Category Archives: Perennials & Annuals

June Bloom Day

It’s been chilly, rainy, and cloudy, but flowers brighten the days.

peony

peony

 

shrub rose

shrub rose

 

rugosa rose

rugosa rose

 

 

poppy

poppy

Also blooming are salvia silvestris, Sweet William, foxglove, geranuim sanguineum, rose campion, lobelia, nasturtium, campanual cup and saucer, sedum, coral bells, many varieties of pinks, trandescantia, an orangy-red nasturtium I started from seeds that are supposed to be creamy yellow, and an oriental poppy ‘Princess Victoria Louise’ started from seed in 2004 and blooming for the first time this year.  Also blooming: penstemon, snow-in-summer, wild yarrow, mountain laurel (Connecticut’s state flower), and my last dark purple bearded iris.  I have photos of most, but for some reason photo uploads are touchy today.  Happy bloom day everyone.

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Quick notes … cold, birds, expo, swap

cold-protection-for-plants

cold-protection-for-plants

Connecticut gardeners still need to be aware of night temperatures.  Tender annuals, such as impatiens, coleus, and morning glories, and tender vegetables, like the eggplant shown here, do not like temperatures in the low 40’s.  It was 38 degrees to my south-central gardens the morning of June 1. 

This is an unusually chilly spring and it’s best to not become complacent – overnight cover with an overturned basket or an old sheet may be all that’s needed to protect tender plants.

baby-robins

baby-robins

Our baby robins are getting closer to flying off on their own.  I don’t see how they can get much bigger and still fit in their nest.  These, nested in a rhododendron, should be fledged by the time the blooms have passed and need deadheading.  Spring blooming shrubs are best pruned immediately after they flower, so now’s the time to deadhead and prune lilacs that are finished with thier annual show.

Siberian iris-geranium sanguineum-cranesbill

Siberian iris-geranium sanguineum-cranesbill

Stamford, Connecticut recently held a Sustainability Expo.  Read Debbie’s current and future posts on what she learned and had re-confirmed there.  Also check out the info on the plant swap planned for June 6 in New Canaan, Connecticut.  You may find perennials that become anchors in your garden.  Over the years, I’ve managed to fill my gardens with finds from similar local events.  The cranesbill and iris pictured above were two of my most prolific finds … I started with one small clump of each, but over the years have divided both plants to the point that they offer spectacular shows in the early spring.

Have you stretched your gardening dollars with plants from local sales and swaps?  Do tell!

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GOOPs Day – part deux

Every gardener has blunders.  Come on, admit it, you must have committed a gardening faux pas.  After three-plus decades of gardening I have (maybe one or two?) gardening oops – GOOPs for short.

Today, June 1, is the second GOOPs – Damn-I-wish-I-hadn’t-done-that – Day.  On the first of the month, I share one of my GOOPs, and give you the chance to share one of your own.  The seed idea for GOOPs Day came from Carol at May Dreams Gardens.  The first GOOPs day harvested

But I suspect more dirty little GOOPs are out there.  Here’s another of mine.

Perennial-sweet-peas

Perennial-sweet-peas

Perennial sweet peas – lathyrus latifolius – are great climbers.  Shortly after we moved into our home, I planted them to mask a vent pipe and a downspout.  This worked well for years – we really enjoyed watching hummingbirds gather nectar from the pale to dark pink flowers.  But with time, the vines became more and more unruly and I constantly had to keep their tendrils from attaching to the nearby window screens.  So when we revamped that area of the yard, I decided to try moving these vines to a newly created slope that screamed for an easy-care, attractive, flowering cover.  The key words here are try moving.

06-2005 sweet pea-lathyrus latifolius

Sweet Pea - lathyrus latifolius - vines

Established perennial sweet peas have thick roots that seem to reach to the core of the earth.  The fact that they were growing along the foundation of the house in spots surrounded by bluestone walkways did not make the chore easier.  I’m truly surprised that I was able to uproot any of the plants intact enough for them to survive, but after two seasons the transplanted sweet peas have claimed an ever-expanding section of their new embankment home. The moral of this GOOPs?  Do your homework.  When planting near a structure, plan as much as possible for the plants impact in the short-term and ten or more years out.  In my landscape, sweet pea vines work much better in their current locale where their rampant growth and flowering helps cover an unsightly slope, and the hummingbirds can feed on their nectar with less human intrusion.

Now it’s your turn.  Add your GOOPs in a comment or write a teaser GOOPs that links back to your GOOPs tale on your own blog.  Since we learn best from our mistakes, let’s share our mistakes and learn from each other.

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Focus on Flowers: quick iris bouquet

Iris bouquet.  Photo: Ralph Chappell Photography

Iris bouquet. Photo: Ralph Chappell Photography

A threatened hail storm had me scrambling to pick a few iris last weekend.  This simple bouquet consists of three Siberian iris and one reblooming iris offset by a few greens.  Bouquets don’t have to be elaborate to be beautiful.

