Thursday, May 22, 2008

Mid May Musings

Still need to buy some cleome spider flower plants. I love them and want at least 3. They never reseed for me except maybe a tiny weed looking thing and I've had no luck with starting my own seeds so I just always buy the plants. I hadn't seen them on my earlier nursery trips. Need to get out again. There was a patch of cleome in Monmouth Junction between a church and a mini mall that was just gorgeous and seemed to reseed itself every year. I wonder...

My 2 hill gardens are still unplanted. It's late. I should have done it weeks ago. I have the seeds. They were both tilled and now all the weed seeds have sprouted again so I either need to start hoeing or get that tiller running again. MUST do Memorial Day weekend or I'll never have my sunflowers and zinnia.

Saw parterres of firepower nandina at Virginia Beach last weekend. They really looked good. Maybe that's what I can try...

Our redbud looks real healthy although it never bloomed red buds. I do want to stake it again upright because it is growing at a 45 degree angle!

Need to research and get advice on pruning the plum out front and the oak out back. With some of the serious heavy rains we've had lately, the poor plum tree almost flattens out on top and I realize it may have too many branches splitting off the central trunk. I hate pruning trees but I know it has to be done.

It is getting impossible (again) to mow around the trees. We need to remove the grass around the trees (again) and get some of those fiber tree mulch circles?

Need to move the god-awful yellow iris away from the peach ones. The color combination just turns my face sour.

Lift and divide iris as soon as recommended.
Did I miss the window on pruning the lilac?
Why did my peony only put out 1 bloom? I guess I should be happy it even had 1. It was its first and only.

Ideas for stone wall, corner permanent hardscape for nonchalant place to sit.

What are these seedlings? Cedar? They are everywhere!!

Never got to dividing the grasses. Maybe we can still try but it'll be some job. They are huge.
Dig trenches around flower beds and fill with stone to prevent the creeping weeds & grass.

How are we going to get control over the weeds around the fence atop the retaining wall.

I think that my summer phlox has a competing weed that looks so similar I am still not sure if it is a weed or phlox. This happened to me last year too. Maybe now that I have some reference photos, I'll know sooner next year.
I have taken tons of reference photos of the landscaping and gardens this Spring. Mostly to highlight the negative so I can try to remedy some difficult areas and correct some errors in judgment on placement.

My oleander finally made it outside. It was the last of my tropicals that over wintered indoors to get out. Not for any reason other than it is real heavy and looked good where it was. It will get much healthier again outside this summer. It has been blooming in the house but the blooms have been real pale pink while they are a red outside. I bought it as a standard at Strange's a few years back. I've not been the best at pruning it and it is not as cute as it was when I bought it. I'd love to be able to propagate some of it so I can experiment with growing it outdoors year round. I know that it is unlikely that it could survive in our zone (6b/7a) but I'm up for trying! It is all over the Outer Banks as a landscaping plant but they have a milder climate than we do.

These plants of mine are INVASIVE and should be on your
do not plant list if you want a tidy garden. I have mixed feelings about them so far in my gardens. I'm trying to use then in more and more containers so I can pull the excessive offspring and do something with them besides throw them out. I'm also happy to give away as much of it as you want as long as you do not hold me responsible for it overtaking your house!
The 1st picture is creeping jenny. I hate this one the most.

chameleon plant

As you see, it is choking my Irises and traveling around the fence to the left and invading my shade garden to the right.

pink evening primrose - Heidi warned me about this when she first saw me plant it. Now I know why. It is such a pretty shade of pink. I will try to contain it.

This one I don't know the name right now, so I'll call The Harding Hypertufa Throwaway. It's spreading everywhere. It is a sedum; I just assume there are many varieties.

Passion Flower - I think I may have finally eradicated this one. I will miss the gorgeous flower but will not miss that sinking nightmarish feeling that it will envelope the house at some point. It started coming up 50 feet from where it started! Who knows how far its runners were spread.

