Sunday, April 22, 2018

Spring, Finally

I think I speak for us all when I say it was a rough winter.  Many of my little plant friends did not make it through, which makes me sad.  But others are poking up their little leafy things, or bursting out in little buds, and that always makes me happy.  So yay, miracle of spring and all that.

I guess it's time for a round of who's surviving, who's dead, and who's new to the garden.

In the corrugated metal pot, one Japanese Pieris from last season, one new Astilbe, and three old Astilbes.  (The little metal plaque reading "Holly Tone" is a new system to remind me which of my plants are acid loving, and therefore get Holly Tone organic fertilizer, and which prefer Plant Tone organic fertilizer).  I don't think anybody's dead here.

In the enormous blue pot, one of my smallest trees, the laceleaf Japanese Maple that was new last year and is happily putting out new foliage.  Also one brand new Bergenia, and the Cherry Berry hosta that I bought in Connecticut last Memorial Day.  Alas, another plant from the same Connecticut trip, the supposedly perennial Jacob's Ladder, did not survive the winter.

In the medium turquoise pot, three newbies: the Empress Wu hosta, the Happy Hour Lime heuchera, and the Obsidian heuchera.  It's not clear why I keep buying heucheras, since - as you will soon see - most of them die on me.

Here's the fig tree.  It may look like a collection of sticks, but it's budding nicely.  It's not 100% clear yet whether the Carex (that patch of dead decorative grass) is coming back to life. 

Taxus Helen Corbett is thriving.  She's accompanied by the brand new Apple Crisp heuchera, and one from last year that has managed to come back, the Redstone Falls heucherella.  Missing in action are the Toad Lily and the Helleborus.

Welcome to the garden, American Hazelnut tree!  Meet your new friend, the Iris from last season that is actually coming up!

The Dwarf Dogwood is budding, and the Delta Dawn heuchera is coming back to life, as is the Cool as a Cucumber hosta.  The Lakeside Paisley Print hosta, however, appears to be dead.

Another newcomer is the Fullmoon Japanese Maple - so far I'm batting 1000 on Japanese Maples.

This is the newer of my two Camellias, and it looks terrible.  It appears to have new buds, so I am optimistic, but cautiously so.  Also in the pot: one sad little hydrangea, one new Marvelous Marble heuchera, and some dead ivy.  Yes, that's right, I'm so hapless that I can kill ivy, the plant that anyone can grow.  Fortunately, replacement ivy is readily available at the Greenmarket, at a cheap price.

Welcome to the garden, European Hornbeam!

The Mountain Laurel was new last fall.

The Ligularia that Alice gave me has come back to life.

The Patriot hosta, however, is stone dead, along with its ivy. 

The jury is still out on the Winterberry hollies.  There appears to be a little budding activity, but I wouldn't call it overwhelming yet.  The Lamium from Liz that used to surround one of the two little hollies has completely died, which ranks right up there with killing ivy among my gardening accomplishments.  I mean, Lamium is so unkillable it's practically a weed.

In the pot with the big holly tree, the Touch of Class hosta and the Whee! hosta are coming up fine.  Raspberry Sundae appears to be a goner, though.

Oh, Upright Japanese Yew, how I love you.  You thrive no matter what.  However, I do wonder what you've done with your friends, the Japanese painted fern and the two heucheras.  They are gone without a trace.  Perhaps you are meant to stand alone.

No casualties in this pot.  The Creeping Jenny is creeping back, the Key West hosta is coming up, and the Serviceberry is budding like a champ.

Love you too, Japanese  Maple, the original plant of my garden, still going strong in your fourth spring in my garden.  Your Blue Mouse Ears hostas did not all come up this year, and I've transferred the ones that did to another pot.  To your right, the brand new Dwarf Alberta Spruce that I got for about three dollars at Whole Foods after Christmas.  To your left, another sad Camellia.

In the window box, there's no sign of the Ivory Queen hosta, but the Electrocution hosta and the Pilgrim hosta are coming up fine.

In the other window box, two of the four Stained Glass hostas have come back, but the purple heucheras are completely dead.

That's almost everything - I didn't get photos of the Blue Mouse Ears hostas, the other Japanese Pieris, or the boxwood.  And I didn't bother to photograph the dead violas or the dead Labrador violet.   Next time, I'll show you my new Sky Pencil holly.

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.