Sunday, November 1, 2009

Since it was so gorgeous out, I zipped outside during the Zoodle's naptime to rake some leaves and do some maintenance.

I had been meaning to delay my front yard schemes for a couple years, but I had eleventy billion leaves to get rid of and a shrub to plant, so:


Last year I abandoned a heap of leaves on the lawn and ended up with a big bare patch in that spot, so I figured I should be able to get the same result if I leave the leaves there deliberately. Decorative fence and drought-tolerant plants to follow. This makes me doubly happy because now I can plant cosmos next year after all.


That strip of grass around the outside has pretty much got to go, though; it will just be straggly and annoying as it is. I should probably pave it under with a nice decorative brick something or other, although that part will have to wait, since I will totally not have time or $$$ for major garden renovations next year. A paved path could go around the outline of the new bed, actually, and go between it and the magnolia.


Eventually when I can expand the whole yard into garden I'm figuring this will make a good spot for an "entry" where more paved paths (for access and easy weeding) can start. I could even do some sort of schnazzy arbour thing. Except it would have to be all rustic and stuff to go with the fence I'm planning. Hmmm.

Meanwhile, awesomeness in the backyard:

Look, my birdbath has visitors!


A nice splash of colour from the cotoneaster (and the hydrangeas make a nice contrast, too).


Saturday, October 3, 2009

Triumph! This is probably the first time I've actually gotten bulbs into the ground in reasonable time, despite there being an unprecedented frahillion of them. I also planted most of the spoils from the previous post.

Remaining Garden Chores
* move pampas grass
* move primrose to front, where it will actually be visible
* plant poppy (forgot to this afternoon, oops)
* move rose and peony when they go dormant
* cover maple and magnolia when it gets cold

The one thing I'm still pondering is where to put the burning bush. The internets tell me it has the best colour in full sun and dry conditions, which suggests I ought to stick it in the front yard. Maybe I could put it sort of in the front corner...


...and then it could be the centerpiece of that little decorative corner I was scheming there.

In other news, here's what the sun bed looks like right now:


Between the cosmos, the asters, and the gaura, this is impressively colourful for October, eh?

Less impressive:


One single, solitary, lonely sweet pea. File under Plants I Will Not Be Bothered With Next Year. This is particularly annoying because if they HAD worked out, they'd still be blooming like crazy.
Note to self: just because it has been cold and miserable outside does not mean it has been cold and miserable enough to get rid of the bugs. Try to plant bulbs or otherwise dig in the dirt, apparently, and they will come out in force.

My miscalculation on this front, however, does tell me that the patio is excellently performing the function I originally had in mind for it, i.e. creating a space to sit and look around without stirring up the ravening swarm.

Anyway. Time to deploy the mosquito hat, even if it looks dorky.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Oh lord. In addition to that free perennial, Richmond Nurseries also had a "buy two, get one free" deal on both shrubs and perennials. That's way beyond my power to resist. Well, I saved $30 or $40, didn't I?? I suppose I had to get one more round of binge buying in before the season ends anyway...

The spoils!

Corkscrew hazel. I'm thinking maybe this can replace the prairie joy rose on the east side when I move it; the nursery staff seemed to think it would do OK with those light levels, as long as it gets enough water. With my kickass Lee Valley system in place I don't think that'll be an issue.

Dwarf burning bush. STUNNING fall colour. Not totally sure where this one's going to live yet, but it's supposed to be pretty adaptable, so I'm sure I can find somewhere to put it.

Cranberry cotoneaster. Loved the shape and texture of this one, to say nothing of the reddish fall foliage and bright berries. I'm thinking this can go in front of the wall, since it's fairly low-growing.

"Queen Charlotte" anemone. This jumped out at me, since my mother-in-law recently planted one and I was very taken with it.

Saxifrage. Isn't it cute?? I believe mine blooms red. Maybe I'll take my cue from this image and stick it in some wall crevices.

