Sunday, June 14, 2009

Weigela Envy

My Mom has a variegated Weigela that has to be 5 years old if its a day, and despite its Sun/part shade position and never having been pruned, it is gorgeous - just loaded with bright pink sweet smelling tubular flowers. A showstopper. My husband, who generally is appreciative, but silent on my gardening efforts, handed me a bloom during a recent visit, and said, "We gotta get one of these! Or a few!" That's about the incentive I needed to stop at the garden center.

I didn't tell him that we already have a Weigela Midnight Wine cultivar in our landscape. Midnight Wine is a dwarf of Wine and Roses, and I have used mine for its interesting foliage. Though it does bloom hot pink, it hasn't been a great bloomer for me. The lack of blooms could be because I've moved it twice in 3 years and still haven't found the ideal spot for it. It still gets too much shade.
But as I mentioned, I was given permission - no, instructed - to purchase one of these things. So off I went. Though I didn't find the 'Variegata' that my mum has, I did find two plants that looked really healthy; Weigela Dark Horse (below from Planthaven's website) and Shining Sensation (above photo from Novalis' flickr site). Dark Horse has almost maroon foliage, with striking lighter green veins while Shining Sensation's foliage starts green, and matures to a dark red. Its leaves have a polished leathery sheen hence the 'shining' in the name.
I plunked the Shining Sensation in a key spot at the top of the deck - I'm hoping at maturity that it will offer some screening. Its from Novalis' "Plants that Work" line and it claims to 'work' in the shade. The deck is the shade, so we'll see. The Dark Horse, a relative dwarf compared to the Sensation, is offering a nice color contrast to the Quick Fire Hydrangea in the new back garden.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Mystery Plant

Ok, so I was snookered, I'll admit it, by the garden club member who told me, 'it's pink blooms will sway in the breeze after all the other perennials are done.' All she had to tell me was that it will extend my growing season an itsy bit more into September, and my fingers were on their way to my wallet, but then she said into October... and I said "SOLD!" My caish plunked down based mainly on the lure of a longer growing season. Now that the hot moment has passed, I am the proud owner of not 1, not 2, but 3 (!) plants whose name I don't know or can't remember (possibly early stage Alzheimers -- I'm 36 -- or lack of sleep is at play, I'm not sure which). What I do know is that it blooms in part shade in September and grows to about 2 feet tall, has pink blooms, and reproduces via runners. I was told it isn't invasive, and liked the acidic soil that she had it planted in - it came with pine needle compost. She might have called it Oriental ivy, but I can't find anything like that on the web. Here's a photo of my plant. It seems to like its new home in my new back garden. Anyone know what the mystery plant is? I'd like to know what I bought...

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Surprises and New Adventures

First off, I have to say things seem to be moving slowly this year. We've had a fairly mild spring with a few exceptions, and so without a burst of heat, outside of the iris and azalea, things have been slow to bloom. However, there are some things that are now starting to pop.

Surprise! My blanket flower (gaillardia) is back. Initially, I thought it might be random Coreopsis - had to wait for a bloom to see what it was - when it popped red, knew it was the blanketflower. I think it is the 'burgundy' strain, but am not sure. I planted it two years ago, but it didn't return last year. At all. I didn't even list it in the plant file because I thought it had been frosted to death since it's out in the front unprotected from wind -- and it wouldn't be the first thing that didn't come back from a New England Winter. This plant pretty much took over my garden the first year I planted it, with hundreds of red blooms from planting through frost. So much so that my sister made me cut it back -- too crazy she said. Anyhow, here it is just blooming - Welcome back.

New adventures - I have a few to share. First, foxglove. Swampgardener gave me a seedling last year. I didn't think much of it - but this year it has been a strong grower. It is now in full bloom - see right. At 4 feet tall, I think it has a bit of Venus Fly Trap sense to it - and I'm constantly chasing my 16 month old away from it. So pretty, and yet so menacing. Did I mention it's poisonous?

I am trying out a couple of fuzzy foliage plants. Rose Campion, the pink variety, was one of my Garden Club purchases. A $3 bargain, it seems to have taken hold, though this is what is will look like (left - from Univ of Ill. Website) and this is what mine looks like now (below right) cross fingers. Around for hundreds of years, the rose campion is hardy to zone 3 and likes moist soil. Though it apparently is a reseeder, folks online are recommending staking (yuck) and oh yeah, it needs to be cut back for reblooming. I gots me a bargain! It's in the new back garden - where, after failing with the veggies last year, I decided I wasn't quite ready to relinquish the spot to the pachysandra. I've tried to find some things that work well in part shade; in addition to the RC, I added some variegated Hosta, Siberian Iris, a mystery plant (whole separate post) and a new 'Quick Fire' Hydrangea. See image below. I couldn't resist it in a troll through a new found local garden center. It was a "proven winner" variety, which I find consistent, and it already has bunches of blooms. Here is what it will look like in a few weeks (hey, I can dream!) courtesy of WFF.

I also put some lambs ear - looks very similar to the rose campion - out front after a mis-planting in deep shade - thanks Sis! It is perking up a bit, and from what I read, it can be an invasive speader, so I'll keep an eye on it.

I also planted the border around the deck - with a goal to hide the side of the rectangle that is our deck -- with some hosta, impatiens, and coleus for some mid-Summer color. Here's the view from the ground.

So my last add to this post is a question - more a call for advice - this hosta (strain unknown) was doing wonderfully in the sunny front yard until this year when something (!) started eating it from the bottom up. I'm not talkin' bugs, I'm talkin' beastie. Here's what it looks like now, and what it can look like - this healthy one is half a yard away in an area close to the house. I'm tempted to use moth balls to deter the bugger, but I'm not sure the plant will ever be the same. Any suggestions are welcome - short of a shotgun.

Local Nurseries I've used