Friday, May 15, 2015

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day - Lovely May?


Starlet Lavender Star petunias (mostly)

Goodness, the spring has been busy. And wet and cloudy. Now sticky, wet, and cloudy. As I write this, thunder is booming outside. Because of the above average rain and lack of sunshine, the plants have been a bit slow or shy to bloom. Heck, my sweet peas haven't even bloomed (and may not). Regardless, it's Garden Bloggers Bloom Day - time to report on what IS blooming this month.

Larkspur and Chelsea Physic Garden poppy

I simply have to show a poppy or two since I thought they'd never bloom. In fact, today's the first day for ANY of them to bloom! The pink poppy above was collected from last year. I planted the original seeds several years ago, and they were purchased from the Chelsea Physic Garden in London.

'Lauren's Grape' poppy

This 'Lauren's Grape' started closing up before I could get out there today for a photo. The blooms are not very big. But then again, we haven't had much sun so I'm not discounting them yet.

These are always the first daylilies to bloom

I'm happy to say the daylilies are starting to bloom. Here's a few other beauties blooming.

Flowering tobacco (nicotiana) with chives in the background

Gaura lindheimeri 'Pink' (I'm not sure if that's the variety name or color!)

Chives and pollinator
English lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) - first time I've EVER had any kind of lavender save Spanish bloom for me!
Bowl of blooms (mostly petunias)

The raised beds. Your seeing mostly Verbena bonariensis and flowering tobacco blooming
Mystery iris

If anyone can venture some guesses on this variety of bearded iris, I'd appreciate it. It was supposed to be 'Cantina', a re-blooming iris. But it turned out not to be. In fact, it's on the opposite side of the color wheel!

Eastern smooth beardtongue, Penstemon laevigatus

This penstemon is a passalong from my friend Travis, who helped me whip the invasive liriope area into shape. He wasn't sure what it was (I think he found it in the wild). After some investigation, I'm pretty sure it's eastern smooth penstemon. I like it.

A luscious oakleaf hydrangea bloom

'Pee Wee' hydrangea, a dwarf form

We'll see if this 'Pee Wee' hydrangea stays small. I planted it last fall and the blooms are supposed to turn pink when they mature. I may have to move it as it looks like it wants more sun. But then again, we all do.

Baptisia australis, false indigo

I'm happy to say the false indigo I planted three years ago is starting to mature and bloom like a righteous plant.

Verbena bonariensis

And that's the bulk of what's blooming today, if you don't count the cilantro, parsley, cleome, roses... Okay, a few others. Too see what's blooming in other parts of the world today, visit Carol's blog, May Dreams Gardens.

This post was written by Jean McWeeney for my blog Dig, Grow, Compost, Blog. Copyright 2015. Please contact me for permission to copy, reproduce, scrape, etc.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Garden Travel - Why You Should Attend the Toronto Fling

Poppies at the Chicago Botanical Garden, Chicago Fling May 2009

You've heard of the annual Garden Bloggers Fling, yes? No? Well you will now! The Garden Bloggers Flings began a millennia ago. Oh wait, make that the spring of 2008 when 30 garden bloggers got together in Austin, Texas, to check out gardens and discuss blogging. Back then I didn't even know that blogs about gardens existed! By that summer I knew and I totally fell for blogging about my garden and others'. And lucky for me I also heard about that first Fling and the fact that there would be a second one in 2009 in Chicago. Yes, I'll go! And I went, not knowing a soul or what to expect really.

Learning about Rick Bayless's veggie garden

We saw lots of beautiful gardens but what hooked me was being with kindred spirits. Everyone was into gardening of all kinds, and of course, gardeners are the nicest people. So then Elizabeth Licata and Jim Charlier from Garden Rant and Garden Walk Buffalo fame said they'd hold one the next year in Buffalo. And my addiction to Garden Blogger Flings was in full swing.

Lilies at the Buffalo Garden Bloggers Fling, 2010

I fell hard for lilies at the Buffalo Fling. (I always fall for some plant or style at each Fling.) Yes, I now own a couple of lilies and can proudly say they've even bloomed for me. ;-) I was astounded by the small yards that were overflowing with blooms.

Susan, sisters Helen and Sara (two of the hosts of the Toronto Fling), and Ani

But the best part about the Buffalo Fling was that I was starting to get to know the individual bloggers. They are some awesome people, believe me. At Flings you get to know each other while sitting on the bus on the way to and from gardens, at dinners, at the bar, at breakfast, while shopping at some really cool nurseries... So where to the next year?

Entrance to veggie garden, Seattle Garden Bloggers Fling 2011

Over to the west coast now to Seattle in 2011. My goodness, we saw and did so many cool things. The private gardens, both large and small, were inspiring. No matter that I can't grow many of the plants in my hot and humid garden in the South. I got ideas aplenty to apply.

