The Impatient Gardener: July 2013

31 July 2013

The Garden Appreciation Society Week 12 -- Link up!

I really can't believe we're already on Week 12 of The Garden Appreciation Society. What do you think? Are you enjoying it? I think I'm a flowers-in-the-house convert because of this. I haven't missed the few flowers that I've brought inside each week from the garden and I love that there are always fresh bouquets inside. Even Mr. Much More Patient is commenting on them. I'm so impressed with the creative arrangements that some of you are coming up with.

For instance, check out this simple and very chic little arrangement that Sue made last week:

Think Global, Garden Local photo

This was a great week for me, flower-wise. The hydrangeas are blooming! You all know how I love a hydrangea. The Limelights are just starting to show some buds, but the Annabelle, Invincibelle Spirit and Incrediballs are all blooming. This is the first year I've had "real" blooms on the Incrediballs and I'm pretty sure I'm totally in love. I was a little skeptical about them in the beginning but now that they've matured a little bit I'm really liking them. Especially after last night's rain, which left all the Annabelle stems laying on the ground but the Incrediballs were still standing proud (although thanks to the deer those don't have nearly the number of flowers of the Annabelle).

The Impatient Gardener -- The Garden Appreciation Society -- Annabelle hydrangea, Invicibelle Spirit hydrangea, echinacea

So it's no surprise that this week's bouquet prominently features hydrangeas. The white blooms were all snipped from the stems that were flattened to the ground this morning and the two pinks were from my one Invincibelle Spirit plant. They are a little smaller than I would have hoped, but I'm blaming that on a relatively immature plant and hoping that next year they will be larger.

The Impatient Gardener -- The Garden Appreciation Society -- Annabelle hydrangea, Invicibelle Spirit hydrangea, echinacea

The Impatient Gardener -- The Garden Appreciation Society -- Annabelle hydrangea, Invicibelle Spirit hydrangea, echinacea

And the first of the echinacea are also blooming so I threw a few purple coneflowers in there for good measure. I also managed to avoid fondling the hydrangeas, but don't expect that to last for long.

And don't miss all the previous weeks of The Garden Appreciation Society!

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How to combine plants with special needs in containers

Wouldn't it be nice if you could just stick any old plant into a container with any other plant and have it be beautiful and grow perfectly? Anyone who has tried this knows it just doesn't work that way.

I scoff a little when I see some beautiful container planting in a photograph that makes absolutely zero sense because I know those plants have no growing conditions whatsoever in common.

So you are limited in that regard. Plants that love lots of sun just aren't going to grow well with plants that love lots of shade. Unless that sun plant is really big and will actually create the shade for the shade-loving plant. I will say, I've been a lot more successful in pushing a shade plant into a sunnier spot than I have been pushing a sun-loving plant into a shady spot. That latter combination is a recipe for disaster.

'King Tut' is my favorite "thriller" for the large container by the front door.
Sometimes, though, you can create microclimates even in something as small as a container planting. I do this every year in the big container by the front door that features Papyrus 'King Tut' as the focal point. Papyrus is really a water plant. Give it enough water and it will grow and grow and grow. Let it dry out and it will become frozen in time and its triangular stems will fold in half. But few plants offer such a good "thriller" show as King Tut, so I've planted it every year since I first tried it five years ago or so.

But there's a secret to it. I plant it in its own container and then I sink that container right into the main container. This serves two purposes: One is to be able to water just King Tut much more than the rest of the container and the other is to keep King Tut from taking over the entire container, which I think it probably would if given the opportunity.

Do you see the hidden 3-gallon nursery pot in there? I plant 'King Tut' in it and then sink the entire thing into the larger container. 
The coleus in this container planting would not be happy if it got as much water as the 'King Tut' papyrus grass. By planting the King Tut in a container within a container both plants can have the conditions they thrive in.

The container-in-a-container allows me to water the King Tut every day even though the rest of the container only needs water every few days or so because it is so large. The same practice could be used for all sorts of special-needs plants such as succulents or cacti planted in a container with more typical annuals that require more water, fertilizer and different soil.

