The Natural Garden Coach

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Visiting Ledge and Gardens



Driving up to Layanee's house in Rhode Island I was struck by how old New England is compared to the Midwest and how so many time-honored traditions are still cherished - the smell of sweet hay as it's first cut, the lovely stone walls that were laid by our fore bearers. Layanee and her husband Chris have deep roots in this area and it shows in the lovely garden she has produced. It's a large expansive garden with lawns, stone walls, a pond, perennial beds, vegetable beds, imaginative potted arrangements, and a lovely pool. Her ability to produce such beautiful plants while living on a granite ledge is very surprising to me. Below is one shot of that ledge and the stone wall beyond (notice I'm using the New England term for the walls - "stone" not "rock" (which is what I call them down south)).



Layanee's dog Tucker follows us throughout our tour (with time out for a good wallow near the pond).



She has potted arrangements here and there. Here's one inspired by Pam at Digging and another full of succulents.



While touring we chanced upon this deadly scene - some type of very large bug sucking the life out of a Japanese beetle! Wish I'd thought to get the name of this lovely bush.



Layenee's office is in the glassed-in portion of their house. Can you imagine having such a nice view out to your garden everyday? I especially loved that their octagonal house (the original portion of the house they built) was reminiscent of those 70's homes in Mother Earth News that we used to read about. (I think you need to be of a certain age to know what I'm talking about!)



Here's the lovely Raspberry Wine bee balm that Layanee can see from her office and that she plans to get under control someday. I don't know about that; it looks pretty cool to me.



Many thanks to Layanee and her "Equipment Manager" husband Chris for taking time out of their Sunday to welcome us travellers (we were driving from Maine back to Louisiana). They are such lovely people and I feel fortunate to have met a fellow garden blogger and toured her garden.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

July GBBD and One Year Blogiversary



Gosh, where do I start? As you probably know, it's Garden Bloggers Bloom Day, started by Carol of May Dreams Gardens to celebrate all things blooming on the 15th of every month. It also happens to be my one year anniversary of garden blogging. I can't believe that something I started as a lark a year ago would offer me such long term satisfaction. Or that I would eventually meet some of the great garden bloggers out there (including the intrepid Carol) less than a year later at Chicago Spring Fling. Blogging about my garden has made me a better gardener and photographer; I've also "met" many wonderful people out there, and for all of that, I am most grateful.



So this is the month that my Susans shine. Black-eyed Susans, ‘Goldsturm’ Rudbeckia, that is. There are many more Susan blooms to come than are shown in these first two photos. In the background you can see my willow teepee.

This teepee has been a study in patience. In the spring I planted many Louisiana Purple Pod Beans, Hyacinth Bean Vines, and Moonflowers around it. Almost all of them succumbed to slugs since we had such a rainy spring (whatever happened to rain??). So I had to replant multiple times and what you see on the teepee now is mostly Moonflower (‘Giant White’) with some smattering of Hyacinth Bean Vine. The Moonflower is not blooming yet but I've had a few Hyacinth Bean blooms (see below). They look a little puny, don't they? I grew this vine many years ago and if I recall correctly, it should perk up with more blooms later on in the summer.



Blue Daze, Evolvulus glomeratus, is finally starting to beef up.



I love how long Purple Coneflower blooms. Or maybe I should say how long the blooms stay on the plant.



My Hansel eggplant is really a cute plant and is starting to put on some blooms and fruit. I was told this eggplant was like Ichiban, you know, long and slender. But after I bought it I researched it and found that the eggplants are finger-sized! Not exactly what I wanted but the plant's beauty makes up for the mistake.



Now here's a plant that I really, really, really want to bloom. It's in the pot, "Grosso Fat Spike" lavender. I planted it last year and it never bloomed. I didn't trust planting it in the ground for fear it might get too much water over the winter. Will my lavender ever bloom? Well if it doesn't bloom by the end of the year, it's outta here.



I have spent far too much time trying to take a picture of one of the many hummingbirds at my Flame Acanthus, Anisicanthus quadrifidus “wrightii” (also called Hummingbird Plant). Hopefully, with my helpful circle diagram, you can see one of the critters partaking of the nectar. This plant didn't do that much last year, the first year I had it. But it's exploded in growth and blooms this year. In fact, I had to cut it back a bit in order to give the pepper behind it more sun.



I couldn't resist one more shot. Although not directly about blooms (though you can see some of the Susans), it shows a Northern Flicker and Ringed Turtle-dove sharing a moment at the water cooler.



There are a few other things blooming in the garden right now: plumbago, a second set of blooms on one of my daylilies, Lizard Lips aloe, my mystery rose, Veteran's Honor rose, Marie Pavie rose, bouganvillia, my peppers, Verbena bonariensis, cleome "Sparkler White", nicotiana, ‘Ragin’ Cajun’ Ruellia, pink verbena, the Salvias, etc.

I have so much catching up to do on my favorite garden blogs yet now there's so many other gardens to see through GBBD! Carol posts links to all the GBBD posts, so be sure to check them out. And happy anniversary to me! :-)

Monday, July 6, 2009

Over Too Soon

At the beginning of spring I never would have believed that my tomatoes would be all played out by the beginning of July. But that's indeed what has happened. You may recall the issues I had with my cherry tomato, Sweet Million. Eventually that plant succumbed to spider mites and a general unhappiness and went to the big compost pile in the sky.

Last week the lovely Cherokee Purple tomato started looking bad starting from the bottom leaves and going upward. I'm sure it probably had some type of wilt, probably not too surprising for an heirloom plant. But the tomatoes were still hanging in there fairly well. Until a few days ago. Then some beastie, be it a squirrel, bird, racoon, or possum, started eating my almost ripe tomatoes. What nerve!! I tried to stick it out but finally, after losing one too many tomatoes to the unknown critter, I picked the rest of them even though they weren't fully ripe. So sad.



All is not lost though. I plan to start my fall crop of tomatoes soon. This is really the toughest time in a southern garden, so keeping baby tomato plants alive in August will be a challenge. (You don't know how hard it is to get motivated about new plants when everything and everyone is barely surviving the heat!) I've never attempted this before, probably because of how difficult it seemed and the typical summer malaise. But I'm thinking I'm up for the challenge this year so wish me luck!