The peonies are almost ready to bloom. How odd that I saw my sister’s peonies in full bloom in Pittsburgh more than 2 weeks ago.
It’s been hot and dry for much of the summer. That’s hard on the plants and I know that I’m going to have to move some things that haven’t handled the heat well come fall.
Meanwhile I’ve been replacing some of the things that we lost in last winter’s deep freeze.
Rosemary is something that I regard as hardy around here. It rarely suffers until the temps fall into the teens. Single digits are too cold so I lost three sprawling rosemarys that lived at the back of the herb garden tumbling down the rock wall. I replaced two of them.
We also lost all of our cultivars of buddleia. Some of the wildings survived but those have to be pulled out as they are now clasified as invasive weeds. I can’t find anymore of the dark purple one that I liked. sigh.
So in the place of the butterfly bush that used to live in the corner of the bed facing the barn I put a smoke tree. Well actually more of a shrub.
There may not have been much rain recently but the sprinklers run every couple of days. This is the result of leaving your Felcos in the bucket next to the bird bath.
The nice thing about Felcos is that you can buy parts. I’ll refurb these over the winter. meanwhile to suppliment my older (thrice refurbed) Felcos I bought a pair of Fiskars pruners.
They have an interesting compound cutting action.
They are smaller and more agile that the Felcos. I don’t think they can handle as much of the brute force cutting work but they are sweet to use for deadheading and other more precise tasks.
Not everything is suffering in the heat. The lilies went nuts this year. The last of the Stargazers are just now going over.
A couple more notes from the garden.
The nicotiana in the bird bath bed continues to thrive. This dark purple variety can really soak up the sun.
The last man standing in the library bed has been moved to a new home on the other side of the front door. Once the roundup has done it’s job the library bed will be turned over and mulched for the winter. It will be replanted int he spring.
The mounding cypress has done so well that it will need a bit of a trim later this fall. I’ll also have to do something about the badly broken witch hazel seen peeking out from behind it.
I took advantage of one last day of fine weather to do a bunch of clean up and some late season planting.
This is what happens if you forget and leave the felcos on the wall of the garden bed. Damn. That’ll take a couple of hours to put right.
We had a lot of damage from last winters hard, long freezes. I’d left a bunch of almost certainly dead things in the garden in the hope that a few of them might recover or re-sprout from the roots. No joy. So the first order of business was to take out the dead things. Four “Dark Knight” butterfly bushes and a Korean Dogwood are now on the brush pile. I also lost the Rosemarys that were climbing down the rock wall behind the herb bed.
There were some successes though. The variegated sage in this picture was a mushy disaster in mid-February. It did quite nicely. I cut it back twice this summer.
On the other hand the center of the lavenders which had gotten rank and spindly last summer died out completely. Leaving a nasty hole in my favorite bed.
Not related to last winter’s deep freeze, these slender deutzias have never been happy in the harsh glare that comes off the barn and shop, as well as the graveled work yard. Prefers Full Sun on the nursery tag doesn’t always mean prefers to be baked daily.
They now have a new home next to one of the Snake Bark Maples in the front yard. There’s still a fair amount of sun there but not the intense heat. I’ll see how they do next summer.
The bed beside the garage on the front of the house has most of my damp loving shade plants in it. (And most of my deer food — Hostas, eaten to the ground again, sigh.) The grass and a stand of Siberian Irises have become seriously overgrown. Both should have been divided last year. This spring at the latest. It took both Jim and I and a lot of shoveling and levering to get these out.
We found this little surprise in among the iris foliage. I think they’re puff ball mushrooms. I remember eating puff balls as a kid and being told that it was very hard to make a mistake about what kind of mushroom you were picking. I’m too chicken to try it out without an expert along.
We also pulled out the kerria. It’s too rangy, and rank, and all sorts of nasty. There’s now a nice little reblooming lilac in it’s spot. The tag says to 5′. Which would be about perfect.
We put one chunk of the grass back in where it had come out of, and put three clumps of iris across the back of the bed.
Here’s the bed all finished. Too bad about the stumps of hostas lining the front edge. Next weekend I’ll trim up the left over foliage on the irises. The grass I’ll leave — the leaves dry out and rattle nicely in the wind.
We took four more clumps of the iris and one of the grass and added them to the bed in front of the library. Next year I’ll try to get the perennials into this bed. It gets a nice 8 early hours of sun a day.
