Category Archives: planning

Lessons learned

As summer comes to a close – complete with drenching rains, high humidity, more rain, and none of the September weather we loved in the olden days – here are a few lessons learned in the garden.

  • Don’t use angel wing begonias in the window box on the railing, they are totally out of proportion there and far too upright despite the way the flowers droop.begonia-dragon-wing-red
  • Choose a constant bloomer for the hanging basket by the bird feeder, maybe the dull but reliable impatiens.  This year’s begonia was glorious for a few weeks, then stopped blooming entirely.
  • Give the milkweed LOTS of room to spread out, and be prepared for the aphids to cover it and the caterpillars to decimate it.  milkweed caterpillarsPlus:  you might see Monarchs eventually!
  • Plant the Shirley poppies in late winter and choose colors carefully.  They will bloom for months and months, so be sure their color blends with other bloomers (pinky white viburnum, various dahlias and zinnias).  Here’s the pale yellow in August, still in bloom. poppies
  • No more tomatoes unless they are cherries.  The patio tomato sulked, produced half a dozen tomatoes, and proceeded to rot.  Plant the tomato in the raised bed and stand back!
  • Hanging plant in front – never again a geranium, it dries out too quickly and fades away.  Calibrachoa or another reliable bloomer instead.growing-Calibrachoa_mini
  • Feed the hungry:  get a weekly fertilizer plan and do it.  Ditto the twice-monthly fish emulsion for the roses.
  • The Joe Pye weed was magnificent this year, I only hope it doesn’t get much bigger.  The Souvenir de Ste. Anne rose twirled around it, as did the white cosmos, in a very delightful way. joe pye weed
  • Speaking of roses, both the Zepherine Drouhin and the other re-bloomed a couple times over the summer, well worth having them around, even though the St. Anne got Japanese beetles and the Zeph lost leaves and got leggy.

    Next year will be even better!!!

Planted today

These are around the two tomato plants (Brandywine and Sweet Cherry 100), where the butterfly bush used to be and where a new shrub – a viburnum? – will be planted this fall.  None of them is from this year, so let’s see how they do.

White seashells cosmos

Zinnia ‘cactus mix’

Butterfly zinnias cha-Cha-Cha

Today’s Garden

Catching up to the garden at the end of what has been a perfect spring.  Despite a few days of high humidity, it’s been mostly sunny and breezy, with about half an inch of rain falling every week.  Not quite enough, but close.  Here’s what’s been happening.


In the vegetable garden, the sugar snap peas were bearing beautifully when they were attached by aphids and it was all over.  This is the second year this has happened after many years of success.  I’ll try planting them somewhere else next year and hope for the best.

The potatoes – Russian banana fingerling potatoes from John Scheepers – are doing pretty well in the raised bed, despite some sort of fungus or rust or something on the leaves, as you can see from the photo below.  The ones in the potato bag were beautiful until they suddenly died.  Nevertheless, I was able to harvest these tiny beauties and hope for more from the raised bed later on.

Ya-ya carrots have germinated.  Basil is thriving, as is the self-seeded bronze fennel.  The tomatoes – cherry red and another one – are just mucking along since I left them in containers for too long and they got parched and wizened.  The purple Trionfo Violetto beans and the Round Black radishes from Pinetree Garden Seeds – the latter planted a bit late – are coming up in the whiskey barrel.


The sunny border is coming right along.  The California poppy, which I think I sprinkled around last summer, suddenly flared up into a huge and gorgeous orange surprise.  Here it is in mid-April.The buds are particularly weird and beautiful.Then there’s the yarrow, which looks innocent enough in April.

But it got so enormous that I had to stake it.   And did I note what variety it is?  No, I did not.  ‘Coronation Gold?’It’s almost as tall as the monstrous helianthus, which I cut back yesterday.  Although I do like the way it contrasts with the butterfly bush, which I whacked back in March and which is just now starting to bloom.  The lavender (‘Grosso’) is throwing flower spikes every which way, and I’ve cut dozens of them already.  Deliciously fragrant.

The milkweed has already bloomed (everything is so early this year), and now the seedpods are forming.No aphids yet, thank goodness.

The verbena bonariensis, which I had admired in Mr. Darwin’s garden, arrived this spring and has just taken off.Meanwhile, the oakleaf hydrangeas have been spectacular this year.  ‘Snowflake’ is just starting to go green, but ‘Alice’ is not only turning pink but changing leaf color, too.

Best of all, the back yard is really coming into its own.  The borders still need a lot of work, but it’s looking so much better than it ever has.  See?

A new start

After so many hassles with Blogger, I’m migrating to WordPress.  I’m sure I’ll have issues here, too, but at least they’ll be new and fresh.  You can find my old blog here.