Archive | May, 2013


31 May

First, the disclaimer….I’m not a rose person.  I love them but am pitifully bad at growing them.  I do, however, have several of the easiest-to-grow varieties, although they all seem to look very much alike probably because I tend to gravitate to the red ones.

floribunda13floribunda 13 2This floribunda, that easiest-to-grow of the traditional rose varieties, has flourished in the same spot in my back yard for many years.  I have been lucky enough to avoid the aphid/beetle/mold problems that so many of my gardening friends bemoan — due to no special expertise on my part.  When I see evidence of pest damage anywhere in the garden, I tend to take a one-size-fits-all approach with a homemade mixture of dish soap, neem oil, sesame oil, and warm water.  If, after a good dousing with that, the bugs come back I tend to let them dine in peace.

flowercarpet13This little ‘flower carpet’ rose has been moved from place to place several times;l I think I finally have found the place where it will thrive.  The primary difference between this and the floribunda above is that this one tends to spread out rather than up.


knockout2knockout13The ‘knockout’ roses that line the front walkway, now in their third season,  still are very small.  I’ve cut them back pretty severely each year to encourage them to bush out.  Their name implies that they’re pretty hardy, and since in their young lives they’ve already survived heavy storms, drought, and me, the name seems appropriate.

At this point I’m feeling so smug about my success with roses that I might consider moving up the degree-of-difficulty scale and try adding a ‘grandiflora’ variety.  I might even try another color.

privet – ligustrum

28 May

Privets are nearly bullet-proof, not bothered by most bugs, poor soil, drought, etc.  They’re often used to form hedges and clipped to round or square shapes, which seems a shame to me because left to their own devises they have a graceful, arching growth pattern.  Owners of densely clipped privets often miss out on the flowers, which in some varieties have a clean, almost lilac aroma.    This standard green privet is nearly 15′ tall, which makes it useful as a screen of the neighbor’s yard and as a nice backdrop for an otherwise ordinary rose bush.privet13 001A few golden privets in the front garden are primarily used to set off the red azaleas (no longer in bloom) but are striking in their own right.privet13 003The flowers are not obvious, being the same color as the leaves, but are worth a close look.privet13 002


27 May

peony13 004Only two things are required for success raising peonies.  Give them enough sun; even part-day sun will do.  Provide some kind of prop.  The blossoms are so heavy that a good rain will cause them to droop to the ground.  Grow-through stakes work well or, as I’ve done here, plant something at the base to keep them upright (in this case variegated sedum).  Some people dislike the fact that they attract ants.  Planting tansy nearby is supposed to help, which I intend to try this year.

walking the garden

25 May

Every morning I take my coffee outside walk the garden, looking for something newly in bloom or something that needs attention.  This group of images begins by panning from the back door of the sunroom.  (It’s not really possible to see the whole garden from one spot.  That, I think, is one of its best features.  As you walk the paths you come across spots that aren’t visible from anywhere else.  This tour is simply from a few different spots.)  At this time of year it’s rainy and very mild, so everything looks a little overgrown — lots of thinning and pruning to come.


25 May

creeping sedumCreeping yellow sedum is in bloom now.  This little plant will grow just about anywhere it can get a little sunlight.sedum 002The root system is very shallow, so it will happily wander anywhere it finds a little soil or even sand.  To propagate, just pinch off a stem and bury part of it in the soil, keeping the soil fairly moist for the first week or so.

The larger, rounded sedums won’t bloom until the end of summer:variegated sedum"live forever"Autumn JoyThese also can be propagated by pinching off a stem and burying the bottom 2″-3″ in moist soil.


one more iris

25 May

purple irisI thought I’d included all the iris in bloom in my post of May 22, but this morning I discovered one more coming into bloom — this one solid purple.


23 May

clematis by gatejakes pics and more 079This white clematis, which lives by the back garden gate, is just beginning to bloom and has enough buds to promise a long blooming season to come.

For success with clematis, the old saying is to ‘keep their heads warm and their feet cool’.  This one gets morning and mid-day sun while the roots are protected from overheating by an underplanting of sedum.


23 May

weigelaThis row of variegated weigela, which runs along the East side of the house, suffered a little damage in last winter’s snow storms, but not enough to keep it from spilling over so far as to completely cover the walk leading up to the back garden gate.  It’s going to need some serious pruning as soon as it’s finished flowering, but the variations in leaf colors will make it attractive even without flowers.weigela detail


23 May

honeysuckle 001honeysuckle 002This red honeysuckle vine is one of my favorite late-Spring flowers.  The hummingbirds like it, too.  Given the right amount of sunlight, it will continue blooming for the rest of the year, although  perhaps not as exuberantly as the first blooms in May.honeysuckle 007  The white honeysuckle bush is nice, too, although it’s not one of my favorites because the flowers last only a day or two before turning a sort of dirty yellow color and the plant tends to send up volunteers everywhere so it’s a little hard to control.  I admit, though, that it does have a nicer fragrance than the colored varieties.

bearded iris

22 May

I’ve been away for several days attending the college graduation of my eldest grandson Nathan (felt so proud even though he did all the work and I was merely a spectator).  California is great but I’m glad to be home, too.  While I was away, my other grandson Jacob took care of my house and my dog, Charlie, and tried to keep up with photos of what’s new in the garden.  As you can see, the bearded iris alone kept him pretty busy.

I’ll try to post some of the other great flower pics Jacob took as soon as I get unpacked and have time to catch my breath.  (Because there are so many pictures, try clicking on the first one so you can run through the entire gallery.)