24 August 2019

Wrong Side of the Bed

I have a very small lawn area in the front of the house. Half of the front yard is lawn, the other is my cottage garden with its tastefully arranged mix of annuals, perennials, and vegetables. The annuals are those that reseed themselves such as basils, dill, Mexican zinnias, rudbeckia, snapdragons, nicotiana, cosmos, and cleome. It's heaven for a cheap gardener like me.

I provide a little pre emergent herbicide on the grass (excuse me - for us Master Gardeners that's turf) to keep the crabgrass from finding a home. This year, a few lemon basil plants thought the grass area with its pre emergent looked like greener pastures and moved out into the lawn. No crabgrass from the pre emergent, but basil found a home.

Now to be fair, this is not the first time plants have jumped out of the garden and ventured out into the lawn. But it is the first time edibles have done so. Every year, some rudbeckia and cleome need to be scolded, bad boys as they are, sowing their wild oats in my grass. Nicotiana and poppies seem to delight in popping up across pavement or in the brick sidewalk cracks. But now the basil? And not just one plant, but four decided to run away from home? They are all grounded.

You have to admit, the basil looks happy and healthy there. Yes, most of their friends remained growing in the garden bed, although most had gone to seed at this time of the year.

Please ignore the wild looking grass and clover in the lawn. I let these basils grow and purposely did not mow the grass, and the hot summer slowed the grass growth down. And, the grass just looks more wild than it really does in person. Enough excuses?

11 August 2019

What's Your Name?

I picked up some of these plants at the Master Gardener spring plant swap last spring. Seems like eons ago. I don't recall any name on them, but they ended up being planted in the way-back -- mostly sunny, some shady area without much good soil. I am slowly building up the soil in this plot with more organic material in hopes of growing additional perennials.

During the fall (last year) they reached a height of about 3 feet (1 m) and bloomed near the end of summer. They dutifully popped back up this past spring, then towered to 6-feet tall (2 m), much higher than I was expecting.

The leaves are partially lobed, lacy, thin, somewhat palmate, a little like oversized cosmos, and nothing like sunflowers or any other helianthus I know. The blossoms are pure yellow, similar in size and appearance to double-flowered coreposis, around 1-2 inches (3-5 cm). But coreopsis does not grow this tall. Nor do coreopsis leaves look like this. Japanese kerria is similar, but this is not a shrub, nor do the leaves match. No fragrance. Dry conditions do not bother it much, and there are no signs of disease or insects. However, powdery mildew is beginning to show up.

They die back to the ground in winter. They have continued to bloom over the past month but are beginning to slow down. I previously thought the stalks were strong and sturdy, but a recent rainstorm knocked most over. They were strong and straight while growing, but once the blooming started, they could not stand up to wind and rain.

Are they in the coreopsis family? Are they a form of helianthus? They seem happy where they, so they will remain there.

For The Record:
  • Clay soil with a little organic mulch
  • Mostly sun but some shade
  • Small amount of fertilizer
  • No serious pests/disease
  • Tend to fall over when fully grown

21 July 2019

Free Fling Phlox

Say that fast three times. This is my Garden Bloggers Fling phlox blooming now. At least I believe I got if form the 2017 Capital Fling. My other established phlox, a Carolina phlox Miss Lingard (Phlox maculata) blooms in late spring and is finished for the year. I don't know what type this is, but I know what type it isn't.

I believe I received this one at the Garden Bloggers Fling held in summer 2017. It was planted and bloomed a wee bit last year. In the fall, I placed a blank marker next to it while it overwintered so I would remember it was there. I have a history of pulling out or planting on top of new plants previously planted when I cannot remember anything growing there. Space around this yard can be a premium. Well, I didn't remember.

This spring, it began growing -- this little plant next to a marker. It looked like a goldenrod weed or other prevalent weed in our area, but it had a marker. Thinking it might be the ever elusive red lobelia that was known to roam the area, I resisted the temptation to pull it out in April.

It grew very upright and about 3-feet tall (90 cm). Yup. That proves it must be a weed because I had nothing growing in that area which would grow so tall. Then it bloomed last week. A wind storm blew it over, so I stood it upright again for its photography session.

Individual flowers in the cluster are smaller than the Carolina phlox, looking a lilac or buddleia. This year it produced three stalks, each with a pink or light magenta bloom on the end. Small skipper-like butterflies love it. A few lower side shoots without blooms may help it to develop into something larger next year. One can hope. It grows in mostly sun, but under the morning shade of a small redbud tree. And one can label the markers placed next to plants in the fall.

For The Record:
  • Heavy clay soil with organic amendments & mulch
  • Damp soil at base of small hillside
  • Mostly sun but some shade during mornings
  • Small amount of fertilizer
  • No serious pests/disease

17 July 2019

But Hey, It's Free

Sandy from Sandy's Plants spoke about herbaceous plants at one of our winter Master Gardener evening classes two years ago. Sandy runs a "rare and unusual" nursery nearby, growing most of the inventory by herself and staff. The herbaceous plant classes are quite popular, and Sandy was about to make it even more so. She brought in free plants - enough for everyone in the class.

