Tag Archives: garden almanac

Mid-January Garden

Today, Saturday, was a beauty of a day here in Chapel Hill with sunny skies and pleasant temperature of 61°F (16°C). In contrast, forecasts call for rain and maybe even a snow flurry Sunday morning and unseasonably cold on Monday with highs only in mid 30s and low 18°F.

Just after the grass was cut yesterday another heavy rain started falling. The ground was completely saturated again this morning.

Freshly Mown Grass Beside Meditation CIrcle

Freshly Mown Grass Beside Meditation CIrcle

I stitched together a panorama capturing most of the garden as it appeared around 8:45 a.m. looking westward from the top of the screen porch stairs. Sunlight was just reaching into the tops of the trees; the garden was still shaded.

Garden Panorama 2016-01-16

Garden Panorama 2016-01-16

About an hour later I had a chance to inspect the borders more closely. With leaves caked in mud this poor hyacinth, alternately enticed by days of warm sunlight and bashed by rain and cold, is the only one of its group to open. Others are up, but remain in tight bud.

Hyacinth orientalis ‘Woodstock’

Hyacinth orientalis ‘Woodstock’

By this time of year it is not unusual to have Hellebores in bloom; however, despite the many warm days this winter they do not seem to be opening very quickly. There are lots of buds.

Helleborus x hybridus (Lenten rose)

Helleborus x hybridus (Lenten rose)

Stachys byzantina (Lamb’s Ear) is spreading far and wide. Fortunately it is easy to pull out when it oversteps its welcome.

Stachys byzantina (Lamb's Ear)

Stachys byzantina (Lamb’s Ear)

I planted Euphorbia ‘Shorty’ (Shorty Spurge) last spring and am happy with its color and form. Still covered in raindrops it seemed to be dancing in the morning light.

Euphorbia 'Shorty' (Shorty Spurge)

Euphorbia ‘Shorty’ (Shorty Spurge)

Last winter was unusually cold and long and a late February 2°F cold snap ruined the leaves and buds of Daphne odora (Winter daphne) before it could flower. It eventually recovered its foliage. This winter it has already been blooming for several weeks. There are 3 bushes clustered together. This one in front is Daphne odora ‘Aureomarginata.’

Daphne odora ‘Aureomarginata’ (Winter daphne)

Daphne odora (Winter daphne)

Daphne odora (Winter daphne)

Pansies are blooming throughout the meditation circle, but the plants themselves have not grown much. In spring they should fill out more.

A female Northern Cardinal was one of many birds happy to find the feeder has been restocked.

Female Northern Cardinal

Female Northern Cardinal

Early July Notebook

It has been another week without rain and several more 95°F days have pushed some plants over the brink, including a Phlox paniculata ‘David’ I bought in May. ‘David’ is a sophisticated white phlox that grew well in my former garden and I have been trying for years to establish it here. Seeing its sad state spurred me to water the entire garden thoroughly Thursday evening, but the effort was too late to save that new phlox I think.

Meanwhile pinkish things are blooming and thriving.

Cleome hassleriana (Spider Flower) and Phlox paniculata (Garden Phlox)

Cleome hassleriana (Spider Flower) and Phlox paniculata (Garden Phlox)

Purchased the end of April, this stubby foxglove may have been mislabeled as Digitalis purpurea ‘Camelot Rose.’ It is supposed to be 35-47 inches (90-120 cm) but while attractive, it is more like 12 inches tall. ‘Camelot Rose’ flowers in its first and second year. This one is finally blooming many weeks later than another variety in the same border. Maybe it will achieve its true height in the second year.

Digitalis purpurea ‘Camelot Rose’  (Foxglove ‘Camelot Rose’)

Digitalis purpurea ‘Camelot Rose’ (Foxglove ‘Camelot Rose’)

Digitalis purpurea ‘Camelot Rose’  (Foxglove ‘Camelot Rose’)

Digitalis purpurea ‘Camelot Rose’ (Foxglove ‘Camelot Rose’)

Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower) is attracting lots of bees. I have begun deadheading some of it, but the best bee photos always seem to be those where the flower has faded. At least one flower looks fresh.

Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower)

Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower)

Gaura lindheimeri ‘Passionate Blush’ is looking better than it has in years. Although I cut it back, it is still flopping but at least this summer it is blooming.

