June 8, 2016

As busy as the birds and the bees

No wonder poets, song writers and yes, even garden writers pine on about June. It's long days are packed romance, vigor, abundance and vitality and it all seems to come at once - especially to those of us who garden. Yet really, is there any other time of year so rich with life?

Around here, it's all babies all the time now. Baby plants, baby bunnies, baby spiders - even baby canaries ( three eggs hatched last weekend!), but really, it's the garden which is consuming most of the time right now. I imagine that for most of you, it's pretty much the same. Here we are a week after Memorial Day in the US - traditional tomato planting season for the old timers, and the unofficial start of summer for everybody else.

This somewhat rare nasturtium - Tropaeolum 'Hermine Grashoff' is very special. It's an old Victorian, sterile sport which means that it has been handed down for generations between one enthusiast to another as a vegetative cutting - it does not produce seed. It's watermelon pink color is quite special too. It makes a nice potted plant for the summer terrace.

'Puppy', which is what we are calling the puppy since she has to leave us so, has decapitated a dinosaur in the gravel bed garden. I suppose it's better than her decapitating any more lilies, as she has destroyed far too many nice ones.

A little yarn nest finally tempted the canaries to raise a successful clutch of three. Both mom and dad are feeding our three new songsters. Hashtag Canary Birds!

My collection of annual sweet pea species - Lathyrus species, is starting to grow nicely. I've transplanted a few of the taller species, and moved them to the deck which we just painted.

I am only growing a few rows of Spencer Sweet Peas as cut flowers this year, but they are starting to look fine. I am training them as single-stem cordons, in the English method so that I get long stems. Check out my Mandarin orange tree - it's still covered in fruit - right here in Massachusetts!
Here is a slightly different view.

I have always wanted to try growing dwarf sweet peas - but the seed has been difficult to find lately. I found some this spring, and a pot is just starting to bloom. I can't wait, they are so tiny!

While on the topic of bamboo canes, I have used some extra ones as early stakes for the dahlias. Name tags are essential here, as we plan to exhibit some at our local Dahlia Society shows.

Bamboo canes always look nice in the garden.

Weasley checks some of my spelling.

Joe's nephew Curtis, who is staying with us for a while, has been a great help. He was fascinated with the bottle brush flowers on the Callistemon that he helped move out of the greenhouse.

A very nice chocolate Baptisia. Name tag lost, but I still like it.

More Spotted Trout Backed Lettuce in a raised bed. It stays so clean when grown in these beds, and - dare I admit, I don't have to bed over to pick them (and the dogs can't pee on them!).

A lovely alpine plants, this Saxifraga longifolia is monocarpic, which means that it will die once it blooms. Sad, but it does appear to be forming some runners. It's blossoms are like a cloud of butterflies. 


  1. How do you overwinter your double flowering nasturtium? Sadly the one I got from Avant Gardens didn't appreciate being inside an office for the winter.

    1. Hi Linus, I have a greenhouse but I have trouble wintering mine over too, so don't feel bad. I think my greenhouse is too cold and wet in the winter, and inside my house, it is too warm and dry.

  2. HI Matt!
    It's always fun to see what you've got going on. Can you please share the name of the pale yellow & blush red peony? It's gorgeous!

    1. HI Bree! Sorry it took so long, I had to look in my files to see which one it was. That lovely yellow one of the Itoh Hybrids known as 'Garden Treasure', a Hollingsworth introduction, you can get it here: http://hollingsworthpeonies.com/itoh_and_tree

  3. :) Thank you for your posts - always so interesting and with good photos! That nasturtium really looks special!

  4. Anonymous6:10 AM

    Dear Matt
    Do you have any opinion on the best bamboo we can grow in 7a for uses such as your sweet peas?
    All best,
    ~ 02568

  5. Anonymous2:32 AM

    The Baptisia is B. × variicolor, probably the most available clone 'Twilite Prairieblues™'. Your canes for cordon sweet peas look quite short. Do you expect to have to detach the plants and 'layer' them later in the year?


    1. Hey Chad, you may be right about the Baptisia. It was a clone from Plant Delights, and I am not certain which one it was. As for the bamboo, you're also right. These are 7 foot canes, so essentially 6 feet tall once set in the row, and my plants will reach the top in a few weeks, just as they peak - around the week after the Fourth of July. The vines will reach up a foot or so before collapsing, but by that time, in mid-June, they are about exhausted, as here in Massachusetts we will be experiencing our hottest and most humid weather. I suppose that I could drop the vines and re-attach them, but I tried that a couple of times, and it didn't seem to make a difference. Also, by then, I need that space for chrysanthemum pots.

  6. I'm on my way of catching up the latest train of growing several mini roses at home, wish me luck!

  7. Beautiful photos and gorgeous plants. You do a lot better than me. I've gone through stages where I've tried to grow sweet peas but never done very well :)


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