Category: Blooms

Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day – August 2017

It’s good to be back after a week’s vacation down south with the family. If you care to read about our 13-hour car ride to South Carolina, you can check it out here:

A 13-hour car ride with the family  

Or if you share my obsession with people watching in the ocean, check this out:

The ocean is the great equalizer

I was also super excited to read this review of my book:

John Markowski’s book finds a place in my garden

No more self-promotion, I swear.

In terms of the garden, things are looking eh; a little worn out and beaten up from all of the rain this past week.

I’ve missed Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day for a months running but fortunately remembered it for today. Before diving into my garden pics, here are a few other GBBD posts from some of my friends around the country.

May Dreams Gardens

Hayefield

The Outlaw Gardener

The Rainy Day Gardener

On to my humble lot:

A little Lobelia love

Lobelia cardinalis ‘Black Truffle’

 

Lobelia gerardii ‘Vedrariensis’

 

Lobelia siphilitica

Grasses flower too

Micanthus purpurascens (Flame Grass) in front. Panicum ‘Heavy Metal’ in back.

 

Panicum ‘Rotstrahlbusch’

 

Panicum ‘Northwind’

 

Blooms of Molinia ‘Cordoba’

Still going strong

Eupatorium (Joe Pye Weed) ‘Gateway’

 

Eupatorium (Joe Pye Weed) ‘Phantom’

 

Rudbeckia (Black Eyed Susan)

 

Allium ‘Mt. Sinai’

Newly emerging

Helenium (Sneezeweed) ‘Mariachi Series’

 

Boltonia (False Aster) ‘Pink Beauty’

 

Rose of Sharon through the lens of an ornamental grass

 

Sedum (Stonecrop) ‘Autumn Fire’

Fading

Monarda (Bee Balm)

 

Echinacea (Coneflower) ‘Fragrant Angel’

 

Astilbe and Echinacea (Coneflower) ‘Sunset’

 

Veronica (Speedwell) ‘Royal Candles’

 

Perovskia (Russian Sage)

Hydrangeas

 

 

The latest and not always greatest in the garden

Some observations from out in the garden:

This white bee balm is the only one to have survived last winter and while it is nice to see it blooming, it honestly doesn’t do much for me and the powdery mildew is real bad, worse than with all of the other bee balm. We don’t know until we try, right?

white bee balm

 

Right plant for the right location = happiness, as seen with the Physostegia (Obedient Plant) below. This first photo was taken back in May when I dug up and divided a massive batch of these and relocated them to my newly extended and very empty garden bed.

divided obedient

Two months later and they are thriving in a very wet and full sun location. I am very psyched for the massive pink display to arrive next month.

obedient vivid

 

You’ve all seen all of my numerous pics of Veronica ‘Royal Candles’ and read my raving reviews of this perennial but in the spirit of my last post and with full disclosure, here is the reality of the “legs” on these right now.

veronica bad

Fortunately, I’ve shielded most of them with other low lying plants so the blooms remain the attraction.

veronica good

 

I love how one ‘Karl Foerster’ grass (Calamagrostis) can break up a mass of perennials and not only lend a different height/uprightness, but a different texture as well.

front bed

 

I cleared this area of nasty Canada Thistle by cutting them all at soil level and not by attempting to pull out the roots like a dope which has failed me miserably for years now since it actually multiplies the number of weeds when pieces of root break off.

thistle path

I will now finally track the results properly. Here is one example of the cutting.

thistle cut

And about one week later. I’m going to now cut it back again soon and will continue to do so until it kills itself by sapping all of the plant’s energy. Or so I hope. More to come.

thistle

 

I just purchased a few ‘Delft Lace’ Astilbes solely because I fell in love with the red stems and red tinged foliage. I’ll be sure to track this one for you and hopefully I don’t fry them since you know, they need constant moisture and it is the dead of summer. Smart.

delft astilbe

 

My attempt at a path with a true destination worth visiting.

 

These purplish bee balm are incredible right now and are my favorite current place in the garden. 

planter bed 2

 

planter bed

 

bee balm 2

They are bringing in a ton of visitors. 

hummingmoth 2

 

butterfly bee balm 2

 

Check out all of the action with this video.

QOTD – Where do you purchase most of your plants? And I want specific names and locations please.

Thank you.

