Tag Archives: clematis

Vibrant Blooms At Mid-May

Paeonia 'Festiva Maxima'

Paeonia ‘Festiva Maxima’

At mid-May there is a profusion of flowers as the garden launches a noticeable shift toward summer. Several very hot days last week signaled it was time, and although the temperatures quickly moderated, the transition was underway.

The days are dry, clear and sunshiny. After the luxury of ample rains throughout winter and early spring, I am having to water some of the new shrubs and other recent purchases.

I am fairly new to the world of peonies and I wonder what took me so long to understand their allure. Paeonia ‘Festiva Maxima’ was at its best this past week. Meanwhile Paeonia ‘Pink Parfait’ is just getting started with its display.

Paeonia 'Festiva Maxima'

Paeonia ‘Festiva Maxima’

Paeonia 'Festiva Maxima'

Paeonia ‘Festiva Maxima’

Paeonia 'Pink Parfait' (Peony)

Paeonia ‘Pink Parfait’ (Peony)

Clematis ‘Jackmanii’ has been reliable for years while other clematis have come and gone. I added two new ones this spring. It has been blooming for a full month and continues to add new flowers.

Clematis 'Jackmanii'

Clematis ‘Jackmanii’

I love having white plants in the garden and have long admired white clematis. This new Clematis ‘Henryi’ is tucked into a corner against the house where the fence begins.

Clematis 'Henryi'

Clematis ‘Henryi’

Also new this spring, Clematis ‘Niobe’ is promised as one that will bloom all summer and I hope eventually it will add interest along the stark white fence at the northern boundary.

Clematis 'Niobe'

Clematis ‘Niobe’

A pass-along yarrow opened up this week in the southern border. Echinacea is opening in the southern side path as well in many parts of the main garden.

Achillea filipendulina (Fern-leaf Yarrow)

Achillea filipendulina (Fern-leaf Yarrow)

Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower)

Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower)

After a beautiful season many of the bearded irises are looking tired, just as the Siberian iris are gaining strength. These Siberians were, guess what, pass-alongs! A Chapel Hill friend rescued for me from her neighbor’s divisions one year.

Iris sibirica (Siberian Iris)

Iris sibirica (Siberian Iris)

I pulled out the blue pansies on one side of the meditation circle last weekend and added white angelonia. Already the tamer color scheme appeals to me.

Angelonia ’Serena White’

Angelonia ’Serena White’

Even without the meditation circle remains vivid this week as the red snapdragons continue to thrive, making it a difficult choice to remove them. I have more of the angelonia waiting to replace the snapdragons though so I must be disciplined and discard them soon. Adding to the energy in this area are two dozen Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (Beardtongue). I like the rich foliage topped with delicate white flowers.

Penstemon digitalis 'Husker Red' (Beardtongue)-2

Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (Beardtongue)-2

The original planting in the labyrinth started with about 3 Husker Reds and many Penstemon mexicali ‘Pike’s Peak Purple.’ Only one Pike’s Peak Purple remains but Husker Red has been increasing. I have been encouraging every visitor to the garden to take some home. It is valuable for it evergreen foliage.

Penstemon digitalis 'Husker Red' (Beardtongue)-2

Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (Beardtongue)

Penstemon digitalis 'Husker Red' (Beardtongue)-2

Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (Beardtongue)

Penstemon  mexicali 'Pike's Peak Purple' (Beardtongue)

Penstemon mexicali ‘Pike’s Peak Purple’ (Beardtongue)

I added several new Penstemon x mexicali ‘Red Rocks’ to the garden this year, though not in the meditation circle. Having either purple or red in the name of a plant does not always mean red.

Penstemon x mexicali (Red Rocks Penstemon)

Penstemon x mexicali (Red Rocks Penstemon)

The view from the garden bench is filled with blooms. Soft breezes stir the chimes. Towhees, robins, cardinals and an especially persistent Carolina Wren add to the pleasure.

Meditation Circle

Meditation Circle

A Few Late Summer Blooms

Isotoma fluviatilis (Blue Star Creeper)

This past May I purchased a ground cover that has had only a few of the advertised little pale blue flowers all summer. Its name is Isotoma fluviatilis (Blue Star Creeper). Wary though I am about introducing a creeper, I am interested in having little edging plants and in reducing the amount of visible mulch in parts of the garden.

