Plant shopping!

24 03 2010

Because of the various gaps in my front and back yard gardens (due to the age of the garden and our crazy winter weather), I’ll need to do a bit more planting than usual this year. We also took out two butterfly bushes that grew too big for the space, so that left two big gaps in the side garden. (Note: When the tag on the plant states that a butterfly bush grows 5-8 feet wide, do not ignore it and buy the plants just because they are “today only, just $5 each!”). I speak from experience: if you have a townhouse garden, you do not have the room for this monster—much less two of them!) They will be relocated somewhere else where they have room to spread.

I just ordered some replacement plants from Michigan Bulb Company, Spring Hill Nursery and Dutch Bulbs this week and got some really great deals, particularly with their “buy x, get x free” specials. I’m adding things that I would love to photograph this year and most species that I haven’t grown before. I’ll add few more things like herbs (basil, mint and oregano) for my kitchen garden. I also bought inexpensive bulbs from Wal-Mart this week, too (Liatris, Crocosmia and my favorite, lilies!). I’m filling in the gaps with these great deals and since they’re all perennials, I should have easy sailing for a few more years.

From the Michigan Bulb Co., I ordered (left to right, top to bottom, photos from catalog): Sparkle Meadow Rue, Green Wizard Rudbeckia, Foamflower, Montana Skies Delphinium, Toad Lily Mix, Twinkle Toes, Double-Decker Coneflower, Licorice Mint, Petite Delight Bee Balm, Blue Fringe Daisy, Helenium Mix and Blue Mist Shrub

From van Bourgondein (dutchbulbs.com), I ordered (left to right, photos from catalog): Gloriosa Rothschildiana (gorgeous!), Habeneria Radiata/Egret Flower (I’m really excited about growing and photographing this unusual beauty—not an inexpensive bulb, but I’ve been wanting one ever since they debuted—tell me this isn’t one of the coolest plants you’ve ever seen!), and Hardy Gladiolus Atom (love the white piping outline—wait, is that a 3 point reverse rule around those petals?!)

And finally, from Spring Hill Nursery, I ordered (left to right, photos from catalog): Coral Drops, Lemon Fluff (how cute are these?) and Anchusa Azurea

Wish me luck with my green thumb and be on standby for photographs throughout this spring and summer!





It’s a jungle out there

28 05 2009

Shot of our front yard garden taken this afternoon…

Just past bloom: White & purple Bearded Iris and Purple Sensation Allium 

Debuting now: Beard’s Tongue, Catmint, Veronica Speedwell, Creeping Thyme, Sweet William, Penstemon, Rose Campion (blush pink-white and bright pink varieties), Hellebores, Sedum, Yellow Yarrow, Nasturtium, White Dianthus, Pink Phlox, Hosta flowers, Ageratum, Evening Primrose ‘Lemon Drop’, Strawflower, Geraniums 

Very-soon-to-bloom: Globe Thistle, Lavender (various), Coreopsis, Tickseed, Lilies (various) and Salvia

And later in the seasonButterfly bush (pink, yellow, purple varieties), Coneflower (various varieties)

Platycodon Balloon Flower (purple and white varieties), Shasta Daisies, Black-eyed Susan, Monarda Bee Balm, Lamb’s Ear, Morning Glory ‘Heavenly Blue’, Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’, Maximilian sunflower

Ha! And this is just the list of plants in the front yard. Proof enough that I’m a gardener obsessed.

Got a question for my fellow gardeners…what is the weed (looks a lot like the tops of celery plants or almost cilantro-looking leaf) that is taking over my entire garden in spades? Why have I not noticed this prolific pest in previous years? Is it a new invasive? Do I need to photograph it for identification?
  
© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

InBloom5282009


 





Much more Monarch mania

15 10 2008

Yes, more Monarchs. I can’t help myself. They’re everywhere! I learned a technique from my friend Mary Ellen of Happy Tonics about how to “stalk” Monarchs with a camera. Wait until they have their proboscis inserted into a flower and they become completely distracted by the task at hand—then move in closer, staying as still as possible. They won’t even notice you’re there. This one sure didn’t. I was able to shoot about 50+ images of this Monarch in less than five minutes.

Want to learn more about the senses of a Monarch? Click here.

Here’s a surefire way to attract Monarchs to your garden—plant milkweed!
Mary Ellen sells common milkweed seeds in her eBay store here. Milkweed is the sole food for the Monarch caterpillar. Adult butterflies can feed on other plants such as this butterfly bush, but the caterpillars only eat milkweed.

Mary Ellen and I crossed paths a few years ago when I purchased seeds from her through eBay. This led to a frequent e-mail exchange, and now I do volunteer design and photography for her organization. I design and produce her quarterly 4-page newsletter, Butterflies & Gardens, as well as other marketing materials. You can download the latest issue of the newsletter in pdf format here. I also designed a Monarch Butterfly Habitat Poster for her this past spring.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Check out my other blog, www.cindydyer.wordpress.com, where I write about gardening, traveling, photography, graphic design projects, family and friends, and more.





Going, going, (almost) gone!

13 10 2008

It’s late in the gardening season, but the Monarchs are still out in full force, flitting from butterfly bush to butterfly bush. I just photographed this one in the front yard a few minutes ago as he worked his way around this cone of flowers, full circle, then flew away when neighborhood kids went (loudly) by and startled him. I’d like to trim back this bush and put the garden to bed for the coming winter, but as long as the Monarchs are around, I’ll have to postpone my pruning duties. I also saw an American Painted Lady.

Check out the Monarch butterfly poster I designed this past spring for Happy Tonics to use as an educational tool to show what native plants will be grown in the Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary being developed in Shell Lake, Wisconsin.

