This Weekend in the Garden

IMG_7857.JPG“Gardens are not made by singing ‘Oh, how beautiful,’ and sitting in the shade.”  — Rudyard Kipling

Peony ‘Sarah Bernhardt’

Peonies are opening all over the garden.  I’ve added many over the past couple of years — so many I forgot where I planted some of them until they began to pop up in early spring.  Although they bloom for only a brief time, I feel about peonies the way many gardeners feel about roses; I can’t imagine my garden without them.

Peony ‘Duchess De Nemours’ with Alchemilla mollis
Peony ‘Shirley Temple’
Part of the Peony “Old Time Collection”

“The love of gardening is a seed once sown that never dies.”  — Gertrude Jekyll

Anchusa azurea ‘Dropmore’ with campanula


“Gardening simply does not allow one to be mentally old, because too many hopes and dreams are yet to be realized.”  — Allan Armitage

Penstemon ‘Pocahontas’ with bumble bee


Clematis are as omnipresent as peonies in the garden.

I’m not sure what this is. It was supposed to be ‘Josephine’ as well, and clearly is not.


Clematis ‘Josephine’
Clematis ‘Belle of Woking’


“I like gardening — it’s a place where I find myself when I need to lose myself.” — Alice Sebold

Peony, catmint and foxglove


Siberian Iris
Sweet William
Bleeding Heart
Penstemon, catmint and Rosa ‘Grootendorst’


Fall Flowers

I took Friday afternoon off from work to spend some time catching up in the garden.  I was able to get some mums potted and placed on the front steps; always makes me feel as though autumn is on the way.  Then I spent some time weeding and re-locating a couple of young crab apple trees to a new garden area.

I did a little walking around in the early evening to take some photos of the fall garden.  The bees and dragonflies are still very busy.

Dragonfly on spent coneflower


New England Aster
Dahlia ‘David Howard’
Look very closely at the rose and you will see a tiny little insect of some type peering out at the world

September already?


The temperature has finally cooled enough, and the humidity subsided, to where I can once again tolerate working outside in the garden.  The last couple of nights have dropped into the 40s and the days have hovered in the mid-70s.  It’s been blissful. 

IMG_5856.JPGSince we’re also in the midst of a long weekend, I’ve taken advantage of the time and spent Friday afternoon and 8 hours yesterday in the garden.  I now have the weed-invested hot border cleaned up and back under control. The rudbeckia, calendula, marigolds, and red dahlias are blooming like crazy.  My ‘David Howard’ dahlias are full of buds and stand 4′ tall; they should open this week with their gorgeous, rich orange blooms.


I started some re-lo’s yesterday as well.  A “red” phlox that turned out to not really be all that red has been moved from the hot border to the circle garden.  A batch of Black-eyed Susan’s that were smothering a rose shrub in the front border were re-lo’ed to the hot border.  That’s just the beginning.  September (I can’t believe it’s already September) is generally my clean-up, divide and re-lo month.  In October I will be busy planting the 500 or so bulbs I’ve ordered (daffs, alliums, and fritillaria meleagris).  I’m planting more naturalizing daffodils in the orchard, as well as in a new garden location I have in mind (I know, like I need more).  The fritillaria will be allowed to naturalize in the front yard under a small grove of maple trees. 

I also spent part of the morning, unfortunately, cleaning up the massacre in the rose garden.  Saw fly larvae devoured quite a number of my new roses.  It’s been one nasty pest after another this summer; I blame the intense heat and dryness. 


That aside, most of the garden is doing well and the vegetable garden is still going strong.  I’m still harvesting cukes, green beans, carrots, onions, beets, tomatoes and corn.  I need to start canning soon.

zinnia and orange cosmos in the vegetable garden; the cutting garden

The watermelon and acorn squash should be ready soon, and the pumpkin patch is producing some mighty fine looking pumpkins.  Our older apple trees are loaded as well, so soon it will be time to start picking apples and canning applesauce and apple butter, and Nora will make and freeze some of her delicious pies.