Isotoma fluviatilis (Blue Star Creeper)-2

Isotoma fluviatilis (Blue Star Creeper)-3

Time will tell how this will work out. It would be nice to see it covered in flowers.
Isotoma fluviatilis (Blue Star Creeper)-4

Nearby is a pink Clematis without a name. Never a strong bloomer, it has managed two new flowers in this last week before fall arrives.

Clematis sp.

Clematis sp.

Garden Walk In Early December

During a late afternoon ramble through the garden I noticed the simple dignity and beauty of this fading Clematis flower.

Clematis 'Jackmanii'

Clematis ‘Jackmanii’

For the most part I have been letting the plants die back naturally, leaving seed heads for the birds and winter interest. This suits my gardening style and is a good way to postpone cleanup chores until at least January.

Four and five-foot stalks of Rudbeckia hirta ‘Irish Eyes’ criss-cross and lean along the southern side path, each topped with brown cones. At the base its large leaves are in various stages of change.

Seed heads of Rudbeckia hirta 'Irish Eyes'

Seed heads of Rudbeckia hirta ‘Irish Eyes’

Leaves of Rudbeckia hirta 'Irish Eyes'

Leaves of Rudbeckia hirta ‘Irish Eyes’

This fall there have been several brief periods of cold nights and a couple of hard frosts, but soon the weather warms again. A small Spiraea transplant, after experiencing this transition from cold to mild temperatures and detecting a similar amount of daylight as in spring, sent out a few more flowers this week, even as its leaves turned rich red-orange rust and rosewood.

Spiraea Blossoms

Spiraea Blossoms

Rust-colored Spiraea Leaves

Rust-colored Spiraea Leaves

In many areas mounds of Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern red columbine) soften the garden at this time of year and fill the beds with soft greens, reds, yellows and burgundies.

Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern red columbine)

Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern red columbine)

Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern red columbine)

Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern red columbine)

The cold temperatures have damaged many of the sasanqua blooms, but the shrubs are full of buds and continue to brighten the northeast corner of the house.

Camellia sasanqua

Camellia sasanqua

Camellia sasanqua

Camellia sasanqua

Camellia sasanqua

Camellia sasanqua

Camellia sasanqua 'Yuletide'

Camellia sasanqua ‘Yuletide’

Almanac

Fifty-two degrees at 4:50 pm. Overcast most of the day. The sky was deep blue and clear during my garden walk but the sun was low and most of the garden had fallen into shadows. Chapel Hill and about two-thirds of the state are in a moderate drought with little chance of rain forecast. Temperatures will edge back up into the seventies by the weekend.

November Essence

Lobularia hybrid ‘Snow Princess’ (Sweet Alyssum)

November passed quickly with the garden left largely unattended and mostly unvisited, except by the avian community. Most days colorful Eastern Towhees, Northern Cardinals (North Carolina’s state bird) and Eastern Bluebirds vie for turns at the feeders. Occasionally, Red-bellied Woodpeckers stop by and frequently, Brown-headed Nuthatches and Black-capped Chickadees watch for their chances to approach.

On November 22 there were ample flowers left in the borders to fill Thanksgiving day vases with fresh zinnias, echinacea, lavender sprigs and foliage, Iceberg roses, chrysanthemums, and there were pristine camellias to float in small ceramic dishes. The next day brought the first hard frost of the year and this week a few nights with temperatures down into the twenties finally have convinced many plants to consider winding things down.

I wandered around today to see what has survived the cold. The old-fashioned woody-stemmed pale yellow chrysanthemum looks very sad, but I included a couple of pictures below to illustrate an interesting transition. One image shows the original yellow of the flower and the next shows how the chrysanthemum flowers change to pink as they fade.  Most of the garden is wilted and tinged with brown, though a few flowers still look nice for this time of year.

As November’s end approaches the day is clear, the sun is low. By 1:30 pm much of the garden lay in shade cast from the Carolina Sapphires. The sunset will come early at 5:02 p.m., after making its late start this morning at 7:06 a.m. November accomplishments are few except for the addition of a few daffodil bulbs, but the garden and the gardener are content.

Garden Tour Weekend

Touring the gardens on the Chapel Hill Spring Garden Tour this weekend was a great way to gather gardening ideas and see plants that work well in this area. Each garden had a very distinct personality and it is fascinating to see the different styles and approaches to gardening.

