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Although this could very well be a picture of me finding a new treasure at a favorite nursery, it's actually an illustration by David Catrow for a children's book called Plantzilla.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

A Sunny Weekend to Play Outside!

Last summer, my garden didn't get as much attention as usual and things got a little out of hand.  I've vowed to correct that this year and to do some of those jobs that I've been putting off.  Here's some of what we got done on the first sunny weekend we've had in months.

Once upon a time, there was a bed that looked like this.  The bronze phormiums anchored the bed and the fifteen foot Miscanthus 'Giganteus' ruled over the back of the bed.  Then the Phormium Killing Winters came and my giant phormiums (grown from one gallon pots!) were gone and the bed was never the same.  The miscanthus eventually grew out to a bout 5 feet in diameter, the center declined and  it no longer supported itself well and would sprawl out on everything around. 


Time for a major edit!  That huge grass required many hours of work with a saw and shovel to get it out of the ground. If anyone wants a clump, I've got several up for grabs!  It has beautiful fall blooms that remain all winter to add drama.  Anyway, out it came along with several other plants.  An unfortunately placed Schefflera taiwaniana (it had grown to the point that leaves would hit your face as you walked down a path)  needed a new home so it's now taking the place of the grass.

 I'm hoping that this will hold the back of the bed together  Perhaps that tetrapanax on the right should go.  In front of the schefflera, I transplanted a Zantedeschia aethiopica 'White Giant' (White Giant Calla Lily) whose tall tropical-looking foliage will slightly obscure the hellebores (in pots) that I'm contemplating putting there. which will be fine as the Zantedeschia foliage freezes to the ground in the winter.  Something needs to fill the space to the right of the schefflera where the Leucothoe is sitting.  Could be the Leucothoe but I was also thinking of a Fatsia japonica (maybe 'Spider Web' or the newish variegated one from Monrovia)  A rhododendron with interesting foliage might also do the trick.  Suggestions?  Should be evergreen, 5-6 feet tall and able to tolerate some shade.

Some time ago, I asked your advice on the topiary tree in my garden.



You suggested taking off the bottom two branches so I did.  Actually, three had to go because there was a lower branch on the back of the tree that you can't see from this angle.

Here's Tom giving the tree a little spring haircut.  The branch removal lightens the tree and you were right, it looked a little strange for a short time but I truly like the change.  Thank you for that great advice!
 
 
Yes, the Rheum is still there. 
 
I started digging out another bed that is full of Spanish bluebells whose foliage tends to flop all over everything and obscure emerging plants from the light and kill them off.  This is the year that I'll really get rid of  them!  the one inherited daffodil will get to stay.
 
It was delightful to enjoy the plants as I worked.
 
Helleborus 'Cotton Candy'
 
 Hosta 'Sum and Substance'   waking up.
 
 Kerria japonica leaning on emerging Acer palmatum foliage.  A bit of the Kerria needs to be moved this year and the rest will go away.  Anyone want some?
 
 Akebia quinata 'Shiro Bana' beginning to pour her delightful fragrance over the garden.


This rhododendron is supposed to bloom but I really don't care as I got it for this gorgeous foliage.

Peony foliage enjoying the sun!  (That valerian all around it needs to go too!)
 
I hope you had a productive and fun weekend!
 
 

35 comments:

  1. Looks like you got a lot done ,it was a beautiful weekend ; now it's raining , which is good because all the plants that have been moved around will need it.
    I would love some Kerria !

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    1. It's amazing how much space removing that one big plant left! I'll save some Kerria in pots!

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  2. It was a great weekend for gardening, Monday too. I got a lot done. There's always more though. What a bummer about the PKWs, that bed at the top of the post looks so lovely. It's going to be much improved though with all your work. Isn't it great to be out digging in the dirt? I had a ball.

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    1. So much fun to be out and digging around again. Looking forward to more!

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  3. Yay for sunny spring weather! Glad to see it has finally arrived there and you guys managed to do loads! Looking great!

