Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Saturday, August 28th

What a wonderful day Saturday turned out to be! With Fall on the way and a "first frost date" of mid-September I decided it was time to stop procrastinating and get the last of the plants in the ground. I seem to be collecting plants of late, they come from all corners and then I find I don't have time to plant them straight away (slap on the wrist for me!). Today was the day to finally transplant these and other things so that they could establish themselves nicely before the much colder weather arrives

First to get done was the transplanting of my "Colour Guard" Yucca from its big pot into its permanent position within my front bed. I have trying to agree with a place (you should hear the conversations I have with my plants and garden! LOL!!! Husband and neighbours think I'm mad!) for this plant since I got it from Wayside Gardens way back in the Spring. I FINALLY decided on a spot in the front of the flower bed after I saw another picture of the same Yucca surrounded by all sorts of colourful plants, mine will eventually be surrounded by Black Eyed Susan's, Blanket Flower "Goblin", Daisy's, Sedum "Autumn Joy" and others to be planted next year!

Talking of Sedum...I was kindly sent some starts of Sedum by an online friend who was dividing hers, she sent both roots and root-less stalks. After a quick internet search I have discovered that Sedum is SUPER EASY to propagate and I can already see that the cuttings are starting to take root, there are also tiny little shoots coming up from the roots which were planted. I look forward to the coming years with this plant as the descriptions I have read sound WONDERFUL!

This same online friend also included some orange double Daylily's which have now been planted in the front bed by the front door

My other major mission of Saturday was to add a couple of things to my developing shade area out front by the road. Earlier in the year I had rescued a couple of different Ferns and a Hosta (which I divided into pots). Hostas grow really well in pots because of the very shallow root balls, they a great addition to a shady deck area. I needed to get these in the ground to establish themselves so next year they should look pretty good. Back in the Spring I also brought a couple of small pots of Creeping Jenny from my local Price Chopper supermarket. One was all but demolished by the Japanese Beetles but now seems to be bouncing back nicely, the other was planted in a large container out back and just "SPANG" to life to form a really nice large clump. It took me quite a while to dig it out of the pot since I wanted to try a keep the roots as undisturbed as possible, but I got there in the end. This "clump" is now planted underneath my Rhododendron and its amazing how much it brightens up that area

Friday, August 26, 2005

Fall is on the Way

Well, Fall is DEFINITELY in the air, literally!

I have been noticing a marked difference in our climate the past couple of weeks, days are nice and balmy with temps still in the 70's / 80's but there is no humidity keeping things nice and dry. The evenings are cool and breezy and I don't mind going outside to work in the gardens. I can sleep at night again and the mornings are nice and "crisp" (50F at 7am this morning)!!! I LOVE walking round my small gardens first thing in the morning, coffee cup in hand, just looking and watching to see what has been happening, the most enjoyable part - feeling the dew on my feet!

The gardens are also starting to look tired and ready for their long sleep, the only things still blooming are the die-hards - Black Eyed Susan's, Obedient Plant and my youthful Butterfly Bush. Next year will be different tho' as I will have many more native plants for that end of season burst of colour, I can't wait! The Highbush Cranberry and Clethera that I planted a couple of weeks ago are loving their new homes and are growing well, especially the Cranberry which has LOADS of new growth. I can't wait to see them in a couple of years when they have really settled in and have a lot more substance to them

Yesterday evening I started my Fall cleanup chores (that should really read pleasures!). Last Spring I planted my front bed with a lot of "mystery" plants I had grown from seed, all of which performed REALLY WELL! Now I know what most of them are they are off course planted in the wrong spot! I moved a bunch of Black Eyed Susan's so as to spread out their colour a bit, I plan of leaving them up for the winter so the birds can eat the seeds and hold the snow in place. I cut down pretty much ALL the Coreopsis "Plains" as I have discovered that they are a rampantly reseeding annual - not a perennial like the Walmart seed packet says they are! This is OK tho', I had planted them all in the wrong place so I will grow more this winter / spring and plant them correctly next year! However, I am sad to see these go as they have been a fantastic performer for me this year

I also cut down the remainder of my Hollyhocks. Yes, they are a biannual but I have been told that if you cut them COMPLETELY down to the ground after they have bloomed but before the seeds mature you will confuse them into thinking they are in their first year. This makes PERFECT sense to me and I am already seeing new leaves popping up on the one's I cut down a week ago! If this does work then its great because I won't have to worry about growing new one's or having them re-seed themselves EVERYWHERE I don't want them!

I do have a couple of things to look forward to tho' because in the Spring I brought two late bloomers to brighten my end of year blues! The last of my Lily's has put up its flower buds and they are growing in size each day, they still have a way to go but I can't wait. The other is my Sweet Autumn Clematis which has been growing well all season and seems to really love its spot climbing the front (south facing) of my house! It is just now starting to develop buds and I am looking forward to a nice show of flowers in this its first year

Friday, August 12, 2005

Obedient Plant - (Physostegia virginiana)

So apparently the tall, spiky plants that Sylvia from down the street gave me back in the Spring are Obedient Plant, a Native wildflower. This is very exciting as I am headed in this direction with my gardening and was going to get this plant anyway!

