Friday, April 29, 2011

Yes, I'm over analyzing again

Some times all it takes to get me fixated on a gardening "item" is a walk to the car in the morning. Or taking the dog out at night. Or taking the garbage out to the curb. It is fun and maddening at the same time. Sort of like garden design OCD.

Here are a few of those "items" that I'm obsessing over today:

I love the foliage color on the Carex 'Cappuccino' (many will disagree). This grass fits the required criteria of handling the wet clay soil, being deer resistant and providing multi seasonal interest. The struggle is with what to pair it with:


Right now, if I could only choose one plant to use in the landscape, it would be any cultivar of Calamagrostis (Feather Reed Grass). The rapid foliage growth on this cool season grass is tremendous, as is it's shape, as is it's "early for a grass" bloom time of July. I am now hunting obsessively for every possible variety that exists (the photo below is 'El Dorado'). Can I have too many of these? Do I like them in mass plantings? Or just as a specimen?:


Spirea 'Goldmound' looks great as the foliage emerges early in the spring. The chartreuse/yellow color is a great color contrast against plants with red/purple/green foliage. The problem is that I actually do not like the pink blooms and I find that the foliage color fades to an OK yellow later in the season. I can't just chuck it in the compost pile so I need to locate them to a better location. Give them more shade and sheer the flowers off immediately? Hmm ...      

Only three garden dilemmas for today. I've spared you a bit.  

I did, however want to leave you with a photo I think is rad as hell. It really proves the point to take as many photos as possible, from all angles, with all different light exposures and then review them all when you're done. You never know what you will end up with:           

Have a great weekend!
John

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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Have I bored you yet?

I think I'm really pushing the limits of uninteresting today.

My apologies ahead of time for providing weak content.

Consider yourself warned.

Today's post is a mixed bag of odds and ends from yet another self guided tour around the yard. As we all know, dramatic changes occur daily outside in garden-land this time of year. Here is what I found during my most recent trek.  

"Leaves of three, leave them be." Now I know where I got attacked from when I had poison ivy two weeks ago. It is growing right in the middle of one of my Russian Sage plants. The RS has already been cut down so no need to travel back here any time soon.

I have taken so many different photos of the robins this spring and here is yet another one. These little guys are fatter than I've ever seen before and seem to have no fear no matter how close I get to them. They have me thinking maybe I have special powers and that maybe I'm the "bird whisperer". After I snapped this shot, I whistled some odd sound and encouraged him to land on my hand. It failed, but I still believe we have a unique bird/human relationship. More to come ...    


A few weeks ago, I wrote about pruning my Weigela 'Wine and Roses' and I just saw the first signs of growth on the severely pruned shrub. If the foliage remains as dark as it looks now, color me mucho happy.

As patient as I've been this spring (sarcasm intended) waiting for new growth on the perennials, the Amsonia started to worry me. Well, I'm thrilled to see the new growth emerge even as it swam in the melted snow and rain water the past few months. 

I think Hypericum 'Albury Purple' is a way under utilized small shrub because of it's fantastic foliage color and that color has emerged like mad the past few days. Throw in the yellow flowers and berries and you've got yourself one versatile shrub.

New growth on the Dwarf Alberta Spruce - riveting stuff, huh?

Hydrangeas are showing signs of life - told you this wasn't going to be super exciting.


Years ago, I gave on tulips in the ground and started overwintering them in containers in my garage. These are a super bright orange and I cannot wait to see the blooms. Amazing what a good draining soil and protection from the creatures will do.  

And finally, a photo that sums up the condition of the yard right now. Can you say "bog gardens"?


John
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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Mingling of the plants

I truly enjoy discovering signs of new growth on all of my plants each spring. You may even call it obsessive. But after another nasty winter, it is confirmation that we've survived yet again and all will "be OK". I approach it like detective work and get all fired up to find even a single leaf sprouting underneath dead foliage (which of course explains all of the photos you've seen here over the past month or so).

Well, I'm ready to move on to the next phase in my spring ventures outdoors. Foliage growth has exploded over the past week or so and blooms have quietly emerged as well. I like to think of this phase as "initial interplay amongst the plants and rocks." Yes, I need to work on that phase name and come up with something a bit more catchy but this will have to work for now.

While I love my trees, my shrubs, my bulbs and my perennials on their own, it is how they mix and match with each other that really inspires. That interplay changes from season to season and even from week to week and I can't get enough of it. So without further ado, I give you the photos I've taken over the past few days that show the first mingling of my plant friends:

Sedum 'Red Carpet' and Spirea 'Little Elf'. The contrast in foliage shape and color works and I could care less if either ever blooms:


Heuchera 'Black Out' in front of Summer Snowflake bulbs. Once the blooms are finished on the bulbs and the foliage starts to decline, the Heuchera foliage will hide the ugliness:


Arborvitae and Viburnum 'Shoshoni'. I love the contrast in foliage shape and how the color on the tips of the Arborvitae stands out upon closer inspection:


I am lucky (won't hear that from me very much when it comes to the landscape conditions) to have unearthed a ton of unique rocks over the past few years. They are stellar counterparts to all of the plants because of their different texture. Here are some of those rocks and the emerging plants:





Astilbe foliage and Yucca 'Golden Sword': 


Newly blooming Ajuga 'Chocolate Chip' and Japanese Boxwood. Truthfully, this combination looks best after the Ajuga's have bloomed and their darker foliage appears:  

I'll now go back and try to come up with a better name for this phase or maybe you have a better one?

John
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Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter weekend

A sugar rush can be defined as :

The elevated energy level people have when they eat a lot of sugary products which is similar to the crazy, energetic behavior people get when they are taking illegal drugs.

Thank you Wiki Answers for that description. I had the pleasure of dealing with two of these type junkies this past weekend:

As with all photos, you don't see the effort that went into setting up the shot. Trust me when I say it was like trying to herd cattle on ice skates.

But let me back track a bit.

We started the annual egg dying on Friday night and the kids were way into it:


Ever since I was a kid, I never really enjoyed this traditional event. Maybe it's because I haven't got an artistic bone in my body. Seriously, I am atrocious. Want proof? I allowed myself to decorate only one egg and honestly, put in a full effort. Here is the masterpiece:      

Don't ask. I had good intentions and as usual, it all went wrong. I have also passed on this lack of artistry to my son. Here's his best egg:

At least he knows to lower the expectations so you don't expect any more from him.

Sunday morning arrived and the kids found all the hidden Easter eggs and found their hidden baskets:    


And for one day, we let them have free reign over all of their candy. Truth is, they were sugar junkies starting on Friday and it never let up all the way through Sunday night. We're still reeling from their insane energy and mood swings but we're happy to have made it through another year.

We had warm weather and some sunshine on Sunday, and because that is as common as a good Jennifer Aniston movie (which we all need to discuss at a later date), I had to get outside and see what was going down. Here's what I discovered:

The first daffodil (Mt Hood) bloom of the year   


The Viburnum 'Aurora' blooms are just about ready to emerge


The Leucojum (Spring Snowflakes) blooms are here and not a moment too soon 

The phlox subulata (creeping phlox) are about ready to burst and form a perfect carpet of purple deliciousness 



More purple/blue action with the blooms on the Ajuga 'Chocolate Chip'


Even spotted the NJ state bird, the goldfinch (at least I believe that is what it is)  


And spotted the ugliest creature known to man - the turkey vulture - chowing down on a deer carcass whenever there were no cars around 


A nasty storm then rolled in (real shocker)  


But the resulting rainbow was pretty awesome

All in all, a great weekend and I look forward to the new week and secretly disposing of all the candy without the kids even knowing it.

John  
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