Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Playing with combinations

I try to make groupings of plants that look especially well together. Sometimes the effect is very pleasing and sometimes not.

One of my favorite combinations. Lots of color and texture, each complimenting the others.
An interesting combination, but not my favorite. The Dr Rupel clematis and Eglantyne rose are both in one large pot set amongst other perennials. A darker clematis would probably have looked better with this pale rose. (All the associated hassle of keeping perennials in a container summer and winter wasn't worth it anymore, so I gave the pot and plants to my sister. )
I like this combination of shape and color.
I showed this pair earlier in the spring. It was a happy accident that the iris picked up the chive color and that they bloomed at the same time. A photo from June. Clematis look good with roses. I bought several to plant beside roses and let the vine trail around and through the rose and nearby perennials. In some cases it was too messy, but this pair looks good together. Keeping the vine where you want it is a challenge. Both these flowered haevily through June.I wasn't thinking when I put yellow yarrow beside a pink rose. It turned out better than I could have ever hoped for. The yarrow compliments the yellow center in Peace and they look good side by side. The yarrow's ferny silver foliage helps by makeing a nice contrasty texture. Lambs ear (at the bottom) is great with pink.

This isn't my favorite combo but it's not horrible. It needs something more, but what? Maybe it would look better if I added another daylily the same wine color as the eyes.
Silver lambs ear and May Night just don't make a pleasant combination. Both the colors and the shapes just aren't complimentary. It needs something added to make this pair look their best.
This looks even worse in the garden than in the photo. In my defense, I didn't expect them to bloom at the same time. Thought the sea holly would bloom later. If I replaced the liatris with some darker oriental lilies might work better.
I like these two daylilies together. The deep wine color is perfect with the yellow and gold . The dark daylily is almost black when it first opens and fades to a pleasant red/purple later in the day.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


I think of my annuals as the real work horses in the garden. In May I start searching for old favorites and if I'm lucky find something new and striking. It's usually possible to find some already blooming plants so there won't be any surprises in color. I'm lucky to have a greenhouse near me with a really good selection. I'm not fond of bare ground around my perennial plants so I tend to stick an annual anywhere there is a space in my perennial beds. I try to select annuals that aren't bothered by insects or disease. The ones that go into the ground have to be drought tolerant.

Below, heavenly scented heliotrope is one of my favorites. It looks good with any yellow blooming plants. Pictured here with old fashioned marguerite daisies.

Same thing here with some purple petunias and of course Thumper.

I like these creamy yellow petunias around the base of yellow or orange roses. Roses have gorgeous flowers but the shrub itself is ugly. Anything bushy and blooming that covers the straggly rose canes is a plus.
Below petunias with Autumn Sunset rose.

My favorite petunias are these two- toned purples. They are great with yellow blooming flowers and silvery foliaged plants. There is some dusty miller planted among these and some Achillea 'Moonshine'.

Cleome below. Plant it once and you will have it forever. In the spring the seedlings come up thick as moss on the ground. It gets tall so I put it behind medium height plants. I like it at the base of shrubs like viburnum to add some color long after the vibernum has bloomed. It grows up through the shrub branches and looks interesting. I tried the smaller cleome 'firecracker' in pots but wasn't happy with it. (Warning, pulling up all those extra seedlings can be annoying.) Cleome is quite drought tolerant.

Rudbeckia hirta is an annual for me. Every now and then one will return or reseed, not often.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Double Daylilies

Doubles are my favorites.

I started with Siloam Double Classic, in my opinion the best double ever. Last summer I ordered two new ones: Night Embers and Moses' Fire. These are blooming for the first time this year. I have to admit a little disappointment in Night Embers. The color is dull and fades quickly. The white outlined edges are nice. Moses' Fire is much more orange than the catalog pictures and Night Embers isn't as dark. LOL, why am I surprised that catalog photos aren't accurate.

The first photos are of a daylily growing wild on my farm. When I first found it, I thought it must be rare and unique. Perhaps a sport or mutation of the tawny daylily seen on old farms and along roadsides. Actually, it's fairly common, but no less spectacular. Fulva Kwanso with a triple bloom. This has to be the most elegantly made daylily in existence. Unfortunately it's sterile so hybridizers won't be creating its lovely form in other colors.

