Category Archives: pink

Lessons learned

As summer comes to a close – complete with drenching rains, high humidity, more rain, and none of the September weather we loved in the olden days – here are a few lessons learned in the garden.

  • Don’t use angel wing begonias in the window box on the railing, they are totally out of proportion there and far too upright despite the way the flowers droop.begonia-dragon-wing-red
  • Choose a constant bloomer for the hanging basket by the bird feeder, maybe the dull but reliable impatiens.  This year’s begonia was glorious for a few weeks, then stopped blooming entirely.
  • Give the milkweed LOTS of room to spread out, and be prepared for the aphids to cover it and the caterpillars to decimate it.  milkweed caterpillarsPlus:  you might see Monarchs eventually!
  • Plant the Shirley poppies in late winter and choose colors carefully.  They will bloom for months and months, so be sure their color blends with other bloomers (pinky white viburnum, various dahlias and zinnias).  Here’s the pale yellow in August, still in bloom. poppies
  • No more tomatoes unless they are cherries.  The patio tomato sulked, produced half a dozen tomatoes, and proceeded to rot.  Plant the tomato in the raised bed and stand back!
  • Hanging plant in front – never again a geranium, it dries out too quickly and fades away.  Calibrachoa or another reliable bloomer instead.growing-Calibrachoa_mini
  • Feed the hungry:  get a weekly fertilizer plan and do it.  Ditto the twice-monthly fish emulsion for the roses.
  • The Joe Pye weed was magnificent this year, I only hope it doesn’t get much bigger.  The Souvenir de Ste. Anne rose twirled around it, as did the white cosmos, in a very delightful way. joe pye weed
  • Speaking of roses, both the Zepherine Drouhin and the other re-bloomed a couple times over the summer, well worth having them around, even though the St. Anne got Japanese beetles and the Zeph lost leaves and got leggy.

    Next year will be even better!!!

Hope springs eternal

I’ve been wary about growing roses.  Their reputation is for finickiness and the prevalence of diseases that call for chemical sprays.  The plant itself is not lovely, at least not usually.

But when a friend brought me a blossom of “Zephirine Drouhin,” I fell head over heels in love.  That color!  That scent!  Plus, it is almost thornless and can tolerate shade.  I must have one.

But the first one died.  And the second one, found at Roxbury Mills and planted in 2009, did well for a while.  zepherineThough I only got a few blossoms, I was in love.  But sadly, I had an infestation of voles (I’ve since learned that the vole population waxes and wanes.  It’s on the wane now, for which I’m grateful.)  The voles ate the roots and it was adieu to Zepherine.

Undaunted, I bought it again from White Flower Farm in the spring of 2015, and this year it just went to town.

Here is the current, third attempt.zepherine2

As you can see, the plant itself is not handsome, but those blossoms!  You should have smell-a-vision to get the full glory.

On a more serious note, here is a list of its potential problems:

Aphids, leafhoppers, spider mites, scale, caterpillars, sawfly larvae, cane borers, Japanese beetles, rose stem girders, rose midges, rose slugs, rose chafers, leaf-cutting bees, black spot, rust, powdery mildew, crown gall, canker, dieback, downy mildew, viruses.

You see why I was reluctant?

But then I learned from a rose-growing acquaintance about Earthkind roses, developed by the Texas Agri-Life Extension Service.  The Earthkind designation is only for “those roses demonstrating superior pest tolerance, combined with outstanding landscape performance.”

I knew I wanted a rose with fragrance, not too big, either yellow or pink.  The Earthkind site led me to a small shrub rose, Souvenir de Ste. Anne.

“This sport of Souvenir de la Malmaison was bred in England by Thomas Hilling. It was found in St. Anne’s Park, Dublin. The pale pink petals glow with translucent beauty and are very fragrant. It is an excellent choice for mass plantings and borders. Few hips are produced. This cultivar is so outstanding that it was named “Earth-Kind® Rose of the Year” for 2009 by the Texas AgriLife Extension Service.”