It's just one more way to get even more creative with container plantings.

P.S. Never fear, The Garden Appreciation Society is coming later today. I've just been sitting on this post for awhile and wanted to publish it since I've been a bit lax with the posts this week. 

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24 July 2013

The Garden Appreciation Society Week 11 -- Link up now!

We're back on track, more or less, for this week's Garden Appreciation Society link-up.

I have to say I'm particularly happy with what I came up with this week because this is something I never would have thought to do if it weren't for this weekly effort to appreciate the garden in a new way.

Many of the container plantings seem to have gone from perfection to a bit lanky in just the last week. It's no biggie, you just have to do a little pruning and wait a couple weeks and they'll be beautiful again. I try to avoid lopping everything off at once because they really do look pathetic during that time. I also try to hit them with a good dose of fertilizer to get them going again.

Anyway, I usually wait until the flowers are a bit more spent before I go pruning, but the Superbena Violet Ice doesn't seem to want to stop blooming. So I decided to prune a few for this week's bouquet. I combined it with another new plant in the garden this year: Tickseed Coreopsis 'Moonbeam', which has lovely soft yellow flowers.

The Impatient Gardener's Garden Appreciation Society -- Superbena Violet Ice and Coreopsis 'Moonbeam'

The Impatient Gardener's Garden Appreciation Society -- Superbena Violet Ice and Coreopsis 'Moonbeam'

I wouldn't have thought to look to my containers for a bouquet, but I'm so happy with how this one turned out. I think the Coreopsis would look equally nice with a gorgeous blue hydrangea bloom, if I were lucky enough to have such a thing in my yard.

Since we're really in the heart of summer (and isn't it just lovely? I just love summer so much that the back-to-school stuff in stores makes me profoundly sad) you all are coming up with some amazing bouquets! I love them all.

Link up a picture of how you are appreciating your garden in the form of a bouquet now.

And don't miss the amazing bouquets from previous weeks.

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22 July 2013

The mystery is solved, aka How a California wildflower ended up in my Wisconsin garden

Before I left a couple weeks ago an exciting mystery was solved. Reader Carol Y identified the mystery plant!

To back up a little, you might recall that I found three mystery plants, planted in about a triangle as though they were put there purposely, in the garden this spring. Since I had a vague recollection that that was where I planted some Agastache last year, I let them grow. But as they continued to grow taller and taller, and then ultimately bloomed, it became clear it was nothing I had put there purposely.

I thought I had been through every weed and wildflower identifier there was. I studied just about every kind of plant you might find in southeastern Wisconsin.

Well it's a darn good thing that Carol came along, but otherwise this mystery might have never been solved. Turns out I was looking for plants from the wrong state. I should have been looking for something from California.

I know you are totally perplexed now, but fortunately Carol was good enough to even send me a link to a "Guide to Wildflowers of San Francisco." Not exactly the first place I would have looked.

Turns out my mystery plant was Scrophularia californica, aka Bee Plant and California figwort.

Here's what various websites have to say about it:

"Rank perennial 3-6' tall. Foliage attracts more attention than the many, tiny maroon flowers that bees like. Flowers have fused petals forming a cup with the 2 upper lips extending outward. Leaves are opposite, 2-4" long, toothed and grow along a square stem. Moist areas in brush and woods; many communities February-July."

"Scrophularia californica, a dicot, is a perennial herb that is native to California and is found only slightly beyond California borders."

OK, I know you're thinking that Carol and I have lost our noodles, because clearly this plant has no business being outside of California, much less half a country away in Wisconsin.

But check out the photos.

These are photos from the web of Scrophularia californica.

Stanford University / Ken Gardiner photo

Wildflowers in Santa Barbara photo

UC Santa Cruz photo

And here are photos of my mystery plant.

There is no doubt in my mind that it is the same plant. Once Carol figured out what it was, it didn't take me too long to figure out how a wildflower from California ended up in my garden.