 

Eye Candy

As we come out of the long Memorial Day weekend and into the work week, I’m going to keep the positive vibes rolling and share some of my favorite garden pics from the weekend. With all of the rain we’ve had this spring and now with the hot temps, everything seemed to explode and this guy ain’t complaining one bit. This is why we bust our asses in the fall/winter/spring planning and planting and prepping and moving things around until they are in that perfect location; for these types of displays of color and all around awesomeness.

Enjoy.

Peony ‘Bowl of Beauty’ kicks ass year after year and the blooms rarely fall over like so many other peonies. I have more impending blooms this year than I’ve had in years. Go me.

peony

 

peony 2

 

peony 3

 

Still not sure which white cultivar this is but who cares when they look this good.

white peony

 

My Baptisia are in full bloom and I have to forcibly stop myself from taking any more photos.

baptisia

 

baptisia 2

 

baptisia 3

 

clematis

 

baptisia 4

 

Even after the Allium are spent and technically no longer in bloom, they still look phenomenal and lend so much to the garden view from so many angles.

front

 

front 3

 

front 2

 

Baptisia ‘Carolina Moon’ in full bloom and standing tall among the other soon to be blooming perennials and exceedingly fast growing ornamental grasses.

baptisia back

 

Amsonia ‘Blue Ice’ adding so more color to this vignette of daylillies and Penstemon ‘Husker’s Red’.

amsonia blue ice

 

I honestly have no idea how this Siberian iris showed up underneath this Nepeta (Catmint) but hot damn if it doesn’t work. I should have lied and told you I planned it, but my street garden cred is too important to me.

iris catmint

 

Carex grayi has become a fantastic edging plant for me, loving the constant moisture, and when the seed heads emerge, it takes them to the next level. And by the way, that next level is called “Ass kicking” if you weren’t already aware.

carex grayii

 

Ho hum, Amsonia still blooming. Quick note – If you haven’t been here before, that “ho hum” was sarcastic. Just enter “amsonia” in the search box and you’ll see why.

amsonia

Question of the day – What newly blooming plant in your garden has you the most impressed this spring? Please leave your response as a comment and let’s chat things up!

 

 

An update on my garden

Some quick thoughts on some of the plants in my garden:

Loving the deep red color of Penstemon ‘Husker’s Red’ right now but can do without the blooms. I usually cut them off early in hopes of preserving the foliage color into summer. Will do so again this year.

salix penstemon

 

It may be time to give up on Ligularia ‘Britt Marie Crawford’ as it declines rapidly by summer and as you can see here, never displays that dark foliage color as promised. It gets the necessary afternoon shade and moisture is never an issue.

Ligularia britt marie crawford

 

I cannot get enough of Juniper ‘Gold Cone’, especially when the new growth emerges and really brightens up the shrub/tree in spring. No deer issues, doesn’t seem to be bothered by the poor draining soil and has retained it’s great color through two full years now.

juniper gold cone

 

For some reason I get more pumped for the return of Joe Pye Weed than I do for any other perennial. I have so many different cultivars and have lost track of what I have planted where. Such a reliable performer and stand-out in all ways possible.

joe pye

 

I wish peonies remained forever in bud. The anticipation blows away the actual blooms which say goodbye way too soon each year.

peony

 

I finally added a trellis to the garden so my one Clematis can climb aboard. The only blooms so far are along the ground so hopefully I’ll get a shot of the vine actually climbing the trellis with blooms aplenty. Then I’ll be awesome.

clematis

 

The Allium are coming. And I added a lot this year. Sigh …

allium

One flower, one foliage and one fail

THE FLOWER – nothing carries a more powerful scent in the garden right now than the flowers of Viburnum carlesii ‘Aurora’ (Koreanspice viburnum). When people knock at my door, I take my time answering just so I can watch their nose twitch a bit, see them turn around and try to locate the origin of the smell and then eventually ask “What smells so good out here?” 

viburnum aurora

 

THE FOLIAGE – This is my first year with Sambucus racemosa ‘Lemony Lace’ (Elderberry) planted in the garden (was in a container last year) and it was the quickest of all the deciduous shrubs to emerge this spring. I’m in love with it even at only a foot in height right now.

elderberrry

 

THE FAIL – The Eastern Tent Caterpillars are back on the Crabapple tree for a second consecutive year. Last year I simply slashed open the “nests” and let the birds have their way with the caterpillars and the tree seemed unaffected by it all. Will do more of the same this year.

bag of bugs

Plants I’m bullish on this year

Here are 9 plants I’m hoping show big improvement this spring/summer over how they performed in my garden last year. 8 are relative newcomers, 1-3 years in the ground, so time alone should aid their jump in prominence. And 1 has been around my parts forever but only last year managed to avoid the wrath of the deer herd. Here’s hoping this is a new trend.

