Tag Archives: garden journal

Revolving The Evolving Meditation Circle

Meditation Circle - 01

Nests of ants have become recent squatters and the voles appear to have returned to the meditation circle. But there are no signs of deer jumping the fence this year, so after avoiding them for years I am taking a chance with pansies and violas to add some color to the meditation garden this fall and winter.

Delta Premium Pure Primrose (White to pale yellow)

Delta Premium Pure Primrose (White to pale yellow)

Delta True Blue (medium blue)

Delta True Blue (medium blue)

Viola (purple) - detail

Viola (purple) – detail

I spent most of the day fixing up the meditation circle, which has been on its own since spring. Since creating it in April 2011 I have tried to rely mostly on evergreen perennials to mark the walls of the labyrinth, but results have been uneven.

After planting the pansies and violas in-between the perennials, I watered them in well. With luck they should last until spring. maybe by then I will have a new inspiration for the meditation garden plantings.

Meditation Circle - 02

Meditation Circle - 03

Meditation Circle - 08

Meditation Circle - 09

Meditation Circle - 10

Meditation Circle - 04

Meditation Circle - 05

Meditation Circle - 11

Meditation Circle - 12

Meditation Circle - 13

Meditation Circle - 14

Meditation Circle - 15

Meditation Circle - 16

Meditation Circle - 17

Meditation Circle - 18

Plants in the Meditation Garden October 1, 2013

Pansy ‘Majestic Giant Purple’
Pansy ‘Delta Premium Pure Primrose’ (white to pale yellow)
Pansy ‘Delta True Blue’ (medium blue)
Viola sp. (purple)
Penstemon ‘Husker Red’ – seeding everywhere
Penstemon ‘Pikes Peak Purple’ (Beardtongue) – did not bloom well this spring, dying out
Iberis sempervirens ‘Purity’ (Candytuft) – died out last year; replanted in spring, also dying out
Mounding Thyme – developed black areas from center; two completely died, some are recovering. Trimmed today.
Alyssum ‘Easter Bonnet Violet’ – (annual) planted in spring, only now blooming.
Dianthus ‘Ideal Select White’ – several died; relocated two further into center. Needs deadheading constantly.
Dianthus (salmony-pink color) – one died; bloomed most of summer but not attractive, needs deadheading constantly.

Garden Recordkeeping Part 5

As September 2013 winds down I have some photographs and notes to record. This is the fifth and final post in this series.

The Southern side path leads from the left front of the house toward the garden in the back. Muhlenbergia capillaris (Pink Muhly Grass) is blooming there currently. It sits at the bottom end of the path, just before the walk turns right to guide visitors through the white picket gate entrance.

Muhlenbergia capillaris (Pink Muhly Grass) in Southern Side Path

Muhlenbergia capillaris (Pink Muhly Grass) in Southern Side Path

Other plants featured at this time in the Southern side garden are Perovskia atriplicifolia (Russian Sage), Lavender, Artemisia ‘Powis Castle’ (Wormwood), Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue.’

Perovskia atriplicifolia (Russian Sage)

Perovskia atriplicifolia (Russian Sage)

An Iceberg rose belonged to a dear friend and though I am not much a a rose grower, this one is special for sentimental reasons. Since the weather cooled it has been reblooming.

Rosa 'Iceberg'

Rosa ‘Iceberg’

Rosa 'Iceberg'

Rosa ‘Iceberg’

Rosa 'Iceberg'

Rosa ‘Iceberg’

Rosa 'Iceberg'

Rosa ‘Iceberg’

I keep trying Verbena bonariensis (Tall Verbena) in various spots around the garden. American Goldfinches love the seeds and look pretty against whatever remaining lavender flowers have not gone to seed.

Verbena bonariensis (Tall Verbena)

Verbena bonariensis (Tall Verbena)

Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower) is reliable and that is reason enough to like it. Although it is always listed as drought-resistant, it really did a lot better than usual when we were having plenty of rain.

Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower)

Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower)

Last year I planted a row of three Italian Cypresses in back along the Northern border. Most of the time since, they have not looked quite convinced they should live and thrive, but do seem to be growing now a bit. Cornus florida (Flowering Dogwood) is planted nearby.

Italian Cypress and Cornus florida (Flowering Dogwood)

Italian Cypress and Cornus florida (Flowering Dogwood)

Self-seeded Zinnias are still blooming in the northeast corner of the garden, as well as in a border near the back steps. These are the giant variety so they add some much needed height to the garden. I have not seen any butterflies around them lately, but earlier they attracted many Eastern Tiger Swallowtails.