Remember the great 'Family Jewels' plant from last year? I bought that and some Verbena bonariensis from the only online nursery I could find them at: Annie's Annuals. Located in ... Richmond, California.

I planted both those plants in that garden, just feet away from where the mystery plant popped up, so I'm certain there was a rider that came with them. Hence how Scrophularia californica ended up in my Wisconsin garden.

Case closed.


19 July 2013

Better late than never: The Garden Appreciation Society Week 10

Don't worry, I have beat myself appropriately many times with a wet noodle as punishment for taking off without so much as leaving a single post in the can. I have to say, I admire bloggers who are organized enough to have a bunch of posts all lined up before they go on vacation. I'm just happy if I can remember to pack my toothbrush.

Anyway, I was off on my annual sailboat race to Mackinac Island and usually I come back with a bunch of pictures of the beautiful gardens there. Unfortunately, this year the race was really slow so I had time for one dinner, one much-needed sleep, a little bit of boat cleaning and a quick stop in a fudge shop before I was whisked back to reality way too soon.

So that's why this week's Garden Appreciation Society post is late, but I hope you'll still join in.

After last week's pretty but unimaginative bouquet of roses (they didn't last very well either), I tried to get a bit more creative but I'm pretty sure I just ended up with a hot mess.

The Impatient Gardener -- The Garden Appreciation Society Week 10

The poppies have exploded all over the place (note to self, cut off those seed pods NOW before they take over the world), the drumstick alliums are peeking, some of the hydrangeas are working up some flowers (if I can get them before the damn deer nip them off) and clematis 'Etoile Violet' has gone absolutely crazy with the additional sun it's getting since we cut down the birch tree. I also threw in some hosta flowers which I never would have thought to do but someone did it to great effect a few weeks ago in their Garden Appreciation Society bouquet and I loved it. I also threw in some campanula that I have tried unsuccessfully to rid my garden of just because it's such a thug, but they are still pretty and a clipping from a spirea.

The Impatient Gardener -- The Garden Appreciation Society Week 10

The whole thing is a bit messy for my tastes, but I like that it's a pretty good sampling of what's blooming right now. I think I'm entering another phase of mostly green garden though. The early stuff has bloomed and I seem to have a bit of a lag before anything else picks up and starts blooming. The purple coneflowers should show their faces soon and a few daylilies have started popping.

Now's your turn ... link up your fabulous flowers!

As usual, don't miss out on past weeks.


10 July 2013

The Garden Appreciation Society -- Week 9 -- Link up!

This week's Garden Appreciation Society bouquet is a first for me on two counts. For one, it is the first time I've ever had enough roses to make a bouquet from my own garden. And secondly, it is the first time I've endured serious pain to make a bouquet. Holy smokes these roses are thorny!

These Oso Easy roses (I think they are 'Peachy Cream') would be perfect in a wild mixed bouquet, although it would have to be a short one because they do no have long stems. Unfortunately, I'm on my way out the door for a bit of a sailing jaunt and I didn't have time to do more than cut a few, bleed profusely and jam them in a vase.

The Impatient Gardener -- The Garden Appreciation Society -- Oso Easy Peachy Cream roses

The Impatient Gardener -- The Garden Appreciation Society -- Oso Easy Peachy Cream roses

The Impatient Gardener -- The Garden Appreciation Society -- Oso Easy Peachy Cream roses

As I mentioned yesterday in the garden tour, these roses don't have a lot of fragrance but what fragrance they do have really comes through inside. One more reason to appreciate your garden in a new way!

You guys continue to blow me away with what you are cutting out of your gardens. Thank you so much for sharing your creations.

Don't forget to link up this week and please don't miss the stunning bouquets from last week's Garden Appreciation Society.

And don't miss out on past weeks.

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09 July 2013

An as-it-is tour of the garden

Last week I promised that I'd take you on an as-it-is garden tour. I've never done this before because I hate people to see the garden unless it's looking in tip-top shape, which, frankly, it rarely is. But I figured after I showed you this, the state of my garden couldn't shock you that badly (and unlike that other post, there is no underwear that has to be Photoshopped out).

