These two photos illustrate why I place protective tomato cages in my flower garden over the winter. On this occasion there happened to be only one deer foraging for food, but it's not unusual to have a herd of them roaming around. This whitetail scrounged up some dried up marigolds, but thankfully the tomato cages kept my precious daylilies safe.
Every year, without fail, I grow Double Red Peony Poppies in my yard. I got a few peony poppy seed pods from a friend's garden about twenty years ago and have been growing them ever since. I love the grey-green foliage and the bright pop of color they provide early in the season, even though they have a somewhat brief bloom time. The flowers measure 4+ inches in diameter and the plants grow about 2-3 ft. tall. Snipping off the flowers will extend the bloom. They are super easy-to-grow annuals. When they are done blooming I simply shake the seeds out of the dried up pods where I want them to grow next year, rough up the dirt a bit, and that's it! Then I remove the dried-up plants from the ground and compost them. It can't get easier than that!
Important: You may want to deadhead most of your poppies after their bloom to keep re-seeding in check. With hundreds of seeds in each pod, they can overpopulate fast. Often the wind can blow the seeds to places in your garden you may not want them.
We've experienced some crazy Wisconsin temperature variances in the past three days (from minus 39 degrees last Thursday to plus 39 degrees on Saturday). The cold weather inspired me to explore the topic of winterscaping. Winterscaping is creating visual interest in your yard or landscaping for enjoyment during the dark and dreary months of the year.
As I watched TV in the evening, I visited numerous websites on my laptop and got lots of ideas for winterscaping. Many gardeners use perennial grasses for visual interest. Shrubs with brightly colored berries or colorful stems are used as well. Some individuals craft seasonal planters to create a bright spot of color. A great variety of lighting can be used in the landscape -- from home-made ice candle holders to large spotlights that accentuate unusual shapes (a Corkscrew Willow , for instance) at night. Different lighting colors can create a variety of moods in the landscape. My sister-in-law, Sandra, placed twinkle lights on a large trellis by her deck. While sitting in her dining room, the trellis lights are very warm and comforting in the evening.
Decorative ice spheres can be created (of any size) and back lit with colorful lights. The spheres can be made by filling a balloon with water, placing it outside, and letting it freeze. The next day the balloon covering can be removed and you have a frozen decorative sphere. This could be a fun project for your kiddos or grands.
At any rate, I'm armed with lots of ideas and I've got a list! Next winter I will be thinking about winterscaping my yard come November instead of February.
'Dipped in Ink' is one of my dependable old-school daylilies. I have grown this plant for quite a few years and it has never disappointed me. Hybridized by the late Howard Reeve in Indiana, this semi-evergreen diploid was introduced in 1998.
Last summer in my Wisconsin garden, this bicolor grew 40" tall and bloomed from July 5th to August 5th. It is categorized as an Unusual Form (UFo) Spatulate. At peak season the large clump was quite showy with nine and one-half inch blooms. It is also worthy to note that Dipped in Ink has two very famous parents: 'Miss Jessie' and 'Kindly Light.'
I'm crazy, right? Why didn't I keep these flowers? Every year I purchase approximately ten to fifteen new daylilies from my wish list. For that to happen I need garden spaces to open up and there's only one way to do that. The decisions are always hard, but there's no way I'm making my gardens any larger.
Here are some of the daylilies I parted company with in 2018 and the reasons why:
Mardi Gras Parade
Garden slip-ups are, without a doubt, one of the easiest topics for me to write about since I have single-handedly made just about every blunder that a gardener possibly could. As I've mentioned in earlier blogs, I did not grow up in a gardening family; my love of perennials came unexpectedly out of left field. Without a mentor I learned to garden by the trial-and-error method. Some of my gardening ideas worked (luck), but many others were an epic fail. It was then that I borrowed books from the library. The gardening books helped me achieve a much better outcome. And why is it that we never read instructions until we screw up or can't figure something out? Human nature, I guess.
Here are a few of the things I've learned (the hard way):
Grateful living is happy living. Every year at this time I like to take time to reflect on things that made me smile or feel grateful over the past year. Here's my list:
Pictured above: Minneapolis sophisti-cat 'Sophie,' a shelter rescue who now lives the life of a princess
Lately I've been obsessed with metal art. I've always liked it in my garden, but this year I found a way to incorporate it into my Christmas decorations. I bought an antiqued galvanized metal snowflake wreath, but it needed a little something more to make it pop. So I wired in some greenery and added a red and green Christmas bow. Now I really like the look. After Christmas the bow can be changed out to another color so the wreath can be used throughout the winter season.
I also bought a large metal snowflake which I have hanging by my kitchen sink. I cleared out some of my older decorations and replaced them with more current ones. And as always, more clearing out and less replacing (except for the daylilies, that is). Okay Christmas...I'm ready!
As you can see, this kitten found a new vantage point to look for Santa. What is it about cats and Christmas trees? I'm sure to 'Thunder' this tree looks like a tall cat toy challenge, put there purely for his enjoyment alone. Anyone who has lived with cats knows how much they like climbing as high as they possibly can to observe their surroundings.
