Thursday, July 1, 2021

WHAT IS SO RARE AS A DAY IN JUNE ?

 "And since all this loveliness can not be Heaven, I know in my heart it is June." –  Abba Woolson 

June brought rain  and relieved us of the 3 week drought of  May.  
For the second June in a row my Asters bloomed !  What is so rare as a day in June -Asters in  bloom !



June is a lovely month in the garden with many flowers in bloom -the autumn sage, daylilies, catsmint, shasta daisies, brazilian verbena,yarrow, euphorbia, bellflowers, and dianthus to name a few.


                  My roadside garden is happy with the abundant rain and mild                                temperatures of  June .

June also brought the Japanese beetles that I wage war on every year.   Their favorite plants seem to be crepe myrtles, wisteria, roses and fruit trees.  I just pick them off every morning and evening and drown them in soapy water.  I also place beetle lures/traps a distance from the garden and that attracts many of them. The good news is that their season will soon be over and the plants will recover.

Surprisingly, July is the rainiest month of the year here in North Carolina.   Let's hope it lives up to that.



Thursday, June 3, 2021

The Merry Month of May

"A delicate fabric of bird song 
Floats in the air, 
The smell of wet wild earth 
Is everywhere. 
Oh I must pass nothing by 
Without loving it much, 
The raindrop try with my lips, 
The grass with my touch; 
For how can I be sure 
I shall see again 
The world on the first of May 
Shining after the rain?" 

-  Sara Teasdale, May Day  


This May has been one for the record books -the driest Spring on record and the coldest temperature  ( 40 degrees ! ) .  Nevertheless the garden , which I've been watering due to the drought, has flourished.


My goal is to have something evergreen in the garden year round so that it looks good even when not in bloom.  Azaleas, 'soft caress' mahonia, japanese cypress, autumn sage, Irish yew, Chinese viburnum 'snowball ', 'chindo' viburnum,  ' spring bouquet ' viburnum, and yuccas , to name a few.

While browsing in the garden one day I noticed a strange growth on my beloved 'peggy clarke ' flowering apricot that blooms in late January - a black knot fungus covered all the branches.  Research on the fungus indicated I should remove all branches and use a fungicide to prevent recurrence.  As a result my two flowering apricots are reduced to a 4' naked tree.  I added plant tone as advised to help it's new growth.

                           

                 'Peggy Clarke ' flowering apricot is an early pollinator attraction to the many bees that swarm around its fragrant blossoms in late January when hardly anything else is in bloom.  

My new garden buddy, Odie, loves chasing the bees buzzing around the Lamb's ear and Catmint.  


May is always a merry month of celebration, not only in my garden, but my family as well-my birthday, my son and daughter's birthdays , Mother's Day and Memorial Day.  


Sunday, May 2, 2021

APRIL'S PROMISE



"No Winter lasts forever, no Spring skips its turn. April is a promise that May is bound to keep, and we know it." - Hal Borland

   
April never fails to deliver on her promise of beautiful flowers -above is 'bee's jubilee' a prolific repeat blooming clematis.

The hellebores have been blooming since late February/early March and their lovely bobbing heads greet me as I walk the garden path.

Daffodils have faded but another cheery perennial-the Japanese roof iris, shows her pretty head.  I love their short, sturdy stems and the spiky texture of their foliage and have spread them through-out my garden.




The boulder garden in early April is filled with  blooming woodland phlox and ajuga . I am planting more Ajuga along the border of the pathway to get an even better Spring show next year.  The Japanese roof iris kept its green foliage all winter and evergreen sedges add texture as well.


By late April the garden had filled in considerably.


   The 'lady banks ' rose on the arbor  ( the only evergreen, thornless rose ! ) bloomed beautifully this month as did the Chinese  'snowball ' viburnum . The 'autumn sage ' ( salvia 'greggii' ) on the upper left side kept its greenery all winter and will soon put out her cheerful red blossoms.

True to her promise, April brought ample rainfall and as a result the garden was lush with new growth.  


   And what is April without lilacs ?  Lilacs are fineky about our Southern heat but I found a hybrid that was developed to endure it - 'pocahontus '  is among the earliest blooming.

" April is a promise that May is bound to keep ..."









Thursday, April 1, 2021

MARCH TOWARD SPRING



When I posted the above photo on my facebook page I got hundreds of hits, much more than my usual gardening posts.  Go figure !

Anyhoo, March marks the official beginning of Spring but of course it doesn't always happen  according to plans.  This March has been very rainy and the temperatures fluctuated from very warm to freezing, which of course plays havoc on emerging plants.  One day of 80 degrees fried the blooming daffodils.

I love to watch Spring unfold in my garden -begining in late February when the two Japanese ornamental apricots  ( prunus mume ' peggy clarke ' ) is covered with double-pink blossoms.   Edgeworthia, aka, Chinese paperbush has its overwhelmingly sweet fragrance and beautiful blooms as well.  I have three kinds of viburnum that are early Spring-blooming :  Chinese 'snowball ', Korean Spice and a rare evergreen variety, 'Spring Bouquet. '  The 'pocahontas ' Lilac's bloom emerges as it is a very early blooming variety and one  that can take the Southern summers.


Chinese 'Snowball' Viburnum

In the woodland garden daffodils, hellebores and red buckeye emerge, along with the cobalt blue Ajugas and various ferns. 


                                    A Carolina native -Red Buckeye

The evergreen clematis 'armanii ' was spectacular this March and its fragrance as I walk along the garden path is very pleasant.  

                                                   
                                      Korean Spice Viburnum

Late  March and Kerria japonica has put on its sunny yellow dress in the deep shady area of my backyard garden.

