Friday, July 30, 2010

Friday photos

Keeping it simple today with photos and some quick comments.

Enjoy. 



Joe Pye Weed (Eupatorium) 'Gateway'


Hummingbird Moth (I think) on Phlox 'David'


Ladybug patrolling for aphids ... and we thank her.


Butterfly on Monarda 'Petite Delight'.


Berries on Viburnum 'Emerald Lustre'.


Blooms on Panicum 'Rotstrahlbusch'.


Buds on Chelone Glabra. 


Blooms on Lobelia Siphilitica slowly appearing from the bottom up. 


Hibiscus 'Kopper King' leaves. An absolute new fave, even without the blooms. 

Found a seedling of Hypericum 'Albury Purple' from out of nowhere. Good times.


Carex 'Cappuccino'. I love it, but many many will disagree. Well you are all wrong.



I like this Geranium 'Brookside' better after a shearing and no longer in bloom.

Enjoy your weekend!
ONG




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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Reader mail

The following email was received from a former high school friend (not a former friend but a former classmate, well you get it). I must have dazzled him with my knowledge when we met up at our reunion last weekend. Either that or he has simply become desperate for help.

Dear ONG,

While my aversion to lawn maintenance is well documented and legendary, having a garden is something I can and would enjoy. However, there is a surly gang of deer that in addition to having a flip and abrasive attitude, devour everything I've ever planted. No flowering plants have made it past 3 days. We've consulted several local gardening centers and each and every flower/plant they have guaranteed to survive have disappeared - even thistle and holly are eaten. I came home one day to an unpleasant young buck who had just dined on a holly plant who exclaimed with toothpick in mouth, "Is that all you've got?" then called me a pansy. Which, by the way, he's also eaten.

What suggestions do you have either for flowers/shrubs that stand the best chance, or for keeping the deer out of the yard? A fence is out of the question as it would be admitting defeat and they would just jump it anyway...plus, i think it would piss them off.

Help me Obsessive Neurotic Gardener, you're my only hope...

I hesitate to sign my name, as the deer leech off my wireless and if they find out I sent this they will exact revenge.


Oh you mean these cute harmless beauties:


I joke  ... Where to begin? Well let's respond to your inquiry in my preferred layout, bullet form:

  • Aversion to grass = all sorts of awesomeness. Lawns require too much time and effort and excessive resources for very little reward. Although, this feedback coming from someone who owns almost two acres of lawn does come off very hypocritical. I am slowly, however, removing as much lawn as I can.
  • I now assume that deer will eat absolutely anything and ignore all references to "deer resistant". It saves me from heartache when it all gets munched down.
  • Of course you always have the option of using different deer repellents in an attempt to protect your plants. I have personally used Liquid Fence with some success but it does require a new application often, especially after it rains. Some other interesting options include:
  1. Hanging bars of Irish Spring soap (insert whistle here) amongst your plants.
  2. Keeping a cheap radio playing all night as a deterrent.
  3. Various mixtures of eggs, hot sauce, dog hair,etc.   
  • With that said, there are a few rules of thumb when it comes to plants that deer do not prefer. These include plants with fuzzy leaves, thorny plants and plants with flowers that have a strong smell. I use the following website to research deer destruction levels, and it is based out of New Jersey - Rutgers Deer Resistance

I sense your pain and distress so I will make it easy for you. Go out and get the following and I will put my personal guarantee behind it:

Ornamental grasses -  there are so many to choose from and I can speak from experience that they have never been touched once. They come in all sizes and varying colors so you can't go wrong with any of them. Check out this website for an awesome selection - Bluestem.

Butterfly Bush - another shrub that the deer have never touched. The blooms are heavily scented so they seem to stay away.

Daffodils - this is a legendary deer proof bulb. Now it's just up to you if you want to plant these yourself in the Fall. I don't know how high your lazy meter goes.

Boxwood - another shrub the deer detest and that is probably because these smell like a urinal puck if you get up close. Will look good if formal is your thang.

Iris - some may disagree but these have remained unscathed for the past few years and they are in major deer territory. The rabbits will nibble on it a bit though.

Russian Sage - the scented flowers and leaves must be the deterrent here because I have not had these touched ever.  And let's face it, this shrub is phenomenal.
 
