Monthly Archives: August 2015

Garden Open Day

invAfter all the hustle and bustle this summer feels good to announce an Open Day ! If you live nearby and want to visit but  need more info you can write in a comment or send me and email through the contact me bar in the header of the blog…either way I will be able to get back to you .

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file these under ‘things that look good growing together’

it is always fun to see throughout the season which plants work well together and complement each other . Sometimes the combinations are ideas that occur to me when I should be sleeping on a late January night. Sometimes, they are a variation of something I saw in a book or magazine. More often than not, the are serendipitous pairings formed by self- seeding or random placement. I try to take note of these chance happenings especially  so I can repeat them in the future …. and take credit for the creativity behind them ;)

Anyway, here are a few that are happening right now.

Sedum tel.rupestre ‘Hab Gray’ and mandevilla. I love how the blush tone in the sedum leaves gets magnified by the intense red of the mandevilla. These are both planted in containers that just happen to be placed next to one another. Happy accidentDSC_0017


This area of the garden has a lot going on. The black eyed susans, seedheads of penstemon’Husker Red’, butterfly bush, clematis seedheads, and in the very back angelica gigas. (Planned by me)DSC_0001


On to a more simple combo. the blushing blooms of hydrangea paniculata ‘Limelight’ and summersweet clethra alnifolia ‘Ruby Spice’   well thought out if I do say so myself!DSC_0005 (2)

More simple stuff, platycodon or balloon flower at the feet of a butterfly bush….can’t remember if I placed them there or they seeded?DSC_0007

all these shades of greens and blue greens surrounding the view into a stand of heleniums


planned! Go me!DSC_0012acidanthera  or peacock orchids and thunbergia alata or climbing balck eyed susan vine growing into a spring blooming  bridal wreath spirea….another combo I though of instead of sleeping DSC_0014

a long blooming clematis called ‘Roguchi’ and golden chamaecyparis…most definitely planned, I LOVE these two colors playing off each otherDSC_0021

sedum ‘Garnet Brocade’ tumbling over  into a blue bird’s nest spruce…..more the hand of mother nature than mine

DSC_0024 and an aeonium called ‘Kiwi’ and the foliage of a  potted rosemary. I didn’t plan this, just paced them together because it looked good and as they have grown onto each other it looks even better.DSC_0028by the end of each year it is nice to have a whole folder of images that capture what worked ( and what didn’t)  so when  those long winter nights arrive there is  plenty  dream about!

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bee time

It is that time of year again when the bees are all crazy in the garden making it scary to work out there. I went out this morning as it was overcast when they are a little less active to do some weeding and deadheading,

Many sedums are in bloom and the bees can’t ever get enough of them. I lost count how many different sedum varieties I grow, and have been pretty horrible at keeping a list of their names ( somewhere in the garage is a ziploc bag with all their tags I must locate! ) so I almost never ID them in posts……but I would tell you if you asked :)

here are a few……DSC_0002 (2) DSC_0003 (2) DSC_0004 (2) DSC_0006 (2) DSC_0007 DSC_0008 DSC_0009 (2) DSC_0012 DSC_0013 DSC_0014 DSC_0015 (2)sedum autumn charm DSC_0020 DSC_0026

A  few areas of the garden are actually off limits to me now as they are so full of all sorts of stinging things that given my allergy to many wasp and bee stings, the risk is too great. Anywhere hydrangea panniculata , mountain mint or the taller red stemmed sedums are  blooming  is definitely a no-go.

Some plants, like angelica gigas , get located in remote areas just so I won’t ever cross their path accidentally…look at the number of bees on those flowers! Today I went out and using the telephoto lens at least got to enjoy it a little.DSC_0009 DSC_0006DSC_0004

here are some other garden moments I captured while out

clematis Mrs. Robert Brydon growing into a variegated weigeliaDSC_0018

morning gloriesDSC_0021

morning glory ‘Vega star’ whose huge and very delicate blooms just started todayDSC_0003and rudbeckia lanciniata bending down over a cement benchDSC_0025

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exciting times

My oldest son is getting married this weekend. Although I am not doing the flowers for the wedding we are having the rehearsal dinner here and I am making a few arrangements for the  tables. One will sit  where the bar is set up, and the others are for the guest tables to be set amid votive candles. We will hopefully be outside, the party is an old fashioned New England clambake , so is casual and relaxed. I chose an enamel  coffee set meant for camping as the containers and went out to  see what I could  grab from the garden. I came in with hydrangeas ( annabelle and one of the many blues) , berries from symphoricarpos, eryngium yuccafolium, a variegated tall sedum with white flowers , and a couple of dahlias.

Enjoy your weekend, I know we will  enjoy ours!DSC_0009 DSC_0013 DSC_0016 DSC_0018 DSC_0021 DSC_0028 DSC_0033

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morning glories

it’s the simple things that make me happiest
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There’s a lot to do!

I can’ say that August is ever down time for me in the garden. I mean, it totally could be if i wanted it  to because if I keep up with the weeding and deadheading ( which requires a commitment of 10 min a day) then there really is nothing to do except the odd day of watering or pruning here and there. What happens just about every year , out of boredom truthfully, is I rip stuff out . This year is no different EXCEPT that there are complicating matters.

