Friday, May 31, 2002
Spent the morning planting in the front yard -- it was a rather hot and sticky day so I had to quit around 1ish -- lower 80s with high humidity -- blech!
Did a lot of planting and transplanting -- planted 2 "Alden's Regal Red" daphne (flanking the "Fire and Ice" camellia in front of the Japanese red maple tree), which are supposed to bloom in the winter, with 2 yellow Asiatic lilies and 3 "Jade Star" daylilies (they're purple with a white picotee) symmetrically arranged in front of the afore-mentioned shrubs -- they die back in the winter so the winter and early spring blooming shrubs can be clearly seen and they will be in bloom after the shrubs' flowering has ceased.
I also put in 3 "Hilda Niblett" dwarf evergreen azaleas at the front of the area around the Japanese red maple tree, in front of the columbines I'd put in a few years back. They only grow to be about a foot tall or so, so the columbines won't behidden at all by them. I transplanted some red dianthus my father had planted a long time ago between and flanking the azaleas -- I believe they may be "Telstar Scarlet" from an old label I found in the ground, but I might be wrong -- as I didn't plant them, it's hard to tell. They should make a nice edging, since they seem to grow only a few inches tall in a kind of mat -- the red color certainly fits in with my color scheme for that area -- reds, yellows, whites and oranges for the most part.
I planted a few more columbines in back of the ones I'd mentioned before. Those were supposed to be all red and white, but some were mislabeled and they turned out to be blue. They were too small to be in bloom when I bought them at the nursery, so I was going by their labels. It totally messed up my color scheme -- I'm trying to remedy it now by adding more red and white ones. I haven't decided yet if I'll dig up the blue and white ones or leave them in -- after what happened on September 11th, the red and white and the blue and white columbines will make a rather nice patriotic display, even though it won't be a terribly symmetrical or orderly one.
In between the 3 new red and white columbines I put in I planted 4 small "Stella d'Oro" yellow daylilies I'd divided from the larger roots in the package I'd gotten at the discount store. There were supposed to be 5 roots in the package but I ended up with 11 -- four large ones and the rest offshoots I divided from the larger roots -- 'm not sure how well they'll grow, but since I'm not sure if the columbines I put in will really grow (there were no green shoots from the 3"pots I planted) it may be moot.
I planted another row of flowers behind the row of columbines and daylilies -- this was of the rest of the "Stella d'Oro" divisions (7 in all -- mostly the larger roots) and 6 "James Kelway" pyretheum painted daisies, arranged symmetrically (as usual). The "James Kelway" daisies looked like the columbines I planted, so I don't know if any of them will grow either. Grump.
During the course of all this planting I uprooted a lot of plants that had been scatterred all over this section of the garden. Some were true weeds, others true flowers, and for some it might be a matter of opinion -- the tall purple asters I consider flowers but others think of them as weeds, since they might not realize that they flower in the fall and all they can see is a rather tall (around 4') stem with leaves and no redeeming value as far as they can see. Likewise for the white starry flower that blooms at the same time as the asters -- I'm not sure what it's called, but it's very pretty, especially when combined with the asters.
Besides the asters, I dug up lilies (of undetermined color but probably pink or yellow and most likely Asiatic lilies), spiderwort (mostly blue and purple) and some Shasta daisies. I vaguely remember planting Shasta daisy seeds in that area several years ago, but I'd thought they hadn't grown at all -- last year I noticed a few and decided to transplant them -- maybe they just needed a few years to grow to blooming size . . .
Since most of these plants were on the tall side, I transplanted them to be either between the camellia and the daphne or flanking them or in back of them -- the lilies mainly went in back. The Easter lilies I'd planted in the fall had all sprouted around the camellia and seem to naturally be on the short side, compared to the lilies I'd just dug up, so that was one reason for putting the lilies in the back with the asters. The daphne I planted may eventually hide the afore-mentioned Easter lilies after the shrubs grow a bit, so I may have to move the Easter lilies eventually. There's no need to do so any time soon, since they're much larger than the shrubs at this point -- I don't know when they normally bloom, but in my garden it certainly wasn't at Easter or even close to it. My guess is they'll bloom more or less at the same time as the other lilies or maybe a bit later -- they're fragrant, which Asaitic lilies aren't, so they might bloom after the Asiatics, like Oriental lilies do -- those are fragrant also, as are at least some kinds of trumpet lilies. I'm not sure how Easter lilies are classified, although one of the staff at the nursery said they are repeat bloomers -- that would be nice if true -- my other lilies only have one season of bloom.
Saturday, May 25, 2002
Did quite a lot in the garden today. I pulled some of the weeds that have been growing throughout this rainy period -- some were about three feet tall. I also harvested some of my Jerusalem artichokes while I was doing this and had them as an al fresco snack after washing the dirt off of the roots.
