Thursday, June 7, 2012

Around the Garden

It's been a while since I've given a garden update.  I've done a lot over the past month - weeding, mulching, edging, planting, transplanting, mowing, sowing, fencing, trellising.  Also sweating, hydrating, and even swearing occasionally (mostly at the voles eating Princess Yakyak's strawberries).  Here's a photo tour of what things look like right now.

My peonies bloomed well this year.  This is my favorite, an older variety called 'Mahogany.'  It's a true, intense blood red.  The blooms only last for a week, but there's nothing else like them.

This winter was hard on my irises, and I lost quite a few of them.  I don't think we had enough snow cover, and the ground barely froze late and thawed early, and so it stayed too soggy.  I'm hoping the rhizomes that survived will rebound and bloom well next year.  The exceptions that did well were in the front yard, near shrubs that caught the little snow we had and helped protect the iris rhizomes.  I don't remember what this one is called, but it bloomed very well.  It's a little bluer than this picture shows; I had a hard time capturing its true colors.

It was also a hard winter for winter sowing, since the early warmth then hard freezes did in the things that sprouted early, including all of my zinnias but one lonely late sprout.  These are the hardy survivors of the weather roller coaster, now all planted out in the garden.  The successes were tomatoes (three varieties), several varieties each of annual phlox, sunflowers, and poppies, as well as leeks, daylilies, celosia, ambrosia (chenopodium), sweet annie (artemisia annua), rudbeckia, and finally malva sylvestris and malva moscheuta. 

These are the long raised beds my husband and I worked on last year and the year before.  To the right is the drainage swale that runs down between the houses on our block.  We catch a lot of runoff from uphill, and all four of our uphill neighbors use lawn services to spray weed/feed chemicals.  That runoff has made it problematic for me to garden along the back of our yard, hence the raised beds.  (We rarely use any lawn chemicals, only a bare minimum out front, and none out back because of all the edibles.  I was able to garden 100% organically at our old property, which was much smaller and with much less lawn.  We've had to compromise a little here with all the wide open grass to maintain.)  I've planted water-loving perennials in the first uphill bed, closest to the locust tree, to try to absorb or filter some of the runoff before it gets to the veggies.  The rest of the beds are planted with four kinds of tomatoes, two kinds of peppers, cantaloupe, gold zucchini, bush butternut squash, pumpkins (sprouted from the remains of last year's jack-o-lantern), cucumbers, two kinds of pole beans, bush beans, leeks, and peas.  (I've realized that the peas do NOT like the runoff - they're definitely sensitive to the chemicals.)

Looking toward the house, you can see the smaller beds, planted variously with sunflowers, eggplant, bush beans, more cantaloupe, two plots of daylilies, assorted perennials in my daughter's garden patch, and strawberries.  The kids are on the porch, toasting marshmallows over the new fire pit I bought to reward myself for subbing all year.

This is one of my favorite flowers every summer - oriental poppy 'Brilliant.'  It glows in the sunset light, and stands out from any distance at the front of the house.

Gaillardia 'Amber Wheels,' which I'm seriously in love with.  I ordered it last year from Bluestone Perennials, but this is its first mature year to bloom, and it's drop-dead gorgeous.

These are fun - an unnamed variety of poppy, very frilly and intensely violet in color.  The plants are young, and not very vigorous.  We'll see how they do next year before I decide if they're worth keeping.

The shady north side of the house, filling in very nicely after looking rather scraggly for a couple years.  It's planted with golden barberry, assorted hosta, ostrich ferns, astilbe, lady's mantle (alchemilla mollis), variegated Solomon's seal (Polygonatum odoratum 'Variegatum'), ligularia 'Desdemona' (a.k.a. "The Slug Magnet"), and lily of the valley.

Some of the phlox I planted, showing the tightly spiraled buds.  This one is from a mix called 'Coral Reef.'  These phlox are wonderful for winter sowing, and for childrens garden projects.

One of the few roses I grow:  'Tropicana.'  It's supposed to be highly fragrant, but I'm underwhelmed with it so far.  Still, the flowers are gorgeous, more coral than orange.

This is the big weigela on the property line between us and our neighbors behind us.  They planted it before we moved here.  This year it bloomed magnificently, and it glows in the sunset light.

This is a milkweed leaf, backlit by the setting sun.  The "no man's land" bed that sits on/in the drainage swale between our houses has some regular garden plants, and some wild volunteers.  The milkweed is statuesque and attractive in its own right, and doesn't mind the location, so it's earned the right to stay.

And finally, a pretty annual, a zinnia from the 'Zahara' mix, purchased locally as a small  plant since the frost killed all but one of the zinnias I winter sowed.  Such a pretty little bicolor, I might save seed from it and see what I get next year.

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