Gaura lindheimeri 'Passionate Blush' (Butterfly Gaura)

Gaura lindheimeri ‘Passionate Blush’ (Butterfly Gaura)

Gaura lindheimeri 'Passionate Blush' (Butterfly Gaura)

Gaura lindheimeri ‘Passionate Blush’ (Butterfly Gaura)

When I could not find my preferred blue Angelonia this spring to use as the meditation labyrinth’s walls, I ended up using some lavender and some darker shades of pink on one side of the circle. I think Angelonia angustifolia ‘Archangel Dark Rose’ is on the left below and ‘Raspberry’ is on the right.

Angelonia angustifolia ‘Archangel Dark Rose’ and A. ‘Raspberry’

Most of the outer wall of the meditation circle is actually planted in white, specifically Angelonia ’Serena White.’ Hot temperatures arrived in late spring before the young plants had time to get established, but with judicious water they have filled in nicely and finally are acclimated after many weeks.

Angelonia ’Serena White’ and Various Thymes in Meditation Circle

Angelonia ’Serena White’ and Various Thymes in Meditation Circle

Many thymes are planted in the circle. The center is largely covered in Thymus serpyllum ‘Pink Chintz.’

Thymus serpyllum 'Pink Chintz' (Pink chintz thyme) in Meditation Circle

Thymus serpyllum ‘Pink Chintz’ (Pink chintz thyme) in Meditation Circle

Not everything in the garden is pink. This morning I was thrilled to see this Iris domestica (Blackberry Lily) in flower. I had wanted to add Blackberry Lily to the garden for years and finally came across one in April at my favorite garden center. Then, when I was cutting back iris leaves a few weeks ago, I trimmed its foliage back accidentally. I assumed I had lost the chance of seeing it bloom this year, so spotting this orange color today was a nice surprise.

Iris domestica (Blackberry Lily)

Iris domestica (Blackberry Lily)

Speaking of iris leaves, this little skipper was perfectly content to sit on one in the early morning sun today.

Skipper On Iris Leaf

Skipper On Iris Leaf

Bees were everywhere this morning. This Rudbeckia hirta ‘Irish Eyes’ was knocked down by wind a couple of weeks ago and I propped it back up as best I could. The bees do not seem to mind that the huge stalks are still leaning.

Bee On Rudbeckia hirta 'Irish Eyes'

Bee On Rudbeckia hirta ‘Irish Eyes’

Blue Sky salvia has its own admirers.

Bee On Salvia uliginosa 'Blue Sky' (Bog sage)

Bee On Salvia uliginosa ‘Blue Sky’ (Bog sage)

Bee On Salvia uliginosa 'Blue Sky' (Bog sage)

Bee On Salvia uliginosa ‘Blue Sky’ (Bog sage)

Next to the back steps the first dark red flower has opened on a passalong dahlia from Libby at An Eye For Detail. Last year was the first time I really took an interest in growing dahlias. The one planted late last summer overwintered but has yet to bloom. This spring I bought tubers of several red and purple dahlias and I hope they will carry the garden through the summer and into fall.

Dahlia sp.

Dahlia sp.

Summer And Summer Phlox

Phlox paniculata 'Robert Poore' (Summer Phlox)

Phlox paniculata ‘Robert Poore’ (Summer Phlox)

Sunday, June 21, 2015 at 12:39 pm—Summer Solstice ( June Solstice) is today.  The temperature currently is 89 °F (31.7 °C) at 11:00 am, quickly heading toward a high of 99 °F (37 °C).

June 2015 (source: weather underground.com)

June 2015 (source: weatherunderground.com)

The weather continues to be quite a distraction and hindrance to gardening, yet somehow certain plants persevere even when the gardener falls behind. Summer phlox began blooming this week in the western border.

Phlox paniculata 'Robert Poore' (Summer Phlox)

Phlox paniculata ‘Robert Poore’ (Summer Phlox)

Phlox paniculata 'Robert Poore' (Summer Phlox)

Phlox paniculata ‘Robert Poore’ (Summer Phlox)

Happy Summer!