You can learn more about Mary Ellen, Happy Tonics, and the Monarch Butterfly Habitat at http://www.happytonics.org/. In addition to utilizing photos from my own archives, other images were provided by Happy Tonics, Jeff Evans (http://evansimagesandart.com), and Brian Loflin (http://www.loflin-images.com/).

Learn more about Monarch butterflies at this site: http://www.monarch-butterfly.com/

Want to see more of my butterfly images? Click on any of the links below:

http://cindydyer.wordpress.com/2008/09/05/wings-of-fancy/

http://cindydyer.wordpress.com/2008/09/05/a-flash-of-blue/

http://cindydyer.wordpress.com/2008/01/24/wings-for-jennifer/

http://cindydyer.wordpress.com/2007/07/28/17/

http://cindydyer.wordpress.com/2008/06/21/meanwhile-in-the-garden/

http://cindydyer.wordpress.com/2007/08/12/hello-world/

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





The color purple

16 07 2008

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.     www.cindydyer.wordpress.com





Organized chaos vs. needs medication

24 05 2008

“Organized chaos,” was Michael’s response yesterday when I asked him to describe the front yard garden. I also asked him to guess what passersby might be thinking. I’m thinking they think I have too much time on my hands…or perhaps I have an illness that could be regulated with medication. I must say that when I’m in the kitchen, near the windows overlooking the two sides of the garden, and someone goes by—I try to catch their expressions and see how long their eyes linger over the garden. So many just pass by without even a glance to their right. How in the world can they do that? Those that take time to pause from their running, walking, jogging, baby-stroller-pushing, dog-walking jaunts get a silent stamp of approval from me. Aside from my own visual gratification, I create this “organized chaos” for them, too.

Recently my friend Gina spent an entire afternoon helping us clean up the backyard and plant those last few bulbs and impromptu plant purchases from the Green Springs Garden plant sale last weekend. I cajoled her into taking leftover bulbs, excess plants, garden ornaments, an old table, empty pots, etc…anything to just get my backyard looking like paradise again. She and Michael kept shaking their heads every time I came up with a statement like, “oh…um… I forgot about the free sundrops someone abandoned in the parking lot. Where should we (shove) those?” Or, “if we just stake up that bunch of plants, I’m sure we can find several inches of valuable real estate in which to plant these lily bulbs I forgot about.” Or, “we’re almost done, guys, just six more things to plant. Okay…I forgot about those, okay, eight more things, and then we’re definitely done.” I confess. I’ve never met a plant I didn’t like. I take great comfort in knowing that I am far from alone with my disease. I’m in such good company with other plantaholics!

The front part is about half in bloom. Right now, the penstemon, beard’s tongue, sweet william, catmint, yellow yarrow, sweet william, coreopsis, thyme, veronica, rose campion, salvia, ice plants, and sedums are in various stages of bloom. My ‘Purple sensation’ alliums are past their prime, now in their architecturally-interesting “koosh ball” stage. The multitude of lilies are just starting to form buds. Tiny blue forget-me-nots, a gift from Peggy’s garden, are still flowering. The bearded iris (a gift from my friend Karen’s garden several years ago) are almost done with their show. The false sunflower plant surrounding the iris is about halfway to its height and will reach 8-9 feet before bursting with small yellow flowers against the blue summer sky. (Insert amusing sidebar here: I bought this plant a few years ago when my friend Debbi took me onto base at Fort Belvoir. The tag on the plant read, “sun-loving perennial, reaches 4 ft., profusion of yellow flowers throughout summer.” The plant proceeded to reach “Jack-in-the-beanstalk” proportions—9 feet the first year—forming a swaying canopy over the steps before it finally spewed forth beautiful miniature sunflowers! Several friends asked if we were growing corn that year.)

The liatris, a favorite of bees, are just a quarter of the way to their height. A bank of lovely lamb’s ears, started with cuttings from Karen’s garden, offsets the other plants with their silvery green hue. The Autumn joy sedums are puffing out, waiting until everything else steps out of the spotlight for it to shine in the fall. Michael’s olfactory favorite, the moonflower, is slowly making its way up a trellis on the front of the house.

Yesterday, I planted mina lobata (firecracker vine/Spanish flag) in a pot at the bottom of the steps (just so I could get more photographs like this beautiful one I shot last summer: http://cindydyer.wordpress.com/2007/09/03/mina-lobata/. In front of the pot I planted three new coneflowers and another shasta daisy. We added another hellebore to the large bank (another offering from Karen) in the shade. On the front porch, there are two topiary frames planted with hyacinth vines. My beautiful (and very photogenic) stargazer lilies have returned, making their way upwards from a terracotta pot. Three baskets hang over the railing, filled with verbena, sweet potato vine, allysum, marigolds, and marguerite daisies.

Farther up, in front of the morning glory trellises, everything is verdant. When that area begins to peak this summer, there will be a profusion of lavender, multi colored lilies, silvery purple thistle, yellow black-eyed susans and sundrops, take-your-breath-away Heavenly Blue morning glories, red bee balm, deep pink butterfly bush blooms, blue-eyed grasses, shasta daisies, various other sedums, and white, purple and orange coneflowers….I’m sure I’m forgetting something.

I replied to Michael, “Organized chaos presumes I did not have a plan.” To which he countered, “There was a plan?” Of course there was a plan. My plan incorporates textures, scents, colors, varying heights, creepers, crawlers, climbers, and a botanical variation of Noah’s Ark—two of everything, please. How is that not a plan?

I’ll accept “organized chaos.” It’s preferable to “needs medication.”

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved. www.cindydyer.wordpress.com