Here are a few additional photos from yesterday evening.


Bee on origanum in the herb garden


Dahlia ‘Worton Blue Streak’

A Rose By Any Other Name…

Many of the roses have started to bloom in the garden, including several of this year’s new additions.

One of the new additions (above and below photos) — a David Austin rose called the “Generous Gardener.” This is from his English Rose collection and has a wonderful double/full bloom.  The fragrance is a mix of the old rose with hints of musk and myrrh.


This one is looking a little frayed around the edges from the rose chafers, which are out in force right now, but it’s a lovely hedge rose with a beautiful lavender colored, full bloom.  It’s already survived 3 North Country winters, so it’s a keeper.
Iceberg rose – a floribunda rose cultivar bred in Germany; it is a shrub rose that produces an abundance of blooms and is a repeat bloomer.  Although a shrub rose, I’ve trained mine to run along the split rail fences in a rambling fashion.
Tucked in among the penstemon, this rose has numerous, tiny light pink blooms.  It’s called a Pink Grootendorst and is cold-hardy.  It forms a strong, bushy shrub and flowers continuously once it starts in mid-June.
“Great Maiden’s Blush” – a shrub rose with delicate pink blossoms, this rose has a lineage dating back to pre-15th century.  It blooms only once, but the bloom period can last up to 6 weeks.  Very cold hardy.

Beautiful Sunrise

on this rainy Sunday.  IMG_4494.JPG

Not that I’m complaining about the rain, at all.  I took Friday off from work to get some plants in the ground, roughly 40 or so perennials, in the new rose garden.  Plus I did some additional border cleanup; weeding, and adding compost and mulch where needed.  Yesterday, my brother and I planted a new willow hedge in the “dog area”, I pruned all  roses (probably around 30 or so – frankly, I’ve lost count), and planted the remainder of the cold crop seeds (lettuces, carrots, beets) and my cauliflower transplants.  

So the rain is a welcome relief, both because it imposed some much needed rest and because the new plants and seeds very much need it. 

The New Rose Garden

It started with a diseased tree and a David Austin catalog…Last summer we had to bring down a rather large, diseased tree.  Although it likely had a few more years in it, it was dropping some significantly sized branches every winter onto our patio area, dangerously close to the gazebo.  For safety reasons, we decided to make a preemptive strike – as painful as the decision was — and have the tree removed before it caused some serious damage.  The removal left an alarmingly bare, very sun-filled spot in our yard next to the patio.

If you look past the chair on the right, you can see a slight pile of brown — that’s the ground up trunk of the tree.  That entire corner had been shaded by the tree, and the view toward the sheep pasture less open.


My brother, Jim, had constructed a large arbor next to the patio the year before.  I planted a climbing rose (David Austin’s ‘Snow Goose’), 3 or 4 varieties of clematis, and a climbing hydrangea next to the arbor.  I envisioned an arbor encased is delightfully scented and colorful vines to provide some added shade to the patio area, as well as to provide additional shelter for the birds.  Unfortunately, growth was a little slow going the first year; the ground was super saturated in the early spring neat the arbor and the shade thrown by the tree was too great.  Now that this arbor is fully exposed to the sun, I expect all of the climbers to be a little happier this year (except, perhaps, the climbing hydrangea which reputedly prefers some shade.  I’m going to leave it where it is for this season and see how it does.)

You can see a portion of the removed tree to the left of the arbor and gazebo


That benefit aside, with the tree gone, the space looked barren and needed a lift.  So, Jim and I relocated 4 fairly young lilac shrubs from the front yard to borders along the fence.  I had already planted a ‘Blizzard’ Pearl Bush in the corner, and have a venerable viburnum near the gazebo.   I  also have several lavender colored roses, as well as several fuchsia colored roses growing along the fence line.  The area still looked a bit bare without the tree, but I decided in the fall that I wouldn’t purchase any additional plants for the coming season.  I wanted to grow some perennials in the house over the winter, but otherwise was hoping to stem my somewhat profligate spending on the garden.