Below is Night Embers, a dark and dull red with a white outline around each petal. As with most dark daylilies, the color rubs and washes off easily leaving a blotchy appearance.

Moses' Fire isn't the bright, true red promised in catalogs. When it begins to open, the petals have more red but they soon fade to a spotty orange.

Siloam Double Classic--the gold standard in doubles (in my humble opinion). The first year it bloomed, it was a clear pink. The following years it has displayed a more coral color, perhaps the result of different soil, I really don't know. Double Classic increases quickly in my garden and the single plants have become large clumps. The first photo shows the color the first season. The last photo is this years color. Based on the clear pink color I planted it among pink roses. This year the combination is not pleasing. It needs to be moved into an area with no pink and more blues and purples to look its best.

The photo above shows the color in relation to a truly pink petunia.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Wild Thing

We went for a walk last evening--the dogs, Toby, my digital camera and I. It's a great way to unwind after a day in the office. Along the lane beside my pasture, there are dozens of interesting things to look at and photograph. I'm walking and thinking about my digital camera. Digital, what an huge stride forward. Of course I loved my old Canon EOS SLR too, but how great to snap away with a 4 gig memory card. No worries about changing film. Take a dozen photos of the same squirrel, save one and delete 11. No hassles having the film processed (or lost by the processor as happened to me on several occasions). Light weight, 12x zoom lens (which is approximately equal to a 432mm lens) but without the weight and without having to carry a bag with lenses and tripods.

Growing along the lane are two milk weed plants, huge blooms just opening. Lovely fragrance. No Monarch caterpillars on the pristine foliage, I always look.

Off by the fence, Queen Ann's Lace stands tall above the grass. Today she is just opening her blossoms to host the tiny predator wasps. On a more romantic note, the flower was named for Queen Ann of course who enjoyed sewing beautiful lace. The red at the bloom's center is a tiny drop of her blood, dripped onto the lace from a finger prick.
I barely noticed the clover. One is growing in wheel ruts or I would have missed it. No bees, they may have deserted the clover for the QAL. Had to lay in the grass to get this prospective.
To make a prairie, it takes a clover and one bee.
One clover, and a bee.

And reverie.
The reverie alone will do If bees are few.
~ Emily Dickinson

A little song sparrow follows us along the fence row. He probably has a nest nearby and isn't happy to see the cat walking along
his lane. The feathers on his head are standing up, he looks a little frazeled. Maybe the cat or maybe his kids are giving him a hard time. I wonder if he is the same song sparrow who sat in my locust tree and sang so loudly and sweetly early in the spring. He was a bachelor then with no cares.

The horses used to stand in the shade of this old apple tree. They picked the low hanging fruit and waited for the rest to fall. Now the deer get all the apples.
When we reach the hilltop beside the barn, a squirrel is checking out the logs that are often stuffed with peanut butter. Peanut butter is meant to attract birds so I can photograph them. The squirrels get the largest share.

I had to include Toby's photo, he sometimes thinks he's wild. This old, abandoned piece of farm equipment fascinates him. He wants his own blog post. He's pretty full of himself and thinks everybody would be interested in his thoughts.


Two days ago I walked 
the empty woods, bent over, 
crunching through oak leaves, 
asking myself questions 
without answers. From somewhere 
a froth of seeds drifted by touched 
with gold in the last light 
of a lost day, going with 
the wind as they always did.
~Philip Levine

I love this brief poem by Melanie Bishop. Seed of whim and chance, what perfect words to describe a wild flower. Click on her name to see more of her poems.

forgotten of days passed
seed of whim and chance
wild Queen Anne's lace

~ Melanie Bishop

queen anne's lace

by elizabeth perdomo

a wild queen of dirt roads & deserted places

with blossoms which crown the summer
& dust kitchen tablecloths with pollen bouquets

queen anne's lace tats the roadsides creamy white

looking delicate as a lineaged lady

it grows deep rooted
strong as a woman

How often my kitchen table has been dusted the with the falling petals.

I've heard this weed called cow parsley or cow parsnips. I don't believe that's the correct name. Cow parsley has a white bloom. These weeds get 6 to 8 feet tall.