Zinnia

Zinnia

Almanac
Partly cloudily, 66.6°F. at 7:25 pm, heading toward low tonight of 54°F. Warmer days for the rest of the week. No rain forecast. Waning crescent moon.

Garden Recordkeeping Part 4

As September 2013 winds down I have some photographs and notes to record. This is the fourth of several posts.

While I am in the mood to record some thoughts about the previous gardening season I wanted to jot down this reminder. Several years ago I wrote an entry about a New York Times interview with Piet Oudolf in which he was asked for “final advice for the beginner.”

Experience starts the moment you start to like gardening. You can’t do it right the first time. You can’t even do it right in a few years. You always see the next step you have to do. Start simply, putting good combinations of plants together, and work from there. You have to go through all the steps. You cannot skip any lessons. That is honest. It’s hard work. But you get something back, that’s the good thing. It’s like raising children. You try to do your best.

_________
To read the entire interview see: The New York Times, HOME & GARDEN, Q&A: Piet Oudolf on Designing a Winter Garden, By SARA BARRETT, Published: February 9, 2011. The Dutch designer shares advice on getting the most out of your garden all year round.

Garden Recordkeeping Part 3

As September 2013 winds down I have some photographs and notes to record. This is the third of several posts.

Lavender, Echinacea and Saliva Along Southern Border

Lavender, Echinacea and Saliva Along Southern Border

Sometimes pictures of my garden are just too ugly to show. I think my photography has improved more than my gardening skills since I began blogging, as I try to find ways to show parts of the garden without revealing how it all really looks. No one wants to see, I reason, the spent flowers or unweeded patches, the air conditioner units or brick foundation, the odd item left out of place on the patio, the neighbors’ cars or such. And of course I want to show the garden at its best. So often the views I show are from the same points, where I can compose an image that hides some of the truth.

But I started pbmGarden in January 2011 as a way to plan and design changes for the garden. The blog was to be a way to work out ideas and document the progress of the garden. I was reminded of that point when I looked at yesterday’s pictures of the Southern border, compared to images from when I first began the blog 2.75 years ago.

In the picture above, taken yesterday, I was down on the ground trying to capture the freshness of this Echinacea about to bloom in front of French Lavender. The salmon-colored Salvia should be in the frame as well. Oh, and I told myself to try not to show utility boxes on the side of the neighbors’ house.

Below, here is another view from yesterday of the same area, looking from the middle of the garden toward the Southern border with its Blue Point Juniper hedge. Among other criticisms I was struck by how much flat wall I could see of the neighboring houses.

Garden View- Southern Border 2013-09-28

Garden View- Southern Border 2013-09-28

But it is actually helpful that photographs can go beyond the photographer’s vanity to show an honest record. When I look back at that border just after planting that hedge in February 2011 it is clear to me I have made some progress in this garden.

One of my big goals at the time was to gain some privacy so I could better enjoy gardening. Looking at the Southern border then one could easily understand why this was important. The yards were wide open.

Blue Point Juniper hedge  2-20-2011

Blue Point Juniper hedge 2-20-2011

Standing in my yard a month after the Blue Point Juniper hedge had been installed and looking toward the Southern Border (and the neighboring house beyond), I realized privacy was coming no time soon. I began making arrangements for a fence.

Blue Point Juniper, Southern Bed 3-18-2011

Blue Point Juniper, Southern Bed 3-18-2011

The fence was a costly budget item for this garden but when now when the lantana and other perennials die back in this winter, the garden will still retain a sense of enclosure and privacy.

Garden View- Southern Border

Garden View- Southern Border

Standing at the opposite side of the garden, again looking toward the Southern border, I notice how much the Blue Point Juniper hedge has grown.

Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ (Herbstfreude) (Stonecrop)

Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ (Herbstfreude) (Stonecrop)

While looking back through some photographs of the garden’s history today I was reminded how helpful it is to have lots of those images that tell the stark, ugly truth. They are useful in evaluating progress and in setting and recalibrating goals for the garden.

Of course for the blog it is always fun to throw in a beauty shot as well. Perovskia atriplicifolia (Russian Sage) is blooming in several places around the garden.

Perovskia atriplicifolia (Russian Sage)

Perovskia atriplicifolia (Russian Sage)

Garden Recordkeeping Part 2

As September 2013 winds down I have some photographs and notes to record. This is the second of several posts.

Last Sunday I focused on the garden’s Flowering Dogwood for GBFD, but there were several other foliage items to mention. This spring I planted two new Peonies and both seem to have taken hold. This one is Paeonia lactiflora ‘Black Beauty’ (Nightlife Peony).