After doing the weeding, I did my planting. It was all in the main backyard plot, mostly on the south end right next to the white picket fence. I planted 6 blueberry bushes (varieties were Blueray, Bluecrop, Jersey, Atlantic, Ivanhoe and Herbert, going from east to west) with a NorthStar pie cherry between the Jersey and Atlantic blueberries and 6 "no-bog" Thunderlake cranberries between the bushes and/or tree. I like symmetry so this should look nice once the plants grow a bit. I wanted to create a hedge that would be about 5-6 feet tall (at least) so I could have a bit more privacy in the backyard without having to replace the fence my father put in 20-30 years ago. I try to have almost everything I plant be productive in one way or another, preferably by being edible in some fashion. Since blueberries need full sun to be productive and cranberries prefer the same acid soil blueberries like, I thought it would be a good combination. I planted the NorthStar pie cherry as part of the hedge since it is a genetic dwarf and will only grow to about 6-8 feet and most fruit trees prefer a somewhat acid soil.
This is my second try at having blueberries -- I'd planted them a little further west before, on the little strip of soil by the sidewalk at the southern end of the maid's house because at that time it was a sunny spot. At that time I'd planted both cranberries and lingonberries between the blueberry bushes and flanked Blueberry row with 2 elderberries (a Johns and an Adams, although I'm not sure which was which -- I'd gotten them as a combo package and they were not labelled with their varieties). A year or two later, that neighbor put up a pool, pooldeck and wooden fence for privacy, since there was a chainlink fence before that could be seen through quite easily (not that I ever bothered) -- the end result being that the full sun my blueberries needed was gone, replaced by partial to full shade. The growth of the elderberries also contributed to the shade effect -- they're currently around 8-10 feet tall -- leading to the eventual death of all the blueberries, cranberries, lingonberries and wintergreen plants I'd put there due to lack of sufficient light compounded by the drought conditions we've had the past few years.
Where the old Blueberry Row had been I'm thinking of putting in currents or gooseberries or Jostaberries since plants in the Ribes family are supposed to prefer partial shade. That spot also used to have gooseberries in it from the previous owners of the house, so it's back to the future there . . .
When I planted the old Blueberry Row I'd dug in soil acidifier at the time of planting -- a sulfate compound I believe -- but I chose not to do it when making the new Blueberry Row because I don't want to adversely affect any of the vegetables or other fruiting plants in the new location. If necessary I can add either soil acidifier or fertilizer for acid-loving plants if the plants don't seem to be doing well. I'm also concerned that I may have added too much last time and contributed to the deaths of the plants, although the elderberries seem not to have been harmed, perhaps because they were on the periphery of the acidic area . . .
The blueberries I planted are supposed to give fruit throughout the entire season, with one plant's fruit ripening as soon as another's has finished, thereby prolonging the enjoyment of the berries and avoiding the harvest overload I've had to deal with in the past. I didn't plant them in succession order, since I'm not quite sure what the order for them is -- the catalog had succession orders for Blueray, Bluecrop and Jersey as a collection and for Atlantic, Ivanhoe and Herbert as a set, but not for the combination of the two collections. So the symmetry of the planting may be a bit off in some ways . . .
I also planted the weeping dwarf mulberry today -- I placed it a few feet north of the NorthStar pie cherry. I was originally going to plant it where the NorthStar cherry is but decided to place it a bit further from the fence, since it is likely to spread a bit as it grows and I don't want my southern neighbor (the one who's directly south of me, not the one on the south-west who put in the afore-mentioned pool and wooden fence) to start to complain about my tree overhanging his property and/or having him try to chop part of it off. My neighbor to the north cut off the part of my peach tree that overhung his driveway, even though he was getting peaches from it (go figure!) so I'd rather not have a repeat of that with this southern neighbor. I'd also planted the new Blueberry Row and NorthStar cherry about two feet from the fence for similar reasons -- my fruit will clearly be on my property and there is less chance of a border dispute -- the fewer problems I have with my neighbors, the happier I'll be.
When I'd originally bought the weeping mulberry, I'd wanted to plant it on the edge of the driveway that borders my northern neighbor. Then I thought that the fruit might stain the concrete of the driveway and I might be better off having any excess fruit fall on the dirt, so I decided to plant it in the main backyard. I have since bought an ornamental weeping tree to place where I was originally going to have the dwarf weeping mulberry tree -- a Prunus subhirtella "Pendulata" aka a weeping Higan Japanese cherry tree. It is a beautiful fountain of pink blossoms in the early spring when almost nothing else is in bloom except perhaps forsythia and a few early spring bulbs. The tree is supposed to naturally grow to about 40 feet, but most of the trees you can get from nurseries or catalogs have been grafted so that they grow no more than 12 to 15 feet. I've seen some of those grafted trees in the nieghborhood and they're quite lovely but I was amazed by the glorious full size ones they have at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and that's the kind I ordered. Or at least, that's what I think I ordered -- the package came a few days ago but I didn't want to open it until I was able to plant it, which will hopefully be tomorrow or at least in the next few days. I'm hoping I didn't get the grafted kind, since the description read "grows to 40 feet", but you never know when ordering from a catalog -- it's kind of like pot luck in someways, since you don't get to see the plant until it arrives on your doorstep.
