Friday, June 28, 2013

Bed 4

When we moved in to this house 25 years ago, I made a lot of perennial beds but had no hardscape structures or mature trees. Over the years we have renovated sections of the garden and of course the plants have matured and grown. I am pleased that each bed seems to have taken on its own personality lately. I have "names" for each bed so I know where I am planting what but even those have changed. Originally they were Beds 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 whereas now they are nicknamed the Front, the Elaine bed, the Gnome bed, Bed 4, The Oak tree bed and the Vortex bed. (!!)
Bed 4 is halfway down the southwest side of the yard beside the pool pump. It's the only one that has retained its original name. Certain plants such as the spruce tree and the shrub rose have exploded in size. Many of the perennials are the originals, others are new. But there is great camaraderie among them so I thought I would show these successful combinations to you.

I have attempted to keep the gentle curved shape by edging sharply in the spring. I actually need to carve it out wider under the spruce because it's so hard to mow the grass under there. The main large plants are (from right to left) a spruce tree that was brought as a sapling from Northern Ontario, a shrub rose that's gone berserk this year in size, a graceful weeping Norway Spruce that still retains its elegant shape, a very ordinary do-nothing Rose of Sharon ( but it was a gift so I keep it) and a common lilac shrub, that bloomed its head off this spring!

The lilac in bloom

A close-up of the Weeping Norway Spruce

In the spring came a lovely group of bright red Darwin tulips. The stone fish wasn't yet being smothered by the Coreopsis 'Moonbeam' so it's still deeper in. I had already planted 3 of the succulents: Sedum and Sempervivum.

When the tulips and muscari faded, in came the Siberian Iris and small yellow Allium moly.

As the Hosta emerged ( 3 clumps of Blue Wedgewood and a transplanted chunk of 'Great Expectations') and the Coreopsis 'Moonbeam' filled out, I moved the Fish to a more prominent position. I also bought several more drought tolerant plants. They are now starting to bloom.

This is a new one that caught my eye: Sempervivum x hybrid 'Commander Hay'. It was big, interesting and cheap. I bought 3 in total. Extremely drought tolerant once established. They are easy to propagate - just remove the small baby rosettes and replant in a new location.

I thought this neon yellow sedum would fit nicely with a bed that is mostly green, stone blue and fall hues. This is Sedum rupestre (reflexum) 'Angelina'. It has a long, lanky habit.

Once I became totally enamoured with these succulents, I just ran right out and bought another one! Above is Sempervivum arachnoideum - Spider Web Hens and Chicks. Before it started to bloom, the rosettes seemed to be covered in spiderwebs.

Here are a few more shots of how well they blend together.

The daylilies are ready to bloom and the huge shrub rose will start to develop hips.

Helianthus are starting to bloom and in August the Red and Gold Fall Helenium will emerge (new this year).

Bed 4 has turned into a great 4 seasons show that has unusual plants that somehow co-exist well and even show each other off really brilliantly.

Please check my food blog - the latest recipe posted is Spinach Cavatappi Gratin.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Garden Blogger's Bloom Day June 2013

June is the easiest month for taking Garden Blogger Bloom Day pictures! So much is in bloom - just walk and shoot!
Here's what's blooming in my garden today:

I grew Sweet William (Dianthus barbatus) from seed last summer. They formed good sized clumps and this summer they are in full bloom.

Feverfew (Tanacetum parnitheum) have seeded themselves ALL over the place this spring.

Even though I added lots of manure, my Siberian Iris were stunning but minimal in numbers.

I neglected to prune back this shrub rose in April and it's grown as big as a tree! Very pretty single pale pink blooms all over it.

I thought I had lost this little Darling. Thank goodness it's back! It's a Himalayan Cinquefoil (Potentilla argyrophylla var. atrosanguinea), a wonderful small clump with silvery leaves and a bright scarlet-red flower.

Here is my Explorer Rose - John Cabot - shining bright red in the midst of Red Twig Dogwood

The Rugosa Rose is blooming in deep pink glory

The Gas Plant (Dictamnus alba) and Yellow loosestrife (Lysimachia punctata) look lovely as we head down the path through the arbour.

My David Austin Rose 'Mary' reaches for the sun but still blooms amazingly well in fairly deep shade.

3 Weigela bushes are blooming deep pink. I was trying to catch a bee poking its nose into the bloom but it was too quick for me to photograph.

Sweet Cicely (Myrrhis odorata) has a delicious vanilla scent

And due to cool temperatures and plenty of rain, the peonies are still going strong (Look Helene - I DID tie them up. I felt sorry for them and decided to take better care of one of my favourite flowers).

Garden Blogger's Bloom Day is a Meme created by May Dreams Garden
Gardeners post images of what's blooming in their garden on the 15th day of every month. All are welcome to participate.

Also, please check out my recipe blog Astrid's Home - the latest post is Pork and Apricot Salad.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Little Guys

The shortest flowers in the garden are often referred to as ground cover. Most ground covers have a spreading nature, which sometimes proves to be a problem, because they can become invasive. Many are not invasive, though and have a number of redeeming qualities.
1. They are tough and grow in diverse conditions: very dry or very wet
2. They smother weeds as they form a dense mat
3. They discourage erosion - this is useful on slopes
4. They can replace grass, which is beneficial to soil as well as being an excellent design feature
5. Non-invasive types make excellent edging

Golden Creeping Jenny ('Lysimachia nummularia 'Aurea') is a less invasive form than the green one. Still, it grows wherever the roots touch soil. This makes it very easy to transplant. It also is terrific in containers and hanging baskets. In late spring, it blooms with a bright yellow flower. It is rabbit resistant. Golden Creeping Jenny grows 4" high and spreads 12-18".

Barrenwort (Epimedium x versicolor 'Sulphureum') has a lovely heart-shaped leaf that grows beautifully in shade. It takes a few years until plants become well established but then they are tough and long-lived. They deserve more recognition and use in the garden. Above is the yellow flowered version….

….this is another barrenwort (Epimedium x versicolor 'Rubrum'). It has the cherry red flower in spring. Once-established, they are drought tolerant. They are 8-12" high with a 12-18" spread.
Cut them back in the fall to be able to appreciate the small dainty flowers in the spring.

Ajuga 'Metallica Crispa' is a less invasive ajuga. It forms a dense, tight mat of crisp dark leaves that turn almost black in winter. It has a short blue flower in spring. The plant divides easily and is a great edging plant. Height 2-4", spread 8-12".

The ONLY time I like periwinkle is in spring - I adore its beautiful blue-mauve flowers. Otherwise it is my garden nemesis, the plant I most regret planting. Ever. (read: VERY invasive).

Japanese pachysandra (Pachysandra terminalis) is a shrubby evergreen groundcover that forms a thick textured mat. It does best in organically rich soil with medium moisture. It likes shade or part shade. Pachysandra grows 6-12" high and 12-18" wide. It has an insignificant white flower in spring.

Sweet  Woodruff (Galium odoratum) is easily grown in average soil. It can withstand medium to wet conditions. It grows in part shade or full shade. It spreads by creeping roots and it self seeds, which again could present a problem in optimum conditions. Height 4-8", spread 8-12".

I have saved my favourite till last: this is the Purple Labrador Violet (Viola labradorica). Its dark purple leaves almost hide the dainty purple-mauve flowers in spring. It self-seeds "gently" around the garden and forms small, dense mounds. It grows 2-4" high and 6-8" wide.

What are your favourite/most successful ground covers?

Please check out the recipe blog - the latest post is Pork and Apricot Salad.