Thunder is a shelter rescue who found his forever home last August with two of the most amazing children ever. And he just so happens to be my grand-kitty. This little guy has a big personality. He is outgoing, cuddly, and very gentle. Whatever is happening around his house, he likes to be right in the middle of the action. Thunder has proven to be a perfect fit for his new family...other than the Christmas tree thing.
Thanks to Tara Elizabeth for the photo of this irrepressible adventurer.
I'm in love with black petunias! I grew these annuals for the first time last summer. The petal texture resembled soft black velvet fabric. Most plants that are 'black' are truly dark purple, but I was unable to see any purple undertones. The combination of the lime green leaves with the black flowers was exquisite. They looked perfect every day and required little to no care on my part. I planted them in a southwest exposure, so they endured the hottest sun possible.
So I want to buy these petunias again next year, but I have no idea what variety they are. I bought them on clearance and unfortunately they had no tag in the pot. After searching online, I suspect they may be 'Black Velvet' or 'Black Cat.' Next spring I'll plan to go back to the same plant hut and hope they use the same supplier as they did last year.
Black petunias were developed by Jianping Ren at Ball Horticulture in the UK and introduced to the public in the spring of 2011. They created quite a buzz because of their unique and unusual color. It is said that they don't perform as well as other petunias, but mine seemed to do just fine, as you can see. They may not get the same spread as a Wave petunia, but who cares -- I love the unique color. I used my black petunias as a specimen planting.
In the top photo you can see a clear mason jar with solar LED lights that I placed next to the petunias. The mason jar lights remain lit up all night until morning. I was able to look out the window and see my black petunias at night! Can you see me in the photo? I'm the one inside the mason jar taking the picture.
Last July Ange and I had the opportunity to visit Karol Emmerich's Springwood Gardens, just outside of Minneapolis. For those of you who don't live in the daylily world, Karol is a cutting-edge, world-renowned daylily hybridizer who recently won the prestigious 2018 Stout Silver Medal Award for her cultivar "Entwined in the Vine."
Upon arrival my head was on a swivel, not knowing which direction to look first. The daylilies were just three days past peak so there was riotous bloom everywhere. Karol's gardens are definitely an adrenaline rush for anyone who loves daylilies. The gardens are so tastefully designed with numerous walkways to enjoy the never ending daylilies, companion plants, landscaping, and scenic vistas. Although my photos convey the beautiful scenery and flowers, they cannot begin to recreate the true scope and feeling of what you experience in real life.
Karol was a very gracious host and we were fortunate to be the only visitors on the day we came. It was interesting to learn about the rigorous process of culling 'good' plants and growing on only the 'great' plants that adhere to her high set of standards. She keeps sections of first year, second year and third year seedlings to evaluate. Plants that successfully make it through third year evaluation continue to be grown in clumps to see how they fare over the test of time. Of the thousands of seedlings Karol grows, only a select few make it to the finish line for registration each year.
Of course I had to purchase a memento of my visit. A division of "Deliverer" (pictured below) is now happily planted in my garden. And finally, you have to appreciate how memorable this visit was, when as we were leaving, Ange (who is not the flower child in this family) exclaimed, "Wow! I'm glad we came here. This was really something to see!" I think his statement says it all.
Be sure to check out Springwood Gardens' website: www.springwoodgardens.com
My photos are only a teaser compared to what you can find here. Learn about the dream that started Springwood Gardens, the historic house and property, the huge renovation, building the gardens and greenhouse, and you can check out all of Karol's gorgeous daylily introductions and seedlings that may be future introductions. Your wish list will grow larger--guaranteed. I know mine did!
Photos below: The registered daylilies have names by their photos. The ones without names are either seedlings, or I did not take note of their name.
Gardening friends told me on numerous occasions what a great daylily 'Ruby Spider' was. I have to say, it wasn't until I actually grew it myself that I fully understood what they meant. Wow! If you like large nine-inch blooms, consistency and hardiness, this is the plant to have! Ruby Spider grows about 34 inches tall and is categorized as an Unusual Form-Spatulate. For a red it holds up very well in full sun. Ruby Spider was my first daylily out of the gate last spring, beginning its bloom on June 3. With re-bloom scapes, it continued through August 22!
Ruby Spider has a whopping 92 registered child plants on the books! This indicates that hybridizers value the genetics of this plant and want to pass them on to future daylilies. Hybridized by Patrick Stamile and introduced in 1991, this dormant tetraploid is a multiple award-winner that ranks very high in popularity. American Daylily Society Awards include the Award of Merit: 2002 (distinctive and beautiful); an Honorable Mention in 1999 (good performance); the Lenington All American Award: 2011 (best performer over a wide geographic area); the Lambert/Webster Award in 2002 (most outstanding unusual form); and the President's Cup (most outstanding clump) in 2004. You can't beat those credentials!
