Tag Archives: candytuft

Fall Gardening – Falling Enthusiasm

The garden needs attention and a spate of recent mild autumn days has left little excuse for not tackling a long list of fall garden chores. Yet, the irises are not thinned, the replacements for the Arizona Cypress that died are not planted, the weeds are not pulled. There are no interesting bulbs waiting to be planted. Enthusiasm and motivation for gardening, so easily tapped in springtime, readily elude this time of year.

Meditation Circle

November 10, 2011

One chore yesterday left the meditation circle in a disruptive state. I pulled the filler plants-marigolds and angelonia-that had provided intense color all summer.

The design goal for landscaping the labyrinth is eventually to fill the borders between the meditation path with evergreen or semi-evergreen plants so as to avoid this lopsided, barren look.

I have experimented with several types of plants in the meditation circle and am really happy with the performance of a long-time garden favorite in this garden, Iberis Sempervirens (Candytuft). Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (Beardtongue) is also working well for sections where extra height is wanted at the turn-arounds. These taller plants serve as visual cues for guiding visitors along the path.

The thyme is unimpressive so far. During the past six weeks, the Penstemon mexicali ‘Pike’s Peak Purple’ (Beardtongue) has bloomed much better than it did all summer, winning it a bit of a reprieve, but it has a wild scraggliness that is unappealing for the meditation circle. A landscaping friend is coming to walk the meditation path this week and I am eager to hear her ideas.

Droplets, Webs and Color: Select Details

Yesterday the early morning garden was rich with droplets of moisture, complex webs and deep, intense color.

Blooming In Mid-September

The garden has been completely on auto-pilot for the past eight weeks. With July’s extreme heat and drought came parched plants and severe gardening lethargy. Then the months of August and September brought several important rains, and as is the way of gardens, this garden responded, sparking renewal in growth and interest.

Blooms, Blooms

Touring and taking inventory today it was impossible not to revel in the multitude of blooms.

A few days into September the gardenias began blooming again, putting on a more magnificent show than in early June when temperatures in the mid-nineties forced them to struggle. Now the air is filled with the lovely and unmistakable scent of gardenia.

The Orange Canna adds height and interest to the east end of the side garden. Throughout July the canna’s blossoms wilted almost immediately. Today its elegant blossom brightens this space again.

A few Shasta Daisy flowers continue to bloom in different spots around the garden.  The divisions transplanted in early Spring are healthy.

It was a treat to discover the Jackmani Clematis in bloom today.  This is unusual for this garden. Again the rain seems to have made the difference.

The lantana has been in this garden for ten years.  It performed beautifully this year, one of those plants that does not mind the heat.

The Meditation Circle

The flowers in the meditation circle have held up well throughout the entire summer. The marigolds and angelonia withstand the heat and humidity brilliantly. Both have spread beyond the 12-inch allotment of space between the stepping stones, but an occasional shearing works to restore order to the labyrinth and yields long-lasting bouquets to bring inside.

The perennials in the circle, candytuft, thyme and penstemon, all performed well and look healthy. Between the two types of penstemon (Beardtongue), Penstemon Digitalis ‘Husker Red’ is the preferred choice. The 18 ‘Pikes Peak Purple’ Penstemons (foreground) have done fine but are more scraggly and flowers are not very showy–fine in their own right but not great accents for the labyrinth in the meditation circle.

To Be Continued

Many more flowers deserve mention today so this post will be continued later.  For a last glimpse at the garden today, here is Salvia ‘Blue Sky.’  This was brought from a former garden ten years ago. It is particularly lovely this year.

July Draws To A Close

July 2011 will be remembered as an extreme month of drought and heat, with the last week registering highs of 101,97, 93, 99, 102, 104, 100 and heat indexes that make one wilt. It is 74 now, moderated by storms that passed through and brought not just thunder and lightning, but actual rain.

This garden relies mostly on perennials, but at this time of year the garden’s perimeter beds have been browning and parching, with many plants barely hanging on.

A few plants have thrived as the summer progressed though the searing days of July, mostly those in the meditation circle’s labyrinth. The thyme, the Penstemon (both ‘Husker’s Red’ and ‘Pikes Peak Purple’) and the Iberis sempervirens ‘Purity’ (candytuft) are doing well. Here though the real stars are two annuals, the angelonia and the French marigolds, which seem to take strength from the strong sun. These provide the midsummer garden’s main color and impact.

Mediation Circle After July Rain

Morning Garden Walk

The backyard garden at the end of May is pleasant and lush, with inviting colors, textures, diversity of plants, and sounds of birds, elevating this morning’s walk to a remarkably satisfying experience for this gardener.

Chrysanthemum, silvery Dusty Miller, Sweet Pea combine with soft leaves of Eastern Red Columbine.

The tradescantia (Virginia Spiderwort) wake up the early morning garden with intense blues, but close under the strong sun by midday.  The pink yarrow and white rose campion mix well and the tall blades of iris add balance.

Nearby a lantana has sprung to life and soon will be covered in multicolored clusters of red, yellow and orange.

Stachys (Lamb’s ear) brightens the back corner between some irises and a gardenia.  The gardenia will soon add its unique fragrance to the garden.

The Liatris spicata (Gayfeather) earlier seemed terribly crowded by the irises, but as its bloomtime approaches it stands tall.

Verbena bonariensis frequently draws American goldfinches to the garden.  It is surrounded by a foxglove, shasta daisies, tradescantia, a rudbeckia ‘Irish eyes’ and gardenias.

