Sunday, July 31, 2005

Purple Fountain Grass Develops its Seed Heads

This is the first year I have tried purple fountain grass, ('Rubrum' Pennisetum setaceum). I bought two of them and after getting them home, I really did not know where to plant them. I first put them in with the hibiscus, then decided they would get too tall and moved them to the rockwall garden. After a week in the rockwall garden, I decided it was too far away to appreciate them, so I dug them up again and just put them in a pot, so I could move them around. Lord knows, I live to move things around! One of them currently resides in a purple grouping on the deck. I think I like this grass. I am glad I put it on the deck where I can walk by often and run my fingers over its "purple nodding seed plumes" which are very soft. It is a perennial in warmer climates, so I am going to try to overwinter it.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

I had Good Intentions (I really did)

I had good intentions early this morning of working in the gardens. I went out as soon as it was light (a bit after 6 a.m.), grabbed a wheelbarrow and begun pulling out all of the spent blooms on the sedum. Remember all of that lovely white stuff in my rockwall garden? Well, now it is brown and ugly. I just grab handfuls of it and yank it out. I had an entire wheelbarrow full in just one area. I probably would have hand 3 wheelbarrows full if I had not reached down, grabbed a handful and as I was lifting my hand up, there was a snake all curled up sleeping right where I had just removed the sedum. YIIIKKKKEEESSSS......I hate slithering reptiles--I jumped back and then bent over to take another peek just to make sure that it was indeed a snake. It did not move for a full 30 seconds or so before it uncurled and slithered forward. I must have been within a 1/4 inch of actually grabbing it!

After such a close call, there was no way I was going to reach into any more of the sedum. My desire to garden was completely gone. That is when I went inside and decided to work on the light fixture (see post below). So I did virtually no gardening today, which was fine, as I had done some the past few evenings and most of desperate-to-be-done stuff is done. I did just finish watering the containers. Earlier in the day I stuck a few scarecrows in a few of the deck plants just so I had something different to look at.

I spent about 2 hours this morning cleaning up this solid brass and copper outdoor light fixture. Last year our hotel was renovated and these are the original fixtures we had outside 27 years ago. Yes, I had to clean 27 years of tarnish and grime off this baby, but just look how beautiful it turned out! There are glass inserts for each side, which are not in the picture and another piece that goes on the top that I have not yet cleaned. It will replace a smaller nondescript fixture on the deck. I can sit and admire my handiwork every summer morning while I drink my coffee. Can you tell I REALLY like this light?

Friday, July 29, 2005

Hosta Blooms - Love 'em or Hate 'em?

I don’t particularly like most hosta blooms.

In the front glider garden, I cut them all off as soon as the stalks shoot up. To me, they just look like a big mess in that area. In the rockwall garden, I am not as picky and I leave most of them for at least a while.

I have seen some hosta blooms that actually look good. The ones we have at work are very nice. They are on shorter, more sturdy stems and the flowers themselves are bigger.

So what does everyone else think about hosta blooms?
All of the orange flowers are now gone. Everything will be pink, purple & gold when the asters, black-eyed Susan and the sedum burst into bloom.
Still no sign of bloom on the canna.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

These borders have been cleaned up and are awaiting their last big flush of color.
Bee balm, coneflowers and black-eyed Susans (almost open).
Tonight I cut down all of my Shasta daisies, orange lilies, and most of the pink mallow. Few things look as bad as Shasta daisies when they finish blooming. I have a lot of them and it's a big job, so I cut down even those that still looked good, just to get it done. The globe thistle (spikey spheres below) are almost ready to turn blue.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

It was a wonderfully cool day today. It rained early in the day and the temperature stayed in the 70 degree range, which was quite nice for a change of pace. I did not even have to water tonight (the second day this week that I did not have to). I noticed tonight that my arbor baskets are finally filling out so that they are almost completely covered. If you have been reading my blog for long, you know that one of my pet peeves is baskets or containers that show. I want full, full, full bunches of flowers so that you cannot see what they are contained in. This basket is not quite there, but much better than it has been.
About two weeks ago when I finished all of my planting, I took the few left over plants and stuck them in a container with an Elephant Ears bulb. The Elephant Ears had been in a smaller container since late May. I just left them sitting on the ground near the hose. Elephant Ears need a LOT of water, so every day when I got the hose out I doused them. They take FOREVER to come up, but as you can see below, they finally have started. I have had these bulbs for years and they are never anything too spectacular. Right now, though, I think they look kind of nice.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Every Job Has Its Perks

At our hotel we have Randy, "The Cookie Man".

