Garden Bloom Day – June 15, 2011

I had family visiting this week, so I’ve missed Wordless Wednesday and I’m a day late with my Garden Bloom Day photos!

Lots of things are blooming in the yard right now, especially on the west side of the yard in the border along the garage wall.  That area receives the most sun and the plants there seem happy.

Things are moving along on the east side of the yard in the border along the fence, but it’s shadier there so some things are slow to grow and bloom.  This our first June in the new apartment / yard, so it’s interesting to look around and see where things are NOT happening.  I’ll need to think about what things I can add to that East side fence line under the Privet trees for next year.  It would be nice to have SOMETHING blooming there in June, and right now there is nothing.

On to the things that ARE blooming!

This is Astilbe, ‘Peach Blossom’ – in the shade garden along the side of the house.  I’m not sure if it’s a shorter variety of Astilbe or if it’s just small because this is its first year…or maybe it’s too much shade?  Right now the plant is about 2′ tall.

the lavender plant I put in last fall has really filled out this year and is spreading out. It’s been in various stages of blooming for nearly 6 weeks now, and it smells terrific.
here’s a close up
This is Lilium, ‘Blackout’ I was expecting it to be a much darker maroon – nearly black according to the photo on Easy To Grow Bulbs, where I ordered it, however I am absolutely in LOVE with this color and I’m very happy with this Lily! I bought 3 bulbs and planted them in 3 different areas of the yard, so their blooming will be a little staggered – perfect. You’ll have to bear with me posting several pictures of this beauty – I’m a little over the moon about it!

If this Lily multiplies over the years you might hear my squeals of delight from miles away.
Day Lilies are also blooming. These came with the property. Earlier this spring I dug some up and transplanted them around to various parts of the yard.
I’m not usually a fan of the color orange, but these are just delightful.
Not the best shot, but this is the border along the garage wall. The sunniest spot in the yard, this border also benefits from being so close to the wall for protection from wind and a little extra heat off the building.  Everything is starting to get a bit more shade now as the fig trees are filling out…hopefully it won’t be too much shade a month or two from now!
This border includes: sweet basil, parsley, cilantro, bay leaves, Thai basil, lemon verbena, a 3-foot tall young lilac, foam flower, lavender, a “mystery” tomato, heliotrope, violets, lambs ears, Dusty Miller, a climbing rose, cosmos, day lilies, the Asiatic ‘Blackout’ lily, and a few weeds. 😉 Plus some begonias back on the steps in the shade.

Not yet blooming, but the Annabelle hydrangea is really filling out…
Since this is our first Spring/Summer in the yard, I thought it would help me to have an idea of how large this baby gets, how quickly it grows/spreads, etc. When we moved here at the end of last summer this hydrangea was about 4 feet tall and nearly as wide and was blooming its socks off. I divided it in the fall and gave a large division to my friend Bev in PA, where it seems to be doing well. Clearly, this hydrangea didn’t mind being divided one bit. In fact, I think it might be happier.

I’m not so sure the tree peony that I planted next to it this Spring is as happy and I hope it won’t end up getting crowded out by this enormous hydrangea!  You can just see the tip of the tree peony in the left side of the photo.

That potted plant on our portable makeshift “backyard coffee table” (a wooden half barrel with a granite slab on top) is a “mystery” clematis that came as a surprise gift from my friend Bev over the weekend, and I am SO excited.  We think it may be Autumn Clematis.  Whatever it is, it is most welcome here.  Clematis is one of my all-time favorite flowers.  Hopefully this time next year – or who knows, maybe even this fall! – I’ll be posting photos of IT blooming.

Devil’s Walking Stick

Last fall my friend gave me a “garden warming” present of a shrub that she noticed I had liked when we visited a nursery together.  At the time, it was about 4 feet tall and have lovely dark berries on it.  I had been asking about shade-tolerant shrubs, and the nursery owner pointed toward the “shady zone” where I noticed this shrub.

Aralia spinosa, otherwise known as Devil’s Walking Stick, went into the ground in a very shady spot near our house, partially underneath an enormous (18 – feet tall and out of control) Forsythia.   What to do with that particular beast is another post for another day!

Last fall the Aralia spinosa lost all of it leaves and I honestly couldn’t tell if it was living or going dormant or what.  I did a little research and although I wasn’t 100% positive I was supposed to, I pruned it down – pretty much all the way to ground, leaving just an inch or two above the soil so that I could see where it was planted.