I avoided the class stampede. Since I was a board member at that time, I graciously waited for most others in the room to pick out something. What was left for me was a daylily. Nothing had labels including this one. My plant had some root stock and a handful of leaves. I planted my mystery dayllily.

This is what came up and bloomed. I know it's a tetraploid from the thick short stems and stocky flowers and buds. It blooms pretty much again and again after its initial explosion, which no other daylilies I have do.

I might like to know the name of my new daylily, but am content to just admire it. Mystery forever.

30 June 2019

The Fallen

With some heavy rain and a touch of laziness from the owner for not staking again this year, the hydrangea has once again succumbed to its own success. The large blooms of what I believe is 'Incrediball' have fallen down and cannot get up. I now support the peony before it also goes down, and keep thinking that I will do the same for the hydrangea when it starts to peek out of the ground. But since I cannot find any support system large enough, I need to make my own, and that involves some involved work. Maybe next year.

These rudbeckia mentioned in Bloggers Bloom Day love the location against the masonry house. Nice and warm in the winter, and beautiful non-clay soil thanks to years of fallen leaves where ivy once roamed. They are taller and more robust than in any other of my gardens. Taller means easier to bend over.

Another reseeder is the nicotiana: white in the back, and green in the front yards. The white species grow taller and always flop over, and I always let them. The green nicotiana don't do this to the same extent maybe because they do not grow as tall. Maybe because they get full sun and the whites don't, or because they are just a different shorter variety.

Native Loosestrife (Lysimachia quadrifolia) is now blooming and down it goes. The plants tend to support each other in the center of the cluster, while those along the perimeter take a bow like in this photo. The dark leaves turn green when the yellow blooms appear in summer.

Not yet down is the yellow-flowered plant I picked up at a plant swap. I think it is a type of helianthus or coreopsis. It bloomed in late summer when about 3-feet high (90 cm) and proceeded to bend down. This year it is about 4-feet (120 cm) tall at the moment, with some buds appearing. And so far it is standing tall.

When the weak fall, it is difficult to get them back up permanently, so I usually let them lay.

15 June 2019

June 2019 Bloom Day

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day
What's blooming in the garden on the 15th of the month

If getting back into the Garden Bloggers Bloom Day again, May-June-July is the time to do it for me.

Spring has been good so far - off to a cool start, but over the past few months, we have had good weather and good rain. Things are growing - including the weeds.

Starting with the rudbeckia that needs a little birth control this year. I think every seed ever dropped came up - even the ones in the lawn and sidewalk cracks.

And the rudbeckia that appeared came with some interesting variety. For example, this green-eyed is a hybrid from some 'Irish Eyes' I grew a few years back.

This came all by itself. The bees must have been busy in some neighbor's garden one day last year.

Still another rudbeckia variation in markings.

The Asian lilies, name unknown, are taking off.

Echinacea are just beginning to peek out.

And my cultivar echinacea 'Sundown', part of the Big Sky series.

A snapdragon mix was started from seed two years ago. Now, they annually reseed themselves in a myriad of colors. I was stunned by this one. Have you ever seen such a color combination?

For other garden bloggers' bloom day photos, spring over to the blog May Dreams Gardens.

09 June 2019

Holy Coleus

Does anyone need coleus? Every year, I survey the containers I have on the deck to determine what annuals I need to purchase. Some of the plants from prior years may survive the winter, eliminating a need to purchase an annual of two for this year. Sweet potato vines tend to do this.

This year, I was surprised to find among the maple seedlings from a neighbor's tree, 78 (I counted them all) coleus growing in a pot that I (obviously) had coleus occupying last summer. They were all images of their mama, with maroon centers and green leaf edges. Of the handful of coleus I have grown, this one was the least favorite - not unattractive - just not on top of my favorites list.

One of the other containers had several petunia seedlings pop up, which I am allowing to continue. I heard these are difficult for gardeners to start from seed, (go figure) so they have earned the right to continue after surviving the winter outdoors.

After pinching off the unattractive flowers of the coleus, I probably just threw them into the pot. Some of the flower spikes may have had mature seeds that sprung to life this spring. The petunias may have had some seed pods formed that I missed in the deadheading, but there was only one petunia I can remember needing to deadhead. The others were cultivars that self-deadheaded, (if that is a word.)

I am saving four or five of the largest coleus seedlings to plant in the garden. Since I take cuttings of some plants (including coleus), in the fall to overwinter, I do not need any of these for containers. An overwintered version has already been transplanted into a different container. However, there is a 'Black Pearl' ornamental pepper plant in this container that sprung from the previous plant's seed, and two other dark red coleus plants growing among the horde, too.

I left the petunias to their own too, and will later report on them after seeing what type of flower comes from a store-bought cultivar self-seeder (if that is a word, too.)

27 May 2019

Glenstone Buildings

A few of the exterior buildings of Glenstone are presented. I am not sure if they were all constructed at the same time. The main museum building is called the Pavilions and houses 11 galleries arranged about an interior water garden courtyard. A few views of the expansive meadows are also allowed from inside some galleries.

