Friday, July 30, 2010

My Vermont Summer Garden

It is a cool evening, family and visitors have left, and the weather is once again pleasant. This is a photo of a four-year-old persicaria polymorpha, or giant fleece flower.

Persicaria Polymorpha

Descriptions usually list it as 5' tall. Ours is always at least 8' tall with no particular encouragement. It looks like a cross between a lilac and an astilbe on steroids and it is in bloom for about two months. Customers assume it is a shrub, but it's a perennial and as such needs to be cut back in the fall, quite a project.

Another successful plant this summer is 'red romaine' lettuce.

'Red Romaine' Lettuce

I bought heirloom seeds and was pleased with the rich burgundy color. It brightened up the salads and was a nice garnish as well.

Clematis 'Madame Julia Correvon (above) has always done well for me. It has smaller red flowers.

I also like to use clematis (here Jackmanii) for bouquets. This arrangement also has cupids dart (Catananche caerulea), annual bachelor buttons and tall ageratum.

I rely on lavatera for cut flowers.

Lavatera Trimestris

I put a few coleus and one perilla (above left) together in a pot to add color to the perennial display gardens. I have been a bit disappointed with coleus 'red head' (lower right), as I had visions of it becoming a bright red for the entire summer. It is more of a muted red. But coleus Florida City Yalaha (above right) is a bright winner.

'Fresh Look' celosia (above) is easy to grow from seed and is splashy in the garden. Here I have planted it with 'Lemon Gem' marigolds, which have completely stopped blooming and are non-performers for the time being. I'm not sure why they are on strike.

I always grow amaranthus tricolor ('Joseph's Coat') because I enjoy its tropical look.

Amaranthus Tricolor

Here's another amaranthus that has lost its tag. It came highly recommended from either Fedco or Johnnies. It certainly is a performer, but tends to overwhelm the garden. I do, however, now think it might be fun to have a garden with just amaranthus varieties, as there are so many different types and they are all on the wild side. Next year?

I often suggest to my customers that they think about foliage contrast for the impression of color, since perennials, with a few exceptions, do not bloom all summer. Ligularia 'Britt-Marie Crawford' has dark maroon foliage and does fine in full sun. Here it is planted next to 'Sun Power' hosta.

Another nice foliage plant is heliopsis 'Lorraine Sunshine.' The foliage holds its variegation (many plants revert back to green) and it is particularly lovely when in bloom.

We have actually started to sell a few mums, which is a good thing since they are budding up early. And I am already ordering plants and seeds for next year.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

HEAT and HUMIDITY and Daylilies on Sale

I do not understand how folks survive “down south.” I am OK in 30 below weather - toss another piece of wood in the fire, perhaps find a thicker turtle neck and make sure you are wearing good wool socks.

When the temperature goes above 90 degrees and the humidity is high, as it has been the past week, I switch into a low gear.

Once again, the returning power of new guinea impatiens astounds me. One hot day I neglected to water this big pot in a display garden and it looked the way I felt.

But it bounced back after a good dose of water -

With the help of my son I have been keeping the daylilies watered in pots. They are on sale now (ALL $6.50 each, buy five and the sixth one is free.)





I am hoping for less humidity in the future. Farmers' markets have been slow and folks are generally dragging. A friend gave me a wonderful birthday gift - a used air conditioner in the kitchen.