Since I had not only culled the columbines but dug out the problematic Helianthus ‘Lemon Queen,’ I finally had some space for a plant that likes sun and good air circulation, so I placed my order with the Antique Rose Emporium.

Well, after all that build-up, here’s what I got, earthkind rosebut remember!  This had been in the ground less than a month when it bloomed, so I give it props.  (It would also help if I could figure out how to capture pale pinks, yellows and creams without washing out all the color.)  I’m feeling quite hopeful.

Garden musings for a change

Just a few random notes from the garden this fall.  This has not been a very active gardening year for me (wait till next year!!), but I wanted to mention a few things.

First up is this picture of a woodpecker on the yucca plant.  When the plumbers dug up the front lawn, they broke off a lot of leaves on this guy, and he was looking pretty sickly.  Nevertheless, I think it must be a cast-iron plant, because it has recovered nicely. I left one bloom spike on it for no particular reason, and now I know why: it’s for the woodpecker!DSC06434Blurry because he was pecking so fast!

A quick trip to Roxbury Mills so that I can plant the outdoor pots resulted in:

sternbergia lutea (fall flowering) because I love the ones I already have

tulips Maureen and Canasta (fringed) for front door pot

Boxwood Winter Star (so-called, probably North Star) for the front pot – I saw something like this somewhere and copied it.  Apparently if it is North Star it will grow as a globe but right now it’s small and upright.  When the pansies expire and before the bulbs come up, there will still be a presence there.

Daffodil concerto or more likely a tulip, I think for the front door pot

A couple of Allium purple sensations planted in the front of the sunny bed

Then, from Bluestone, Cream beauty crocus, Lilies both Oriental mix and Stargazer, and Pink impression tulips  planted today 11/15 – Stargazer lilies in the pink bed, mixed lilies in with the iris, pink tulips in the pink bed and with the mixed lilies, didn’t get to the crocus today

Geranium macrorrhizum ‘Ingwersen’s Variety’ on backorder

Still in bloom on Gardener’s bloom day:

DSC06459cornflower (note to self, get more for next year)

DSC06462dragonwing begonia (they go on and on, caught this just as the setting sun lit it up)

physostegia still holding on

random morning glories that pop up everywhere

a little purple everlasting that  quietly goes on and on – will try to get a pic later

rosemary blooming white

remains of wild white asters

Summer successes

Like most people, I see what hasn’t worked and what needs to be done more than I notice the garden successes.  To remedy that, a few high notes:

The clethra has finally bloomed abundantly and is just as fragrant as I’ve been told.  The bees love it, too.  This is ‘Ruby Spice.”  I saw a clethra somewhere recently that was as big as a small tree, so I’ll have to keep an eye on this.  At least it is finally in a site where it can thrive.

DSC04077

The pink garden is coming right along, helped by the bright pink verbena I bought on a whim, and the pink Mandevilla vine that my neighbors planted. Here you see the crepe myrtle (is it Cherokee?) looming over the fence. It rains down tiny pink blossoms that fall onto the greenery below.
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I finally tore down the thuggish morning glory that is self-sowing EVERYWHERE and didn’t look so good, despite this picture of the blossoms at their best.DSC03794
But you can already see that the leaves are being eaten by something, and the whole thing was looking shabby. I’ve planted some beans in its place.

Finally, the scarlet runner bean, which actually has orange blooms, is doing well on one side of the trellis, while the elegant cardinal climber vine with its finely cut leaves and small, brilliant red flowers is carpeting the other side. They really don’t go together, and although the bean attracts myriad bees, you can probably tell which I prefer.DSC03795

The pink garden

The raised bed is on the side of the house where the neighbors tend to see it more than I do, since it abuts their driveway.  It’s been sort of a mess over there – scraggly grass, bulb cutting garden that soon flops over, self-sown datura and more recently bronze fennel that gets out of control.  But since I installed the ‘Antony Waterer’ spirea to complement the dark pink crepe myrtle that hangs over the fence to the back yard, I’ve thought of it as the pink garden and have begun to proceed accordingly.

