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Seattle Fling 2011

Garden bloggers meet in Seattle in 2011

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

Korean Bellflower – Beware – Invasive Mystery

Japanese Bellflower

KoreanBellflower

This flower showed up mysteriously in my garden. A Facebook appeal has identified it as Korean Bellflower, Campanula takesimana. The warning is that it is invasive, but I have found it for sale from several nurseries on line. Only one Canadian company noted that it was a strong grower and needed to be kept in bounds. I also checked Google images so I think I have a good ID, even though there is not total agreement about how invasive it might be.  However, I am playing it safe. I dug it all up. The roots had spread into other plants and I did have to sacrifice a ‘Blue Paradise’ phlox and part of this lady’s mantle when removing it. I kept in mind that it is best to  clean out past the margins to make sure all the roots are gone.

I will probably plant an annual in the fairly large bare spot that is left. I don’t want to put any other perennials in peril. With just an annual there I’ll be able to keep close watch for more shoots of the Korean bellflower.

Has anyone else ever had this kind of problem?  Finding an invasive plant mysteriously appear in the garden.?

View from the Bedroom Window – June 2014

View from the Bedroom Window June 1, 2014

View from the Bedroom Window June 1, 2014

The view  from the bedroom window on June 1 shows that the lilacs still have nice bloom, but there are not many flowers in bloom yet. We do move into high gear, pruning clipping and mowing to prepare for the Annual Rose Viewing which will be on Sunday, June 29 this year.

View from the bedroom window June 8, 2014

View from the bedroom window June 8, 2014

The lilacs are in shade in this photo, but they are definitely finished. No hot summer weather yet, with temperatures rarely reaching 80 degrees, and lots of good breezes that keep the bugs down. One light shower, and one good rainfall of 1-1/2 inches.

View from the bedroom window June 21, 2014

View from the bedroom window June 21, 2014

The ginkgos are finally fully leafed  out and you can see that the salvia ‘May Night’ in the Lawn Bed is blooming. Still no really hot weather. We even had an evening fire in the woodstove on June 11. Sunny and breezy with about 1-1/4 inch rain since June 8.

We were so  busy getting ready for the Annual Rose Viewing that I neglected to get a view from the bedroom. However, I can report that the  view was very much the same. The roses that started to bloom are not really visible from this view. There was a heavy rain, 2-1/2 inches on the night of June 25. In spite of TV news reports of bad weather none materialized. June 29 dawned slowly, and was humid, but guests arrived, admired the roses. Because of so much cool weather the bloom might have been slightly less exuberant, but still there was a good show. Have I ever mentioned that it never rains on the Rose Viewing?  Sometimes just before, and sometimes just after, but never between 1 and 4 pm.

 

We Have a Winner for Hellstrip Gardening

We have a winner!  A copy of Hellstrip Gardening: Create a paradise between the sidewalk and the curb by Evelyn J. Hadden will be sent to Rose of Rose’s Prairie Garden. Congratulations, Rose!

Chasing the Rose to Heaven in Your Own Garden

Chasing the Rose

Chasing the Rose

Chasing the Rose: An Adventure in the Venetian Countryside (Knopf 26.95) is Andrea di Robilant’s quest for the name of a rose that grew on his family’s former estate near Venice. His journey took him from the wild overgrown park on the estate that had left his family decades before, to Eleanora Garlant and her rose garden, the largest in Italy with 1500 roses, as well as tales of his great-great-great-great grandmother Lucia with her love and knowledge of roses, the Empress Josephine and the histories of many individual roses.

For centuries people have considered the Rose a romantic flower, inspiring poets, artists and rose hunters who dared the treacherous and distant mountains of faraway China. Di Robilant’s researches are a romantic quest in themselves, and while his explorations and discoveries are fascinating to a rose gardener and lover, there is an enchantment in his travels, captured by Nina Fuga’s simple and graceful watercolor illustrations.

When I planted my first old fashioned roses I chose Madame Hardy, Comtesse de Murinais, Konegin von Danemark and Madame Plantier and other lady roses who were famous enough or loved enough to have a rose named in their honor. When I walked past these roses early in the dewy morning I imagined us all primping and preparing for the day together. My reaction to the roses is very similar to di Robilant’s in Signora Galant’s garden. “When I saw the ‘Empress Josephine’ spread out against Eleanora’s corner pergola, I inevitably conjured up the real Josephine. And so it was with the other roses arrayed around it. I was no longer simply walking along a path looking at the roses on display, I had stepped into a crowded, lively room filled with roses that were looking at me.”

