Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Dear Garden Diary,

In order to better map our garden, and for when I speak of spaces such as "the west side garden", "east garden" I chose to draw what I see from the balcony. The balcony faces south(eastern a bit) and is just off our study steps away from my desk. I sat there yesterday and drew what I saw from the east side by the door, then took some pictures shooting downward.

This summer in our backyard the vegetables are finding homes wherever they can; they'll weave through the established perennials, and take up spaced once used by ones lost. We've got one pot crowded with Brussels Sprouts (to torture Hannah); others with jalapeño peppers, purple sage, purple basil snapdragons, verbena, browallia, or nicotina. The potted grape tomato is already thriving (though the other in the largest pot, bush beefsteak, is a little slow but is growing...)
Above: Browallia 'Blue Bells', not yet blooming, near the weside side garden. Behind: Hosta 'Twilight Time'. 
We seem to have a bit of a purple theme this year:
purple dragon carrots
purple sage
purple caspicum
purple basil.

The east garden (named so because it is on the east side of the yard) is what I'm looking forward most to watching grow this season (and next). Between the established plants and trees, some who were planted by W (the pine, the irises, bergenia, juniper and cedar), and some by R (the caragana, and sumac). Together we've now added the Wegeila, and four clematis: 'The President' and 'Niobe' climbing up the fence between the caragana and peonies, and 'Daniel Deronda' and 'Nelly Moser' to grow up and along the dog run fence between the lilac and cedar.
Hannah's basketball  court/ east side dog run
Also climbing the fence: two 'black beauty' zucchini, with some sweet peas scattered here and there. For this to work (to not overcrowd the space) the zucchini has to climb. There's no space for it to ramble because beside it and in front a little is a cucumber 
(there are cucumbers all over the garden this year. Something (or someone) must have compelled us to buy cucumber plants every time we've entered a greenhouse. Not that I've ever had a problem with more plants than space.)
I wouldn't be worried if I wasn't leaving the garden for three weeks in prime growing time...training vines isn't something T, our dog and house sitter, will want to have a crash course in. He's the best dog sitter in the world, but not a gardener. That said, we came to a great garden last year, so he did well for not eating vegetables. Yeah, he doesn't eat vegetables <- that was what he told me when I first told him about the garden; excitedly I told him he's have tomatoes and cucumbers, zucchini and herbs at his fingertips, so to enjoy. That was when he looked at me - sort of scared-like (of my vegetablemania), and said, "I don't eat vegetables." 
"Oh," I said. Ooh. hmm
I've wondered ever since how he survives, but he seems to do well, and loves our dogs and is excited to see them again after a year abroad. So, that is all that matters. That and because he's the cleanest person we have ever known. We (all three of us - even Hannah) marvel at what a strange clean house we returned to; delirious after the backward flight home from Australia, I think we all thought the cleanliness of our house was a mirage of sorts, but no - no, in the morning it was still there: a clean house. 
(It didn't last of course, but whatever..)
Anyway, so T doesn't eat vegetables and that is why I can't expect him to manage a zucchini vine that will be growing vigorously at that time. N said he would harvest and tend to the garden while we're gone...but we, in a fit of friendly guerrilla gardening, just  planted a spare jalapeño pepper in the middle of their garden surrounded by a hot pink tomato cage while they were away celebrating their anniversary. hee hee 
N would tend to the vine well, but we might have also get some prankster payback. 
the east garden, 14 June 2011
In front of the zucchini is one of the yellow tomato plants (another mystery variety, with a tag that just says: "yellow tomato"), and a "purple pepper" (capsicum), both in ordinary tomato cages. The bee balm, rudbeckia, and Baby M's Lady's Mantle surround the vegetables, with the cucumber rambling through them and the wegeila, irises (which are severely stunted from the long drawn out separating process, but have survived), the rescued red daylilies and now, a a hardy shrub rose, Marie Bugnet.
Rosa x Rugosa, 'Marie  Bugnet' - hardy shrub rose
 I had in mind the David Austin 'Winchester Cathedral' for the spot, remembering the one I had years ago (which survived in a similar sunny location for a number of years).Winchester Cathedral has one of the prettiest fragrances I've ever known in a rose, plus the actual cathedral holds sentiment to a romantic memory my mother has with my father - which means something to me. :) I wouldn't refuse a good substitute though, and I found that yesterday while plant shopping (with my mother): Marie Bugnet, a hardy shrub rose.
I planted my previous Marie Bugnet beneath the sign post to the LU garden, where it remains, so I'm happy to have her again. Beautifully fragrant and an early & repeat bloomer she'll attract more things with wings - the kind we want - to our garden. A compact srub, she'll still probably grow a little big for her space between rescued red 1 and rescued red 2, in front of the irises (which are in front of the 'Red Prince' wegeila - all of which will be wonderful in bloom together ....next year. Everybody has to recover from the mass transplantation first.

I also picked up two yellow cornflowers (bachelor buttons, mountain bluet) yesterday, along with a single trollius (globeflower). I have no idea where I am going to plant them..(west side garden?) The globeflowers are in bloom across the street at H's right now, and every time I look over there I think: I want those. So, now I have one. I could plant it near the geum in the front garden, but that bed is, admittedly, getting full (R might never believe I said that). 
Geum, 'Totally Tangerine', 'Tim's Tangerine' 
The west garden has been turned over to the dogs, but is not without it's weeding and pruning needs. R pruned the junipers on the weekend clearing better pathways for dogs to chase each other through. He also trimmed some lower, scraggly branches off the the two spruce trees near the fence, which now look nice, and look like they'll have the space to grow - hopefully tall, providing much needed shelter in the city.
We've talked about adding some hops to the fence, and maybe adding a burning bush near the dogwood.

I honestly don't know how the trees are surviving there, on (what I've learned from R) is a pile of rubble. Apparently W threw some soil on it and planted the trees. After rescuing the red daylilies I don't doubt it - the soil there was terrible, and shallow - and my spade hit rock a few times before finally sinking in to soil (ow). 
I think we should work around the mulch and top up the garden soil, but I also think poor R is having gardening sticker shock, not to mention the composted manure in the "sports station wagon." 
(Is composted manure 
worse than
dead beaver?)
Terrible soil aside, the trees seem to be doing well. The dogs love to gallop through the trees and over the rambling junipers. It makes for a nice marriage of dog companionship and small downtown garden. There's nothing blooming there now, but it's still pretty, well used, and enjoyed by the whole family. :) (woof!)
Claire under the Tamarack in the west garden 
The west side garden begins near where Claire is standing in the photo above, with the hostas "Gold Drop" x 2 and 'Twilight Time.' Then there is the divided Rescued Red 2, a Morden shrub rose: 'Morden Blush' surrounded by two hardy geraniums, Geranium endressii 'Wargrave's Pink.' Beside it another hosta - the one from the Farmer's Market - which hosta-sticker-shock-suffering R now knows really was a bargain: 'Frances Williams.'
And, of course, tucked in between the geranium and hosta, a cucumber vine to ramble down the sidewalk.
There's a new one in a giant pot down there also, but I can't remember it's name right now. 

There's not a plan as such for the west side garden - other than taking advantage of it being an ideal location for lotsa hostas (I just had to say that, sorry..). I suspect it will develop like most other of my gardens: with whatever grabs my heart. 

As for the middle garden, like Middle Earth, it is another story and it is a long one. I'll talk about (and deal with) that another day.

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