Saturday, December 26, 2015

Merry Too Warm Christmas

Winter began warm this week here in the Northeast.  The lawn is still green.  Some of the annuals are still blooming in the flower boxes that I deinstalled from the front of the house in order to make room for Christmas decorations.  I noticed today that the gorgeous mauve hellebore in the front yard is blooming, right under our huge, lit wooden snowflake decoration.  I did a 23-mile bike ride yesterday morning after the gifts were unwrapped, and had one of my best times of the year.  It's a bizarre wet, and warm weather pattern that we're in.

On the bright side, the winter jasmine has bloomed all at once, instead of winking on and off.  It's a dose of pure yellow sunshine even on these cloudy, short days.

This annual mallow in the garden I planted near the loading dock at work is a dead man walking.  It should have been struck down by cold and snow by now, but it's blooming its beautiful head off.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Late 2015 Gems

Yes, the gentian finally opened a few days ago.  I thought that its late bud was doomed but I covered it through a couple cold nights and was rewarded with this gift of intense blue.

The arum italicum is always gorgeous this time of year, warm temps or not.

The winter jasmine is blooming beautifully on the deck, but that's another story.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Tiny Jewel

Erodium reichardii 'Charm' lives in a tiny planter on our sunny, west-facing porch for weeks every fall, before I bring it into the house for the winter.  It's probably not hardy here in our Zone 6b, so it always gets a spot in one of our few sunny windows for the coldest months.  For a tiny groundcover that blooms for six months, it's hard to begrudge it a warm refuge during the snow.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Staying Up Late or Getting Up Early?

It's been so warm this fall that some plants haven't gotten the message that winter is coming.  This gentian has developed a really fat bud in the last couple weeks.  I'm hoping that the plastic jar covering it will save it from being frozen.  We'll see...

Viburnum farreri 'Nanum' seems to have taken a catnap and woken up in bloom.  I can't complain; it's beautiful whenever it blooms.

We have 26 degrees predicted for tonight.  That ought to put an end to all this friskiness.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Autumn Bits

Loebner Magnolia doing its fall thing.

Some blue to balance all of the oranges: saxifrage happily growing in tufa in a trough.

Hips on a climbing rose

Fothergilla 'Mt Airy, my favorite fall shrub

Mallow, living the life of an annual, blooming until the end.

Young crape myrtle 

The obligatory autumn event in the garden.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Autumn in the Troughscape

Autumn in the troughscape in front of the garage.

Tiger Eyes Sumac, rhus typhina 'Bailtiger'

Sedum sieboldii

Same sedum, different trough

The yellow in the middle is iris gracilipes var. alba, Buko Form

Carolina Allspice (calycanthus floridus) and ilex verticillata 'Red Sprite'...and in the background, new troughs for a lucky gardener in central NJ.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Mountain Harebell

In the spring I delivered new troughs to a member of my rock garden club near Morristown, NJ.  She was kind enough to give me a selection of alpines that she had grown from seed from the NARGS seed exchange.  She had flats and flats of self-sown treasures; I was in awe at her prowess.

In the group that she gave me was campanula lasiocarpa, a plant new to me.  It's also called mountain harebell, or Alaska harebell.  

The foliage is a small tuft, with the delicate purply flowers held by long, thin stems, making it difficult to photograph.  

The remarkable thing is that it's been in bloom continuously since the spring, usually with 5+ blooms.  It's one tough customer.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Portable Landscape

This is a little trough that I cast and planted this spring.  It's been looking great all summer long.  The upright evergreen is juniperus communis 'Compressa'.  The silver mat in the back left corner is antennaria dioica 'Rubra'.  In front is sedum cauticola.  Sempervivums are sprinkled throughout.

The view from above.

Sedum cauticola flowers

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Plants with Plans

Aster ericoides has slowly filled in around a deciduous holly (not shown) in a round planter over the last five years.  It makes a nice white necklace for the trough in September.

This variegated agave squirted a pup out of the planter's drainage hole.  

Both plants have a manifest destiny all their own.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Hello Duncecaps

Orostachys furusei doing its pointy September thing.

I love this plant for its pure oddness.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Round Troughs

About a month ago, I cast a pair of these 16"w x 9"h troughs for my friend Noel.  The 2"h feet are separate, of course.

The troughs are cast around a 12"w x 7"h piece of sonotube filled with sand.  I cast them upside-down.

I used the hammer drill to make some drainage holes once they were cured.

And yes, it rained a couple inches this week and cooled off about 10 degrees.  
I cast a couple more large troughs yesterday and planted some mums in the garden today.  I'm back!

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Happy Dry Sunday Morning

The path to the backyard.

It feels like it's only rained twice in the last six weeks or so...OK, maybe three times.  The hose and I have become best buddies as we sprinkle lifesaving water on the perennial beds at least once a week. 

I don't water the lawn, as you can tell.

Sometimes I think that this should be called the Season of Despair, when it seems crazy to be a gardener, to put all of that work, and money and emotion in the ground out back and just leave it to the mercy of endless hot, sunny, dry days.

As the surrounding shrubs have filled in, the sunny, dry Gothic trough has become the shady, dry Gothic trough.

The andropogon gerardii likes its new dry position this year.

The troughs need watering less than you'd think.

Although it's hard to resist the urge to give them a drink.

Hang on plants.  I promise it will rain again someday.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

The Gauntlet

I'm that guy on our street.  The guy with the front yard garden that's hanging over the sidewalk.  Passers-by have to do the limbo to avoid being scratched by the overhanging sunflowers.

I don't know what possessed me this spring.  I was sowing annual seeds in the front yard in May and I thought, "Oh, sunflowers would be nice here until the zinnias take over."  I was thinking demure 4' sunflowers with a single head, for some reason.

 What I got where 8' multi-branched monsters.  The edge of the front garden is lined with them like some sort of living fence, alive with bees and goldfinches.

Slightly embarrassed by their size and vigor, I keep waiting for them to finish so that I can pull them out.

They have other plans, and keep budding up on side shoots.  I think that they're in for the long haul.  

Sorry neighbors.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Mid-August Already?

Yesterday we got back from a gorgeous week in Avalon, NJ.  Can you tell they replenished the beaches with sand from offshore?

Last night I had to unwrap and clear these two beauties out of the garage so that I could cast a couple more troughs this morning.  I got up at 6AM to beat the heat.  It didn't really work, of course, but at least I was done by 9:30, before it got into the 90's.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

All about the Foliage

Antennaria dioica 'rubra'

Edrianthus pumilio

Mattholia trojana

Agave 'Kissho Kan'

Saxifraga 'Kyrilli'

OK, OK, enough texture; here's an erodium that's flowering.
It's so gorgeous that I bring it in every fall rather than risk losing it in a cold snap.