Garden Highlights of 2011

Happy New Year everyone!  You’ve come to the right place – I’m tinkering with the look of the site and trying something new.  It seemed right to time it with the arrival of a new year.   Feedback is welcomed!

So…2011 was the first full year we’ve spent in this apartment.  It was my first chance to see the yard and garden in Spring, my first chance to really track the sunlight in our yard over the season, and my first chance to see where my blooming “gaps” were – with regard to both location and timing.

It was definitely a year of experimenting and learning.  Some things didn’t work out so well:  the new and very expensive tree peony that died, the Cupani sweet peas that I think I (gasp) killed, and the sturdy and well established hydrangea that didn’t bloom this year.

Other plants were very happy and made a spectacular show:  the fall-planted bulbs, the azaela, the Larkspur, Lavender, Persian Shield, Ajuga, and most of the Hostas.  The herbs are STILL growing. The Sun-Gold cherry tomatoes were the prizewinner of 2011, producing pretty much non stop for months.

Here’s a quick look back at some of the highlights and accomplishments:

Campanula did well for me and actually bloomed again in late summer!

Growing strawberries in hanging baskets allowed me to position them where they got full sun – which I would not have been able to do growing them in the ground.   Once they were done, I planted them in the ground to overwinter and will try them again in baskets this year, provided they do come back.

Making more wire compost bins so that I could keep up with compost, mulch, and leaves.  This was a big help!

This cold frame was easy to put together using an old window.  I have arugula and scallions growing in right now and will put it to good use this spring too.

The lilies were gorgeous this summer – show stoppers, as you can see.

Getting two half barrels to use as planters was a major coup.  The best part is that they were free!  Our landlord makes wine and offered to cut a few in half for me to use.  Some casters on the bottom and a few drilled drainage holes later, they made great containers for my tomatoes and herbs.

I had fun growing herbs and succulents in containers.  They definitely needed to be watered much more this way, but it was nice to be able to fill in empty spots in the yard with some color.

How great it was to be able to try so many things to help me figure out what I do and don’t want to do again in the coming year.  Lots of thoughts are slowly forming themselves into gardening goals for the coming season…which I like to think will be here before we know it.  🙂

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.