My May Garden

Okay, so some people measure there children by pencil marks on the door frame right? I measure my son by taking a picture of him every year by my Ostrich Ferns, if only I can find that first picture….the ferns were taller than him!  And now….

Ostrich Ferns

I must admit I have a complete fetish with Brunnera, I am not sure if it is the blue flowers or just super cool leaves.  I have planted 4 varieties in my garden and now have about 16 (reseeded) and they are all different!  My hubby is certain they are weeds, since they are SO happy in our moist shady yard!  Need to do a Brunnera post.  They grow anywhere in my yard though, even on the south side! 


I almost missed it!  This is a Tree Peony bloom (almost spent), no idea what variety.  I think I almost like the foliage on tree peonies more than the flower!  This sits near my foundation on the west side of my house.  It is protected by the nearby garage…I can almost smell it.  Can you?

Tree peony

Ok, now we head to the east side of the house.  I have had this Amsonia ( Amsonia tabernaemontana) for years and it was always wimpy, this year it is HUGE! 

Easily 3′ by 3′!  It decided to grow, it is still in bloom now June 11th!  Cool….

So much more to share!  So little time….will try to finish May garden post so I can get to June! 
Really enjoy nature today!

Wake up!

Every spring I fall in love with the way plants wake up.  It is so amazing to me how different they look when they are emerging from the ground, as opposed to their mature summer foliage.  Having grown plants from bareroot for nusery stock, I often had to be able to identify perennials by only these baby leaf buds or the color and shape of their roots.  So to this day after cutting back the old foliage, I am forever studying and photographing new growth.  Here are my favorites from this weekend’s clean up.


New Echinacea leaves emerging
Baptisia (False Indigo) waking up
Variegated Fallopia (Japanese Fleece Flower) pink leaf buds


Pushing back the older leaves of Huechera Midnight Rose (a cool Coral Bell with mature purple leaves spotted pink), I found baby leaves on the rise. Hints of pink spotting seen at edges.
Lastly, I found this Pink Champagne Clematis (Early flowering) wrapping itself around a Midnight Wine Weigela just beginning to wake up. 
Don’t forget to stop, kneel down and look close!  You never know what treasure you will find.

Why Knock Outs rock…

 I am NOT a rose person.   You know them.  The people that have 20 rose bushes in neat rows in their front lawn. 

 I LOVE plants,  but roses are usually toward the bottom of my list of plants to experience.  My husband dislikes roses so much he forbids me to plant one at our house (I tried to “hide” a white carpet rose in our landscape once, it mysterically vanished).  He hates that they hurt him.  When you work in landscape clean up roses can be brutal.  So, four or five years ago when all the hype about the ‘Knock Out Rose’ began, needless to say I was sceptical.

Part of the fun of gardening is trying out new plants, right? With shovel in hand I headed to a display bed in the parking area and planted five Knock Out roses.  We watered them that day, cause it was July (that is when people who work at garden centers have time to plant).  Then we completely ignored them from that moment on.  I did notice them every once in a while as I pulled in the parking lot, but other than that nada.  Zilch.  Absolutely no attention was given to these babies.

That first summer, I did not fall in love with them.  It was the next summer that they KNOCK-ED our socks off!  They bloomed like crazy from mid- May to November.  Customers were coming in asking what the blaze of bright pinkish-red was in the parking lot.  At that point and then only did we start giving them a little love.  We did two things.   First, we deadheaded them and wow did they bloom longer and look better close-up.  Second, we cut then about 8-10″ from the ground the next spring.


So, to date the Knockout rose is the only rose I really have fallen for, all because it blooms its head off and needs little care.   Yes, it still has thorns.  No, I am still not allowed to have one at home (unless I want the incredible vanishing rose again).  Beyond thorns, there are a few tidbits to remember. 

Japanese beetles still think the leaves among the yummiest on the planet.  We combat this by using Milk Spore on the grass near our roses and through good old-fashioned hand picking.  Amazing but true.  We physically remove the beetles from the leaves in the early morning.

The can suffer during a cold hard winter.  The stems may dieback or the plant may actually die overwinter, if it is exceedingly cold.  Combat this by putting 3-6″ of mulch around the stem of the plant in the fall, if you rose is in a very open windy area.  Be sure to remove the mulch in early spring.

Though labeled black spot resistant, they can still get black spot especially if conditions are right.  Be on the look out and if you see yellow leaves or black spots, thin about applying an organic fungicide and clean up the the fallen leaves.  Remember most plants like their roots not their leaves watered.

There are a double, triple, pink, blushing pink and rainbow Knockout roses these days.  I must admit, the best success for us came from the original Knockout rose.  The doubles, triples and rainbows at ColorScapes showed less cold tolerance.

One last thing!  I cannot believe I forgot, must be becasue I am writing this in March!  FRAGRANCE. They smell wonderful!  Rose lover or not, this IS the rose to experience in 2009.