Tag Archives: annabelle hydrangea

Cheerful and Bright Zinnia Bed

Last year, my friend Susan described to me how she grows a beautiful hedgerow of zinnias every year by collecting the seed heads in the fall (Fall Seed Gathering Means Beautiful Summer Zinnias).

I thought I’d give it a try this spring, so I collected all the zinnia heads from my garden last fall.

I left them in a bag over the winter on the porch and this spring crumbled up the dry seed heads to release all the seeds. No need to separate the seeds from the rest of the smaller plant material.

This spring, when the soil temperature was warm enough (usually not until after Mother’s Day here at my zone 5 home) I planted the overwintered seeds in a bare spot in the front garden that just needed some color. Just sprinkle out the seed mixture in thick rows or mat. Zinnias are definitely picky about temperature, so don’t start too early. (The dug-up plant on the left? A random daylily that was really out of place after a bunch of landscaping changes. It got replanted up at the WI cabin.)

Then I waited. I was surprised at how fast the seeds germinated, and by early July I had a beautiful, welcoming splash of color.

They’ve been blooming beautifully all summer, and the Durango Outback marigolds (Johnny’s Seeds) and Annabelle hydrangeas are perfect companions. I think the marigolds will be perfect candidates to try this seeding method with next spring.

Durango Outback Marigold

I did try this seeding method this year with snapdragons. They germinated and grew really nicely, but for some reason haven’t flowered very well.

Maybe because they’re in a planter, or maybe it needed more fertilizer, or the seeds didn’t overwinter properly? Funny thing though, they seem to have grown just great in our fire pit where I must have tossed some “waste”.

I will be definitely be collecting all the seeds heads again this fall!

 

Curled Leaves on the Bushes

Earlier in the spring, I began to notice that many, but not all, of my bushes in the front yard (Dwarf Korean Lilacs,  Judd Viburnum, Boxwoods, Burning Bushes, Annabelle Hydrangea) were looking a bit unhealthy. Their leaves were oddly curling and looking dry, even though we’d had plenty of rain. The worst was one of the Burning Bushes and large sections of the lilacs.

Annabelle Hydrangea

 

Burning Bush

 

Dwarf Korean Lilac

Not knowing what to do, I called my tree and shrub caretaker to come and take a look. He diagnosed it as mealy bugs and mites, although I had trouble seeing what he saw.  Looking into it some more, it seems it could have also been related to any number of other pests, or even incorrect watering or fertilizing.  No matter the reason, it was clear from the symptoms that something was literally sucking the life out of the leaves and they needed to be treated or the shrubs could die. He recommended spraying with a pesticide/fungicide combo to cover all the bases. I don’t usually like spraying nonspecifically, but whatever the problem was it was affecting a number of specimen shrubs in my front yard that were already stressed from the harsh winter.  I had already lost one large burning bush to mites a couple of years back and I didn’t want to chance losing all these bushes this year, so went ahead with the sprays.

Just recently, I finally started to finally see some new healthy growth on the shrubs and no further damage.  Some of the curled leaves uncurled, others remained curled, but stayed green and didn’t appear to be any further damaged.  Crisis averted for this year.

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Burning Bush

 

dwarf korean lilac

Have you ever seen anything like this?  Any suggestions as to the cause?

Yet another problem area addressed

As I’ve worked on the problem areas in the front yard, I created another sore spot in the area where we moved the Annabelle hydrangeas from. On the north side of the house were the 4 hydrangeas and a row of Hicks yews. The hydrangeas had to go because they were just too big for the space, leaving big gaps at either end. They look great where they are now!

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It’s is a difficult place to plant because it is on the north side and under the soffit of the house. Therefore very shady and somewhat dry. The yews have done just fine, but I do give them at least about a watering can full of water dumped right down the center every 2-3 weeks during the summer and into fall. I didn’t want to add more yews, but instead wanted a deciduous plant that could take those conditions. I watched the location for a few weeks and decided it gets about 3 hours max of full sun. I settled on Wine and Roses Weigela. While it would flower better and have darker leaf color in full sun, I think it will look good in the space, and be a good contrast to the yews, even in this less than ideal location. If it does awful, I like the plant enough to move it to a different location after a couple of years.

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This area still looks a little sad, especially without the mulch in yet, but I’ve learned in the past to be patient and let plants grow into the space. I’ve had to dig too much up after a few years because too many flowers, shrubs and even trees were planted too close together. Money down the drain! In a few years this will grow to be a healthy plant and not be overflowing the space.

Problem Areas

Everyone has problem areas in their yard.  This week, I’m going to show some of ours and some of the solutions we’ve finally come up with.  First was an area off the corner of the house.  When we first moved in, the landscaper designed the space to have 3 large Austrian Pines in the corner with some yews and junipers in front of the window.

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Little did we know that a self-planted maple was growing right next to it in my neighbors yard. It grew extremely rapidly to become one of the biggest trees around the property. It was so dense that it created too much shade for the Austrian Pines to grow properly (and killed off all her shrubs as well). So, last year we finally threw in the towel and had our trees removed to try and fix up this very noticeable part of the garden and house. In the process, we also took out the creeping junipers that were half dead as well from lack of sun.

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In the new garden we wanted some type of visual distraction from the neighbors fence since that’s where your eyes would go as you walk up the front walk. But, also wanted to keep it fairly low budget and therefore decided on 3  Arborvitaes. They’re one of the few evergreens that will tolerate shade, although their growth will be very slow. We didn’t want a full privacy hedge, just something to distract your eyes.  We happened to have 4 Annabelle hydrangeas on the side of the house that are far too big for the space and by mid season flop over into the main brick walkway to the back of the house. In this new shade garden we created, the hydrangeas would be a perfect plant. They can obviously tolerate the shade and can finally just grow as they want in an appropriate space. Of course, to fill in the rest, I moved some hostas from elsewhere in the yard. We also had some boxwoods added to give the space a more finished, less wild look.

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We think this was a great improvement to the front yard. The only problem we had was that everything was planted/transplanted right before the drought hit last summer. I did a lot of watering to keep all the plants alive and they all survived the drought and the winter.