The Natural Garden Coach

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

You Can Take my Drought and ...


Cindy, of From My Corner of Katy, handed out these cute little tags at Buffa10; each one had a little saying and I grabbed the one that most applied to my situation. Little did I know at the time that the rain situation would get worse in my area (although thankfully, last weekend we had a good rain). Here's what the situation looks like by the folks who monitor droughts in the U.S.:


I live in the middle of that red - and it's labeled "extreme" drought. The only other state in the U.S. that is experiencing that level of drought right now is Hawaii. So maybe indeed, that has something to do with the next photo. Warning, it's not a pretty picture.

Dead Madame Alfred Carriere climbing rose

This has really been a complete surprise to me. All during our dry spring and summer I've made sure this bed gets a good soaking, at least once a week. As you can see, other plants in the bed have survived, including my clematis, which is climbing up the trunk of the rose. I'm so sad about it. It was such a steady bloomer, being the first to bloom in the spring and continuing to bloom intermittently through summer and fall. This type of rose was the first one that Vita Sackville-West planted in her famous garden in Sissinghurst. The plant you see here is smaller than it normally was because I cut back so many dying branches just before I left for my Buffalo trip. Now I've got another big clean-up task but I'm hoping when I dig it up, it will reveal any secrets of its death. Do you know how embarrassing it is for a garden coach to have a big ol' dead thing in her front yard? ;-)

'Appalachian Spring' dogwood

This dogwood was planted just this spring. It's a baby and looks a little stressed out, most likely due to high temperatures and lack of rain. I've been hand watering it but it's probably not enough. I will be getting out my books to determine if these blotches are signs of drought stress (or, god forbid, something worse). But enough of my sad tales, there's one bright thing in my garden this July.

The Susans are here!

My black-eyed Susans ('Goldsturm' variety) have made their faithful July appearance, along with some purple coneflowers. The coneflowers are in front of two blobs of green, for now. Those two blobs are pineapple sage, Salvia elegans. Too bad they're not blooming at the same time as the Susans! But they'll be in bloom this fall, so I have something to look forward to. And don't ask me why the grass looks so green when we're in such a drought. I'm sure it's because that part is on a sprinkler system and the grass blades are very long!

'Red Cascade' mini climbing rose, pink muhly grass, Agave filifera,Wavy Leaf cactus, Susans and assorted other blooms

At least I made the right choices when it comes to this area. I'll attribute that to my central Texas roots, where you can't be too frivolous with water. This area only has access to a soaker hose and seems to be doing fine. Whew!

This post was written by Jean McWeeney for my blog Dig, Grow, Compost, Blog. Copyright 2010. Please contact me for permission to copy, reproduce, scrape, etc.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

A Buffalo Lancaster Ave. Garden


Many of the gardens we saw at Buffa10 had a similar focus to what you see above - loads of flowers and frequently an emphasis on fragrant ones. I loved those experiences and how happy I felt in those gardens. But there was one garden on our Sunday tour of Lancaster Avenue that was a bit different from the others. It starts out similar to the others. The scene above is from the front yard.


From the same front yard, the colors of the plantings echo the colors of the porch.

Entrance to side garden

The main garden is actually a small yard on the side of the house (the house was on a corner). I loved the gate and arbor and all the plantings around it.

A view from the gate into the side yard

Standing in front of the gate you glimpse the the formality to come.

Side garden view towards back

The side garden is formal and in pastel shades with an undertone of green. It felt very serene and calm. I like the back gate, large enough for larger gardening equipment perhaps?

Pond with small waterfall

Somehow, in that little space, there was room for a small pond and waterfall. Again, very soothing.

View towards front gate

The pond is tucked up towards the front gate on the left, and it surprises you if you come at it from this direction. I hope you agree how lovely this tiny little yard is. It may not appeal to everyone, but I think the fact that it was different enough from many of the other gardens put it up at the top of my list for favorites. You can see many more posts from Buffa10 here.

This post was written by Jean McWeeney for my blog Dig, Grow, Compost, Blog. Copyright 2010. Please contact me for permission to copy, reproduce, scrape, etc.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Lilies of Buffalo


Last year when I attended the garden bloggers Spring Fling in Chicago, I had a severe case of allium envy by the end of the weekend. This year's garden bloggers meet-up in Buffalo gave me a bad case of lily lust.


These little bitty gardens were mighty big on fragrance. This backyard on North Pearl Street bowled me over as the fragrance was so intense.


Here's more lilies from the same garden. The monarda on the right, clearly the biggest and healthiest I've ever seen, were like this in EVERY yard. What's the secret?


I think I could eat this one.


I really loved these lilies from the gardens of Kathy Guest Shadrack and Mike Shadrack. The blazing sun doesn't do them justice. Maybe they're common to folks in the north, but not to me.



I hope you can see the little feather hanging on this lily. This lily was as tall as I am. Can you imagine being surrounded by such beauty and fragrance? One of my dreams is to have a cottage garden in front of my house and grow a few lilies. Is that a pipe dream? I'm sure there's a few good southern lilies out there, preferably heirloom ones. I plan to do some research when I get closer to that dream. More Buffa10 posts to come!