This Spring it came up in full force, and actually it appears to have two main “stalks.”  I cannot believe how much it has grown and how full it has leafed out.

I’m a little afraid because the info I’ve found on the internet suggest that I’ve got myself a real TREE, here, with the possibility of it growing up to 20′ tall.  Yikes.  If this year’s growth is any indication of just how quickly this thing can move, I believe it.

Perhaps if I prune it to the ground each year that will keep it in check?  I’ll see what it does this year and think about if I need to move it to another spot or not.  I’m hoping it will produce those lovely berries this fall and that they might be appealing to birds.

Hard to tell from the photo, but it’s at least 3′ tall and easily 3′ in diameter.

It didn’t flower at all this spring, just went straight to leafing out.  Our garden areas are relatively small, so I’m a bit worried about this one taking up too much space or competing with other things I’ve planted.

Some of the leaves have an unusual or irregular pattern…

This is definitely one to watch this year.  I’m curious to see how much more it will grow and whether or not the birds like the berries.  Garden space is at a premium here, so I feel that a plant really  has to prove itself to be worthy of taking up the space here!  Right now I appreciate the quick, lush growth and show of green in an area that not a whole lot of other plants could tolerate because it is so darn shady.  We shall see, Devil’s Walking Stick….we shall see!

Someone Please Cut Me Off!

It’s a fact:  I should no longer be permitted to attend any plant sale, anywhere, for a long, long time.

Clearly, I can’t be trusted.

I’m normally pretty darn good about budgeting, saving and spending.  My question is this:  WHAT HAPPENED???

True confessions:  the first clue that I was in over my  head was when I spent pretty much every penny that I had set aside to buy a bicycle…and spent it on plants. Troubling, yes, but sadly I did not  even stop there.

After hitting the Brooklyn Botanic Garden plant sale (where the man who rang me up asked  me:   a]  if I was married and b] whether I though my husband would divorce me after this!!), I  proceeded to go, just 5 days later, to the Community Garden Plant sale (where I knew I could get a good deal).  Finally, last week I stopped at a hardware store to innocently buy another watering can…and left with…yes, PLANTS.  Sigh.

When I confessed this to a friend of mine she stared in disbelief and said “how the heck did this happen?”  Good question.  My only defense is that I have literally been standing in a 3rd story kitchen for the past five years staring out at the empty backyard below and dreaming about what I would do with it if it were mine to plant.  Now that I finally have a place, I guess I went a *little* overboard.

To my credit, I did pretty well at sticking to the general plan of getting mainly low-maintenance perennial plants…but there were plenty of other unnecessary purchases.  (SIX tomato plants???  Really?  And they are going to go…where, exactly?)

I’ve been working all week to mix potting mediums for containers and get things in the ground and fortunately I just finished up before the rains started.  Is it worth not having a bike?  I don’t know yet, but I do know that I’m really happy with everything I got and I think it’s going to look amazing when things start filling out.  It’s an absolute wonderland to me right now, and I’m having a great time…(even if I did spend 3 times what I told myself I could spend – yikes.)

In my joyful state of denial and abandon, I willingly ignored warnings from people like my friend Bev who told me “don’t try to create it all at once…do a little at a time” and also had the great suggestion to buy a (as in one ONE) plant (in bloom) per-month…”this way you won’t spend too much and there will always be something blooming in your garden.”  Brilliant!  Great idea.

When I stopped at the Chelsea Garden Center for some potting mix and told the woman working there that it was my first spring at this new apartment / garden  she stopped in her tracks and gave me a knowing, concerned look and delivered this practically whispered, dramatic warning:  “Give yourself a budget.  Now.  And stick to it or before you know it you’ll be spending every penny on plants.”   I smiled, thanked her, agreed it was good advice, assured her I was indeed sticking to a budget, and chuckled to myself thinking “geez – she made it sound like I’m buying drugs or something!”


It’s hard not to be frustrated with myself at this complete lack of self control which might very well result in me not having a bike…or having to take the money saved for something else in order to get one.  Still, I’m so happy with my plants and my garden and every moment is so thrilling that it’s hard to be upset!  I’m REALLY hoping that this was the Big Kahuna of plant purchases and that from here on out it will be a small purchases here or there, some bulbs, some divisions traded with other gardeners, etc…there really isn’t room for much else at this point!

