Archive for the ‘In the Garden’ Category

I have been derelict in my postings of late, and it’s not just the heat at work. I am hunkered down at my computer working on a really exciting book project. You see, most of my career has been spent writing for publishers who publish nationally, and this book is especially exciting to me because it is focused specifically on gardening in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. I am writing it for Adkins Arboretum and it is going to be published by the University of North Carolina Press. Publication probably isn’t until 2014, but my manuscript and all the photos are due in March of 2013. So, between now and then, I will be pretty tied up.


ABOVE: Hemerocallis ‘Bridgeton High Society’

I’ve also been busy taking pictures of Bay-friendly gardens, since there are quite a few color photos in the book (yeah!). In addition to taking some pictures of my own, I’m also working with a friend and photographer, Neil Soderstrom, to get photographs of some really wonderful gardens for the book. I’m also planning to use this new-found photo library to put together talks on gardening in this region—especially green gardening in this region.

So, while I still intend to post to Eastern Shore Gardener regularly, if there are silences from my end, just know I’m hard at work on Chesapeake Gardening & Landscaping!


ABOVE: Hemerocallis ‘Woodside Perfection’

Summertime Color

Even though Chesapeake Gardening & Landscaping will focus primarily on native plants, I’m posting pictures of daylilies today, since they’re among the brightest things I can see while chained to my computer. Mine have been going strong for at least six weeks despite the heat, and the second flush is just getting started. In my garden rebloomers like ‘Stella de Oro’, ‘Happy Returns’, ‘Rosy Returns’, and ‘Black-eyed Stella’ are first to bloom. By now they are in reblooming mode, but flowers are sporadic since I don’t water much. Midseason daylilies keep the flowers coming strong, and I’ve shared pictures of three standouts that are gorgeous now.


ABOVE: Hemerocallis ‘Conspirator’s Oath’

The meadow is also filled with flowers these days, and I’ll get a post up about that in a week or two! In the meantime, stay cool and happy gardening!


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Mulch and weeds have consumed a good portion of my gardening energies of late. When you are sweating with armloads of garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata), it’s easy to forget what gardening is all about, so today’s post is an attempt remind myself—and everyone who reads this post—why all the sweat and bug bites are worth it.


ABOVE: View from the kitchen door, April 26, 2012. Spiraea ‘Magic Carpet’, lavender, golden marjoram, and self-sown wild blue phlox (Phlox divaricata).

For me, putting plants together and seeing what they do is at the heart of my gardening obsession. Collecting as many interesting plants as I can get my hands on is high on my list, too. These pictures of the front garden at Hackberry Point are meant to show how those two passions—or obsessions—have come together thus far. I hope you enjoy them.


Above: Variegated lily-of-the-valley (Convallaria majalis ‘Striata’) with foamflower (Tiarella ‘Oakleaf’), crested iris, ferns, epimediums, and wild blue phlox (Phlox divaricata).


Above: Alas, I can’t find the label for this gorgeous purple-leaved heuchera. Name or no-name, it’s a keeper! It is growing with heuchera ‘Autumn Bride’, Caryopteris ‘Hint of Gold’, an Agastache ‘Golden Jubilee’ seedling, and enthusiastic-to-invasive self-sowing bronze fennel (Foeneculum vulgare ‘Purpureum’).


Above: Spiraea ‘Golden Elf’ adds a splash of gold to this combination and grows happily with tricolor sage (Salvia officinalis ‘La Crema’), Heuchera ‘Caramel’, a variegated sedum, and purple-leaved Euphorbia amygdaloides ‘Ruby Glow’. Self-sowers Lychnis coronaria ‘Angel’s Blush’ and wild blue phlox fill in.


Above: Chinese ginger (Hexastylus splendens, formerly Asarum splendens) with ajuga, European ginger (Hexastylus europaeum, formerly Asarum europaeum), rue anemone (Anemonella thalictroides), and dwarf mondo grass (Ophiopogon japonicusi).


Above: A favorite hosta that came down to Maryland from my garden in Pennsylvania, Hosta montana ‘Variegata’. It is underplanted with European ginger and foamflowers (Tiarella cordifolia ‘Susquehanna’)


Above: This is the bed that forms the oldest part of the garden. It’s under an elderly redbud and on the edge of a steep drop off that starts just beyond the tree’s trunk. Hellebores, double bloodroot, and Dutchman’s breeches (Dicentra cucullaria) are first to bloom here. By April 20, yellow trillium (Trillium luteum), originally from my mother’s garden, and Solomon’s seal (Polygonatum biflorum) are in bloom. Hellebores,  large merrybells (Uvularia grandiflora), and stinking gladwyn (Iris foetidissima ‘Citrina’) foliage cover the ground around them.