Paeonia lactiflora 'Black Beauty' (Nightlife Peony)

Paeonia lactiflora ‘Black Beauty’ (Nightlife Peony)

Coreopsis is supposed to be an easy plant to grow for blooms all summer. I have had mixed luck with them in the past, but the ones I added a couple of years ago are not being given a fair chance.  They are in an overcrowded spot where they become hidden and miss out on the sun.  Recently I uncovered them while trimming back one of the borders. I need to find a good location where they can be seen, possibly somewhere along the Southern side path, although I worry they will want more water than that spot can provide.

Coreopsis

Coreopsis

Salvia Dorada ‘Aurea’ (Golden Sage) is attractive for its color and leaf patterns. Lightly fragrant, it can be used for cooking (although I have not) and is reputedly attractive to butterflies. This plant overwintered successfully last year.

Salvia Dorada 'Aurea' (Golden Sage)

Salvia Dorada ‘Aurea’ (Golden Sage)

Salvia Dorada 'Aurea' (Golden Sage)

I have been monitoring the progress of the Callicarpa americana (American beautyberry) since discovering it in the garden mid-summer.  

Callicarpa americana (American beautyberry)

Callicarpa americana (American beautyberry)

Callicarpa americana (American beautyberry)

Callicarpa americana (American beautyberry)

Callicarpa americana (American beautyberry)

Callicarpa americana (American beautyberry)

Last week I noticed insects on one of the Callicarpa leaves. As the camera approached they moved en masse toward the edge and underside of the leaf as an avoidance measure. I cannot identify these definitively, but they seem to be Large Milkweed Bugs or Leaffooted Bug nymphs. It is unclear whether they are beneficial or pests.

Large Milkweed Bugs or Leaffooted Bug nymphs on Callicarpa americana (American beautyberry)

Large Milkweed Bugs or Leaffooted Bug nymphs on Callicarpa americana (American beautyberry)

The Asclepias died out in the garden not to be seen last year, so I added three plants in early spring. I have lost track of two of them but I noticed this week the third one was infested with aphids. When I first spotted the color orange I was hopeful they were Monarch Butterfly eggs but no, not with legs. The aphids washed away easily with a spray from the hose, as suggested by several online resources I found.

Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly Plant) infested with Aphis nerii (Oleander Aphid or Milkweed Aphid)

Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly Plant) infested with Aphis nerii (Oleander Aphid or Milkweed Aphid)

I planted Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (Beardtongue) in the meditation circle several years ago and find it self-seeds rather freely. Next weekend our neighborhood is having a plant swap, so I expect that would be a good time to pass some along.

Penstemon digitalis 'Husker Red' (Beardtongue)

Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (Beardtongue)

Before the date of the plant swap I also have some canna to divide as it never bloomed this year or last and some Ginger Lily can be shared as well. The Ginger Lily flowers have been abundant and fragrant this year.

Hedychium coronarium (Ginger lily)

Hedychium coronarium (Ginger lily)

Hedychium coronarium (Ginger lily)

Hedychium coronarium (Ginger lily)

This spring I planted a dwarf Oakleaf Hydrangea that is supposed to be nice for autumn color. It seems to be getting well established, but I think I tucked it away in a spot that may be hard to see it.

Hydrangea quercifolia 'Ruby Slippers'  (Lil' Ruby dwarf Oakleaf Hydrangea)

Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Ruby Slippers’ (Lil’ Ruby dwarf Oakleaf Hydrangea)

Hydrangea quercifolia 'Ruby Slippers'  (Lil' Ruby dwarf Oakleaf Hydrangea)

Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Ruby Slippers’ (Lil’ Ruby dwarf Oakleaf Hydrangea)

Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern red columbine) and Stachys byzantina (Lamb’s Ear) are easy to grow and spread themselves around carelessly. Last year I removed a lot of Aquilegia and this spring I was heavy-handed pulling out the Stachys. They are both thriving in the garden though and at this time of year they look fresh. These images were taken early yesterday morning while still covered in dew.

Stachys byzantina (Lamb's Ear) and Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern red columbine)

Stachys byzantina (Lamb’s Ear) and Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern red columbine)

Stachys byzantina (Lamb's Ear)

Stachys byzantina (Lamb’s Ear)

Stachys byzantina (Lamb's Ear)

Stachys byzantina (Lamb’s Ear)

Stachys byzantina (Lamb's Ear)

Stachys byzantina (Lamb’s Ear)

Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern red columbine)

Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern red columbine)

Garden Recordkeeping Part 1

As September 2013 winds down I have some photographs and notes to record, which I will break down into several posts.

