Saturday, December 19, 2009

Almost Christmas

It has been cold here this past week: 2 degrees below 0 this morning.  The snowstorm hitting the East coast is going to miss us. There is enough snow cover to protect most of the garden.   A few seed catalogs have arrived but I won't get serious about them till after Christmas.  Happy Holidays to everyone.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

First Snow

The first snow of the season came yesterday.  The extended forecast calls for more snow and cold weather later in the week.  The garden is in good shape going into winter so my attention will need to turn to work indoors. 

Sunday, November 22, 2009

November Ramblings

So far this November has been warm  and some what dry.  I enjoy looking at the garden this time of year stripped down to its bones. The lushness of summer hides many flaws. The oakleaf hydrangea is one of the last shrubs to change color and the leaves were especially beautiful encased in an early morning frost.  This time of year the less glamorous, but still important work takes place in the garden such as putting pots away, screening compost, pruning trees etc.   I will be cleaning leaves out of the beds until snow falls, but overall the garden is in good shape going into winter.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

My wife and I took advantage of a beautiful day to work on garden cleanup.  The wind and rain yesterday brought down a lot of the leaves which will end up in the compost pile. While cleaning up the garden my thoughts turn to spring and changes that will be made.  Many of the beds are over due for a makeover.  One of my favorite plants is our native witchhazel (Hamaelis viginiana) which is blooming now. All the other species of witchhazel bloom from late winter to early spring. The plant in my garden has larger and fuller flowers than the ones I see growing in nearby woods.   Fothergilla gardenii or dwarf fothergilla is another native shrub that lights up the fall landscape with its yellow to orange leaves which change color after most plants have already drop their leaves . Both the witchhazel and fothergilla (which are members of the same family) bring color into the garden late in the season.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

We had close to three inches of rain on Saturday! The bulbs that I planted should be well watered. Years ago I planted a threeflowered maple (Acer triflorum) in the back corner of the garden. During the summer it blends in with the rest of the greenery but once fall arrives this maple lights up the lower garden with its brilliant orange leaves. The threeflowered maple also has exfoliating bark which gives it winter interest. A Japanese maple next to my formal water feature is also putting on a quite a show this year. I bought this thread leaf variety many years ago from a box store and it has developed into a beautiful specimen in its sheltered location.

Monday, October 12, 2009

We finally got a killing frost Saturday night. I spent Sunday bringing in the last of the tropicals and doing garden cleanup. As I cut back the garden I started to think about changes for next year. Certain areas have become too crowded and will need a total overhaul in the spring. My next big project is to plant the bulbs which arrived last week. Most of these are minor bulbs which will be scattered throughout the garden for early color. Many of the trees and shrubs that I have planted over the years give a great show in the fall. One that is particularly beautiful now is Disanthus cercidifolius which is a member of the witch hazel family. This hard to find plant from Japan seems to me to be one of the best for fall color with its red to purple leaves.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

We are finally getting a soaking rain which should perk up what is left of the garden. This September has been one of the driest on record. I will start cutting back some perennials this week to get a head start on fall cleanup. Most of the potted plants have been put away but I have left some plants in the ground that still look good. The combination of Colocasia 'Black Magic' and Mirabilis 'Lime Light' with purple verbena in the lower garden has worked out beautifully.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Over the weekend the temperature dropped down into the mid thirties at night so I started bringing in my tender plants. The greenhouse is almost full and soon my wife and I will start lugging the rest into the house. The hardest part is carrying the plants down into the basement where they are stored in the plant room until spring. Kathy keeps reminding me that going up and down the stairs is good exercise. It is always such a relief when the last plant is brought in.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Abelmoschus manihot

Growing over six feet tall this annual with hibiscus like flowers is a wonderful addition to the late summer garden. Abelmoschus manihot is actually a member of the okra family and is easy to grow in good soil with full sun. The flowers which last only a day are a beautiful pale yellow with a dark center. Every year I plant Abelmoschus manihot at our local public garden where I volunteer. They are planted in front of red leaved cannas which make a great backdrop for the flowers. The plants produce large amounts seed which are easily started indoors.

