Summer Blooms and Room to Grow

Huge Oriental Lilies.

Tall Balloon Flower.

Heliopsis Summer Sun, bloomed in the bright shade of the garage bed. I've been surprised by the things that have bloomed in that shadier-than-I-expected bed.

Some kind of Oriental Lily. I don't buy pink things generally, so I wonder if these were mislabeled-- I'll have to check my records.

There are Snapdragons here and there around the garden, volunteers from seeds of last year's annuals.

I seem to have run out of room in the existing beds, so I decided this weekend that meant I needed to dig out a new bed! Day one entailed cutting the edge and removing the grass. Today I dug a trench and pinned the plastic edging down. This would have been a great job for my Dad and Sister! Too bad I didn't think of it while they were here. I am hoping this area will get enough sun with a couple of hours in the morning and again in the evening. This area already has a small patch of tulips. I will be adding more bulbs in the Fall, but mainly I'll add things salvaged from other areas of the garden. The Panicum amarum 'Dewey Blue' Switch Grass is the last remnant of three planted in the main bed three years ago. One-by-one they failed to return each year. This year only a few stems came up on this last one. I felt bad digging it out of the main bed to replace it with a different variety. So, it gets a second chance here. And the sad little Coneflowers were outside of the soaker hose area of the North bed. They, too, should find a happier future here.

The Garden Goes On

Morning Glories on the front railing.

Many flowers have come and gone since the last post, in particular some lovely Orienpet Lilies. The Orientals are just about to open, so I'll have to get snaps of those!

Past, Present, Future

As Spring gives way to Summer, earlier week's flowers have faded while others are hitting their peak and still more are gearing up to put on a show...

The Siberian Irises have past their prime.

One of my favorite plants, Heliopsis 'Prairie Sunset'. I first saw this variety at another house in the neighborhood. It took me three years to get this mature plant. I have two more younger plants in other areas of the garden.

Waves of Moonbeam Coreopsis fill many areas of the main bed. I just planted six small pots of the pink variety, Coreopsis American Dream, in among the existing yellow plants. (This photo is the desktop picture on my new MacBook!)

My 2008 Menard's 'General Sikorski' Clematis is starting to bloom. I hope the whole trellis will be covered in flowers in the next week or so.

Asiatic Lilies are starting to bloom all over the garden. These are from

More Asiatic Lilies--planted three years ago. They've become a mass that probably should be divided.

New Asiatic Lily from the Spring NSLS sale, I don't remember what the name is, but I bought three of them.

The Hydrangeas are in full bloom, even though I never trimmed off last year's dead flowers.

There are a couple of Coneflowers blooming currently...

... but most are still working up to it.

Not all blooms are large and come in bold, bright colors, some are more subtile like this Karl Foerster grass. It seems a bit early for it to be flowering.

I haven't spent all of my time wandering around the yard with my camera. In the last two days I bagged 120 apples on the tree in the front yard. The bags are to protect the fruit from flies that lay eggs in the tiny apples. "They" say you should get them covered by July 1st-- although I'm not sure the flies have a calendar. Many apples had small specks of sticky dew on them that I suspect were the result of the flies already doing their business. There is a lot more fruit this year than last. Last year I bagged 65 apples, but once the squirrels ran out of unbagged apples from the top of the tree, they went after the bagged ones. I ended up harvesting the last nine apples early to keep them away from the tree rats. I hope this year turns out a bit better.

This Week's Best Blooms (wk of 6/22)

Hudine Clematis
In its fourth year. It took three years to finally bloom and is very nice this year.

Martagon Lily
Jealous, Karen? While the petals are shiny, they are not as glossy as it looks in this picture. I picked the largest bulb I could find at the Fall 2008 NSLS sale. I was rewarded with two stems of flowers!

In catalogs, these are shown close-up in tight groups that make the flowers look quite large. However, the flowers are less than an inch and a half across.

'Purple Emperor' Sedum
I finally moved these last year after two years in a poor location. They are much happier in their new location.

Asiatic Lilies
My first lilies of the season. I ordered six yellow lilies a couple of years ago and found that five were these mystery variety. This year I have to remember to move the odd yellow one to a new spot.

Last Summer, I moved a few sprigs of these from one of the many a wild patches in the lawn to the new "garage bed". In their former location, they could only grow in the two week spurts between mowings. Now they are free to reach their potential.

Oriental Poppy
Unfortunately, these poppies were in bloom a very short time this year and I missed getting a picture of them at their peak.

Summer solstice weekend news

The beans I planted from seed a week ago are really coming up. They've grown at least another inch or so since I took this photo. I was worried I was planting them too late, but with the rain and sun we've had, they're off to a great start.

Lupins! I only bought one plant since the ones last year didn't make it, but this one seems to be thriving, even blooming for me. I teally like lupins so will plan to put in many more in the years to come.

This Week's Best Blooms (wk of 6/15)

Siberian Iris



Geranium 'Okey Dokey' (I think)

Lady's Mantle

Finally, some planting is done.

In the front of the house near the sidewalk, I put in three kinds of pink plants; begonias, impatiens and astilbe. I also have purple petunias in a hanging basket near the door.

For the window boxes I chose all whites; begonias, alyssum and impatiens. We'll see how they do on the shady left side of the house.

Here is the new raised bed. I've put in three varieties of tomatoes and some cucumbers. I may add some beans from seed if there is still time. Next year I will be able to fill this out better.

I put the herbs in a planter so I can bring them inside in the fall. Oregano, sage and basil.

I made a new hanging basket with some yellow begonias. I'm hoping they spread out and get real full. I have a red one that is just ridiculously lush (see it in the background of above image of herbs).

This rose bush survived the house painters. I'm hoping I can get a second bloom from it if I play my cards right.

