Tour of the garden – 6/6/17

Today’s tour is less “Oh what a great combination” or “Wow, what a beautiful garden you’ve composed” or “I need to add that to my garden” and more “That’s a problem” or “Hmmm, interesting”.


I jumped the gun

If you recall, I complained in a recent post about the coloration of my Tsuga (Canadian hemlock) ‘Moon Frost’. The new growth was yellow and not bright white as advertised.

I should be smacked around for such a petty complaint and smacked around even more for my lack of patience. Check out ‘Moon Frost’ just a week and a half later.


That is what I’m talking about!

Lesson learned: Be patient and then be even more patient when it comes to plant development.

I’m a sucker

I’m totally enamored with the shrub Sorbaria sorbifolia ‘Sem’ (I’m such a pompous ass for calling it that, let’s go with False Spirea ‘Sem’). The foliage color and leaf shape gives it such a presence in my overly green garden.

I posted a similar photo on Instagram and a thoughtful “follower” warned me of its desire to sucker like a champ.

Wouldn’t you know it, it didn’t take very long to come to fruition.

I have two of these in an area where they can fill in to their heart’s content but I’ll have to see how it all looks once the suckering kicks into high gear.

I couldn’t “bare” to show you

I don’t know that I’ve ever referenced my Serviceberry ‘Autumn Brilliance’ in a blog post. That has been intentional since it has been a big disappointment ever since it was planted back in 2011.

Here it is today, very top heavy in terms of foliage.

A lot of bare branches …

And don’t get me started on the flowers (little impact), the berries (virtually none) and the fall color (leaves don’t last beyond September). It has been let down city.

But … there may be happiness on the horizon.

I just noticed today that it is producing new branches with actual leaves from its base. I don’t need this to look like a tree. I just want leaves and foliage.

Close but no cigar

For the past two years, I’ve seen major re-seeding of Penstemon ‘Husker Red’ in my garden. New plants are popping up everywhere in spring now that I’ve refrained from cutting off the flowers and allowing the seeds to spread. I found that the flowers took away from the real selling point of this perennial, the dark foliage, so I’d chop them off as soon as they emerged. I’ve since changed my mind realizing the bees love the flowers and who can deny bees pleasure.

Upon closer inspection, it’s clear that the new seedlings do not match up perfectly in terms of size, color and leaf shape with the parent ‘Husker Red’.

Below, the plant on the left is a new seedling and the one on the right is the original plant.

The seedling is taller, not as dark in color and the leaves are larger.

The “original” ‘Husker Red’.

Hmmm, interesting.

My apple tree knowledge is rusty

Oh shit.

I’ll need some time to research which rust this is, but the color terrifies me already. My apple trees are still juvenile but I don’t want to see them fail so soon.

That was fast

Exactly one year ago, I divided a bunch of Physostegia (Obedient plant) ‘Vivid’ and used it to fill in a bare area of the garden.

Mission accomplished quickly, check out the front of this bed.

If at first you succeed, do that same thing again.


This hurts. How did we get here?


Always thinking and planning

I was shocked to find this one Astilbe alive and well. I planted three of them last summer and allowed them to burn to a crisp. I gave up hope this spring only to discover this gift this morning.

Light bulb moment: since there is only this one Astilbe and I have room in this newly developing shade container. Hmm.

More is good

One theme of my garden planning this spring has been massing plants where I can. With a large garden, massing is necessary to keep things in balance and to maximize impact. With that in mind, I bunched all of my Lady’s Mantle together and I’m thrilled with the results.

The supply is running out

I’ve been cutting peony blooms at a rapid pace this past week so they can be enjoyed indoors and not droop to the ground with our excessive rain. I’ve supplied my wife with endless flowers that she is proudly displaying at her place of work. To say that her co-workers have … wait for it … wait for it … wait for it … peony envy is an understatement.

Unfortunately, that supply is dwindling.

