Monday, May 24, 2010

Shrub Love

For a solid two weeks, I absolutely could not get my mind off a new shrub I had stumbled across...Aesculus parviflora, aka Bottlebrush Buckeye. It was while researching small trees and shrubs for which to replace the Bush Honeysuckle that I became in awe of the majestic Bottlebrush, and I just had to have it.

The shrub will eventually reach a height of 8-12 feet with a spread of 8-15 feet, and it's a summer bloomer that thrives in shade. It took some effort, but I was able to locate one of these rare woody plants at Merrifield Garden Center, and for $99 it was mine. I planted it over the weekend, in a spot where it can reach its full potential and provide privacy for us when we are dining out on the deck. I can already visualize how spectacular it will look in its full glory.

I am so addicted to shrubs, and currently I am trying to resist the temptation to purchase a set of 3 DEUTZIA gracilis Chardonnay Pearls. Bluestone Perennials has listed this shrub for a mere $4.97, a price cut of 50%, during their Annual Clearance Sale. I do not have a place for more shrubs, yet I crave more shrubs like Chardonnay Pearls. Perhaps I can cram a few more varieties into my Woodland Border, which is really starting to come together. So far I have 3 Clethra Summersweet and 2 Viburnum shrubs set amongst the Redbuds.

Woodland Side Border

Friday, May 21, 2010

Pass the Peas Please

My veggie patch wasn't looking like much, and I even contemplated filling this area with Perennials such as Columbine, Heuchera and Brunnera marcrophylla 'Jack Frost' in the Fall...

but then today I spotted these Sugar Ann Snap Peas.

Growing food makes gardening 10x more delightful, it adds a whole other dimension to a garden. Seeing the pea pods reassured me that this is a worthwhile endeavor. I wish my salad patch was more productive, but I will not give up on growing edibles. Can't wait till harvest time, YUM-O!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Big Picture

After I mowed my lawn today, the incessant rain having finally ceased, I stood back and took in The Big Picture. I feel such overwhelming joy to see my garden looking so great and well-balanced, and I love the fullness and depth that the shrubs contribute. Altogether there are 26 shrubs present: 6 Boxwoods, 7 Satsuki Azaleas, 7 Spirea 'Little Princess', 4 Barberry, 1 Holly, 1 Harry Lauder's Walking Stick.

Fortunately, they mesh together and complement each other so well, that the end effect looks natural and elegant. There is a part of me that longs to expand the Perennial Border just a couple more feet, to allow for another row of plantings, but I don't want to tamper with the landscape design and potentially ruin a good thing.

Of course, my collage of shrubs and perennial border could hardly be ruined when they are framed by such lovely "book-ends", the Japanese Maple and Kousa Dogwood. I am especially in awe of the dreamy Dogwood at the moment. I cut flowers to bring inside today.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Bush Honeysuckle Must GO!!

Since I started my garden a year ago, I have been committed to filling the landscape with mostly native plants and those that can attract wildlife such as birds, bees and butterflies. Definitely I am seeing results and yesterday alone, I saw 3 different species of birds visiting my bird bath within only an hour time frame. Still, I am not a die hard "nativism" adherent, and so far I have not ripped out any plant simply because it is not a native. My large fan-shaped Euonymous Alatas (i.e. Burning Bush) is so lovely and fitting in its place, that I have respect for this plant despite its less-than-ideal reputation for being invasive.

However, the Bush Honeysuckle is a whole different story. I like the fragrant flowers, I like the nice lime green color of the leaves when Fall arrives, I like the mildly weeping habit of this understory plant, but I DO NOT like the crazy amount of seedlings that are sprouting up everywhere! They are hard to yank out, and now I clearly see why Bush Honeysuckle is such a threat to woodland areas. I plan to replace it with Chionanthus virginicus (White Fringe Tree), an attractive native with a very unique look while in flower. I will not regret saying goodbye to the Honeysuckle.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Sensational Salad

I started a small salad patch two months ago, which has now yielded the first salad of the season! The lettuce mixture tasted divine and I only wish there were more. Overall, I have not had a positive experience growing from seed, with the exception of those that can be direct sown outdoors such as Sweet Allysum, Zinnias and Lettuce/Spinach. My interest in starting plants from seeds began to fade when I realized that I simply did not have the desire to spend time in the basement watering them and tending to them under lights. I have now accepted that it works best for me to purchase veggie seedlings from the nursery for such items as tomatoes/peppers/zuchinni, but I definitely hope to continue growing salad greens from seed in the future.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

What's In Bloom?

