31 July 2011

happy pairings

It's that time of the year when all of the plants in the garden begin growing around, up, and through each other. While I was unwinding the veronicastrum from the hollyhock this afternoon, I noticed how nice the buds of a 'Casa Blanca' lily looked as they poked their way through the dark leaves of a cotinus.

There are lots of these auspicious meetings. Here are some I noted this afternoon.

Two annuals playing nicely. The color of the blue lobelias this year has been amazingly intense. The sedum behind is one I picked up at a plant store in May. I'm certain it's a sedum; I'm just not certain which kind.

Why do my echinacea blossoms always look so "seasoned"? Here's one resting her well-traveled head on a bed of Amsonia hubrichtii.

Bluish bracts of Eryngium 'Sapphire Blue' with regular old shasta daisies behind.

Here's what started it all: buds of a 'Casa Blanca' lily consorting with the dark, round leaves of Cotinus coggyria 'Royal Purple.'

12 July 2011

daylilies in bloom, 9 July 2011

Here's the daylily bed. It's about 30 feet long currently, but I think it might look really nice about 60 feet longer. Am I crazy? I am. I am insane.

My plan would be to intersperse at more or less regular intervals a selection of red, orange, and yellow daylilies that bloom early, midseason, and very late. Among the colors and forms I like are these three that are in bloom now (see below; would this be midseason?).

The first is blooming at about 50 inches tall. It's got very thin, grassy foliage, and the flower is washed out in the sun here, but anyway, it has yellow sepals and red striped petals. It's been blooming for about four days already. And there are plenty of buds to come. B and I like this one a lot. I've done some searching online, and I think it may be 'Caballero.'

The next is much shorter, about 28 inches tall in bloom. The flowers are a beautiful, deep brick red with a deep gold throat (the photograph here doesn't do it justice). I love it. It's cheerful and warm and small (one might even say it has a lot of spunk), and it's been in bloom for about a week now. Again, I did some Googling, and it could be 'Sammy Russell Red.'

And the last started blooming about two days ago. It's located at the end of the peony bed in the side yard. Currently it's being overhung by our huge Hydrangea arborescens 'Annabelle.'  The color is a deep burgundy (even though it looks more purple in this photograph) and it's about 55 inches tall in bloom. I think it might be 'Burgundy Star,' but I wouldn't swear on it.

Current daylilies (left to right): 'Caballero,'
'Sammy Russell Red,' and 'Burgundy Star.'
I realize I'll have to note when these go out of bloom, too. Hmmmm. Hope I remember to do that.

In addition to these strong colors, the daylily bed in its current configuration has some other plants with peachy or mauve blossoms. I'm not so crazy about the colors (they don't blend well with the ones I really like), and the forms of the flowers are broader, fleshier, and not the more-regular shape I prefer.

So . . .

On Sunday after church, I went over to Slate Hill Farm, which is about a three-minute drive from the center of Salem, New York, and told the owners, Craig and Mary Barnes, what I was looking for. I left $40 poorer and four daylilies richer.

Here's what I bought (and the images are from the Slate Hill Farm website): 'Campfire Embers,' a 1979 introduction by Stanley Saxton, one of the great daylily breeders (and a choral director, too; my kind of guy). This is a 30" tall plant that is in bloom now but continues for a long while, apparently. The flowers are a vivid, vivid, vivid scarlet red. Just gorgeous.

The next is 'Hyperion,' bred by Franklin Mead in 1924. This is considered a classic. It's 48" tall and a midseason bloomer. It smells wonderful (I don't know of many daylilies that have a fragrance, but then I don't know a whole lot about daylilies), and it looks beautiful blooming next to 'Campfire Embers.' When I asked the Barnes whether they preferred another beautiful yellow daylily, 'Kindly Light,' that blooms at around the same time and has thinner, more spidery petals to 'Hyperion,' they both said, "Oh, you want 'Hyperion' definitely."

For later in the season, I chose another yellow daylily called 'Sandra Elizabeth,' 28 inches tall, very late, with broader petals that somehow don't look overblown to me. It was developed by breeder Don Stevens in 1983. It's pretty wonderful.

The last is 'Autumn Minaret,' bred by Arlow Stout in 1951. It's another late one, huge (70") and a beautiful light orange, apparently, with red overlay. It's supposed to be fragrant, too.

New daylilies (left to right): 'Campfire Embers,' 'Hyperion,'
'Sandra Elizabeth,' and 'Autumn Minaret.'

A couple of others I didn't buy, but have put on my list for purchase from Slate Hill Farm another time are: 'Bitsy,' 'Scarlet Orbit,' and the aforementioned 'Kindly Light.' I figure I'll visit again in another few weeks and again a few weeks later and again later still to see what's in bloom throughout the summer. Three more I'd like to find are "Autumn Accent,' 'Princess Irene,' and 'Painted Lady' (Sydney Eddison considers this one her favorite).

It will take a few years for my four little plants to grow into big clumps that I can divide and replant, but, oh, what beautiful plants!

07 July 2011

thalictrum update

Nine and a half feet. And still growing.

deer: 13+; j: 0

Ugh.

Two weeks ago, I planted some 13 dahlias and a whole bunch of heuchera in the large bed down by the road. I was diligent about watering them all in through the first week. I promised myself that I am going to stay on top of crabgrass and other weeds. And what a beautiful sight they will be!

Or would be. (Maybe still will be.)

Got home from the city late last night. Gave a quick glance over at the bed as I drove up the driveway, and all looked well.

On my way out this morning, hmmmm: a different story!

Each dahlia has had most of its leaves eaten off, as have about half the heuchera plants. Sometime between late last night and around 8:15 am today, a marauding horde of deer—even though they can gorge on all of the lush greenery festooning the woods around Pleasant Hill; even with corn growing like mad in the fields just down the road; heck, even though I can’t imagine that a heuchera leaf would taste that good—had its way with my dahlias (and some of the heuchera; did I mention that?). Nibble, nibble, nibble.

To my thinking, deer are not Bambi; they’re not, “Ooooooh! Look at the pretty deer in the field! Shhhhhh! Don’t scare it away!! Sooooo cute!”

They’re big. They’re hungry for my plants. And I don’t like ’em.