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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

GOOPS - August

I started posting my GOOPS last month after getting the idea from Laurrie of My Weeds Are Very Sorry.  A GOOPS is a Gardeners OOPS and I have an endless supply.  My biggest garden-related problem today was trying to decide which one to feature. I considered several, from trees planted way too close, to my Leaning Tower of Sedum, but it was the utterly pathetic sight of my dalea, lying prostrate and miserable on the mulch, that sealed the deal.

Aren't these beautiful? They look so happy! I assure you this picture DID NOT come from my garden.(

Wait, you didn't know I had dalea in the garden? That's okay. The dalea wishes there wasn't dalea in the garden, either. So, how miserable is the dalea? Very. If my dalea had limbs they would have packed their bags and left by now. If they had fingers and access to the Internet, they would have written a scathing tell-all about the wretched moron who planted them in the absolute wrong spot next to a clump of scheming daffodils in too much shade. They'd have an agent and would be making the talk show circuit as I type. The Grand Finale would come when they threw a chair at the daffodils and their fading foliage on live TV and, yes, it would be all my fault.

Oooh! Another pretty picture! These look way too happy and vertical to be my dalea.(

That the dalea are even alive is a testament to the fact that they are growing just to remind me of what happens when you garden while temporarily insane. If they died, they couldn't torture me with obsessive thoughts about how I can remedy the situation. I would simply feel like an idiot, get over it, and then fill their spot with something else. I might even blame them for their failure to thrive. But no... Dalea are very smart and they have me cornered. Leave them where they are and let me feel like I've had a garden lobotomy or figure out where to move them.

I went to the dalea, my head hung low and apologized. The sedum snickered and the agastache just rolled their eyes. "I have a spot for you in the new design of my front garden", I whispered. "You'll have a lot more sun and no daffodils trying to suffocate you as you wake next spring. Just hang in there until it's cool and moist enough to start the Happy Plant Hokey Pokey. You'll be one of the first plants out and the first plants in. I promise." Their thin little bodies shuddered and their stunted leaves pushed against the mulch. A deep voice, cracked with fatigue, began to rumble through the garden.

"Tammy.... Tammy.... Tammy...."

"Yeah?" I responded nervously, my hands beginning to shake.

"Bend down and say hello to my little friend."

"Holy cr*p! That's enough! I'm moving you! I'm moving you!!" I yelled, heading for the house.

"We've paid our dues -
Time after time -
We've done our sentence
But committed no crime -
And bad mistakes
She's made a few

We are the champions - my friends
And we'll keep on fighting - till the end -
'Cause we are the champions - of the world!"

When your plants start quoting lines from Scarface and singing Queen, just admit defeat and run for the house. Fast!




(Honestly, this entire little section of the garden is a complete wreck and is being redesigned.)

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Adios, Irene!

Dear Hurricane Irene,

   Thank you for downgrading to a category 1 and watering my garden for me. I can't remember the last time it rained for 11 + hours. My rain barrels are full and my plants are happier than they've been in a long time. You shook the trees in my neighborhood and scared a couple of my dogs, but we're all still here. If you could please have a chat with Mother Nature and send some rain to the states struggling with drought, that woud be awesome!


 It still very windy today but the garden is full of hungry insects.  The caryopteris was full of little skippers.

 I have a pot of rue on my patio and more in the garden. The rue in the garden was cut back severely in early spring and is much happier than these two pot-bound plants but both are full of swallowtail caterpillars. This rue is headed to the garden this fall.

 'Maraschino' salvia

'Autumn Joy' sedum

 Aster ericoides has just started to bloom. This dry, partially shady bed is being redesigned this fall.

 I wonder if any birds took shelter in this birdhouse during the storm?

 The pink obedient plant in my front garden fell over in the wind. They are being transplanted to a different bed this fall when I redesign this part of the garden.

I secured this trellis using a bungy cord. A young pipevine planted last fall grows up this column.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Welcome to National Disaster Week!

Announcer: Welcome to northern Virginia! It's National Disaster Week! We started our celebration with an earthquake and will be joined by Hurricane Irene tomorrow.
Crowd: Total silence....

Announcer: By Monday of next week, we're expecting a plague of locusts! Surprise!
Crowd: Total silence....

Announcer:  Come on now, folks! It's not all bad. Tammy bought seven 'Burgundy Glow' ajuga plants for 50 cents a piece on the sale table!

Crowd: And the crowd goes wild!!! Woo-hoo!! Now we're talking!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Dandelion Effect

A painting of a dandelion hangs in my home, its filamentous seeds dispersed along the paper like tiny torpedoes waiting to land. A quiet painting, it commands no attention and hangs above a small piano once used to bang out my daughters weekly lessons. I have a hard time agreeing that dandelions are weeds and admire their resilience and tenacity. Hung in the last three houses I've lived in, it reminds me to bloom where I'm planted, even if I'm somewhere I don't want to be.

'Wishes in the Wind' by Ray Davenport, an artist from Sumter, SC where I used to live. A much better photo can be found at:

As a child, the fuzzy, round seed heads were irresistible, and I'd grab them by the handful and blow, never knowing where the seeds would land. As a teacher, I stand before my classes every year and hope the seeds of curiosity I blow towards my students will burrow deep, spread roots, and grow. But as a gardener, I've always gardened alone, cocooned in my garden, scratching for ideas. I've lost track of all the mistakes I've made simply because the only perspective available was my own.