Coneflower ‘Sunrise’: Full disclosure – I’ve moved this three times in three years. And to the shock of no one, it finally bloomed last summer after a full year in its current spot. The flowers arrived later than all of the other coneflowers (late July) but that is OK. I expect taller and fuller plants this year, assuming the itch to move them is fought off successfully.

h

sunshine-cone-flower

 

Abelia ‘Bronze Anniversary’ – Another oft moved shrub but one where I’m happy with its current destination. I love the golden leaf color, especially in partial shade and especially in spring as the foliage emerges, but I can do without the clashing white blooms. In fact, the plan is to immediately remove the flowers for fear of ridicule from the neighbors.

d5

abelia

 

Daylily ‘Little Grapette’ – This is the oldie I referenced above that always suffered at the hands of the deer in summer. For whatever reason (my intimidation factor?), they were ignored last year. While I’m not a big daylily guy, I do like how these combine with other dark leaved plants (As seen with Penstemon ‘Husker’s Red’) below.

d17

c9

c10

 

Ninebark ‘Amber Jubilee’ – No, not an exotic dancer or My Little Pony character, but the best foliage color of any plant I own. But as you can see in the second photo below, the deer get it each winter and in effect, prune it back hard for me which ultimately compromises the size of this shrub. If I can remember to defend her better this year, the sky is the limit. Remember though, “remembering” is not a strong suit of mine.

ninebark amber jubilee 2

ninebark amber jubilee

 

Allium azureum – I blew it with this one. I mistook these for wild onions and yanked them out without much thought last spring. This is the only one that actually bloomed. Luckily for me I was lazy when pulling them so the bulbs remained in tact. No such error will be made this spring.

allium blue

 

Peony ‘unknown other than it is white’ – This is as good of a lock as any. First flowers appeared last spring after two years in the ground and we all know that the peony is indestructible once established.

white peony

peony white

 

Baptisia ‘ Carolina Moon’ – Based on the success I’ve had with my other Baptisia plants, I’m counting on this one to fall right in line. Big, big things this year from this one. I cannot wait to photograph it and share it with you all.

baptisia carolina moon

baptisia lilac

baptisia carolina moon

 

Clematis – This appeared out of nowhere last year after I stuck it in the ground and completely forgot about it. There appears to be new growth this spring so I remain optimistic for a repeat showing. And this time, I’ll even use a real trellis to maximize the show.

clematis

clematis 2

 

And last but not least, the fickle …

Cimicifuga ‘Brunette’ – For three consecutive years, this perennial has looked great in spring only to fall apart when the weather really heats up and when it attempts to bloom. I’ve stayed on top of the watering and it, along with its 7 other siblings (I’m way invested at this point) get plenty of afternoon shade. The pessimist in me says, “wrong plant for you John” while the optimist says, “give it time to get established”.

Cheers to optimism.

bugbane

 

 

 

Good times

This is a great time of year, even if there is a threat of snow this weekend here in New Jersey. A few bulbs have quietly bloomed, baseball is inching closer to meaningful games and that little juggernaut known as March Madness has arrived.

This past week, I finally took the plunge and bought myself a telephoto lens for my Nikon 5200 (this one). I’ve been threatening to do so for a long time so I could capture the kids in action during baseball/softball and so I could also grab some better pics of the wildlife in my backyard (like this guy who is aiding in our fight against PennEast). I am very excited to experiment and up my photography cred.

I’m not a “read the instructions guy” so there will be a lot of trial and error with this new lens in my arsenal. And that trial and error began yesterday with the few aforementioned blooms in the Markowski garden. I’ve always relied on the macro lens for my garden pics and it’s done me well. But now I’m ready to expand my horizons to see what the telephoto lens has to offer.

So first we took a photo of some Crocus blooms using the macro lens:

crocus

And then from a greater distance using the telephoto lens:

crocus 3

On to the newly emerging Daffodil blooms. First the macro lens:

daffodil 2

And then further away with the telephoto lens:

daffodil

I’ve got a lot to learn, but a lot to experiment with over the next few months and I look forward to blowing all of your minds with my new found camera skills. Feel free to critique at will.