The human eye can distinguish between millions of different colors. Regardless of whether you are familiar with color theory or color wheels, most gardeners just know or feel when certain color combinations work together and other combinations don't. And much of that 'know-or-feel' has to do with personal preference. Some gardeners love the monochromatic look (all white flowers, for instance), while others may just plant pastels, or perhaps vibrant oranges, yellows and reds. Any of these looks can be very appealing. Your garden visitors may think it was pure luck that the colors, sizes and shapes all go together and look great. I'll admit there are moments of serendipity when perfectness just happens, but most of us gardeners work very hard to have our plants play nicely together.
Every summer I run around the garden picking blooms and comparing them with other blooms, trying to determine which color combos go together best. This is why I juggle plants around every fall; I keep trying to make what I think looks good, better. For this reason I keep detailed information about every plant that I grow, including each plant's size, bloom time (start-to-finish), bloom size, and color. So in addition to my personal preferences, I use data to help me make decisions. And herein lies the challenge...even when you have all of this information at your disposal, Mother Nature provides variances. You can make an educated guess about what you think should happen, but ultimately she holds the reins! That being said, Mother Nature never stops me from continually trying to get it right.
Pictured: Daylily 'Spacecoast Cherries and Cream' with its companion 'Echinacea Double Delight'
When 'Techny Spider' is in bloom, it lives in a constant state of perfectness. The soft pastel pink and yellow blend of these delicately ruffled, seven inch blooms is ethereal. The blooms are thick and waxy, which keeps them impervious to weather of any kind. Hybridized by Reckamp/Klehm and introduced in 1987, this classic cultivar is a midseason-late bloomer that grows about 27" tall in my garden. In 2018, it bloomed from July 13 through August 19. And yes, it's an award-winner! Techny Spider received the Award of Merit in 2014 and an Honorable Mention in 2010 from the American Daylily Society. These awards indicate that this plant performs well over a wide geographic area.
I must note that this daylily is very slow to increase. I choose to look at that as a positive because, really, who enjoys dividing a daylily every year or so? Techny Spider can have as much time as it wants to increase because, in my opinion, it's so worth waiting for!
In 2016 I started using different plant labels and plant markers in my garden. It all started when I got a recycled Brother P-touch labeling system. I immediately made few labels and put them outdoors to test them over the winter before I made any major changes. The labels looked great in the spring so I went ahead and changed my labels. I tested the labels for another year, just to make sure they stood up to the elements, and they most certainly do. So now, in 2018, I feel comfortable saying 'thumbs up' to these labels.
The P-touch can use different colored and different sized labels, but I typically use the one-half inch size (.47" to be exact). I always order the white, laminated, indoor/outdoor labels. (The indoor/outdoor part is important if you plant to use these for your garden.) You can get some competitive pricing on eBay. P-touch has different type sizes so in case you have a plant with a really long name, you can still fit it on the label. My labeling system is older, but I'm sure there are many more features available on the newer models.
I also switched to Kincaid plant markers, which I had seen and liked in a garden that I visited. The Kincaid name plates are stainless steel and the posts are made of heavy-duty #10 gauge steel. The posts come in all sizes and shapes depending on your individual needs and likes. I purchased the eight-inch posts, which is just a personal preference. I like that that the markers aren't super obvious in my flower bed, but if I need to know a plant's name, I can easily find it. Every fall I put a tomato cage around each one of my daylilies to protect them over the winter from deer trampling. The cages provide a dual purpose in that the plant markers are protected as well. If any markers are out in the open, without protection, I usually push them down into the dirt for the winter.
So far, this labeling system has withstood the extreme fluctuation of temperature in Wisconsin and the weather has not had any effect on either the labels or markers. Both my labels and plant markers still look brand new, and not one has been crushed. In addition to me, three of my friends have also switched over to this plant marker and labeling system and we are all very happy.
Note: The labels are also great for household and garage use. They are an organizer's dream!
Brother P-touch label machines: https://www.brother-usa.com/home/label-printers/series/p-touch
Kincaid Plant Markers: https://www.kincaidplantmarkers.com/
You can always count on "Integrated Logistics" to be showy and bold. This is one of the seven daylilies I grow hybridized by Curt Hanson in Ohio. I also grow Bela Lugosi, Black Falcon Ritual, Jerry Hyatt, Lounge Lizard, Primal Scream, and Virginia B. Hanson. They are all hardy and prolific plants in my Wisconsin garden.
Integrated Logistics, introduced in 2005, is a semi-evergreen tetraploid that grows 37" tall and has 6" plus blooms. The flowers have a beautiful rose watermark and are pleated, which is a form of sculpting in which the petals fold upon itself creating a raised platform on the bloom. You can see how the petals narrow in the close-up photo.
Integrated Logistics is a very reliable and consistent plant. In summer 2018, bloom season was from July 10 through August 28 (including re-bloom). You can't ask for more than that!
It's hard to believe it's October and time to put my garden to sleep for the winter. Fall clean-up has been a bit challenging this year. We've had many days of rain, and my days off from work have not always coincided with the nice weather. I finally had some great gardening days last week, despite the fact that I had to wear my winter coat.
Here are a few of my routine fall garden tasks:
if it's about
my backyard and garden, I LOVE to talk about it!