Monthly Archives: June 2012

Garden Tour

Last week my garden was on the annual tour for The Holden Garden Club (of which I am a member) and I took it as a great opportunity to not only assess the garden, but to assess the gardener as well.

As for the garden…… given the poor soil in many areas and the cold wet weather we have been having which only serves to encourage the fungal spores here to take over the world …it is really not in bad shape. There are two roses that have been fighting black spot for their second season now, so they will get the heave-ho next spring when the clematis plants that are currently climbing on them can be cut back. I was very annoyed having to pull off all the icky leaves for the tour even thought the roses don’t seem to care at all and are thriving despite the malady.

A few other plants need to be yanked here and there , and several need replacing like the chamaecyparis psifera ‘sun king’  that suffered terrible winter burn and the chamaecyparis  obtusa ‘Nana Lutea’ that has looked sickly since the day it arrived here ( the nursery owner blamed the failure to thrive on me  for removing the burlap wrap from the base even though I argued that leaving the burlap on has been proven to be detrimental to trees and thus I refuse to patronize his place anymore and I am tempted to send him the reciepts of the plants I have purchased elsewhere so he can grieve my absence.)

On the plus side of things , the iris and peony had a great year  as all the now two year old transplants are mature enough to put on quite a show.Many of the groundcovers (moss phlox, dainthus, drift roses and  the awesome new hybriid purple iberis called ‘Absolutely Amethyst’ )are  blooming, as are the penstemons and a few of the lavendar species. The rabbits are still around, but do far less damage when the plants are larger for the most part , although the entire edge of the border in the Dog  Garden was clipped clean of hosta leaves overnight leaving a path of bare stems that elicited a few comments and/or giggles.





.My clematis and roses never fail me when it is time to show off the garden. For this tour I had a large number of both in bloom and they really add so much to the borders they adorn. This is Rosa ‘New Dawn’

and an unknown (gift from my mother) red climber






.As for the gardener,I have come a long way in letting people comment on my garden without breaking down and thus was able to go into the tour with these two scenarios that in an earlier year would have given me fits of anxiety

1.) in an odd case of I-can’t remember -what- happened- here-itis I evidently pulled out a few plants and failed to replace them. I have a vague recollection that the sprinklers were not reaching this part of the garden and whatever was there was stressed, but then  memory fails. The day before the tour when I was doing a weed check, I glanced at the hole, thought about running to the nursery, then shrugged it off and put it on my to-do list to figure out what plant will fill the space and solve the problem. Not adding a  band-aid -plant of whatever I could find at the nearest nursery  was a HUGE breakthrough for me.

2.) There are several places where I have located shrubs that WILL be large, but as of now are very SMALL ( some due to the rabbit problems some due to the fact that I ordered them online and  shipped plants are generally  smaller ). In the past I would rush to fill this area with temporary plants to fill out the garden while they grow, but the new and improved Cheryl  just let it go. My thought process was, there is a shrub there, it will get big, it needs all that space and if it bothers you…oh well!

Hosting a group of gardeners through my space with that attitude is very unlike me , but felt very freeing in the end.

3.) As I was taking a small group around, someone commented that they  would have not noticed all the negative things I was so carefully pointing out to them, that the garden was beautiful and maybe I should pipe down . Good advice. Thank you.

4.) I have gotten to the point where I have so many separate gardens and spaces that I am forgetting plant names and locations. One member asked me about the clematis I had planted to climb into my lilacs, and I responded that I had no idea what she was talking about, I have no clematis climbing in my lilacs. Which is true….for the lilacs in the Lilac Bed. However,  there IS clematis growing into the species lilac and the ‘Donald Wyman’ in the Dog Garden, I just apparantly forgot even though she insisted they were there. Hmmmmm.

I also can not remember many plant or cultivar names when asked and will work on maybe labeling some things ( ha-ha can you hear me laughing? let us be honest here,that will never happen!)

I will however, and did on the day of the tour, offer to retrieve the book and large ziploc bag that hold all my labels and plant info if anyone would really like a plant name.

I saw many a suspicious look when I identified what was clearly a thistle as a sea-holly, though no one was rude enough to tell me I was not even in the same family let alone cultivar name. Ladies, the plant in question is and always will be echinops and my apologies.

Also, the geranium is question was geranium dalmaticum ‘DragonHeart’, the salvia is ‘Royal Crimson Distinction’  and the dianthus is dianthus gratianopoltanus ‘Firewitch’.

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Clematis for GBBD

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day is always so dfficult from May through September, there is sooo very much in bloom and it is hard to focus with a  riot of color screaming at you from all angles. So Instead of a garden overview today I will zoom in on one plant genus….clematis ( big surprise there,huh?)