Orange oriental poppy, in case the ones to be transplanted don't survive. I can always use more of these.

Dwarf balloon flower. Another cutie, purchase of which was inspired by my mother-in-law.

Oh, and I got a big mossy hanging planter to house the giant spider plant my mom brought me from Chesterville.

DOOM. Good thing there's only a 30% chance of rain tomorrow, maybe I will actually manage to get everything planted...
Oooooooh, look, an online coupon for a free perennial from the Richmond Nursery! Just a little perennial, and you have to go before October 5, but still: I am SO THERE. The Zoodle and I needed something to do this afternoon anyway, and with all the garden centers taken down it's been ages since I did some nice plant browsing.

Also, my online credit card statement had a silver lining when I checked it: Breck's has charged my card, which means my bulbs should be enroute! Of course it's now cold and rainy and generally kind of lousy gardening weather. Well, at least it won't be buggy, right?

Edit: ...and when I stepped out the door to grab the mail, guess what package was waiting for me? Squee!!

Monday, September 7, 2009

So I'm toying with schemes for the front yard. Not that I will be implementing these anytime soon, since I still have two beds barely started and one bed not even begun in the back. But still.


The red dotted line indicates the property line between me and my neighbour. The red arrow indicates a possible location for one of those gorgeous low-lying 6'-wide junipers, although this is more a whim than true inspiration at this point.

The front corner is a breeeelliant idea I snitched from a garden magazine. I'd go back to those lovely people in Montague and buy some old fence rails (which they were selling in addition to the rocks) and make a little decorative corner, which would get planted round with cleome and cosmos and possibly morning glories around the posts, with other lower plants in front. Around the magnolia, meanwhile, I'd start with a half-circle bed in front of the tree (brown) and then add another half-circle (red) when the rest of the space fills up.

Any plants in these locations would have to be mad drought tolerant and hardy, though, since the soil out front is particularly sandy and sun-drenched; also, it is more subject to wind than the very sheltered backyard.

A whole bunch of daisy-looking things would work (shasta daisies, asters, echinacea, gaillardia, rudbeckia) and conveniently I have all of those scattered around already - so by the time I get around to making these beds I can just transplant a bunch of pre-existing stuff and it should be fine there. Sedums and sempervivens, of course; I don't have sedums yet but sempervivens should be divisible by then. Coreopsis also, apparently; personally I prefer the big tall ones. I've been seeing that stuff everywhere this summer and admiring it. Russian sage would also be a good pick, although that gets monstrously huge. Oooooo, and apparently buddleias are also in this category. Awesome, those are gorgeous:

Apparently anything silver and/or fuzzy is apt to be drought tolerant, too. So artemisias and oriental poppies are on the list, also lambs' ears (although I hear those get pretty ratty-looking by late summer).

Ornamental grasses, too, or similar-shaped plants. Here's a yucca, for instance, which is lovely:

Another pretty plant called euphorbia - maroon-coloured foliage:

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

In lawn news, when I finally dragged the lawnmower out of its hiding place the other day, I discovered that the lawn's shagginess was not grass (ha! Imagine! GRASS, in MY LAWN? Surely you jest!) but some sort of feathery weed. I had noticed the feathery foliage before, but it was a pain in the ass to attack with my trusty weeder so I'd given up on it.

Now that it was about to bloom, it was conveniently much easier to spot and also much easier to get a grip on and yank. So I grubbed all of it out before mowing.

And good job I did, because come to find out, the stuff goes by the name of RAGWEED.

Time for a picture post!

The sun bed, with the cosmos looking particularly wild and woolly.

The wall bed, with the golden oregano going berserk (compare with the freshly planted stuff among the pictures here). Now THAT's groundcover. The delphinium has withered to a bare stick, but the internets assure me that this happens sometimes when it gets hot and that it will be back in force next year.

