when a garden blogger gets bored

Sorry, but I just can’t get enthusiastic lately about winter landscapes. And it is not yet time to plant seeds. Yes, the amaryllis are stunning, but I’m an outdoor gardener at heart.

the bay window, with red and white amaryllis and a hibiscus flower

the bay window, with red and white amaryllis and a hibiscus flower

So, I thought I’d pick a color and post about the flowers of a particular color. Yes I should be grading essays and preparing for Monday’s classes, but what the heck. It’s friday! So the color of the day is……

warm red close upred and yellow. This is a daylily, unnamed. I bought a great collection in 2006 from White Flower Farm of 18 unnamed seedlings. This is one of my favorites–it is a warm, brick red. Here’s a picture of the whole flower:warm redAnother nice red-yellow combination was an heirloom lily I bought in 2005. I ordered pink, and they sent the wrong lily. I think the one I got was even more beautiful:heirloom lily resizedUnfortunately, this lily was the victim of the red lily bug scourge I had that wiped out my lilies. Here’s a nice red and yellow combination in a tulip from last year:tulipsThese tulips are magical–I got them in 2002, when the front yard was still lawn. They came from my friend JWB in a whole bushel of small tulip bulbs from when she dug up and divided hers. These have come up ever since, which is amazing considering that most of my tulips get eaten or simply stop blooming after two or three years.

Another beautiful red/yellow blossom is a primrose –I don’t know where I got these, probably¬† from either Bluestone Perennials or White Flower Farm. From a distance it just looks orange, but close ups of the blossom show a wonderful subtle pattern:primrose blossomThe distance view:primrosespatch of red yellow primroseAnd here is another primrose, with a darker crimson red and a bright yellow center. I got these from a gardening friend KB, and every spring I divide them to get more.

red velvet primroseHere’s a closer-up:red velvetWell, maybe it is more pink than red, but I’ll end with a June rose, yellow in the center and with a busy bee visiting.garden late June 067Maybe next post I’ll choose another color–stay tuned!

Cats and cooking inside while the garden sleeps the winter away

The title says it all. This is the weekend after our first week back at classes for a new semester. I took Saturday off completely, slept in late, and got a lot of cat therapy! I also enjoyed cooking. Here is my Saturday morning:winterscapes 025The all-important cup of coffee on the table, and surrounded by sleepy, relaxed cats. Nothing better. The wood stove was trying to keep up with the cold, windy weather outside. winterscapes 026Chatting with Mr. Fluff. So, later on I decided to try a recipe from our new cookbook, the Moosewood Simple Suppers. I made curried cauliflower soup with chickpeas and tomatoes, roasted parsnips and potatoes (from our garden–the potatoes are purple, which I still find strange!), and roasted squash. Like any self-respecting blogger, I took pictures of the whole process!winterscapes 027???????????????????????????????Here is how the soup came out, and it tasted as good as it looks. ???????????????????????????????All three dishes. And we honored the food by setting the table and lighting a candle. winterscapes 032Then this morning while I was upstairs practicing saxophone, David hollered up the stairs that a herd of deer was in the front yard. He took a few photos through the front door:winterscapes 033winterscapes 034winterscapes 035In the front yard you can see a lot of branches that came down in the recent ice storm.

Remembering last May…

The garden always looks best just before a garden party! Last May near Mother’s Day I had a party, and here are some pictures of the garden all spiffed up and ready to show off.

no weeds in sight on the southside pathway

no weeds in sight on the southside pathway

tulips!

tulips!

welcoming benches for the guests

welcoming benches for the guests

the paths in the meditation garden were widened and mulched with wood chips

the paths on the southside were also widened and mulched with wood chips

the May garden party is billed as a "daffodil-viewing" party.

the May garden party is billed as a “daffodil-viewing” party, with good reason.

cheerful faces to greet the guests

cheerful faces to greet the guests

northside garden, newly placed low stone wall.

northside garden, newly placed low stone wall.

It was 25 below zero this morning, but my thoughts are on those bulbs under the soil. It won’t be long before the daffodils are here.home may 1 031

gradual demise of the back yard sod…

My other name is “sod-buster”. I always seem to forget how much work a garden is when I am looking at a patch of mowed lawn and thinking it’s a poor use of space, that for heaven’s sake flowers could be growing there. Only later, after the grass is dug out or covered over, do I think how running a lawn mower over it every other week would be a lot easier than weeding, edging, dividing, planting, weeding, amending, weeding, edging…..forever after. Then I could just do a lot of this:

Anne and Mr. Fluff front porchOh, well. So, I do not have any photos of the back yard before I started destroying the grass, but I remember it. It was a smooth expanse of lawn sloping from the woodshed down to the bottom of the driveway going into the garage. On the south side, a wall of old-fashioned lilacs. On the West side, up against the woodshed, the apple tree with its feet in a carpet of wild daylilies. On the north side, the upper driveway. On the east, more driveway and the garage. In the southeast corner, a regal, mature Norway Spruce presides. It’s a terrific spot, with good soil, good drainage, great light and protection from the prevailing winds by the house.¬† The only problems are the telephone/electric pole in the middle of the space, and the vigor of the lilac hedge, which sends shoots enthusiastically trying to colonize the back yard.