I was particularly charmed by the Marson Garden, where I helped out as a tour guide on Saturday morning. The enthusiastic and talented owners, Pat and John, were on hand to answer questions as people walked around their garden, setting a comfortable and friendly atmosphere. Unfortunately the pictures I took do not do this garden justice, but one feature I really like is this bench, created from a rock uncovered during some grading work. Something like this would fit in well with my concept for a seating area in the center of my meditation circle.

Bench at Marson Garden

Back at home

After seeing so many well designed and well tended gardens it was easy to grow an ever longer task list of things to do in my own garden—plants to add, plants to remove, paths to build. Plantings in the meditation circle really need to be completed…

But for today around this garden there was just time enough for a quick glance.

Meditation Circle

Clematis 'Jackmanii'

Clematis

Batik Iris

Scabiosa columbaria 'Butterfly Blue' (Pincushion Flower)

Almanac

After cooler days last week the temperature today was about 82 degrees F. There has not been rain for a week and things are starting to look stressed and dry.

Eastern Redbud and Company

Cercis canadensis L. (Eastern Redbud)

The native redbud showed a few spots of pink against the gray bark last week. What a difference a few days can make—today its lovely color is full of promise. This particular tree is poorly situated, crowding out and being crowded by two ‘Carolina Sapphire’ Arizona Cypress. The site was meant to be temporary for this once tiny twig, but time got away and now this once tiny twig is about to bloom again in its default permanent location.

Along the Southern Path

At the top of the Southern path outside the garden entrance is a Clematis ‘Jackmanii’ with a few newly formed buds.

Clematis 'Jackmanii'

Lavender’s young leaves are soft, silvery and fragrant.

Lavender

Nearby, fresh growth abounds on the Linum Perenne ‘Sapphire’ (Flax), although (oops!) last year’s brown has not been trimmed away. This herbaceous perennial was reintroduced last spring after many years of absence in this garden and I look forward to seeing its pale blue flowers.

Linum Perenne 'Sapphire' (Flax)

Irises are tucked all around the garden, different kinds and all gifts from friends. All should have been divided years ago. Some irises along the Southern border have leaves more than a foot tall, others are but 3 or 4 inches so far. When the irises bloom this garden will be in its peak.

Meditation Circle

The meditation circle has provided so much pleasure since its completion last April and I am grateful I will not to be digging my way through Spring this year.

Meditation Circle

I have experimented with a few evergreen perennials the last eleven months to learn what might live easily in the narrow 12-inch spaces between the stepping stones of the labyrinth. Once imagination and budget for perennials ran low last summer, annuals were used to help the circle look vibrant and colorful. The evergreen nature of the chosen perennials helped maintain interest throughout the winter.

Iberis Sempervirens 'Purity' (Candytuft)

In the center of the meditation circle Iberis sempervirens ‘Purity’ (Candytuft) continues to be a showy feature. The newer ones planted this winter (shown in front) will soon catch up in size to those original ones in the back.

Though most are green, several of the Thymus x citriodorus (Silver Edge Thyme) seem to be just hanging on.  It has been too wet for thyme to thrive and the thyme need to be given a better home. This variety is not tall enough to provide much impact in the circle.

Penstemon digitalis 'Husker Red' (Beardtongue)

The three new Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (Beardtongue) are doing well, as are the original two from last year that were tested for performance in this site. The foliage is lovely close-up but does not provide a lot of contrast against the brown mulch when seen from a distance. When in bloom the tall white spires were lovely last year.

The outermost green plants on the far right of the meditation circle are also Penstemon, though not nearly as well behaved, a bit scraggly in fact.  They are Penstemon mexicali ‘Pike’s Peak Purple’ and have recently had a severe shearing to tidy them up. They weathered winter well and have remained very green.

Garden Sightings

The garden was a captivating place today. Some sights were seasonal, such as that of a bright red Camellia sasanqua ‘Yuletide’ and a golden Jackmanii clematis seedhead.

Camellia sasanqua 'Yuletide'

Jackmanii clematis

Seeing the Iberis Sempervirens blooming in the meditation circle at this time of year is unusual.

Iberis Sempervirens (Candytuft)

Iberis Sempervirens (Candytuft)

Spiraea in this garden often sends out an early blossom or two, but this year the timing is early by many weeks.

Spiraea

Spiraea

This Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower) is not as showy as in summer but it has bloomed long past its expected timeframe.

Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower)

The next few days will offer a less hospitable environment for some of these unseasonable bloomers, as a cold front pushes through the area bringing freezing temperatures.