The Kousa Dogwood is in peak bloom, covered with creamy white bracts. Other plants in bloom for Garden Blogger's Bloom Day include Cranesbill Geranium, Dianthus, Salvia, Scabiosa and Spirea, but certainly the real show stopper at the moment is the Dogwood.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Mountain Laurel

At last I have identified the "mystery shrub" that lies between the Euonymous Alata and the Camellias...and it is a Mountain Laurel. For some reason this shrub did not bloom for me at all last year, and I never would have guessed that it was a Mountain Laurel had not the flowers finally appeared. I have a huge appreciation for all shrubs that can bloom in the shade.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Bishop's Garden at National Cathedral

It is always a joy to visit an urban garden, especially on a day as sunny and pleasant (though windy) as this Saturday. Washington National Cathedral has an onsite garden that is like an oasis in the city, and the terraced medieval garden was packed with high-impact plants. There were herbs such as thyme and rosemary interspersed throughout the perennials and shrubs, and ancient trees from biblical times. Bishop's Garden is a hidden gem and a real treat for garden lovers.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Seeing Pink

Definitely "pink" is the dominant color in my garden at the moment, although less so now that the Azaleas have pretty much wrapped up their bloom period for the year. The biggest show-stopper of this pink explosion are...The Pinks, i.e. Dianthus 'Baths Pink" which I have grouped together as edging for the front border. The flowers of this carnation-relation are quite fragrant, and this perennial has really surpassed my expectations.

Peony 'Monsieur Jules Elie'

Peony 'Karl Rosenfield'

Fuchsia Azalea Hedge (next to garage)

Azalea 'Rosebud'

Geranium Biokovo

Dianthus 'Baths Pink'

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Impromptu Bouquets

My last Tulip faded earlier this week and the many pink Azalea shrubs are now finishing up, but with so many Perennials taking off in my garden, I am still being graced with an abundance of flowers. The fragrant Tree Peony gave me 2 blooms this go-around, paltry but acceptable considering its very shady location, and the Dianthus have put out an impressive display of fragrant dainty flowers. It feels great being able to throw together an impromptu mini-bouquet to bring the beauty of the garden indoors, and I'm really looking forward to getting plenty of practice on floral arrangements throughout our long Mid-Atlantic growing season.

-- Tulips, Azalea, Honeysuckle

-- Tree Peony 'High Noon'

-- Salvia May Night, Dianthus Bath's Pink, Geranium Biokovo

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Accessories for the Garden

Like a beautifully dressed woman, a great garden should be well-accessorized. I have decked out my garden with a variety of items, and just like a sprinkling of jewelry that lends a special flair to an outfit, these garden accents really light up my landscape making it all the more unique and magical.

Bird Houses
Made by my very talented wonderful husband, based off designs he found in the book Designer Birdhouses: 20 Upscale Homes for Sophisticated Birds", I am so enchanted by these gorgeous nesting boxes. Both are in my backyard, and the orange-yellow one already has its first set of tenants!

Aluminum Birds
I picked these up at the Philadelphia Flower Show that I attended in March. Cute and adorable, my little boy just can't keep his hands off them. The 2 are sited in the Woodland Side Border, which should be bird-paradise come late-Summer when the Cleathra Summersweets bloom and the Viburnums produce their berries.

Frog and Turtle
I really like the mosaic inlay and glassy gemstone eyes. The frog resides in the Woodland Side Border, and the turtle is out front in my perennial/shrub border next to the Pennisetum Little Bunny.

Bird Bath
This was the very first garden accent I purchased, a lovely item that I found at Kmart of all places. The birds are really using it, and this year I will see to it that the water is changed every other day, to avoid having it become a breeding ground for mosquitoes.

Wind Chimes
What would a backyard sanctuary be without the gentle chiming of wind chimes? I have the metal froggy-chime hanging in the Honeysuckle Shrub, and the mellow woodsy-chime now dangles from the Witchhazel.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Fleeting Beauty

The Peony blooms,
then comes hot humid weather.
The show is over.


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