Well, I wish you nothing but success with your gardening ventures and hopefully I've helped you a bit with a plan that can be put in place.

And one last tip before I forget, slow down on the Jameson.

Sincerely,
ONG       
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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Confessions of a serial transplanter

You know that feeling.

You just need to have something and will go to any lengths to get it. You cannot get it out of your head no matter how hard you try. Once you get it, all is right with the world; for that moment at least.

That is a misplaced plant for me. It eats at me. I see it while walking the dog or playing with the kids. It makes me doubt myself as a so called gardening enthusiast. It keeps me up at night and it creeps into my dreams. I ain't kidding either. Many decisions have been made based on a vision I've had while semi conscious.

Well, I got my fix early this morning and can say I am safely satiated for the moment. Here is the culprit:
That slow to mature, evil Holly 'Chesapeake' in the center along the back of the bed. It does nothing for that space and I've been stressing about moving it for a few weeks now. So, today was the day:

Don't let the door ...

What went in it's place you ask? Well ... see for yourself below:
It is a Physocarpus (Ninebark) 'Diablo'. And before you can say, "that will outgrow that spot dummy", I will hit you back with a "know it won't YOU dummy. I'll prune this down heavily each year to limit the growth. And  I don't really care about the flowers since it is the foliage that floats my boat".    

But there was more transplanting to be done. I also didn't like how the Northern Sea Oats were grouped together in front of the Ninebark:
And with the magic touch of a spade, we changed to this:
Minimal difference, yes, but it fed my addiction like feng shui in the veins.      

Now I am not your parent's transplanter. I throw caution to the wind, like doing this on a hot, humid and sunny day (all no no's), but I never forget the most important thing of all:
Nice slow drips of water right at the roots.

One other benefit of my over indulging in moving plants is finding these all the time:

So all in all I am happy with what was completed this morning and especially like the contrast the Ninebark offers to the surrounding plants, specifically the Hydrangea nearby:

And as for that creepy little Holly, last I saw of him, he was all laid up, roots exposed and left for dead, will have to let you know how that worked out;
         

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

My first video garden tour

In a world where there was nothing but chaos, one man stands alone with the ability to bring order to the people.     

How is that for a movie trailer?

The truth is, this video will probably put you to sleep, but I promised a video garden tour and dammit I am here to deliver on that promise. This is part one and if all fails, it will be the only one ever made available to the general public.

But, if you even enjoy an ounce of it, there will be more and hopefully each one will be better than the next. I haven't even watched it yet so apologies ahead of time if it blows chunks, but I didn't want to edit myself.     

The only way I could download it was to Facebook (don't ask, still learning the nuances of my camera and youtube). So without further ado, I present to you an original ONG production - click here and enjoy.

UPDATE - I have embedded the video at the top right of this page so you do not have to link to Facebook to watch it.


Gracias.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Weekend in Review

Today's entry is a big time first. The first post written while hung over. The 20th high school reunion was a smashing success but now I am paying the consequences for all the shenanigans. But more on that later.


Friday night  - we had a kick butt seasonal, fresh, summer dinner prepared by Mrs. ONG:
  • Cedar plank salmon with a brown sugar rub
  • Corn on da cob (NJ corn is off the charts)
  • Watermelon margarita - refreshing and effective 
  • Blueberry Mascarpone Ice Cream - the best ice cream EVER (from the Bent Spoon in Princeton)
Saturday - the HS reunion went down and it was a trip. I'll spare you all the gory details and give you some of the highlights:
  • Many more of the former classmates read the blog than I expected. Actually got into some good gardening conversations. I even threw a "blossom end rot" out there. 
  • I really wish I named my blog something simpler. Feels a bit silly spelling out the URL.
  • To some degree, the old high school cliques still exist. Very funny to observe.
  • People really don't change - that is both good and bad 
Sunday - up at 7:30 to bring my chum to Newark Airport. We maybe said three words to each other as we attempted to recover. Meanwhile, my family of hot air balloon hunters were up at the crack of dawn to see the taking off of a ton of balloons during the annual Central NJ balloon fest.




After a lazy, super hot and humid afternoon, we got hit with a mother of a storm and couldn't have been happier to get the much needed rain. I actually heard the tomatoes sigh with relief.
     