Although di Robilant sometimes writes of the gardens of the wealthy, it is the stamina and resilience of these old roses that fascinate him, and me. I was moved by the amazing story of Pierina, a teacher who married a civil engineer and followed her husband to Irkutsk in Siberia where he was overseeing the building of the Trans-Siberian Railroad. There she continued to teach school, and wrote about conditions for labor organizations. She survived the Russian Revolution and many other trials until at age 74 she walked to Vladivostok, and from there made her way home – and continued to teach!  Stamina and resilience. Signora Galant named one of her new hybrids Pierina.

Heaven is a Garden

Heaven is a Garden

While Chasing the Rose is the tale of a quest, Jan Johnsen’s book Heaven is a Garden: Designing Serene Outdoor Spaces for Inspiration and Reflection (St. Lynn’s Press 17.95) shows us how to make our garden a place to return to time and again, a refuge of cool tranquility.

Johnsen is a noted landscape designer who has worked around the world, teaches at ColumbiaUniversity and the New YorkBotanical Garden. She brings us her varied experiences with the cultures of the world and ancient principles of design to illustrate ways we can organize our garden and landscape space to be comfortable, beautiful and meaningful.

Although we don’t often think in mathematical terms when we are in our gardens Johnsen reminds us of the importance of proportion and the Golden Mean. Even a rectangle can lack harmony and therefore be unsettling or uncomfortable. The golden ratio, “a universal constant,” used by artists and architects requires that the long-side of the rectangle be approximately two-thirds longer than the shorter side.

Other geometry in the garden includes graceful circles and ovals. She reminds us “that designers should enhance our fondness for circular gatherings by creating protected, circular spaces for conversation . . . that are not cut by paths or movement.”

One chapter is given over to the magic of water. Every year I come to an ever greater appreciation of the power of water in the garden. Johnsen shows us cascades, musical streams, and fountains including a mist fountain. But even a bowl of still water has power. I remember an exhibit at what was then the Arts Council on Franklin Street. One element was a peaceful corner that contained nothing but a large pottery bowl of water on a slightly raised platform and a bench. When classes of teenagers came with their teachers I was amazed to see how many of them sat quietly in meditation before that bowl for as long as they were permitted.

Fortunate are those who have large stone outcroppings. Many years ago an acquaintance asked me what to do with the stone ledge that rose out of his lawn. I suggested some plants that I thought would thrive in its crevices or at its borders. My ideas were dismissed, and he went looking for large delivery of soil. I saw this as a missed opportunity and Johnsen illustrates what loveliness could have been created.

Heaven is a Garden contains beautiful photographs illustrating the elements of water and stone, of trees and flowers, of soothing green and brightly colored garden corners.

Most of us will not be able to install grass steps or arrange for standing stones, but Johnsen shows us how we can all create an unhurried garden where we can lose track of time.

On the hot summer days that await us, we can find adventure as we read Chasing the Rose in the shade, or we can re-evaluate our plantings on leisurely strolls and consider ways to discover that Heaven is a Garden in our own garden. ###

Between the Rows   June 28, 2014

Don’t forget, you have until July 6 at midnight to leave a comment here and a chance to win Hellstrip Gardening by Evelyn J. Hadden

 

Local Hellstrip-Curbside Garden Teaches a Lesson

Hellstrip Gardening

Hellstrip Gardening

I have been reading Evelyn Hadden’s book Hellstrip Gardening: Create a paradise between the sidewalk and  the curb, with all its beautiful photographs of  the different ways a curbside garden can be created.  Hadden includes gardens from across the country from Oregon and California to Minnesota and New York. Different climates and different inspirations.  I was very happy that she also included Rain Gardens as one of her themes because many urban areas have a great problem with rain runoff. In these days some rains have become amazingly heavy, stressing storm sewer systems that then flood waste water sewers. It is ever more important that we all work to keep rainfall  where it falls. We can make sure we have many permeable surfaces – and raingardens. I know in Cambridge, Massachusetts where my son lives, there are rules about how much square footage in a house lot must be permeable. You cannot build or cover more.