Back in May 2014 my oldest son got engaged. They wanted a simple outdoor wedding and said “We’ll just have it in the yard”. My response?  OOOOOOOOH no you won’t!  You may wonder why I would refuse my first born and also give up an opportunity to show off the garden, and the answer is not what you may think… has to do with port-a potties. our family is large, so even a small immediate family- only gathering is quite a large number. Add in her family, and now we have exceeded the ability to provide adequate potty service for everyone and I have a borderline crazy -town aversion to portable toilets. I won’t use one, I don’t want to see or smell them and i certainly do not want some large truck with some sort of cutsie name  like  ’Throne Depot ‘ dropping any off in my yard. Nope. Not a chance. So we relocated the wedding to  Wachusett Mountain which has loads of real flushable potties with sinks and running water and decided to just have the rehearsal dinner here.  It will be a New England Clambake with all the fixins’, catered, so I thought easy-peasy.

At the same time we have been dealing with the replacement of the decking around the pool, or as i like to call it ‘The Project From Hell’  and after firing the first company, starting the process all over again, redsesigning the whole thing and hiring a new company, this project that started when there was still 4 feet of snow on the ground is yet to have begun. Of course they have called and set up our start time right after the big event, so the pool area , which has been in a sorry state since we opened it in May, has descended into a full blown mess as we had to start ripping out the existing landscaping   before they get going with the pavers. Add in a garden tour planned by a local garden society who will be here in early September, and you may say with confidence that I am overwhelmed.

I know, I know, I do these things to myself, but why does it always work out this way?

This week I actually hired some help to take out 4 overgrown shrubs that needed to go. Great decision on my part if I do say so myself. Now this weekend we only have to dig out what is left of 2 of the stumps,  take out the crappy soil from the areas and replace it with compost and loam, paint the areas of the fence that were hidden by the shrubs and are now exposed, move everything off the deck to make room for the caterers and stain it while it is empty, move a large stand of ‘Sum and Substance’ hosta which are HUGE, hang lights around the area where we will set up the tables, bring a bunch of stuff we are clearing out ( old umbrellas , the kids old pool basketball sets etc) to the recycle center, and then we can move on to tidying the garden for visitors.DSC_0008

Without whining I will tell you that we spent all of this past week going to medical appointments with my youngest daughter , who is thankfully in year 9 post cancer treatment. Every once in a while all her appointments clump together and they take priority over everything else. Today was the last of them except the eye dr which is next week so now i can focus on the tasks at hand. Well,  I can sort of focus since my dress fitting has yet to even be scheduled, the deck company  is coming for a site visit, I have to make the arbor decorations for the wedding service……sigh.

I know it will all get done. I know I work best under pressure. I got this…I think.

Meanwhile let’s look at what has been going on here in the garden without me……ending with the obligatory cute corgi photo DSC_0006 DSC_0013 DSC_0016 DSC_0017 DSC_0019 DSC_0020 DSC_0023 DSC_0024 DSC_0026 DSC_0029 DSC_0030 DSC_0031 DSC_0033 DSC_0034 DSC_0037 DSC_0039 DSC_0041 DSC_0042 DSC_0049 DSC_0050 DSC_0051 DSC_0058 DSC_0061 DSC_0063 DSC_0066 DSC_0068 DSC_0072 DSC_0074 DSC_0078 DSC_0080 DSC_0081 DSC_0087DSC_0046

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plant profile: cobaea scandens

Looking for a great addition to the late season garden? Of course you are! After the absolute explosion of bloom in July and  as we head into August it is nice to still have many things to look forward to garden -wise. I speak often about vines, and especially how  annual vines are just the ticket to a great Fall show, and cobaea scandens or cup and saucer vine is a standout among them

. ( a quick Latin refresher-the word scandens refers to anything that scrambles, so when you see it in a plant name assume you have a climbing or rambling  grower).

Cobae scandens is sometimes dismissed as a  garden plant here in the Northeast because it is a late starter. I will admit, getting it off and running can be tricky. The seeds are flat and tough and can take a few weeks to germinate. If you are starting them indoors from seed, tip the seeds  on their sides to avoid rotting. After germination they will take a while to get growing and need a lot of attention in hardening them off for growing outside,  If you like , you can direct sow the seed , but don’t even dare to do it before the June 1st here in z6 as it will gain you nothing and may loose you everything. The vine hails from Mexico , where it is perennial…and revels in the heat ,so a cool spring can do them in. I prefer to  order green house grown plants to start with , and really ,at less than $10 no matter where you order them from, they will repay you with quicker growth and earlier flowering.than if you started them yourself.

Once growing this vine will quickly cover a trellis , and if you use more than one plant you can cover a pergola or arbor. 20 -25 feet in a season is not unheard of. By the middle of July my vine was well over 10 feet and it has now hit it’s stride. ( the other vines in the photo are a moonflower and a sweet pea that is done blooming)DSC_0006 (2)

The foliage is a gorgeous dark green with purple undersides and stems ,and the many spring-like tendrils enable it to grab on to just about anything. After my vine outgrew the trellis, it had been happily climbing the siding by latching on the any little nook it could. I did, although, move it and gave it some twine to not only guide it to where I want it to grow, but for added support during  all the windy thunderstorms we get here in the summer.DSC_0004

DSC_0005The first flower appeared this week , and they are quite unusual. The bell  or cup shaped flower emerges a creamy white and will slowly darken to purple over time. The flower sits on open sepals that look very much like a saucer surrounding the cup, hence the common name.DSC_0003

A word of caution, t his plant likes humidity and water and will quickly be infested with spider mites if left to dry out. It is very humid here in the summer and I have it planted in a self-watering planter, so it is loving life.

Being a tender perennial, as opposed to an annual, I am going to try to overwinter this vine inside this year. I hope to give it a good haircut in the late Fall and place it in the bay window and see what happens. At the very least I hope it will survive to be replanted again in the Spring…and at the very best I hope I will be enjoying the lovely flowers indoors all winter long.  Only time will tell!

The photos I took below are of the flower over just two days.The  change in color  is already remarkable.  DSC_0001 DSC_0002


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