The spirea is now accompanied by a variety of sedums, including ‘Autumn Joy’ and ‘ Matrona.’  I’ve also planted several dahlias, my experiment this year in doing it right.  Six of the nine I planted seem to be thriving (the other three, I think, were planted too shallowly).  Otto’s Thrill, Park Princess, Fascination, Lambada and Renoir are planted here and on the edge of the sunny garden.  Here’s someone else’s picture of the latter:dahlia RenoirSo far they are just sitting there, awaiting their stakes, which of course I should have inserted at planting time, but one does what one can.

The other part of the so-called pink garden is the raised bed I put in a few years ago.  I’ve had pretty good success but it tends to get out of hand at the height of summer, particularly since I’m inclined to let self-sown plants have their way.  This year I vowed would be different:  orderly rows of vegetables, bordered by flowers that would bloom all summer.

Here’s a look at phase one, two rows of Tuscan kale (from seed smuggled in from Florence), plus arugula and lettuce, a few chives, and some self-sown potatoes that I can’t quite let go of.  Discipline is already failing…  DSC00975But the rest of the story is the scraggliness of the grass in that corner.  I had been planning for some time to lay weed block cloth and cover it with mulch, and I finally did.  In the course of this project, I also moved the edging rocks and made the garden beds just a few inches deeper.  It may seem contrary to eliminate plants (grass) for mulch, but see how much better it looks already?  Here’s the before:

DSC00976Note that the dahlias have not yet been planted, and the perennial pea vine is running wild.

Here’s the after:

DSC01003A few weeks ago I planted marigolds and zinnias along the edges of the raised bed.  The arugula is already going to seed, as is the cilantro in the whiskey barrel.  There’s a tomato in there that will take over soon.  The green pot is for the squash seedlings, if they are still alive in a few days.  Need more potting soil first.  And I’ve moved the two blue glazed ceramic pots to the mulched area with some idea of planting something in there.  A work in progress, the pink garden, but looking better and more intentional already.

Chanticleer

ChanticleerNot a single discouraging word is heard in this account of Chanticleer’s beauty, but judging by the spectacular photos by Rob Cardillo, the praise is justified.  Though only twenty years old as a garden cultivated for public display, Chanticleer has great bones thanks to a 1930s stone house and mature trees, as well as a stream that runs through the site.  Like me, the gardeners have made a woodland garden under a giant oak tree that used to sit in a sea of grass.    Of course, they also have an Asian woods, an orchard, a pond garden, and so on.  Clearly worth a visit!

Adrian Higgins is one of my favorite garden writers.  He clearly writes about  Chanticleer with great knowledge and experience.  Still, I couldn’t help feeling that this was written to order as a puff piece.  (It’s copyrighted by Chanticleer rather than by Higgins.)  Not quite a criticism, since I devoured every word, just an observation.

Notes to self: find out what is this air spade* they used to remove the existing grass from under the oak tree; consider adding Anemone sylvestris and nemorosa along with the blanda, and Phlox stolonifera ‘Sherwood’s Purple’ (bought this week at Merrifield).  Shrub rose Lady Elsie May (‘Angelsie’) is semidouble, coral pink, and freely produces blooms all season long (whatever that means, and allowing for the slightly cooler climate there) and might do for the pink garden.  ‘Sea Shell’ peony, another possibility, is “cupped, single pink, robust and fragrant.  It is one of the classic peonies for cutting.”  Look for the Karma series of dahlias “which have been bred for cutting.  They have a long vase life and straight stems.”

*It turns out that an air spade costs almost $2000 and must be used mainly by professional landscapers and builders.  So, never mind.