The meditation circle with its labyrinth still has more mulch than plants. Five bonariensis await planting within but I am hesitant about whether they are a good choice. Meanwhile the penstemon and angelonia have worked out great.  The thyme lacks a strong presence, though it grows fine and has bloomed.  The candytuft bloomed a rewarding second time.

Many more plants are tucked and packed into this small backyard haven, making each morning’s walk new and interesting as they transition through life.

Almanac

After a week of extreme heat, with temperatures reaching into the nineties, last night’s cooling breezes and this morning’s crisp air were welcome.  Despite the prediction of rain I broke my rule against watering and gave some plants a good drink.  Still only 66 degrees by lunchtime, the heavy rain started suddenly and continued steadily until early evening, and streets flooded in Chapel Hill.  The garden’s meditation circle flooded near the entrance and in the middle, draining pretty well afterwards, but leaving a stark contrast to its bleached-out look under the severity of the sun earlier in the week.  After a rosy-clouded sunset, the rains returned.

Flowering Dogwood

Cornus florida

A Flowering Dogwood in the back corner of the garden is a vision today.

A 2001 membership gift from the National Arbor Day Foundation, this tree in the past has had but a few flowers each year. This is the year when it has reached a milestone and is really covered in blooms. The extra rains in the area this spring probably encouraged the dogwood this year to look its best.

With all the rains the meditation circle is being delayed considerably away from my initial idealized time-frame of “just a few days.”

Today I planted two Wintergreen Boxwood (Buxus microphylla var. koreana ‘Wintergreen’) in pots for now.  They will provide some interest near the front entrance for a year or so and eventually can be transplanted into the garden.

Dianthus

Also added a handful of magenta-colored dianthus, labelled annuals, near a path in the back border, near the foxgloves. Discovered a Sweet William in the same area that had gone unnoticed before today.

The fence installers are supposed to come tomorrow and I had to dig up a gorgeous mound of Iberis sempervirens (Candytuft) that unfortunately happened to be in the way of a future gate.  I have moved around a few small pieces before but never such a large patch.  It looked very stressed in the hot afternoon sun and have been told it does not transplant well.

Transplanted Candytuft

End-of-Winter Beginning-of-Spring Inventory

March 20, 2011. Today in this Northern Hemisphere town of Chapel Hill, N.C., the vernal equinox occurs at 6:21 pm.  This seems like a good time to inventory the garden.

The newly planted Blue Point Juniper hedge is doing well, but will not be providing much screening for several years.

Hyacinth

The earliest of the daffodils and the burgundy hyacinths are at the end of their bloom cycle. Iberis sempervirens (candytuft) and  Muscari (Grape Hyacinth) are opening slowly. Several sedums are emerging (the rabbits must be pleased).

Tradescantia (Spiderwort) is coming up in various spots and a few echinacea (Purple coneflower) have returned.

The first flower is open today on the White Flowering Dogwood, while ‘Flower Carpet’ Narcissus have been lovely for a week or more.

Coral Delight Camellia

A nice surprise in the garden today.

The spring-blooming camellia ‘Coral Delight’ popped out when I was not looking. I missed checking on it yesterday and today discovered several blossoms had opened wide.

Daylilies attract the deer so I am trying to pull out many of them.  I must hurry to finish the job before they grow any larger or they will be too tough to dig out. Some of the resulting space freed so far was used to transplant a few Shasta daisies.

Hellebore- Lenten Rose

Hellebore (Lenten Rose), which opened one month ago, continue to bloom profusely in their charming manner.

The newly planted Sweet William is doing well and the evergreen HeucheraPenstemon is recovering from the long winter. Digitalis Purpurea ‘Alba’ or ‘Camelot White’ (Foxglove) looks promising.

Small pink yarrow, tansy, lamb’s ears and rose campion (shown here), all rather aggressive growers, are coming back strong.

The old-fashioned spirea is the star in its section of the garden, brightening up the entire space of the western border.  (A pink saucer magnolia behind the spirea is a fortunate example of a borrowed view.)

Spirea

Nearby the Eastern Redbud competes for attention, deservedly so.

Redbud

Just one week ago the Jackmanii clematis had new leaves, but was still largely brown. Today it is lush with green.

Echinacea

Several black-eyed Susans echinacea (purple coneflower) seem pleased with their new location along the southern path. They were transplanted last year from an over-crowded spot where they did not have have enough sun.

Russian Sage and Bee Balm

Perovskia atriplicifolia (Russian Sage) is another transplant to this section of the garden; Monarda (Bee Balm) is just starting to emerge in this and several other sections of the garden.

Phlox subulata (Creeping Phlox) has been blooming all over town but started opening only today in this garden.

Creeping Phlox

Phlox divaricata (Woodland phlox) has been a favorite in this garden, but it has not bloomed well in several years.

Woodland phlox

Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern Red Columbine) is quickly unfolding in several spots around the garden.

Eastern red columbine

Salvia (Meadow Sage) has started to form buds.

Meadow Sage

An iceberg rose should have been pruned earlier, but it is now getting its leaves. The deer find it delicious. There are several perky mounds of catmint. Sword-like leaves of these bearded iris seem to grow inches daily. The garden also has German, Japanese and Siberian iris and a couple of Dutch iris.

Catmint, Iceberg Rose and Iris

In some ways the garden appears bare but there are many other plants not even mentioned.  The inventory will have to be continued later.  One last thought for today though.

As I go about renovating this garden, I do recognize that improving the overall design and structure (or “bones) will make the garden more interesting year-round.  I have read that just having a collection of plants does not make a garden.  But at this time of year seeing my particular group of plants develop and mature provides immeasurable delight and satisfaction.  It is like having old friends come to visit.  And it feels like a garden.