This evening, Saturday, at 6:20 pm the temperature is 68.7 °F. The sky was deep blue today, breezy, with lots of big clouds moving in and out—simply a gorgeous day in North Carolina.

Early in the morning I walked around the borders, inspecting and taking pictures. For the first time in weeks no mosquitoes bothered to chase me back indoors. The significance of this cannot be overstated as the mosquitoes have been numerous and fiercely aggressive.

For the most part this has been a dream year for gardening. A long cool spring accompanied by plentiful rainfall kept the borders happy throughout the summer. Usually by now most of the garden is brown, but this year things are easing along. That could change soon though because the entire month of September has been very dry with only a couple of rains to bring relief.

Benefiting from the supportive weather this year, Nepeta ‘Walker’s Low’ has been an unusually strong performer in the northern border. Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ has deepened from its earlier pink into a rich terra cotta, almost burgundy  color that I really like. I plan to keep that color in mind when adding new plants. I do not have color-themed gardens but would love to come up with a red border at some point.

Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ (Herbstfreude) (Stonecrop) and Nepeta 'Walker's Low' (Catmint)

Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ (Herbstfreude) (Stonecrop) and Nepeta ‘Walker’s Low’ (Catmint)

Today I did no gardening, but instead was fortunate to enjoy the garden with a friend. After 75 minutes of walking around the neighborhood and lake paths, we returned home in early afternoon, taking time to sit and rest on the garden bench a while before walking the meditation path. During our time in the garden a gentle breeze frequently stirred the wind chimes, augmenting the enjoyment of a peaceful time.

Meditation Circle from Northern Border

Meditation Circle from Northern Border

In the five days since I last posted, the Helianthus angustifolius (Swamp Sunflower) at the back of the western border has opened up more fully, commanding attention and drawing comments from husband, visitors and me throughout the week. The yellow flowers glow cheerfully, almost gaudily like neon.

Helianthus angustifolius (Swamp Sunflower)

Helianthus angustifolius (Swamp Sunflower)

The design of the garden is gradually improving, but still needs major vertical focal points. To see the strong stems at the center of the Swamp Sunflower lifting up toward the sky is very satisfying.

Helianthus angustifolius (Swamp Sunflower)

Helianthus angustifolius (Swamp Sunflower)

The neighbor’s Sycamore, upper left in the photo above, has suffered most of the summer (I think from a fungus). With the arrival of fall the brown leaves look more appropriate.

For some reason the branches at the sides of the Swamp Sunflower are much shorter than at the center and arch downward.

Helianthus angustifolius (Swamp Sunflower)

Helianthus angustifolius (Swamp Sunflower)

Helianthus angustifolius (Swamp Sunflower)

Helianthus angustifolius (Swamp Sunflower)

I wish I could be sure of the two trees behind the Swamp Sunflower, seen in the picture above. They grew in pots near the front steps for a couple of years before I planted them in the garden. For a time I thought they were Italian cypress, but now I think they might be Juniperus chinensis ‘Spartan’ (Spartan juniper).  Whatever the kind, they have grown beyond their expected width and merged together.

Garden Journaling

Asclepias and Monarch

Starting in February, 2006, I maintained a serious garden journal online. Each day I photographed my perennial garden, recorded observations, and selected at least one representative photograph, sometimes more.  The discipline of documenting each day in the garden was a rejuvenating and healing act.  The task of photographing the garden made me want the garden to look its best, so the garden was well tended that year.

Being able to refer back to my garden journal and to be reminded how the garden appeared at certain points during the year; to see pictures of plants that were remarkable once, but that have not survived; to remember people who walked the paths once but who no longer live nearby; these things I value.

At the time the best reward of that forced interaction with my garden came in the experience one has from tending anything that then responds back, gently and surely, stronger the relationship each day.

Without the compulsion to get the daily photograph what delights I would have missed.  I would not have known of the Eastern Box Turtle, that interesting visitor who journeyed into to my garden one day.  Many blossoms might have peaked, then withered without my seeing.  The surprises were many. Many days I wondered where could this plant have been yesterday, how could I have walked the same path without being awestruck.

My connection to the garden was intimate; the place itself was safe.  There was a knowing and a healing that occurred there; the simplest or the most complex of tasks became a meditation.

Inattention during the intervening years has dissipated my satisfaction with the garden, but a main goal of redesigning and renovating the garden is to recover and rediscover that sense of place.