31 May 2016

porch plants

Nasturtiums and mock strawberry. It's curious to see how differently the varied containers of these have grown.
On my front porch, the nasturtiums in a decorative planter have huge leaves.
Some are now almost the size of my hand.
I'm guessing the soil mix in there was richer than in the ground, or in the box planters on the back railings. It looks impressive now, but if the plants are growing such big leaves I don't think they will make many flowers.
Making the point, the back railing planters already have buds, the front-porch pot has none.
Likewise, I had a number of pots with mock strawberry, and only three of them look nice. The ones I dug up very early spring and had sitting in the coldframe house through snowfalls.
Other plants I dug up and put in pots later in the spring never did so nicely. I wonder if it was the timing. Or something about the soil quality... I ended up not keeping the ones that were looking poorly.

cut flowers and shrubs

I really loved seeing the lilac bloom- it just started to fade a week ago. The scent was lovely.
I cut some to bring in the house.
I missed getting a photo of them when open, but the peony buds were near-bursting for ages it felt like. I had those in a vase in the house for a week, too. The petals are falling now, but there are two more buds out there I'm going to cut when they open as well (they get ruined by the rain so quickly, it's more worthwhile to cut them and enjoy longer indoors).
In a back corner is another shrub that bloomed earlier- I don't bother to cut forsythia but my youngest likes picking all the yellow flowers. I keep checking on it to be sure it's getting enough water and mulch, next year I'll probably just leave it to its own devices. It still has a kind of scraggly contour but I'm letting it grow another year before I start pruning to shape it.
I never really noticed before, the leaves with their serrated edges are kind of pretty on their own.

30 May 2016

three ferns

I am really glad my backyard ferns seem to be doing fine.
While I set out and cut back my boston fern a month or so too early (way too eager), it is now recovering and growing lots of new fronds. I'll remember to be more patient with it next year.
I still think this bird's nest fern looks too tropical to be a real plant in my house. And I can't figure out where to put it. I had it sitting outside in an empty spot of the front bed but it was getting hit with late afternoon sun and risking damage from kids' play. Then I had it on the sideboard indoors, the lighting was perfect but it was in a corner and I want to admire it. Now I've got it sitting on the hearth. It seems safe enough here, just out of range of foot traffic but a dominant presence in the room for sure. I think it needs a bigger pot but I'm anxious to get the right kind of potting mix so I don't harm it...

more yard plants

Dianthus is my favorite plant in the mailbox spot right now. It never stops blooming (so far). I've started deadheading it every now and then, to keep tidy and encourage more blooms. This isn't the best picture, but it's also got that nice blue contrast in the foliage. I found out I was right in my guess that the flowers look like carnations- the plants are related. Another one I want to multiply.
Sunpatiens I'm not so thrilled with. It is a slow grower. The one in the sun is doing a little better than the one in the shade spot.
I planted out my flowering purslane next to it.
Gladiolas are really coming up now! Very straight. On that side of the house I've also got fancy daylilies and some other kind of asian lily, I forget the name now. Where's the plant label... ?
When I planted out my latest batch of hostas, I split some in half. I did it kind of roughly, with the side of a hand trowel, and then worried some would wilt and die because broke apart without roots. But so far not a single leaf has withered.
The sedums I planted around tree stump in the front are doing pretty well. In spite of kids stepping over them all the time, and squirrels digging around them.
I didn't want to have the stump ground out. At least not yet. The kids like jumping onto and off of it so much. Eventually I think the sedums will grow tall enough to soften the edges of this a bit, but now it gets lots of looks from people walking by. I wonder if some passerby think the foliage is the tree trying to regrow? I think it's funny.


of the backyard plants. Some I don't like as well as I thought I would. Some have surprised me how much I do like them. And others obviously need to be moved before next spring....
This one didn't get much mention when I first planted them- Argyranthemum 'sassy pink'. It's hard to get a decent picture of it. It has very fine, ferny round-clumped foliage that kind of gets lost in the background.
The flowers are very pink, but the light bounces off them so I haven't figured out how to get good photos yet.
Every day now it has more flowers. One of them is getting shaded over and blocked from view by a huge hosta leaf. So I need to move it, or the hosta next year. Probably the hosta because- my neighbor cut down all the pine trees in their backyard. Leaving just four deciduous trees. And now my shade spot gets full sun half the day.
So some of the plants I was dubious about because their labels said 'full sun to part shade' will probably be happier now, but others aren't.
The salvia got huge this spring- it's crowding out liriope on one side and hellebores on the other-
but it also appears to be getting sunburt, and some of the leaves curl from heat.
The astilbes have surprised me.
I thought I wouldn't like them, their plumy, feathery flowers too delicate.
But the scent is amazing. It's exactly like something from my childhood- the scent of a new eraser shaped like a cartoon character.
I think my neighbor has some kind of astilbe in her yard- green shrubs with frothy pink tops. If that's what it is, mine will probably grow quite a bit larger than I'd expected, so I might have to shift them...
Another one that surprised me was the lupine. It has (so far) stayed rather short, but very attractive. I like it. I want more of them.
Next to it, larkspur on the other hand, has disappointed me. Its flowers were astonishing when they first opened- the blue hues so vivid they look unreal.
Even the buds glimmer with irridescent color.
But the whole thing fell over after a heavy rain.  Those flowers are flat on the ground. I don't know if it's just not rooted well enough, or the rainstorm pummeled it too much, or it's the kind of plant you have to stake the flowers up. I don't want to be bothered with that.
Another one I really like now is the lysimachia.
Its foliage has thinned out as it grows taller- or maybe in reponse to the heat- but the blue-green hues still stand out among the other plants. And as the pink flower spikes get longer-
they appear to glow, because the top part is densely clustered and darker, going down the stem the flowers get gradually spaced apart and paler into pinks. I'm definitely going to try and add more lysimachia into my garden, whether by propagating it or buying more plants next spring.
I also like the heucherella. I think I got this one in the right spot- its tiny pale pink flowers look nice against the yellowish greens of the big hosta leaves.
Gerbera daisy. I feel like I need to move this one so it's in a spot better appreciated- near the front porch, maybe. They're pretty bold when the flowers first open and the sun glares on them-
but I actually like them better when they start to fade and take on an antique look.
This is my favorite picture of the day.