So you know, I did no preparation whatsoever for these photos. I just took the camera outside and started shooting. So there are shovels and empty pots laying around, piles of weeds and general riff raff. This is how the garden would have looked if you came over unexpectedly Sunday morning.

So here we go. There are a LOT of pictures so I'll try to keep the chatter to a minimum. 

This is what I call the "Main Garden," only because it was the first garden. It extends off the patio on the front of the house. 

Overhead view. The serviceberry tree anchors the southeast corner and the large shrub you see is the 'Limelight' hydrangea.

Ground level view.

This is the center of that bed, arguably the focal point area and yet it has a big hole in it. I do this all the time: I save the "good" spots for something really special and then I never put anything there. I have planted a bunch of zinnias and nasturtiums there so hopefully that hole will be filled in later in summer.

On the corner by the apron in the driveway I have a mini rock garden area. The rocks came from Mr. Much More Patient's parents' house. I had to pull the larger one out farther this year because the boxwood was eating it. I just pruned the boxwood back into meatball shape (I love meatball boxwoods, so kill me) and you can see all the clippings just laying below it.

Two favorites: Veronica 'Royal Candles' and a nasturtium. I actually pulled that one out of the window box because it was threatening to take over. I plunked it in the garden there and it seems to be perfectly happy.

This is the backside of the Main Garden, looked at as if you were standing by the garage. Until last year the three hostas on that corner were huge and beautiful. This year, two are not at all happy. I think they needed dividing and I let it go too long.

I cut the purple smokebush WAY back this year and it is only now starting to revive. Several main branches appear to be dead so I need to prune those out further. Hopefully it will recover fully by the end of the summer or by next year.

I know I go on too much about nasturtiums, but I love this little shot of cute little nasturtium babies in the Main Garden waiting to fill in that hole.

To the left of the Main Garden is the new garden I put in three years ago after installing the path. That garden (the terraced garden or deck garden in The Impatient Gardener speak) is in its leap year and boy, has it leapt. I need to do some serious pruning in fall and early spring there, but overall I'm thrilled with it.

This is the overhead view. The Main Garden is off to the left of the path, the path and the gardens to the left of it were new.

View from the deck side.

Creeping jenny can be a be aggressive, but I love how it brightens up this garden, especially with the dark-leaved dahlias there.

This gingko ('Gnome') is a favorite and it's doing really well.

View from the other side (the oxalis weeds are taking over in that lower bed!)

The Oso Easy roses are in full bloom. They are beautiful! Not particularly fragrant, but gorgeous nonetheless.

That's a whole lotta hydrangea there! There are three regular Limelights planted against the deck and then three 'Little Limes' mixed in there, not to mention an Incrediball next to the bottom of the stairs. They will all need a little pruning for shape early next spring.

On the other side of that staircase I have a small bed that sort of mimics the other side, with an Incrediball hydrangea, 'Elegans' hosta, 'Paradigm' hosta and an unhappy small dogwood tree. That's the hosta I moved (and divided, the other half is on the other side) before our renovation and its certainly no worse for the wear.

Bed on the left side of the path as you walk towards the garage.

Bed on the right side (and the paddleboard, which was put to good use over the weekend).

Looking back the other direction. Very happy with how Picea engelmannii 'Blue Magoo' is growing up .

Next to the garage I have a small island bed that I originally planted to hide the propane tank. The tank has been gone for a few years now and the island bed looks really stupid. I didn't even really edge it this year because it's due to be completely redone. Plus, with the big birch tree gone, it's getting way more sun that it used to. There are three buckthorne 'Fine Line' shrubs planted in back. The one on the left is essentially dead, the one in the middle is being strangled by a clematis and the one on the right looks like a shaggy monster. Not so sure about that plant.

This is the clematis that is currently hosting a family of cardinals. Can't wait for the babies to arrive!

Behind that I planed three large viburnums. That area is so weedy that I just keep throwing down cardboard and covering it up with mulch when I have some to attempt to keep the weeds from taking over the world.

