leaves the base of the roses bare and ugly, like this "Fragrant Cloud." I should add, not all roses look like this... just the weaker ones.

And my favorite ugly part of the garden? My yard waste bins. I have 4 of them full (not full to the top, but heavy to where they can still be moved) right now! Full with grass clippings and fallen branches and diseased rose foliage. I tend to put deadheaded perennial clippings into the dirt beside the plant, but those things I can't compost, for space or disease purposes, go in these bins.

All of this will be hauled back to the cities yard waste bin, but not before my husband lets them sit and stink up the yard for a while. The rain water has collected in there, and wow... the smell is terrible right now. My back will not allow me to do the hauling and dumping.
The last dirt on my garden? This blasted tree stump you see in the middle of our front yard. we found someone who will remove the stump and all roots for only $90, but we have not called him in yet. Makes sense that we would not put down new grass seed in the space until the stump is gone.
For now, we have a huge dead spot right in the center of the yard. Also, with the landscaping trim that has been in for years is very visible when the grass isn't growing there. I can't wait to have this all cleaned up!
Hope you enjoyed the my tour of the ugly aspects of the garden. I have to admit, the beauty of gardening is I have learned to embrace all the dirt. I love my yard waste bins, and my dead spot of grass. I love pulling weeds, and caring for my roses. I couldn't imagine gardening without them!
Happy gardening!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Later Roses

The first big flush of roses is done, and I have been filling yard waste bins pruning like a mad woman. I have a few roses that hold their blooms super-long, and/or start their first flush a wee-tad later than the early girls.
This is Europeana, a low-growing dark red beauty that holds it's blooms for a very long time. These clusters are beautiful!

"Hot Cocoa" has stolen the title as my favorite rose. Surprising, because it has hardly any scent. I have vowed to always have this rose in my garden! In fact, I have visions of planting a whole row of them at our next home, someday. The foliage is beautiful, the roses are so interesting, going through severeal stages of color as they age. The whole plant is vigorous, and consistently improving.

I went to the end's of the earth to find a local grower with "eden." While most California garden centers have this rose, none here did. last spring I found it, and this spring I was pleased to see it made it through the winter. So far, it's only blooming on the few canes that made it through it through the winter. The new growth is very vigorous, and already 6 feet or more, but with no flower buds yet. I'll take what I can get! This rose is so gorgeous! Takes me right back to Solvang, Ca. where I first saw it in person.

Happy gardening!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Busy Bees

There have been an abundance of bees in the garden this year. I love following them around and taking pictures of them.
Here is a bee on some blanket flowers I grew from seed last year.

Another bee on some lavender I got on clearance last year.

My favorite place to watch bees is on the foxgloves I grew from seed two seasons ago; the bees swoop in and out of the bell-shaped petals in a frenzy.

Happy Gardening!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Olbrich Botanical Gardens

My husband recently took on the task of ripping out some ancient, huge yews that surrounded out home. The yews and hostas had to come out, partly because they were old and overgrown (yews), but also because after the city removed a huge willow from our front yard, the hot intense afternoon sun was killing the hostas and browning the yews.

I was excited about the possibility of building a new mixed bed into the place of the yews, but confronted with severa issues, including a small budget, and inexperience.

I knew a few things: I wanted variety, bold color, and 4 season interest. A few evergreens mixed in to somewhat protect our 116 year old house from the winter elements. Some fragrance beneath the front window. Drought tolerant plants. All of it would need to hold up to some intense afternoon sunshine.

I sketched, browsed the sales, budgeted, sketched more, colored in pictures, and browsed more sales. I also went around the yard and yanked out overcrowded plants I've put in over the years. Made lists. And more lists. And drew more pictures. I have a loose image of what many of the plants I wanted looked like fully grown, but I also knew I would be buying tiny plants that would take years to fill in. Challenging, to say the least.

Perhaps the most helpful thing I did was visit Olbrich Botanical Gardens in Madison. I found so many of the lovely shrubs and perennials I wanted in my landscape, at varying stages of maturity, paired with other shrubs--some of which I thought of, and some of which sent lightbulbs off in my head. I brought along my camera to capture the mature size and shape of things, as well as the killer combinations.

