Tag Archives: Lamb’s Ears

In The Pink

Pink Yarrow

When I think of the garden always it is a picture of cool greens and blues.  At this time of year though, when I survey the lush parts of the garden, pinks abound in opposite sides of the space.

A short yarrow given to me by a friend nearly a decade ago, sends soft pink drifts through the southern bed between silver Stachys byzantina (Lamb’s Ear) and blue tradescantia.

 

Where the yarrow lets off, a trailing, old-fashioned sweet pea that I brought from my old garden continues the pink theme, and winds through tradescantia toward a stand of woody-stemmed chrysanthemums.

Opposite, in the northern bed, purple coneflower or echinacea mirror the pink hues.  The garden and its colors are heating up.

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.

A Few Hours In the Garden Today

After a wet spring with moderate temperatures, the heat of the last few days has seemed to shock the grass, but so far the garden is holding its own. A very brief, early morning thunderstorm brought little relief, as it was more thunder than rain.

Several perennials await planting.  There are three lovely yellow-pink, peachy Yarrows for height in the back border. There are also five Verbena bonariensis, which are planned for the meditation circle.

Spruced up the garden for a few hours this morning, trying to shape and edit along the way.

  • Trimmed back Tradescantia (Virginia Spiderwort) that had grown too tall in front of the borders and had expanded into too much of the midsection.
  • Cut back the iris stalks, but kept the leaves to die back naturally.
  • Removed some large branches from a Buddleja davidii ‘Black Knight’ (Butterfly Bush) that did not get its proper trim back in February. It was overshadowing the recently added Gaura.
  • Pruned back the Iceberg Rose that had bloomed so well this spring. Suddenly it looked completely spent.
  • Trimmed the Meadow Sage by half to encourage new blooming. Pulled up stray Rose Campion and Stachys(Lamb’s Ears) in the side path to open up the path again.
  • Cut back the blooms on many of the Stachys, but left as many for the bees which were enjoying them so much.

As always, there is more to do tomorrow.

Encircling The Garden

It was a beautiful day for laying in bricks to edge the meditation circle. There are a few wobblies to straighten, but it is great to have the circle well-defined. Still more soil preparation is needed before the red stepping stones can be arranged to form the labyrinth.

Around the garden many things are growing nicely.  The Hellebores continue to bloom, Eastern Red Columbine is starting to open in various (mostly self-chosen spots), Monarda (bee balm) and all three baptisias are emerging.

An amaryllis from a Christmas past is emerging behind Lamb’s Ears and Yarrow.

The bearded iris which yesterday showed no sign of buds suddenly revealed them today, in different sections of the garden.  These are along the southern side path next to the house.

Rabbits or deer seem to be nibbling the remaining daylilies that still need to be dug out of the garden.  Similarly something for the first time ever has been also eating the spiderwort (tradescantia), an all-time favorite in this garden.  This one, also in the southern side path, somehow escaped being part of the grazing buffet and is the first tradescantia to bloom this year. What a cheerful little flower!

Opportunity Knocks

Preparing the soil for the Meditation Circle

Preparation of the ground for the meditation circle took a new turn yesterday when an opportunity arose to have the grass and soil rototilled. The work is scheduled for Monday to finish the job started several weeks ago.

Hand-digging the bed has been a challenge, manageable for a while and the work has proven to be oddly satisfying. Time to move on though.

Getting past the step of removing the grass and smoothing the soil will allow time to concentrate on laying the stepping stones along the path to form the labyrinth and installing some plants along the walls.

Garden View

Around the garden the lush, emerald lawn looks vigorous and healthy, spurred on by the recent, heavy rains. As the grass is never watered except by nature, once summer arrives it surely will struggle and turn brown against the hot, humid days.

The spirea continues to be an important highlight during early spring. The daffodils are mostly out-of-bloom now and the focus shift to the iris as they push taller and taller.

Baptisia 'Purple Smoke'

Today the Baptisia ‘Purple Smoke’ is finally poking out from underneath the mulch. This plant was purchased in 2009 at Niche Gardens which, along with the N.C. Botanical Gardens, introduced the cultivar in 1996.

 

Stachys byzantina (Lamb's Ears)

Lamb’s ears have cropped up all over the garden.

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.

Lamb’s Ears

Sunday.  29 F., windchill 24 F., clear blue sky.

Interesting how some plants best the cold and seem unaffected by winter’s blast.  Unlike so many of the other garden specimens at this time of year, the Lamb’s Ears manage quite well to maintain dignified color and beauty.

Family: Lamiaceae
Genus: Stachys
Species: Stachys byzantina – Woolly Betony, Lamb’s Ears