A simple way to keep track of garden changes

My life is hectic. I’m trying hard to cut down on distractions so I can enjoy a few things in my life more fully. One of those priorities is my garden.

shed and iris.jpeg

Sweet William (Dianthus barbatus) in shades of red and pink, planted among irises, lilies, and daffodils.

This year I had a glorious show of Sweet Williams (Dianthus barbatus). Sweet William is a biennial plant, meaning it grows, flowers, sets seed, and dies over the course of two years, rather than one for annuals.

They’re fading now, and setting seedpods. If I collect the seed, I can sow it and have another batch of plants ready to go for next year. And while I like the mixed-colors look, there are a few places I’d like to add these plants but I want to restrict the color scheme a bit.

As I went outside with brown paper envelopes in hand, I wondered how to differentiate between the different colors of Dianthus. How will I remember what’s what? Then I remembered the bit of genius always at my side: my smartphone.

I snapped photos of each color and immediately labeled them:


Then I labeled my paper seed envelopes to match.

I created an album in my iPhone Photos app to keep them organized, so when I’m planning my garden for next year I’ll have a quick reference. (Or I guess I could also come back here.)

How do you keep track of changes in your garden?


Grow Write Guild #3: A change that does me good

The Grow Write Guild’s third assignment is to describe the garden at present; stop, observe, and enjoy.

My garden is presently divided into rooms. Some are fairly well-kept, some are being refurbished, and alas, there are some on which the door had better be kept shut.

But everywhere I look, the scene is lush with fresh shades of green: lime, olive, emerald, forest, apple, bronze, blue. In a single week the garden has transformed. A week ago, I could stand at my back door and see perfectly clearly the Carrot Lady‘s house. Continue reading

New plants for 2012, part III

What else is new in the garden this year?

I’m trying Geranium ‘Johnson’s Blue’ for the third time. This plant makes all sorts of top plant lists, but I have killed it every time I’ve brought it home. It should grow 15-18″ tall and about 24″ wide, with blue-violet flowers and finely cut leaves. It’s in the blue garden (of course) where it’s getting some dappled morning sun and a limited amount of late-afternoon sun. I don’t think it will burn up where it’s sited, but I can’t make promises.

For the blue slope, I picked up three Euphorbia ‘Blackbird,’ which should grow 15″ tall and wide. It has deep reddish-purple laves and bright green flower bracts edged in red. At least, that’s what the tag shows. I have grown rather dedicated to Euphorbias over the past few years as they have proven to have the resilience I demand in garden plants.

Also in the blue slope are two new Dianthus gratianopolitanus ‘Firewitch.’ These have very fine, almost wiry, steel-blue foliage and bright magenta flowers. The foliage is evergreen and theoretically should form a dense little mat.

In the pink-purple-and-yellow garden in the back, I’ve added Oxalis ‘Charmed Velvet.’ I am not impressed with the name. It should provide a dark purple shamrock groundcover about 12″ high and wide. I hope it will mix in an interesting way with the Saxifraga stolonifera strawberry begonias I bought back in the winter during a warm(er) spell. Both have starry white flowers, but the Saxifraga has silvery-marbled leaves and grows much lower to the ground. Their leaves have purplish tints to their undersides. I hope these will slowly take over the bed and provide an attractive evergreen groundcover. I carry in my mind the scornful words of the great English landscape designer Penelope Hobhouse, who once questioned an American client, “Why do you Americans like to show off your mulch?” But it takes time to fill the space.