So here are just a few plant photos and “the list” in all its glory (and my disgrace):

close up the shade-lovers


“mystery” tree peony

another shot of the shady plants


honeysuckle and Persian Shield

miscellaneous pretty things…

lettuces, rainbow chard, some of the basil

herbs, peppers, and pink Mandevilla, which I’m hoping will climb that iron trellis.

the temporary tomato collection…the big things are all on wheels should they need an even sunnier spot, but so far they are doing well here.  I need to get more cages on pronto and will eventually have to move some of the smaller tomato pots elsewhere so that they’ll all have enough room.  What was I thinking?


Lavender Creeping Phlox
Tree Peony – fuschia (mystery peony)
Pulmonaria – Bethlehem Sage
Lamium – ‘White Nancy’
Campanula – blue bells, sarastro
Campanula – white clips
Hardy Geranium – lavender
Trumpet Vine (didn’t make it)
Epemedium (mystery variety!)
Mertensia, VA Bluebells
Primrose (mystery variety!)
various sedums and hens/chicks

yellow pear
Roma  – 2
Mortgage Lifter – 1
Goliath Patio – 1
Beefsteak – 1

Other Veggies
Peppers:  bell, cayenne, serrano, cherry bomb
Rainbow Chard
Sugar Snap Peas

lemon verbena
purple sage
parsley, curly
parsley, flat leaf
oregano, italian
oregano, golden
marjoram, golden

Alpine & Everbearing

Annual “Extras”
Persian Shield
Morning Glory
various sedums, hens/chicks

impatiens, marigolds, lobelia, violets

Garden Bloom Day check-in

This Tiarella (Foam Flower) plant is really small, but it’s flowering! I planted it last fall and I’m just glad it came back.

Close up of my Dicentra (Bleeding Heart). It’s another small one, but seems happy.

These Spanish Bluebells are flowering their socks off a day after I took these photos! I’ll have to update. They are gorgeous and look great. I’m hoping they will naturalize!

My teeny tiny Bleeding Heart.

Tulips, Daffodils, and Tree Peony are all done blooming. The Azaleas are very nearly done.

That’s all for now, but I see several things that I hope will bloom in the next couple of weeks!

Mystery Rose…what could it be?

When we moved at the end of last summer, we discovered that the previous tenants left behind a climbing rose…

I know next to nothing about roses.  This one appeared, last August, to have been fairly neglected as far as I could tell.  It did not appear to be doing well.

I tried to read up on what I ought to do with it, but it was hard to tell without knowing for sure what we’ve got!  There were a number of old, dead canes with no growth at all.  Last fall I pruned them down to the base and left only the canes that appeared to have had some growth.

So far the “mystery rose” seems to have rebounded.  This is our first spring at the new apartment, so we didn’t know what to expect from it.  In addition to lots of growth at the top, there is also a lot of new growth at the bottom – and I can’t tell if it’s from the base of the original plant or if theses are “babies.”

The white trellis they’ve used for it could stand to be adjusted (it’s tilting) but it is pretty well anchored in the ground and when I tried to pull it out I hesitated for fear of disturbing or injuring the rose.

Here she is, and I hope she’ll bloom for us!

If anyone has any suggestions, I’m all ears!

Tulip Mystery Solved!

The verdict is in.

Last month  when my tulips were just starting to open I had a hard time telling  which was which (you can read that post HERE.)  I had planted ‘Spring Green’ and ‘Angelique’ together in the same pots, and the first tulip to bloom looked to me like some sort of combination of them both!

Here’s a picture of the mystery tulip as it first opened:

It had the light green markings on the outer sides of the petals which looked like ‘Spring Green‘ to me, yet it was pink.  Hmm.

As it continued to open it became very clear that it was actually ‘Angelique,’ and wow  – is it ever lovely!

I love all the layers and the white base of the petals…and that beautiful golden center.

‘Angelique‘ is a shorter variety – at least mine are.  These  grew to about 12’ tall.  I planted them in containers along with ‘Spring Green’ and ‘Queen of Night,‘ both of which are much taller, single varieties.

At the time of these photos, ‘Queen of Night’ had not yet bloomed.  They are in full swing now, and I need to get some photos of them soon.

Here are the pictures I took before ‘Queen of Night’ opened:

That’s our new willow (“Fern Leaf”) privacy fencing in the background, by the way. As you can see, it doesn’t provide full privacy – I don’t think any of the rolled bamboo or willow fences do. But it does provide *some* screening and it looks better than chain link.

You can still see through it, so it hasn’t solved the problem of the barking puppy next door going crazy when he sees cats in our yard, but we still like the fence and will probably put up another one toward the back.

