16 November 1998 - While there are still things to be done outdoors, my interest in serious garden rework WANES in the autumn. The only chores I've been doing in the past few weeks have more to do with taking pictures of the fall colors. The rest will wait until next spring, although I trust I'll be doing a bit of pruning during the winter and some tidying up in the alley and oak beds near the house. I'm hoping that the colony of Hellebores I planted in the oak bed will be putting out their first blooms this coming winter.
Last week some friends of my sister came over to dig out two established rhododendrons I'd offered. They were in the bed west of the deck and it was getting too crowded there. The varieties were 'Cunningham's White' and 'Gomer Waterer.' 'Gomer' came out within the hour but the 'Cunningham's White' was a different story! Poor Wayne (the husband and primary digger) worked for a couple of hours on that one plant and could not get it to break loose from underneath. While he was trying to complete that process, his wife, Alice, and myself went around the back garden and lifted things for her to use in their new landscape. He brought a friend and a "come-along" (kind of like using a winch) with him the next week to load the two plants onto a truck. With the come-along he was able to pull the root ball out of the flowerbed, but lifting it into the truck was another matter! Finally, as it was getting dark, a few of us from the house joined in. We cleaned a bit more dirt off the bottom of the root ball (probably the straw that was breaking the camel's back) and finally about 5 of us managed to horse the plant up onto the bed of the truck. Whew! I guess they just got the two bushes set into the ground over this past weekend and they are providing a nice screen from their neighbor's driveway. Established plants can be a pain to move, but certainly lend an instant established look to a new garden!
That will be my last official garden chore for the fall. There is a gaping hole in the bed where the rhodies were and I need to fill that in and reset a rose bush that was moved out of the way. It is the species with the showy red thorns. Fortunately, it was not a very large plant. This new open space will allow it to have more light. There will also be some room now to rearrange this part of the bed and put in a few new things.
As far as what is blooming...the prettiest new things in the yard at present are the emerging leaves of the Cyclamen hederifolium and Cyclamen coum (which will bloom in another month or so). I should check to see if the Hamamelis virginiana I planted a few years back is still alive and maybe blooming. This type of Witch Hazel blooms as the leaves drop in the fall. I'm going to do that right after I finish this paragraph!
...Well, I just forced my way through the back bed (where there used to be a passage, it's now wall-to-wall rhododendrons which are taller than me) to check for the Witch Hazel. The good news is that I found the tree and it's still growing! It's about 3 feet tall. If I manage to crawl to the back of that bed (it faces the road) and weed out the grass and ferns this next winter, the little Witch Hazel may get enough light to bloom pretty soon!
29 October 1998 - It's been rather nice the past two weeks and I've finally managed to wind up a few loose ends. At this point, anything else that gets done will be an added bonus. This doesn't mean I accomplished what I'd hoped in the back this season! I stumbled upon the Garden Web Forum Plant Exchange and unwittingly got involved with exchanging plants and seeds. Mostly I've given Siberian Iris and Crocosmia to people who send me a priority mail stamp. Two people exchanged some daylilies to me for other plants I had that they were interested in. I am excited about those and hope that the smaller ones will survive and bloom for me in another season or two. Mostly I got some of the Siloam series miniature daylilies with the colorful contrasting eyes. I had none of those, except for one that disappeared the year after planting and before it ever set one blossom!
The leaves have been beautiful and are quickly biting the dust with the increased wind that comes with the season. A delightful surprise the other day was a group of Saffron Crocus that were blooming in the back bed. I had gone back to put in some tulip bulbs when they took my breath away (in surprise). I usually miss them since they are open for such a SHORT time! Since it was almost sundown when they were noticed, I went out the next day and took a few pictures. The following day after that there was better lighting and I thought I'd take a few more...no deal. They were already mush (rain didn't help). I hope the photos turn out just a little. A couple of Crocus zonatus are making a feeble attempt to bloom near the front entry. I haven't seen flowers on those since the year they were planted. They have multiplied, but the shade supplied by a nearby Carex 'Frosty Curls' probably inhibited their blooming (it was replaced by a smaller one this season). Maybe next year they will have more size and numbers. They are quite a washed out lavender color but novel because of the time they bloom. I have always REALLY wanted the regular Autumn blooming crocus...speciosus, but have never found any. I know they are out there mail order if I looked around more and they are a much prettier color. A future purchase, I'm sure.
Another astonishing discovery yesterday was a whole colony of mushrooms (or some sort of fungi) growing in the front yard. They looked like little elves living in a commune. These were not tiny, but probably averaged 4 to 5 inches across looking down on top of them. They were brown. I took photos and so did Robert (our second son) and I hope to get a couple of good ones on the October page when those come back. I just wish they'd had polka-dots! There is some sort of native fungi that has a bright orange cap and is VERY showy. I've only seen one about a mile from here during a walk a few years ago.
Just think of how much I'd get accomplished outdoors if I weren't always sprinting to the house to fetch the camera!
16 October 1998 - It's really fall at this point...a fleeting a beautiful season when the soil begins to welcome garden work and the weather is pleasant. This is a great time to move things around, divide perennials, plant bulbs, etc. and have a last rush of gardening before the cold weather really sets in. I also love the tapestry colors of fall...warm shades of the changing leaves combined with the cooler colors of the garden like the pinks and blues of fall asters...sigh!
