Sunday, April 11, 2010

Spring Inventory April 11, 2010 - Side and Front Yards

The previous post covered the back yard. Here we are leaving the backyard along the south fence. The stepping stones need a little touch-up after a wet winter, less than I'd anticipated. One of the arbor vitae was dead before winter and will have to be replaced. The peony has buds! When we moved here 4-1/2 years ago, they were planted along the back fence, where they got no sun. To make matters worse, Lloyd managed to mow them down several times. "What? That's a flower?" Before we had the fence put in last summer, I transplanted the scrawny little things to the south side of the house, where they get a lot of sunlight. They seem to like it. :)
Moving toward the front, there is a bush rose already budding out and the red raspberry planted summer before last. Am hoping we'll get some fruit this year. It seems happy here as it is putting up new sprouts. Will have to put up some kind of a trellis for it and define its territory before it takes over the whole side of the house.
The south side of the front of the house has a new feature: a sump pump discharge pipe and gutter. It will be a challenge to plant around it. It has been in less than a week, and already it is apparent that we will have a small swamp right in the pathway from front to back. I'm in favor of a nice little bridge; Lloyd is ready to put in a water feature. Not much was planted here last year. The baptisia is coming in nicely, but the butterfly bush is still a no-show. This area doesn't get sun until early afternoon, so the ground near the house may not yet be warm enough to encourage growth. If the bush is a goner, I'm going to replace with with a much larger butterfly bush. I want to see it growing up and arching over the other sump pump cover beside the stairs. (Yes, an indoor sump and an outdoor sump, both discharging several time a day. Do you think our house may have been built over a spring?)
The southwest corner of the yard had gladiolus and mums last year. Not sure if the smaller mums are coming back; no show of green yet. And fairly certain the glads are goners as I didn't pick them up last fall. Yesterday I bought a Japanese quince for this corner. Will plant more mums if these don't come back so there will be color in the fall. Will also put in something for summer color, not sure what.
The beds along the sidewalk are coming back but looking ratty. Will put a lot more plants in here in a few weeks.

The north side of the front yard needs a lot of work. The flower beds need to be defined, and the middle area needs to be smoothed and seeded with grass. I'm tempted to have it and the south side sodded.
The magnolia in the northwest corner was lovely for about a day and a half, then heavy rains beat up. Beneath it, the pachysandra that dear friend Norma Jeane planted last summer has also taken a beating. I'm guessing only about 20% of the plants survived. There were three variegated plants from a mail order nursery; I see one of them. The rest came from NJ's yard. Will see how bad the damage really is when I get this corner cleaned out. (Which I could be doing right now if I weren't blogging!)
The grass is growing well outside the fence. This low spot in the brick walk needs to be repaired so dirt won't accumulate. I thought the repairs were to be done last summer, but I'll have to call the mason again to remind him.
There are no photos of the north side of the house. Not much happening there yet except for a lush crop of moss. Time to pull on the gloves and head outside!

Spring Inventory April 11, 2010 - Back Yard

Yesterday I walked around the yard with camera in hand to record early spring activities. The first three photos are wide shots of the back yard. Despite having snow on the ground three weeks ago, plants are growing all over the place. It's too early to plant tender new plants. That's okay. I still need time to do spring clean up. Please note the height of the grass in these photos. Have you guessed that the lawnmower we bought last fall is still in the box? Maybe today (she says optimistically).

You can poke the photos to see them larger. I should have used a larger font in the labels in many of the photos.
The lily garden is thick with leaves, but some lilies are already poking through them. I'm hoping the leaves were thick enough to protect the delicate lily bulbs from our few deep freezes last winter. If all goes well, a lovely vine with orange flowers (whose name escapes me) will come back to cover the trellis.

Last fall I planted some primroses bought at half price closeout. It looks as if about half of them survived the winter and are already blooming. I want to get more and plant them earlier this year so they'll have a better survival rate. I love the bright blooms this early!
The next shot was taken behind the tree in the photo above. It was cleared last year with Roundup but nothing was planted. My hope was that the wild violets would come back as a natural ground cover. They did! I'll be planting other perennials in the area and let the violets fill in between. I'm surprised to see so many white violets and some with purple & white blossoms. In previous years they were mainly purple. I wonder if the chemicals in the Roundup had anything to do with this, although the same thing is taking place in areas that weren't sprayed. The Japanese maple tree is going into its third summer looking very healthy. Lots of leaves unfurling.
Too bad I can't say the same about the dogwoods that were planted at the same time. The white dogwood (foreground) is dead. The pink one has leaves but will not be blooming this year. Between them can be seen mounds of coral bells leafing out. Most of them were purchased at the Powell Gardens plant sale last spring. I'm thinking about putting in a Japanese Rose (Kerria japonica 'Pleniflora') when the dogwood comes out.
There is no photo, but I'm sorry to report that all three of the Encore azaleas are dead. Found out from the Powel Gardens blog that only one variety -- Amethyst -- is hardy enough for Zone 6. You'd think the numbskull at the local nursery would have known that. Another nursery gets their Encore azaleas from a nursery farther north than we are; I asked them to order 3 more for me.

Along the north fence (looking toward the front yard), the daylilies from Lilywood Farms are poking through their covering of fall leaves. The long rows of green are surprise lilies (aka naked ladies) that were here when we bought the place. Apparently they plan to be here forever. All efforts to dig them up have fallen far short of goal! The foliage will yellow and dry in several weeks, then in August there will appear lovely pink lilies, one bloom per stalk -- naked without any foliage. I'm rationalizing that they make a nice border for the long bed of daylilies.The area by the "kissing tree" (a double pin oak) shows the hellabores leafing out. The witch hazel that was presumed dead yet put out a couple of leaves last fall again appears to be dead. The other two have leaves already. Always the optimist, I'll leave it in the ground for a while and see what happens. None of the ferns are showing green yet.

The Bradford pear has me a bit concerned. Instead of being solid white with flowers (as are the other Bradford pears around town), ours put out leaves with only a few flowers. I'm wondering if all of the spraying I did to kill off the invasive vines on the ground didn't mess with the tree. The container says it won't cause harm if not directly applied, yet so far as I know, this is the only difference between our tree and the others. We'll see what happens next year.

The last photo from the back yard is of the wild violets growing between the edge stones in the little plots beside the shed. Aren't they lovely? I don't understand why some people treat them as weeds. Look at the pansies! They were planted last fall and came back with colors flying high.

This is a long post. I'll report on the front and side yards in the next one.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Garden Awakes

Today - March 21, 2010 - I braved the spring snow to trek out to the back of the garden to snap the first blooms of the season. One of the three witchhazel whips that were planted last summer has produced three blooms. The two whips on the other side of the oak tree show no signs of bloom. I hope they made it through the deep freezes we experienced this past winter. A walk around the garden before the snow revealed more signs of spring. The daylilies are poking up, some of the ground cover plants are turning green, the pansies left over from last fall are actually blooming, and the little red nubs of peony stems are showing. The surprise lilies (aka naked ladies) are going strong, but I would expect no less of them. :)

If Mother Nature can bless us with a few dry days, I'll be able to rake up the last of the autumn leaves. The ground is way too muddy to even consider it now.