Actually, it’s probably a good thing that it’s not solid / 100% private – some sunlight can still get through there, and we need all we can get!

Back to the tulips:

Next time around I think I’ll plant the ‘Angelique’ bulbs by themselves, or with another shorter variety and keep the tall bulbs together.

Belated Bloom Day

Well, I’m a little late getting my bloom day post up, but wanted to at least have an account of what’s happening in the yard right now.

I’m very excited because the daffodils I planted last year have come up and are gorgeous, and the tulips are just getting ready to pop!
Unfortunately it poured rain yesterday so the flowers were still mud-splashed today when I had a chance to get some pictures. They are still lovely, and it’s literally a dream come true to be able to look out a back window into our very own yard and see them there.

Narcissus Accent (bulbs purchased from Easy To Grow Bulbs):

Too bad they are a bit mud-splattered! I wish they’d lift their heads a bit higher…they seem to droop down a bit. I am really in love with their colors, though!

Here is Narcissus Curlew (purchased from White Flower Farm):

Again, mud-splattered, but I do like their light, lemony-yellow color very much.

Here are the muscari – Grape Hyacinth Latifolium (bulbs purchased from Easy To Grow Bulbs):

I am hoping they will multiply a bit next year…maybe I’ll plant more bulbs in the fall too.  I’m really enjoying them and would love to have a bigger patch.

Last fall I planted the following tulip bulbs in containers:

Angelique – a lovely semi-double pale pink tulip

Spring Green – a soft cream with subtle pale green sort of “stripes” along the outer edges of the petals

Queen of the Night – a dark, almost black tulip

Queen of the night got planted all alone in one pot, and I planted two more pots with a mix of Angelique and Spring Green. They’ve all been forming flower heads and today one of them began to open:

It is gorgeous, but what the heck is it is what I’m wondering!  My first guess is Spring Green – it’s the same shape (at least right now) and it has that pale green accent on going down the center vertically on the outside of each petal…but pink?  Every photo I’ve seen of Spring Green Tulip is either white or a creamy color, but not pink.

Could it be the Angelique?  I think it’s got to be the Spring Green…maybe the pink will fade to more of a cream?

I guess time will tell! Either way, it sure is lovely and I’m looking forward to all three containers blooming soon.

When I received my order of bulbs last fall from Easy To Grow Bulbs, they had included an “Adventure Pack” of 10 unidentified bulbs for me to try.  These “mystery bulbs” have come up and I *think* that they are some variety of crocus…not sure.  Anyone out there know?

They grow very low to the ground, open in sun and close up when shaded.  Here’s one closed:

And here they are open:

I just love them! They look like little lily pads to me.  They are really only about 2 inches above the ground – I like how they just sort of blend in, especially when they are closed, and then the sun comes out and you get these big, bright yellow stars.

That’s it as far as blooms that have come up from last year’s plantings – there are more blooms in the yard, but these are potted plants that I could not resist buying at the farmers market this past week.  (long winter + cold, slow spring + desperate need for more color = impulse purchases)

I got mostly tulips, which is odd since I’ve never considered myself a huge tulip fan.  Now that I have a yard, I’m suddenly more appreciative of their form and the variety of their shapes and splashes of color.  I’m really hoping that they will come up for me again next year.

Here’s the farmers market booty:

These large pink tulips really brighten up the driveway.

This is Siberian Squilla, which I put in a shady spot just outside our kitchen window. They are small, but bright enough for us to see from the kitchen. Again, I’m hoping they will continue to come back each spring.

More tulips.  These are deep crimson with a slightly ruffled edge and yellow inside.  Another attempt to brighten up the driveway and side garden:

Back in the yard, near the Narcissus Curlew, more farm market tulips – reddish orange and yellow.

A slightly lighter colored version of them – I’m told they are doubles:

They liven up the area back by the fig tree and cat shelter, at least until other things start to come up and fill in.

These are along the garage wall in the SW corner of the yard.

There are some pretty shady areas of the driveway, so I also got a small azalea.  I know the blooms won’t last terribly long, but it will be a nice punch of color out our kitchen window and will help to perk things up out there:

I guess it’s cheating a bit, but it sure is wonderful to have some instant color out there.  Spring seems to be taking its sweet old time here (which isn’t a bad thing – I’m just impatient!)  I have to say it’s great to look out the window or walk out into the yard and see so many little bright spots among the trees and along the borders.

They’ll tide me over until other thing start filling in…and until my next shopping trip to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden plant sale in a few weeks!  I am literally counting down the days. (16 to go…)