While Heath is a rural town and I live where there is not a single sidewalk, there are local towns that have sidewalks and some of them even have hellstrips, an area between the street and the sidewalk. However, I have a friend with an absolutely fabulous curbside garden.

Curbside garden

Curbside garden

This photo gives an idea of how this curbside garden works in the streetscape.

Curbside garden

Curbside garden

With heucheras, hostas and creeping phlox in this area there is a  wonderful arrangement of foliage color and texture.

curbside garden

Curbside garden

A great use is made of everygreens which can supply a surprising range of color.

 

curbside garden

Curbside garden

Small trees, shrubs, ground cover – and flowers! This curbside garden has everything!  And something for every season.

If you would like to win a copy of Evelyn Hadden’s book, Hellstrip Gardening, leave a comment here before midnight July 6.

Hellstrip Gardening by Evelyn Hadden – Giveaway

Evelyn J. Hadden helped us get rid of  our lawns with her inspiring book Beautiful No Mow Yards, and now she has found a new place for us to plant a garden – the hellstrip – that area between the street and the sidewalk.

Hellstrip Gardening

Hellstrip Gardening

I have just started reading Hellstrip Gardening: Create a paradise between the sidewalk  and the  curb. I found the title slightly misleading in that I found  that Hadden’s topic opened up  considerably when she talked about ‘curbside planting’ which includes the other side of  the sidewalk as well, where your lawn, I mean your garden, begins in your front yard.

When I joined a group of garden bloggers in Buffalo, NY, in 2010 our tour took us through a beautiful neighborhood in which a number of people had planted their hellstrip with bright flowers and interesting grasses. This was a whole new concept to me.

Since then I have noticed other hellstrip gardens locally in Greenfield in Turner’s FAlls. Tom Sullivan’s hellstrip garden is devoted to luring pollinators to his gardens, but others are just turning that usually ratty grass strip into something to be enjoyed and admired. Talk about curb appeal.

Hadden gives you ideas for planting this very special kind of garden so it will need no watering and very little maintenance. And lest you think she has not considered the challenges of gardening on the hellstrip she has devoted a whole chapter to SITUATIONS which include covenants, vehicles, wildlife, and all things to consider about safety as well as beauty.

I haven’t finished reading the book but you can have it in your hands to start on if you leave a comment by July 6. On July 7 I will announce the winner of this great book. Makes me wish I had a hellstrip.  See what the Garden Ranters had to say. They were in Buffalo for the tour too.  But come back here and leave a comment.

 

Greenfield and Hawley Garden Tours – Saturday. June 28

Tomorrow, Saturday June 28 is Tour Day!

Greenfield Garden Tour

Greenfield Garden Tour

Next weekend will be filled with an embarrassment of garden riches. On Saturday, June 28 the Greenfield Garden Club and the Sons and Daughters of Hawley will be hosting unique garden tours.

The Greenfield Garden Club Tour includes gardens where lawns have been removed, pollinators have been welcomed, fruit trees have been planted, perennials bloom lushly, and water and sculpture create a beautiful space. There is also a special opportunity, for those who have lots of ideas about how to use space. Becky George has moved into a new house that needs to have the landscape redesigned. She’ll be handing out site plans with requests for suggestions. If you hand in a site plan your name will be entered in a drawing. The winner will receive two tickets to the Balloon Festival.

The tour will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.Tickets will be on sale at the Trap Plain Garden at the junction of Federal and Silver Streets on Saturday morning. Tickets are $12 and come with a map and description of the nine gardens. Refreshments and surprises along the way. If it is pouring the raindate is Sunday, June 29.

I visited one of the gardens on the tour last week and suddenly had an epiphany. This garden, on a small lot, revealed to me the way a spacious garden could be created in a limited space. This magic has been described in endless design instructions, but never really told me how to do it myself in a way that I understood.

For me the revelation was not about planning the layout of sinuous paths, but first laying out full, lush layered beds that the paths would trace. You may think this is six of one, half dozen of the other, but for the first time I came to a real understanding of how this can be done.