April's End Brings a Major To Do List

  • Need to find homes for all the red hot pokers that I've potted up from dividing the behemoth plant last fall.
  • Divide and replant some of the columbines - bloomed weekend of 4/26
  • Mark Iris colors with yarn so know what colors they are when I divide and relocate. Bloom sequence has been dark purple, then lavender, then yellow.
  • Add new columbine and divisions of existing columbines to side butterfly garden based on Longwood pictures.
  • Plant perennials in daylily garden on hill instead of annual seeds this year. Possibly raise the daylilies to a raised garden in their existing location to give height. The variety I have are kind of short.
  • Plant the daffodils that are in pots. I quickly potted up some bulbs in the winter when I felt it was too late to get them in the ground. Now that they've bloomed, I'll bury them and see if they come back next Spring or not.
  • Lift daffodil bulbs that are in straight line in front garden and reposition in groups.
  • Plant new Abraham Darby outside gate swing-side replacing one of the many dead simplicity roses.
  • Remove and eventually replace ALL of the Jackson & Perkins dead and very sick simplicity roses.
Mailbox Garden needs work.

Bigger Projects
  • Mulch - Weed Control - Mulch
  • Grape Vine Control
  • Wisteria Control (Have 2)
  • Honeysuckle Control
  • Divide and relocate humongous yucca
Thin out shade garden

slope EROSION control on hill right of fence: terrace? dry creek bed? plantings?

New Trees:
  • Kwanzan Cherry Tree?
  • Dogwoods?
Let's check my posts at the end of the Summer and see how much gets done!

April Longwood Gardens Winterthur Trip

We took a mini vacation to the Brandywine Valley driving up Saturday morning April 26 and coming back home Tuesday April 29. We stayed 3 nights at the Staybridge Suites in Glen Mills, PA which could not be a more perfect location for our touring plans. I would have to say that this hotel chain is our favorite in terms of value and room type. It is like a mini apartment. It is a 1 bedroom suite with kitchen with separate bedroom and living area. Perfect for traveling with a family.

Our drive was uneventful but still 4 1/2 hours driving + another hour or so in rest stops. I called Winterthur from the road and they were extremely helpful in suggesting how we should best use our time left on Saturday, and full day Sunday to see both Winterthur and Longwood. I am so glad I called. I knew already that there was a special $20 ticket until the end of the month to see both Longwood & Winterthur, which was part of our reason for picking this weekend. What I didn't know that she helped with is that the ticket was good for 2 day admission. With that knowledge, we were able to see the outside of Winterthur on Saturday afternoon, tour the house on Sunday morning then spend the afternoon at Longwood.

Browse Amazon's collection on:winterthur

After checking into the hotel Saturday & meeting up with Jonathan, we headed down to Winterthur for a tram tour of the gardens and property. We then walked around a bit until closing. We ate dinner at McKenzie’s Brew House on 202 in Chadds Ford, which was between Winterthur and our hotel. The ribeye and the jambalaya were outstanding. We also enjoyed the Wicked Will's Pale Ale and Shane's Gold. Both excellent.

We took the "Elegant Entertaining" house tour on Sunday morning. There are at least 7 different house tours so we will need to keep going back to see the whole house. Henry Francis du Pont created at least 175 period rooms so it is understandable why you cannot see the whole place in one visit.

Needless to say, I was in awe. I was an avid fan of the America's Castles series on A&E years back, take any opportunity to visit grand estates and had toured a few castles in Europe in the early 90's.

We bought a Dawn Redwood Red Dawn (Metasequoia glyptostroboides), tree in a gallon pot.

Drove up to Longwood and met up with Jason and Taryn. Amanda was so thrilled to be with "all 3 of her brothers". They treat her like a princess and she couldn't be happier.
The Nature's Castle's treehouse exhibit was a big hit for the kids, big and small. I particularly enjoyed the columbine garden. I will take this idea home with me and create something similar.

If I had to choose one over the other, personally, I would prefer Winterthur. The less formal gardens, naturalized yet very planned with purpose and color schemes. Incredible. Don't get me wrong, they are both very worth seeing and I couldn't imagine taking a trip up there and not seeing both.

All 8 of us had dinner at the Iron Hill Brewery in West Chester (perfect directions from Sam via telephone). Don't recall which brews we had but we tried 2 and they were good. We then went back to the hotel and said our good-byes. Everyone was tired. There were many tears.

Monday, April 28
The weekend weather was perfect. Today, not so perfect. It was raining. We took a drive to the Delaware's Brandywine Zoo. Super small but perfect for the kids. We all had an umbrella and the kids had their boots. They loved the tiger and otters. The tiger looked like he loved Eddie. We got in free because of the rain and were the only silly ones out.

