May 31, 2015


Peony' Iris, Boxwood - May transitioning into June is one of the most lovely seasons of all. Even though there is much to do, no gardener dislikes this season of green, fragrance and robin's eggs.

It rained today. I mean that sort-of heavy rain that continues on and on, not just a shower or a thunderstorm (which we had yesterday - still, not complaining), it appears that our dryest-on-record month of May will not kill everything in the garden. Fingers crossed for June. The are smelled fresh and clean today, the pollen and road dust finally washed off of the greenhouse glass, off of the young foliage, and the plants just all seems to stand straighter - taller  even, perhaps feeling envigorated from the welcome shower. Migratory birds, especially the Robins seem vocal again, with their young vacated from this seasons's first brood nearing maturity - perhaps these birds have even bee raised without a drop of rain until today - their first true rain storm.
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The Itoh Hybrid peony remains top on my list - I must have promoted them to at least 15 garden visitors this weekend. This cross between the hardy herbaceous peony and the tree peony looks great from early spring to frost, and yes - even during that one week in May when they bloom.
 As our green world enjoys its long awaited shower, I can wind up the hoses and focus more on transplanting seedlings. So many seedlings. Tomatoes, rare and unusual annuals, some Nicotiana root cuttings from last year - all need to go out along with the many dahlia tubers that are beginning to be a little too large for their pots. This weekend too kept us busy with commitments as well. A Friday night cocktail party and preview party for Tower Hill Botanic Garden's annual plant sale ( we rubbed elbows with Christopher Kimball from  America's Test Kitchen there which was oddly cool as we fought over choice heirloom tomato varieties sipping delightful botanical cocktails), and we then hosted the inaugural meeting of the new Irish Terrier Club of New England at our home, which too was fun ( I was exercising trying to to get too stressed out about those long to-do lists again).

With our dryest May coming to an end, a couple of inches of rain is most welcome. Luckily, the garlic doesn't mind a little drought, but the seedling carrots  growing in the bed next to it, needs more water to grow stress free. No one wants woody carrots - the key is consistent conditions, nutrients, water and sunshine.
Still, with a couple days of house and garden cleaning, and yes, spreading a few 1000 calories of peas stone gravel, Sunday was left for some rest, and casual transplanting (in the rain) of many annuals and veggies. A task I actually enjoyed given that much of the real urgent 'to-do' items were crossed off - I can't imagine what other people do in their 'spare time', we never go to the movies, for those are saved for late at nigh and often include a sofa, a few terriers and Netflix. Reading seems to be relegated to the bedroom for those last moments before sleep, which often leaves only enough time to read a couple of pages, which slows down any reviews that I need to write (sorry Ken Druse!) and it might amuse you that last night I finally finished that Citrus book by Helena Atlee that I started reading chapter-by-chapter this past winter. I wrote about it here (it's fabulous, by the way - I mean, I want to read it again!).  

Most of the seedlings which have spent springtime in the greenhouse, have been hardened off outside and are not ready to be set out into the garden. Thankfully, it is finally raining here in New England - perfect weather for transplanting. Today, it's annuals, tomatoes and a few annual vines.
There is one thing I noticed after last weeks rant about having no time, and it's that most gardeners complain about the same thing. I mean, how could they not given the long list of tasks which often need to be done all within a short time of year. I'm not complaining, for I am grateful that I am not burdoned by other 'useless' time sucking hobbies such as having to watch baseball, to find time to catch up with Mad Men or Game of Thrones. Five or six passions is enough to manage. Being a foodie is tough enough, but really? I am supposed to find time to work out with my personal trainer too? Obviously, that isn't happning by the way! We are looking for kayaks though- so if anyone is selling two let me know ( I can trade a brand new Soloflex machine barely used).

Ceratotheca triloba, a rather unusual South African native annual which is sometimes found in only the most knowledgable garden centers, but you can raise them yourself from seed, which will not only ensure that you will be able to find them, you will also be able to raise them to the proper size for transplanting. Two sets of leaves is perfect. In mid to late summer, the plant will be 2-4 feet tall with long, pink flowers which by themselves look a bit like foxgloves, but they are not at all related.

Besides, I need to get over this endless complaining about not having time, and learn from those things that I love - the garden, birds and nature. Come on - our migratory songbirds such as the many warblers, Cat Birds and even robins -Hell, even the tiny Ruby Throated Hummingbirds all travel 3000 miles or more, only in a matter of a month or two, return to the great Eastern deciduous forests just in time to enjoy the newly emerging larvae that feed on the tender new buds and leaves of birches, ash and maples. and then in all of the exhaustive frenzy to just eat a good meal. 

Cuphea viscosissima seedling, ready for transplanting out into the garden.
These tiny birds then manage to find a mate - without match.com, aTindr or grinder  for that matter. They even build a new home -- from scratch and set off to raise not one, but often two or three broods all before summer is over.  They eat organically without stressing out about it and they always sleep at night. Surely, I look like a lazy ass slug compared to that Veery who also happens to get up and sing cheerfully at 4.38 AM every morning.

What am I complaining about? 36 tomato plants? Really?

Cuphea viscocissima protected by wire, just extra protection from our turkeys and terriers until they become larger. I so love this plant, my hopes are high that this seasons crop will do well compared to last years failure - started seeds too early, wont do that again!

In the garden where once stood a large yellow magnolia I have decided to plant more annuals until we know what to do with this spot, a key focal spot near the greenhouse. No ordinary annuals however - the Cuphea, Cerotetheca and various tall salvias should fill in by mid summer creating a hummingbird haven.

Siberian Iris are blooming throughout the garden - here is just one nice one, all are newer selections, so the blossoms are larger and sturdier than many of the older varieties circulating in the trade. This one ( sorry, I lost the name) is from Joe Pye Weeds Gardens).
The dahlias that I had potted up in the greenhouse last month, are all ready to go out into the garden. This one sits near an alpine trough on the deck. I plant to get the rest of my dahlias planted out sometime this week.

We hosted a dog grooming workshop  specifically for terriers - hand stripping and all, for the newly formed Irish Terrier Club of New England. It was a beautiful day for it, although, Lydia wasn't too thrilled.

I've been busy potting up containers with annuals, always trying to find that unusual but compelling color and textural combination. More on some of my ideas in a later post. All I can say is - thank God for coleus!

In the greenhouse, our Californian plants are in full bloom. Underglass, it's Pasadena - outdoors, it's still the coldest June ever in central New England. Which, of course follows the driest May on record. This Leptospermum doesn't care one bit, I loves the dry soil in the greenhouse.


  1. Anonymous9:40 AM

    your sproutlings look very happy! happy spring matt!

  2. Beautiful transplants and lovely shots of the garden! I am grateful for the rain after this ridiculously dry and warm May - terribly stunted the Opium poppies and stocks compared to last year! - but could do without this cold now that the chilis and such are just starting to get going and I was going to sow some melons and squash...

  3. I just found your blog tonight. I am really enjoying it.


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