Monthly Archives: August 2013

Pretty in Pink

004Funny how the garden goes through color phases. They are not always intentional due to the vagaries of weather and bloom cycles, but a often a quick morning walk  through the garden will reveal the dominant color of the moment. Today, it is decidedly pink! If you would like to see many more photos and occasional garden tips and info be sure to LIKE my Facebook  and FOLLOW my  Pinterest  pages.  There are handy buttons to do so in the toolbar on the right as well . 001006 009 010 012

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Plant Profile: Clematis ‘Mrs. Robert Brydon’


















Although clematis ‘Mrs Robert Brydon’ does not make my “Top 10 Clematis” list, it does, in fact, place pretty high up on my “Must Have Plant” list. Let’s go over the reasons, shall we?

-It is a superb non twining ground cover plant that will quickly cover the space under the shrubs in your border with it’s lovely disease free leaves

-It can also be tied up onto a trellis, bird netting, a pole, or any other vertical object you have handy

-It will scramble happily down a berm, hill, or even better cascade over a rock wall

-It is definitely on the “Top 10 Easiest to Grow” clematis list

–It will grow in many light conditions and is fairly drough tolerant once established

-It is a breeze to propagate via cuttings , your gardening friends will love you if you give them this plant

-It blooms late in the season ( late July to Sept) when so many other things in the garden are winding down

The only reason it does not place among my top ten clematis is generally  plants earn their space  there because they  have a very long bloom time and sadly this one does not.  I may reconsider that though as the foliage on this one never browns or gets any foliar disease which more than makes up for a shorter flowering time.

For years I have struggled with the correct name of this clematis. It has dubious parentage and I have seen it for sale under many names including clematis heracleifolia x jouiniana ,  clematis x jouiniana ‘Mrs. Robert Brydon’, clematis jouiniana var. davidiana ‘Mrs Robert Brydon’ but thankfully the International Clematis Registry at Hull University has it now listed as plainly clematis ‘Mrs. Robert Brydon. Whew.

I love that the name conjures up the  old fashioned practice of calling a married woman by her husbands name, not because I am a believer in the oppression of the fairer sex , I did not even legally take Wil’s name I just sort of added it  on to mine to avoid confusion for the kids when they were in school and may ditch it when they are done. I just like the thought , however imagined it may be, of a graceful and charming world with proper manners , polite conversation  where you are adressed as such, and maybe a white glove or two thrown in for good measure.  Actually my garden club has only recently disbanded the practice of having our members listed as “Mrs. Husbands Name and Surname” making me Mrs. William Monroe which is funny and maybe just a bit ironic.006

Back to the clematis, ‘Mrs. Robert Brydon ‘ is a dream to take care of. It will get pruned to 8-12 inches in the springtime, but since, as its various names all suggest, it is herbaceous , it may have already pruned itself for you by dying back to the ground over the winter. It will grow pretty slowly at first eventually getting  large leaves on stems that are 6-8 feet long. When it flowers, which is happening right now here in The Burrow, it is spectacular. The flowers are the loveliest shade of white-ish blue, a color I find dreamy in the garden and are massed along the top third of the plant.

I have seen this plant frothing over a stone wall, tied up at the base so it looked like a hydrangea bush, trained onto fences and poles and here I created a berm for it to sprawl down( bottom photo)) in the Dogs Garden and it romps all through shrubs and other plants like this  variegated weigela in the rock garden ( below ) and in all instances it looked phenomenal.007016


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some really beautiful moments in the garden

I took a little walk tonight with the camera to see what I could capture before the sun sets and the Patriots second pre-season football game starts. It is a bittersweet way to end the day as the garden itself is absolutely beautiful in the late summer, yet the signs of fall : cool nights, the apple and pear tree branches hanging to the ground heavy with fruit, the hydrangea blossoms fading to mauve, mean the summer is winding down and school will be starting and life will be too hectic to wander the garden at will. But there is still so much to enjoy!

The summersweet  ( this one is clethra alnifolia ‘Ruby Spice’,)is at its peak and the entire side yard , and the rest of the yard too if there is a breeze, is dreamy with its heady scent015

The Hydrangea paniculata ‘Limelight” is in full glorious bloom , here a low bloom is resting near a  ’Coral Drift’ rose, Sedum‘Hab Gray’ and blue lobelia 016

What a pretty picture the late daylily ‘Franz Hal’ makes in front of the potentilla and ‘Fat Albert’ blue spruce020

This crazy looking area is actually a container planted with clematis ‘Avant Garde’ whose double blooms shed their outside petals leaving the pink pompoms( see second photo below) cypress vine  and celosia, that sits in front of some blue hosta and a large trumpet vine011012

This orange trumpet vine is blooming above rosa glauca whose orange hips echo its’ color014

Have a great weekend everyone!



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It’s a Girl!

Well, actually like many expectant parents I knew the gender beforehand, I just needed to witness it for confirmation. And no, it’s not a new baby Monroe, that ship has quite happily sailed….. it is a hop plant.

