"One of the most delightful things about a garden is the anticipation it brings."

Monday, August 31, 2009

Aging gracefully.

Do you ever notice that some flowers look prettier the longer they are in bloom?  Some flowers really only look good as they first bloom and some on their one and only day in bloom.   Then there are the flowers that look better as they age.  I love how the poppy heads look as much as I like their actual bloom.   But, in my garden the flowers that age the most gracefully are the hydrangeas.  As the flowers stay on the shrub for weeks their fresh petals dry and deepen in color, while the leaves stay bright and shiny in the background.  I have quite a few varieties in my garden, unfortunately several didn't bloom this year because of the late freezes we had.
Luckily there are still many that did bloom and are the aging beauties in the background. 

Unknown florist Hydrangea

Hydrangea 'Preziosa'

Hydrangea 'Nikko Blue' behind Japanese Maple 'Orido Nishiki'.

'Nikko Blue'

'Nikko Blue'

Unknown Lacecap Hydrangea

 There's something to be said for aging naturally and finding the beauty in it.   
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Sunday, August 30, 2009

Looking good from all angles.

Years ago, when we first bought this house and I started working on the front garden, my main concern was how it looked to people walking by.

I would spend lots of time on the front on the yard making it look pretty for the walkers and drivers going down our street.  

They got to see birds bathing and eating at the feeders.

I would then come inside and look out the window and not be happy with how it looked, do some rearranging and still not like what I was seeing.  Finally after reading an article somewhere, I found something that has stayed with me:  
Don't plant only for curb appeal, plant so you can enjoy your garden from inside your house as well.  Why should everyone else enjoy the view except the people living in the house?  
Then I realized why I wasn't happy with my garden.  I wasn't planting it so we could enjoy it.  We viewed the back sides of the shrubs and the flowers were planted on the other sides.  Why should we look at the back of the garden?  Since then I've started planting in more of a "pyramid" style.  The tall plants go in the center and then taper down in size around all the edges of the garden, not just the front.  Last year I really got to work on the rearranging, adding some more shrubs to the middle, but ones that aren't supposed to get too tall and block our view.
Now we also get to see lots of birds splashing around and enjoying the seeds.

We get to see pretty flowers as well as the butterflies and hummingbirds from inside the house.

I think that is why this summer is the happiest I've ever been with our front garden.  I love the view I get when I look out the front window or the office window.  

(The baskets hung by our neighbor drive me crazy)

When someone walks to the door they see flowers as they walk from the sidewalk all the way up to the front door.
(An area still in progress)

When we sit on the front porch or with the girls when they play on the inside grass we get to see and smell the garden.  
After all we're the ones doing all the work, why shouldn't we benefit the most?
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Friday, August 28, 2009

Fertilizer Friday - Still going strong.

As I've been looking around the yard lately I'm really happy with how much is still blooming or just started to bloom.  I can't remember having such a full yard this time of year before.  I think part of it is that I've been planning my planting to have flowers blooming throughout as much of the year as possible.  I also think that the long, warm and dry summer we had played a big part in it too.  I've been taking lots of pictures so that this winter when I'm feeling like winter won't ever end, I can look back at all the flowers that will be coming.  A few days ago when the weather was cool I started thinking about fall, but yesterday as I looked around I started thinking, "Why am I rushing fall?"
The garden is still going strong, so I will enjoy it as long as it lasts.

Sunflower 'Mammoth' reaching for the sky.

Cleome 'Rose Queen' has never done better.  I've planted it other years and it didn't do much, this year it's gotten tall and bloomed for a long time.  I know not everyone cares for the smell, but I almost like it now.  Verbena bonariensis and Dahlias are blooming in the background.

A hardy fuchsia in the entry garden.  I just planted this one last year.

Ornamental Strawberry (fragaria ananassa)'Lipstick' (light pink) and 'Pink Panda' (dark pink) are reblooming and there are lots of juicy (edible) red strawberries.  They are by the driveway, which is a place that gets especially hot, and the smell of the berries just carries all through the area.  I have it growing under a pink rose.

Red Valerian (Centranthus ruber) has been blooming for many months.

Rudbeckia 'Rustic Colors' is a new favorite.

Dahlia 'Onesta' has such pretty coloring, this was in the shade when I took the picture.  The colors really stand out here.

Calibrachoa that got plopped in this blue pot ended up doing great.  The Littlest Gardener added a pink bubble wand for a little art.

Caryopteris 'Worcester Gold' up close.  I bought this many years ago with no clue about what I was buying.  This is a deciduous shrub which blooms later in the summer.

Here's the whole shrub.  The honeybees are covering it, so if they are missing from your garden it's because they are here, on this plant.

Thanks to Tootsie at Tootsie Time who hosts Fertilizer Friday every week.  Visit her to see more gardeners and their beautiful gardens.
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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Hummingbird favorites in my garden.

