Tag Archives: lady’s mantle

Book excerpt – looking for your feedback

Here is an excerpt of a first version of my book that I’ve been pounding away on for weeks now. I so cherish all of your feedback and have taken all of your comments into account to this point.

When in doubt, why not ask?     

I would love your feedback on the following:

Book title – any creative ideas after reading through below? I’ll handsomely award the winner of the one I like best.

Content – more or less info based on the excerpt below? Less “sentences” and more boxes/bullets/etc?

Layout – this snippet isn’t an exact replica of the layout but it is as close as I can get. What do you think?

Tone – is it me?

Thank you all in advance for taking the time to assist me here.


Alchemilla mollis (Lady’s Mantle)

I remember the exact day back in the fall of 2003 when I decided to purchase some Lady’s Mantle for the first time. Up until that point, all I thought about was flowers in my garden. Foliage was nice, but an afterthought.

My obsession with plants and gardening was gaining steam and I was reading books relentlessly. Books you ask? Those are pages of printed words and photos that are held together with binding. Your grandfather can tell you all about them.

I don’t recall the exact book, but it was all about design and one photo grabbed my attention and changed the course of my garden fanaticism. A beautiful and haunting garden photographed in the early morning was lined with Lady’s Mantle that was covered in dew droplets. My tongue dropped to the floor and I knew I had to try it.

Fast forward a few months and I planted a whole bunch myself in my tiny front bed at our old Cape Cod home in Somerville, NJ. I was so proud of it and sensed that my love of plants was going to exponentially increase now that foliage was part of the game.

Sadly, we moved out of that home by the end of that year and I never got to grow with my new favorite edging plant. I did drive by the home periodically for a good 2 to 3 years after that just so I could watch my babies mature into full adult plants. They ended up looking beautiful even if the new homeowners let everything fall to shit in the garden around them. The day they pulled them out of the ground, I almost got out of my car and approached the house in a fit of rage.

Luckily I thought better of it and drove away and spared myself jail time.

Instead, I bought a bunch and put them in my newly developing garden where they still reside today.

Alchemilla mollis rarely steals the show in the garden. Instead, it is that steady performing groundcover or edging plant that makes the garden whole.

From the moment those leaves start to unfurl in spring, you know old reliable is back for another season.

Let me correct myself for one moment. There is a time when this perennial does truly “shine”. That is when Lady’s Mantle captures the rain droplets in spring. It is a photographer’s dream.

Beyond that, this plant provides a nice contrasting leaf shape to other perennials and shrubs from spring through fall.

The chartreuse blooms, typically arriving in June, are a nice understated feature as well.

 

 

 

I have found it is best to trim off the spent flowers as soon as possible to keep this plant looking its best as summer approaches.

 

 

 

Specifics:
• Survives in zones 3 – 8
• Size typically maxes out at 1.5 ‘ x 2.5’
• Can handle full sun to almost full shade
• Blooms in June here in zone 6B
• Prefers a consistently moist soil
• Has been reliably deer and rabbit resistant over the years
• Non US native
• Flowers brown quickly and can become an eyesore (see more below)
• Leaves are scalloped and fuzzy to the touch

I currently have these as a groundcover in my back bed along the deck.

In full bloom in June and backed by the light of the afternoon sun.

 

 

 

 

 

As you can see below, Lady’s Mantle comes along pretty quickly in spring as evidenced by the “still no signs of life” ornamental grass sitting behind them.

**NEGATIVE ALERT** The one negative/higher maintenance aspect of Lady’s Mantle is that it does require constant moisture. If not, this is what you may see.

Luckily for me, constant moisture isn’t much of a problem unless we have a real dry summer but keep that in mind before purchasing Lady’s Mantle.

This perennial has been labeled as “invasive” but I can say that has not been a problem for me at all. In fact, I’ve never seen a single seedling since I’ve had these. This may be due to the fact that I am pretty diligent in cutting off the spent blooms and therefore there is no opportunity for reseeding.

I must also add that my deadheading has never resulted in any re-blooming later in the season.

 

Foliage over flowers

It was Portland outside here today or at least how I imagine Portland to be most of the year. I’ve only visited the city twice in my life and both times it bucked the trend of typical northwest weather. It was sunny and dry but still an incredible city and one I’m anxious to revisit. While I may prefer the sun and the extreme warmth of summer here in the northeast, there is no comparison when it comes to the perfect garden conditions of the northwest.

Today was overcast with a relentless mist and a layer of fog that slowly looked to envelope the entire town. But hot damn if it didn’t perfectly highlight and saturate the colors of the garden and aid in it looking healthier than it’s ever been. I’m no professional photographer but I have to assume this was close to the ideal day for capturing the great outdoors in all her glory.

So this amateur shutterbug made it a point to not miss this golden opportunity before the bright sun returns and washes out all of the color. As soon as I walked through the front door and into Seattle, my eye was immediately drawn towards the soon to be blooming mass of Trollius (Globeflowers). The orange buds were radiant and glistening after being misted for like 51 hours straight.

As I settled into my plant-photo-taking-stance, I surveyed this little section of the garden and realized how much it was being taken over by the bee balm I had planted there only last year.

orange flower bee balm

The best part of the quick takeover? The crowding out of any weeds. Not one could be found and that is all sorts of awesome. But not my point, at least for today.

I snapped a ton of pics of this section of the garden and after reviewing them and trying to determine which were blog worthy, I noticed something that only affirms what I’ve always known.