I stole this combo! The combination of dark red ninebark behind the 'wine and roses' weigela can now be found under my front window. I also took a cue from the well-pruned green shrub in the front right, but subbed in a blue globe spruce in it's place.

Love how the red peony is in this bed with the shrubs and low growing front perennials. I also stuck one overcrowded peony in front ninebark, to the left of the weigela.

I love climbing roses, and plan on incorporating one into the front bed when I can afford to pick one up. I left room behind a yellow smokebush.

I wanted to take the boring line of patriot hostas out, and mix in some blue and yellow hostas... this bed was very inspirational to me, also.

Love this whole bed. Bought some salvia like the purple one's here to fill some of the front space of my beds.

I have yet to put this into action, but I love the combination of a pillar of barberry with small blue hostas.

White peonies captured my attention at the gardens as well. They seem to "pop" even more in front of a evergreen hedge.

I did not know 'wine and roses' weigela got so big! Well, I knew, but I hadn't visulized it. I will leave room for mine. I love it with the silvery blue color, so I made sure to put a few of that hue in my bed as well.

I love this whole shady scene as well. I have some ligularia and yellow grasses paired up in similar fashion, but mine are much to young and not as numerous. The power of planting things in 3's is evident here.

I find myself falling more and more in love with hostas each day. This combination is no exception. The fern just makes it, too!
The front left red plant is 'crimson pygmy' barberry (beside several very red, unlabeled heuchera). I snatched one up my local Menard's for $6. I love the look of the golden shrub behind it, so I made sure to plant mine somewhat in front of the yellow smokebush. I also put a blue flowered shrub clematis in between the two, creating a similar effect as the blue iris does in this image... eventually. I also think I may divide my siberian iris and put some of them somewhere behind the barberry.
Thanks for the inspiration, Olbrich! It's always a delight to visit.
Next time you are wondering what to do with your landscape, visit your local public garden with a camera, and pen in hand.
Happy Gardening!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Ah, Roses.

I have been growing roses in my Wisconsin garden since 2004. This was one of the first roses I ever planted. I believe it was labeled something like "Blushing Bride," but since I have decided it may be "Vanilla Perfume."
Lots of trial and error, learning the hard way, educating myself, and good sound advice has led me to maintain over a hundred roses, of all sorts of varieties. I have hardy climbers, shrubs, hybrid teas, knock-outs, floribundas, Austin's, and minis. Each one is different, with varied needs, and even more varied rewards. I love them all.
Champlain and 3 Sunny Knock Outs
For some reason, I have a new founded desire to stop spending so much money on rose care. I don't want to pay to prevent the powdery mildew. I don't want to try and deter the Japanese Beetles by spending money on Bayer. I want to try and grow these roses with nothing but some simple fertilizers and tender loving care. I say this now, but watch me complain come July.

My intentions are good. For the Japanese Beetles I plan on doing to bucket of soapy water twice a day... walking around the garden after sun up to flick as many of the beetles into the bucket as I can. This method worked okay 4 years ago, but last year the sheer numbers of beetles were astounding, and hours were spent knocking them into buckets only to have more some from thin air. This year, I won't give up. I need a regimen.
Carefree Wonder, a bit droopy in her second year, after some heavy rainfall. I wish they could all be as carefree!
For Powdery Mildew, I have tried preventative chemicals, and washing the foliage, but it is so much work... I think I may just remove the affected foliage and trim back the worse culprits. I have 2 roses in the garden that are covered in PM every year: Scarlet Knight and Fragrant Cloud. Perhaps it is just time to get rid of them? I can't even believe I am saying this.

One great thing about roses? The spring flush is not affected by PM or Beetles. This year there is definately a slug problem, but not too bad. Mostly just hundreds of blooms. Heavenly scented, beautiful, romantic, roses.
Morden Centennial

Morden Centennial and John Cabot

Morden Fireglow

An antique rose, unknown, gifted on a trip to the Northwoods. Possibly Fantin Latour.

Golden Celebration

Mary Rose

Distant Drums

Happy Gardening!