Tag Archives: allium

Garden optimism

A break from all of the baseball posts today.

Our trip down south unfortunately has come to an end. I now turn my attention from photographing athletes throwing a ball to photographing all signs of green that are popping up all over my garden.

And for the sake of a smooth transition, I like to think that I went from the promise of a new baseball season where all teams still think they can win it all, to the promise of a new season in my garden.

No weeds to deal with yet.

I like to think every plant in my garden will have survived the winter and will perform better than last year.

Optimism still exists.

So far, all of the Sedum plants appear to be intact.

 

And an endless number of daffodils have announced their presence.

 

 

The new irises I added last year (‘Wow Factor’) are ready to go and I cannot wait to share these killer blooms with you all.

 

But the plant I am most excited to see return is Allium ‘Globemaster’.

This is the first year, knock on wood, that it has returned for a repeat performance and that has me all sorts of giddy.

One last note:

Thank you all for your feedback/comments on the book I have in the works. I am putting all of your comments in motion and hope to share a sample chapter or two with you in the very near future.

 

 

Dynamic

My wife and I managed to score a few free hours this past Saturday morning before the never ending softball cycle kicked into high gear. We spent it touring a few gardens as part of an organized local garden tour. It was warm and sunny and I was ready to get my booty inspired and steal some ideas from these extravagant and lush gardens.

Spoiler alert: It didn’t happen.

I won’t go into any specifics and call out any particular gardens, but I left the tour completely uninspired. We didn’t spend more than 10 minutes at any of the gardens we visited. I wanted to see “gardens” and all we really saw were exquisitely landscaped properties.

I appreciate a nice bed line as much as the next guy and understand the importance of mulch, but when they become the star attraction, color me bored and uninterested. Listen, I have my share of what is often considered to be a “boring” and landscaper friendly shrub like a spirea, but when they dominate the garden, I’m out. A garden needs a certain level of messiness and a “Wow, what is that plant?” feel in order to pull me in and none of these gardens provided that vibe.

If I had to sum it up in one word, I want my garden to be dynamic. It needs to feel like it has a life of its own, that it changes on a daily basis, that while one perennial is putting on its last flush of blooms, another is ready to take its place. I want movement with the wind. I want flower petals on the ground next to a shrub with flowers that are about to pop. I want to sense that the gardener struggled to pull all it all together and still has work to do.

While I have light years to go to achieve a level of dynamic that is most likely impossible in this lifetime, it is what makes me most proud of my garden today. It is what drives all of my garden design decisions. It is what keeps me up at night. It is the reason I tour the garden each and every morning knowing I’ve going to witness something new. All the mulch in the world can’t compete with two perennials that entwine in a perfect match of contrast and similarity.

With that in mind, my garden as it stands today and how it is acting all dynamic and shit.

The ‘Bowl of Beauty’ peony is still putting out fresh blooms each morning.

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But time is quickly running out with these daily reminders.

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peony

 

Even after the blooms have disappeared or faded, the Allium are still lending an incredible visual in tune with the rest of the garden in its path.

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It is always around this time each year when the ornamental grasses subtly announce their presence. And when they do, it seems to tie the entire garden together.

driveway garden

 

miscanthus variegatus

 

Some of the grasses have even begun to reveal their multi colored highlights, even more pronounced covered in raindrops.

panicum rots

 

My Itea ‘Henry’s Garnet’ are blooming and while we all know they dominate the most in autumn with their garnet fall color, I still think the blooms are underrated.

itea

Back to another question of the day and thank you to all of you who have responded to date. You are providing great info for all of us.

QOTD – What would you consider to be the most dynamic plant in your garden today and why?

Leave a comment with your response.

Grats.

 

 

 

 

 

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.

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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!

 

 

Allium love, a new holiday and introducing “Question of the Day”

Here is the latest and greatest in my garden on this, dare I say, warm and beautiful May afternoon.

It’s all about the Allium right now, as the fruits of my fall labor are being realized this spring. I’ve got at least 25 Allium bulbs in bloom right now and they are kicking ass and taking names.

They look good up close.

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And as we pan back …

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… and back even further.

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Baptisia blooms have arrived this week and I’m thinking this day should be declared a holiday each year. That is how festive it makes me feel. At a minimum, I’m going to push for #NationalBaptisiaDay on Twitter leading up to this day in 2017.

baptisia

baptisia yellow

Baptisia ‘Carolina Moon’

 

Siberian iris ‘Snow Queen’ is blooming but I’m only giving you a macros shot because they actually look kind of lousy because this lazy gardener has refused to divide them for four years running now.

iris

 

Amsonia tabernaemontana is blooming and that’s all I will say here because I’ve raved about this plant enough already.

amsonia

 

All of my peonies will be blooming within the next week or so and until then, I’ll enjoy the ridiculously delicious scent of the lilac in the background.

peony lilac

 

Another day, another sigh from me regarding the awesomeness of Ninebark ‘Amber Jubilee’.

ninebark

 

And finally, it’s time to sit back and enjoy watching the garden fill in while all empty spaces disappear.

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Thank you again for stopping by.