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    1. I'm hoping for good weather during my week-long spring break! My head is full of projects to get done outside!

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  4. Our gardens are an ever changing canvas. Just as we finish one bed it's time to re evaluate another. Leucothoe seems to be a good choice as it contrasts in color shape and leaf size from the Schefflera. I'd give the tetrapanax another year to see how it fits the new design. I didn't realize the topiary is so huge! It looks wonderful with the green skirt below. So happy you decided to keep it.

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    1. I like the leucothoe there as well but it's always fun to move plants around when they're still in pots! It would have been difficult for me to get rid of that tree as it was the last thing I bought from Poole's Nursery which had been in business from 1889 until about 1999. It was a fun urban neighborhood nursery and one of the first that I discovered after moving here.

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  5. Peter, I really love your topiary tree! What variety is it?
    Your rhododendron will bloom, I'm sure, it has big buds, as mine. What color is it?
    Spring, the questions in the garden!

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    1. I don't remember the variety of the topiary tree but I love the blue green color. I also don't know the color of the rhododendron because I bought it in a six inch pot because the foliage was so beautiful and it hasn't yet bloomed for me.

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  6. I love working in your garden as I get a lot less dirty than when I'm working in my own.

    Very successful changes especially the topiary tree, it looks fabulous!

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    1. I feel the same about working in your garden!

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  7. It feels good to be out in the garden again...oh, wait, I was just looking at pictures of working in the garden, and not even mine! Waaah!

    Sorry, couldn't help myself. Glad you were able to get outside and enjoy spring. I agree that the Leucothoe is a good choice. In addition to what Chavliness pointed out, it echoes the colors of the hellebores you've placed in front of the Schefflera. How much sun does that spot get?

    I don't think you'll get blooms on that Rhododendron this year, either. Those buds are long, skinny vegetative buds. But on the bright side, more nice foliage! Looks a bit like Rhododendron strigillosum, but not quite. Maybe that's in its parentage.

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    1. You'll be home and gardening soon! When the Calycanthus chinensis above the Leucothoe leafs out, that spot doesn't get an awfully lot of sun but the bed itself is situated in a full sun area. I agree that those buds are foliage which thrills me more than flowers.

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    2. Can't wait! Yeah, I think the Leucothoe is a good choice. I asked about the sun in that spot because I was also thinking of some of the rhododendrons with glaucous/blue new growth. That would really glow in an area that's shaded in summer. I can't say for certain that there would be enough light for one of them though to have good color. Might look into it though.. Rhododendron cinnabarinum and its varieties and R. campanulatum ssp. aeruginosum are good places to start.

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  8. Now, the topiary tree looks as it's ready to fly!

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    1. Hopefully the roots will keep it from flying away.

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  9. Things are looking fresh in your garden. Spring is here.

    When I was in nursing school, we came back from 'clinicals' one day and a fluffy little blonde sighed and said, "This is not the kind of nurse I wanted to be." Questions ensued and she finally said, "I want to be the nurse who sits at the desk." After a whirlwind of pruning and such yesterday, I decided this is not the kind of gardener I was meant to be. I should be the one who checks a bloom for fragrance and occasionally dips a small trowel into rich soil to plant a nursery tray of pretty blossoms. Somebody else should level the heavy iron bench that's sinking into sandy soil and deal with an errant climbing rose and its thorns.

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    1. Too funny. I agree entirely, our gardens are lacking a staff. This should be corrected immediately!

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  10. Well, Tom got things done on Saturday afternoon and Sunday. I did enough to make my back a little sore at me :-)
    Monday we spent the day with my sister and brother-in-law at Molbak's and Swanson's nurseries, enjoying all of the beautiful plants. A few came home with us.

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    1. Hope you don't do too much! Swanson's and Molbak's must be full of great plants this time of year! How fun!

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  11. Your topiary makes me jealous.

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  12. Amazing how three full days of gardening can be swallowed up and still there is a boatload of work waiting to be done. I'm not complaining, mind you. Gloating rights at the end of the day are well worth the effort.