The corner bed, with bleeding heart moved, rhododendron and sedge grass planted, and weeds beaten back. Again, compare. Looking at least slightly more civilized, eh? I just have to wreak further havoc and devastation on the celandine that's raging along the fence.

Now blooming:

The gypsophila has gotten a second wind and is blooming all over the place.

Surprise! It turns out I did actually manage to plant some cupid's dart. They looked very much like the bachelors' buttons as seedlings, so I planted them all together. I'd been wondering why these weren't getting as tall as the other ones.

One of the heleniums shriveled up and died - we'll see if it comes back - but this one's doing fine.

And here are the asters. They start out white and then get gradually more purple as the flowers open more.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Continuing thesis and baby related insanity on the home front means not much in the way of garden news, alas. Hopefully I will get a chance to snap some pictures in the next few days. Meanwhile I am unwinding with schemes and ruminations.

To Do in the Next Couple Months
* As mentioned, move bleeding heart and plant remaining unplanted plants
* Plant bulbs when they arrive
* Move the pampas grass, which will end up hiding the maple if it gets as tall as promised in its current location
* Cover magnolia and maple when it gets cold out
* Attempt to weed the back lawn a bit
* Possibly dig up the last bed in my patio arrangement and let it sit under mulch over the winter; I may not get around to doing anything with it next year but at least I won't have to worry about it multiplying weeds on me

Things I Will Do Next Year
* Either find another location for the cosmos or don't bother with it. As much as I love the stuff, it is too tall for its current location; it hides the climbing rose almost completely. The cleome can stay put, although I might scatter it around a little more.
* Need to use taller stakes on the delphiniums, provided they come back.
* Don't bother with the geraniums, but plant lots of begonias of many colours in the shade.
* Gird up my loins like a man and pick-n-squish all the nasty goddamn lily beetles, since they don't seem to respond to anything else short of chemical assassination.
* Chop back the invading grape vines and anonymous climbing stuff coming over the west fence.
* Mow the lawn once in a while; take Ed Lawrence's advice about raking the hell out of the creeping charlie early in the spring.
* As stated many times before: MULCH.
* Focus on filling up the shadier beds in my mad spring plant-buying.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Not a whole lot going on out there these days; this is due in part to preoccupation with other projects, but it doesn't help that it's just that time of year. Although this year, despite the seasonal rattiness of the ferns, things are still looking pretty good, so that's progress over my last garden. The climbing rose has buds like whoa - not sure if it just blooms late or if it just took this long to get established. The maple is, well, much the same, but it's not dead, so that counts as victory, right?

I mustered out briefly today to do some poking around and weeding. Pulled a whole mess of celandine out of the corner bed. I also, regretfully, dug out the dogwood, although I imagine it will be back. It's just too big and leggy for that spot, which makes the whole bed look like a mess, and I don't have anywhere else to put it right now. The bleeding heart is having a similarly wild and woolly effect on its surroundings by sprawling all over everything, so my evil plan for a week or two hence is to dig it up and move it further out into the bed. The rhododendron I snapped up on sale, meanwhile, should make a tidier replacement.

To my surprise, there's also an azalea still alive back there, and it actually looks pretty happy. I think it got chewed on in the spring - I suspect the neighbourhood groundhog, which has also snacked on my parsley and canterbury bells; must lay down some blood meal at some point - but it actually managed to flower a little while ago, and is growing busily. Once I get the bleeding heart out of the way it may even be visible.

In my crashing around I startled what I thought at first was a cricket, but it turned out to be a toad - a teeeeeeny tiny toad, about half the length of my thumb. How cool! I hope this means that the big toad I met once or twice has had babies somewhere. By the time I came back with my camera, alas, it had disappeared.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

So today I struck the first blow in a task I have really not been looking forward to: rejuvenating the lawn.

