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First of the Month Review – August 2014

Bee Balm

Bee Balm from the piazza

On this First of the Month I am going to show you some long views. My camera isn’t really ideal for long views but you might get  a different idea of  the garden, and the text is still a bloom record.  I  confess the weeds are not  as visible in a long view.  This is the bee balm in the Herb Bed right in front of the house. We can watch the hummingbirds, butterflies and bees from out dining/kitchen table. That is the f amous Cottage Ornee across the lawn.


west side of North Lawn Bed

west side of North Lawn Bed

Leaving the Herb Bed I go across the driveway/road and come to the North Lawn Bed. This section includes  a weeping cherry, echinacea, phlox, Russian sage, cosmos, pansies still blooming, and a Fulda Glow sedum which is a great plant.

North Lawn Bed

North Lawn Bed

Further on this side of  the North Lawn Bed is The Fairy rose, toremia, phlox, and liatris.


End of the North Lawn Bed

End of the North Lawn Bed

The only thing blooming here is Mardi Gras helenium. A Montauk daisy at its base will bloom later.  The Carolina lupine put out a lot of growth this year, but no blooms.

End of South Lawn Bed

End of South Lawn Bed

There is a wide grass path between the Lawn Beds. This tangle includes cotoneaster, shasta daisies, a mystery golden yarrow, Connecticut Yankee delphinium, Blue Paradise phlox, toremia and more Fulda Glow. This bed is mostly filled with the fourth gingko, a weeping birch and a huge Mothlight hydrangea which I love and have not been able to keep pruned down. I will continue to try.

Very long view of North Lawn Bed

Very long view of North Lawn Bed

This is a very long view of the east side of the North Lawn bed. The most noticeable flower from this view if Achillea ‘The Pearl’. Phlox, white and pink on the right. This bed contains 3 gingkos, Golden threadleaf false cypress, yarrow, cosmos, and .artemesia lactiflora. More bloom still to come.

Very long view of South Lawn Bed.

Very long view of South Lawn Bed.

You can see the Mothlight hydrangea is nearly as tall as the weeping birch.

View from the bedroom window

View from the bedroom window

This view from the upstairs bedroom gives you a sense of the whole.

Echinops, meadow rue, and cimicifuga are blooming, as well and  a few rose blossoms here and there: R. setigera, Belle Poitvine, Rugosa alba, Meideland red and Sitka.


Love Lies Bleeding

Love Lies Bleeding

Love Lies Bleeding and other potted annuals are doing well at the edge of the piazza. The vegetables are struggling this year, but the ornamental garden hasn’t minded the cool summer. Neither has the lawn. It keeps growing and growing.

Dioecious Plants – It Takes Two

Dioecious Plants: Dioecious species have the male and female reproductive structures on separate plants.

Hardy Kiwi Vine

Hardy Kiwi Vine

The Annual Rose Viewing was a success, but it was the hardy kiwi vine on our shed that also got a lot of attention.

Of course, it is the unusual green, white and pink foliage that makes the hardy kiwi so notable. I first saw this vine at the LakewoldGarden in Washington state many years ago. It was growing on a long trellis, so I did not realize how rampantly it could grow. I did not know the artful pruning it was receiving every summer – and winter.

Our hardy kiwi (Actinidia arguta) was planted on a trellis attached to our shed. I thought the colorful foliage would be very pretty when the roses in the Shed Bed were not in bloom. This has certainly worked very well. I have been happy that it has grown so vigorously and covers the better part of the shed wall. I have only done the most basic pruning, but this year I have come to realize that I need to take a firmer hand – and get out the ladder.

Since visitors to the garden are familiar with fuzzy kiwis that can be found on supermarket shelves they ask if my kiwi bears fruit. It does not, because kiwis are dioecious plants. This means that you must have a male and a female to get fruit. I was only interested in the unusual foliage so I was happy with one vine. I don’t know its sex.

