Tuesday, May 23, 2017

That 'Whoa!' Moment

I rounded the corner of the garage to head out back to the garden on Saturday and let out an audible exclamation when I saw the honeysuckle.  I hadn't realized how large it had gotten until it flowered.  The fence above is six feet tall and the honeysuckle is trying for more.

I guess it liked the recent 3" of rain followed by three days above 90 degrees.  I'm glad somebody did...

Monday, May 15, 2017

Stubborn Garage Gardening

I was looking forward to working in the garden and on planting my troughs on Saturday.  I had a bunch of new plants from Wrightman's Alpines that I was dying to get planted.  The weather did not cooperate.  It rained all day and was in the low 50s...not a gardening day by any normal definition.  Being of the stubborn sort, I moved into the garage with my trough planting.  Above is one my hypertufa troughs (30 x 16 x 12"H) on a dolly, partially filled with a mix of Turface MVP, fine granite, and some topsoil.  The mix is richer on the bottom of the trough and leaner (very little topsoil) nearer the plants.

Once I had the rocks arranged (and split thanks to my new carbide stone chisel), I started placing plants.

Yes, I know it looks like too many rocks.  It's not.  These tiny plants like the cool root run of crevices.

I removed most of the bark or whatever it is that these plants were grown in at the nursery.  This material is too rich for long-term cultivation of these plants.  Working their nearly-bare roots down into the crevices between the rocks, I added more grit, tamping it with a chopstick.

A top dressing of pea gravel and the trough was ready to roll out into the rain.

I promise I'll post a photo of the trough that doesn't look like it was taken in a cave.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Tiny Jewels Part II

The ridiculously beautiful spring parade continues.  
Above is epimedium grandiflorum var. higoense 'Bandit'.

Good old reliable arabis sturii.

Home Depot aubrieta.

Home Depot saxifrage (L) and aubrieta x cultorum 'Royal Blue'

Veronica whitely is out to dominate this trough

Aquilegia viridiflorum

A couple days later on and it's fully open.  (Thanks, Hilary)

Fritillaria uva-volpis (back) with white dodecatheon in front.

That red pasqueflower really hit its stride this week.

I got one flower on androsace barbulata

The native aquilegia canadensis self-seeded into a crack in the patio in front of a trough.

 Saponaria ocymoides

Another sax from Home Depot.

Daphne cneorum 'Blackthorn Triumph'

Potentilla porphyrantha

The nearly-impossible-to-photograph-well mattholia trojana. 

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Tiny Jewels Part I

This is one of those spring weeks when it's great to be a trough gardener.  Above is a purple pasqueflower, pulsatilla vulgaris.

Red pasqueflower.  

Daphne 'Lawrence Crocker'

Anemonella thalictroides 'Cameo' on April 15

 Same plant on April 24th.  It's lost its red leaf color but is blooming like crazy.

Ipheion uniflorum growing in the garden

I can't resist adding a picture of houstonia (bluets) growing in the rocks at Leonard J. Buck Garden in  Far Hills, NJ.  Our NARGS chapter had its annual plant sale there this past Saturday and Sunday.

Leftover plants will be on sale this coming weekend!

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Spring in the Troughs

Spring is starting with a bang in the group of troughs on the desk.  It's so nice to see some color after a long, mean March. (Yellow and purple = Minnesota Viking team colors, I know).

The purple is aubrieta x cultorum 'Joy'

What a sight for sore eyes.

The yellow in front of the pine is alyssum montanum 'Tekara'.

It hurts my retinas.

This shy little pasqueflower is pulsatilla pratenis 'Bohemia'.

Old reliable arabis alp. caucasica 'Snowball'.

And finally, though not in the troughs, is the annual blink-and-you-missed-it blooming of the bloodroot in the backyard.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

First Draba of Spring

Forget forsythia. The yellows of spring that quicken my heart are the drabas.  Above is draba lasiocarpa growing in a trough.  It's almost enough to make me forget that there's still snow lingering in parking lots, and that the yard is mushy from all of the recent rain.  

We are getting there.

Saturday, March 11, 2017


After a couple very unseasonal warm spells in late March, it was 12 degrees last Sunday morning. I was horrified to find all of the hellebores, including this gorgeous purple one in front of the house, face down on the cold ground.  They stayed that way for a couple days and I wondered if that was it for hellebore blooms this year.

By midweek the stems had started to perk up one by one, rising off the canvas like knocked down boxers ready for more.

Friday morning's snow was kind of pretty, although unwelcome.

The same hellebore is covered today, like many of its brethren, as the weather early next week looks anything but pretty.

When can we get off this rollercoaster?

Sunday, February 19, 2017

On the Cusp?

We got 8" of snow last week, and now have temps in the 60s this week.  It really feels like we're transitioning to spring.  The sun is startlingly warm while the breeze still picks up the chill of the snow lingering in the shade.

The boundary between two seasons.

Even the bench is warming up.

Ray will correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm guessing that this is dianthus freynii
emerging gorgeously from under the snow in the trough in his front yard.

I know, I know, there's still more cold, sleet and probably snow to come, but I can enjoy the sun today knowing spring is only a couple weeks away.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Yellow Constellation

Even on the dark days of February, the winter jasmine, jasminum nudiflorum, lights up the deck. It's planted at the base of one of the deck support columns, about 8' below this level.  Over the years we've trained it on the trellises under the deck.  It's quietly putting on quite a show now.

This jasmine is quite possibly the best $2 I ever spent.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Encrusted Saxifrage

Saxifraga 'Whitehill' looking a little whiter than usual last week.  It's totally happy to wait out winter in its vertical spot on the tufa.