Monday, September 14, 2009

The weather has been warm and on the dry side over the past few weeks. The garden still looks great even though it is the middle of September. We usually don't get a killing frost here until early October which means a few more weeks to enjoy everything. I ordered bulbs this past weekend which should arrive in the next few weeks. Mostly tulips and minor bulbs to perk up the garden in Spring.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Late Summer Blooms

The garden is winding down and in a few weeks I will begin to bring in my tender plants. The "Tropicals" such as brugmansias, passion flowers and hibiscus continue to add color to the garden. I always mean to take cuttings but never seem to get to it so this means I end up lugging large containers into my basement for the winter. Some of the hardier plants end up in my small greenhouse off the garage which becomes my 'garden' for the winter.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Early morning

I love wandering around my garden early in the morning this time of year. It is still wet from last night's dew and takes longer to dry out this time of year. There is a certain beauty to a late summer garden that only gardeners can appreciate. The late blooming perennials tumble into each other mixing their fall colors while goldfinches pluck seeds from the coneflowers. I pause and enjoy these moments in my garden.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

African Foxglove

Easy to grow but hard to find Ceratotheca triloba or African Foxglove is worth searching for. This annual preforms best in full sun where it can grow up to six feet. Blooming from mid-summer till fall African Foxglove is deer resistant and also attracts hummingbirds. Since it is hard to find at most garden centers(at least in my area) I grow African Foxglove from seed started inside in mid March.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The 'Tropical' Garden

A number of years ago I became a volunteer at a local public garden . Along with the perennial gardens was the "Triangle Bed" which sat in the middle of the paths. Before I came along this garden consisted of cannas surrounded by rows of the most basic of annuals- geraniums, petunias , marigolds, dusty miller and red salvia . The garden needed to be bolder since it was a focal point in the park. I decided to go with the exotic look and totally changed the way the garden had been planted for many years. The cannas were kept in the middle to form a backdrop for the other plants. A mix of annuals, tender perennials and tropicals gave the garden a whole new look. Some plants self sow such as the verbena bonariensis and I have added shrubs including Cotinus 'Golden Spirit and Sumac 'Tiger Eyes' for their foliage. The garden peaks in August and September before frost cuts it down in October.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

One of the benifits of my garden is the birds that nest and feed in it. My favorite is the Ruby-Throated hummingbird. This is the only species found in Upstate New York and is here only from late Spring to late Summer. They are a bundle of energy flying from one flower to the next. I managed to get a few pictures ( flowers are much easier) this evening of a female. These little jewels will be leaving soon for their winter home in a warmer climate.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Late Summer Blues

As the summer wanes and the garden starts its journey into Fall closed or bottle gentian(Gentiana andrewsii) begins to bloom in my shade garden. Bloom probably isn't the right word since the flowers on this late flowering perennial never open. Bumblebees have no trouble getting into the flowers to pollinate them and from my one original plant I now have many scattered throughout the garden. Closed gentian is hardy to zone 3 and easy to grow.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

More August Ramblings

It is dusk in my garden as I write this entry, The air is full of the sound of the buzzing and chirping
of insects. This orchestra of late summer consists mostly of crickets. It is one of my favorite times to just sit and listen. The garden is past peak, overflowing and the weeds are safer now from the compost pile. Notes will be made and pictures taken so that plans can be made for next year. As the weather cools some annuals will try to perk up, but as the days shorten the garden goes slowly downhill. Now is the time to step back and enjoy.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Clearwing Moths

One of the things I enjoy most about my garden are the birds and insects that use and live in it. The bumblebees are active all day long going from flower to flower gathering pollen. Over the last few years I haven't had as many honeybees so the bumblebees have been the primary pollinator in the garden. My favorite insect this time of year is the clearwing moth. This group of moths are diurnal which makes for easy watching.
Their fast beating clear wings remind one of a tiny hummingbird. This particular moth(Snowberry Clearwing) seem to spend most of its time on my only butterfly bush.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

August Ramblings

We are finally getting summer weather here in Upstate New York. The self-sown nicotianas are running rampant through parts of the garden. I used to grow different varieties from seed but now I let nature take its course and have ended up with a nice mix of colors. Green is the predominate color but there is also white,pinks, and few chocolates. There isn't a bad one in the whole lot. Nicotiana sylvestris also self sows usually between the stones in my terrace. Since it is so tall I usually leave just one to make a statement.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Sunday, August 2, 2009

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Another Rainy Sunday

July was the wettest on record here in upstate New York and it seems like August is starting out that way. Except for the past week our temperatures have been below normal which has not been good for my tropicals and heat loving vegetables. Despite the weather and the over abundance of slugs, the garden has never looked better. The perennials have flourished and the annuals are finally filling in.