Hardy Kiwi foliage

Hardy Kiwi foliage

I do have a friend who wanted the fruit which is different from the supermarket variety. Hardy kiwis are as big as a large grape and have a smooth skin that can be eaten. He bought a male and a female vine from a nursery. One of the vines died over the winter, but he couldn’t remember which was which, so he planted another male and female. Again, one vine died, and his list and map were lost, so again he was not sure which vine had survived.  I don’t actually know whether he finally got a male and female, and a fruit crop, but this is a problem with other dioecious plants as well.

I should add a caveat. Without pruning the hardy kiwi can reach a height of 40 feet, and if unattended or abandoned can overwhelm other plants and areas.

Perhaps the most commonly known dioecious shrubs are the hollies, the Ilex family. This includes the kinds of evergreen hollies with the beautiful red berries that are such a part of our Christmas traditions.  I have a single ‘Blue Prince’ and a ‘Blue Princess’ holly, Ilex x meserveae. The male produces the pollen that is needed to fertilize the female’s flowers and so create the beautiful red berries. It only takes one male to fertilize nine females. You do not need to have as many males as females.

These hollies produce tiny white flowers in April and May. They are easy to miss, but not the red berries.  My ‘Blue Prince’ took a beating this past winter, and the ‘Blue Princess’ also showed winter damage, but both are recovering nicely. There were lots of flowers, and even though the ‘Blue Prince’ is much smaller, I am expecting a good showing of berries later this season.

There is also the native deciduous holly, Ilex verticillata, which is more commonly called the winterberry. It also needs male and female plants in order to produce the orange-red berries that appear in the fall and persist through the winter. They tolerate wet soils which makes them an attractive shrub to plant in damp spots in the garden.

In addition to the hardy kiwi vine and the evergreen hollies, I have four ginkgo trees in my garden. We planted these about 16 years ago when our grandsons were hardly more than toddlers. We planted them partly as a memorial to our two years in Beijing. I was afraid they might be slightly too tender, but they are thriving and are even big enough now to throw welcome shade on hot summer afternoons.

Ginkgo biloba trees are used in cities because they are hardy, but the fruit of the female is said to be unpleasantly smelly. I cannot attest to this from my own experience because during our New York city years, and our Beijing years, I never came across ginkgo fruit. It takes at least 30 years for the tree to mature and produce fruit, which means that when my trees drop their fruit smelling of rotten eggs or vomit, I will not be around to suffer.

However, it seems to me that 30 years or more of a beautiful, hardy, disease resistant tree is better than those years without the tree even if it ultimately has got be cut down. Or at least the females have to be cut down.

The ginkgo is an ancient tree, sometimes called a living fossil, and is known for its unusual fan shaped leaves. They turn a beautiful gold in the fall which tend to fall all at once. We have often gone to bed on an October night, and awakened to find every golden leaf on the ground.

These are the three types of dioecious plants in my garden, but I recently checked a long list of dioecious plants online and found that the stinging nettles among my weeds, Urtica diocia, and the hop vine, Humulus, that is growing in a tangle of grapes and multiflora roses, are also dioecious plants, but they are subjects for another time.

Between the Rows   July 5, 2014

Five Plant Gardens by Nancy J. Ondra

Five plant Gardens by Nancy J. Ondra

I’m just starting to read Five Plant Gardens by Nancy J. Ondra and I find it such an encouraging book.  The book is divided into two sections, one section for sunny gardens and one section for shady gardens. She begins with one color gardens like the Bright White Garden for a sunny location. She suggests ‘David’ phlox, ‘White Swan’ coneflower, ‘Snow Fairy’ caryopteris, lambs ears, and candytuft, but gives alternatives and a planting plan.  It is her planting plans that make Five Plant Gardens a really useful book. It is all very well to know tall plants in back, and short plants in front, but that doesn’t take into account plant spread or the differences of foliage.

White gardens are beautiful in the moonlight, blue gardens are peaceful, but should be closer to the house, and yellow garden are pure gold!  Nancy beautifully illustrates the many ways of looking at color in the garden and the myriad ways of arranging or expanding a flower bed.  I’ve just started, but you will be hearing more about this book soon.  I’m ready to think about flowers! And Nancy is the person to give me some new things to think about.  Nancy also has an excellent and very informative blog at

A Heath Calendar for 2014 – Some Flowers

Cottage Ornee in January

My Heath Calendar cannot begin with flowers. The only flowers at the End of the Road are a few Christmas cactus blooms and a wonderful pink cyclamen.