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    1. It is amazing how much is still crying out to be done out there. I've considered hiring someone to trim the hedge in the front and along the back alley. I usually do them but they are joyless jobs and I'm not very good at haircuts and everything still looks shaggy but shorter.

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  13. Your Topiary tree looks amazing, definitely the right decision! You have certainly done a lot of work, it's great to be out in the garden once more isn't it!

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    1. It is wonderful to be out there again but I agree with Jean's comment above, I want to be the kind of gardener who wears a nice cardigan and dress shirt outside, "checks a bloom for fragrance and occasionally dips a small trowel into rich soil to plant a nursery tray of pretty blossoms. Somebody else should level the heavy iron bench that's sinking into sandy soil and deal with an errant climbing rose and its thorns."

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  14. Your gardening decisions look fun. My evergreen choices are perhaps a little mundane, Osmanthus delavayi, Elaeagnus ebbingei variegata, Camellia sasanqua, Sarcococca ruscifolia. I'm wondering if you have a pollinator for your Akebia so that you might get fruit. I have 2 kinds and did get fruit when the plants were younger, but not for several years. I think one vine was less vigorous and perhaps there are not many flowers produced by it for pollination.

    I am mostly fighting weeds when working outside now, Cardamine hirsuta and stoloniferous grass, both nightmares. So that's not the kind of gardener I wanted to be either. But it is nice to clear out beds for vegetables, etc.

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    1. I like your evergreen suggestions! I have a Camellia sasanqua in a pot that I was also considering for that spot and may slip it in behind the Leucothoe. Don't know if it'll get enough sun back there though. Love osmanthus amd sarcococca for their fragrance but have them in other places in the garden. I greatly admire Elaeagnus ebbibgei variegata but have killed a couple of them (Verticillium seems to be present in one area of my garden) so am wary of planting it again.) Thanks for these great suggestions! I have two kinds of akebia and have had a few fruits from time to time. Trying to eradicate one of them as it is sending roots thirty feet away, climbing trees and fences and becoming a nuisance!

      I like the way Martha Stewart gardens. Crisply pressed cotton shirt, linen slacks with nary a wrinkle, stylish garden shoes, maybe a tasteful straw hat, a pristine wicker basket of color coded tools which have never been left out in the rain or misplaced in a bed for a season-perfectly sharpened and oiled, designer garden gloves, and a legion of workers to do everything.

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    2. LOL Martha Stewart. I feel happy when I unearth one of my many missing garden tools, but the rejoicing is usually short-lived since it is often irremedially rusted. Simple lack of a good toolbelt and tendency to put tools down.

      I really enjoyed the very strange gelatinous Akebia fruit so it is sad that I don't get any anymore.

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  15. Your topiary is so elegant. I love it and the bed around it. Nice job! I didn't read all the comments but I wonder if anyone has mentioned Pacific Wax myrtle for that back spot. It is evergreen, tough as nails and would be a nice contrast to the Fatsia's foliage. ... Love your rhubarb emergings. They're so pretty. I've tried growing it but it needs more water than I'm willing to give it. Anyway, yes it was a wonderful weekend for gardening. We need several more so I hope the weather gods are listening. :)

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    1. No one mentioned Pacific Wax myrtle but I'll check it out! It's great to hear so many suggestions of plants that I wouldn't have thought of. This weekend looks rainy (rats!) but I've got a week of spring break coming up the second week in April and hope to get some good full days of gardening in!

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  16. Oh! I missed this post yesterday! Things are looking great!! can´t wait to see all the changes you´ll make!!

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    1. So many of my plants have become overgrown and need radical help. Many projects this year will hopefully make the garden more enjoyable for the next few summers.

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  17. Serious foliage - the unfamiliar to the interesting Rhododendron! Glad you were able to get outside some and work int he garden...I look forward to freeing up some to do that on my little patio...hopefully soon.

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Thanks so much for taking the time to comment! I love to hear your thoughts.