Randy is one of our guests who drives a truck for a cookie Company. He stays with us one night each week. Every now and then Randy drops off goodies for us. The frequency of the drop offs seems to coincide with the attractiveness of the Guest Service Reps. Whenever we have a young, good-looking lady at the desk, the cookies seem to appear quite often. This may only be my imagination, but about 6 months ago one of the really attractive ladies left and suddenly there were fewer and fewer cookie packages. About two months ago we hired a new young lady and now the treats have been appearing almost weekly.

Today he brought in two big boxes full of chocolate-covered Oreos, Chips Ahoy 'Candy Blasts' and bags of smoked almonds. Whatever the reason he chose to bestow these gifts, it was a nice treat at 2 in the afternoon when we are all getting a bit hungry. I ate a bag of almonds and brought the rest home for DH, who enjoys his sweets much more than I do.

We sure will miss that young woman when she goes back to college this fall!

Sunday, July 24, 2005

I have a few coneflowers beginning to bloom. Can you see all the black-eyed Susan buds about to burst all around them? I should be in a sea of gold in about a week. I did not do much in the garden this weekend. On Saturday I worked a few hours in the morning, but today I did nothing but go out and take this picture. It rained all morning and is one of those "no energy" days, so I have been inside watching TLC, FOX News, a little of HGTV and net surfing.

Hummingbird Nest

I found this site today that features a hummer nest from the laying of the eggs, to the day the babies fly away. Very interesting!

Friday, July 22, 2005

Dare I Post this on a Gardening Blog?

I was just reading Sylvana's current post about sunflowers. She noted that few people seem to be growing them and she wondered if it was because they don't like them. It seemed that most of her commenters said they liked them but just had no luck growing them. That's me. I love sunflowers, but they just don't grow for me. So I have had to resort to big bunches of fake ones. As much as I love real flowers, sometimes the fakes just fill the need!

Gerbera Daisy

I do not have much luck with Gerbera daisies. I just love them, but they do not grow very well for me. They never really fill out nice and full like I want them to. But still I can't resist buying at least one every year. Even small, they are so bold and beautiful!

Radical Raspberry Coleus & Thomas Edison Dahlia

What a perfect combination of colors! I only wish I had planted them in the same container. I took a pic of them together so that next year I will remember to do a large planting with both of them.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

A Toast to Gardeners Everywhere

I am feeling much better about the garden today. Things look better now that I have cut down most of the offending dying and flopping plants. I swept the debris off the deck, watered everything and moved a few containers around and now it looks just fine to me.

In fact I poured a glass of wine and relaxed on the bench and took it all in.

And then I poured a second glass........hmmmmmmm........maybe that is why it all looks so much better tonight!

I raise my glass to gardeners everywhere who are enduring the agonies of late July gardening. May we all remember:

"Gardening requires lots of water - most of it in the form of perspiration." ~Lou Erickson

So Many Daylilies--So Little Time to Deadhead

I did not realize how many daylilies I have.

Unfortunately I can't remember the names of some of them. This peachy one with the pinky-red eye is one I like a lot.

I probably have at least 4 others that I did not take a picture of. I am very fond of daylilies.

Their only negative is that they last just one day and the spent flowers hanging all over the plant really detract from the overall appearance. I don't deadhead them every day as I just don't have the time to do so. If I was home every day, I probably would. It makes all the difference in the display.
I can't remember the name of this peach daylilly.
'El Desparado'- one of my favorites with its golden color and deep plum purple eye.
Charm Bracelet. This is the largest daylily I have. It is quite huge.
One of the following red lilies is 'fanfare'. I don't remember which one, though.