Bloedel Reserve and the imaginary cover shot

One day we were treated to a talk by the great garden photographer, David Perry, while at Bloedel Reserve. He challenged us to an assignment - a cover shot for an imaginary magazine. My fellow Flingers had some great cover shots!

Lisa, Gail, and Cindy

Speaking of fellow Flingers, above are some friends I've come to know and love over the Fling years - Lisa from South Carolina, Gail from Tennessee, and Cindy from Texas. Would I see them at the next Fling? Yes!

Andrea, Helen, Julian, Sara, Elizabeth, Cindy, Gail, and Susan

Here are some of them and more in Asheville in 2012. The Asheville Garden Bloggers Fling was a great mix of garden types. Think Upstairs Downstairs or Downton Abbey. We saw the gardens at the Biltmore Estate and funky personal gardens with handmade items and toy dump trucks.

Our Asheville host, Christopher, at Wamboltopia

View from Biltmore Estate

The next year we hopped over to the San Francisco area for the 2013 Fling.

Rebecca Sweet's back yard and bird cage on the right, San Francisco Fling, 2013

You can probably imagine the diversity of gardens we visited in the Bay Area. From the gardens of the Filoli estate to a vibrant little Berkeley garden to a visit to Annie's Annuals (wow!). Rebecca Sweet's garden was adorable. I coveted every thing about it!

A lunch break overlooking the town of Walnut Creek

Kylee, me, Susan, Barbara, and Andrea

And naturally, a good time was had with all my Fling friends. So last year we experienced Fling in...

Floramagoria, Portland Fling, 2014

... Portland, Oregon! Boy, do they know how to have fun with color. We saw lots of little gardens that were big on color punch, a playful garden full of dinosaurs (yes), large strolling gardens (one being redesigned by John Greenlee), awesome plant nurseries, and more.

A restful back yard nook

Robin from Ohio and Laura from Oregon in Danger Garden. Danger Garden is Loree's, one of the Portland hosts. I was in succulent heaven.

Pam, one of the original Austin Fling hosts, with Laura, also from Austin

And there you have it - a mini trip through the Garden Blogger Flings that I've attended. (Believe me, you don't want to see the thousands of pictures I've taken over the years.) What keeps me coming back is the camaraderie, the chance to talk in person with my friends, the generous hosts and sponsors and garden owners, and all the wonderful gardens.

If you're a garden blogger and want the same kind of experience, what are you waiting for? Get on over to the Garden Bloggers Fling website and sign up for the Toronto Fling to be held in early June! Oh, and did I mention the great swag from our sponsors? See you in Toronto!

This post was written by Jean McWeeney for my blog Dig, Grow, Compost, Blog. Copyright 2015. Please contact me for permission to copy, reproduce, scrape, etc.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Of Daffodils and Hellebores


'Minor Monarque', Narcissus x italicus

Goodness, I've gotten hooked on heirloom plants, and daffodils and hellebores can be some of the more confusing ones when it comes to correct nomenclature for these old beauties. But hey, it gives me something to work on when the skies are gray and the wind is cold. And fortunately for me, the daffs and hellebores (aka Lenten roses) are just starting to put on a show. I know for a fact that the daffodil above, 'Minor Monarque', is its true name but that's only because I bought it from Old House Gardens! This one can bloom very early, but so far it is not reliable for me on the bloom front. Its leaves are always the first to come up, usually in December, but that means they often get nipped by freezes.

Some kind of tazetta narcisuss, possibly 'Grand Primo'

The name of this tazetta type of daffodil is unknown to me, though I'm thinking it might be 'Grand Primo'. I rescued the bulbs from an old farmhouse a few years ago. You wouldn't believe how many daffodils were growing at this place - it was awesome! I have a few pics from the rescue here.

'Trevithian', I think

Although my garden journal, which is simply a Word doc that gets recreated each year, is over 30 pages long, I don't have a record of planting these 'Trevithian' daffodils in that spot. (Arg, I'm just terrible at documenting where I finally find a place for bulbs - I need to quit buying/rescuing them!) I hope you can at least see that these daffs get at least 2-3 blooms per stem. And they're a very deep yellow.

Narcissus x intermedius, aka sweeties or Texas star jonquils

I got these little jonquils from Celia Jones, an expert in all things narcissus and its nomenclature. Author Greg Grant says they are a natural cross between N. jonquilla and N. tazetta. These grow wild along Interstate 20, and they're just about the only wildflowers the state will let grow there for some strange reason!

The first 'Ice Follies' daffodil of the season in my yard

The front corner of my yard is planted heavily with 'Ice Follies' daffodils (the story of how I got them is in the aforementioned blog post here). They're usually blooming in March but this guy couldn't wait. What I'm really liking about this patch of daffodils is the fact that other daffs are starting to bloom there now, not just 'Ice Follies'.

Butter and eggs daffodil, N. incomporablis aurantius plenus

One last daffodil - the old classic called butter and eggs. I know this is the correct ID since I bought this from Old House Gardens. They say "buyer beware" when it comes to this one since many double daffodils are called by this name.

