Look what appeared on my desk at work last week! After the recent ice, snow and 30 degree weather, this hyacinth was such a pleasant surprise. It assured me that spring is really on the way.
Hyacinth 'Pink Pearl' won the Award of Garden Merit of the Royal Horticultural Society. The blooms are so waxy and perfect, plus the fragrance is amazing! Pink Pearl grows 10-12 inches tall in full sun and is hardy in Zones 2-10. Best of all, hyacinths are easy to grow in well-drained locations, plus they are deer and rabbit resistant. (Sorry Easter Bunny!)
What a find this cute little petunia was! Last spring I purchased this annual at the local plant hut from the 75% off clearance table. I had never seen this variety before so I thought I'd give it a try; what did I have to lose? The plant looked a little rough after being on clearance table, but once home I planted it in some amended soil, fertilized, watered, and that made all the difference in the world. It promptly returned the favor by looking fabulous! I gave my Supertunia fertilizer every couple of weeks throughout the summer to keep it blooming in top form.
Supertunia 'Daybreak Charm' has a striking color combination with the greenish-yellow throat surrounded by the vibrant electric pink edges. The flowers are a bit smaller than traditional petunias, but they still put on a great show. Daybreak Charm grows about 10-14" tall and spreads out to about 18-24" wide. Supertunias are very drought-tolerant and they love the hot sun. Mine looked perfect, even during the few summer days when we had temps over 100 degrees. Deadheading is not necessary either! Like most other petunias, by August, you may have to give it a manicure. My Daybreak Charm continued to bloom until the first frost in fall.
You can use Supertunias in the landscape as a groundcover, but they are also great spilling over the edge of a planter or a hanging basket. Note that butterflies love these petunias just as much as I do.
On a dreary, 'fake-spring' afternoon I spent some time on my laptop going through photos from last summer. I deleted images I no longer wanted and re-arranged my keepers. I came across photos of this Asiatic lily that I just had to share. 'Suncrest' is such a beautiful lily. It is a hardy grower that I'm confident *anyone* could successfully grow. It grows approximately 3-4 feet tall and thrives in Zones 4 to 9. (I live in Zone 4.) It grows so robustly that I transplanted mine to partial shade to slow it down a bit! What I really like about this lily are the different looks that it presents. The buds are green with a touch of rose. When they first bloom, the flowers look lime-y green with burgundy speckles over a yellow base. As the bloom ages it morphs into a pale yellow color, as you can see in the third photo. At peak bloom it often looks like the plant grows two different color blooms simultaneously.
Suncrest is a Longiflorum-Asiatic (L.A.) Hybrid Lily. L.A. lilies are hybridized for better performance, bigger blooms, and a vase-life that is the longest of any lily. For those with allergies, they are virtually scentless. I purchased my Suncrest at the Saturday State Street Markets in Madison many years ago. As annoying and awkward as it was carrying this lily around in its pot, while trying to maneuver around tons of people at the markets (without whacking them in the head with my plant), it was totally worth it. I'd do it again in a heartbeat.
(And yes, the calendar says that it's spring, but I consider it 'fake-spring' until I can actually get outside.)
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.
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):
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.
As I patiently wait for my daylilies to bloom, I am definitely enjoying my Asiatic lilies in the interim. Here is a hardy and reliable mini I grow named 'Tiny Padhye' (pronounced Pad-high). This cutie was a gift I received from a friend about six years ago. I got the bulbs in early March and placed them in my refrigerator until mid-May when I planted them in the ground. As you can see, they really took off!
This bi-color Asiatic was developed the Netherlands. You can grow it successfully in full sun or part shade (mine are in full sun). It is an easy-care plant that lives in normal, sandy or clay soil that is neutral, alkaline or acid. This variety is also showy in containers, rock gardens, and in front of the border because of its petite size. Tiny Padhye grows approximately 16" to 18" tall. They are said to be deer resistant, but I can't be sure about that since I regularly spray deer deterrent on all of my flowers. The deer in our area seem to eat just about anything and everything. I take no chances.
Today I'm sharing photos of my friend Donna's 'Friendship Garden.' What makes this garden extra special is that every plant has either been shared or gifted by a friend. And as you can see by the photos -- she has many friends!
Donna's garden has evolved and grown quite a bit since I have known her. After a busy day she enjoys relaxing on the deck and loves the tranquility that her garden provides. The flowers are a reminder that her friends are always with her. Donna told me that her husband appreciates the flower garden as well; not only is it pretty, but there's less grass for him to mow!
It’s December in Wisconsin and my Sedum ‘Angelina’ still looks great! This sedum a very tough plant and it thrives in sub-average soil, which is good news for any gardener. It did take a year or two to mature into the dense mat shown in the photos. The more vibrantly colored Angelina photos were taken in the summer, while the orange-tinged sedum photos were taken this week.
I got this ground cover from my sister-in-law, Sandra. (Thanks again Sissy!) I had always admired the beautiful mass planting she had in her front yard. This showy sedum is a brilliant chartreuse in color and seems to glow it is so intense. In the summer it gets tiny yellow flowers. Towards winter the foliage tips turn reddish/orange-ish.
Colorwise, this sedum is more yellow in full sun, and more green in part-shade. I find that mine grows thicker and more dense in full sun. It only grows a few inches tall and spreads slowly. If you do want to thin it, the roots come out very easily. For an attractive, low maintenance ground cover, Sedum Angelina is a great choice. It loves to grow around rocks, and even looks nice in a planter or hanging basket.
My three burgundy ornamental fountain grasses have grown to almost 5 feet tall in front of our sun room. For fall landscape plants, they really makes a bold statement. When I planted them in spring, they were so tiny it seemed like they would never fill up the large space they were in. As you can see, they not only filled up the space -- they almost ran out of space!
Pennisetum setaceum 'Rubrum' (commonly known as Red or Purple Fountain Grass) is native to Africa, southeast Asia and the Middle East. In the U.S. it is hardy in Zones 9-11. In all other zones it is considered an annual. The genus name comes from the Latin penna meaning feather and seta meaning bristle referring to the flowers looking like feathery bristles, and rubrum means red.
I have done next to nothing as far as taking care of this grass. I just made sure it was watered well until it was established. Other than that, I pretty much just admire it. At only $4.99 per plant, it was totally worth it. I don't buy too many annuals, but this burgundy fountain grass is always a must-have.
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.'
if it's about
my backyard and garden, I LOVE to talk about it!