‘Possum in the compost

February is still cold and snowy. This ‘possum found shelter and a snack in the compost bin next to the hen house.

Mt. Holyoke College primroses

March and still no blooms in Heath. Still the Talcott Greenhouse at Mt. Holyoke College and the Lyman Plant House at Smith College are full of bloom and hope at their big March plant shows.


Finally, April brings snowdrops down in the orchard.

Boule de Neige rhododendron

May brings the rhododendrons.


Peony ‘Kansas’

Early June and the peonies bloom.

Ghislaine de Feligonde

The Heath Calendar must include a double June listing. In late June and the roses come into their own. So beautifully, so  briefly. Hence the Annual Rose Viewing on the last Sunday in June. It never rains on the last Sunday in June. Really.

Mothlight hydrangea

July and the Mothlight hydrangea begins to bloom and will be magnificent into the fall.

Gaillardia or Helenium

August hot and sunny. Hot colors in the garden. Gaillardia or Helenium?  Not sure.


September and berries are beginning to appear. Here are two different cotoneasters – all tangled up.

Sheffield Daisies

October and the late blooming Sheffield daisies are blooming like crazy.



November and  the larch, a deciduous conifer, has turned golden. The needles will soon fall.

Holly ‘Blue Princess’

December and our holly ‘Blue Princess’ is in full berry. And so the Heath Calendar has come full circle with wind and rough weather – and ready to begin again.


Winterberry – Ilex verticillata

Winterberry – Ilex verticillata

Winterberry, Ilex verticillata, is a native deciduous holly. Its tiny white flowers appear in midsummer, and in the fall beautiful red berries add their color to the autumnal show. Winterberries are dioecious, which is to say that it takes a male and a female plant to create those bright berries. If you are adding winterberries to your garden it is important to order a male and female. Only the female will produce berries, but it only takes one male to pollinate 10 females.

Winterberries have become more popular and are no long difficult to locate. Proven Winners offers Berry Nice, which produces the familiar red berries. They suggest Mr. Poppins as a male pollinator.  Mr. Poppins will not grow as tall as Berry Nice, but is a handsome shrub in its own right.  Wayside Gardens offers Golden Verboom, hybridized by a Dutch nursery, which has beautiful golden berries – no surprise. They offer Jim Dandy as a pollinator.

The deciduous winterberry is native to northeastern America and is cold hardy to zone 3. The winterberry shown above grows in a thicket, in a boggy spot by the side of the road. The photo was taken in September when the berries were not quite red ripe. They remain after the foliage has fallen off and blown away, and until the birds have eaten the last one.

Winterberry. Good for the birds. Good for winter decorations. Good to brighten the season.


Redvein Enkianthus – After

Redvein Enkianthus

This is the Redvein Enkianthus AFTER I chopped it down and removed it from the north lawn bed.  It never looked the way it was photographed on websites and catalogs. It grew in a tight column – very slowly. In the meantime, the plants around it grow more quickly. The Blue Princess holly has come along very nicely and this year is full of berries. The creeping juniper on its other side also grew to almost engulf it.  For me this shrub failed because it didn’t behave as advertised. It was not as graceful as I expected, the foliage was not as notable, and the flowers are very tiny. I failed because I did not allow it sufficient room to grow.

The enkianthus is gone

This view of the lawn bed is looking east. The concrete circle covers an ancient 10 foot dug well that we discovered when we were first planting the lawn bed about 16 years ago. We keep saying we will take advantage of the well, but it goes dry every summer and we haven’t come up with an artistic way of camouflaging or otherwise dealing with the well cover. Any suggestions?  The 5 foot enkianthus (Enkianthus campanulatus) was essentially right behind the cover. You can see there wasn’t really a  lot of room now that the shrub is gone. Calculating how much and  how fast a plant will grow is always a challenge, and I flubbed this one.

View looking west

I never seem to remember to take Before photos, but this is a good record for me while I think about other plantings in the spring. No shrubs in this spot.

