June 29, 2008

Late June Gardening

A Severe Thunderstorm Approaches
I can't remember a time when we have had so many Thundershowers, with storms arriving most every evening, at night, and even in the morning. Needless to say, the garden is enjoying the nitrogen-rich rain, and thankfully, we have been avoiding the hail storms, which have occurred in the area. This is the weather we in New England typically see in the period between late July and early August, with near 100% humidity, and high temperatures, it feels more like Miami, than Boston. Still, I would rather have this weather than dry, drought-ridden months which can also occur.

I am smitten by Nepeta sibirica 'Souvenir d'Andre Chaudon'
This is a relatively new Nepeta, or Cat mint available at your more stylish garden centers, and it is a charm. It has showier flowers which are also larger than other Nepetas, and it stay's in bloom for a very long time, beginning here in late May, and continuing for most of the summer.

Nepeta "Souvenir d'Andre Chaudon, a named cultivar of Nepeta x faassenii

With nearly 20 Nepeta species and named varieties carried by just one internet search at Digging Dog Nursery, I now have this surprising genus on my radar. I am so impressed with this cultivar ( which is sold under various names), that I now am more curious to try others. Inexpensive, easy to grow and stunning in the garden, you may want to try some of these new Nepeta's also. I took some cuttings so that I can plant a larger sections ( as with most perennials, plant in lots of 15 if you can), but this is a registered variety, and propagation is restricted for retail use.

Berberian Farms, a farm stand near my home.

About six years ago, I decided to reduce the time spent in the vegetable garden, since the labor, cost and time involved became simply too much ( I mean, I am not Martha Stewart and I can't afford all the gardeners she has! How nice would that be!). So I discovered Berberian's Farm Stand, twenty minutes from where I live, and now I can buy fresh, local grown produce. This weekend, we bought fresh English Peas, which I spent a good part of Saturday, shelling for fresh pea soup, or simply steamed with some fresh butter and mint. Yum. We also bought baby beets for Beet greens and Summer Borscht with sour cream and dill, as well as lots of Arugula, lettuce and Dandilion.

Last year I decided that even at the farm stand, the cost was a little crazy ( corn - $8.00 a Dozen, Heirloom Tomatoes - $5.00 a lb), so we started a tiny vegetable garden consisting of three raised beds, and some beans planted out back with squash and gourds. It's just not summer, without Pumpkins on the vine and fresh herbs. I wish I lived where I could have acres of corn, but that will have to wait. Until then, I will have to settle for a dozen tomato plants, and not the 75 plants I used to grow.

Freshly Shelled Sweet Peas

June 22, 2008

A New Garden

With overcast conditions, this was the perfect weekend to work on the new garden, in front of the greenhouse. My design has taken three years to get to this point, but slowly, it is coming together. This weekends' project includes removal of more bamboo, and excavating the sod, to extend the garden around the cirlce of gravel which marks the centerpiece of the garden. We also added three beds for vegetables, as well as more boxwood, which was transplanted from the back vegetable garden, were I wintered it over after buying it all on sale last autumn. The boxwood transplants very easily, and now, it should enjoy the deep rich loam, that this part of our property provides, since it all used to be part of my grandparents, ( and parents') vegetable garden. My goal is to have more growing space, attractive design, and relatively easy care ( i.e. less lawn to mow). ORganized beds, with hedges that are neat and tidy year round, makes for a more manageable garden. I don't look at hedge trimming as a chore, since it is down once or twice a season.
Margaret helped, or bossed me around. Something about Irish Terriers, they need to be near you at all times, and inspecting everything that you do.

Of course, in the heat of the day, Margaret and Fergus discovered that newly turned soil, was much cooler.

A view of the new walk leading to the Martin house circle, from the entrance of the greenhouse. This section now includes the vegetable garden raised beds, and the blue and gold garden, mostly perennials, and lots of boxwood hedging.

Another view of the newly designed walk, awaiting to be surfaced with granite gravel, which arrives later this week.
Last year, the Stewartia pseudocamelia had only a few blossoms, I wonder if the fact that now that the this precious chinese native tree can get more intense sunshine, since the 16 foot hemlock hedge was removed, has anything to do with the massive bud count. The flowers really do look like Camellia's, and I love it when the start to fall, intact, and line the ground with their camellianess. There just are not many trees that have the 4 season charm and character that this species has. I encourage anyone to add one to their collection. Smooth, muscular branches, which have attractive mottling, and we use them to fill urns and window boxes at the holidays, brilliant autumn foliage, and these amazing white camellia-like blossoms in late June and July.

Digitalis obscura
An unusual Digitalis from the Sierra Nevada mountains of Spain, which I received from plantsman and nurseryman, Harvey Wrightman ( of Wrightman Alpines), graces the rock garden with it's brown-apricot trumpets in a color which is very un-foxglove like. I must get more of this plant, it virtually glows in the evening sun. I havn't been to the Sierra Nevada's since high school ( ugh like 1978), but this plant reminds me that there are other mountain ranges worth exploring beyond the alps, and besides....now that I collect winter-blooming Narcissus.......this would be the perfect place to visit.