Tuesday, June 4, 2013

A Day of Gardening

The raised patio bed
Yesterday was a day packed with gardening. Went for my weekly visit with my brother and took two flats of plants and five one-gallon pots. The bonus of having a nursery is that one can be so luxuriant in choosing plant material for pet projects. Wanted to plant my brother's raised bed in the backyard, and see what of the babies I planted last fall survived and are thriving now. Beebalm, veronica, a few mums and a columbine in bro's "weed garden" were a few of the survivors.

My brother has taken on a tiny patch of dirt and has wanted to let it go to his favorite plants - weeds. Thankfully the "weeds" are some reseeding perennials, violets and oxeye daisy plus a dandelion and a bit of chickweed. Now the bonus of a weed garden is it may look unkempt but many "weeds" are edible and certainly are easy to grow.
Backside of the bed.
One of the stars in the raised bed is Spiderwort and I believe the variety is 'Zwanenburg Blue' - I have no memory of planting this but my dad may have tucked it in previously. Gorgeous deep blue flowers, nice leaf habit and a long bloom time - must note to propagate some for the nursery. So the raised bed, which in the days of dad's care and when mom was alive had previously held bedding plants. But, with the new ownership of my brother, I have decided to plant for some edibles as well as ornamentals.

Herbs are the focus of this bed now as I do the cooking when I visit and I would love to have a few fresh ones to use with the food I prepare. Parsley, Basil, Mint, Thyme, Sage and several others got planted, along with a couple of forget-me-nots and two johnny-jump-ups in the back woodsy garden.

 Early June brings out the german-bearded irises - one of my all-time favorite perennials. These particular plants have been lovingly passed down from my grandmother to my late father and now to me. I have a big golden yellow and the two other colors that have persisted are a sweet copper-bronze and a light blue. The bouquet below shows them in a lovely heirloom, hand-painted vase that my great-grandmother painted and has been used for flowers for over a century.

Iris bouquet in hand-painted iris vase

Bro and I had a very rich and filling lunch. He said he may not have to eat for a few days and I was filled up all night. Breaded fish, a lovely braise of elm mushrooms and asparagus from the market and rich, creamy mashed potatoes plus cantaloupe for dessert. We were stuffed!

The garden project - before

Meanwhile in the afternoon, I went over to Vicki's to get her backyard fence bed planted up and try and get some display beds for the open house. Overlooked by Mr. Sunshine this bed was made by the dumpings of the nursery stock from the winter. To the right with the garden totem is an old sandbox filled with this good peaty mix.Wanted to plant some shade-tolerant perennials as this fenceline bed gets a fair amount of shade. Drew up a quick garden design the night before and stuck with most of it.

Under Mr. Sunshine I planted a few of the yellow-leaved perennials and a couple of very reliable plants to the left of the sun.  Veronicas and coreopsis were candidates as well as the native columbine - Aquilegia canadensis.

The planted bed
Hope to get a couple of hollyhocks to survive back here but I am doubtful if there is enough sunshine. The long wall of the fence needs some upright relief and variety and would make a great backdrop for anything with some height or maybe a vine trellised to the fence.

The totem bed - a former sandbox.
Raised beds - new home

The totem bed is mostly woodlanders and shade lovers like hellebore, brunnera, bleeding heart, cimicifuga and ferns. I hope these hellebores make a good-sized clump and they are a double pink.

Back on April 19th I posted about the raised bed project in the front yard...well---- Waterford doesn't allow "gardens" in front yards, according to their code, and some neighbor complained about them down the street. We could have fought city hall if we had deeper pockets - they wanted $250 dollars to file and present before the zoning board and they really scared Vicki. Poor thing, she had never gotten a violation and was worried that she would go to jail. Suffice to say, Waterford officials are bullies and forced us to move the raised beds to the backyard where there is limited sunshine. The back beds, closest to the fence, will have to be planted with shade-tolerant herbs and vegetables, where there may be six hours of sun for the beds closer to the greenhouse. Not the full sun that we would have had in the front yard but we'll just have to make do.  Have had great support and help from Vicki's friends, particularly AJ and Jason who took it upon themselves to move all the heavy garden soil to the new location.

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