Morning Moments In The June Garden

Hemerocallis (Daylily) possibly 'Michael Arnholt'

Hemerocallis (Daylily) possibly ‘Michael Arnholt’

We had another nearly 100-degree day yesterday and yet, a fresh daylily greeted me in the garden first thing this morning. A thunderstorm during the night brought welcome rain and it is cooler today, a mere 91°F. Starting tomorrow temperatures will climb again into mid-90sF for another week. When summer starts officially on Sunday what surprise can it bring?

Hemerocallis (Daylily) possibly 'Michael Arnholt'

Hemerocallis (Daylily) possibly ‘Michael Arnholt’

Part of the Monarda border fell victim to the storm’s strong wind and rain, actually a small price to pay in exchange for not needing to water this morning.

Monarda didyma (Scarlet Beebalm)

Monarda didyma (Scarlet Beebalm)

I planted some new purple gladioli for cutting this year, but the first to flower is a salmon one from many years ago.

Gladiolus

Gladiolus

Several weeks ago I pulled up last fall’s snapdragons from the meditation circle, but as an experiment I left one along the front edge of the northern border. Surprisingly it continues to bloom despite the heat, its rich blossom, still drenched from last night’s rain, seems impossibly smooth and glossy red.

Antirrhinum majus (Snapdragon)

Antirrhinum majus (Snapdragon)

I added several new Liatris spicata (Gayfeather) to the border this spring. Rather than opening, some of the flower tips just turned brown from the heat, but this one is off to a good start.

Liatris spicata (Gayfeather)

Liatris spicata (Gayfeather)

With the appearance of its first multicolored flowers open today, Lantana camara is making a comeback in the southern border. It had died back to the ground during this year’s cold winter.

Lantana camara (Common lantana)

Lantana camara (Common lantana)

Just on the other side of the fence from the lantana, one of my favorite vignettes from this morning’s garden walk is a large patch of self-seeded Cleome at the southern entrance to the garden. While the gate and much of the garden was still in shade, the flowers were bathed in the sun’s early light.

Sunny Patch of Cleome hassleriana (Spider Flower)

Sunny Patch of Cleome hassleriana (Spider Flower)

A nectaring bee found the cleome enticing.

Bee Nectaring on Cleome hassleriana (Spider Flower)

Bee Nectaring on Cleome hassleriana (Spider Flower)

Red Hot At Mid-June

Hummingbird Moth on Monarda didyma (Scarlet Beebalm)

Hummingbird Moth on Monarda didyma (Scarlet Beebalm)

A Hummingbird Moth was attracted to the scarlet flowers of Monarda didyma yesterday morning. I did not notice there actually were two moths until I saw the photograph below.

Hummingbird Moth on Monarda didyma (Scarlet Beebalm)

Hummingbird Moth on Monarda didyma (Scarlet Beebalm)

The garden at mid-June is hanging on by a thread, or rather hanging on by a hose. If not for early-morning watering many plants would be crispy and brown, the way the grass is becoming. Fortunately a few things, like Monarda, are tolerant and seem to manage fine.

Rain would help, but with none in sight, heat is the main story this week. Today it is already 95°F/35°C at mid-afternoon. Expected highs on Monday and Tuesday are 98°F/36.6°C and 99°F/37.2°C—unusually severe for this early in the summer.

Alliums are generally short-lived in my garden but this group of Allium Atropurpureum has managed to return for the past couple of years.

Allium Atropurpureum

Allium Atropurpureum

Last night I made an unexpected discovery on the back side of a border, a rabbit nest I think. Never identified much with Mr. McGregor and I will not be running around with a hoe, but I am definitely keeping the little blue velvet jacket if Peter snags it on the fence.

Rabbit Nest

Rabbit Nest

Rabbit Nest

Rabbit Nest

Rabbit Nest

Rabbit Nest

In A Vase On Monday—Arum Magic

In A Vase On Monday-Arum and Yarrow

In A Vase On Monday-Arum and Yarrow

Today I am joining Cathy’s weekly challenge In A Vase On Monday that encourages garden bloggers to create fresh arrangements each Monday using materials found in our gardens.

November has been really cold here, but warmer temperatures on Sunday afternoon made foraging for vase materials a pleasant experience.

Despite the fact most of the garden has succumbed to recent freezes a single pink yarrow, a few sasanqua flowers and tiny violas were waiting to be chosen.