Now we switch over to the west side of the house. This was a pretty shabby bed when we bought the house and I've pretty much redone the whole thing other than the peonies.

It's a little more formal that I usually get in the garden, but I do like this little area in front of the fireplace planted with a witch hazel, heuchera 'Black Beauty' and Hackonechloa 'All Gold.'

Before we move on, let's just take a quick look at the patio area.
In the corner by the main stairs to the deck I planted a cardoon (I am loving cardoons this year), as well as a few random annuals I had including a 2014 Proven Winners introduction Superbells Pomegranate Punch. It definitely serves to brighten up that corner.

Next to that is a more utilitarian container area with Hudson's tomato, a pot of basil (some of which has not recovered from its very cold and wet start), a hosta I have to plant yet, some sedums and a pot of spearmint.

If you need to know why you should never, ever plant mint directly in the ground, just look at this plant. It's only been in there a month or so and the runners are actually pushing dirt out of the pot they are so agressive. Mint is good stuff but don't let it get loose!

The window box was looking a little better before I pulled out the nasturtiums. I planted small new ones in that are more of a trailing variety so hopefully things will fill in a little better now.

The climbing rose is doing well here along with its clematis friends. The rest of that small patch by the house (which faces south so it's really hot) is all Russian sage.

Going up the steps by the front door I have more Pomegranate Punch along with Mexican feather grass and Superbena Royale Iced Cherry. I think I should have planted something yellow in there with the Pomegranate Punch.

On the other side of the front door stairs are a few more decorative pots that are finally starting to come into their own. Everything had such a slow start.

More Pomegranate Punch and Superbena Violet Ice make a good combo in that container.

On the deck the mandevilla vine is starting to do it's thing and everything else is filling out. I like this riot of color in this container. The deck really needs it with everything else being white and gray. That ficus in the background is where the robins are living.

 Now we move onto the circle garden, west of the front door. This was a derelict vegetable garden when we bought the house and I made it into the alien landing pad (at least that's what it looks like on Google maps).

Google maps view

The poppies are everywhere. I resolve to be better about deadheading them this year.

I need to do a post on Egyptian walking onions. I am absolutely loving them. They just crack me up.

I should have waited a couple days to take a picture of the 'William Baffin' rose in the center of the circle garden. It is so beautiful right now.

I love these little 'Orkney Cherry' geraniums, but whatever that weed is will be the death of me. It just keeps coming back and coming back and coming back.

My little chive hedge is growing nicely. I think it might actually work.

 Now we move into the more "naturalized" areas of the garden. This is sort of behind the house. This is a newish garden area where the cedar tree was removed from this spring.

A 'Venus' dogwood that I'm doing a little zone pushing on.

That bed flows right into this one, which I've been sort of working on for awhile. Mostly it gets cast-offs from other parts of the garden. I do love the climbing hydrangea though.

Clematis 'Niobe' is showing off in there.

A new Japanese maple I planted. It better grow quickly or it will be eaten!
 Path to the veggie garden.

To the left of that path. This is a true shade bed.

 More of that wretched oxalis. I swear the stuff is killing me!

I like to keep this area feeling very natural so back by the tree I let the lilies of the valley run free.

I like this little combo.

Goatsbeard is a great shade plant.

And off to the back 40, happy home of the veggie garden.

This new raised bed holds onions and kale.

The obelisk bed (could we possibly call it anything else with that huge green thing in there?) has zucchini, goji berries, climbing nasturtiums and even a sweet pea.

The goji berries haven't grown much but they are blooming! Pretty little purple flowers.

There's a baby zucchini in there!

Now we're in the main veggie garden. OK, yes, there is a weed problem on the ground. I'll deal with it sometime. Probably. And of course there are also a few plants waiting for homes hanging out there too.

We had our first pea this weekend!

I plant this garden very intensely because I amend the soil with lots of good compost and worm castings. This is Swiss chard and beets.

So there you have it ... a true-life tour of the garden. I know you'll look past the weeds and stuff all over. Right? Promise?

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