This post was written by Jean McWeeney for my blog Dig, Grow, Compost, Blog. Copyright 2010. Please contact me for permission to copy, reproduce, scrape, etc.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Friendly Buffalo and Buffa10

Buffalo Cottage District

I'm finally back from my wonderful trip to Buffalo, NY, where I attended Buffa10, a garden bloggers meet-up and garden tour. One of the hopes of the organizers was that we would come away from Buffalo with a new appreciation for all the city has to offer. I know I certainly have that now. Buffalo is one mighty big garden destination and we saw a good-sized chunk of its floriferousness!

I plan to do several posts about this trip. I have to as there was so much! But when thinking about the highlights of the trip, I decided that my first post would be about the wonderful people there - the ones who organized it, all the new friends I made, and all the old friends I caught up with. First, enough good things cannot be said about Elizabeth Licata and Jim Charlier. They provided us a first-rate experience. I especially enjoyed learning more from them about their city, beyond just the wonderful gardens.

Elizabeth from Buffalo, Bonnie from CA, Pat from MA, Michele from NY and Layanee from RI in Elizabeth's garden

Here's a few other photos of the many wonderful bloggers I came to know. Some I met last year at our meet-up, some I felt I had met already through their blogs, and some I was delighted to meet and hear about their neck of the woods for the first time.

In the Japanese garden at Delaware Park

Layanee demonstrating proper "little finger technique" at our cream tea at the Shadrack's

Susan from NJ, sisters Helen and Sarah from Toronto, and Ani from MI in Jim's garden

Joseph from MI and other unknown umbrella holders at the Gordon and Brian's happy hour

Barbara from IL, Susan from TX, Lisa from SC and one mighty big hosta


How do you get 70 garden bloggers to pose for a picture? With a lot of patience I think! I'm still glowing when I think about all the great people there and the fun time I had. Thank you Elizabeth, Jim, and the city of Buffalo, for hosting us and making us all feel special. Stay tuned for a more in-depth look at the interesting gardens of Buffalo.

This post was written by Jean McWeeney for my blog Dig, Grow, Compost, Blog. Copyright 2010. Please contact me for permission to copy, reproduce, scrape, etc.

Monday, July 5, 2010

My Baby Garden and Other New Things

Side view of my new front garden

Whew, I didn't think I was going to be able to post another photo again, after what I just went through - software support for my Norton security software left my system in such a state that I couldn't easily download photos and nor could I even launch my photo software! But I persevered on my own and fixed the problem. Working with any support organization can be such a nightmare these days.

Front view of my baby garden

But enough of that. I'd like to introduce you to my new baby garden. I've probably given you glimpses of it before, like when I showed you back in late winter the lovely black soil I put in. I purchased about half of the plants online from High Country Gardens and the rest (mostly 'Goldsturm' rudbeckia and some grasses) came from my back gardens. I wish you could see the rudbeckia today as it's really blooming like crazy (I took these photos very early Friday morning). The garden still has a ways to go to fully fill out but I'm liking it more. The plants I purchased online took their sweet time filling in though. In fact, one of the grasses I purchased is still kind of mopey. But others are doing well, like this coreopsis below.

Coreopsis verticillata ‘Zagreb’

These coreopsis have been blooming since spring and they continue to fill out. Definitely keeper plants.

Agastache 'Ava'

This agastache, 'Ava', was also purchased online. The color and floriferousness of the blooms is nothing like the catalog, surprise, surprise! :-) But the catalog also said that it could take two to three seasons to reach mature size, so I'm hoping for the best. I've been pleased with the fact that it grew quickly, and really happy that a plant that does so well in New Mexico is actually thriving in Louisiana (of course, we're experiencing a severe-level drought now!).

Awaiting a gate (and less lawn!)

Today my friend Alexis, a landscape architect, and Peter, the best carpenter around, came by to discuss finally finishing up this part of the yard. It's been lacking a gate since the fence went in a couple of years ago. So we figured out what would look best and I'm really excited about it. I'll finally get the ugly AC units behind some fencing and also get an arbor to put my little 'Red Cascades' climbing rose on. And a cool looking gate as well. It'll take a while as Peter has a full time job but I know it's worth it. Maybe someday I'll get around to building more front gardens and thus, less lawn, as well. :-/

Pennisetum setaceum rubrum 'Fireworks' in blue pot

The grass in the photo above, 'Fireworks' pennisetum, has gone through a lot since I bought it last year. Last year, one of the neighborhood cats kept munching on it, so it never got very big and didn't bloom. This year it went through grasshopper hell but survived. The nice thing about this particular grass is how it looks in the spring time when it's first coming up - bright pink leaves. But now it looks like any other purple fountain grass to me. I'm hoping in the fall it colors up better.

Purple coneflowers, just for the heck of it

I'm getting very excited about my upcoming trip to Buffalo, NY, and all the great gardens I'll see at Buffa10, a garden bloggers meet-up. But most of all, I'm really looking forward to seeing friends I made from last year's meet-up in Chicago and making new friends. Nothing like garden geeks to help you get the creative juices flowing! See you all soon I hope!

This post was written by Jean McWeeney for my blog Dig, Grow, Compost, Blog. Copyright 2010. Please contact me for permission to copy, reproduce, scrape, etc.