Humulus lupulus ‘Aurea’ , more commonly called Golden Hops, has been growing for a few years  up a series of connected trellises under a birch tree in my back yard in to block off the view of the composting area from the back garden. I got it as a teeny little division ( rhizome to be exact) from a my gardening pal Gayle. The hop plant is actually a bine, which is a plant that will climb by twining it stems around something,  unlike a vine which uses tendrils  or suckers to latch on and climb  (honeysuckle and bindweed are also bines) . Golden Hops will climb to maybe 16 feet or so and can get a bit unruly in a small area as the rhizomes will  multiply and spread out quickly underground. Although it is herbaceous and dies down to the ground every winter, it shoots out like a rocket in spring and can get very large and very  heavy in a single  season. The hairy stems can cause  dermatitis if in contact with the skin for prolonged periods, so all in all ,careful placement is a necessity, but if you have the space this plant is just stunning in the garden.002

The deeply lobed leaves of golden hops  start out bright chartreuse and fade to a bright lime green. It is labeled as  preferring to grow in full sun to part shade, but as I said , mine is planted under a birch tree and much of the plant is in the full shade although as it grows into the tree it gets far more sun.014

Getting back to the “girl” part, hop plants are dioecious, which means that  male and female flowers occur on separate plants . The male flowers are small and not very showy  but are necessary for pollination if you are looking for seeds to form. The female flowers (called ”hops”)  are 1-2 inch  cones that are fragrant and quite showy, and as many of you may know , what we humans use to add aroma and flavor/bitterness to beer.

I like beer. I like plants, but you could not convince me to brew my own using hops I grew as I was present when Wil went through his “home-brewer” phase and the mess is only second to the horrific smell that permeates everything when you brew beer  in your kitchen. Anyway, the hops from this particular plant are purely ornamental and not used for brewing, and this year, my plant finally has them!006

FYI most ornamental hop plants sold in your local  nursery are female  ,it is just , well, you never know for certain until the flowers erupt. Mine did, they are cones , they are lovely indeed , and my plants’ gender is confirmed!

When they ripen  in September they will turn yellow and I am going to take them  down off the tree limb they are currently hanging from so I can enjoy their pine like fragrance up close and personal.








Just as a side note, the Humulus plant harkens from the plant family Cannabaceae. can Recognize any famous relatives?

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As Seen on TV

004This summer I have amusingly fallen prey to the hype of the enthusiastic sellers of “can’t live with out” products on TV…well, sort of .


I do not, as a rule . watch a lot of television. I enjoy well produced period dramas like The Tudors  which was a Showtime series, Downton Abbey on PBS  and others of their kind, but generally buy the DVDs or watch them using the On Demand feature of our cable system. Once in a while a series will capture my attention but usually after it has gone in to syndication and some sort of marathon of episodes is being run during bad weather or while I am suffering from a chest cold  that keeps me on the couch .I think this is true of many people who garden or spend lots of time in other outdoor activities. Sometimes it has to do with time , as in there is not enough of it, some times it has to do with things there are too much of,like  great books to read , physical exhaustion , and poor quality programing. Also there are no good gardening programs being aired currently a and I wistfully think  back to when HGTV actually included GARDENING programs in their line-up instead of the quick makeover BS they offer now. Erica Glasener where are you?? In the spring on Mothers Day I received a bunch of garden related gifts from hubby and the kids, and this year Wil was brave enough to venture into the stores without a request list from me and I ended up with this…ph2phit is a pocket hose.  Funny thing is, it works and is quite possibly the best new garden tool I have seen in ages. It lives up to all the claims, it weighs next to nothing, is durable, holds water pressure like any other hose, will not kink and when you turn the spigot off  it writhes back into its portable little shape expelling residual water as it does so when you pick it up none of that excess water drains out on you or on the garage floor as you put it away.

To be fair, I never saw this on TV, and thus was never curious if it worked or not. Now many stores like Walgreens and CVS around here have a section of shelves brimming with As Seen on TV products and that is where it came from. To be fair to Wil as well, I left it in its box just knowing that certain disappointed awaited until he took it out and used it first and was ever so pleasantly surprised.

I have never uttered the statement “Wow! I really like this hose”  EVER, until now ( and I have been through more than you can count), but guess what? I like it, I really like it! Thanks Wil!!! I may ditch all my other hoses, I only wish it came in a more subdued color.

Bouyed by our success we bought a Magic Mesh Screen. This year we had to rebuild the gazebo that makes up the side of our deck. The roof needed replacement, there were rotted floorboards , and the door was warped. When the structure was again sound and freshly painted, we decided to give the Magic Mesh a whirl knowing we could always replace  the door if it did not work out.

 This screen cost only 19.95 ! and you could get 2 for just adding in the extra shipping and handling! Oh ! The hype! Oh ! The exclamation marks!


But guess what (again)? I works!  The gazebo in reality was hardly ever  used because the door swung open awkwardly into the area near the chiminea and then it felt closed off  and a bit claustrophobic inside when you sat down. The Magic Mesh is a walk-through screen that self closes with magnets ,so no door problems and it feels more open than it did with the door, As a bonus, the dogs can get in and out and in and out and in and out ( any of you with canine buddies will know what I mean) without our help.008


We were on a roll!!!