January arrives, along with all of the plant catalogs.  Generally Nora shows little to no interest in the catalogs.  But for whatever reason, this year, she decided to peruse the David Austin catalog.  And then she decided she wanted to select some new roses for the garden.  So she did.  She didn’t really care where in the garden they resided, or if I even had a place for them.  So, there I was, with 2 new climbers to place…

And so I pondered, and I also began to look through the David Austin catalog.  At some point, it occurred to me that I could close off the lawn to the left of the patio leaving the arbor as the sole entrance to  new garden space.  This would become the new “rose garden.” Despite its name, it’s not intended to mirror the formal roses-only rose garden. The borders of the enclosed, slightly oval space will be comprised largely of a variety of roses — shrub, hedge and climbing varieties — but also have lilac and viburnum in the mix.  All will be under-planted with a mix of perennials.  The predominant colors in the rose garden will be purples, blues, pinks and whites.

The cardboard was placed to kill off the grass and outline the new borders.


So I ordered 10 Alnwick hedge roses from David Austin to create a border on the northern side of the space.  The Alnwick is an old English shrub rose with rich pink, double blooms.  The shrubs will reach 3-4′ in height and 4′ in width.  I’m also tucking a William Lobb rose(relocated from the circle garden) into the area and adding a white rambler, whose name I can’t recall.  The William Lobb is a gorgeous moss rose with purple, double flowers.  A truly spectacular specimen.

I also purchased two climbing roses from David Austin (Nora’s selections),  a Gertrude Jekyll and a Generous Gardener.  I wasn’t quite sure where I was going to put these two. Here’s my dilemma: there is an 8′ section of fence line that has been problematic for me since we moved here.  An old milk house stood in this location back when the place was a working farm.  The milk house rested on a 5-6′ deep concrete pad that had a series of holes or tubes in it, where they used to store the milk containers to keep them cool.  The milk house is long gone, but the pad remains buried under a thin layer of sod.  It is impossible to plant anything there, and would require considerable effort to remove.   As a result, I have roses growing along the fence line on either side of this empty patch of grass.  It drives me batty.

So while I was planning out this new space, it finally occurred to me that I could put a large planter on the pad along the fence line, put an 8′ trellis behind the fence, and plant the climbing roses in there.  So that’s what I did.  Or rather, I turned to my brother and asked “can you make an 8′ long planter and an 8′ x 8′ trellis, and oh by the way, do so using only materials you can find on the property – recycled or otherwise?”  “Well of course I can,” he replied.  And thus was born my beautiful planter, created solely out of unused stockade fencing, and the gorgeous trellis constructed from cedar and grapevine.


So back to the garden…as mentioned, all of the roses and lilacs will be underplanted with a mix of lavender, pinks, artemesia, catmint, and cranesbill.  I’m also tucking some sweet rocket and clematis in next to the lilacs.  

The final piece of the new rose garden will be a greatly expanded bed on the east side of the gazebo.  A Sambucus nigra ‘Black Lace’ will reside on either side of the gazebo.  This shrub will grow roughly 6′ tall by 6-8′ wide.  A type of elderberry, it will produce pink flowers in early summer, and blackish-red berries in late summer/fall; a favorite of songbirds.  But it’s other striking quality is its almost black, lacy foliage.  Lastly, in the bed between these shrubs, I’m planting purple and white phlox (phlox paniculata ‘David’ and ‘Blue Paradise’), foxglove, hollyhocks, bleeding hearts, poppies and a mix of white, pink and purple lilies, all fronted by pinks and cranesbill.

As with any new garden, it will take a couple of years for the perennials to really come into their own and for the shrubs to settle in and grow.  I’m putting a bench in front of the planter surrounded by containers of annuals, and will add a bird feeding and bathing area near the lilacs as well.  My goal is to make the patio and gazebo appear as though they have been a part of this property for many years; I want them to blend into the gardens, and I want the scent and quiet colors of this new garden to call to you as you sit or dine on the patio.