Last year on July 2nd I already had 74 daylilies blooming in my garden. Today there are only 16. Huge disparity! I know the calendar says it's summer, but the cold spring weather has really slowed things down. There may not be many daylilies showing their faces, but here are some photos of what is blooming in my yard right now.
Pictured: Asiatic lily 'Centerfold', Hosta 'Inniswood' (love the crepe texture on the leaves!), Annual double pink and white petunias, Orange Asiatic lily 'Tiny Skyline', Gold/Brown Rudbeckia (NoID), Asiatic lily 'Pink Pixie', Asiatic lily 'Mapira', Asiatic Lily 'Peach' (NoID), Asiatic lily 'Adelina', Clematis 'Jackmanii', Martha's Pink Astilbe (NoID), and a token daylily (one of the 16 that are blooming) 'Eyes on the Prize'.
June is full of anticipation and impatience for me. I feel like a little child waiting for Christmas to come. Countless daylily scapes have appeared, and after a year of being patient I'm looking forward to bloom time. My job right now is to spray deer repellent so the scapes remain in existence. And wait...
Pictured: 'Schnickel Fritz' on June 16th with no less than 30 scapes ready-to-go; I counted.
I've been kind of obsessed with lupines lately. And there is (of course) a story:
At my office, Vonnie is the resident plant whisperer. She has this mystical ability to convince ANY plant to grow and thrive, be it inside or out. She created a perennial garden by the front office entrance to greet visitors with bright colors and greenery. In this garden Vonnie planted some beautiful hybrid lupines. I have watched these plants grow and bloom like crazy. One of them has blooms that remind me of candy corn! If the spent blooms are cut off, they keep on blooming for well over a month. Lupines do not like hot temperatures and grow best in northern climates. They are toxic if ingested and may cause some discomfort, but I seriously doubt that any office visitors will feel the need to eat these beauties. Lupines do best in soil that is not amended and, well, kind of crappy. Isn't that every gardener's dream? Another plus is the early bloom in a spring garden where not much else is going on.
Lupines have never been on my radar -- until now. I decided that I *needed* a hybrid lupine of my own. So over lunch hour last week, I bought one to try out. I went with the two-tone lemon variety named 'Gallery Yellow.' And I may have to (gasp) move a daylily for it to have a spot.
In addition to the beautiful hybrid lupines, there are also wild lupines. Every year in Mercer, Wisconsin there is an annual Lupine Junefest to celebrate the lupine bloom. Mercer is in northern Wisconsin - not too far from the upper peninsula of Michigan. I know about this Festival only because I have friends who rented a cabin to go fishing in Mercer during that time. Here is a photo they took last year at a random roadside with an iPhone. They said that many roadsides in the vicinity of Mercer look just like this -- lupines as far as you can see. Amazing!
The tall irises have finally started blooming in Wisconsin. A few years back I made a trade for an iris I wanted badly (Batik - shown in the background). Much to my surprise, in the middle of the now established clump, a completely different white iris with purple edging popped up. Note how unusual the top view is. It is gorgeous; a definite keeper. Life can surprise you in small and unexpected ways. So call me grateful!
Tulips never fare well in my garden. Between the deer, rabbits, and moles I don't see much of them. So I have developed a bad case of tulip-envy. And I have *extreme* tulip-envy for my friend Mary's flowers. She puts me to shame. Every year she grows the most gorgeous bounty of tulip varieties. She has dozens of varieties so blooms last for well over a month. This year I talked Mary into sharing a few of her tulip photos so you could enjoy them too. These photos are just a small sampling of what grows in her yard - more or less a snapshot of what was blooming last week.
Mary's tulips were purchased on a budget, quite inexpensively; most of them from big-box stores. She was very pleased with her bang-for-the-buck. From year-to-year she fertilizes her tulips with bulb booster granules to keep them blooming robustly.
These Pasque flowers grow happily in my front garden. They are a harbinger of spring and begin blooming early -- at the same time as my daffodils. Attractive fuzzy heads of seeds follow, so these flowers continue to look good for many weeks. The fuzzies on the plant help insulate it. Like tulips, Pasque flowers close up towards evening, so I posted an open and closed photo. Also note: Deer will not touch these.