The gazebo

The gazebo

The garden is predominantly a shade garden, perfect for a hosta lover. I did note a Beware of Hostas sign on a little shed in the back corner of the garden. There are also nine beautiful Japanese maples. For sociability there is a gazebo and dining space.

There is very little lawn in this garden, only grass paths, some wide and some narrow that reach around and beyond beds that are filled with trees, then shrubs and finally groundcovers including hostas. The garden is small, but the gardener has chosen interesting trees including many conifers, tall and gracefully vertical, as well as low and mounding. There is so much variety of foliage form and color that my eyes lingered on each tableau before I was teased to walk around the next curve.

The garden is also a Certified Wildlife Habitat which means that it supports birds and pollinators by supplying water, shelter and food in the form of nectar, pollen and berries. As our landscapes are more and more filled by roads, businesses and dense housing, these supportive landscapes become ever more necessary.

There is a sub-theme to the Hawley tour – stones.  At 9 a.m.Bud Wobus professor of Geology at WilliamsCollege will be at the field next to the ChickleyRiver  at the junction of Pudding Hollow Road and Middle Road, to talk about the river rocks and Hawley’s long geological history. Wobus will visit other tour sites to talk about rock formations in those other locales. The garden part of the tour includes perennial gardens, fruit gardens and vegetable gardens, many making use of local stone. A lunch will also be served at one of the gardens from 12:30 to 2 p.m. Suggested donation for the tour is $10 and $12 for the lunch. For tickets, please contact: Pamela Shrimpton: 339-4091, Melanie Poudrier: 339-5347 or Lorraine McCarthy: 339-4903.

I visited Jane O’Connor’s large vegetable garden surrounded by a deep perennial garden with an assortment of herbs. Most of the vegetables are planted in raised beds that were installed two years ago.  They were filled with compost from her own huge pile and have been very successful. Once the beds were set up maintenance was easier, as predicted and planned.

Phil Keenan, O’Connor’s husband, is a cook, but O’Connor said the garden is hers. “This is my deal,” she said. “We eat organically out of the garden and are really conscious of what we eat. I cook from scratch and I can and freeze produce, as well as make preserves and pickles. I do it a little at a time.”

The garden includes ten kinds of tomatoes, four kinds of onion, three types of potato including sweet potato, squash, pumpkins, sugar snap and snow peas. Scarlet runner beans and Kentucky wonder beans clamber up trellises. There’s celery, garlic, strawberries and sunflowers. The variety is quite stunning.

O’Connor works at home so when she needs a break she goes out and works in the garden. Even if she wants to sit and admire the garden, one little sitting area is surrounded by squash plants.

Because raised beds dry out more quickly, O’Connor has installed a good watering system. Fortunately, she has an excellent well. There is a touch of whimsy in this well organized and productive vegetable garden. Solar lights abound, on stakes or wound around plant supports. Birds and fairies glow. “I’ll be out here at night and it is just beautiful.

After touring these beautiful gardens on Saturday, take a leisurely drive up to Heath and enjoy a stroll down the Rose Walk on Sunday afternoon.  The Annual Rose Viewing is from 1-4 p.m at the end of Knott Rd.  Lemonade and cookies in the Cottage Ornee. Hope you can join us.

Between the Rows  June 21, 2014

Mother Nature Whispered New Life Into Our Wisteria

 

Wisteria June 25, 2014

Wisteria June 25, 2014

Mother Nature whispered new life into our wisteria.

wisteria

Wisteria May 21, 2014

By May 21, when the wisteria should have been in bloom, I gave up and took this photo, a closeup, hoping I could see some sign of life. My conclusion? No life. I mourned the shade I had been looking forward  to. Still, I kept watering it. Wisteria is a very thirsty plant. No other incentives. In just over a month life has been restored. The piazza and the living room have  shade which is still  increasing. I will continue to water.

I’m almost wordless this Wednesday, but for more Wordlessness click here.

The Annual Rose Viewing – Sunday, June 29

Applejack

Applejack welcome to the Annual Rose Viewing

Preparations for the Annual Rose Viewing got off to a slow start. May was so cold that the roses weren’t leafing out on schedule. I knew there would be winterkill, but I couldn’t tell where it began. Then June arrived and the roses must have felt they needed to put on some speed.  Leaves, buds and even a few blossoms arrived almost at the same time.