I've had some people ask me which plants attract hummingbirds in my garden, so I thought I would list the most popular flowers and shrubs that I have.  I wish I had great pictures of the hummingbirds at the flowers they like, but I've almost given up trying.  I see them there, run for the camera, and they're gone.  We have hummers here almost year round.  One day maybe I'll have some time out there when I can sit and be ready, maybe once school starts and I don't have an entourage with me each time I walk outside.  
Even during our coldest months the last couple of winters they have been visiting the fuchsia until it succumbed to frost for the season.  After that I left feeders up for the birds that were already here.   
Here are some of their absolute favorites in my yard.

Starting in Spring the first flowers they go for are:
Heucheras, and in my garden they prefer the red flowered ones the most.  These bloom into early summer.

Weigela 'Minuet' stays small and has lots of the tube shaped flowers the hummingbirds love.

This is another Spring shrub they fight over.  Pink Flowering Currant (ribes sanguineum).  This picture doesn't do it justice, it's so pretty.  It grows in part shade and has gotten to be at least 8 feet tall.
Other spring bloomer they like here are Columbines and Foxgloves.

Summer favorites, many of which bloom until the first frost:
Monardas are always popular, but the 'Jacob Cline' is like a magnet for them.  They are pretty territorial over this plant.  I wish they would just leave each other alone so I could see more than one feeding at a time.  This starts blooming in early summer.

Phlox, especially this pink one, they visit frequently.

Verbena bonariensis which self seeds everywhere (and I like that) blooms through fall.

Fuchsia magellanica starts blooming early summer until the first frost.  I have several hardy fuchsias in my garden, but this large red one is the most popular.  If you look really hard you can see a hummingbird.

Autumn Sage 'Rose Pink (Salvia greggii) is new in my garden and the hummingbirds found it right away.  I hope the name is right and it blooms into Autumn.  Another attempt at a picture, there is the blur of one on the right.

Cardinal Flower (lobelia cardinalis) which grows in the pond, will bloom through fall.

In August Butterfly Bush (Buddleia alternifolia) starts to bloom and continues through fall.  When I went out to take this picture there was a hummingbird feeding at it.  I made the mistakes of wearing flip flops as I walked up to take the picture.  Note to self:  bare feet or shoes that don't make noise are easier to sneak up on birds with.

Rose of Sharon 'Minerva' (Hibiscus syriacus) is always a late bloomer here.  When I was out by it the other day watching a hummingbird, one flew right to me about a foot away from where I was standing.  It startled me so much I couldn't get the camera focused fast enough.  I realized after why it flew right to me, I had a bright pink shirt on.

I don't think I'd ever seen a hummingbird up close until I rented a house that had Rose Campion throughout the entire garden.  Once I read more about what flowers they liked and had my own garden to plant in, it became an important part of choosing flowers.  Now that I see them frequently I still get excited and will call my girls or my husband to come and look at them buzzing from flower to flower, or stopping to rest in a low brach of a tree.  
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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

First fall planter.

I know fall isn't quite here, but like other bloggers I've really been noticing it in the air.  I did some clean up in the backyard today and while I was back there I decided I'd put together a new planter since some of the annuals were done.   I've been picking up plants here and there while I've been out and used a couple of things I already had.

Pennisetum 'Fireworks' (Thank you Janet for helping me identify it!)

Heuchera 'Beaujolais'

Winter pansy with the cutest coloring, another winter pansy with similar colors is tucked in there too.

 You can see Chrysanthemum 'Bronze Spider' in bud here.

The finished product with Calibrachoa trailing in the front.

This one turned out so well I can't wait to put some more together.   
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Monday, August 24, 2009

Butterfly garden in August.

I'd have to say my favorite part of the garden lately has been what I've been calling the butterfly garden.  I may have to change it to hummingbird garden since they seem to be much more regular visitors.  Either way it has filled in so nicely in just about 4 months.  Definitely worth the work it was.

April 26th, just after I finished it.

This was taken today at almost the same place as above.  I've tried taking pictures at all different times of the day and finally just accepted that the lighting doesn't show the vibrancy of the colors.

Right in front of the Butterfly Bush.

Everything has just really thrived and done great.  Hardly any of these plants were here when I started, so in 4 months they've had a lot of growth.

There are several Sunflowers coming up from the bird feeder that is in this bed.

A close up of a Buddleia alternifolia flower.  The scent carries throughout the front yard.  I really like how this type of Buddleia grows compared to my B. davidii.  This type stays in bloom much longer and doesn't just bloom on top like B. davidii.  Hummingbirds love it.

My first year growing Lantana, and I wasn't disappointed.  I'm going to plant lots more next year.

Echinacea 'Green Envy'

Echinacea 'Tiki Torch'

Echinacea 'Fragrant Angel'

Zinnia 'Green Envy'

Rose 'Julia Child'

I'm already excited to see how this area will look next year.  I'm going to plant bulbs in here, because so many of these flowers are summer bloomers.  Then when the lilac blooms it'll have some company.
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