Pasque flower is a tundra plant that grows in the northwestern U.S. all the way to northern Alaska. In fact, it has been the state flower of South Dakota since 1903, where it grows wild. Pasque flowers were used as a medicine by native Americans for centuries.
The plants propagate by reseeding themselves. Every spring I find mini-Pasque flowers growing in locations that I didn't plant it, but by no means is it invasive. The new plants are random and few. It grows about 8-12" tall in my yard. Pasque flowers are ideal for sunny rock gardens, crevice gardens, and any spot that is very well drained. I got my original plant from my friend Sally many years ago and continue to enjoy it every April and May.
If you grow daylilies, you can take the madness a step further and collect plants with specific topic-related names to comprise a theme garden. To date, there are 83,487 registered/reserved cultivars, so finding a theme is quite easy.
For instance you could choose:
Once you've decided on a theme, then comes the fun part -- finding the daylily vendors and buying the plants.
Pictured: "Tholian Web" (2004) You could add this daylily to your 'Sci-Fi' garden, since its name originates from an episode of Star Trek entitled 'The Tholian Web' that was aired in 1968.
'Miscanthus sinesis Morning Light' is one of my favorite ornamental grasses. Used as a specimen plant, its appearance is very striking. The slender blades of grass are pale green with very thin, white margins that give the plant a silvery sheen when viewed from a distance. It has an attractive vase-like shape and never, ever flops over. Morning Light is considered to be one of the best Miscanthus cultivars. So far this has been a very carefree, low maintenance plant. It grows between 4-6 ft. tall, and from 2-4 ft. wide, so give it some room!
This grass grows best in full sun. I know this, because I originally had it in part-shade. It languished there, so I moved it into full sun, and it immediately took off and grew like crazy! Although the plant tag says this is a Zone 5 plant, I took a chance on it at because it was a half-price closeout at the end of the season. (I live in Zone 4b.) I have had it for about 6 years now and it overwinters well. The gamble paid off!
When Morning Light produces flowers, they are beautiful reddish-bronze plumes that appear in late fall. As the seeds mature, they become cream colored and fluffy; they look great with the wheat-colored winter foliage. This accent grass can be enjoyed all winter long as it sways in the cold winter winds. Come spring, be sure to cut it back, close to the ground before the new growth emerges.
The top left photo was taken in July, the top right was taken in December and the close-up photo of the plumes was taken in October.
These July photos bring back memories of a fun day seeing all the riotous blooms in my friend Mary's garden. It had just rained that morning, but let up long enough for me to take these photos. Actually it was a perfect day for photos without the bright sun! As you can see, Mary's gardens are meticulously manicured. All of the perennials and annuals get lots of special TLC. She has put great thought into her color combinations and her flowers are all arranged for strategic bloom.
What you can't see in the photos is the large deck behind Mary's house where you can relax and overlook the botanic garden-like setting and enjoy all of her beautiful flowers. Truly an oasis!
Some of the daylilies pictured above include: 'All American Chief,' 'Ginger Twist,' 'Ruffles Elegante,'
'Edge of Your Seat,' 'Eyes on the Prize,' 'Rocket City,' and 'Feather Down.'
Pictured is one of my very favorite coneflowers, 'Coconut Lime.' I love the green and white combination! This echinacea starts blooming in July and grows approximately 24" tall. And if you deadhead the old blooms, it will continue producing new ones all summer and into fall. Echinaceas love full sun, regular watering until they are established, and well-drained soil. The coneflower blooms look quite a bit like a daisy at first and over a week or two gradually transform into pom-poms with little white skirts. The bees and butterflies love them! And the really good news? The herds of deer by our home never go near them! Although my photo was taken in late September, Coconut Lime is still happily in full bloom today despite a couple of light frosts here in Wisconsin.
The genus name, Echinacea, comes from the Greek word echinos meaning hedgehog or sea-urchin in reference to the spiny center cone. Coconut Lime was introduced by AB Cultivars in the Netherlands approximately a decade ago. So not only is it beautiful, it's well-traveled...coming to us all the way from Europe!
Echinacea Coconut Lime is pictured with Sedum ' Autumn Joy.'