Here is one of the soon to be blooming Trollius flowers captured as the dominant element with the bee balm stems more faded in the background.

orange flower

Nice shot, right? But I prefer this next one, where the bee balm takes the lead.

orange flower bee balm 2

Give me foliage over flowers any day of the week. In this case, I love the reddish/purple outlining of each bee balm leaf, the texture of the leaves covered in moisture and even the shape of the square stems. Flowers are great and special and all because of their usually short stay, but it is the foliage that makes the statement. It is the foliage that works hard to look good all year round. It is the foliage that defines your garden and your style.

As exciting as it is to witness the first Geranium bloom (‘Espresso’) of the spring.

espresso

Nothing compares to the statement made by Lady’s Mantle on a cool and wet spring morning.

lady's mantle

 

Hi, me again

The latest and greatest:

The Panicum ‘Northwind’ are on their way with that blue/green upright foliage already visible:

A step back from that same garden bed and finally, it is starting to fill in.

The foliage on this Ninebark ‘Diablo’ is fantastic in a container after I had cut it back dramatically in the spring:

 

Oh foliage, how I love thee – Salix (Dappled Willow) ‘Hakuro Nishiki’ and Penstemon ‘Husker’s Red’:

Have I mentioned before how much I love Lady’s Mantle? As an edger, in the rain, with cool weather?

So damn close:

 

Weigela ‘Wine and Roses’ in full bloom. Eh:

 

‘River Mist’ Northern Sea Oats … consider yourself on watch … you have been below satisfactory the past two years:

As I mentioned last week, these Siberian irises are in need of division. The bloom count is way down this year:

I chopped off the fading blooms on the Geranium ‘Espresso’ hoping we will get some nice new dark foliage. They are looking a little tired right now:

 

Dance with the one that brung ya

I have a ritual each winter where I review all of my plant photos from the prior gardening year as a means to not only escape the winter doldrums, but also as a means for planning. I drink a few hearty ales and take copious notes during this exercise and it creates the framework for all that I plan to change that upcoming spring.

I distinctly remember two winters ago, when I was in full blown garden review mode, when a very obvious notion finally penetrated my thick skull. Four simple words: “Stick with what works.” As most gardeners are want to do, I was always in search of new and exciting plants to try out. While that is fun and all, it really prevented me from creating my ideal robust garden. Half the plants would die over the winter or would be devoured by the deer. I was unable to make any progress out in the garden.

I knew I wouldn’t completely give up on seeking out new plants, but I could create the bulk of my garden around trees, shrubs, grasses and perennials that I knew would “work”. Seems like an obvious concept but for whatever reason, it was lost on me.

Fast forward to now and finally I know all of the plants that survived the winter. There were a whole bunch of casualties that I’ve mourned, but for those recent additions that survived the extreme temps, poor winter/spring drainage and the deer, I am forever grateful. As expected, these survivors were previously proven performers, further proof that “stick with what works” … well … works. And here is photographic proof:

As you may be aware, I have nothing but great things to say about Amsonia. They have literally sat in standing water for periods of time and have been completely ignored by the deer. When I was seeking out a ground cover in a particularly poor draining area of the garden, Amsonia ‘Blue Ice’ was a no-brainer. Two years later, all twelve of them are thriving:

 

As are all of the Amsonia tabernaemontana:

 

Itea ‘Henry’s Garnet’ was one of the first shrubs I planted in my landscape back in 2005 and all of them are still kicking ass today. So logically, why not add some ‘Little Henry’ shrubs in tighter areas. I did just that last fall and yes, all six of them are on their way this spring:

For reasons unknown, I owned only two Clethra shrubs as of a year ago, even though they have thrived since day one. So last fall I picked up a bunch more of these at a steep discount and finally this week, they have all arrived after a long deep winter slumber:

Irises and me = perfect together:

Lady’s Mantle has consistently been ignored by the deer and the rabbits so why not use it like mad as a ground cover all over. Seems to be OK with both full sun and partial shade:

Two Penstemon ‘Husker’s Red’ hung out in my garden for years, looking good but not adding much to the larger equation. I divided them up, two became six and as a larger grouping, not so bad:

I haven’t completely abandoned the pursuit of new plants. Just this week I added Allium ‘Blue Eddy’ knowing the deer will ignore it but now to study how it likes the moist clay soil:

Speaking of Allium, I’m testing out ‘Globemaster’ this year for the first time and so far so good:

And finally, I finally succumbed to trying out a few Baptisia and we’ll see how they perform:

 

“What’s growing on” this week

The Penstemon ‘Husker’s Red’ are in full bloom out of nowhere:

As are the Alchemilla mollis (Lady’s Mantle):

One of my favorite “foliage” plants has only recently emerged – Hibiscus ‘Kopper King’:

There was total chaos outside my window yesterday and I bolted outside to check it out (camera in hand). Turns out, it was over these berries on the Serviceberry ‘Autumn Brilliance’:

And the culprit was this maniac shaking the branches like The Hulk:

It may be boring to some, but I love any shrub that flourishes in wet conditions, is ignored by the deer and spreads to fill in a large space. Thank you Itea ‘Henry’s Garnet’:

I relocated my previously criticized Geranium ‘Brookside’ to an area where they can run wild a bit more and have some support from other plants and so far, I dig the results:

Viburnum ‘Emerald Lustre’ is filled with more buds than ever before and once again, has avoided any deer chomping (fingers double crossed):

Catmint friggin rules:

Astilbe with white blooms look great in front of dark red leaves. We may have finally found the proper home for them: