A Garden Cleanup Underway

Hyacinth orientalis ‘Woodstock’

I finished the first stage of the spring garden cleanup on Wednesday, revealing this lovely hyacinth and giving other emerging plants a chance to breathe.

At the end of the day piles of debris were placed in barrels and stacked on tarps out front for monthly yard waste pickup the next morning.  One of the downsides of suburban living is having to pay to have to have material hauled away that, when I lived on a larger lot that was bounded by woods, I used to allow to decompose naturally.

Paeonia lactiflora ‘Coral Charm’ (Coral Charm Peony)

I was exhausted from the work and too tired of the chore to think of taking a photo of the waste piles, but there was an impressive mass of stuff. The locally owned waste company offers the removal service of one trash barrel of yard waste per month to customers who agree to participate annually. There is usually one month during the year when I have collected nothing for the pickup, but in late winter there is at least one month when the quantity is immense. That mostly  consists of the prior year’s thick, brown woody stalks, along with whatever fresh green weeds I’ve had time to pluck (weeds are way ahead of me this year). This February’s offering also included a giant and ridiculously heavy crape myrtle limb brought down by the snow storm and branches from an old and dying redbud.

Erysimum ‘Sugar Rush Purple’ (Wallflower)

Each time I have one of these excessive loads I fear it will not be picked up. This has happened only once though in 17 years, when I came home to find the piles still sitting by the front curb tagged with a handwritten note reminding me of the service limits. That time there was a substitute driver I have come to believe.

But the two men who stopped by this morning were unconcerned by the amount of debris. They hopped out of the truck, smiling cheerfully. In a few minutes they had fed last year’s thick, brown woody stalks and tree limbs, the meditation circle’s fresh green weeds, a few rose bush prunings and old leaves from the now-blooming hellebores, into the deep mouth of the grinder.

The machinery chewed quickly, consuming the heavy load in seconds. The friendly men soon were on their way, but not before helping me fold the tarps and rolling the barrels up to the garage.

The interaction with these kind souls, along with the discovery of this anemone in bloom, made my day.

Anemone coronaria ‘Mr. Fokker’

The main garden waste producing culprits I have cleared away so far from last year are:

Helianthus angustifolius (Swamp Sunflower), grows 8-10 feet high and spreads to 4 feet wide. Native but can be invasive. This made big headway last summer when I was not tending the garden. The stalks are strong and heavy.

Helianthus angustifolius (Swamp Sunflower)

Rudbeckia laciniata (Green-Headed Coneflower), grows about 8-9 feet tall  and spread 2-3 feet.

Rudbeckia laciniata (Green-Headed Coneflower)

Rudbeckia laciniata (Green-Headed Coneflower)

Salvia uliginosa ‘Blue Sky’ (Bog sage), grows 4-5 feet tall, but spreads about 3 feet.

Salvia uliginosa ‘Blue Sky’ (Bog sage)

Leucanthemum x superbum (Shasta Daisy). A couple of plants originally, these have spead down the front of a 10-foot border. Last year’s brown stems have to be cut individually away from the plant.

Leucanthemum x superbum (Shasta Daisy)

Physostegia virginiana (Obedient Plant). Spreads aggressively by rhizomes. This has created a disaster in my northern (southern-facing border).

Physostegia virginiana (Obedient Plant)

Echinacea purpurea (purple coneflower) and Monarda didyma (Scarlet Beebalm), minor sized stems that can be easily broken away from the base, but a chore nevertheless.

 

Echinacea purpurea (purple coneflower) and Monarda didyma (Scarlet Beebalm)

Some of these plants I could not remove without digging up entire borders, some I would not want to give up. I love them for their flowers and for the way they attract pollinators. So they all remain a part of spring cleanup for the near future.  What takes the most effort in your garden getting ready for spring?

Wednesday With Words—Daffodils

The first daffodils began opening this week at pbmGarden. Their appearance reminded me of something I recorded a few years back, so the following is adapted from a previous post (Daffodils. February 15, 2013. https://pbmgarden.blog/2013/02/15/daffodils/)

Narcissus ‘King Alfred’ (trumpet daffodil)

I grew up inside a small town in the rural south, surrounded by fields of cotton, tobacco, corn and soybeans. Driving away from town with my family to visit relatives on Sundays, riding past these fields, nearly every house I would see for miles and miles at this time of year had a clump or two of dancing yellow daffodils, announcing spring.

As one would expect time has altered this bucolic landscape. Driving in the countryside nowadays past these old homesites, there is evidence of past lives. With owners having died out, many of these old homesteads now sit abandoned. Heirs perhaps found jobs elsewhere and live too far away to maintain the homes, yet they keep memories alive by holding onto the property. Or perhaps they await better offers from the developers.

Regardless, often the land sits idle. Even if the buildings are long gone, there almost always remains a towering oak tree beside where the house once stood, and nearby, a patch of daffodils.

One spring along a familiar stretch of road that my husband and I had travelled for many years, I pointed out to him just such an old homesite.

I had never known who once had lived there, but the cheerful daffodils blooming near the old drive were a sight I knew to expect and to watch for.

Narcissus ‘King Alfred’ (trumpet daffodil)

Viewed from a car window those flowers had greeted me annually for decades, as they must have welcomed home the family that once inhabited the property.  I haven’t travelled that road in a while, but that season I was not disappointed.

Intrigued, my husband wrote this poem.

Daffodils

Within this clearing rife with weeds,
No homely headstones stand askew,
But daffodils in patches tell
That here once worked a hand, a heart,
And there once stood a house, a home.

No headstones set this ground apart,
But daffodils in patches tell
Of heart and home as sure as bones.

(DVM, v.G, April 2007)

Narcissus ‘King Alfred’ (trumpet daffodil)

What flowers do you notice as markers of past existence?

In A Vase On Monday – Branch And Bloom

In A Vase On Monday – Branch And Bloom

Each Monday Cathy at Rambling In The Garden invites us to share an arrangement using materials collected from our gardens.

Many Daffodils are beginning to show color around the garden, but only one sunny flower had ventured to open by the time I gathered items for today’s vase. On the other hand Hellebores have been making strong headway all week and I resigned myself to using them again this week. They worked out nicely in this late winter design.

In A Vase On Monday – Branch And Bloom

Responding to some sunny, warm days, a large spirea in the western border soon will burst into blossom. I enlisted several of its branches to add shape and structure to the vase.

In A Vase On Monday – Branch And Bloom

A small florist’s frog inserted into a small black plastic dish keeps the materials in place. A white ceramic square serves as the vase.

In A Vase On Monday – Branch And Bloom

Materials

Flowers
Helleborus x hybridus (Lenten rose)
Foliage
Spiraea prunifolia (bridal wreath spiraea)
Vase
White ceramic square dish. Florist’s frog in black plastic cup

In A Vase On Monday – Branch And Bloom

In A Vase On Monday – Branch And Bloom

Thanks to Cathy at Rambling In The Garden for hosting and giving us an opportunity to share flower designs across the world. Visit her to discover what she and others found to place In A Vase On Monday.

Fragrant Daphne

Early yesterday morning I caught my first whiff of Daphne odora.

Daphne odora (Winter daphne)

Just beginning to flower, the three shrubs are planted along the front of the house near the driveway. They have grown in together and appear to be one large Daphne. One of the three is D. ‘Aureomarginata’.

The cold winter and heavy snows this year severely damaged the foliage and buds. From the street side they look terrible, but the portion that backs up to the porch was more protected and will make a nice, if limited, show. And the fragrance will certainly be enjoyed.

Daphne odora (Winter daphne) protected by the overhang and proximity to the porch

The temperature yesterday reached 81° Fahrenheit. Today’s high is predicted to be 41°. I do not talk to my plants but if I did I would encourage them to “Be strong and courageous!”

A Hellebore Surprise

This little beauty is from 2016, purchased when a friend and I attended a hellebore festival at Pine Knot Farms (PKF) in southern Virginia. This is the first time it has flowered. It was not in bloom when I brought it home so I am not quite positive about the name.  By process of elimination and studying the photos from that day, it seems to be Helleborus x hybridus ‘Apricot Blush’.

These 3 images are from yesterday afternoon.

Helleborus x hybridus ‘Apricot Blush’, PKF

Helleborus x hybridus ‘Apricot Blush’, PKF

Helleborus x hybridus ‘Apricot Blush’, PKF

These two photos are from this morning. The flower has opened a bit more.

Helleborus x hybridus ‘Apricot Blush’, PKF

Helleborus x hybridus ‘Apricot Blush’, PKF

Crocuses And A Spring-like Day

Crocus Species (Snow Crocus Mixture)

Taking a break from some weeding in the garden. Every square inch needs attention but it is great to be back outdoors again.

75° Fahrenheit.  Sunny. With cheery birds for company, a gentle breeze is making the chimes sing.

Crocus Species (Snow Crocus Mixture)

These crocuses were planted in Fall 2016, but I was not able to spend much time in the garden last year, so I do not remember them blooming in 2017—probably. At any rate they are brightening my week.

Columbine is coming up underneath. Since the garden was begun in 2001, it has spread itself all around.

Crocus Species (Snow Crocus Mixture)


Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern red columbine)
Crocus Species (Snow Crocus Mixture)

Barbara Katz’s Garden—2017 Garden Bloggers Fling

Many attendees of the 2017 Gardens Bloggers Fling have reported eloquently about the gardens we visited in June in Washington, DC and surrounds. (See 2017 Capital Region Fling Overview). I managed to write about only a couple of the gardens after returning, but there are a few more I personally wanted to share with you.

Barbara Katz’s Garden- Bethesda, Maryland

On one morning our first stop took us to a private garden in Maryland created by Barbara Katz. This garden visit was a highlight of the Fling. By way of introduction here is the official tour description:

“Landscape designer Barbara Katz is the owner of London Landscapes, LLC and the creator of this lushly planted hillside garden. The lot slopes 12 feet up to the property line near a 200 year old oak. A waterfall and small pond make use of the slope, attracting birds and wildlife. Filled with annuals and perennials, the garden has a strict color division with plants in tones of orange, white, and purple on one side and yellow, pink, blue, and maroon on the other.”

The day began auspiciously. Humidity and oppressive heat had dogged us the previous day, but then cleared out overnight, leaving the early hour air noticeably fresh.

Barbara Katz’s Garden- Front View From the Drive

Upon our arrival Barbara greeted us warmly in her driveway and described how she came to own the property.

Barbara Katz’s Garden- Bethesda, Maryland

As a landscape designer she had worked with clients on this garden for years. When she learned the clients were planning to move she found it difficult to leave the garden to destiny, and figured out a way to purchase the home. Barbara directed us to the left side entrance toward the hillside garden in back.

Side Garden

As the path was narrow we queued to enter. (I later circled back around to capture this image.) We happily inched our way along, stopping to admire beautiful plantings. Each step brought delight.

Barbara Katz’s Garden- Bethesda, Maryland

Barbara Katz’s Garden- Bethesda, Maryland

Barbara Katz’s Garden- Bethesda, Maryland

Other Flingers have written so well about the plantings, the color combinations, the hardscape and water features in the Katz garden. I simply will share some glimpses of the garden and my reaction.

Barbara Katz’s Garden- Bethesda, Maryland

Barbara Katz’s Garden- Bethesda, Maryland

As I moved along what stood out to me was the sense of place, a feeling, the impact of being in a special setting.

Barbara Katz’s Garden- Bethesda, Maryland

Before ascending the steps I first traveled the base of the garden. New vignettes opened up with every step.

Barbara Katz’s Garden- Bethesda, Maryland

Barbara Katz’s Garden- Bethesda, Maryland

Barbara Katz’s Garden- Bethesda, Maryland

This garden really spoke to me. As I explored the paths leading to, from and around the garden, I felt transformed, overcome by the beauty, appreciative of the vision and work that leads one to create such a space.

Barbara Katz’s Garden- Bethesda, Maryland

Barbara Katz’s Garden- Bethesda, Maryland

Barbara Katz’s Garden- Bethesda, Maryland

After surveying the garden from below I worked my way up the stone steps alongside the waterfall.

Barbara Katz’s Garden- Bethesda, Maryland

Barbara Katz’s Garden- Bethesda, Maryland

At the top of the garden I found this circular lawn perfectly satisfying. It seemed quite secluded. Just behind where I stood to take this picture there was a shady spot with a wooden bench. Across the way, a gazebo beckoned. I headed in that direction next.

At top of the garden lay a circular lawn on one side, a gazebo across the way.

Looking down from the gazebo side the steepness of the property is evident.

Barbara Katz’s Garden- Bethesda, Maryland

Notice the three empty chairs below on the left? I worked my way toward them.

Barbara Katz’s Garden- Bethesda, Maryland

I settled on the edge of a seat. From this vantage point I could gaze up at the plantings. I could pause, admire and contemplate. The garden itself was a meditation.

Barbara Katz’s Garden- Bethesda, Maryland

Though surrounded by the din of 50 enthusiastic Flingers, the quiet force of the peaceful setting was more powerful. Human voices receded, even as sounds of birdsong and trickling water reverberated. I felt practically alone in the garden. Noticing. Breathing.  At ease.

This is a garden with a soul.