Monday, May 29, 2017

Plant Shopping in Connecticut

Last Memorial Day weekend, my friend Liz invited me up to Branford, Connecticut to do some gardening with her and visit plant centers.  This year, I was lucky enough to be invited again.

Liz has some lovely plants of her own, including these irises

and this Japanese Maple:

 But any gardener can always use more plants, right?  So I took the train up on Saturday, and we made our way to our favorite garden center, Van Wilgens.  

If you're ever in North Branford, I highly recommend you drop by Van Wilgen's.  Their plants are in fabulous condition, and they have an amazing selection of just about everything.  My 2016 purchases from Van Wilgens were the Key West hosta, the Whee! hosta, and the Fire Chief heuchera, all of which are doing well.

This year, because one can never have too many hostas, I bought Ivory Queen:

 and Electrocution, whose name is alarming but apt:

Ivory Queen is a tri-colored hosta that is blue on the outside and cream colored in the middle, with a bit of green in between.  Honestly, in my garden, it's likely to be three shades of green, just like my other tri-color hostas, Touch of Class and Lakeside Paisley Print.  (In fairness, Lakeside Paisley Print is actually supposed to be three shades of green.)  It does seem like I keep buying the same hosta, but the tricolor ones are so pretty.  Ivory Queen will grow to be medium sized.

Electrocution will be small to medium.  I like its twisty, ripply leaves, which are different from any other hosta in my collection.

Liz bought some things too - coleus plants, a geranium, and other plants that people who have sun in their gardens can grow!  Here's our shopping cart, with a special guest appearance from Liz!

In back of the coleuses (colei?), you can see my other purchase, a green plant called Jacob's Ladder, also known as Polemoniuum boreale "Heavenly Habit."  It will allegedly bloom in the summertime - we shall see.  Even if it doesn't bloom, it has nice foliage.

We visited other garden centers this weekend, including Vaiuso Farms and Shelley's Garden Center.  I believe that it was at Shelley's that I got two more hostas - I did not photograph them on site, but I will introduce you to them when I get them transplanted.  The two hostas at Shelley's, combined, cost less than any individual hosta at Van Wilgen's, which was a terrific deal even if they were both a tiny bit straggly.

We returned to Liz's house and transplanted her new plants, plus the extra Blue Mouse Ears hosta I had brought her.  Liz also showed me the hydrangea I brought her last year, which looks significantly healthier than its sibling back in my garden.

On Sunday, we went to the community garden plot that Liz shares with a friend who prefers to remain anonymous for purposes of this blog.  Liz, Anonymous Friend, and I planted, weeded, watered, and mulched.  Anonymous Friend's Husband went to Home Depot for supplies.  A good time was had by all.

In their community garden plot, Liz and Anonymous Friend are growing lovely lettuces,

lovely strawberries,

and lovely allium, among many other things. 

Squashes, cucumbers, eggplants, radishes, peppers, all sorts of delicious things.  They were very nice about it when a certain visitor from the city pulled up all the carrot plants, thinking they were weeds because they were so very tiny.  Oops.  

I was paid in lettuce.  All in all, a terrific weekend, and my special thanks to Liz for having me to visit.  Happy Memorial Day to all!

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Birds and New Trees

I was delighted to have a cardinal drop by my garden this week.

I couldn't get any closer because I didn't want to open the window and scare him. 

In other news, I got a box of plants this week from my buddies at  They've sold me lovely plants in the past, including my big Jim Dandy holly and the upright Japanese yew.  They also sold me Mr. Bowling Ball, who unfortunately is pretty much dead.

So here's what's new from ForestFarm:

That's two trees in one pot.  The first is another Japanese Maple.

One of the things I really wanted to add to the garden this year was a cut-leaf Japanese Maple.  This is more of a lace-leaf, but it's just a lovely plant.  It's called "Orangeola."  It loves shade, can grow up to 4 to 8 feet tall, and does well in containers.

It's going to have to grow into this one.

The other plant that came packaged with Orangeola is another dwarf - the Pygmaea Dogwood. 

It's barely bigger than the hostas, and it arrived a little droopy, but I'm hoping some water and sunshine will help.  It can grow to be 6 to 10 feet tall, and can thrive in the shade, though we will see if it blooms in the shade.

