It’s been over a month since posting, and a lot has changed in the gardens and even the Mountain Laurel bloomed along Water Road. This time of year, I don’t get too much quilting done because the gardens keep calling to me. With the size and number of them, I am giving hay mulch a try this year to keep the weeds from taking over the gardens and my time.
This is what the garden outside the front door looked like mid May. Most of the weeds were dandelions, wild carrot, and other tap root types. Ken found a weed puller gizmo made by Fiskars that worked very well at popping these nasties out roots and all. It was a lot of work, but I got this bed under control in about a week.
Another area of the same garden above after most of the weeds were removed. I was left with bare soil and not a lot of color since the early bloomers were done. I added a few annual flowers and soon the next crop of weeds were poking their little heads out of the ground. Last year, it seemed like all I did was weed….no fun.
I decided that it was time for mulch… I can’t afford to purchase bark or other mulches, so decided to use something we have lots of…. Hay and old grass that has been lying around in piles and in bales in a field. I had been afraid to use the grass and hay for fear of adding more weed seeds, but read a book on the subject that says that if I keep adding more as the first layer breaks down, I should have very few weeds. (I also didn’t really pay attention to the fact that there are already millions of the same seeds found in the hay and grass already in the gardens… not adding anything new) The above photo shows the view from my front door after a few annuals have been added for a bit of color. The hay and grass looks so much better than bare earth, and will keep the moisture in along with keeping weeds down.
This is what the back yard gardens looked like from the deck. I had been keeping the section middle right in the photo pretty well weeded because that is where many of my early bloomers are. I would pull a few weeds every time I checked out the new flowers. The garden on the mound was getting really sad.
After a lot of weeding, lugging, placing of hay, and planting of more annuals, it looks much nicer. The flowers in the foreground are in the planters on the deck. The view is even more pleasant to look at now that I have added more flowers since this photo. When they start filling out, I will post new photos. Working with the hay as mulch is great, especially in large areas where there is nothing planted. I just covered with a deep layer of the hay, and wherever I want to plant, I just pull aside the hay, plant the flower, and replace the hay around the plant.
This is just one of the bales I had Ken deliver to my gardens from the field. This particular bale is still waiting to be spread in the Lilac garden, but another nearly 5 bales have been used so far. I got some help with moving 2 bales to the areas of the gardens it was needed. The rest has been my task. I now have the bales fairly close to where I am using it, so there isn’t as much lugging involved. It is lots of work and has caused a few nasty fibro flares, but it will allow me to actually sit and enjoy the gardens more during the summer.
This is a sweeping view of the gardens along the stone wall, and mound garden in the back yard. I was standing at the end of the stone wall nearest the group of Black Walnut trees. I have divided some of my Hosta and other perennials to fill in empty spaces, and have Impatiens in the shady areas and Petunias in the sunny areas. Each year I work toward filling the gardens with mostly perennials. When we owned the greenhouse, I would plant literally truckloads of leftover annuals in the gardens each summer. After 4 years of dividing the perennials I have and adding a few new ones, the space left for annual flowers is much less.
Now for some photos of some of the flowers that have bloomed in May and the beginning of June. With the abnormally warm early Spring and late hard freeze, many flowers bloomed really early and some not at all, leaving very little color right now before the summer boomers start. The Siberian Iris really put on a show! I have many clumps in various shades of purple-blue from very deep to very pale. I began with two varieties- one from my mom’s garden in NYS, and one deep colored one I purchased. I also bought a white one, and the are all cross pollinating and seeding in many spots. I have a rainbow of shades now. The flowers were beautiful, but with the heat they didn’t last very long.
One clump of the Iris is next to the old fashioned white Peony. They look great blooming together.
Speaking of Peonies, This is my favorite so far…. Called Pink Luau… I bought it a couple Falls ago and this is it’s first year to bloom. Another beautiful deep salmon pink colored one did not bloom this year because the buds froze during the last freeze we had. I have been collecting many varieties with less petals that the old fashioned ones. They hold up much better in the rain. I got photos of this and other varieties through all stages from bud to shattering. There will be Peony flowers in coming quilts, I am sure.
This really pretty deep purple Campanula is one of the few flowers in bloom right now. Most have faded before the Phlox and Coneflowers begin for the summer. I almost lost this plant last year, but after a season of babying it, it is thriving this year.
This was one of the biggest surprises this year…. I bought this plant last Spring and the deer decided to munch nearly every leaf off it. I got a great show of blooms even with just stubby stems. The Mountain Laurel bloomed way earlier than usual this year. It is usually in peak bloom right now, but the flowers are already gone. They were blooming before the end of May.
This is a photo of some of the Mountain Laurel blooms I have been watching form along Water Road. They ended up nearly pure white this year. I think that the heat while the buds were forming caused the color to be faded. Last year with cooler temps. they were a soft pink. The buds in this photo show more pink than most of the clumps did.
Back to the home gardens…. This is a photo of my tiny “Pterodactyl Fern”. The mom of this plant was over a foot tall, but so far this baby has stayed quite small. Last year it came up very late, in August…I thought it had died. It’s official botanical name is Dryopteris linearis pterodactylus. I am wondering if the size may be due to the Black Walnut trees that are the shade for this garden. I have many plants doing very well, but find I need to move a few to other gardens. The best shade I have is under the Walnuts, but the Lilac garden is maturing enough to give me a few more shady spots to try things in.
This plant is one that is not usually up and growing until now, and it has been blooming for some time now. I believe it is a Piniellea or something like that for a name…. brain fog…. I need to look it up and get a name tag with it. The Lamium are filling in very nicely around the Hosta, Ferns and these under the Black Walnut shade.
This Strawberry plant looks better than many of it’s bed mates. The deer or rabbits have been snacking on them. Some plants only had stubs where there were leaves. I have sprayed them with “Liquid Fence” deer repellent and they are putting out new leaves. It is a good thing they are everbearers, or I would have no berries at all this year.
My newly planted Blackberry bush with it’s flowers and berries beginning to form. So far the deer have left this alone- I sprayed it when I planted it. One I planted last year was eaten nearly to the ground before I sprayed.
This is the only stem of of these light pink Lilies to bloom this year. Probably another victim of the late freeze. All of the buds on the other plants shriveled while tiny.
This is the first of the Phlox to bloom…. a dwarf variety that I can see from my kitchen window.
I think this is another freeze victim…. The first flowers on this Daylily are on very short stems, and a lot of the buds on the taller stems are brown on the tips. The later blooming varieties seem to be fine. Some plants were at just the wrong stage of growth when things got colder than usual for May.
This is the last photo for this post…. This guy flew into the kitchen and I found him on the edge of the windowsill one morning. He looked interesting folded up, but really neat when he opened his wings. What a great surprise!
I plan to get back to the studio more, now that the weather is getting hotter and not so great for garden work. The hay should keep my work to a minimum out there, too. There will be more flowers coming, too. Hopefully not over a month till the next post…