Then came a purchase that was all me. Any of you who have heard me speak on Clematis  know my experience with QVC (my gram was a fan). One day stuck at home with the flu in the springtime I tuned in to this home shopping network only to see them selling a tree form of one of my favorite hydrangeas,  ‘Quickfire’.  “Quickfire’ is a paniculata hydrangea that has large cone shaped flower clusters that appear on new wood  in the later part of the summer but these blooms appear a full month before  its popular cousin ‘Limelight’  and last just as long. The flowers  will turn mauve as they mature and the stems will darken as well.Without hesitating at all I ordered it and have been rewarded since with a vigorous and thriving plant that is showing the spectacular red stems ‘Quickfire’ is known for and its early and floriferous blooms. In short, amazing!





Maybe I need to work in some more TV time so I can order more fun things for the lowest price ever if I order in the next twenty minutes with an upgrade to priority shipping that come with a limited lifetime warranty and full money back satisfaction gaurantee !

ps You may have noticed I have “font” issues in this post. I tried a new plug in to change the font and you can clearly see it is , unlike the Pocket Hose , Magic Mesh and Quickfire Hydrangea , neither useful , practical or lovely :(





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The Almost But Not Quite Self-Sufficient Garden

031 If you had stopped by for a quick visit in the last few weeks and after ringing the bell and getting no answer ,read this cute little sign that sits on my porch and went to look for me in the garden you would have been left wandering around for no reason , as I have not set foot out there for a long time.

This past month was full of all sorts of fun activities that included  day trips, visits from out of state relatives, reading on the beach, a family wedding ,cookouts, fireworks, a trip away with Wil to Boston for a few days, and driving Erin back and forth to camp. Also, the kitchen reno is finally (mostly) done and I had the herculean task of putting the house back in order and reassigning all the kitchen stuff to the new space and,  oh, and I forgot to mention I did the painting which took FOREVER! 005There was no time for the garden at all.

007Here in the Burrow and our surrounding area we were also suffering through a very long heat wave ,and days with temps in the 90′s and approaching 100 are no fun to garden in at all. On the nights we were home a quick dip in the pool at sunset to cool off before bed was all I saw of the  yard. During this time it was also very dry. Long hot days were accompanied by a dessicating wind that felt like it was originating in Hades, and promised thunderstorms never materialized.

Well, my fun is now over for a bit and the weather has cooled and there has been much needed rainfall, so I headed out to see what was going on out there.

There are some obvious signs of neglect  starting right at  back door . I always plant pansies in the early spring in the window box and containers there and replace them in early summer with plants that tolerate the heat better, but it appears I overlooked this chore (oops). The window box pansies had started to look leggy  and brown, and when I would walk by I would occasionally yank out any particularly offending plant , and I guess I did this until they were empty. And empty they remain.005 The pansies under the roof of the small porch get a break from scorching sun so they are still alive, but barely.006

The front walkway has been invaded by the digger wasps who show up annually and make it impassable and unweedable. They dig out those large holes and although they are not aggressive will sting if you threaten their nest. They feed their larvae grasshoppers so I try to leave them if I can, but there are about a dozen  holes…YIKES!007

A walk through the gardens revealed several places that were not getting water from the sprinkler system. I had an irrigation tech walk the system with me before I left on Friday and our inspection revealed an entire zone that spans the long backside of the gardens near our neighbors property line had the master valve off  . That valve would have been turned off in the fall , so no irrigation had been getting here since. Another very big OOPS! That would explain why all the turf there is brown and the strawberry plants are crinkled and the blueberry bushed dry brown sticks.027028 029It would also explain why the cherry tomatoes ,beans and squash that should have engulfed the fence by now are either dead and gone or barely 12 inches tall. The valve was promptly turned on and fingers crossed I may get some tomatoes by summers end. One of the things I have concentrated on over the past few summers is getting our watering needs down to a minimum , and grouping the thirsty things ( like veggies) that will  need the most water together. Now I have learned another valuable lesson, and that is to make sure the system we so carefully designed to water said thirsty plants is up and running properly before we have dead things.  Gardening is ever the humbling experience.

The greatest  truth that was revealed to me as I walked around though was that this garden is a success. I set out to take this large, empty,  dry ,sandy piece of land and transform it into a beautiful garden space that after spring cleanup needs little , if any, of my attention to thrive.

TA-DA! I did it.  I am always talking about choosing the right plants so the garden works for you and not vice-versa, and the state of mine right now shows that careful thought before planting is the way to ensure your time will be spent  in the hammock with cold frosty drinks, not slaving away in heat pruning, primping, and perspiring.

Click on  the photo below then scroll through the slide show below to see how lovely things look right now. And yeah, there certainly is some deadheading and weeding to do ,(don’t be a nit-picker  lol) but overall the garden has just flourished , even if I wasn’t around to see it.


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