Another end of the month bloomer is the Viburnum 'mariesii ' a lovely shrub that has lateral branching filled with white flowers and followed by red berries. 


                                                       'Mariesii ' Viburnum

                                        
                                       'Spring Bouquet ' evergreen Viburnum

To say I love Viburnums is an understatement.   They have so many wonderful attributes -lovely flowers, foliage and berries and  are very hardy and low maintenance.

Now onward and upward to the month of real Spring in the Piedmont - April.



Monday, March 1, 2021

A NEW FEBRUARY FACE IN THE SWEET GARDEN

 

Last August I lost my beloved Mini-Aussie Duke to lymphoma.  He was a young, spirited 5 year old and my constant companion in the garden.  While I still grieve for him on February 20th  I decided to get a new puppy to fill our lives with joy.  Meet  9 week old Odie, a Schnoodle ( Schnauzer/Poodle ) with the dog whisperer, granddaughter Lea. They're already great pals.   She wants to be a Vet when she grows up, a good choice given her great love of all animals.




This year we've set a new record for the rainest winter -38 " and counting, the annual rainfall of rainy Seattle and close to our annual rainfall of 43-48 ".   We've had a light dusting of snow which quickly melted away and few temperatures below freezing so this winter was also rather mild.

Blooming in the Sweet Garden this months are 2 Prunus mume 'peggy clarke ', Edgeworthia, Hellebores, daffodils and evergreen Viburnum ' spring bouquet. '  There are big, fat buds on the evergreen Clematis 'armandii  '  that will burst forth in a few warm days.


                      
                        The double pink blossoms of Prunus mume 'peggy clarke'
             attracts multitudes of bees.  It's a rare and welcome sight in the
             midst of January /February .

This last day of February we had 75 warm and wonderful degrees !  What we need are more sunny days to dry up the saturated ground. 

Looking ahead to March the long-range forecast shows mild weather.  Once the ground has dried I need to get out to the vegetable garden and sow seeds.  I've got 4 boxes of wildflower seeds that need to be planted in my roadside garden.

Meanwhile I'm watching my favorite Bluebirds fill the many nesting boxes I've put up -a sure sign of Spring ! 


 






Sunday, January 31, 2021

GARDENING BEGINS IN JANUARY


One positive thing that the dreadful pandemic that has so profoundly impacted our nation and the world, is a renewed interest in gardening.  Walking about my neighborhood I witnessed so many homeowners doing gardening projects and starting their own vegetable gardens.  As a landscape designer I was also  kept busy with consultations and installations.  

As Elizabeth Lawrence declared in her  A SOUTHERN GARDEN book, there are two months of winter here in central North Carolina -January and February and that even during those months there are many pleasant days to enjoy.  This winter has been mild with no appreciable amounts of snow, but ample rainfall.

My daffodils are already up this year and I've seen some older established ones in bloom in neighbor's gardens.   The blooms on my Prunus mume 'Peggy Clarke ' have formed but several below freezing nights have given them pause.  Edgeworthia, aka, Chinese paperbush is in full bloom and the blooms of the Chinese Snowball Viburnum still linger on the bush .  

Last Fall I edited my backyard boulder garden, removing shrubs that had overwhelmed their space and replacing them with lower-growing evergreens  and long-blooming perennials that give more structure to the garden.  

                            
  A few of my long-blooming perennial  favorites -'purple knight ',  lambs ear, autumn sage, sedum, euphorbia, Japanese roof iris and perennial mums.

I'm pleased to say that my garden now has year round interest with something blooming or evergreen each month of the year.  My plan for this New Year is to plant more wildflowers in the roadside garden, replace a grapevine with an evergreen flowering one  ( Carolina Jessamine ? ) and start vegetables early from seed.  
I also need to work on my frontyard rose garden .  I have tried various cultivars but none have done that well despite planting them in a raised bed with recommended soil preparations.  The Camellias in that bed have done very well and I know there's enough sun for roses .  I have avoided planting the sensational 'Knockout ' roses that are so widely popular because I prefer something out of the ordinary.  Oh well, I haven't given up yet and will attempt once again this New Year with different varieties in my search to find the right one.  

Here's to hopes for a better, brighter New Year in which we defeat and put behind us the devastating  plague of last year.  I wish you good health and happiness.













Friday, January 8, 2021

DECEMBER'S BARENESS EVERYWHERE

 "How like a winter hath my absence been From thee, the pleasure of the fleeting year! What freezings have I felt, what dark days seen!

What old December’s bareness every where!
And yet this time remov’d was summer’s time;
The teeming autumn, big with rich increase,
Bearing the wanton burden of the prime,
Like widow’d wombs after their lords’ decease:
Yet this abundant issue seem’d to me
But hope of orphans and unfather’d fruit;
For summer and his pleasures wait on thee,
And, thou away, the very birds are mute:   
Or, if they sing, ’tis with so dull a cheer,   
That leaves look pale, dreading the winter’s near."
- William Shakespeare, How Like a Winter Hath my Absence Been

Despite the bareness of December there is still joy to be found in the garden -the fat buds of the Chinese Paper Bush, the Camellias and the Hellebores.  The sedges are still green with life as are the hollies and the ferns.  


                         Edgeworthia chrysantha
                      A most welcome sight in the deep of                                     December

My boulder garden is still filled with textures from the Evergreens and other hardy perennials.



                        Lots of green in December.  The Autumn Sage still has blooms on it .

This last month of the year is time to reflect on the terrible pandemic that affected not only our country but the entire world.   My garden and art have kept me sane and occupied and I am grateful for my children living nearby.

I hope that the New year will bring peace and prosperity for everyone.




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