And then there's another Camellia:

This is not the Camellia I originally picked from their website, but they turned out to be out of stock on the one I wanted.  This one is called Nuccio's Pearl - my other Camellia is Nuccio's Gem, so whoever Nuccio is, he's popular in my garden. 

And then, after making fun of boxwoods on my blog last year, I figured it might be nice to have one.  He's in a temporary pot because I ran out of pot space!

So here's the garden:

Starting to look kind of good!

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Back from Vacation

I've come back from vacation and my garden looks really nice!

Well, really nice considering it's still a dark alleyway.  But the old plants are thriving and there are new ones coming.

First, I want to mention that some of my hostas are HUGE compared to last year.  For example, here's a photo of the Stained Glass hostas, which came out of a little packet from Home Depot last year (pardon my thumb).  And below it, a photo of what they looked like last year.

That's the same window box, but the plants and their leaves are MUCH larger and completely hiding the purple heucheras.

Another example: here are the three hostas that surround my male winterberry holly.  The curly one is Whee!, the little one is Raspberry Sundae, and the other one is Touch of Class.

See how big Touch of Class has gotten?  Last year, it was about the same size as Raspberry Sundae. See?

Here's a closer look.  I really like the variegated leaves, though they were much bluer in the catalog.

Raspberry Sundae looks nice too, with its pretty red spots on the stems - but it's about the same size as last year.

And then there's the Key West hosta - which, in fairness, was always big, but this year it seems determined to completely shadow the hydrangea.

Time to re-pot the hydrangea!  (Or maybe I'll re-pot Key West.)  Also, the serviceberry (the little green tree growing next to the Key West hosta) looks better than it did last year.  In theory, it should flower and then fruit, but I'm not optimistic about that.

A few more plants are on the way, including three trees and a shrub - though the Japanese Pieris I ordered in February is suddenly out of stock.  Boo.  

Saturday, April 22, 2017

This Year's Crop of Plants, Part II

Happy Earth Day! 

If you're a gardening blogger, when is the absolute dumbest time to go on vacation?  Spring, when everything is beginning to bud or bloom or rise from the soil.

So, I'm on vacation.  But I've saved some photos so I can give you at least one more garden update while I'm away.

We were talking about the new plants.  I'd like you to meet Taxus Helen Corbet. 

"Taxus" means she's in the same family as  my Upright Japanese Yew - both are Taxus Cuspidata.  "Helen Corbet" is presumably someone involved in the propagation of this cultivar, but I can't find any information about the human Helen Corbet.  The plant Helen Corbet is a lovely lemon-lime color and forms a dense but fluffy mound, which sounds nice for a plant; we have to hope that the human Helen is not lemon-lime colored, dense, or fluffy.  I figure since the other Taxus Cuspidata is thriving, I might as well try another.

With her are three other newbie plants.  To Helen's left, the Heucherella Redstone Falls.  A heucherella (also known as "Foamy Bells") is a hybrid cross of a heuchera and a tiarella.  Like heucheras, they come in a wide variety of foliage colors, most of which will revert to green in my shady garden.  Like tiarellas, they have more of a creeping/trailing habit, so we'll see if they trail down the side of the pot.

To Helen's right, a new Helleborus, "Cotton Candy."  And at the bottom of the photo, the Tricyrtis Formosana Samurai, which is a mouthful.  Then again, its common name is Toad Lily, which is a horrible name.  Just another attempt to get something to bloom in my foliage garden!

Finally, the Carex Everest, which is a decorative grass, and which was too busy blowing in the wind to pose for a decent photo.

Meanwhile, nearly everything's coming up gangbusters, particularly the Whee! Hosta, and I'm going to miss it all because I'm on vacation.  My super is watering the plants.  The New Guinea Impatiens died (not frost-resistant), the hens-and-chicks plant died, and the bleeding heart is nowhere to be found.  But the Fire Chief heuchera is finally springing back to life.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

This Year's Crop of New Plants, Part I

Browsing through garden catalogues in the winter is so much fun.  If you're a serious gardener, you plan out your garden thoughtfully and carefully.  If you're me, you say, "Oooh!  That one's pretty!" and order a jumble of this and that.