Then and Now

If you want to feel like you have really accomplished something, take pics of your container plants on the day of planting and then 2 months later. It always amazes me just how much they grow in such a short time.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

There is one annual flower that I have never really liked -- marigolds. I don't really know why. My husband, on the other hand, says marigolds are his favorite flower. This year I decided to buy a flat and do my large planters on each side of the deck entrance. I picked a goldish orangey yellow color. Then I planted two more double planters in a complementary orange marigold with purple coleus. And guess what? I like this planting quite a bit! It is certainly better than the miniature sunflowers I planted from seed last year. They took months before they even bloomed and then they looked scraggly. Maybe I should listen to my husband more
It happens every year. Yet it still depresses my enthusiasm for gardening. Within a few days my garden goes from something I enjoy looking at to a big disheveled mess. The Shasta daisies die, the spiderwort flops, the white sedum and the feverfew turn brown, and the pink mallow starts its decline--all at the same time. I walk thru all the gardens and I can't find a thing that looks good.

Added to that is the mess I created when I dug out the orange lilies. I went out today to plant the cardinal flowers and as I was digging the hole, I uncovered more lily roots and obedient plant roots--tons of them. I dug for an hour and filled a wheelbarrow to overflowing. You just know I could not possibly have gotten them all, so I will probably have them popping up thru the new flowers I am planting. The two little plants I put in hardly make a dent in the big open space. So now I am stuck with a bare spot for the rest of the season. When will I learn to leave that shovel alone????

From past years, I know that this, too, shall pass. In about a week, there should be a flush of new blooms, and I will feel better about doing so much work in these crazy gardens.

Even the deck is not looking good. I moved things around again and I don't like it. The deck floor is cluttered with spent blooms from my deadheading spree. I don't feel like sweeping it all tonight, so I will just have to live with it for a few more days.

Here is a picture of the newly planted cardinal flower.

Expression Lilies

I did take one decent picture tonight. I have some new lilies blooming. They are in the same spot where the lollypops were. Quite by a stroke of luck I happened to plant a variety that blooms as soon as the lollypops finish. If I remember correctly they are called 'Expression'.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

What are the Most Cheerful, Happy, Fun Flowers?


I did 2 containers of these this year. This is my mixed color sled planter.

Pink zinnia wheelbarrow planter.

Decided What To Plant in my Bare Spot

I took Dianne's suggestion and bought some Lobelia 'Queen Victoria' (red cardinal flower). I stopped at the local nursery after work today to see if they had any and they did. They only had small 4" pots and the plants looked a bit dried out, but I bought 2 anyway. We don't have many places to purchase plants in my town, so I have to take what I can get. I especially like the dark purple foliage. The two I bought are not in bloom, but the flowers should be scarlet red.

I have not planted them yet because I just got home from getting my nails done, so I can't be digging in the dirt for at least a couple of hours. I get my nails done every other Tuesday. By the next day I am already digging in the dirt! I do wear heavy latex gloves, but still I always get dirt under the nails. It is very difficult to have decent-looking hands when you garden.

I had a full day today. Got to work at 6:15 a.m. and left at 9:00 a.m. to go to a meeting with my boss in a town 1.5 hours away. We got back to our hotel at 3:00 p.m. and I ran home and changed my clothes and went to the nursery and then to the nail salon. Finally got home at 5:15 p.m.

I see all the plants are in need of water, so I have to do that yet tonight. It was so much easier and more fun to get all of this done when I was not working every day.

Monday, July 18, 2005

While I was at work today we got a little rain storm with some pretty high winds. It did not last more than half an hour. It has been so long since we have had rain that I forgot the havoc it can cause with the plants. I came home to an overturned pot on the deck and this mess of fallen flowers around the basement windows. Luckily there are only 3 or 4 areas that look this bad.

One Man's Junk Becomes My Treasure

I acquired a new container when my boss decided to do some basement cleaning. Can you believe he was tossing this little wooden slatted beauty? I like it because it is unobtrusive and a nice height. He never throws anything away without asking me if I want it. He is quite a treasure-trove of goodies.

Hostas in Rockwall Garden

The hostas are doing well in the rockwall garden. I have not sprayed with the deer repellent in almost two weeks, so will have to remember to do that in the next day or two.