After the rain, I headed out to take some photos. Never a better time than after a rain in the early evening. And I will go back a bit on what I said in a prior post (shocker, huh?). There are a few macro shots in there that I couldn't resist. Enjoy:

Lobelia Siphilitica - just starting to bloom


    Clethra 'Hummingbird' bloom

Miscanthus 'Super Stripe' finally starting to take off

Crabapple right after the rain

Caryopteris 'Sunshine Blue' looking good.

Yeah tomatoes

Pruned back Nepeta (Catmint) already showing signs of re-bloom.

Hydrangea leaf

Think I like the Northern Sea Oats?

Good night and God bless.





Friday, July 23, 2010

Northern Sea Oats

Chasmanthium Latifolium , aka Northern Sea Oats, is fast becoming one of my favorite grasses and I've got close to a dozen planted throughout the yard. I've yet to see them through all four seasons but I am pumped to do just that this year. Some of my photos to date:    









Why I dig it so much:
  • She can handle the clay and even though it is a known heavy re-seeder, my non porous clay won't let that shit happen.
  • Unlike most grasses, she can handle a decent amount of shade which fits perfectly along the front of my house.
  • Personally, I like the brighter green color of the foliage which works well with other greens as sometimes the heavy green on green can be a tough sell.
  • The "oats" obviously give it a great Summer/Fall/Winter interest and look real cool with each passing breeze.
  • The oats can be dried and used in flower arrangements - not that I'll be doing that any day soon.
As we get further into the late Summer and Fall, here is what I expect the oats to mature to (you can link back to the original photos by clicking on the photos themselves - no copyright infringement here):       




So all you Southeastern peeps who want to steal these off the dunes at the beach but know that it is illegal as it helps stabilize the dunes, pick some of these up and get the same benefits.

Namaste

Thursday, July 22, 2010

I think I like to think too much

I returned last night from a three day business trip to Utica, New York and let me tell you, driving alone four hours each way gives you a lot of time to think.
 



A few years ago, on the same trip, I had written a screenplay, in my head, for a movie that had no audio so the audience had to interpret what really went down. I'm sure it has been done already, but if not, I still think it could be done in the hands of the right director.

Any hoo, this trip it was all about the blog, naturally, since it is my only real creative outlet. I tried to come up with original topics or a way to present common topics in a unique and comical way. I also couldn't get a comment that my brother-in-law made, out of my head.  He described my blog to my wife's elderly grandmother as "pornographic photos of plants". I laughed when I heard the comment and also realized, the dude is dead on. Like this "money shot":



My first thought was "do readers want the money shot with little plot, or do they prefer some plot so there is more payoff once the money shot is revealed." Sorry, I did just go there.

I've since learned that my photos tend to lean "macro". Close-up photos that reveal details which cannot be seen with the naked eye. These can be very cool and "artsy" but using too many can be a bit much. Plus, and most importantly, the best photos pull in all of the pieces of the garden so you can view the interplay of all the plants.


So, with that thought in mind, and nothing but time to over analyze while driving through the Catskills, here are the ideas I came up with:

  • It's about time to do a video walk around the yard chock full of  my inane comments.
  • More before and after posts, even if I've only moved one plant, and as you know, I transplant with the best of them.
  • Get down and technical and photograph it in gory detail. Like when I divide my Irises in the near future.
  • Have some of my friends/family send in "please help me" videos of their yards so I can then mock them, laugh and eventually provide valuable feedback. Plus, they'll believe anything I tell them.

And the one I am most excited and nervous about. I have registered to attend the Garden Writer's Association Annual Symposium in Dallas, Texas. Truth is, I don't belong there. It is a collection of the biggest and best in the business covering all topics associated with garden writing and all other forms of media. It also includes tours of some phenomenal gardens in the city. Normally, I'd say "no chance", but they have a mentor program for first time attendees and dammit, it is time to step out of the comfort zone.

My plan is to blog daily during the conference in "dear diary" fashion, including my own insecurities and "what am I doing here moments?" Should be good stuff.

That is all for today. Will be heading to my 20th High School Reunion this weekend which will definitely lend itself to fantastic blog fodder.

Oh yeah, one last thing. Like the new layout? Autumn too early? Let me know. 

Ciao                                   









I've since learned that up close photos of blooms   
       
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