My peonies are not getting many blooms. Dry spring I guess.

Report Card

Well, the season seems far enough along that I can pretty safely say some of my Fall 2008 plantings are not coming back. I believe most of my failed purchases were do to inaccurate zone hardiness reporting. So, the losers are...


I was really looking forward to the Rose Coreopsis. I have Moonbeam Coreopsis and the Rose is supposed to be a slightly shorter, pink version.

I took some time tonight to email all three of the mail order shops-- they all offer "lifetime guarantees" on their products, to report my failures. I asked for credit for the orders from MichiganBulb and SpringHill, except the Liatris and Aster. (The Liatris arrived early in the Fall and I sat on them until pretty late in the season before finally planting the corms. The asters have already replaced once before, so I'll just let those go.) And I asked for replacements for the Delphiniums from DutchGardens. Unfortunately those only ship in the Fall from them, so I am not sure what they'll do for me.

Interesting to note, SpringHill, MichiganBulb and Breck's are all part of the same company. None of them have very good ratings at Dave'sGarden Garden Watch Dog. However, I have had good luck with SpringHill and DutchGardens in the past, but this was a disappointing first order with MichiganBulb. The Lavender Mountain Lilies from them are doing well at least!

[Update, 6/13/09]

I got a positive reply from DutchGardens today-- on a Saturday!
Dear Elleni,

Thank you for taking the time to write us with your order issue. I do apolgize that the Delphinium has not performed for you as expected. I have set up to have another 3 shipped out for you this fall as requested. You should see those arriving to you around the end of September.

Thanks for making Dutch Gardens your source for bulbs, perennials, and gardening information. Please let us know if we can help you with anything else.

Jonathan, Customer Service
Dutch Gardens
[Update, 6/14/09] Positive reply from SpringHill...
Thank you for your email. I apologize for the inconvenience. I have processed your request for a replacement certificate in the amount of $19.00.

You will be receiving it shortly through the mail which you may use for any merchandise through our catalog or website.

If we can be of further assistance, please feel free to contact us.
However, the CS folks from MichiganBulb did not read the part about wanting a credit...
Thank you for your email. I apologize for the inconvenience. A reship has been issued for the item(s) requested. Your order number for the Coreopsis Rose and for the remaining items your order number [are enclosed]. Your order will ship at proper fall planting time in your area. Please allow 2 to 3 weeks from 08/31/09 for delivery on items that are available. I am enclosing the copy of your both the invoices of replacement orders for your review.
I've emailed them again requesting a credit. I have a feeling this could get complicated.

[Update, one hour later] Well, that was easy...
Thank you for your email. I apologize for the inconvenience. I have processed your request for replacement certificates in the amount of $25.97 & $9.99.

You will be receiving them shortly through the mail which you may use for any merchandise through our catalog or website.

If we can be of further assistance, please feel free to contact us.
Hum, now to go (online) window shopping!

Window Boxes 2009

How do you plan your gardens?

This year I didn't pre-think what I wanted to do with my window boxes. I walked up and down every annual and greenhouse aisle at Bachman's. Inspiration struck when I saw this beautiful Coleus:
Coleus. I was torn between plain white Petunias and these because I couldn't tell if these clashed or complemented the Coleus:
Wave Petunia. I couldn't say "no" to the Dracena for a splash of drama, even though it was NOT cheap:
Window box. And, that's a variegated Vinca for some trailing off the sides of the boxes:
Window box. I didn't replace the soil in the boxes from last year so seeing how these plants fare will be an experiment!

Not in vain!

Hooray! My brand-new rain gauge finally has a reason to exist! One whole inch of rain fell on Saturday and another on Sunday. This rain gauge with its butterflies will look great once all of the zinnas that are straining at its feet finally get to blooming. Hope these metal bugs doesn't scare away the real deals.

Been watering my garden every damn day since May 14, which sucks because the link between the spray attachment and the hose leaks so I get watered along with the plants I'm trying to spray. I've tried unscrewing and rescrewing. Screw it. I'll just get wet I guess.

Before this year I've been a hand-waterer. Get out "old yellow," the watering can. Fill it up a few times, hoist, and pour. This year I've been lazy. Just get 'er done.

I ordered this rain gauge from the same company from which I got my strawberry plants. It some company whose name I forget and whose name is also on a piece of paper on my kitchen counter which is aaaalllllll the way downstairs. Another time, I promise.

My hubby keeps asking me whether the rain gauge's measurment beaker shouldn't have a wider opening than this thing that looks like a test tube. "It'll be fine," I say and think to myself, "But this one was much prettier." :-)

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After nearly three months with basically no rain in the Twin Cities, we got 3/4" of steady rain during the day on Saturday and another 3/4" Sunday over night. Boy did we need it.

I took advantage of the sun on Sunday and planted the new iris patch. I removed two dead 'Dewey Blue' Switch Grass plants (a third one is barely hanging on) and shallowly planted around 25 irises. They should be a mix of blue irises I got from eBay and a variety of colored and named irises from dreamingdaylilies at GardenWeb. I still have around 10 blue irises as well as six poorly placed yellow and/or white (I don't remember which are which) that I planted two years ago that have never bloomed. My guess they are not getting enough sun.

I have attempted to protect my new patch with chicken wire (and a spare window screen) and several dead stems trimmed from my Barberry shurbs. I hope the thorns will make the squirrels and rabbits will think twice about digging up my irises! The lengths we'll go to to protect our gardens.

Elsewhere around the garden more things are blooming...

... And other things will be any day now-- purple Siberian Irises.

Last weekend I finally (after a year) set up my second rain barrel. The Russian Sage at its base is a bit crowded. I wish I could move it about six inches to the left, but it is probably safer to leave it. I think it will survive. Not far away, the apples are starting to look like tiny apples!