Now I am pruning out winterkill. One of the mysteries of pruning my roses is that even after I take out a wheelbarrow full of dead branches, the bush seems in better shape than it did. Still, some roses did not make it at all, including those roses I planted last spring. Carefree Beauty and Belinda’s Dream were on the cusp of our hardiness zone and I think our very bad winter was too much for them when they had not established themselves firmly.

Harrison's yellow

Harrison’s yellow

I am also clipping around the base of the roses. Have I mentioned before that planting roses in grass was not one of my better ideas?  It is work, but it gives me a chance to see the new shoots that are coming up around roses that suffered during the winter.

Happily, not all the news is bad. Ispahan, the rose of Persia, always has a fair amount of winterkill, but it always survives, and thrives all summer. Even after this year’s trim Ispahan is more than seven feet tall and setting buds like crazy. Purington Pink, a farm rose from Colrain with beautiful little pink multi-petalled roses, chose this year to explode with new growth and has already begun to bloom. Some things just do not make a lot of sense in the garden, or on the Rose Walk.

Woodslawn rose

Woodslawn rose

Those who attend this year’s Annual Rose Viewing on Sunday, June 29 will be able to see for themselves how well many of the roses came through what some of us consider a historically bad winter. And I am sure they will all be polite enough not to comment on the bare spots. Don’t forget, there is always lemonade and cookies in the Cottage Ornee.

Looking at the Rose Walk, successes and failures, I think about what I have learned about choosing roses for the garden. Perhaps the first thing is to look at zone information. One can gamble. I never used to plant a rose unless it was hardy in zone 4a, tolerating temperatures down to -30 degrees. Nowadays, the new USDA Hardiness zone map says Heath is in zone 5b or tolerating temperatures down to -15 degrees. You can understand why I have been tempted and succumbed to planting slightly more tender roses. And this spring I see the result of that gamble. Whether you choose to gamble or not, it pays to know the hardiness of any rose you buy.

The second thing I want in a rose is disease resistance. I am not going to use poisons on my roses. I have neither the time nor inclination to fuss in that way. I have put down milky spore disease to eradicate Japanese beetles almost entirely. It is possible that our isolated location has something to with the success of milky spore disease in my garden. Everyone admires my foliage.

Many old roses were bred for disease resistance, at least in the sense that 18th century hybridizers were striving for roses that looked good all season, even when the roses were not in bloom. Albas are one example, as are the many rugosa hybrids. Both of which I have in my garden including the alba Passionate Nymph’s Thigh, and the rugosa Dart’s Dash.    Nowadays there are new disease resistant hybrids that also have a longer bloom period. These include the Kordes lush hybrids like Cinderella, and the more familiar Knockout and Drift roses that can be planted in masses, or alone.

There are also roses designated Earth Kind by a Texas A&M program. These old(ish) roses were shown to be disease resistant and easy care. I have The Fairy, Double Red Knockout, and a struggling New Dawn climber.

Third, choose a site that will give the rose full sun, at least 6 hours a day, where the soil drains well. Roses are thirsty plants and need consistent water, but they do not like to have their feet wet.

Therese Bugnet rugosa

Therese Bugnet rugosa

So, check zone hardiness, disease resistance, choose a sunny site, and then plant it well. Dig a generous hole. The old saying is a $5 hole for a 50 cent plant will give success. That means wide and deep. Then place your rose’s knobby graft union will be three or four inches below soil level when the hole is filled. Enrich the removed soil with good compost. Fill the hole halfway, tamping down the soil and watering it well. Continue filling in with the rest of the enriched soil. Tamp down and water again. Mulch to keep down weeds. All newly installed plants need to be kept well watered for the first year.

The weekend of June 28 and 29 will be filled with opportunities for gardeners to visit other gardens. The Greenfield Garden Club and the Sons and Daughters of Hawley will both be hosting tours on June 28 and the Annual Rose Viewing Garden Open Today is on Sunday, June 29 from 1-4 pm. More about those tours next week, and a reminder to stop and smell the roses at the end of the road on the 29th.

Between the Rows   June 14, 2014

Rugosa alba

Rugosa alba

Some roses struggled this past winter – and some don’t care about anything – like this Rugosa alba – the famous beach rose that is growing out of the stone wall – amid the weeds.