This year, however, I was at least careful to choose shade-loving plants.  No more Mr. Bowling Balls and hydrangeas for me.  No, I took a good look at what thrived last season, and bought more of those.  And a few new things just to keep it interesting.

My first shipment arrived today from Bluestone Perennials, with help from a gift certificate from Mom.  Thanks, Mom!  I eagerly opened the box and started planting.

First up: another Winterberry holly to join Jim Dandy and Red Sprite.  This one is another female, called "Berry Heavy," and she is even more petite than Red Sprite was when she first arrived.  I put her with her new friends so that she's close enough for pollination.  I think her berries will be more plentiful, and more orange, than Red Sprite's berries.  (And this is what I mean about garden planning.  Any sensible person would buy several of one variety to make a harmonious grouping, not different varieties with clashing berries!)

I paired Berry Heavy with a couple of Silver Gem violas.  I'm still not entirely clear on how exactly a viola differs from a violet or a pansy - they are all members of the same family.  And I'm not 100% sure they will thrive in my shady garden and survive the winter.  But they're so pretty. 

If you've been reading this blog, you know I love hostas.  Two new ones this year: Cool as a Cucumber (left) and Lakeside Paisley Print (right).

Mom and I used to joke that paisley was our favorite color, and we have even visited the Paisley Museum in Paisley, Scotland.  Anyway, the two hostas joined my new heuchera, Delta Dawn.

I think Cool as a Cucumber is going to get bigger than the other two, so I may do some rearranging later in the spring!

There's more, but if I blog everything in one day, what would I tell you about tomorrow?

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

I'm back!

Hello, Grey to Green fans, and happy spring!  I've been mostly ignoring my blog for the last eight months or so, but now with the arrival of warm weather, things are beginning to happen in the garden again.

The Japanese Maple has timed its budding just right this year - it missed the March frosts completely. 

Apparently if I wanted it to be a tall, straight, vertical tree, I should have pruned the bottom branches last year so that it could concentrate on growing its upper branches - but I just didn't have the heart.  So I think this tree will always be a semi-horizontal bushy thing.  No matter.  It's a beautiful tree no matter what.

You may recall that this was supposed to be an Orange Dream Japanese Maple, with a hint of orange when the leaves came in and bright orange in the fall.  That was a lie.  This is a plain ol' green Japanese Maple, and in the fall the leaves turn brown.  Again, no matter.  But I will not be buying trees from random guys on again.

The Upright Japanese Yew continues to be one of the stars of my garden.


It did very nicely over the winter (it is, after all, an evergreen) and it just thrives in the light-deprived conditions of my garden.  This was a purchase from ForestFarm of Williams, Oregon, and it was the best $35 I spent last year.  

Also from ForestFarm is one of my problem children, the "Mr. Bowling Ball" Arborvitae.  Arborvitae means "tree of life" in Latin, and someone should definitely mention that to Mr. Bowling Ball.

He's an evergreen too, but he looks like he's having a bad hair day.  I suspect he needs more sunlight than I can provide him.  If anyone is interesting in rescuing him from me, please let me know.

The winterberry hollies did well over the winter.  Since I stopped blogging in July, you never got to see that Red Sprite had four berries.  But here are a couple of photos from September showing them.  Aren't they lovely?

Jim Dandy and Red Sprite are just starting to bud for this year, and I'll be adding another female winterberry holly, called "Berry Heavy," to Jim Dandy's harem this year.  He can pollinate five female plants, maybe more.

Among the other plants that are doing well are the ligularia that Alice brought me, the helleborus that Jenn brought me, and the lamium that Liz brought me.  Thanks, all!

Meanwhile, in Hosta-land, there are little sprouts everywhere.

That last photo might be upside-down...  I think I can split that one with four sprouts.  I'm not positive which one it is because the pot got turned around, but I think it might be the Touch of Class hosta.

The heucheras are coming back to life too:

As for the rest, the hens and chicks plant looks pretty much dead, and there's no sign yet of the Bleeding Heart or the New Guinea impatiens or most of the astilbes, but I'm not giving up hope yet.  

There will be much to blog about in the coming weeks as new plants arrive.  Stay tuned!