Seeds and Seed Cases on Wordless Wednesday


Seeds and seed cases make something new to see in the garden. Coriander is the little round seeds left on the cilantro plants. That means cilantro/coriander is both an herb and a spice.

Cotoneaster berries

Cotoneaster (Co-tone – e – aster) berries are brighter than coriander.

Rose Hips

These rose hips are not the kind for rose hip jelly.

Columbine seed case

The tiny black seeds inside the petit columbine seed case will scatter themselves. More plants in the spring.


Milkweed seeds – three stages

This milkweed stem shows the seed pods three stages – closed, open with the seeds still tightly packed, and finally with with the seeds preparing to sail on their fluffy tails. In my efforts to welcome back monarch butterflies. I rarely weed out milkweed any more.

For more Wordlessness this Wednesday click here.

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day – August 15, 2013

Ann Varner Dayliliy

On this Garden Bloggers Bloom day there are some surprises.  The weather should not surprise anymore, but it does, and often causes gnashing of teeth. In June we had a glorious 12 inches of rain. In July there was no rain! It was hot! An official heat wave. In August it has been much cooler and we had 4 inches of rain so far. Still there are lots of blooms in the un-irrigated flower gardens. The Daylily Bank is drawing down but Ann Varner is still magnificent.

Helenium “Mardi Gras”

In spite of the dry, and now cool weather the Helenium  is a colorful clump.

Black Beauty lilies

I have to lie under them to get a shot of the Black Beauties. The blossoms of the lilies and the adjacent crimson bee  balm are not very big this year. Note to self. More compost in this spot. The other lilies are also still blooming by the house.

Artemesia lactiflora

Artemesia lactiflora has much less dramatic blossoms,  but they are dainty, and much taller than usual this year.

Achillea ‘The Pearl’

Achillea is another dainty flower, but a strong grower. The only other yarrow blooming now is the sulphur yellow variety. Nameless.

Joe Pye Weed

This new Joe Pye Weed has just come into bloom.  I don’t know if it is a miniature, or just not fully feeling its oats this first year.

Echinacea and Miss Lingaard phlox

The big clump of Echinacea purpurea will need to be divided but it is gorgeous this year. The white phlox is Miss Lingaard and it should have bloomed in June!  The Russian sage on the other side of the Echinacea is also blooming well.

Hydrangea ‘Limelight’

‘Limelight’ is the only one of the three ‘new’ hydrangeas to have recovered very well from a good browsing from the deer, but ‘Pinky Winky’ and the oakleaf hydrangea do have a few small blossoms.

Thomas Affleck rose

A visiting friend sighed that there were probably no roses anymore. Well, not quite. Thomas Affleck, as usual, is putting out a strong second flush, and other roses put out an occasional bloom


Folksinger, a Griffith Buck hybrid also put out a good second flush. I couldn’t resist taking this photo of his delicate decline. I do not think he has much strength left for this season.

Also blooming are the tall veronicas, very tall and deeply blue aconite, cimicifuga, a few zinnias and  gomphrena. Not too bad, and there is still more to come which makes me happy.

To see what else is  blooming across our  great nation go to May Dreams Gardens where Carol hosts Bloom Day. Thank you Carol!

August Bloomers on August 1, 2013

Of all the August Bloomers, the Daylily Bank makes the biggest statement even though it has started to pass its peak.

Bevy of August Bloomers

Other August bloomer are just beginning. The most notable in this photo is the classic Echinacea or coneflower, with Russian sage in front and pink and white phlox on the other side of the bed. The phlox is late, with light bloom, because the deer had been snacking on the buds. Only once clump of Paradise Blue phlox escaped and it is going well in a bed with Switzerland daisies, and aconite.

Mothlight hydrangea

The Mothlight hydrangea is a dependable August bloomer, beginning in July and going into September.  My other three young hydrangeas, Limelight, Pinky Winky, and the native oakleaf, are all in bloom as well, despite more snacking by the deer.

Blue Paradise Phlox and Yarrow

Sharing a bed with Mothlight, are Blue Paradise phlox and a deep gold unnamed achillea. You cannot see the daisies and the aconite nearby in this photo.

