Garden log 6.3.13


Another slightly frenetic week ahead of me, and I am longing to be back in the garden. This lovely fellow is blooming for me today.

yellow lily and rose campion

It came from the big-box store in a sack of lily bulbs that I swore were supposed to be a red-violet color. Have these never bloomed before? Still, a pleasant surprise. Yellow goes with this garden’s color scheme, fortunately.

And the Clematis x  jackmanii survived their earlier, impromptu move without too much distress.clematis

After a hot, dry week last week, we had rain last night. Rain enough, actually, to tip over my water barrel and knock its tap off. Add another item to the to-do list. Cloudy with intermittent rain, 80 degrees.


Garden log 5.30.13


A terribly busy work week, and thus not much time spent in the garden.

ladybug on salviaLadybugs still everywhere; I must have lots for them to eat. On a quick stroll through this morning, I saw two rabbits. I should be annoyed by their presence, but when the damage isn’t obvious they’re too cute to be annoying. Have also been trying to make mental notes on various bird calls to identify, but the fellows all talk at once; it’s very tricky to hear anything individually. My daylilies ‘Chicago Royal,’ ‘Prince Redbird’ and ‘Grand Opera’ are nearly ready to open. Oriental lilies also ready to open, assuming they’re not nipped overnight by deer. The Phlomis bloom is mostly spent; I wonder if it will rebloom? Rose campion blooming everywhere. Need to transplant a Phormium to the blue slope garden; it’s not getting enough sun where it is. Clematis jackmanii bloomed today for the first time.

Clematis jackmaniiSaw my first butterfly of the season, Papilio troilus, Spicebush Swallowtail, I think. Also spotted first dragonfly of the year (very brown, unremarkable). Nice, toasty 88 degrees. No wind.

Step 2: Dig more.

I moved the Clematis jackmanii and a Passiflora incarnata, and hard pruned the Clematis. Luck was with me as I pruned the Clematis, as I can never keep pruning groups straight but Jackmanii is in the group (3) that should receive a hard pruning in early spring.


I excavated the site a further three inches before I determined that 9 inches deep might have to do. Continue reading


Monday was glorious; 80 degrees and no rain for a change. I took a housekeeping day to get simple chores done.

I put up some netting to give the Clematis ‘Nelly Moser’ and the sweet peas I planted some support. I believe, deep down, that the sweet peas have eluded me yet again but I am trying to keep the faith. The cool weather they like has, I think, ultimately passed us by for good. We may expect a few favorable days here and there between now and April 20, which is the approximate average date of our last frost. On Tuesday, for example, the temperature dropped by about 20 degrees; we’ll see whether that will give them some encouragement to force their companion, the climbing rose ‘The Generous Gardener’ (David Austin), to live into its name.

At present the Gardener is instead greedily taking up the real estate where he is planted and is bullying all the timid perennials at his feet. I pruned out some of the smaller, twiggy bits sprouting at the base of the plant and tied two canes to the gate post. I have read that pegging, or tying the branches horizontally, will force them to bloom copiously. We shall see how that works. Perhaps this is where it gets its name.

I also moved two clumps of daffodils as I begin to clear way for a small summer veg bed. If I followed the rule book, I would wait until all the foliage had died to move the bulbs. I have two problems with this good advice. First, by the time the foliage dies, it will be positively tropical outdoors; the heat and humidity will sap my vigor and enthusiasm before I can even get to the shed, and the mosquitoes at that time will be easily mistaken for Hitchcock’s birds. Second, I will completely have forgotten which clumps are which. Photos are not always helpful at that point. Far better to tackle the job, I think, when one has a clear memory of what variety grows where and can place them appropriately. But please do as I say, not as I do.

The view from the deck

Yet another morning of heavy rain. The garden is soupy. I know I shouldn’t muck around much in it when it is so wet, but who can help it when the sun comes out? I cannot wait to see what’s changed from yesterday.

Turns out, plenty is happening just off the deck, and I can limit the wading I do today. The sweet peas I planted in February are coming up. I have never had much success with them in the past, but I confess I never made much effort, either. I must get some netting in place for them to climb up.

Clematis ‘Nelly Moser’ has put on about a foot of growth in the past week. She, too, needs something to climb on. I put one of those skinny pot trellises in place until I can get the sweet pea netting up. They can share after that; I hope they’ll play nicely together.

I grew a massive stand of Claytonia over the winter, only to find that the flavor is bland to me. Perhaps I simply have not found an adequate recipes that will let it perform to its potential.

I pruned the rue (Ruta graveolens ‘Jackman’s Blue’), which has taken off. Now that it is making itself comfortable where it is, I have found the perfect spot for it. It needs to be next to the osmanthus; the color and texture contrast will be magnificent. But there are bearded iris in that spot now, as well as plenty of tiny sprigs of Solomon’s seal that will require relocating, and I cannot do that until the iris have bloomed. If things keep the current pace, that should occur about next Tuesday.


I pinched back the Carolina jessamine (Gelsemium sempervirens) that I am coaching across the screen that is the backdrop to the blue-and-yellow garden. I know it gets too much shade to do well there, but I am a stubborn old goat. But so far it seems to be resigning itself to its site and making the best of it. Perhaps this year is the year it will become the glorious screen I envision. I have seen, however, the way it behaves at my mother’s house and should probably be careful what I wish for.