Of course the photographer – my favorite – played a significant role in capturing the essence of these flowers.

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Mid-May Blooms

We’ve had a chilly, rainy May so far in southern Connecticut, but regardless of the weather, May always delights the senses.  Here’s what’s blooming around my piece of Earth.

Compact white lilac

Compact white lilac

 

 

 

 

 

 

lilac Syringa vulgaris 5-09

Common lilac - Syringa vulgaris

Lilacs – both a compact white variety and the common lilac-colored Syringa vulgaris.  For hints on bringing lilac blooms inside see a previous post.

 

 

 

 

Sweet Woodruff

Sweet Woodruff

Lily-of-the-Valley

Lily-of-the-Valley

Parital shade lovers – Sweet Woodruff above and Lily-of-the-Valley to the left.

 

 

Eastern Red Columbine

Eastern Red Columbine

Eastern Red Columbine, one of my amateur phenologist choices for Project Plants.

 

 

 

 

Azalea flower

Azalea flower

 

Azaleas –

raspberry-colored,

 

 

 

 

 

 

Compact pink azalea

Compact pink azalea

 

 

and a compact pink variety.

 

 

 

 

Wood hyacinth 5-09

Wood hyacinth

 

 

Wood hyacinth just starting to open.

 

 

 

Just opening chives

Just opening chives

 

Chives – newly opening.  Watch for my future post on how to use chive blossoms.

I’m closely watching for iris, peony, and clematis blossoms, and waiting for columbine  – shared from my sister’s northern California plants – to brighten some shadier spots.

To experience blooms elsewhere, visit the Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day links at May Dreams Garden – a true mid-month treat.

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First rain, then mud, then …

My south-central section of Connecticut received about 2.5 to 3 inches of rain since Monday evening, so when I head outside for the next day or so of gardening I expect to be greeted with mud … and many buzzing bugs.  Planting or amending soils will have to wait.  I may even need to tread lightly on the grass until rain water drains or soaks in a bit.  But you won’t find me sitting idly by waiting for things to dry.

 

The weeds trying to take hold between paver and bluestone paths are in for a tea kettle treatment.  Boiling water baths rid my paths of weeds better than any purchased organic spray I’ve tried.

 

Many tomato and pepper seedlings will find themselves moved into larger pots so their roots have room to expand further in preparation for outdoor transplanting in about a month.  If temperatures reach the promised 80’s in the day and 50’s at night, the larger tomatoes may find a new temporary home in the portable mini-greenhouse to start their hardening-off process.  As long as the newly moved plants are shaded from the sun for a few days, and the temperatures hold, there’s no reason to keep the plants confined to their current lighted indoor home.

 

Those sweet pea seeds I intended to sow outside before the rains came, will be soaked in water overnight to soften their tough outer shells and carefully poked (insert finger, drop in seed, cover hole, repeat) into the ground to take advantage of the warm moisture that will develop in the soil over the next few days.

 

The last hard frost date here is about mid-April.  Cool-tolerant edibles such as lettuce, peas, radish, spinach and other leafy greens love the cool nights and warm days of mid-spring so I’ll likely plant at least one more group of each.  This should insure a steady supply of these veggies until they succumb to the heat of summer.

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Violet vigilance

Early spring is the time for watchful weeding.  Not only are weeds early to sprout, but they’re easy to see when not blocked by preferred plants, and their roots have not yet cemented deeply into the soil.

 

But one person’s weed might be another’s salad, as Aileen Hewitt describes in the New York Times.  Her article is a delightful read and lists many edible ‘weeds’ found in her garden.  But she also illustrates a side-effect of compost that I, too, use to my advantage – her compost ensures that multiple volunteer greens are available in her garden, my compost brings perennial benefits I’ll discuss in a future post.  Still, I bet there are some ‘weeds’ Aileen hesitates to compost as they are truly insidious.

 

My compost piles will never intentionally see a common blue or wild violet (Viola papilionacea).  These often adorable heart-leaved early bloomers that delight with tiny purple, lavender, white or mixed-color blossoms love the climate of my established planting beds.  Keeping them in check requires regular vigilance.  Miss one post-flowering thinning session – as I did last year – and these seemingly innocent plants broadcast enough seeds to crowd out the toughest neighbors.

 

Last season, by late summer I had beds of violets highlighted here and there with ‘other’ perennials.  By the first of October I was so sick of looking at violets, I went on a weekend cleansing expedition that relegated loads and loads … and loads … of violet plants to the neighboring woods.

 

Still, and as expected, my fall weeding frenzy did not remove them all but simply thinned them enough to ease keeping them in check this year.  I will enjoy their early fresh-green color, and their engaging, happy blooms; I’ll even transplant some – especially the miniature white-flowered varieties – to more appropriate locations, but once those purple beauties cease flowering they’re finding a new home.

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