Beyond the new blooms from the Crocus and Daffodil bulbs, there are other signs that spring has arrived. Here is one of the few Viburnum buds that the deer left alone this winter:

viburnum bud

And an Allium that arrived just yesterday:

allium emerging

And finally the arrival of the Summer Snowflake bulbs:

bulbs

Good times indeed.

One final note. While I may skip out on the college basketball season November through February, I make up for it with my excitement during NCAA March Madness. I’ve been known to fill out a bracket or eight and this year the entire family is in on it. If by chance the University of Virginia manages to win the entire thing, just know there will be a big bash and you are all invited.

Have a great weekend.

 

 

Winter garden appreciation

I despise the cold weather and it is getting worse and worse as I get older.

I hate the snow and I do not find it to be the least bit “cozy”. It physically hurts my eyes to even glance at it.

I don’t ski and find sledding to be way overrated.

But even after having said all that, I have come to appreciate the winter garden. It is a reminder of what was, a chance to rest and recharge and at the same time, a promise of what is to come.

I recently put on my big boy pants and a warm jacket, and set out to capture just some of the plants in the winter garden. After reviewing all of the photos I had taken, I realized that I had similar shots of those same plants during the spring and summer. So as a means of contrast, I’ve included the most current pic and then one from earlier when it warm and delicious outdoors.

Enjoy.

Tropical milkweed, which is an annual and one that reseeded for me this past year.

milkweed winter

milkweed

 

Eupatorium ‘Wayside’ which looks like the annual Ageratum but is truly a perennial.

winter garden

wayside

 

A combo of Bee Balm, Joe Pye Weed and Clethra ‘Hummingbird’.

winter garden

h18

 

Juniper ‘Wichita Blue’, Bee Balm and Panicum ‘Rots’.

winter garden

h13

 

Salix ‘Hakuro Nishiki’ (Dappled Willow) with its awesome stem colors.

salix winter stems

salix

 

Amsonia tabernaemontana looking cool and curly. Still a personal favorite of mine during all seasons.

amsonia winter

amsonia2

 

I love the dried seed capsules of Baptisia and admittedly have yet to explore how to save the seeds. That is what winter is all about, research and reading.

baptisia seed capsules 2

moth baptisia

 

Sedum ‘Red Carpet’ peeking through what little snow we have right now.

red carpet winter

sedum

 

And old reliable, the Purple Coneflower. I always enjoy watching the finches pay a visit and feast on the seedheads.

coneflower winter

h23

 

Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day – September 2015

Today I will take a back seat and allow the photos to do all of the talking for me.

I know you all visit here for my sick wordsmithing skills but you’ll just have to wait for another day.

Because if I write too much it distracts from the purpose of today’s post.

And that would be a travesty since the 15th of each month is dedicated to all that is blooming in our gardens.

Some times we just want to see beautiful photos and bypass all of those silly words that  get in the way.

So with than in mind, I won’t write a thing today.

Because, you know, I care.

Truly I do.

Like, a lot.

sneezeweed

Helenium autumnale (Sneezeweed)

 

sneezeweed mariachi 2 - Copy

Helenium (Sneezeweed) Mariachi Series

 

sneezeweed mariachi

Helenium (Sneezeweed) Mariachi Series

 

veronica - Copy

Veronica ‘Royal Candles’

 

sedum autumn fire

Sedum ‘Autumn Fire’

 

sedum autumn fire blooms

Sedum ‘Autumn Fire’

 

boltonia

Boltonia

 

boltonia 2

Boltonia

 

pink obedient 5

Physostegia (Obedient Plant) ‘Vivid’

 

obedient

Physostegia (Obedient Plant) ‘Vivid’

 

wayside

Eupatorium (Hardy Ageratum) ‘Wayside’

 

wayside 2

Eupatorium (Hardy Ageratum) ‘Wayside’

 

indian panicum joe pye

Spent Joe Pye Weed blooms in front, Panicum (Switch Grass) ‘Rots’ and Sorghastrum (Indian Grass) in back from left to right.

 

miscanthus blooms

Miscanthus (Flame Grass) blooms

 

grass blooms

A plethora of ornamental grass blooms

 

panicum blooms

Panicum (Switch Grass) blooms

 

abelia - Copy

First blooms ever on Abelia ‘Golden Anniversary’

 

bee balm

Lone surviving Monarda (Bee Balm) bloom

 

achillea grapefruit

Lone surviving Achillea (Yarrow) ‘Grapefruit’ bloom