Besides planting stuff at the southern end of the main backyard, I also planted some trees at its northern end. I replaced the dwarf Superior Japanese plum that had died with a new one of the same variety and I put in a Jonafree disease-resistant apple where the central Wonderful pomegranate had been, so there is symmetry once again on Apple Lane. All the pomegranates had died and the one I'd gotten in the fall in a pot didn't survive the winter (even though it was a warm one) so I don't know if I'll try to plant pomegranates again. I'd like to -- the goddess Persephone is strongly associated with the fruit and I am her namesake -- but I haven't had much luck growing them so far. Maybe if I'd planted the potted one immediately it might've survived the winter -- oh well . . .
I noticed one of my pole apples isn't doing very well -- it may in fact be dead. I now have to decide whether to replace it with the same variety of pole apple or try something different, like Northpole, the one that is a Macintosh sport. Macs are one of the earliest apples and it would extend my apple season without costing too much in terms of space, since Northpole, like my other pole apples, will only be about 2 feet wide at maturity. My other alternative is to try another type of pole apple (say a Golden Delicious sport) or replace it with the original variety of pole apple -- Crimson Spire, if I remember correctly -- and perhaps get a MacFree, the disease-resistant Macintosh variety, if I can find a place to put it. Decisions, decisions . . .
During the planting binge I ended up digging up a few things -- 2 rose of sharon baby plants and a raspberry that I'd put in when I created Apple Lane and the apparent sole surviving raspberry of all of those I'd planted then. I think I'll try to train the baby rose of sharons into tree form, since at this point they're pretty much one straight trunk each and already well on their way to tree form. The raspberry I'll probably transplant to somewhere along the driveway strip bordering my northern neighbor -- I'm planning on transplanting some other berries there, like the black raspberries (or blackberries -- I'm not sure which they are) since they'll probably do better with more sun than where they are now in the northern dooryard near the water faucet -- part shade at best most of the year. They produce somewhat where they are, but not as well as I think they could with full to part sun. I'll probably replace them with some currants from the strip between the walkway and driveway -- the Ribes family does well in shadier spots.
As for other news of the plants in my garden, the lilies of the valley are ending their blooming season, the money plants have bloomed and are developing their seed pods, the spiderwort is getting ready to bloom, the peonies are starting to bloom and the dark red roses I'd trained onto the entry arch a few weeks ago are currently in bloom. The light and dark pink roses are also blooming, as is the white rose -- all of these are in the front yard -- but the rose of unknown color I'd transplanted to the south end of the entry arch is still just a stick in the ground -- not even leaves. I really should have used that rooting hormone when I transplanted it -- I hope it makes it . . .
Friday, May 24, 2002
It's been cold and rainy the past few weeks, so I haven't done any real planting -- I've mostly been buying flowers and waiting for it to dry out and get a bit warmer.
Today it was fairly warm -- we hit 80 -- so I finally did a bit of planting. While the weather had been icky and cold (we're talking frost alerts within the past few days) I'd gone shopping and got some matching pots -- mostly white and green with olive branches as the main pattern. The larger ones I've been using as cache-pots for some pink New Guinea impatiens I'd bought within the past few days. These plants not only had pretty flowers but also very pretty varigated leaves -- creamy yellow with a green border and red veining.
I also had bought pots in the same pattern that came as a set of three pots with a matching tray. I have sets that are in two different sizes -- ideal for various windowsills around the house. Some of the larger size pot sets I placed on the windowsills at the entrance to the house and planted them with several kinds of flowers.
I put a combination of sweet alyssum, pink-polka-dot plant and impatiens in each pot. The sweet alyssum was white and the impatiens were red with white stars on each flower -- I thought the combination would look nice, especially after the pink-polka-dot plant starts to grow. I liked how the pots looked after I put the plants in them. I did about half the pots (6 in all) before stopping because it was getting dark and it was starting to rain.
Wednesday, May 01, 2002
Celebrated Beltane today by planting flower seeds, buying plants and making windowboxes of posies.
I bought two big beautiful hanging planters of purple & white fuschia which are now hanging off the front porch. I also got pansies and geraniums and a very pretty ceramic planter. I planted the purple & white pansies I'd bought a few days ago in the planter and put it on the bannister of the front steps. I haven't decided what I'll do with the deep maroon pansies I got today or the geraniums -- right now they're on the front porch but I may put them on the iron work shelves I put on the front terrace today. That would be a good place for the geraniums -- they like full sun -- I'm not so sure if pansies will like it too or if it'll be too much for them.
I also planted wildflowers and cosmos in shades of white and pink around the street tree (an oak) in front of my house. I don't know if the seeds will sprout this year -- I did the same thing last year and none of those flowers came up. The lilies of the valley around the tree are starting to bloom and it looks like the spiderwort and asters will be returning this year too.