Thursday, June 28, 2012

Frederick, Md. in June

Gillian and I went to Frederick yesterday and walked around around the town, looking in shops, checking out the antiques, and poking in other people's gardens. Of course we had lunch, too.  Love the windowboxes. Love the buildings. Frederick is a great little town, full of history, and even on a weekday afternoon, there were lots of people out and about.

We happened upon a little courtyard garden, which just happened to have the largest and oldest gingko tree in the entire United States! I love love love gingko trees and I have never seen one anywhere near this big. It was in the center of a small garden tucked between two old historic houses. The garden had this plaque on the wall, so I told Gillian, sure it's open, it must be a public garden, let's go. So in we walked and were looking around, taking pictures, admiring the flowers and pots and garden sculptures, taking our time.  And then a woman walked out of one of the houses and it turns out it is her house and garden and it is indeed a private garden. She couldn't have been nicer--apparently she and her husband are bigwigs in town, he is a big name realtor, and she is a politician. She told us all about the history of her house, and the tree, and all the care they give to the tree--you wouldn't believe what they have to do to take care of it. When they built a new patio near the tree last year, they had to wrap the roots and do all kinds of protective things for the tree. She said the roots of the tree extend five blocks! Her tree company is the same company that takes care of the White House trees.  Her house dates to the 1700s, and several of the windows have original glass to that time. I love that wavy old glass. Amazing. She was so talkative and friendly, and invited us back next year for the house and garden tour, so you know that we already have it on our calendar. 

Gingko tree in background

Love that stacked stone wall!
Gillian making herself at home

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Relaxing in the Garden

The past few days I have been trying to relax and stay out of the garden. After all the work and primping of the garden last week, I felt like I couldn't face dragging the hose around, or doing much of anything outside. So on this beautiful June morning I took my tea outside and the newspaper (and can I just say how happy I am that the Board of Visitors reinstated UVA President Sullivan?) and sat on the deck to relax, listen to the birds,  and just enjoy the garden. But as I was gazing at my lovely fleurs, I noticed that one of my pots was getting a little droopy, so I got up to fill the watering can. And then I noticed that the birdbath needed fresh water. Get out the hose. And the snapdragons were falling over. Go look for some stakes. I realize that the pleasure I get from my garden is from being in it, being part of it.  I guess that's the relaxing part, not sitting and looking at it.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Wheel Turns

Dad in his garden, 1980

My parents were always gardeners, mostly in the sense of keeping a nice yard, a lush lawn,  and planting pretty flowers in the flowerbeds. After he retired, my dad got into vegetable gardening in a big way, and dug up a corner of the backyard and turned it into a showpiece garden. He made his own compost and read Organic Gardening. He ordered his seeds in the winter and started plants indoors. His soil was rich and dark, the best I have ever seen. There was not a weed to be found in my dad's garden. And he gardened until he was 91 years old.  Growing up, we had a curved rose bed along the driveway, roses that my grandfather planted when he lived in that house before us. When my mom sold the house in 2006, those roses were still there, and many of them were the original roses, over 60 years old. This poem reminds me of my dad, and makes me think about all the gardeners in my family, past and future.

Seventy-Two is Not Thirty-Five
by David Budbill

I spent seven hours yesterday at my daughter's house
helping her expand their garden by at least ten times.
We dug up sod by the shovelful, shook off the dirt as
best we could; sod into the wheelbarrow and off to the
pile at the edge of the yard. Then all that over and over
again. Five hours total work-time, with time out for lunch
and supper. By the time I got home I knew all too well 
that seventy-two is not thirty-five; I could barely move.

I got to quit earlier than Nadine. She told me I'd done
enough and that I should go get a beer and lie down on
the chaise lounge and cheer her on, which is what I did.

All this made me remember my father forty years ago
helping me with my garden. My father's dead now, and
has been dead for many years, which is how I'll be one
of these days too. And then Nadine will help her child,
who is not yet here, with her garden. Old Nadine, aching
and sore, will be in my empty shoes, cheering her on.

So it goes. The wheel turns, generation after generation,
around and around. We ride for a little while, get off and
somebody else gets on. Over and over, again and again. 

Monday, June 25, 2012

Garden Tour 2012

The Garden Tour yesterday was a great success. The weather was beautiful and I was told it was the biggest turnout yet the town has had for a garden tour.  People were so nice and appreciative--I guess I had not thought about how the people doing a garden tour are mostly gardeners themselves, or flower lovers, so everyone was so interested in every little detail, and many had cameras and notebooks out, taking down names of plants and asking questions about sun and shade, plant divisions, hardiness, etc. I even had two English women who oohed and aahed and told me I had a true English garden. Now that's a real compliment!

On Saturday, all the people participating in the tour met and went around to see all the other gardens, which was really interesting and fun.  Here are a few pictures of the other gardens on the tour this year. The garden below was really nice--the gardeners are both landscape architects, so they had a lot of help with the hardscape. The front yard had a beautiful front porch of bluestone, with different little creeping plants planted between the pavers. And I loooved the stacked stone walls that surrounded the property--they were my favorite part of the whole garden. The backyard had several garden features, including an amazing outdoor kitchen and bar, patio, waterfall, seating area with firepit, all mixed in with beds of hydrangeas, roses, heuchera, and other shady plants. Most of the beds were bordered with Korean boxwood, something I liked a lot. Only a landscape architect could get that many boxwood plants...

