Friday, May 30, 2008

My garden's a large petrie dish

I once read that if you're a perfectionist, you shouldn't garden. If you're a control freak, you also shouldn't garden. Good thing I'm neither.

And as I was walking around my yard, purveying my army of greenery, I was struck with just how true that is... a garden is really just a large petrie dish so be prepared for anything to happen.

Here's what I found:
  • 2 identical plants, planted next to one another, 1 thrives, the other one lives but not as strong. Example: 2 heucheras I planted last summer.
  • A plant that is happy all season and then decides not to come back. Example: my 3 lady's mantle were all happy, but 1 of them decided not to join the club this year. Maybe there was a garden with better dirt down the street and he jumped ship?
  • The Lazarus syndrome: plants that die when you plant them but the mysteriously come back the next yr. Example: my 3 painted ferns. 2 of them died after I planted them, but then rose from the dead this year looking great. The one I planted that was awesome last yr, came back as a shoot and then promptly died back. What gives?
  • When you transplant a plant, but you didn't really get all the roots and so it grows again. This is my favorite form of dividing plants because I get 2 plants for the price of 1 without even trying not to kill one of them. Example: The peony that appeared out of nowhere last yr (a remnant of many owners past), now that area is shady so I moved it last Fall and low and behold it appeared again. Apparently, I didn't dig out all the roots. And the best part, it has a huge bud on it.

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day - May

Okay -- I actually wrote this in May but then never had time to upload my photos. Not only that, but I took photos on May 12, and thn not another one until May 25. I'm flaking this year and it's not even June. I know I'm 15 days late, but I need this for my garden journal ...


May is my most favorite month in the garden. It's not too hot, the plants still look good without me having to prune anything, and there's an air of excitement that summer is just around the corner. Sometimes I like the anticipation better than the real deal.

Here's what's blooming in my 1/4 acre in Zone 5...

In my Native garden:
Celandine poppy - the poor mislabeled plant is now fully enjoying it's new status. And it had re-seeded itself all over my yard.Jacob's ladder - this his his second yr in my native plants garden and he's now blooming, but still small.Virginia Bluebells
Phlox divaricata are almost in bloom

In my woodland garden:
Bleeding Hearts - both variety are in full swing. These are the biggest the Dicentra spectabalis have gotten since I've been here.Pulmonaria - not as many flowers as last year though. Kind of a poor showing.

Tulips - I still have a whole bunch holding on for dear life. My police line-up is still going strong. Just last week, my dark purple tulips in the front bloomed. I just loove this color.

Lamium - These should have been in bloom earlier, but the cold weather stunted them a bit.

Lily of the Valley

Monday, May 12, 2008

Retaining wall

My husband just completed his MBA and instead of participating in his ceremony on Saturday, he built me this wall.


We haven't planted the plants yet, they are just hanging out. We actually want to add one more layer but we ran out of brick. The brick, we used because we found it all over our yard buried in various places. We had enough for this.

Friday, May 09, 2008

I got one!

Dwarf Globe Blue Spruce!

This morning I was taking some photos and then decided to go to Home Depot for more heucheras of cool color. While I didn't find anything particularly as cool as I did last year
I stumbled, literally, over 2 blue shrubs.... YES, blue shrubs otherwise known as dwarf globe blue spruces!

I couldn't believe it; for some reason I thought that maybe this was something that only real garden centers have. And there were only 2 in the entire place. The price tag... well, $45. It's probably the most expensive thing other than the Japanese Maples they had ($100, still cheaper than the $200-$400 ones I found at that Garden center on Tuesday). Now don't get me wrong, I love the real places. The people are knowledgeable and the selection is prime; however, I don't have a blank check to hand over to a landscaper. In this case, I made the decision to save the bank account and pick the $45 version over the $100+ version.So here it is, hanging out in it's new home. I haven't exactly figured it all out yet, but I want the spruce and the juniper together... hmmm. I have the oakleaf and coral bells to the right, then another hydrangea (small mophead), the tulips, some yarrow, and then ajuga as ground cover. Then the lot slopes at the corner. I thinking of moving the sedum (or dividing other ones) to go by the spruce, and taking advantage of the slope with some rock for the juniper... I can "see" it but I don't know if I can "do" it....

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Shrubs are expensive

Tuesday I drove in to work so I stopped at this garden center I hear is really nice. From the road it looks small, but the place is huge and they have this enormous selection, especially of shrubs and trees; which is something I am in market for right now.

I tore out a couple of overgrown specimens the other year and while I don't miss "them", I miss something with year-long foliage. I'm realizing now that I have too many perennials and especially close to the house, it would be nice to have some evergreens.

So remember the dwarf globe blue spruce I was salivating over at the Arboretum? (Photo to refresh memory)Well, that's what I wanted to find at this place and find it I did ... except the price tag was over $100!!! I asked if they sell smaller plants at a more economical price, but I was told to look at boxwoods then. UGH. I can buy a boxwood at Home Depot.

But I didn't walk away empty-handed, I found this dwarf juniper (Juniperus procumbens 'Nana') at a much better price. It should get 1-2' high and 3-5' wide and I think it'll look great where my lot slopes down. I might even add some rock. I was also pleased because I found on the UConn Hort website that this is species is:
'Nana' - One of the finest groundcover junipers, this old favorite grows similar to the species, but is more dwarfed. Plants appear as a neat, mounded mat of small branchlets 2' tall and up to 10' wide. The plant mounds on itself with age and develops a slight purple cast in winter. (

So this is the start to my evergreen hunt.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Garden Diary: May 4th

To make up for such a crappy Saturday, I spent my entire Sunday in the yard from sun up to sun down. Here's what I accomplished!

  • I planted all my native plants. I just couldn't wait anymore.
  • I cleaned and edged the "center" garden
  • I planted the Calicarpa dichotoma there (correction: it's not a Calicarpa japonica)
  • I moved about some of the echinecea and sedum, and my neighbor gave me a new perennial which I forgot the name of.
Before After

  • I planted my Pagoda dogwood
  • The masterwort (in the kitchen garden)
  • The Siberian bugloss Jack Frost in the fence garden (so cool looking in the shade)

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Trillium & Tulips

Since last week's plant sales, it has been so cold I 've been forced to store my plants in the garage. I was worried that it would be too dark in there for them -- or that they might miss me -- so I went to check on them last night and the White Trillium has bloomed!

Matt was so nice he told me, "You must be a Master gardener now, you can even get plants to bloom in a garage!"

On another note, we had a good laugh over the "cute little row of tulips" I planted along the fence (which I thought would never even bloom). I must have had some delusions of grandeur when I planted this because it turned out looking like a line-up. My mom came to visit and we had a good laugh as she pretended to shoot them with her machine-gun fingers - ta ta ta ta ta.But Matt told me that he thinks they are lovely ... thanks honey! And kisses to you, we met each other 7 years ago today!