This past week I've done a bit outdoors when it got nice and indoor activities allowed for it. A couple of plants that had previously been purchased found homes in the beds that had been reworked this past season. In a moment of weakness I bought a gold and amber colored chrysanthemum (no name tag) and found a niche for it in the Ash Bed. Right in front of it is a dahlia that is just putting out its first blooms (unfortunately, I sat on one while squatting to plant the daylily!). If I'd weeded the bed sooner in the season, it would have come up quicker, but I'm happy to see that I didn't lose it. It's a nice lemon yellow with a bit of bronze on the center petals before they unfold. It looks lovely with the Carex buchananii that is behind it. The only problem with planting the mum was that I forgot my intention to move a daylily behind that carex so that it could echo some of the rusty color...ooops! The solution was to lift the Scabiosa 'Butterfly Blue' and divide it, placing two clumps closer to the edges of the bed where they will be more easily seen anyway. This opened up a spot for the Daylily 'Ginger Whip.' Ginger Whip doesn't have huge flowers, but it has many and will look really neat next to this carex (I'm counting on it!). There were some Allium aflatunense that were placed in this bed today also. I used to have some of those and A. christophi but they have disappeared. Allium are supposed to be easy to grow and I don't know if they don't like my sandy soil or if the rodents like to eat them in the winter.
Still on my porch waiting to be planted are two bags of bulbs. The first one I'll tackle is a mix of hyacinths...pink and blue. These will go in the driveway bed under the cherry tree and hopefully bloom when the cherry is in blossom, or better yet, when the row of flowering cherries along the drive are open (April). The bag of soft coral bunching tulips, 'Toronto,' will probably all go in the back where I used to have and enjoy them. I still have a few remaining but they are in decline after so many years. They might possibly make a comeback after the rework, but these new ones will look nice for NEXT year! I will most likely place them near the two paths going into the West Perennial Bed.
There are lots of asters in bloom, schizostylis, gaillardia, achillea, a Veronica 'Goodness Grows,' echinacea, caryopteris, boltonia, diascia, chrysanthemums, nerine (bulb...beautiful dark pink...I only have a couple but they actually bloomed despite my neglect), and the unflagging annuals and dahlias. In addition to these are some berries that begin to add color like callicarpa (Beauty Berry) and ampelopsis. I'll have to try to get good photos of those soon to put on the October or fall page.
Hopefully, after a plant exchange next week, I'll have some beautiful new daylilies to plant. I'm not sure where they will all go at this time, but I'll figure something out! Most of them should have eyezones and be rather showy. It's time for some new blood out there!
After the bulbs get into the ground, my hope is to pick away at the areas I never got done this summer and do some weeding in the spots that were reworked...there are still lots of perennials weeds and grasses trying to come beck. More bark will be helpful and easier to spread in the off season. It sounds impossible, but if I keep making myself get out there, it can be done. It's harder to pry myself from the house in the fall than it is in the spring after being cooped up all winter and STARVED for the gardening experience!
23 September 1998 - It's been a long time since I've written in the journal. I'm inspired tonight by a very sore back. I spent about four hours in the back this afternoon grooming in the Ash Bed. Two stands of Crocosmia just HAD to go! They had gotten quite browned by the sun we've had (and lack of rain). More daylily foliage was cut back since it continued to die back after being trimmed a month ago. Since there are some fall bloomers in this bed, I didn't want them upstaged by the detritus of summer. The Aster lateriflorus 'Horizontalis' that is blooming under the Oak, has several children that have sprouted up around it (and even further away). I've not noticed the other asters in the yard seeding themselves this readily. It is not a terribly showy aster, but has a delicate "cloud-like" quality and soft burgundy centers to its tiny flowers. After a couple of weeks and some fresh growth on the Catmints, etc. this area should look better (some real rain from nature would also help...it's different than the sprinkler). I just bought a couple of 50 pound bags of alfalfa pellets and will sprinkle those around before having the girls help spread more bark. This bed had only gotten a thin layer a year and a half ago.
Yesterday I planted two new things that had been purchased at a nursery last week. One was placed in the driveway bed. It's a bright fuchsia-colored Aster named 'Winston Churchill.' It is keeping company with 'Professor Kippenburg' and a whitish-mauve seedling. The other small plant was a single fan of a bearded iris named 'Batik.' I'd noticed this in catalogs before. I hope it will bloom next year. It's a nice dark purple with white irregular streaking in the falls (and the standards? don't remember). It went in the back near where the Echinaceas are planted.
The back bed that was reworked this summer is the best spot right now with the Echinacea 'Magnus' still blooming and a gorgeous Caryopteris that has thanked me profusely for finally planting it out after two seasons in a pot (I almost threw it out...what a mistake that would have been). I'm still battling grass in this area...it's nearly impossible to get all the runners out and it is SO persistent. I wish the whole back yard could have gotten done this year, but still have hopes of doing another piece before winter.
The other task that awaits me is the planting of 50 Tulip bulbs...the coral colored bunching Tulip called 'Toronto.' I had it before and only a few still come back. 50 sounds like a lot, but it really isn't. Three groupings will probably take care of it.
The Asters are the stars of this month and the Malva alcea 'Fastigiata' is beginning to sparkle with the cooler fall evenings. Annuals like Marguerite Daisy and Dahlias continue to put on their flowers. I really must have more annuals in the garden next season (if I'm more caught up and organized, that will happen). The Sedums and Hardy Fuchsias are going strong at this time also. Another player in back that will soon take on beautiful bronze colors is the huge clump of ornamental grass...Miscanthus sinensis 'Gracillimus.' (Sure hope I remembered that one correctly!) I'm not sure if it's just the Sedum 'Autumn Joy' or something else, but there is a particular sweet smell of early fall in the air now that I absolutely LOVE. It's not overpowering but reminds me of the kind of sweetness you'd expect from new mown hay (maybe all the grass in the fields contribute?).