Monday, July 29, 2013

In bloom: lesser catmint (calaminth nepeta)

I just purchased this small catmint at the Arboretum sale in the spring and planted it early May 2013. At 12-18" with a mounding habit, it seemed a good fit for my small butterfly garden next to the patio.

Of course it was a tiny sprite when I planted it. Not anymore.

Compact perennials was what I was looking for and I'm pleased with this perennial so far. It has a pretty shape and the short strands of delicate light pink flowers edge the patio nicely. I'm eager to see how this plant grows and fills in.

Sunday, July 07, 2013

The backyard garden: Tour of the newly planted yard

By the end of May, we accomplished a major task which was to order and plant all of our shrubs and trees for the backyard garden. Since then, we have been tending, pampering, watering, weeding, and watching them grow. In some cases, the 'watching them grow' bit is an understatement (I'm alluding to my mail order shrubs which I talked about previously).

In many cases I filled in spaces with large perennials that I had around my yard, since most of the shrubs are not even close to full size yet, and it already has a nice lived-in look.

Here is a quick tour around the backyard. (These pictures were taken the middle of June).

Welcome to the Garden (from the side entrance)
After you enter the gate, looking east across the yard (tiny yard)

Standing on the patio looking west

View from patio of more of the fence shrub border

Looking head on at the fence shrub border (1/2 way)

Fence shrub border (2nd 1/2)

View of the patio and the new fence and gate we installed

 My small new butterfly garden off the patio

 The garden along the house/ kitchen window

Saturday, July 06, 2013

In Bloom: Monarda didyma 'Purple Rooster'

Oh my god. What an incredible plant.
I purchased this Bee Balm -- monarda didyma 'purple rooster' -- in Spring 2011 through the Arboretum's Plant Sale. I had never grown Bee Balm before, but I knew it attracted butterflies and was successful in my neighbor's yard (maybe too successful - I think she thins it out regularly), so I wanted to give it a try.**

Planted by the sunny vegetable garden, it sits in a bed of ajuga.

In late 2012, I moved it to the sunny vegetable garden area (facing south-west) because it was in the way of the patio and I didn't want it getting trampled on. Well... it loves it's new home. Almost too much because it shot up 42" tall and 2-1/2 ' wide with blooms all over.  

They are a spectacular purple: deep, rich, magenta.  

I think placing this where it's height and color will be appreciated (i.e. with other green plants) is the best option.  It also has a lovely "romantic" cottage garden feel to it, as well.

The flower heads are large too.
**I think this is what separates gardeners from landscapers -- as a true lover of plants, gardeners want to experience growing and tending to plants and study their quirks. We don't want to limit our plants to "3 of those" and "5 of those" just because it looks more pleasing. I love to grow plants, and when I see something I haven't tried I want to experience it and share my knowledge. If for nothing else, I can enjoy their lovely blooms.

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

In Bloom: Hydrangea 'Twist n Shout'

Our three 'Twist n Shout' Hydrangeas (Hydrangea macrophylla 'PIIHM-I' (PPAF)) are in full bloom at the start of July.

Planted in Fall 2012 along the back fence as per our landscape plan. At 3-5' tall & wide, they are a nice small shrub for my small backyard.  The original plan called for six (6) shrubs, but cost limited me to three (3) -- and now I am sorry for that because they are beautiful! (And thriving, so far).

When we planted these, we filled them in with our homemade compost and I'm assuming that something in the compost altered the pH because one of the shrubs has very blue flowers!  We normally don't see blue flowers because our soil is not very acidic.

The blue on this hydrangea is dreamy blue!

These are considered "lace-cap" hydrangeas, which look like flat-top blooms. And what I love about this specific hydrangea is how large the bloom heads are. I find the lace-cap hydrangeas to be very romantic - if I could call a plant that!

They are planted along the back fence so I can see them from the patio and my kitchen window. They receive more shade than sun, but seem to like it that way.  These should be blooming all summer long - they probably would have started sooner in June, but its been a cloudy summer so far.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

In bloom: Veronica 'hocus pocus'

July enters and so do the blooms of my tiny Veronica 'hocus pocus' (Speedwell).

 I purchased this perennial in 2010 through the Morton Arboretum (who often has "new to the market" specimens). I had never planted speedwell before and have had to transplant it 3 times -- it transplants well, and is now spreading well in its new home along the patio.

Sources say it gets 16-20" high, but my plant still is small; the tallest purple spike only reaches 11". I have 2 plants and the largest has spread 12" wide so I know it shouldn't spread anymore (and that's too bad because I'd like more!).

I consider this a delicate flower (although photos on the web make them look like salvia), small and diminutive, which is why I chose to plant it where I could view it from indoors or the patio. It's also part of my butterfly collection of plants -- but I have yet to see any butterflies. They haven't gotten the message yet.