Hope everyone has a weekend filled with long walks and butterflies.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Gardenig on a budget

Gardening doesn't have to be expensive.

Tiffany purchased bagged and bare root two years ago from Home Depot for about $3.00. If you have a cutting garden these inexpensive roses are perfect. I grow a huge variety for bouquets and didn't spend a fortune. Hybrid tea roses bloom from late May until October freeze.

Unknown white (purple tinged) clematis. If anyone can identify, please let me know the name.
Home Depot purchase last spring for under $4.00. Early in the season HD often has dozens of clematis in small 3" pots. Clematis are tough little plants, mine have done well planted directly into the garden in early spring. I bought several to let ramble among my perennials. They will bloom the second year in the garden.

Stargazer at Menards about $4.00 for a pack of 6 bulbs. Blooms the same year planted.

Siloam Double Classic from Gilbert H. Wild & Son about $2.50. Most of my daylilies are from Gilbert Wild. Over the years the folks at Wilds have been so helpful and supplied large plants in excellent condition. They arrive mid summer and will bloom the following year.

Blue Chips from Home Depot about $3.99 for a 6 inch pot blooming. I never find rare or unusual plants at HD but they are large and often in bloom. I like to be sure of what I'm getting both color and health.

Stella D'oro from Gilbert Wild about $2.00. Stella is a quick multiplier and soon produces an abundance to give to friends or replant in other locations. Stella blooms all summer.

Sunflower from bird seed. Free. Just like the Master Card commercial;)

A small garden for $20. In these days of economic uncertainty, who doesn't love a bargain? (Apology for the discussion of budgets but I'm an accountant, it's to be expected;).

Often I'll take a chance or push the zone on a bargain plant. That way if I made a mistake, I learned a lesson but didn't lose much money.

I live in a small town, we don't have large, exciting garden centers here to choose from. If I lived closer to the wonderful garden boutiques in the Chicago suburbs, I would be bankrupt, homeless and living in the garden. Now that I think about that option, how bad could it be. With a splendid garden fountain (to shower in), cushy outdoor furniture (to sleep on), and a host of garden statues to keep me company, who really needs a house.

I should mention the early and late season sales at Blue Stone Perennials . It's a good source for hard to find plants. Their plants are very small but usually do well and bloom the second year. I have gotten a few cooked perennials (probably stayed in transit too long). Not the fault of Blue Stone but disappointing all the same.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Singing the blues

I've got the blues--at my feeders.

Blue Jays announce their arrival with loud screeches that scatter the smaller birds. They don't remain long--grab a peanut and fly off. Jays are a little like squirrels. They carry their peanuts off and hide many of them to eat later.

Attracting them to your garden is as easy as putting peanuts in a place where they can be seen from above. They also eat sunflower seed. Jays are large birds and prefer to eat from a platform, the one in the photo hangs from a branch or bracket, but a bench or picnic table would be perfect too.

The beautiful blue bird below is and Indigo Bunting. They don't remain in my area all season. This one was passing through on his way farther north where he will spend the summer and raise a family. Indigo Buntings will stop at feeders filled with Nyjer (often spelled differently) thistle or white millet. The tube feeder in the photo contains a combination of proso millet, peanut pieces, sunflower seeds, and safflower. It is a favorite in my garden. The birds prefer it 3 to 1 over plain sunflower.

There is nothing in which the birds differ more from man than the
way in which they can build and yet leave a landscape as it was
~Robert Lynd

I found a great website which lets you listen to and download brief recordings of birdsong. These are primarily birds found in the north central US. It's been very helpful in teaching me to identify birds by their calls even if they can't be seen.

After downloading, I choose the folder option to play all the mp3 recordings one after the other. It's relaxing to listen to an hour or so of bird songs on days when you're cooped up inside. Another plus, this is very entertaining for my cats who run around searching for birds in the house.

I realized that if I had to choose, I would rather have birds than airplanes.
~Charles Lindbergh

Use what talents you possess: the woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best.
~Henry Van Dyke


I hadn't heard of Sky Watch Friday until this morning.

Check out Wigger's World

for more info.

A hint of blue. A dramatic sky after last night's thunderstorms.

Have a great weekend everyone. Enjoy the birds in your gardens.

Wishing you all a beautiful sunset.