The pavilions are landscaped with native vegetation. But, turfgrass is found around another smaller gallery building, administrative offices and pond. Rainwater, the source for all irrigation, is collected and managed.

A small cafe building surrounded by native grasses and paper bark birch.

I think this is an admin building with lots of turfgrass.

Sculpture by Ellsworth Kelly along the pond.

Inside the opening of a sculpture by Richard Serra.

I was yelled at for taking a photo inside, but I was aiming outside to the interior water garden courtyard.



21 May 2019

Integrate Art and Landscape

Saturday, our Master Gardeners had an opportunity to visit the new Glenstone museum in Maryland outside Washington, DC. New is a relative term since it officially opened in 2006 with its first building. Others followed over the past few years, and the landscaping continues today. It occupies 300 acres (120 hactacres) of land in the uber-weathly, semi-rural suburb of Potomac, MD and its buildings display 20th century art.

"Glenstone is a place that seamlessly integrates art, architecture, and landscape into a serene and contemplative environment ...Guided by the personal vision of its founders, it assembles post-World War II artworks of the highest quality that trace the greatest historical shifts in the way we experience and understand art of the 20th and 21st centuries. These works are presented in a series of refined indoor and outdoor spaced designed to facilitate meaningful encounters for our visitors."

An urban museum cannot create a rural setting. Landscaping the property began in 2010. On the visit, we recognize sustainability as a major objective through the building materials, permeable pavements, native planting, reforestation, stream rehabilitation, and even the cafe consumables.

These photos give a glimpse of the trails, paths, and landscape. The next post will present some of the spaces around the buildings.


Contour by Richard Serra
All rolling meadows are landscaped with native wildflowers, grasses, and sedges that support the native wildlife and "nurture a native ecosystem."


Split-Rocker -- Jeff Koons
All museums need a little whimsy. This sits atop a hill and is probably the most photographed.



Close-up with its irrigated geraniums, marigolds, begonias, few of which were blooming.

Fallen trees lay where they naturally fell or were cut to support the ecosystem. Lush, green, super-invasive Japanese stiltgrass forms a problematic forest carpet.

Restored stream bed along the woodland trail.

Natural sculpture identification. The "sculpture" was two partially buried sinks.



Native blue flag (Iris virginica)

Jack-in-the-Pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum)

Native paper bark birch (Betula papyrifera)

Careful little buddy. Don't get run over on the path.

14 May 2019

Iris Experiment Disappointment

Several more crossed iris bloomed throughout the past two weeks. The results were a little disappointing. Of the seven or so flower stalks that were produced from the various plant combinations, all but two seemed like spitting images of one of their parents -- either Fantasyland or Frank Adams (from the previous post). There seemed to be no sharing of color combination of the cultivars I was mixing.

This was one of the crosses that appeared a little differently. I see traits of the iris 'Quaker Lady' in the falls of the flower -- they are more horizontal than falling or pointing down. The color is also similar to Quaker Lady. The falls are a lighter purple than the Fantasyland, and the top petals are more lavender than white or the bland color of Quaker Lady.

A conclusion I can draw from this year's results is that crossing the different cultivars I did produced only slight shifts in the bloom colors if at all. And, two of the cultivars either dominated the genetic traits, or the resulting offspring from the other cultivars produced sterile seed that never germinated from the batch that was planted.

For the next experiment, this year I crossed pollen from the black iris with 'Clarence'. Both have ruffled petals, but the pollinator has dark almost black coloration, and the recipient has white tops and light blue falls. I see two seed pods that have developed. Check back in a few years.
Black IrisClarenceQuaker Lady

30 April 2019

Great Bearded Iris Experiment

It's a good time to step into the blog posts again after a year off from blogging, as opposed to stepping into the gifts left by dog walkers passing my hell strip garden. As the webmaster and a contributing author of our Master Gardeners public web site, I have had the pleasure(?) of running the monthly time-consuming updates. This year, I hope to return to blogging about my wonderful plants and gaffes as others abandon blogging and turn to Instagram (blogging without narrative).

This is the third year of the Great Bearded Iris Experiment, and the results are beginning to bloom. I crossed several of the six different bearded iris in my gardens with their various sizes, petal form, and colors. I wanted to see what might come of this and just to see if I could do it. I did not record or track which plants were crossed and eventually produced seedlings.

For the past two years, the seven or eight seedlings that actually developed continued to grow and mature. Today, one of those plants is blooming and a few others are sending up stalks with buds. How exciting. From looking at the results of this one, I can deduce it came from Fantasyland and Frank Adams. The petal falls are rounded and flat, similar to the burgundy color of Frank Adams, but with a distinct purple tint of Fantasyland around the edge of the petal. The top petals are non-ruffled beige like Frank Adams but with a little pink -- what one would expect when crossing a beige top and a mostly light colored top.

 + 

FantasylandFrank Adams

I can't say the first result will end up as an expensive new introduction in garden catalogs, but I am proud that I accomplished this task successfully. The combination of burgundy with violet is not to my liking, but I will keep an eye on the others that should bloom in the coming weeks.

Next year, I might be sharing results of the Daylily Experiment started last year.