Tuesday, August 25, 2009

All about the purples

Purple foliage - Smoke Bush 'Royal Purple' (Cotinus coggygria 'Royal Purple') This guy has the coolest foam/smoke like blooms. It didn't flower this year since this is it's first full year in the ground. Sometimes plants will sacrifice flowers for a good root system which is fine by me. Rooting and flowering take the same nutrients and one may win out over the other. This plant was actually a refugee from Jim's yard (he's the guy who's yard is in the banner) because his yard is a bit too wet for Smoke bush to be happy. It has pushed a ton of new growth this summer with the rains of June and July. They get an awesome orange fall color and I can't wait to see that!!!

I finally got some clematis for the fence this season! I picked up Clematis 'Jackmanii' which is pictured above and Clematis 'H. F. Young'. The latter one is more blue than Jackmanii. I don't have any photos of it because it was a tiny little thing that was quickly overpowered by some astilbe in the area. It had one flower which suprised me and it's growing....slowly. Jackmanii was much bigger but also grew like gang busters! as you can see from the photo. It's probably one of the easier clematis to grow and easiest to prune. This guy you prune back to 14" tall in the late winter and leave a couple of buds on the old growth. It will be back in it's full glory before you know it.

I have to get back outside with my camera because I'm quickly running out of photos for the blog. I think the craptastic weather of July totally cramped my photo taking...not to mention now the garden looks like it should in late September after the unrelenting bad weather this summer.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Remember when we complained about it being too cold?

Jeez Lousie it's hot outside today! Lars and I are down in the underground bunker, uh, office drafting (he's sleeping) where it's cooler. According to Weather Bug, it's 92 outside. Welcome back summer!

Hmph....I had a post already figured out and I was going to have a discussion about an atrocity I had seen a landscape "professional" do. I can't seem to find the photo of some seriously bad pruning complete with orange, dyed mulch. Bummer. I was in the mood to be snarky too.
I guess I must wing my post today then!

Earlier this year I had mentioned the foxes that have come to our neighborhood. A couple of weeks ago, I had gotten some great photos from the safety of our living room window. These guys, I think, are youngsters and the numbers of them are making think they are litter mates. Lars was causing a ruckus that would pierce through 3" lead and they didn't seem to be too bothered by it.

They were playing almost like young dogs do out there and I took these around 7:30/8 pm at night. They haven't been as high profile since I took these and my sightings have been sporadic. But I did see a spike buck white deer on the side yard where the picket fence it one morning as I was making my coffee. I ran to get my camera and by the time I got back, he was gone. Hopefully, he won't be back because I really don't want to have to deal with deer damage in my yard full of non deer tolerant plants.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Super sad day at Garden Consultant HQ

Fair winds and following seas, Sam. You were the bestest boy ever.

Sam Its 5 Oclock Somewhere CD RN CGC TDIA

11/98 - 8/12/09

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Wet pets and plants

Summer has come and made it's appearance with a vengence this week. It's hot and muggy. I think Mother Nature decided to shut us all up about our missing summer from going from 70 degrees this weekend to over 90 degrees in the span of 12 hours. I'm hiding down in the basement office with Lars and Sam is in the bedroom with the AC on as I type. Ugh, I hate weather like this but I find I am more tolerant of it as I get older. That I don't get. But watch, I'll be one those old ladies walking around in winter coat when it's 75 degrees out if this new trend of mine keeps up.

I wasn't sure what to write about today as I signed in here, but I think water gardening is cooling to the mind. The waterlilies have been very nice this year. I had to secure them a couple of years ago in huge shallow pots with no holes with weedfabric and big stones covering it. I didn't realize that koi LOVE to eat waterlily roots. In fact, it's one of their favorite things to eat. After having a number of waterlilies fail and me discovering their root systems were gone, I decided to outsmart my wet pets. I created little fort knoxes for the lilies and it's worked wonderfully! I have a couple of different colors - dark pink, peach, yellow and white/light pink. I haven't gotten into the tropical ones that open at night yet because I just don't know what I would do with them during the winter. Below are a couple of flowers I snapped from the larger side of Lake Larson. I did know what the varieties were at one point, but I lost the tags. (See that even happens to us pros too)

The Wet Pets are doing well and we've only lost one fish that we know of to the heron this year. I have a great covering of water lettuce as you can see in the lily photos and that offers great protection against herons. The lettuce also has done a wonderful job of clearing up the water too. I was having a big problem with algae and murk this spring and early summer. Everyone always says you need more plants to keep that from happening and they are right. Due to the cool temps of the early summer, it took forever for the lettuce to take off...but now it's over due for me to thin it. It still blows my mind that 5 little lettuce plant will fill the Lake in the matter of a couple of months. Chunk is the big orange blob in the bottom photo and they like to nibble on the water lettuce but the fish never seem to make a dent in it. But, I learned they will chomp on water mint. The fish actually removed the mint from the pot it was in and started to really damage it. I had tucked some of it in behind those horrid yellow flag iris I have and some in the top waterfall. So far, so good.

We have some new residents to the pond this summer. Eric's best friend brought over all of his fish, catfish, snails, and a turtle because he's thinking about selling his house. We also have some little koi I don't think Leo brought over so, they could be babies of our existing fish. That does happen and they do make it. We have a white/light yellow butterfly koi who just showed up one year. I have yet to see the turtle but I guess the plant material will keep him in food so he won't be looking for fish food. But the dark catfish will make regular appearances to the top when I feed the rest of the fish. Our frog who I posted photos of earlier this season is happy as a clam in the Lake. I hear him all the time singing like a cello stuck on one note. He sings during the day and all night long (I've ever heard him signing at 3 am when I've gotten up for some water.) I hardly ever see him now....but he makes sure we and all of our neighbors know he's out there.

Saturday, August 1, 2009


A lot of people ask me what's my favorite flower and it's a hard question for me to answer. I think there are many flowers I like and like equally. I think it's more of a color thing for me than the acutal flower. I love deep, rich blues and purples. I think my Rhododendron 'Purple Passion' is in the top 5. But this plant is probably is in my top 5, if not at the very top - Hydrangea macrophylla 'Alpengluhen'. It's a lesser known hydrangea but if you get a design by me, you get this plant. The colors work in both hot color palettes as well as cool ones. I'm underwhelmed by the washed out light blues of the lace caps and the Nikko Blue and Endless Summer. They're okay but they don't make me stop in my tracks like 'Alpengluhen' does. It blooms later and much longer than 'Nikko Blue' does and the colors change on 'Alpengluhen' as the flower matures as you can see in these different pics below.

As the flowers go past maturity, they turn maroon red and dry that color on the bush. The foliage and flowers of 'Alpengluhen' are much more substantial than on other hydrangeas. They almost are waxy in look and that lends well in the hot sun of summer. They will weep if it is really hot but not as badly as some of the other varieties. Since the flowers are thicker, they do well as cut flowers and for drying.

I'm not a big fan of hosta flowers but thought these guys were neat and it was a cool angle. Well played, Hosta and Alpengluhen!