Here are a few pictures of the end of one of the last patches of lawn, between the main garden and the apple tree garden. The first one is taken in May when I had just planted the row of dahlias:May 29 014After planting them I smothered the area around them to help with moisture retention and weed suppression. This picture was taken on June 1. Look how green everything is! The peonies are budded… ???????????????????????????????
And one month later I took another bite out when I planted five daylilies I bought from Oakes.

???????????????????????????????I didn’t dig sod, I just smothered the grass. It’s kinder to my back and also to all the good creatures living in the sod and soil. I put down thick layers of wetted newspaper and then piled on lots of old hay. ???????????????????????????????This is a picture from mid July. This is standing in the driveway, showing the telephone pole, the supply of hay and rocks, the spruce and the garage. ???????????????????????????????This picture is taken about a week later, showing the same thing from under the apple tree. You can see the last bit of lawn is not going to last long…???????????????????????????????Gone!–this picture was taken August 22, and I spent August 20 and 21 smothering the last of the lawn with huge sheets of cardboard what we got at a local furniture store. After the cardboard, lots of hay. On the right is the pathway I created by digging out the grass. I then covered the bare dirt with cardboard and then wood shavings. It’s a wide path. Below is another picture of that area, taken a week later, from the other side–you can see the apple tree has formed little apples. You can also see one of the spots where I planted the five new peonies I bought from Khlem’s Songsparrow nursery. ???????????????????????????????Then fast forward to mid November–the garden is asleep. Work is done for the year!

nov 12 snowy morning 025nov 12 snowy morning 030

evolution of a lawn–retrospective of the back yard

It’s the last day of winter break. I’m doing what many of my colleagues are doing: finishing up course syllabi. But it’s time for a break! So I’m blogging, even though there’s no way I can actually garden right now! I thought I’d write a little about one part of the garden, and go back through old photos from this past year. I’ll start with the back yard.

The back yard is presided over by a venerable apple tree. Here it is in ice-coated splendor a few weeks ago–on December 22:???????????????????????????????Sitting on the Aldo Leopold bench under the tree, facing Northeast and looking out over the barnyard and trees beyond is one of the pleasures of the garden.

apple tree and bench in early April 2013

apple tree and bench in early April 2013

Here you can see the wild daylilies just emerging, and the tulips and narcissus also poking up.

later in April under the apple tree

later in April under the apple tree

This is late April–the first narcissus are blooming!

sitting under the apple tree with Tater and daffodils, April 29

sitting under the apple tree with Tater and daffodils, April 29

???????????????????????????????Here, above, is the apple tree garden on the first of May. I spent a fair number of hours out here in early May, straightening the slumping stone wall, and eradicating more of this patch of lawn. There’s one of the coffee cups I invariably leave scattered throughout the garden. The photo below is from the same day, looking at the back yard garden from that same patch of lawn. home may 1 024

???????????????????????????????And here, below, is a picture of the same garden from what I think of as the bottom, looking up toward the house. I’m doing basic early Spring “housecleaning”–raking out last year’s stems and such. There is no wall around the bottom of the garden, which is something I added later last summer. This is part of that effort, which involved weeding, edging, mulching with hay and building a low rock wall. ???????????????????????????????The picture below shows the “bottom up” view. The apple tree is in full glory–this picture is taken in early September. You can see the heliopsis that for years took over the bottom part of the garden here. Later in the fall I pushed those out and planted lots of tulips there, and added compost.

September 3 015The little rock wall is hard to see between the grass and the flowers.

crowded with echinacea, phlox and heliopsis.

crowded with echinacea, phlox and heliopsis.

???????????????????????????????This is mid-October, after I removed the heliopsis, and added the compost. Now you can see the wall again. ???????????????????????????????I am hoping that this area is bursting with tulips and narcissus in a few months!

Dahlias and glads

I’m sorry to confess that I left my dahlia tubers and my glad corms in the ground–and ordered new recently. After struggling for the last five years with keeping the dahlias over the winter, I decided to just buy new every year. The collections from Swan Island Dahlias are new every year and priced generously. I ordered the “Fabulous Five” and the “novelties” collections, which will be delivered in mid-April. For glads I order from Jung’s. They offer 50 of a mix of colors for $18.

Azteca dahlia

Azteca dahlia

colorful gladiolus

colorful gladiolus

elegant white glad

elegant white glad

I’m also enjoying all the garden catalogs that show up in my mailbox these days. And thinking about some garden projects for the coming season. Under the apple tree overlooking the back yard I’m hoping to remove the unhappy light-starved wild daylilies, adding some barnyard compost and plating a lot of Virginia Bluebells (mertensia verginica). I have a few in the front yard, their roots firmly intertwined with a blanket of goose-necked loose-strife, so I may need to buy some more, and hope that they spread, because they are pricey.

bluebells

bluebells

apple tree May 20 last year

apple tree May 20 last year