Now here's what you don't expect to see blooming in September...an iris! I took this photo of "Immortality" yesterday afternoon blooming alongside "Pat's Mum" in my backyard. Immortality is a fragrant, reblooming, tall bearded iris that has multiple blooms in both spring and in fall. It thrives in Wisconsin's Zone 4 weather. The cooler late summer nights seem to prompt rebloom.
As you probably know, some iris can be extremely robust, needing to be thinned out quite often. Immortality is a moderate grower that does not need frequent division. In my opinion, that's a really good trait! This pure white iris grows approximately 36" tall and I have yet to see it flop over. It is a multiple award winner and very popular. I don't grow a lot of iris, but Immortality is one of my favorites.
Rebloomers do like more water and fertilizer since they need an extra boost to flower again. You can fertilize them in early spring and again just after 4th of July. Iris like fertilizer with a low nitrogen content so as not to promote bacterial rot. Be sure not to put the fertilizer directly on the plant but sprinkle it on the ground around root zone area. You will be rewarded!
My white "Sweet Autumn Clematis" died more than five years ago. I have grown this type of clematis before and it seemed to be short-lived. It would grow full tilt for about 3 years and then just mysteriously die--probably a Wisconsin thing. So when my third one died I really didn't think much about it, other than I knew I had to replace it with a different variety that wouldn't die after a few years. So I planted the pink "Comtesse du Bouchaud" in its place. Comtesse has been happily blooming for the last five years. Loved it! Problem solved.
But weirdly enough, a year or two ago, I noticed some different color vines mixed in with Comtesse. Then, come fall, they bloomed. It was the very same Sweet Autumn Clematis that had died years ago! So now my arbor is on overload. It is filled with massive clematis vines that bloom from spring to fall. I also have a purple "Jackmanii" clematis in the mix. The pink and purple clematis bloom during the summer and the white one begins blooming in September. The pictures show the different faces of my arbor over the summer. Gotta love mother nature!
My opinion of poppies sways back and forth in the wind - just like they do. They are 'stop-the-car' gorgeous when they are in full bloom, but they have such a short bloom time and are so wildly invasive. Clearly I have the non-hybrid kind. I could swear I bought these at a plant nursery. I even have a plastic plant tag with a name and picture on it....hmmm. The invasive part is super annoying - they are taking over the flower bed they are planted in. I have had an inner argument with myself for years whether or not to keep these poppies. So after careful thought, I had a recent digging frenzy and removed as many of these poppies as I could find and threw them in the field. I probably missed some roots, so they will no doubt be back next year for me to enjoy for one week and then complain about some more. And do more digging...
Rain, rain, and more rain -- that's been the story here in western Wisconsin for the past month. One inch here, two inches there, drizzling rain, pounding rain, all-day rain, and off-and-on rain. We gardeners love rain, but this may be too much of a good thing!
While my plants have never looked better, for the first time ever I have some daylilies that have exhibited 'scape blasting.' It's when a daylily scape cracks and bursts and all the flowers on it are lost. Scape blasting can be caused by heavy rain such as we've had lately. Internal pressure builds up inside of the scape and it explodes. Some daylilies are more prone to this than others. If interested, you can read more about scape blasting on the American Hemerocallis Society website.
I took two photos of different stages of scape blasting. The first photo is my 'Virginia B. Hanson' that has a burst and severed scape that mimics a peeled banana! The second photo is 'Drowning in Desire' with scape blasting just starting.
Here's hoping I don't see too much more of this!
Here are three of my early blooming clematis varieties: Gillian Blades (white with a hint of lavender on the edges), Niobe (dark reddish-purple), and Nelly Moser (pink). All three are Zone 4 hardy. These beautiful climbers help pacify me until my daylilies start sending up scapes. I was particularly pleased to see Nelly Moser bounce back nicely this year. Nelly was a mature plant I had for many years on a trellis by our garage. When we did some garage re-construction in 2014, Nelly had to be dug up and transplanted. Needless to say, I transplanted her with much trepidation. Last year was unremarkable, but this year all is well and she appears very happy in her new location. Phew!