I am going to try something new today. A “Question of The Day”. Here it is:

What perennial do you find to be the most underrated?

Leave your answer in the comments so we can all discuss and get educated.

Grats

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

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.

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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.

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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.

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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

 

 

 

Allium Drumsticks (Ornamental Onion)

I may have been late to the Allium party, but I am definitely making up for lost time. Over the past 3 years, I’ve added at least 6 new Allium (ornamental onion) species/cultivars/varieties to my garden. The deer never touch them and they add a sweet pop of color throughout the spring and summer months. For today’s purposes, let’s chat a bit about Allium Drumsticks.

allium drumsticks

I added this bulb in fall of 2014 and within one year it is already kicking some major ass. I planted a lot of 15 of these in close proximity to each other and could not have been more thrilled with the results.

Starting in early summer, Allium Drumsticks buds started to transform from a green to a reddish purple color.

allium drumsticks

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As the first wave of blooms on the bee balm (in the background) started to fade, Allium Drumsticks took over as seen below.

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And the bees waste no time locating the blooms.

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Within a week or two, they were in full egg-like bloom.

allium drumsticks

I’d estimate the blooms stayed at peak form for two weeks before the inevitable fade.

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Together with the spent bee balm buds, they formed the ultimate in the late summer fading garden, which I still enjoy.

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Some more Allium Drumsticks info:

  • Prefers full sun
  • Viable in zones 4A – 10B
  • 1 to 3 feet in height
  • Blooms in mid-summer
  • Deer resistant
  • Best planted in the fall like most spring/summer bulbs
  • Best planted in drifts for the greatest garden impact
  • Naturalizes freely (will see if that is so with my conditions)
  • A great “peek through” plant (see bee balm combo above)
  • Susceptible to rotting in wet conditions

Because of that last note, I decided to craft this post sooner rather than later since there is a good chance my bulbs will have rotted come summer.

Fingers crossed.

 

 

Bulbs

I know what I am doing this weekend.

bulbs

In a prior post, I waxed poetic about my new found love of Allium. After opening up the box from Bluestone Perennials this past week and seeing my beloved Allium bulbs inside, I am close to full blown swoon.

bulbs2

Daffodils are just about the only fail proof bulb for me as the deer and rabbits leave them alone, but most importantly, they seem unaffected by the poor draining and often times waterlogged soil.  It has become a rite of fall to add as many of these as I possibly can. I am most excited by the ‘Green Pearl’ and in typical ONG fashion, I haven’t a clue as to where I will plant them.

bulbs3

Home boy is about to shake things up. Only once in the history of my gardening life have I attempted to plant Muscari. And that friggin bombed. I was presented with one small and pathetic bloom as all of the others failed to deliver.

And even if I am an extreme mouth breather with a deviated septum, I still am capable of smelling the sweet scent of the hyacinth. I miss it in the spring and desperately want to share the nasal pleasure with all of my visitors.

So with that in mind, I am going to give it a go in between my six Catmint planted along my front walkway. The soil here is actually very sandy and somewhat dry from when the walkway was installed almost a decade ago. The bulbs will not rot from the wet fall/winter/spring. I know, kind of an awesome idea.

How about you? What are your gardening plans this first weekend in October?

Allium time

I am slowly becoming obsessed with Allium (or “ornamental onion” for you less evolved species).  Three autumns ago I planted my first Allium bulbs and was all jacked up when most made an appearance that following spring:

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I immediately fell in lust and was pleased to know that it was possible for the bulbs to not rot over the winter (for those uninformed, my soil drainage blows chunks).

Of course, they all ended up only surviving that spring and were not to be heard from again. But that was OK.  It was a small financial investment and minimal sweat equity required for the reward of those phenomenal blooms.

Last fall, I gave it another shot and planted just one Allium ‘Globe Master’, that giant blooming onion I’ve seen in so many other gardens. While there was promise that this would return year after year, at $9.95 a bulb I decided to play it safe.

I can tell you now, it doesn’t matter if it fails to make a repeat showing in 2015. What I got in 2014 was enough for me:

onion

onion3

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The 8″ to 10″ bloom was such a presence and a focal point both in bloom and out of bloom:.

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Hell, I even made it my social media profile pic when it was only partially in bloom:

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It wasn’t until late July when the stem actually dislodged from the ground, so two and a half months of interest was worth the $9.95.

I also started to acquire some other perennial Allium in spring and added ‘Blue Eddy’ as a groundcover that not only bloomed in late July, but also avoided any destruction from the rabbits and the deer:

allium

Allium ‘Mt. Sinai’ was also added and bloomed like mad from early August until now:

allium

allium21

I will continue the hunt for additional cultivars this fall and hope and pray that my attempts to find areas of better drainage in my yard pay off and we have repeat bloomers next summer.

On top of that, I just placed an order with Bluestone Perennials for a whole bunch of different Allium bulbs that include (all photos from the Bluestone Perennials website):

Allium ‘Schubertii’:

Allium_Schubertii

Allium ‘Azureum’:

Allium_Azureum

Allium ‘Drumsticks’:

Allium_Drumsticks

And one additional Allium ‘Globe Master’ because, well, it’s awesome.

Wish me luck!