The garden below is one I drive by several times a day, so it was fun to get up close and see all the plants I have been admiring from the road. Mostly a shady garden, there are lots of hydrangeas, azaleas, hostas, ferns,  foxgloves, and even a little waterfall garden.

The next garden was very eclectic, with something interesting to look at everywhere you turned. The centerpiece of the garden was a huge 22- foot wide pond in the backyard, filled with water lilies, lotus, and other water plants, as well as several varieties of koi. Around the yard were garden beds planted with native plants and exotic perennials, including banana trees and palms.  They also have a beautiful solarium on the back of the house (oh man what I wouldn't give for a solarium), filled with more exotic plants.

And I liked this little succulent garden they had in their front yard.

The final garden belongs to a guy who used to work as a landscaper and owned a nursery. He kept saying he was not a gardener, just a landscaper. In fact he was very knowledgeable. He had an amazing collection of shrubs and trees and I liked how he had layered so many different varieties of holles, spruces, cypresses, and other trees and plants all around his garden. He also had the largest hosta I have ever seen! By the end of the tour, everyone was hot and tired, and he very graciously invited us all into his cool house for cold beers and some snacks. It was fun to talk to everyone and hear how busy everyone has been getting their gardens ready for the tour.

The best part of being on the garden tour was getting to meet other gardeners, and make some new friends. When it was all over on Sunday afternoon, we were all invited to the home of one of the tour's organizers (who also has a beautiful garden, of course) for a picnic. It is a great group and I am sure we will be seeing these people again.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Hot, Hot, Hot!

This is about all I have been doing in the garden the past few days--lots of watering.  It has been really, really hot this week, reaching 100 steamy degrees yesterday. I have been busy getting ready for the garden tour, so I have been going out at 7 am and working a few hours until I can't stand it anymore. I took off a few days from work, so I would have plenty of time to get ready. Basically I am watering and deadheading. I don't have too many weeds, because I believe in the plant closely method, so that there isn't room for weeds to grow. I am gradually pulling larkspur (and throwing the seed back into the garden, of course), although I am leaving whatever is still blooming.  I have also pulled up the last of the daffodil and bulb foliage.

A lot of things are in bloom, thankfully,  mostly purple coneflowers, daisies, daylilies, hostas, pink and yellow yarrows, snapdragons,  salvia, pink and yellow coreopsis,  lavenders, and I am excited because my phlox is just beginning to bloom. So while I was worried that nothing would be blooming, it seems like there will be plenty of color in the garden this weekend. On Saturday, there is a Pre-Tour for all the participants, where we go around and look at each other's gardens. I will be glad when this is over, so that I can relax and stop fretting about the garden!

Phlox 'Miss Lingard'

And as I am writing this, there is a big fat cardinal splashing in the birdbath--I have been trying like crazy to get a picture, but so far no luck.

Phlox beginning to bloom

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Lawn Troubles

Several neighbors have had some major lawn troubles lately, because their lawn company mistakenly applied grass killer instead of fertilizer. Whoops. Anyway, I took some pictures of one of the houses in town because it was just so incredible to see, first, how they scraped off all the existing lawn, right up to all the flower beds, and then brought in piles and piles and piles of sod. This was probably an acre lot.  Just think about trying to water that lawn. Fortunately, I think they had an underground irrigation system. My other neighbor across the street does not, however,  and she has been dragging sprinklers back and forth until she couldn't take it anymore, and now they are sending irrigation trucks every other day or so, and flooding the lawn. What a disaster. I have heard they fired the guy, no surprise there.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Planting Outside the Pot

I like to plant this old colander of mine with something, and I finally got around to getting some moss to line it so the dirt doesn't drain out of the holes. Sometimes I have used landscape fabric,  but I like the moss better.  I lined the colander with a nice thick layer of moss, put in the plant, and then stuffed more moss around the plant. I used some kind of flowering sedum and I think it looks pretty cute!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Pot Shots

Million Bells

We had a good soaking rain yesterday so I hope that will help get us through the rest of the week, which is supposed to reach into the high 90s by Friday. I can't complain too much, as my poor neighbor across the street had her lawn killed by their lawn care company. One of the guys spread grass killer instead of grass fertilizer on her lawn this spring, and so most of her lawn was killed. Of course they started to re-sod the whole yard last week during a spell of really, really hot days, and now her life is a 24/7 job of lugging sprinklers around the whole yard, trying to keep it going. Parts are not going well. What a disaster. That's happened to a couple of houses in our neighborhood this spring. You know I have pictures...

Sun Coleus
Most of my pots are doing pretty well. I had one pot of million bells fry up the weekend we were at the beach--I thought it would be okay for 2 days with water, but no such luck. I cut it way back and am hoping it will revive itself, but so far it's not looking too good. I have started the watering cycle with Miracle Gro, hoping to give them all a little boost for the garden tour. The plants that consistently do the  best for me in pots are coleus, angelonia, scaveola, perilla, vinca, the sweet potato vines, lantana (love all the lantanas, especially the hard-to-find white), swedish ivy. I love heliotropes and I always use them, but I have to baby them all summer. I am done with geraniums--no more. 

Mexican Heather
Mixed Purple Pot
Pots on deck
Potted hosta
Picasso Petunias
Scented Geranium
Mixed pots
Mixed pot, Lantana, Scaveola, Million Bells
Million Bells
Mixed pot, Perilla, Angelonia, Lantana