I can’t find the tag to identify this little fellow. He’s lived in a couple of spots in the gardens. Hopefully he’ll be happy here across the walk way from the Cypress
I picked up a couple of new lavenders to fill in the hole. An English type for a change. They seem so small and helpless in there.
We dropped the last chunk of the divided grass onto the point of the bed that faces the barn. Behind it you can see the smoke tree that we put in a couple of weeks ago.
In the same bed I added a black mondo grass in the place of a long dead azalea. Right now it looks like black grass on black dirt but once it and the nandinas next to it fill in a bit, the contrast between the long black blades of the grass and small red gold leaves of the nandina should be nice.
Jim loves Japanese maples so we added one to our collection. This mounding red cut-leaf should make a nice focal point out on the point of one of the beds by the porch.
The bird bath bed is still showing some evidence of summer. The dutsy miller still looks good and there are some purple flowers on the nicotinia.
I am a total sucker for the brightly packaged bulbs that begin to appear next to the checkout in the nursery this time of year. The blank spot in this bed got a bag of mixed species tulips (30 bulbs) and a bag of dwarf iris (10 bulbs). No clue at to which species the tulips are — only that they are a “Naturalizing Blend” hopefully that means that they’ll come up more than a couple of times.
Robbyn gave me a bunch of bearded iris rhizomes a couple of weeks ago. I put them in this sunny well drained spot near the pasture. Close enough to the electric fences that the deer might leave them alone long enough to bloom. Yup we have plenty of rocks.
It’s a good thing I finished up yesterday. This morning it was below freezing. The irrigation system ran, this morning. The leaves on the smoke tree have a nice sparkle to them, oops. No harm, no foul. The system is installed deeply enough that the occasional frosty morning isn’t a problem. We’ll empty it next weekend. I just wanted to be sure that the new plants got a little extra water for the a couple of days.
I also clipped off the last of the lavender blooms yesterday. I brought them inside to dry out. They’ll sit on the hearth and slowly get used as tinder for the fires. The smell is wonderful.
Starting with this post you can see the botanical names and variety names of the plants in the pictures by mousing over.
I keep the tags from the plants that I buy in ziplock bags by year so that I can go back and look up exactly what’s what. It was quite depressing to look through the tags while I was trying to confirm the variety name on the grass I divided. I’ve put in tons of perennials, and they’ve almost all disappeared. Freezes, drought, deer and chickens all take a toll. No wonder I don’t enjoy gardening as much as I used to.
Last fall we dug up and divided a lot of overgrown plants. Among them a patch of iris so thick that it took a tree saw to hack it apart.
All eight sections have begun to grown nicely. I’m not sure how much bloom we’ll get this year. They’re going to look great at the back of the garage and library beds.
It was a busy garden weekend here at Black Dog Farm. We started with a trip to Molbaks to take advantage of their 30% off bare-root and b&b trees and shrubs.
We started with something to go in front of the three cedars. The early white blooms of this magnolia shrub will lighten up the dark corner.
Digging the hole for the magnolia was little nerve wracking. There are irrigation pipes everywhere. This one isn’t actually split — though all that water running into the hole made us nervous for a couple of minutes.
We added two other shrubs to the front bed. Spireas have nice little white flowers early in the spring and the bright green foliage will make a nice backdrop for more colorful flowers in the summer.
It was hard sticking to the bare-root section at the nursery. I did pretty well, but I just had to have these lenten rose for the library window.
The last plant we bought (and we had to go back for it with the trailer) was replacement for the Korean Dogwood that froze out 2 years ago. Redbuds are a lot hardier. Jim liked the shape of this contorted weeper.
We’re still playing catch up with rehabilitating the trees that were improperly planted 6 years ago. So far we’ve had two die. This cedar is doing okay but look at those roots, aren’t roots supposed to grown down?
The Black Dog Ivan. What can I say…
Things are starting to get going. This fat old peony is sending up it’s shoots. They’re so red! They’re also brittle.
Last October I fell for one of those mixed bags of spring bulbs. In this case reticulated iris and some unnamed species tulip. There were 25 or 30 bulbs (I think) I’ve seen three irises and 2 tulips. Bloody deer. Chewed them all off. I’ve never had much faith in deer repellents but I’m desperate enough to start throwing away money 😉
I also did some early trimming in the herb garden. The rosemary may have survived the winter. I can’t tell yet. One of the things I cleaned out was the washtub that holds the clothes line post and the mint. Hundreds of tiny mint plants.