Clematis are mainly of Chinese and Japanese origin. There has always been a pronunciation debate: Is it "KLEM-uh-tis" or "Kle-MAT-is?" Depending on what area you live in people pronounce it differently. Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary has both pronunciations listed as being correct.
It's so nice to see these pops of color early in the growing season to complement the iris.
Done! I cleared out a garden area that measured approximately 10 feet by 6 feet that will be turned back into grass. This particular area created a pass-through for mowing with our lawn tractor, so it needed to happen. And I was (reluctantly) in total agreement. My love-hate relationship with garden downsizing continues. Although it will be 60 square feet less weeding for me to do, it is also 60 square feet less daylilies to fawn over. But don't feel bad for me -- I have way more flowers than any normal person needs.
So, what to do with all those extra plants after downsizing? Over the weekend I had a very successful plant sale. The weather was Wisconsin-crazy: rain, sleet, and snow flurries! Who knew I'd need to wear a heavy-duty down jacket in mid-May? Despite the weather, I had lots of fun and hopefully got the word out that today's daylilies come in lots of other sizes and colors than 'roadside orange.'
This photo was taken in late June 2015; the early daylilies were just starting to bloom along with the Asiatics. The downsized area is way on the left-hand side of this garden.
They're back. Rain + Sunshine + the month of April = Dandelions. Since we don't use any chemicals on our lawn, we have lots of them. We mow them down and poof, the next day they are back. So, instead, we have chosen to simply adjust our attitudes and embrace them, although I do manually remove them from my flower beds.
Did you know?
In this photo a dandelion invaded my magenta creeping phlox.
Dandelion facts from: http://justfunfacts.com and http://www.columbia.edu
January is a perfect time to visit a garden and see some colors other than white outside. Let's pretend it's July and go on a tour of my dear friend Sandy's garden.
I admire Sandy's mindset--she has a 'laissez-faire' approach to gardening. If an unexpected plant shows up where it isn't necessarily wanted, Sandy embraces and nurtures that. This relaxed attitude gives her gardens the warm and inviting charm of a cottage-style look. There are interesting elements all over her gardens -- vines tumbling from a trellis and growing happily onto a bush, a relaxing water fountain, bird baths, bird houses, hummingbirds zooming around from flower to flower, wonderful fragrances, wind chimes gently singing in the breeze, and every color of the rainbow popping up here and there. A dedicated daylily bed grows in Sandy's yard, but she also has a love for just about anything green - perennial or annual.
Cars driving by that slow down to appreciate the flower gardens in her front yard, and neighbors stopping to take a closer look have become a commonplace occurrence. Just don't let that sly roaming gnome (pictured below) out of your sight.
The German Shepherd pictured is Sandy's garden companion and protector, "Vader."
Today, these tiny flowers are still blooming relatively close to the house. The photos were taken in early October, so they aren't this lush right now, but are still hanging on, despite the cold nights. I'm not sure what they are, but they have been reliably coming up year-after-year with no help from me. They are quite dainty -- the flowers are only about 1" in size. They bloom in varying shades of pink and purple, and I have seen them in white, too. Quite a few years ago, I got these from my "sissy" Sandra's neighbor, who assured me that they never, ever die. When my daylilies are done, these cute blooms blanket my flower beds with color until a very hard frost comes.
Could they be annual Calibrachoas (Million Bells) that continue to re-seed themselves? I know Million Bells are perennials in zones 9-11, but zone 4? Any ideas?
Did my good friend Sandy get tired of me complaining about mums? Probably. I was almost ready to give up on the darn things because they never made it through our winters. I made up my mind that I'd just call them annuals and leave it at that. But one fall, Sandy came over and brought with her a mum division in an ice cream pail. She handed it to me and said, very confidently, "Try this one; it won't die." Well, how right she was! This mum has been growing in my garden ever since, coming up year-after-year. It is seriously 3 feet high and 3-4 feet wide. A monster! Each season it looks prettier than the year before.
This showy pink mum helped me regain my faith in mums. I have since found about 5-6 other varieties that grow reliably and don't seem to mind the crazy climate here in Wisconsin. Thanks Sandy! No more complaining :)
if it's about
my backyard and garden, I LOVE to talk about it!