This fall I'll begin the annual Happy Plant Hokey Pokey. One plant comes out while another plant goes in. I've spent the summer keeping notes on the garden and absorbing the knowledge and design genius of my fellow bloggers. I have never met any of you but hear your voices as I redesign my garden. Scale, color, texture, whimsy, ideas explode like fireworks and I find myself standing on my patio watching the garden through eyes wider than they were before. Your successes and failures rumble through my brain as I write and revise the list of changes to be made. Plants I had never considered growing will take the place of others that need to be moved. With every post you published, seeds scattered and grew, and a sense of community developed. What may have begun as a quick photo and caption or just a random thought has blown my way and started to grow. An enormous amount of work lies ahead, but for the first time, I won't be gardening alone.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

ShadeTown ShakeDown

Hey Joe Pye, I heard in about six wks us coneflowers is gettin da big heave ho outta our spot and the lady's lettin' Veronica take over.

Yeah, you seedlings been gettin' a little too crazy!

Ever since things got a bit shady, you been gettin' weirder and weirder. 
Did you see what happened to Magnus?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

GBBD - After the storm

We finally had a significant rainfall last night and the garden is refreshed and blooming.

I was very surprised this morning to see the columbine blooming again!

'Fragrant Angel' coneflowers have bloomed all summer. They are being moved to a sunnier spot this fall to help stop the flop!

 I bought a six pack impatiens for 50 cents in July to fill in a big empty spot. They are still small but very cheerful. 

 'Chocolate' eupatorium has started to bloom but won't reach its peak until fall.

 I love the soft orange of this agastache.

Rudbeckia fulgida 'Deamii' - This is a slightly improved variety of the native roadside wildlflower that blooms across the southeast.

 Asclepias tuberosa - Orange butterfly weed is significantly more heat and drought resistant that other types of milkweed.

 'Maraschino' salvia and 'Blue Fortune' agastache
(The highly unattractive wire grid by the wooden fence keeps my dogs from slipping through the fence, or at least from getting stuck while trying to go exploring.)

 A new flush of blooms on the 'Roguchi' clematis

 'Sceptre d'Isle' is a David Austin rose that is incredibly disease resistant and thrives with a bit of afternoon shade from the neighboring Rose of Sharon.

I love the soft, fuzzy red flowers of chenille plant.

 Crepe myrtles bloom for several months starting in mid-summer in the upper South. If the fall days are warm and the nights cool, they have gorgeous autumn foliage.

These 'Nicky' phlox just can't compete with the enormous 'Delta Snow' phlox nearby and are headed to a different part of the garden this fall.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

A Photo Ramble

I share the trumpet creeper with my neighbor who loves the flowers as much as I do. I prune it heavily in winter to keep it from taking over the garden.

I grew these zinnia marylandica from seed. They withstand heat and humidity more than the old fashioned varieties but I've noticed the butterflies seem to ignore them.

Zinnia marylandica Double Cherry fades to pale pink as it ages.

Zinnia marylandica Double Fire needs less water than the Double Cherry.

'Susanna Mitchell' marguerites grow in a pot next to the 'Pilgrim' oregano. I love how their foliage complements each other.

'Ava' agastache grows in a very large pot near my kitchen window. A favorite of hummingbirds, placing the pot near my window gives me a front row seat for the action. This type of agastache would die in my clay soil but it's quite happy in its pot.

Basil and pink pentas, a butterfly favorite

Tropical milkweed, just waiting for monarchs

'Rotkugel' oregano and a dwarf solidago

This oregano self-seeds, which I appreciate. It's an excellent filler and is much loved by the bees.

The heliopsis has been blooming non-stop since June. Pink phlox, milkweed, and a 'Little Henry' sweetspire grow near by.

I ordered a bare root New York Ironweed and planted it in this spot last fall. Oops! It looks like they sent me a Veronicastrum virginicum instead, commonly known as Culver's Root. Excellent surprise!

The caryopteris is getting ready to bloom

Red calibrachoa grows alongside 'Sunshine Superman' coreopsis.

'Sunshine Superman' coreopsis is a tough plant that can survive neglect, heat, and drought, but will look a lot better if you give it some love and organic liquid fish head fertilizer. It thrives in pots, thanks to the excellent drainage.

The epimediums are getting a head start into fall.

Mystery tomato! The other mystery tomato grew big grape tomatoes but I have no idea what kind these are. It's the size of a tennis ball.

The purple and blues of rue, lavender, and a 'Monch' aster look great together. I should have cut the aster back a bit to thicken it up but I couldn't remember what it was until I saw a picture of it on someone's blog, so I just let it go wild. It's a bit sprawly but now that I know what it is, I'll know what to do next spring.

The Rose of Sharon is massive and shields the back of the house from the afternoon sun. By next year, it will probably reach the second floor. Aster divarcatus grows in complete shade under the shrub. More agastache grows in pots on the patio.

The kalimeris has been blooming since early June! It grows well in dryish, lightly shaded conditions.