Also coming up are the lilies. Time to put out slug bait.
I’m hoping for another dry weekend, there’s a lot of planting to do!
Last weekend the front bed with the cedars in it got new shrubs.
Continuing the theme of happy flowering shrubs and brooding conifers that we started with the cedars and the (now gone) buddleias we’ve added more happy and more brooding.
Starting with the happy, a flowering currant. I’ve seen this plant on both the lists of -plants that birds like- and the lists of -plants that deer don’t like-. We shall see. The shocking cerise of the flowers is a nice stunner — at the far edge of the bed.
And now a little gloom. Okay, maybe not so gloomy. This little White Cedar cultivar has a lovely fluffy, bunny look up close.
Contrasting nicely in form is this whipcord Western Red Cedar. It’s an Iseli introduction. I’m always happy to see that they’re still in business and still developing interesting plants.
Also along the back of the bed there’s a white flowering quince. I know, I know, flowering quinces are supposed to be that red-orange color. But this one is so pretty… I also like how well the wrecked, stick-figure angularity of the this particular one is already developed. (I’ll plant one of the properly colored ones down by the farm sign, I promise.)
These creamy flower clusters were irresistible.
There are three of theses little red twig dogwoods. The variegated leaves will contrast nicely with the green wrinkly currant leaves behind them.
The other gloomies. Two nicely colored conifers. The juniper in the front will have a purplish cast during the winter, the yew in the back will be somewhat bronze. Both will head more toward full green in the summer.
Now I just have to be patient. And diligent with the deer repellent.
Yup, it’s still raining. Three bloody weeks of the drizzle falling down my neck.
I took advantage of a half hour break last weekend and went for a little ramble about the place. Here are some pics.
The redbud is finally blooming and has a few tender looking leaves. (And some of these shots are silly and arty.)
There are a couple of new things in the garden beds but this rainy cool weather isn’t doing most of the plants any favors.
The little lilac has bloomed. I’m not sure if the mottling on the leaves is supposed to be there. Hmm.
And a bonus in the herb garden, or rather mixed in with the lilies next to the herb garden. Self-seeded cilantro.
I’ve spent some time in the woods recently checking on coyote activity. Last weekend I took my camera with me and got these four shots of spring.
Our next project is to finish installing our new hot tub. Right now it’s just sitting on the concrete pad in the middle of the dirt and gravel. It’ll be nicer when there’s a door where the windows are now and there’s a nice deck surrounding it. Doesn’t matter really we use it a lot already.
Pray for sun, we’re losing our minds out here.
We spent a little time down at the expensive toy store earlier this weekend. We came away with two new-to-us lenses.
The first is rather dull — it’s a straight across replacement for the 70 – 300 that we already had. The new one has VR, Nikon’s image stabilization/vibration reduction package. The longer the lens the more I appreciate VR.
The second lens is a bit more interesting. A 12 – 14 f4 aspherical. (Tokina.) We bought it because I want a wider lens for getting good shots of the crowded narrow streets and aisles in Mexico. So that I can get things like these pictures of the road to the farm.
I’m considering using this one on the new Blackdog and Magpie website design. Doing some thing with a vertical image on the left side rather than the totally predictable header image.
If you know my backyard well you’ll be able to see the amount of squashing in this picture. It’s actually a long way from the rock pile to the edge of the saw buck. You can also tell that the hood doesn’t fit perfectly and that at 12mm there’s some interference with the edges of the image. Oh well, I’ll have to see what I can do about it.
The other reason for getting a nice fat round lens is to be able to take good landscape pictures. Admittedly about the only thing we have around there this fall is green but it’s nice crisp detailed green.
And some more green things.
But best of all is the ability to get close and shallow on those days when the lilies look good but the patio furniture is a little dingy.
In this morning’s experimenting I found that the camera consistently over exposes shots if I let it have too much say in the exposure, especially if I let it choose a shutter speed. A little care in shooting and a little nudge in Lightroom and I get those lovely water drops on the lily… happy.
This time next week I’ll be writing the first of the posts from Oaxaca and the Mexican bicentennial celebrations. Can’t wait!