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I’ve been spending every spare moment in the greenhouse or garden for the past few weeks. This time of year, flats of seedlings occupying every spare inch in the greenhouse. They are crammed in amongst cuttings of overwintered tender perennials like coleus, a huge pot of a dark-leaved elephant’s ear (Colocasia sp.), houseplants that didn’t fit inside this winter, and more.


Above: Colocasia ‘Black Beauty’ spends summers in a container of water in the garden, and winters in the greenhouse.


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Earlier this week I nearly won first prize on America’s Funniest Videos. Thankfully, no video cameras recorded the event.

Recent plant purchases are driving yet another garden expansion here at Hackberry Point. This time I’m digging on the north edge of my front garden, where cultivated space meets rampant weeds. Although I knew the garden would eventually expand here, I think I’ve been waiting until the work itself would somehow be easier. Gardening doesn’t exactly work that way, though.


Above: Honeysuckle on the edge of the garden, ready to meet its demise.

On its north edge, the front garden ends in a mass of weeds that cover a very steep drop-off. Clearing the site was a necessary first step in the expansion. In this case, the weeds are primarily non-native invasives: Common periwinkle (Vinca minor) and Japanese honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica). Driving the expansion and waiting patiently to anchor the new garden edge, is ‘Ruby Slippers’ oakleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia), one of several new plants I picked up at Rare Find Nursery recently.


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Today, I would like to testify that my greenhouse/potting shed has been clean for 24 hours. I have recorded that stunning fact in two pictures, one from each end. Since this is the epicenter of my garden, home to everything from tools to all things green,  it only happens a couple of times a year. Alas the cleanliness can’t last.


In the off season, I use the greenhouse to overwinter tender perennials in pots and as cuttings. It’s also the winter home of houseplants that either don’t fit into the house anymore or need cooler conditions than our house offers. (Clivias are an example: To bloom well, they need a cool, dry dormancy. I can do dry indoors, but 40°F is another story.) Add to that starting seeds, nursing on divisions, holding plants for plant sales, and you have the general picture.


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On sad days of remembrance, and days when I feel hopeless or out of control, eventually I find myself in my garden. Today, I marked the anniversary of 9/11 by planting trees, something I did on this afternoon ten years ago.

Ten years ago, I watched the news coverage in horror and disbelief until I couldn’t stand it anymore, and then went out to the garden. The dogs came with me, and they played while I planted a yellowwood (Cladrastis kentukea). It wasn’t a special tree—just a native tree that had been patiently waiting to be planted. That tree became my own personal memorial to 9/11.

I fully realize that my single, solitary act of planting a tree couldn’t possibly change anything. It didn’t even bring comfort to anyone else, but it certainly did to me. That’s because working in a garden is comforting. Caring for plants offers a perfect opportunity for quiet contemplation. In 2001 and again today, I found myself thinking about the individuals who were killed, the families who had lost loved ones, and the way our lives have changed in the interim. As I dig holes, remove grass, work in the soil, and just sweat, I also simply stop thinking. That is comforting in and of itself.

Today, my two best garden-companion dogs, Bing and Casey, helped me create my own personal memorial of the tenth anniversary of 9/11. They lounged in the shade while I planted an oak tree, a tupelo (Nyssa sylvatica), and a fringe tree (Chionanthus virginicus). The first two were added to the throng of plants covering the hillside along the road. The fringe tree will anchor a new section of the garden that will keep me busy, and planting, and contemplating for the foreseeable future.


Above: Barely visible, the newly planted fringe tree is situated on a peninsula of mulch that connects it to an existing bed and also marks the garden’s next expansion.

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I drove by a neighbor’s house about a week ago and noticed that his magnolia was in bloom. This wasn’t just a bloom or two, either. The tree was really celebrating all the recent rains we’ve had with a real crop of showy pink flowers. (And that’s before we braced ourselves for Hurricane Irene!) When I saw pink magnolia petals on my own deck later in the day, I knew the second half of the summer season had finally arrived.


Above: Marigolds, like Tagetes ‘Taishan’, will bloom through heat and drought into the Second Season and right past the first light fall frosts, provided spent flowers are removed regularly.

Gardeners who moved down to the Eastern Shore from the north, like I did, commonly don’t think of the growing season as having two parts. Even native Southerners aren’t always aware of them. For gardeners, though, thinking about a two-part growing season makes sense, and there are decided advantages for gardeners who do. (more…)

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