Six months later

I am not going to beat myself up about ignoring the blog for six months. Life happens.

Binged on Van Engelen’s fall bulb sale. Ordered: 100 Crocus Majestic Lavender Mixed, 100 Eranthis hyemalis, 6 Eremurus ruiter hybrid ‘Cleopatra’, 50 Erythronium pagoda, 100 Galanthus elwesii, 100 Iris ‘Blue Magic’, and 50 Muscari ‘Valerie Finnis.’

The erythroniums do not like to be out of the ground. Instructions are to plant IMMEDIATELY upon receipt. Naturally, they arrived on a Wednesday night when I had other obligations. So Thursday morning, in the rain, I went outside after breakfast and planted all 50. About 25 are in the spring woodland garden near the Halesia caroliniana. The other half are scattered between the blue and yellow garden and the front walk.  I am dedicated to taking pictures this spring because I will never remember what’s where otherwise.

The Muscari and about half of the ‘Blue Magic’ iris are in the same bed with the Aspidistras, behind my new short brick wall made with leftover brick from our kitchen renovation a year ago. The bed holds two massive mature oak trees, and I have had a devil of a time trying to get anything to grow beneath them. I was fairly convinced I had managed to kill the Aspidistras, a.k.a. cast iron plant. I was feeling mighty depressed. But they have managed to struggle on. I am hoping the bulbs will prove more resilient.

I was astonished to discover how frankly luxurious the soil is beneath those trees! Apparently heaping tons of compost will actually do the trick over time. So why has everything else pooped out on me?

The crocus are scattered between the blue/yellow bed, the bed with the two oak trees and all the Valerie Finnis, and the new garden I haven’t got a name for yet, which is adjacent to the gardenia bed. Galanthus are at the feet of my David Austin roses; a handful or two along the front walk, and another handful beneath the Japanese maple at the front door. Again, photos next spring will document their locations.

The eremurus are planted in front of David Austin rose ‘L D Braithewaite’ in what I call the ‘hot garden,’ as it aspires to the incredible hot garden at Hidcote Manor in England. I wish. The hot garden might look nice if it were in fact not so hot in North Carolina in the summer. Roses bred in England seem unable to cope successfully with drought and temperatures upwards of 100 degrees. I am not surprised by this. Everyone who gardens knows roses need appalling amounts of water and feeding. The David Austins  are admirably tough, though, putting out a respectable display with few pests and disease problems, in spite of my inattention to them.  I have been disappointed that they have not produced lush, impenetrable mounds of green foliage all summer. This is of course directly due to my aforementioned laziness, augmented by my frugality when it comes to purchasing rose food. So I have ambitions to plant tepees of runner beans or some kind of attractive legume in between the bushes next summer and see if I can get by that way.

Finally, the eranthis. When they arrived in the box I had forgotten that I ordered them and now I must find a spot for them. The bulbs are about the size of my pinky nail. I got 100 of them for $14 and change, so you can see why I found them irresistible.  I think they’ll eventually go in the woodland garden but I have mental plans to put some large rocks in there, and I don’t want to plant them, forget about them, and put a pricey and heavy boulder on top. This is exactly the kind of thing I would do.

The bright yellow blooms of the eranthis would go very well in the yellow and blue garden, but I think the garden is full up. Planting is further complicated by the mental reservation I have of about a quarter of the back yard for an extension of the house and a large pond I hope to install at the same time. So I will probably chuck them somewhere for a few years and eventually move them to their long-term home. Truthfully, this is the most fun thing to do anyway. I love moving things around as much as I love buying new plants.


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