My goal this spring was was to get the garden in shape for my twin boys high school graduation festivities. While the weather barely cooperated, the gardens were helped by the cool spring and looked beautiful, green and lush. Some of the spring shrubs were still blooming and overlapping with some of the early summer blooming vines and perennials. What didn’t have color, I filled in with annuals from a local nursery. Even the vegetable gardens seemed on their best behavior. I think I am going to be spending a lot of time relaxing in the backyard this summer enjoying all this early spring work.
On personal note– this has been such a hectic year and I haven’t been blogging as much as I had hoped. Now that my twins have finished their senior year and all that comes with it, I hope to be writing on a more regular basis. Wondering where they’re going? Here’s a hint…
My husband (and mom and daughter) are much better photographers than I am, so I’m always excited when one of them wants to shoot some photos of my gardens. Here’s some of what my husband saw the last couple of days through his macro lens.
One of my favorite annuals–Marigolds
More asiatic lilies are blooming. I didn’t miss them all.
The Ballon Flowers are getting ready to bloom (Platycodon grandiflora).
Jeana Garden Phlox
Hostas are in bloom. Maybe they’ll attract the hummingbirds or sphinx moths.
In one of my mom Peggy’s raised beds she had the beginnings of a beautiful bed of huge African Marigolds (Tagetes erecta). If you love marigolds like I do, I couldn’t wait to see how this was going to look in the next few weeks. Then, one morning she woke up to this…
…and I got a frantic text outlining what had happened. Many of the flowers had been cleanly nipped off and petals strewn everywhere. We were puzzled as to how this happened. Weren’t marigolds supposed to repel most garden varmints?Apparently not, after some research and this first hand experience. This could have been the work of rabbits, chipmunks, squirrels, deer and even birds. Based on critter observations and the bed being a little high for rabbits to get in, our best guess is the chipmunks.
We were hoping this was a one night event and the critters would move on, but no such luck. This was the bed the next day.
All the flowers cleanly cut off and many shredded. Very disappointing and frustrating. Might be time to put a fence around the bed like some of the others that attract rabbits. But, if it is chipmunks, a fence is not going to help. She’ll need to be even more creative to keep them out, or throw in the towel on the marigolds.
While I haven’t had the same problems with my marigolds, through the years I’ve had more issues with slugs and earwigs. They go more for the foliage, and can really do a lot of damage to the leaves. Best way to diagnose these pests is to go out at night with a flashlight and see what’s going on. When I had smaller gardens I had good luck with a pie plate of beer put out at night. It is a bit gross in the morning, but it does work. These days I have more issues with my hostas being attacked by slugs than I do my marigolds. Because of the larger garden size, I now I use the organic Sluggo slug bait instead when things get bad.
Earwigs (which I just hate probably only second to palmetto bugs) can be beneficial in small numbers but a pest in larger numbers. I’ve had luck trapping them in the beer filled tins with the slugs, or by placing rolled up damp newspapers in the garden at night. In the morning, grab the newspapers and dunk them in a pail of water. Some others have reported that using small tuna sized cans with about a 1/4 inch of cooking oil in it as traps works well too.
Have you ever woken up to find one of your gardens destroyed overnight?
This is the area of biggest change. In preparation for new construction, all the trees next door were taken down in early April. We knew this was likely at some point (see Problem Areas) and had tried to plan ahead. This garden contains arborvitae, annabelle hydrangeas, hostas and some annuals. It went from almost full shade to full sun. So far so good.
Under an Autumn Blaze Maple, we have some burning bushes, hostas, and daylilies.
Also some Columbines that have travelled from the backyard.
This was another problem area where nothing seemed to grow under a mature maple. I was happy to see the hostas I planted last year came back nicely. When I split some more, I’ll add them to continue to fill in the space. We are a little worried about the health of this parkway maple. It’s pretty old and showing a lot of signs of being unhealthy. But it’s still standing, for now.
On the other side of the driveway, a few years ago a rather large maple fell down in a wind storm. We replaced it with this Swamp White Oak (Quercus bicolor) that has finally seemed to take off after it’s brush with cicadas its second year. Underneath are more densi yews, Russian Sage, daylilies and a burning bush.
Back up to the house, there’s an awful lot of green since the Korean Lilac and Judd Viburnum have finished blooming. The yews are a bit overgrown and the Rhododendron in the corner a bit spindly. This may become the next area to fix up.
The yews took a bit of a beating this winter and will look fine after a trim. The boxwoods and hostas are new last year and make a nice addition to the area (although the one hosta looks a little big for the space). A little sprucing up and mulch and this area will be good to go.
That’s most of the garden spaces that I write about and toil in. Hopefully this summer will bring perfect garden weather.
I took a tour of my yard today to see how everything was looking. Other than a little late, most things were looking quite healthy. It seems I’m often focussed on the “little picture”, so it was nice to just step back and look at the “big picture”.
Starting in the back…
Hostas, sedum, peonies, windflowers, astilbe, heuchera, hydrangea, spurge and a River Birch fill this part shade bed that borders the patio.
Off the back of the patio is the Purple Ash that looks quite healthy this year after it’s treatment for Emerald Ash Borer last year (Attack of the Emerald Ash Borer: Part 1 and Part 2). I recently split and transplanted some hostas, ferns and sedum underneath it to make it look more like a garden rather than a dirt pile I also added 3 Purple Beautyberry Bushes in the corner to join some raggedy looking Red Twig Dogwoods. This also where my 2 new raised vegetable beds are located.
Finally, my Siberian Irises are blooming. Only 2 blooms, but better than nothing!
The back of the house is planted with Miss Kim lilacs, a Blackhaw viburnum, a Redbud, densi yews, an assortment of creeping sedums, creeping thyme, Russian sage, a few other perennial specimens, hostas, daylilies and petunias.
Johnson Blue Geranium
Tangerine Avens–my best guess is that it is Geum “Totally Tangerine”.
The side yard is undergoing some transition as the house next door is undergoing construction. What used to be sun/part shade, is now full sun. Along here are ferns, hostas, phlox, bee balm, wisteria, knock-out roses, daylilies, weigeila and honeysuckle. There is also a 15 yr old multi-stemmed Freeman’s Maple just outside the shot, but I’ll leave that for another day. But here’s a hint, it’s June and it’s casting almost no shadow…
Wisteria is starting to bloom.
All around the yard are these Columbines. They just pop up unexpectedly and provide some pretty spring colors. They’re a spreading plant that I don’t mind having out of place. These all came from a gift of one plant soon after we moved in.
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.
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.
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.
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.