We drove up to the Natural History Museum next. It is across the street from Winterthur. The kids were tired by now but enjoyed the museum. We drove into Historic Kennett Square without stopping just to see what was there. Not quite sure what the excitement is all about. It seemed like it was 4 blocks of restaurants and stores. West Chester looked more exciting than this. It was raining still and the kids were asleep so we certainly weren't going to check it out any further.
We were going to try John Harvard's Brew House for dinner, which was nearby. I had noted it from some web research I did prior to the trip. I use pubcrawler when planning trips to see where the local craft beer, microbreweries are. Well, we found the building but it was closed up and obviously closed up for good. I gather the chain still exists but their 2 locations in PA closed. So back to McKenzie's we went! Excellent again.

Tuesday we packed up and checked out of the hotel. We stopped at the Herr's Snack Factory in Nottingham, PA to take a free tour but unfortunately, they were full up with school buses and couldn't fit us in. You do need to call ahead for reservations it seems. We watched a film on the history of the company, bought a few bags of Oops chips and were back on the road home.

I noticed a book in their gift shop Watch It Made in the U.S.A.: A Visitor's Guide to the Best Factory Tours and Company Museums. I do want to get this book. Amanda is such a fan of the "How It's Made" series on Discovery and Science channel that I need this book to help me plan some more mini trips. We are also fans of the Mister Rogers show. His show features factory visits and I see that the Mister Rogers Neighborhood section of the PBS kids website has 6 of the video segments. How People Make Sneakers, How People Make Sneakers, How People Make Wagons, How People Make Plates, How People Make Construction Paper, How People Make Crayons, How People Make Fortune Cookies.

My 3 recommended places to buy books or get information on books are: Amazon, Abe books, eBay. Abebooks has incredibly low prices and hard to find titles. Most of the books are used.

There was one book I saw in the Winterthur or Longwood gift shop titled Money, Manure & Maintenance: Ingredients for Successful Gardens of Marian Coffin Pioneer Landscape Architect 1876-1957 of Marian Coffin Pioneer Landscape Architect 1876-1957. That title will always stick with me. As you wonder how those gardens that you tour are so incredibly beautiful, just remember, Money, Manure, Maintenance.

April Garden News

As of Sunday 4/13, the forsythia and red tip photina are done with their yellow and red bloom. The white dogwoods and red azaleas are now in full bloom. The Irises I have are on the verge of blooming.
I mowed the grass for the second time this season. The prolific wire grass or bermuda grass is finally turning green. Now it doesn't look like a third of our front lawn is dead. UGH! We also got the fertilizer / weed killer down.

I did pick up a few new plants at the Herb Garden and the Mustard Seed farm in Hadensville. I planted a new columbine in the butterfly garden.

My peony has a bud this year. Hooray! Finally! I think this is its 3rd year and it's not bloomed yet. The lilac also bloomed this year for the first time. The blooms were big, beautiful and very fragrant. They just don't last long enough.

I would love to create a parterre. I'm not even sure exactly where or how large but I figure I need to come up with an alternative to the germander English boxwood that would be ideal if I wanted to wait for those slow things to grow. By the way, I only recently learned what a boxwood squared garden is called, a parterre. It will take some planning to get it right but certainly worth it. I currently have mostly oval gardens and to me, the more formal gardens are squared. So here, we have another conundrum.
I also want to get some plans for a wooden obelisk. I would like to use them for the honeysuckle that I planted along the outside of the pool fence that is turning into a groundcover of sorts. It needs some support. I see metal obelisks sold and wooden ones in photographs in gardening magazines. I understand that the wooden ones may not handle the weather over a long period but I want the wooden ones, not metal if I have a choice. Wood can be treated. Perhaps cedar or acacia wood or maybe even some kind of plastic wood alternative material like Trex could be used.
We have a bird’s nest in one of the tall ornamental grasses by the stairs so we will not cut them down yet. In the end, we saw the eggs, then the babies, and then one day they were gone. Now we have a bird nesting in the house nesting box on the tree between Painters and us. We also have a bird nest with eggs in one of my porch hanging container baskets.
The college’s white apple tree blossoms are out. Those poor trees are so sad looking. It seems like they were a horticultural class experiment gone bad.
A big question these days is what the wild purple flowered tree is growing wild along the roadsides seemingly all over Central Virginia. Is it lilac? Is it wisteria? Is it that royal Princess Paulownia tree? I guess we are assuming they are wild wisteria. When I’m sure, I’ll let you know!
We also still need a plan for the grape vine. We had been thinking of horizontal training as vineyards do. Original idea was to make a canopy like we had at Norton but we now have a wisteria arbor very close to it so there may not be room for it. It may be out of place; poor planning on my part.