May 19, 2014


Cypripedium 'Sabine Pastel' blooming now in our woodland garden. These new ladyslippers by Frosch are easier to grow, but still require the perfect site, and they demand care while establishing themselves. Now in its third year, this plant finally seems to have taken off ( after losing 2 others!).

Can you tell that I love May? Here are a few images from around the garden today. Be sure to check out the fighting Baltimore Orioles.

Beauty overload - two male Baltimore Orioles fight angrily over a female in what may be the most striking tree in the garden right now - a Japanese maple with almost pure white white foliage, which is exceptionally white during spring weather which is cool, as it is this year.

Mrs. Oriole plays the classic, typical role of disinterested female.
 "Oh, look....some Miscanthus floridulus seed". gnom, gnom gnom. Don't let me distract you boys, ya'll can  just fight over me." "Hmm, these long reed strands will look fabulous if I use them to weave into a new home "

'Masterpiece' is a new garden pea available with frilly, extra tender pea-flavored tendrils that look more like parsley than anything pea-related. A fast crop, one can harvest tendrils just as they emerge, and a full crop in just 28 days.

Pea tendrils are intended to be eaten in spring salads raw (helped along with a few, crisp garden radishes, mint and perhaps some goat cheese). All these need are a drizzle of olive oil and lemon from one of the  meyer lemons in the greenhouse. Perfection can sometimes be so easy to achieve.

Picking pea tendrils is easy, no tools required beyond ones hands. Pinch and pick. Rinse, and eat.

Mesclun mix grown in flats, allows me to carry flats anywhere I want, from the greenhouse, to full fun outside, to the kitchen sink. I harvest spring mix which is cleaner than soil-sown types too, it requires less washing too.

That early planting in wooden nursery flats of mesclun is still being harvested. I think this may be an easier way for me to grow mesclun and baby mixes, as I can start them early in the greenhouse, and set them out in the cold frame or out into direct sun, during our fickle spring weather. 

Early summer lettuce is being set out. I particularly love this speckled 'Mottistone' lettuce, a crisp batavia-type which is an improved selection from many of the heirloom speckled forms of buttercrisp types.

Our new English Oak 'Concordia', a selection with golden yellow leaves, will look striking set against the cedar fence.

The dogs almost ate this limequat, but then Joe told me that they were on a chipmunk hunt, after just seeing it there.

Spring Kale set out for a fast crop before the summer heat sets in. If we are blessed with a cooler-normal- summer, the plants may survive, and if so, I will need to thin them out to allow 24 inches between the plants and rows, for now, they are planted closely, for quick harvest while young. A fall crop will be set out in July.

Weasely and Daphne examine each plant as it is brought out of the greenhouse, as Memorial Day weekend marks the time when most tubs and pots are brought out for the summer. This Mandarin orange still has a few fruit on it - enough to tempt Daph to sneak a taste of its sour fruit.

Weasley, our show dog who is home after is spring tour and from Westminster, helps Joe lay out landscape fabric over a new garden we are planting along the front fence. We try to to use fiber, but with a runaway bamboo problem, this may be our only change to finally nip it.

An allee-style planting of Chinese Birch, Betula chinensis 'Cinnamon Flakes' will be planted here along the walk. Our busy street lays across the fence, so this area gets little use aside from the dogs, who like to run along the path and bark at passerbys through the cracks in the fence between the stone and the wood. 'Cinnamon Flakes' has snow white bark, which peels into cinnamon colored curls.

A new Begonia grandifolia will look oh-so-nice in one of my new Guy Wolff pots, don't you think? Now I wish that I bought more. I spent about two hours in the greenhouse trying to decide what plants will benefit from this pairing.


  1. Does that Landscape fabric actually work? I spent a month ripping one out by hand from under a dogwood. It was full of Winged Euonymus roots from the bottom and seedlings from the top. All of these were embedded into the fabric. BTW, where can I get a Betula chinensis 'Cinnamon Flakes'. What a cool plant!

  2. I think that there is a time and place for landscape fabric, and certainly not places where one should place it. For this location, I am using contractor grade, because I need strength, but I have used inexpensive fiber types in the past, which I do not recommend. If you are ever planning to plant in the location, it can be problematic, as you found out, roots can grow into it. Never use black plastic, as someone this weekend was telling me about, as water must be able to pass through, and the soil should breath. In this spot, I have a lot of invasive plant material, a strong timber bamboo which we have been trying to irradiate for ten years not, but which has become stubborn with small shoots, and some bittersweet. This is a protected area, about 5 feet wide by 200 feet long, which runs along a gravel path, and a stone wall, so I approve its use for here. I hate mulch, but with a full time job, it's either mulch or weeds. An old garden has many weed trees, and invasives, but if I lived in a more rural undeveloped garden, I could simply allow nature to drop leaves as a natural mulch. Cinnamon Flakes came from Song Sparrow Nursery. Online.

  3. That ladyslipper is a wonderful plant... even if you have to lose two to get one flowering.
    I'm trying them for the first year and they are doing... well, we'll see.
    And your mesclun opens my appetite. A table !


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