Potted Plants

Closer to the house are potted plants like these petunias, and succulent collections. You can see even the succulent decided to be an August bloomer this year.

Lilies and Thalictrum

As part of the welcoming garden are three lilies, henryi, rubrum and a gold and white lily. Those are white snapdragons, part of the potted collection.  Black Dragon lilies and crimson bee balm are blooming in the center of  this bed, but they are not as lush as usual. I’ll have to add some extra compost this fall.

Thomas Affleck rose and lily

At the very beginning of the welcome garden is the amazing Thomas Affleck rose, along  with a floppy lily. Even before I got it properly deadheaded it has begun to bloom again, and will be blooming well into the fall.

Folksinger Rose

Down on the Rose Walk the Folksinger rose is also putting out a new flush of bloom along with the new Carefree Beauty, both Griffith Buck roses.



I will let this beautiful dill flower stand in for  the vegetables and herbs we have been harvesting, broccoli, summer squash, and lettuce, parsley and cilantro.


We are starting to harvest blueberries, but we have been eating red and black raspberries for most of July. Fortunately, blueberries don’t need irrigation.  The garlic harvest will begin soon, too.


Garden Bloggers Bloom Day July 2013

Buckland Rose

On this Garden Bloggers Bloom Day, July 2013, most of the roses are pretty well done. That’s why we have the Annual Rose Viewing on the last Sunday of June.

The FAiry polyantha rose

The Fairy was just starting to bloom two weeks ago, but now she is looking great, and will remain in bloom for a good part of the summer.

Purington rambler rose

The Purington rambler also starts to bloom at the very end of June, but is now cascading down the Rose Bank.

Daylily Bank

The Rose Bank is adjacent to the Day Lily Bank which is just beginning to come into its glory. It was planted to eliminate the need for  mowing on the steep bank. The problem with this photo is you don’t get to enjoy the individual beauty of each of the interesting daylily colors and forms. A sampling follows. All names forgotten.

Daylily, pale yellow


Daylily, pink

Daylily, small ruffled pink


Daylily, pale with purple throat

I wanted the Daylily Bank to have a gentler palette of colors, but there are a very few varieties like Ann Varner that are more dramatic.

Ann Varner

Cosmos and White phlox

Cosmos and garden phlox are just beginning to bloom. At least those phlox that have not been beheaded by the deer.

Mothlight, Switzerland and Connecticut Yankee

The Mothlight hydrangea is about seven or eight feet tall and  full of boisterous bloom. The Switzerland Shasta daisy is also in full bloom. The Connecticut Yankee delphinium, is still floppy, though bred for greater sturdiness. Maybe it is all the rain, making the stems more tender.

Oakleaf hydrangea

I was looking forward to the first blooms on this three year old oakleaf hydrangea, and admired one unique blossom yesterday, but  when I went out to take a photo early this morning, it was gone. Deer!

Achillea ‘Terra Cotta’

I have several yarrows in bloom, “Paprika’,  a cranberry red,  a deep gold variety and Achilea ‘The Pearl.’ ‘Terra Cotta’ is my favorite and grows right by the front door with a native yellow loosestrife. Not invasive.


This is the smaller of two veronicas. The tall one has just barely begun to bloom.

Japanese iris

Last July I planted this beautiful white iris in the Front Garden where I could keep it watered, and where I could admire it during its short bloom period.

Ostrich astilbe

The other pink and  white astilbes are fading, but this astilbe, Bressingham’s Beauty, is just starting.

Eryngium ‘Sapphire Blue’

After admiring it for years on the Bridge of Flowers, I planted this sea holly and I love it.

Linden tree in bloom

Our linden trees, otherwise known as basswood, tilia cordata, or lime trees and in bloom and the fragrance is heavenly.


These cream and pink petunias on the Welcoming Platform will stand in for the other potted plants, fuschia, lobelia, geraniums and salvia. My blooming plants are spread out over  a large area, so I am always amazed that there are so many blooms in July.

Thank you Carol for hosting Bloom Day where May Dreams Gardens will show you what is in bloom all  over the country. Click here.