 

Arum italicum and Camellia sasanqua 'Yuletide'

Arum italicum and Camellia sasanqua ‘Yuletide’

Arum italicum and Camellia sasanqua 'Yuletide'

Arum italicum and Camellia sasanqua ‘Yuletide’

 

 

 

 

Arum italicum and Camellia sasanqua 'Yuletide'

Arum italicum and Camellia sasanqua ‘Yuletide’

When first brought indoors the collection looked like a motley crew of mixed sizes and limited possibilities, but the interesting part of preparing a vase each week is seeing the personality of the blossoms and leaves emerge.

This week, Arum leaves provided a bold starting point and the other items seemed to fit seamlessly after that.

 

In A Vase On Monday-Arum Magic

In A Vase On Monday-Arum Magic

In A Vase On Monday-Arum Magic

In A Vase On Monday-Arum Magic

In A Vase On Monday-Arum Magic

In A Vase On Monday-Arum Magic

Arum italicum and Camellia sasanqua 'Yuletide'

Arum italicum and Camellia sasanqua ‘Yuletide’

In A Vase On Monday-Arum Magic

In A Vase On Monday-Arum Magic

In A Vase On Monday-Arum Magic

In A Vase On Monday-Arum Magic

Arum italicum

Arum italicum

Arum italicum and Camellia sasanqua 'Yuletide'

Arum italicum and Camellia sasanqua ‘Yuletide’

In A Vase On Monday-Arum Magic

In A Vase On Monday-Arum Magic

 

I like the effect of pairing chartreuse sedum with the blue violas. The yarrow vase is my favorite individual arrangement, but it was fun moving the three vases around and experimenting with how they related to each other.

Materials

Camellia sasanqua ‘Yuletide’
Achillea filipendulina (Fern-leaf Yarrow)
Viola
Sedum
Arum italicum

Many thanks to Cathy at Rambling In The Garden for hosting. Discover what delightful things she and others are placing In A Vase On Monday. Perhaps you will be inspired to share your own vase.

In A Vase On Monday—Cold Survivors

Camellia sasanqua ‘Yuletide’

Today I am joining Cathy’s weekly challenge In A Vase On Monday that encourages garden bloggers to create fresh arrangements each Monday using materials found in our gardens.

The weekend weather in central North Carolina dropped 15 degrees below normal temperatures for November, reaching down into the mid-20s F. I knew it was coming but I do not think I have ever been so pained to see the garden succumb to freezing. Preparing a vase to share each week will become much harder for many Mondays to come.

My youngest sister surprised me this week with another perfect gift, a sage green glazed ceramic container that I hoped to use today. It is a shallow dish with a leaf shaped top. Three holes in the top are designed to hold short stemmed flowers, such as camellias.

New leaf-shaped ceramic vase holds Camellia sasanqua ‘Yuletide’

 

Camellia sasanqua ‘Yuletide’ has been blooming for a few weeks, even before the department stores could fill the aisles with Christmas baubles, but the cold turned its blossoms to mush. Fortunately by sneaking deep inside the heart of the Yuletide shrub I was able to rescue three blossoms that survived the recent blast of cold weather.

When I first entered the garden I noticed the deep red Antirrhinum majus (Snapdragon) in the meditation circle were largely unaffectedly by the severe shift in temperature. I discovered one snapdragon that had opened to reveal decidedly pink flowers, not red.

An unexpected pink Antirrhinum majus (Snapdragon)

I had plucked a few side shoots from half a dozen plants to use just in case it was impossible to locate some usable camellias. Then once inside with the camellias in place, it seemed a shame not to use the snapdragons. I combined them with three sprigs of chartreuse sedum and placed them into a turquoise vase.

Antirrhinum majus (Snapdragon) and Sedum

Antirrhinum majus (Snapdragon) and Sedum

I used a bright red wooden tray to frame the two arrangements of flowers.

In A Vase On Monday-5

Thanks again to Cathy at Rambling In The Garden for hosting. Discover what delightful things she and others are placing In A Vase On Monday. Perhaps you will be inspired to share your own vase.

Antirrhinum majus (Snapdragon) and Camellia sasanqua 'Yuletide'

Antirrhinum majus (Snapdragon) and Camellia sasanqua ‘Yuletide’