Drumstick Allium

A little while ago I posted a picture of this with green drumstick alliums. They have now turned their pinky-purple color.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Isn't It Beautiful?

No, not the flower itself--the RAINDROPS on it! Yes, it is finally starting to rain. I am settling in for the afternoon to hem some pants I bought today. There are two problems to being short (I am 5'1"):

#1 - I have to hem everything I buy
#2 - You have to eat less because there is no place for the extra pounds to go

Number 2 hit hard today. I bought some capri pants in a petite size that I normally buy. When I got them home, they were too tight. Must be all that ice cream I have been eating.

Variety is the Spice of Life

It seems like many of us are in the mood to change our gardens. Recently I was reading Sandy's blog and Kasmira's blog and both were doing the same thing I did today--digging up, moving, throwing away...all around changing things. It happens to me every year. I just walk thru the gardens and suddenly decide that I cannot stand it another minute.

That happened at 6:30 a.m. this morning as I walked by this area. I grabbed my shovel and dug out all of the orange daylilies in this area. I filled two wheelbarrows. It was a hot, sweaty task as we had 93% humidity this morning. . . still no rain...but I am confident that Dianne is still doing her "rain chant" for me and it should be coming later this afternoon.

So Now What Do I Plant in this Big Bare Spot?

One Load on the Compost Heap

Rudbeckia Hirta 'Autumn Colors'

I bought a new black-eyed Susan last week. It is Rudbeckia hirta 'Autumn Colors'. I have masses of black-eyed Susans, but they are all just the yellow variety. These colors just caught my eye.

Coleus 'The Flume'

My coleus chair is beginning to look nice. I planted a new (new to my area) sun coleus hybrid called 'The Flume'. It is one of the 'proven winners' selection, described as "bold, saber-shaped foliage with bright burgundy and a green border with a brilliant pink center." I like it quite well, although I do hope it gets about a foot taller. It says it gets from 12 - 24". So far it is a bit less than the 12".

Magical Change

Do you remember the bright orange poppy area I posted in early June? Click here to refresh your memory. Then look below to see this same area this morning. It is now totally different - all pastels, silver, pink and white (you can't see the silver Artemisia in this pic). This area gets no extra water or care. I just cut down the poppies and it turns to this all on its own
(I might pull an occasional weed or two).

Aren't perennials wonderful?

Saturday, July 16, 2005

I planted this bee balm last fall. I think it is called petite pink delight. This is as tall as it gets. I hope it spreads like most bee balm does. I really like it and would not mind having a lot more of it.

Early Saturday morning on my walk.
We still have not had a drop of rain and it has been near or above 90 all week. I have watered only the areas in the gardens that were desperate. I just have too much to water it all. Right now every area is desperate. There is a slight chance of a thunderstorm tonight and 50 percent chance tomorrow. I am keeping my fingers crossed.

Today I went to 'Art on the Bay' which is an arts and crafts show on the shores of Lake Huron. I did not buy a thing and really did not even get any good ideas for projects of my own. I used to do a lot of artsy crafty things, but in the past few years I have done nothing much expect for quilting.

I also did a little tidying up in the rock wall garden. I even moved a couple of hostas and a heuchera. This is really not the best time to do that, but I never pay attention to when the most opportune time is.

The deck plants are doing well. I have spent all my free time the past week making sure they got water, deadheading, etc. I am really tired of watering. They need to be watered right now, but I think I am going to gamble that it will rain tonight. I just don't feel like dragging out the hose and water buckets. I am sure the ligularia is out there sulking like crazy because it has not been watered for more than 24 hours. It is a real PAIN to keep them happy.

Don't you think the foliage on this canna is wonderful? I must say, I love this plant. Even if it never flowered, I would plant it for the foliage alone. Speaking of flowering, I wonder if it ever will bloom this year? Still no sign of a flower stalk.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

I am really liking the foliage contrasts in this arrangement -- Persian Shield, variegated morning glory, dusty miller and coleus. These are two pots side by side. Wish I had more time to blog, but have to get to work.
Something to look forward to this afternoon.By the time I get home from work this dahlia should be fully open.
Look at this--the ligularia I planted last month is blooming! I have been dragging the hose to this area every other day and it has paid off.
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