There are clematis blooming here from late April through Ooctober, even though I keep bloom charts so I have a general idea of who blooms when, the plants have their own ideas based on weather, rabbit pruning and lord knows what else so it is always  an adventure to go out and see who is blooming.

I also  have a speaking  engagement this week so I went out to cut some flowers to bring as” show and tell “,and the variety is kind of surprising.

For the large flowered hybrids that bloom early and then bloom again later in the summer, this is the end (ish) of their first bloom.

Elsa Spath, always a beauty with flowers up to 8 inches across, is looking beautiful in the several locations she is planted. I adore the way this clematis goes through so many color changes from bloom open to shatter, starting dark purple, then sporting red streaks opening to a lovely purple with darker bars which then fade to silver as the bloom ages. Spectacular!

Some of my clematis that bloom early and then again late in the season  ( those labeled pruning group 2) have missed their first bloom, suffering from rabbit damage, but now look full and will hopefully put on a great show come Aug/Sept.

Snow Queen (in top photo the first one on the left) , Dr. Ruppel (below), and Ville de Lyon (below),  all are in full bloom, as are c.’Rosemoor’ ‘Niobe’  and ‘Ruutel’ ( although I did not venture out today to take their photo, they are all in the group shot above :)   )

Josephine will bloom as a double for some time, then the outer peatals will drop and the little puff at the center will remain This bloom is starting to do just that. It is a very cool clematis.

A surprise bloomer   is Jan Pawel II who should not even start to bloom until late summer but has been going for 3 weeks now.Look at the size of that flower!

The biggest surprise is that Bill McKenzie, ( orientalis group) and one of the very last to bloom in fall, was sporting this singular bloom yesterday. Mother Nature gives us no absolutes kids!

Many small flowered clematis always add great interest to the garden in June.

C. vitacella Betty Corning with its little lilac nodding bells,blooms here for 16+ weeks and adorns a number of shrubs ( viburnums, willows, and roses) . The other nodding bell in the group photo is an herbaceaous clematis c.integrifolia “Rosa’ that grows in front of Dr. Ruppel in the garden.

C. vitacella ‘Kermesina’ sports red recurved bell shaped blooms and  grows into a pussy willow bush that would otherwise be dull and boring right now

and C. texensis ‘Gravetye Beauty’ grows up an arbor on both sides through a similarly colored rose to great effect.

With all this bloom going on, it would be a sin not to cut lots and lots of flowers for arrangements for both the house and to give away when we attend summer parties. Clematis makes as suberb cut flower, outlasting just about any other bloom you put in the vase with it. Some have longer stems than others  making it easier to use them in floral arrangements, but the ones that either have short stems or twist and turn alot can be displayed very effectively  floating in a shallow bowl.

Here is c.’Huldine’ which holds its flowers aloft  and away from the leaves .

Because of that attribute it looks great with the rose it grows through in the garden  and is easy to use in arrangements.

Head over to May Dreams Gardens and our host Carol to see what she has going on and then visit the other Garden Bloogers links to see what is going on all over  our country and a few others besides!

Happy Garden Bloggers Bloom Day!




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some things should come with a warning label

This June 13th Bill and I will celebrate 25 years of marriage, I say “celebrate” but I mean I will be out speaking about clematis in Sommerville and he will be , um , somewhere else ( I haven’t even asked him if he is home or out that night).

I wonder if he knew everything about me  in 1987 that he knows about me in 2012 if he would have run for the hills. Did he ever picture a house chock full of kids , mad crazy with all sorts of things to amuse them and keep them fed and clothed? I think not, we had talked about having 1 child, gave in to the second so the first would not be lonely, then went ahead and had 4.

Did he picture being married to a wacky dog lady who would in a heartbeat fill this house with corgis, but only doesn’t because , to be honest here, he has limits and would leave me as he does not love them they way I do (but he obviously loves me enough to allow two)

Did he picture weekends spent hauling rocks from various locations to arrange in flower beds, hole digging for trees and plants, mulching , and pruning? Nope, he hates yard work with a passion, his time spent there is only for me , and that is sweeter than any other gift a girl could get.

Did he ever ever ever imagine learning to shoot a pellet gun to save his wife’s garden from the rabbits that aim at every turn to decimate the plantings? I am sure it never crossed his mind.

Did this man who would spend entire days watching movie after movie, either at the theatre or at home, right up until the very last credit has rolled, envision day trips on Saturdays instead to Tower Hill Botanic Garden, or annual garden tours, or better yet long drives to distant nurseries?  Nope , nope and nope. Yet he does, and tries valiantly to engage me in garden related conversations, commenting on plant combinations, unusual looking shrubs, or pretty flowers, and the best part is no matter where we go , he always says…”Your garden looks better” and he steals another piece of my heart.

So after 25 years, kids, dogs, gardens,  ,and  more happiness than I could ever have imagined,  Happy Anniversary Bill!

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