Monday, July 16, 2018

July Garden: What's Blooming Now

It's hot and humid here on Long Island, NY this month, which is typical for July. Around this time, I'm happy I did most of my big gardening tasks in the spring when the weather was more comfortable. Still, there is always a flower to deadhead or a perennial to relocate. Thankfully though, the garden is mostly on auto pilot and I'm enjoying the blooms.

Here's what's growing and blooming in my garden this month:

 The Russian Sage mingles with the Black Eye Susans

Echinacea 'Hot Papaya' really stands out (and above!) the 
Sedum, Liatris and more Black Eyed Susans

 A beautiful pink bee balm - Monarda 'Raspberry Wine'

More pinks! Above, coneflowers (echinacea) in bloom and below, a hydrangea -

Over in the shade garden, the Japanese Painted Fern is looking lovely next to the small Hosta 'Mouse Ears' and Hosta 'June.' This whole garden is finally starting to fill in!

Do you have any of these same plants? How's your garden this month? I'd love to hear from you!

After leaving a comment, head on over to May Dreams Gardens to see what's blooming around the country today.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

How to keep sane during the winter that will not end?

We had no snow in February and enjoyed days when the temps reached into the upper 60s. Spring will be here soon, I thought, as I looked over my still-sleeping landscape. Nothing changes in the winter. No shoots of new growth, no pink flower petals opening to the sky, no change in the intensity of the sun. Winter is a welcome time to rest and for the first few weeks, I’m relieved for the rest and ability to hibernate for a bit. But by they time March comes along, I’m ready for spring. 

I walk around my yard daily, looking for signs of life. A daffodil shoot perhaps? Buds on the magnolia tree? The birds are singing in the trees - they know whats coming.  I start thinking of the spring-clean up tasks I must tackle before the season gets too far in. I make a list.  And then - WHAM! A Nor’Easter hits Long Island. We are covered in snow, high winds topple my shrubs and cold temperatures burn the tips of my emerging daffodils. Sigh. 

In December, snow is exciting. Its beautiful as it covers the trees and landscape, quietly falling to the ground. My children are so excited to play in the snow, they get all bundled up in their snow gear even for an inch of snow on the ground! Yet now, as the snow clings to the witch hazel flowers, smothers the emerging hellebores and blankets the evergreen shrubs once more, it’s lost its appeal. I want it gone. 

The ground is frozen and so I’ll need to put off my work outside for a few more days. I continue to dream of new things to plant and where. The gardening catalogs have begun to arrive. Beautiful plants, lush with color, promising pleasant days outdoors ahead. I circle a few in every magazine, not sure where I’ll fit them into my yard, but knowing I could somehow make it work if I tried. 

The air is brisk and cold but I venture out to clean up from the storm, gathering fallen sticks and tree limbs for my children to paint or use in their pretend campsite under the oak tree. The snow has melted but its still cold. The rhododendron leaves droop down protectively every morning telling me the temperature naturally. I’m ready to put away my sweaters and snow shovels and I then, we are hit with yet another storm. This one is more rain than snow, but it’s a damp cold that goes right through you. The winds whip around leaves from the neighborhood, and suddenly, my spring clean-up was all for naught. The ground is now soggy and cold. My hellebores want so badly to bloom, but its tricky, even for these that don’t mind the cool weather. On the north side of my house, piles of snow remain. Now frozen, they are a strong reminder that spring has not yet arrived. Temperatures have not reached a warmth that could melt shaded snow. 

By now its late March. I visit the local nursery’s annual flower show. Colorful azaleas, blossoming trees and active fish ponds delight my senses. I walk past the rows of pansies and ranunculus for sale. I want to buy these, but the forecast is predicting another snow storm. 

So what do I do to keep sane when winter will not end?

  1. I continue to flip through my gardening magazines and plant catalogs. Maybe I won’t purchase anything this year, but I can still learn about new varieties, admire new combinations of plants and thinking about what could be.
  1. I purchased a few succulents and a cool new container. I’ve been wanting to grow succulents for a long time, but have always put it off. Now, I needed a project. I needed to watch something grow and flourish. It’s lovely on my table and it makes me smile.
  1. I keep cleaning up the leaves outside. They are blown in from all over and continue to collect in this one spot on my patio. I bundle up, get out my rake to clean them up and add them to the compost pile. It makes me feel like I’ve accomplished something.
  1. I start planning for next month. Spring weather will eventually come, of this I am sure. It’s just a matter of when. Nevertheless, I won’t let it get in the way of my planning. There are meetings to schedule with clients, seeds to be planted at the school garden and spring pruning that needs to be done. 

    But for today, I’m determined not to let the weather forecast get me down. Instead, I’m planning a trip to the botanical garden to see their gorgeous, annual orchid show. It’s all indoors, in a warm greenhouse, filled with colorful and vibrant plants. Someday spring will come. For now, I’ll just enjoy what I can.

    Tuesday, March 20, 2018

    A Fickle Spring

    Ah spring. The birds are chirping, the crocus are blooming and the days are getting longer. My itchy gardening fingers can't wait to get out into the garden. There are plants to relocate, shrubs to prune and beds to clean up. The weather here on Long Island this month started off lovely and warm!

    The Snowdrops (Galanthus) and Witch Hazel (Hamamelis) were blooming: 

    Splashes of purple appeared around the yard - Crocus and Iris (Iris reticulata) were enjoying the sunshine!

    And then it happened.
    Spring decided it didn't want to continue just yet and allowed Winter to return for a few more weeks. And with that, these blooming spring beauties were covered in snow, mid-March. Here's what my daffodils and hellebores looked like:

    As upsetting as this was, there was not much I could do.  I am unable to control the weather. I can only change my attitude toward it.  And I also know that Spring WILL come and I'll be amazed by so many of my plants resiliency. A fickle spring indeed...

    Flowering Trees of Spring

    Compared to summer's bold riot of colors, spring begins in a slow crescendo of color. Mostly pastels followed by a few brightly colored tulips or daffodils. But for me, the real spring show is the trees. Spring flowering trees are simply magnificent. They bloom before the leaves appear and since so many other "leafy" trees are just starting to break dormancy, their lovely blooms stand out all the more. A quick drive around my neighborhood had me spotting these beauties:

    Yoshino Cherry Tree (Prunus x yedoensis)
    A round shape with the palest, almost white flower petals.

    Saucer Magnolia Tree (Magnolia x soulangeana)
    Large petaled blossoms flushed with pink, white and hints of purple

    Star Magnolia (Magnolia stellata)
    One of the first flowering trees to bloom. It's blossoms consist of up to 15 individual white petals, giving the illusion of a star.

    Flowering Plum Tree (Prunus cerasifera)
    Small light pink flowers contrast nicely against the burgundy leaves of this upright, vase shaped tree.

    Bradford Pear Tree (Pyrus calleryana 'Bradford') 
    Clusters of small white, fragrant flowers appear just before the green leaves. 

    Weeping Cherry Tree (Prunus subhirtella 'Pendula')
    This gracefully wispy tree has light pink flowers hanging on dangling branches. 
    When it sways in the wind, it's absolutely captivating. This one is on my property, and though it's quite old, it still stops me in my tracks each spring. 

    So many gorgeous trees out there right now. I'm looking forward to seeing the dogwoods, eastern redbuds and kwanzan cherry trees bloom in the next few weeks too! 

    Do you have a favorite? Let me know below!