I hate lawns, for the record. A lawn to me is a big fat waste of space, resources, and effort; also persnickety and generally a pain in the ass to maintain. I plan to get rid of as much lawn as I possibly can over the years to come, but I've got enough going on in the back yard right now that the front is just going to have to wait, especially since I don't want to annoy the neighbours with my flying-by-the-seat-of-my-pants hodgepodge of n00bish garden experiments. I will do my early messing around in the back yard and plan the front more carefully.

BUT in the meantime, there is still this sea of grass to deal with out front. Well, sea of weeds, really. I don't know what is going on, none of our neighbours have anything like the weed problem we do. Maybe I just don't mow often enough. In any case, my evil scheme going forward is as follows: weed like a madwoman; actually mow the lawn once in a blue moon; and dethatch, aerate, topdress, and overseed next month. Then we'll see what happens. If it still looks like crap in the spring, I will throw up my hands and declare it a lost cause.

So today I went out and bought a "Grampa's Weeder" from Lee Valley, one of the best garden purchases I have made all year. This thing uses minimal effort but still makes short work of plantains, dandelions, and even those bastard wood violets. If it has a central root (as opposed to, say, something like creeping charlie, which roots everywhere it touches the freaking ground) you can use this baby to wreak havoc and devastation upon it.

I then went out and spent 2h digging up all the plantains and dandelions and many additional nameless weeds. (It drives me crazy not knowing the names of weeds. Not that knowing what they are really gives me any useful information - it's a weed, right, what more do you need to know? But somehow it's so much more satisfying to yank it out when you know what it's called. "Aha, you bastard such-and-such, I have you now!!") The difference all this diligent effort made is depressingly subtle. Tomorrow I will muster out there again and tackle the rest of the wood violets and the nameless yellow-flowering stuff that's all over the front third of the yard. And also the goddamn creeping charlie, I suppose, although I'm not sure there's much point. What a thug of a plant that stuff is.

Monday, July 20, 2009

In honour of our houseiversary, I present a "compare and contrast" edition of the picture post!


Alas, I didn't take pictures of this when we first moved in, but for future reference, here's now:

Not much change from this perspective, really. Except I managed to kill the hanging basket plants. Oh well, this is the longest I've ever kept such things alive, so I'm not too badly dismayed.

Closer up, however, there's been a few changes at least:

Ah, mulch, how I ♥ you. Also, most of the herbaceous plants in here are my additions, except the daylily. When we first moved in all the rest of that was daylilies and violets.


Progress! Looking around the yard from west to east:




Compare to this time last year:

Details of the beds:

Sun bed

Wall bed

Corner bed (Extremely weedy and in need of attention)

Side bed (Needs to be mostly redone - dammit)

The patio thyme is growing slowly, but it's growing:

These are now confirmed as Bachelor's Buttons:

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Today I hit Ritchie's Feed & Seed out in the other end of town. I had plans to stop by Peter Knippel Nursery too, but as it turned out Ritchie's had more than enough stuff I couldn't resist. To make up for my binge buying I am once again imposing a two-week plant-buying freeze. No more plants for me until August 2!

Much like eating an entire box of chocolate chip cookies, however, it was SO worth it. The spoils:

* Lucifer crocosmia - YET ANOTHER sun plant, but I've actually had my eye on this one for a while. Besides, the foliage makes a nice contrast in the back of the sun bed.

* golden oregano - couldn't resist the combination of the bright chartreuse colour and the texture of the plant.

* Black Scallop ajuga - more funky ground cover.

* toad lilies - another one I've had my eye on for some time. They bloom late, for an added bonus.

* Blue Butterfly delphiniums - delicate foliage and luminous blue flowers.

* Black Knight delphinium - even floppier than the ones I already have, but the blue-purple colour was completely irresistable. The picture below doesn't do it justice, this plant just glows.

* Japanese Blood Grass - I found the forest grass I was looking for but it looked kind of ratty in person; this stuff was much cooler.

* Ice Dance sedge grass - also cooler than the forest grass.

* Drumstick primrose - have been keeping an eye out for this stuff, having read about it in magazines.