More daffodils and other bulbs will be blooming shortly, yay!

Joker hellebore

I've blogged about Joker hellebore before. I can't get over how many blooms, upright ones at that, are on this plant. It's not an heirloom (far from it) but it's a keeper.

Hellebore, unknown variety

I bought this cute little pink spotted hellebore at a passalong sale that my Master Gardeners group had last fall. It obviously didn't need much time to settle in before blooming. The sometimes confusing thing about hellebore varieties is that they frequently hybridize without any help from us. Even though I have this urge to classify any plant I see, I'm okay with unknown hellebores because they are so darn easy to grow and bloom for several months.

Another unknown hellebore variety

Many of the hellebore varieties for sale are hybrids of Helleborus orientalis and other related species. Have you seen or grown the frilly picotee ones? I swoon. If only they were more widely available at nurseries. Maybe then they wouldn't cost so much and I would have a few of those picotee ones, too. :-)

So there's my dip into the sometimes confusing world of daffodils and hellebores. Chin up folks! Spring will come. It always does!

This post was written by Jean McWeeney for my blog Dig, Grow, Compost, Blog. Copyright 2015. Please contact me for permission to copy, reproduce, scrape, etc.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

A Quick Look at My Winter Garden

Lent lily, Narcissus pseudonarcissus

While most gardens in North America are sleeping, including most of my garden, there are a few harbingers of spring around here. These daffodils, identified by Scott Kunst of Old House Gardens as Lent lilies, are almost always the first daffs to bloom for me. They're only about 6 inches tall so the blooms are not huge, but they are a cheerful way to perk up winter.

Joker hellebore and Lent lilies


More Lent lilies accompany the blooms of this fantastic hellebore - Joker (Helleborus 'HGC Joker'). Joker is the first hellebore to bloom for me and it blooms reliably for months. I could probably cut back a few leaves to show off the blooms more.

I have no idea what insect made this. 

About a week and a half ago we had a lovely foggy morning. I found this dew-covered web on one of my salvias but it was gone the next day. Hmm...

I like fog

The garden is sleeping, for the most part.

While strolling around with camera in hand looking for signs of spring life, I remembered to look up, not something I do very often! Here you can see another view of the backyard. The flags are marking where an edge will be placed and the grass (and weeds) from there towards the camera will be removed. It'll be the start of my tiny woodland garden. We'll see if what's in my head comes anywhere near reality!

Camellia japonica 'Pearl Maxwell'

This is the first bloom to open on my one and only japonica. Here's hoping there are no more hard freezes!

'Peggy Clark' flowering apricot

'Peggy Clark' is still in full bloom (she started to bloom around January 1). The tree is humming with bees! I'm glad I have a little something for them.

That's a quick tour of my winter backyard. I can't wait for the garden to fully wake up though!

This post was written by Jean McWeeney for my blog Dig, Grow, Compost, Blog. Copyright 2015. Please contact me for permission to copy, reproduce, scrape, etc.

Friday, January 23, 2015

A Japanese Garden in Winter

Descano  Gardens' blue-tiled Japanese teahouse

During the holidays I accompanied my husband on a short research trip to the Los Angeles area. For me, it was a garden-seeking trip. I spent an entire day at the Huntington Botanical Gardens, which was pretty amazing and deserves its own post. The next day I drove into the foothills of La CaƱada Flintridge to see Descano Gardens. Descano Gardens is an interesting mix of garden types, mostly highlighting southern Californian plants, but also showcasing other odd bits such as a rose garden, a Japanese garden, and an extensive collection of camellias (disturbingly procured from two nurseries during the Japanese-American internment of World War II).

Sozu water fountain

Since I arrived early to the gardens, and since I'd had to endure zillions of people touring the Japanese garden at the Huntington, I decided to head first to the Japanese garden here. It was small but incredibly peaceful and serene. And yes, I was the only one in it!

I want some of these!

The Full Moon Teahouse, seen here and in the first photo, was built in 1966 yet looked brand new. I really loved these lights. The teahouse is open in summer for tea.

A peak at the arched bridge and the farmhouse in the background

Though nothing was in bloom at this time, and of course, very few Japanese gardens depend on blooms, the diversity in textures and interesting pathways still held a lot of interest for me.

Arched bridge and stream

There was a koi pond and a stream that meandered throughout the small space. And as you can see from a few of the photos, one Japanese maple was mostly still full of leaves. I don't know whether the leaves of that tree are always red, or if they had turned for fall/winter.

Koi pond

The last photo I leave you with is mostly a study in reflections. I appreciated the simple beauty of this Japanese garden.

I've seen quite a few Japanese gardens over the years. Though they all share common traits, I've found myself truly favoring only a few of them. But this one I've added to my favorites list.

This post was written by Jean McWeeney for my blog Dig, Grow, Compost, Blog. Copyright 2015. Please contact me for permission to copy, reproduce, scrape, etc.