Tag Archives: peony

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.

peony 2

But time is quickly running out with these daily reminders.

peony 3

 

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.

allium

 

allium 2

 

front bed 2

 

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.

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

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

 

 

 

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:

 

Emerging foliage of spring

Spring refuses to fully embrace itself so we continue to move at a snail’s pace out in the garden. But the plants are finally revealing their emerging foliage, almost out of fear.

Like Crataegus viridis (Hawthorn) ‘Winter King’:

And Betula nigra (River Birch):

Some of the deciduous shrubs have finally shown emerging foliage, like this Cornus sericea (Redtwig Dogwood):

And Physocarpus (Ninebark) ‘Diablo’:

A few perennials decided to finally make an appearance. Hello Cimicifuga (Bugbane) ‘Pink Spire’:

Peonies unfurling at their own steady pace:

 

Now there has been some serious progress on other fronts. Viburnum carlesii ‘Aurora’ buds have turned full blown pink and look phenomenal: 

 

 

Speaking of this Viburnum. I count today as its first day of having “interest” and it will continue to do provide such “interest” all the way into early November. If you do the math, that is almost seven months of interest. And that means it is fantastic 7/12 of the year. And that translates to a 58% “interest” rate which I might just calculate for every plant I own and add it to the plant spreadsheet.

Just thought you should know that.

While we are at it, let’s enjoy the emerging foliage of the Astilbes:

And the buds on Fothergilla ‘Mount Airy’

 

 

And finally, the tulips I’ve successfully grown in containers (hand pats back):

Good stuff, right? Well now let’s move over to the not so good or potentially not so good.

My Amelanchier (Serviceberry) ‘Autumn Brilliance’ is blooming:

But from a larger view, eh:

But more importantly, or more annoyingly, we have some serious bare legs:

I understand that this is the nature of this tree, but this extreme? I need to work on this one in some way.

Do I worry about this? Tent caterpillars?

I’m all for letting nature take its course, but not at the expense of my beloved Crabapple tree. More to come.

And finally, I am already regretting not strongly pruning the Salix (Dappled Willow) ‘Hakuro Nishiki’ in early spring. That awesome variegation is missing:

 

Look at the same shrub from only two years ago:

Chalk it up to experience and a new task added to the 2015 ledger.

 

The peonies won

 We made it through the deer sampling and wheelbarrow blocking:

And yes, the birthday girl got her cut flowers as promised:

All in a weekend’s work.

Now back to the grind.

John

The peony obsession continues – An angry update

Woke up this morning at 5:30 to get some work done outside before the brutally hot weather took hold and wouldn’t you know it, the deer (or some creature) sampled one of my peony plants:  

Are you f’n kidding me? They managed to navigate my elaborate container blocking scheme?

Luckily that is all they managed to get to but still, are they lingering in the shadows of the woods just waiting for those tasy buds to open up? Damn shady characters.

I will try to remain positive and enjoy the other 5/6 of what I have left (yes, I did the math):

And will not allow any more damage to my prized posessions. Out comes the big artillery:

Make my day punks.

A quick happy birthday to my beautiful bride. You WILL have freshly cut peonies by this evening.

I love you.

John 

The peony obsession continues

I know I am obsessing too much over my peonies, but after losing them all last year to the deer, I am determined to see them bloom to their heart’s content:

We are so close to seeing it happen and I am going to make it a big friggin event:

Desperate times call for desperate measures, so if I have to block the deer in original and albeit stupid ways, I will:

That’s how much I care.

May I bombard you with peony pics the next few days.

John

How to go from elation to pissed off in 12 easy steps

I was traveling for work this past week (St Louis, Missouri to be exact) so I suffered through some separation anxiety from my garden.

I considered asking my wife to allow me to Skype with some of the newly blooming perennials but that would have been weird, right? I mean who is attached to their plants so much that they can’t go without seeing them for four days? A real friggin wacko if you ask me.

So early this morning I set foot outside to catch up on all I’ve missed since last weekend (They grow up so fast, sniff) and was immediately taken in by the newly blooming siberian irises (‘Snow Queen’):

Such a crisp and clean color that immediately pulls you in. Just awesome stuff.

From there, I was psyched to see that for the first time in three years, my Spirea ‘Snowmound’ was blooming:

Some times patience does pay off and I’m pretty proud of myself.

But then, out of my peripheral vision, I spotted a long familiar beauty. She stood out like my wife stood out when I first met her in college. A beauty like no other that pulled me in and had me stammering over my words (please apply that to my wife also). I took the requisite 12 steps from where I was standing to view the first peony bloom of the year:

There I was, ogling this “bowl of beauty” and taking photos of her from all different angles like the paparazzi. As I contorted my body into all sorts of odd shapes, I was blind to a development that still has me reeling …

The son of a mutha f’n deer devoured 75% of all my peony buds. They’ve never touched them before, not even one bud/bloom. Are you freaking kidding me? No plant has more of a build-up to their bloom period than the peony and it marks the transition to summer. And you’re going to ruin that for me?

Just a few days ago they looked so promising:    

What a slap to the face. This means WAR. Once again, I was too lax and let my guard down. No more you tick carrying, skittish SOB’s.

I will hunt you down day and night. I will throw bars of Irish Spring at your ass. I’ll drop hot sauce from a helicopter above. It is on … it is on like Donkey Kong.

John