Do I have to?

Dividing an ornamental grass is no easy task, but it is time to do so with my Miscanthus ‘Morning Light’. The centers of all three grasses are empty …

… and they all look spent and in need of some rejuvenation.

Understanding my priorities

Our insane dog gets loose at least once a week. When she does so she is gone for like 45 minutes and we have no chance of catching her. She eventually returns soaking wet, bleeding from her eyelids and covered in ticks. Fun.

We do our best to track her down to ensure she isn’t running in traffic or starting a brawl with the local coyotes.

Today I just want you all to know that I willingly ran over an ornamental grass in order to quickly initiate the hunt this past week via car.

I know my priorities.

She’ll bounce back.

The grass that is.

15 thoughts on “Tour of the garden – 6/6/17

  1. Felicia

    Always fun to read what you’re up to in the garden. I put a Whistle tracker on my dog’s collar which allows me to use my smart phone to track where he is so I can find him. Worth every penny and I highly recommend it.

    1. jmarkowski Post author

      Great idea Felicia! She literally almost got away again a few minutes ago. She is so stealth and fast. I’m heading to Amazon to check it out now.

  2. kate

    The apple tree has cedar apple rust. Your serviceberry is prone to it too. Probably won’t damage the trees, just looks awful for awhile. Eastern red cedars carry the fungus.

    As for the leggy serviceberry, it’s an invitation to plant shrubs at the base, something that likes a little shade. Create some layers…

    The Tsuga is lovely!

    1. jmarkowski Post author

      Thanks Kate! Any recommendations to proactively treat it? This is my first go round with fruit trees.

      1. Kate

        I wouldn’t worry too much about it. Nothing you can do now at any rate. Here’s some info: This is the stuff you really want to know about: An old friend, Mike Glenn, first developed it for the USDA. It’s now marketed as Surround. Won’t touch the apple rust, but you’ll have bigger problems with the insects listed here. Good luck!

  3. Linda O'Connell

    I love ‘Sems’. They are the plant that keeps on giving. When a sucker gets a little bigger, I move it to another bed. Mine are much shorter and fatter than yours, though, and of our three original plants, curiously, only one suckers.
    Lately while gardening I’ve been listening to garden podcasts ( yes, I’m that much of a nerd) and yours was the first that I came across. However, they’re from 2014. Did you stop doing them after that? I want more!
    Thanks, Linda

    1. jmarkowski Post author

      Linda – nice to hear someone else likes ‘Sem’. I look forward to the suckering and taking advantage of it. I did stop doing the podcasts and still regret it. I don’t know if I was very good at it, even though I was able to get some really great guests along the way. Would love to get back in and really work at improving. We’ll see. Thanks for listening!!

  4. Barb K

    I wonder if your Amelanchier has verticillium wilt. The growth habit, poor fruiting and lack of fall color/leaves are signs of infection if a plant isn’t killed outright. I have it in my garden and have learned to recognize poor performance as another possible infection. Your grasses and conifers are immune of course. A while back you complained about your Actaea (cimicifuga) and showed a picture of the dried leaves when it should have been blooming. That’s what mine look like, and they never bloom. So I wonder. Thanks for the interesting post!

    1. jmarkowski Post author

      I’ll have to look closer Barb as that may be the cause. I will never give up on it because I know how impactful it can be when it looks healthy and is thriving.

    1. jmarkowski Post author

      Great to hear Polly! It really looks great this spring as the deer finally left it alone. Best of luck if you get it!

  5. Joshua Weber

    Hi John,
    For the Miscanthus ‘Morning Light’ die-out, I now simply divide them. Sometimes planting them a bit deeper. Previously, I would burn the deadwood back on a hot spring day.
    Good luck!


  6. Glory Lennon

    my obedient plant–or I should say invasion!– can NOT be contained. I can’t yank them out quick enough before they spread somewhere else in the garden. I wish you better luck with yours.

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