Sunday, June 30, 2013

What Works

Lately, I've been trying to evalutate the things that are working best for me in the garden. I've been doing that a lot this year, culling those plants that do not please me and adding more of those that do. For instance, coneflowers are one of those easy care workhorses that I want to use more often. So I added several to the landscaping around the new patio.
I've been getting rid of a lot of plants that just don't work well for me. Either they are too needy, or they only look good for brief periods of time. The neighbors have mostly been the recipients of my garden clean up frenzy, but I also donated some to the Master Gardener projects. To be honest, some simply went into the compost. But the ones left behind have earned their keep, like Endless Summer hydrangea. It blooms over and over again, all summer long.
In the past, I've been known to be a plant collector. That means that every time I saw a new specimen, I had to bring it home. The only problem with that is not knowing where I was going to put it, so it would get stuffed in just anywhere. When you have a lot of single plants, your garden can look messy and cluttered. Repeating elements give you cohesion, so I'm trying harder to use that theory. Out went a lot of "singles". Instead, I'm using more multiples, like sedum Angelina. I have this stuff everywhere! It takes full sun, with no extra water needed and even though it's a lovely spring green all summer, it really shines in winter, turning red and orange.
I also find room for those plants that like to multiply themselves without being pests. It's always nice to get free plants, but if the price is that they take over your garden, well, it's not worth it. Nigella is an annual that acts like a perennial. It will continue to drop seeds nearby as long as you give it a little bare dirt.
In order to put in the new patio, we had to remove a very old and large butterfly bush. There was just no way to save it, as it was so huge we had to take an axe to it. But I can't do without a butterfly bush, so it was the first item added to the new garden. It may not look like much now, but I have faith.
Here are a few more plants that I can depend on, phlox David,
Moonshine yarrow,
geranium Johnson Blue,
and lots and lots of coleus.
Because making my garden easier, gives me more time to enjoy it's visitors.

Friday, June 21, 2013

The Pretty Spots

It's been a rough week in the garden here at Robin's Nest. My beloved Forest Pansy redbud had it's top sheered off by a brief but fierce storm. I really did cry about it, because it was so bad that there is no way to save it. It only has one weird branch sticking out at an odd angle, so I'll try to take a few cuttings, but otherwise, it will be removed and mourned.
Then while pruning my roses, I found signs of rose rosette disease in two of my beloved roses. I've already lost one to this insidious disease, so it's a pretty good bet that it has spread to these two. There is no cure, it can spread to my other roses, and I can never plant roses in a spot where it has been. I could lose my whole rose garden. Excuse me while I cry.

So tonight I took a walk to find all the prettiest spots, just to cheer me up. It was easy, as there are many.

 Ah, now isn't that better? And then I had some garden good news. I finally got a shot of that cute little hummingbird that has been visiting all week!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013


While May probably has the most blooms, June is also a beautiful month for gardening. The weather is ideal, and plants show it by being at their best. But I haven't paid much attention to the new flowers lately. I know that's unusual for me, but I was very much distracted by the installation of my new patio.
It's done now, thank goodness and we love it! They finished on Tuesday, and by Saturday we had the landscaping around it totally finished. And yes, we did it all ourselves. We do tend to rush through these projects, but we just can't tolerate mess or unfinished projects. But I was prepared. I had the landscaping all sketched out on paper, plus I had been collecting plants for weeks. So I was ready.
We worked so hard but it was worth it to enjoy the fruits of our labor. Afterwards I was finally able to get out into the other parts of the garden to see what I was missing, like my roses. The big flush of blooms is gone now, but there are still a lot of really pretty roses to enjoy.
 I saw the lavender blooming, I really did. I even smelled the fragrance in the air. But I was always hurrying by until now. I dearly love my lavender in bloom, and I am thrilled that it continues to reseed itself nearby.
 The daisies are another flower you can count on in the month of June. Common, yes, but lovely still.
Threadleaf coreopsis is one of those simple flowers that are under appreciated. They bloom tirelessly all summer long with no care or supplemental water. I made sure to add some to the new landscaping too.
But the best part of June in the garden is when the hydrangea blooms. Mine is Endless Summer, and it was blue when I bought it. But our alkaline soil quickly turned it pink, and that's okay by me because most of my garden is pink anyway.

So the patio distraction is over and now I'm ready to go back to enjoying my garden. And the landscaping around the new patio just means there is even more garden to enjoy!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

A Plethora of Tulips

I grew up in the SW corner of Michigan, not far from a town called Holland Michigan. With so many Dutch people settled in that part of the state, it was only natural that they would name their town Holland, and then hold a tulip festival every year. When I was a little girl, my parents took me to the Tulip Festival. They tell me I was a very popular little girl that day in my checkered dress, wooden shoes and traditional hat, but mothers are always very prejudiced...
 She swears I was in love with flowers even then. Perhaps this trip was the start of my obsession.
Fast forward far too many years, and I finally managed to return to Holland Michigan to see the tulips. The funny thing is, Holland is one my favorite towns in Michigan, and I have visited there many times. But I never managed to get back there in the spring until this year. I didn't really want to see the festival, I just wanted to see the tulips. So I devised a strategy to visit just a few days after the festival ended. And it was perfect!

I also took along a dear friend, and that made the day even better. The skies were clear blue, the temperatures were pleasant, and there were tulips everywhere. I wasn't quite sure where to find them, so we just drove into town, hoping for the best. Well, it worked out perfectly, because we drove right past a pretty little park that was just filled with tulips.

 After admiring pretty much every tulip in the park, we went into town for some lunch. Along the way, we discovered that tulips were planted almost everywhere in the city including along the streets, in front of homes, in containers, yards, schools, and any place else that they could find a patch of dirt.

We also wondered where to find that rainbow field of tulips we saw on the website for the festival. Well, it was easy enough to find this tulip farm outside of town, and there we truly did find a veritable quilt of tulips.

The point of this tulip farm was to wander through the numbered patches, making notes about which bulbs you would like to purchase. This was a difficult task! With this many gorgeous flowers staring at you, how are you supposed to pick?

Well, somehow we did pick a few favorites, and ordered them for delivery in the fall at planting time. It was fun to think that I already saw and touched the flowers that will be growing at my house next year. I can hardly wait to see them again.

All in all, it was an incredible day, even though I had to wait so many years before enjoying the fabulous tulips of Holland Michigan. I doubt that it will be that many years again before I go back. It was just too incredible to miss.