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Obedient Plant or False Dragonhead (Physostegia virginiana)

Sun: Full Sun
Soil: Sand, Loam, Clay
Moisture: Medium, Moist
Height: 1' - 2' Bloom Time: Aug - Sep
Color: Pink
Hardiness Zone: 4
Plant Spacing: 1' - 2'

A Great Groundcover for Damp Soils

This showy member of the Mint Family positively thrives in damp soils. The bright pink flowers appear in brilliant masses in August and September. Creeps rapidly by rhizomes and keeps most weeds at bay, making it an excellent groundcover. Grows one to two feet tall in any moist soil. Plant with Great Blue Lobelia for a stunning late summer show.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Tripplebrook Farm - A Native Plant Nursery

I have been wanting to find a Native plant supplier which is "local" to me so that I would know if the plants would take our growing conditions and obviously get somewhat local advise, but everything I was finding was based out of Ohio. Then someone on Garden Web recommended this place and I decided that it was close enough to visit, so last weekend we made the trip

Tripplebrook Farm is located in Southampton, western MA about 20 minutes north of exit 4 on the Masspike, for us this was about an hours trip from our weekend house at exit 2 (Lee / Becket). I had visited the website on Friday and it had recommended that I call in advance to let Steve (the owner) know that we were coming so that he could meet with us. We arrived a little early but Steve very quickly made an appearance and welcomed us with open arms. Now Steve is a character, he is one of these older guys who has been digging in the dirt since birth, his parents (may have been grandparents) brought the land in 1916 and it has been the family home ever since. If he owned a boat then I could quite happily describe him as a "salty old sea-dog", permanently tanned from exposure, lines of knowledge in his face etc...

I had expected Steve to just welcome us, give us a quite description of where we could find what I was looking for and then let me loose on his land, I couldn't have been more wrong! I quickly realised that it was his intention to personally show me around the nursery, describing the plants and their characteristics. This was AWESOME since it was my first foray into Native Gardening and I still have VAST amounts to learn. Everything he sells at the Farm also has a permanent place in his landscape and he was able to show me the plants established and mature. I was particularly interested in the Sweet Pepperbush (Clethra alnifolia) & the Highbush Cranberry (Cranberry Viburnum), he was able to show me both of these in his landscape and I have to say that seeing the mature plants made me want them even more, photos in catalogues just do not do the Clethra any justice! While showing me the colony of Clethra he cut off a small branch for me so that I could smell the flowers and see it up close, the bee's just LOVE it and I had three land on my cutting whilst carrying it around!

Some other notable plants I saw at the Farm were the stand of very well established Joe Pye Weed which topped out at about 8ft and had stems to thick and healthy not even a hurricane would knock it over! Horsemint with its beautiful flower spikes. Mountain Mint which had so many different varieties of Bee on it that I lost count (I have to get some of this plant!). Rice Grass which stood tall and graceful in a small pond (I wish I had water to grow this grass!). The Monarda's were just WONDERFUL in person and there were many others

The Farm is not pretty and manicured, it is working land but organised. The plants are all propagated onsite from established plants that are growing happy and healthily in the landscape. What Steve doesn't have there he buys or responsibly collects from the wild, he has a LONG list of plants he would like to get his hands on!

His knowledge of the plants is AMAZING and happily kept me entertained for three hours until DH came and told me he was getting cranky cos' he was hungry (definitely time to go!). I could have spent much longer with Steve. I brought my Clethra and Cranberry shrubs, both of which are now happily establishing themselves in my garden

I HIGHLY RECOMMEND this place to anyone wanting to make the trip. They do do mail-order for those to far away, there are a couple of negatives on the Garden Watchdog site but there are more positives. Having met Steve and visited this farm I put the negatives down to the fact that sometimes things go wrong, even if you have the very best intentions. I will be ordering from them for the Spring

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Wednesday, August 3rd

Temperature: ??
Weather Conditions: ??

As gardeners we like to try and attract wildlife to our gardens, beautiful Butterflies flittering between flowerheads, busy little bee's pollenating their way around the neighbourhood or birds sqwarking at the feeder. If your like me you also have Squirrels wither aerobatics, Chipmonks with their puffy little cheeks stuffed full and Rabbits who munch through EVERYTHING!!! How wonderful it is to look into the garden and see all this "work" going one, making you realise that all that hard work earlier in the year was well worth the effort!

I got home this evening and followed my usual routine of feeding my meowing cat who greets me noisily at the door, opening the upstairs windows and then slowly opening the sliding back door to enter my gardens to see what occured while I was out. As I headed to the door this evening I was greeted by the flittering of something around my spent Cosmos (which is in need of some major dead-heading!), I assumed it was a large Butterfly because it was so brightly coloured. Then, all of a sudden it hopped over to the purple Liatris which is starting to turn to seed, at this point I realised it was a male Goldfinch in all his summer mating glory!!! What a wonderful sight to be greeted with, so colourful, so vibrant. I stood and watched him for a while as he helped with the gardening chores (dead-heading!) and the natural process of spreading seed

I'm hoping that he decides he likes it in my little garden and starts to return on a regular basis like many of my other birds, whom I have gotten to know through their repeated visits. I guess my next step now is to head out and buy an upsidedown feeder suitable for Thistle (Nijger) seed!!!