Category Archives: too tall


Last year and next year

This gardening season has had its ups and downs, as usual, and I want to capture my ideas before they melt into the mist.

Spring brought some lovely blooms.  The irises, which I sometimes despair of because this bed is so weedy, were lovely (if a bit floppy).  I especially like the blue ones.  Wish I still had the white ones I inherited from my mother, who got them from Bob Taylor decades ago.  This was in mid-May.

Zepherine Drouhin is always lovely, but after she blooms, she’s a mess.  Maybe add a clematis next year so there’s something else blooming there?

Despite my vow to sow annual poppies early, I failed.  Luckily, this one self-sowed.  I love the delicate shading on the petals.

Sarah Bernhardt was in bloom just in time to take her to Duck for the week.

Allium globemaster looked appropriately modern in a 60s sort of way. Plus, it lasted a long time.  This was at the end of May.

The drumstick alliums were not quite what I expected, too tall.  We’ll see if they come up next year.  I was aiming for something like this

but they were very long-stemmed and flopped over.  We’ll see if they come back next year.

By the end of June (after the wedding, and English garden pictures to come), long, spiky blooms appeared on the bottlebrush buckeye.  The butterflies love them.

(And note the new fence, raw as can be but it should weather to gray eventually).  Here’s one of the day lilies, though they seemed a bit meager this year.  I love the dramatic dark reds:

And here’s the gallant calla zantedeschia that came as a bonus bulb from McClure and Zimmerman several years ago.  If I’d realized its scale, I wouldn’t have planted it so close to one of the lush hostas, but so it goes.  It comes up faithfully every year.

And look what’s popped up!  A couple years ago I dug up a couple of plants that were just too big for their britches.  This is a helianthus that just couldn’t be killed!

There are also signs that the amsonia is resurrecting itself, too.  I may bite the bullet and pull it out, replacing it with a variety that has better fall color.  We’ll see!

And this was the flowerpot on the steps this year.  The pots worked well, but the railing planters were a mess:  very dry, and I didn’t have any good fillers or spillers.  I’ll add Soil Moist next year and go for something easy like calibrachoa to add color.

The houseplants enjoyed their spa vacation, as always.  Note to self: you can never mass too many pots together.

Since this area is part sun at best, it’s all about the foliage here. Still, it could use a little more color but on the whole I was pleased.

Finally, the hyacinth beans I got on sale from C&T did pretty well, though what is apparently a stinkbug larva liked them, too.  Never mind, the colors were delicious.

The other nice thing is that the shades of purple went well with the clematis and the Autumn Joy sedum, almost as though I had planned it (ha!).





























Heleniums can be hell*

The new bed was so full of promise – and it still is, if I can figure out how to stake the helenium.  The idea behind this was that I’d have lots of tall, sun-loving, drought-tolerant plants that would screen the neighbors’ driveway and give me lots of late summer color.  It’s working, sort of, except that a storm a month ago or so caused the helenium to lean over.  Despite my best efforts with bamboo stakes, it started leaning even more.  In preparation for Irene, I removed the stakes, fearing that they would become spears slicing through the air and impaling innocents.  Instead, all that happened is that the heleniums are now nestled down close to the ground, smothering the miscanthus, calendulas and boltonia.  I think the only solution is some rebar stakes.  The damn plant is so heavy that I don’t think anything else will work.

So here it is in June, with the calendulas blooming brightly in front.

By early August, it was beginning to lean.  You can see the stakes that were no match for the weight of the plants.

And now, after the hurricane, it’s just ridiculous.  It’s at least a two-man job to right the plants and tie it to stakes so strong that they will prevail against the mighty stems.

I do feel better to discover that I’m not the only one with helenium problems.  This gardener suggests cutting them back in midsummer, but of course part of the joy is having really tall plants, so I’m not sure that’s the solution.  He also had a terrible time staking, and I must say his stakes are even more pathetic than mine.  One of his commenters who mentions this specific variety (‘Lemon Queen’) is going to try putting them in a cage next year.  Another good suggestion.  The bees and butterflies love this plant, and it makes a nice bouquet for the house, so I won’t give up!

*Note that throughout this post I referred to the plant as a helenium, but it’s not.  It’s a Helianthus.  (another problem)