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Kerry's Garden 2020

I am once again writing about my garden each month. You'll get to see the good and the bad, after all gardening is a different adventure every year.

Contributors: Kerry Meyer

You hear me talk about my garden every month in the newsletter, so I thought I would show you a few photos so you could actually see what I am doing. I will periodically add new photos. You can also see photos of my garden from 20092010, 2012, 201320142015201620172018 and 2019. Please note that most of the plants in my containers will not be available at retail garden centers until spring 2021.

Kerry lives and gardens in central Missouri on 10 acres, half of which is a rocky wooded hillside. She and her husband bought their house in 2005. They, along with their daughter, now live mere miles from the small family farm where she grew up, near her hometown of around 300. Both of her grandmothers and her mother loved flowers and passed this passion on to her and she plans on passing this on to her daughter. She expects her garden to continue to grow as she has time to add to and improve existing beds. Kerry has a BS in Horticulture from the University of Missouri and an MS in Horticultural Science with a minor in Plant Breeding from the University of Minnesota. After graduation, she lived for 5 years on the Central Coast of California before returning to the Midwest.

I have added an Idea Board which gathers all of the Proven Winners plants in my garden. It's an easy way to see all of the plants I'm talking about in this year's garden. 

September 16

Let's start off the photos this time with a bedazzled bumble bee - check out all of the pollen clinging to her!

 

Butterfly on fall blooming sedum. I love the fresh color that fall blooming sedum lends to the garden, and butterflies mob the flowers too.

This isn't a pollinator, but yesterday morning when we walked out the door to drop my daughter off at school, we saw this. Yes, they are doing what you think they are doing. They hung out all day and were still there when I went to bed. Walked out the door this morning and just the green one was there. Has been there all day. I can certainly attest - I've never seen that before!

The garden still is a hive of bee and butterfly activity. We have also had up to 6 black and yellow garden spider webs in the flower beds at once. Right now one of them has a grasshopper stashed in her web. They are such cool spiders. Ok, on to plants. 

Shortly after the newsletter in August, I trimmed back the Vermillionaire cuphea in the containers by at least 1/3, maybe more. They were just a bit tired.  Here is what they looked like a week or so after I trimmed them back. I know, they look a little sad. I'm sure the hummingbirds zipped back there expecting the usual buffet and thought "what the heck happened here!"

Less than a month later they looked like this.

And this. So I did sacrifice flowers for a couple of weeks, but now the plants are back and flowering a whole lot heavier than they were before the trim back. They were out of flower for about two weeks, but the pay off was well worth the short period without flowering. The hummingbirds are out there every day.

There have been some other changes on the deck. Once again, I am the 4-H project leader for Floriculture, with my daughter and her best friend as the only two participants (so far). I've decided this year that the girls are each going to pick an area at their home to decorate for every season. Last weekend my daughter picked her spot to decorate, and we went to get mums. She chose the corner with King Tut and is incorporating him into her display. We added 6 big mums, which meant moving out 2 of my containers. The display isn't finished, but we have a start. BUT in order to make room for the mums, I needed to move two of the containers on the deck. Here is the corner M is decorating. The mums aren't blooming much yet, but they'll get there.

Since I needed to move two containers, I took a look at the flower beds near the house and used the two containers to fill in empty spots in both front beds. This one is snuggled into the bed to the left of the front steps. The geraniums didn't fill in that well, but this container had added both height and a good amount of color. I'm sure the hummingbirds have found it since the honeysuckle they love is just around the corner.

The second container is in the bed to the right of the front steps. It's harder to tell that this is a pot set in the bed, but it admirably fills in a dead spot in the bed. Planting up a container and installing it in a flower bed to fill an open space is a great way to gussy up a flower bed that might need a bit of sprucing up.

The bed by the kitchen steps is still looking good. In fact, the Sunshine Blue Caryopteris is blooming right now, just as other plants are starting to wane.

 

Here's a close-up so that you can actually see the flowers.

The beds are certainly no longer at peak color, but they do still have a good amount of color. 

The bed to the right of the steps is also showing good color. The Heart to Heart® Caladiums are doing a lot of the heavy lifting for color in this bed. Lemon Coral is also giving a nice bright pop of color.

A straighter on view of the part of the bed featuring the Heart to Heart Caladiums. Heart to Heart 'Radiance', Heart to Heart 'Heart and Soul' and Heart to Heart 'Scarlet Flame'.

 

 Closer up view of 'Scarlet Flame'. It's so pretty.

My Aquapot is looking great. It's so easy. We got 5 inches of rain last week, so there's no need to add water this week. 

The big bed is holding good color as well. Some plants are doing better than others, but for the middle of September, I'd say it's pretty darn good.

In the past week or so the weather has cooled considerably. The nights are getting into the 60's with daytime temps in the 70's and 80's - my ideal weather! Those cool nights are bringing out some really great colors. I love how deep and bright the color is on Playin' the Blues Salvia right now. During the middle of summer the color was still nice, but it wasn't this vivid cobalt blue! Luscious Marmalade is planted next to it. What a great contrast between the orange and blue.

 

August 14

I am going to apologize in advance. I think this might end up being a massively long update. Peak color is just now starting to wrap up in my flower beds. They'll still look good into fall, but they won't be quite the mass of color they were in July and so far in August.

Before we dive into flower photos - I got a real treat when it rained while sunny. The rainbow hung around for quite some time. Yes, I could see the end of the rainbow - no pot of gold though.

I think I'll start with a parade of pollinator photos. If I go out in the afternoon my big bed is a hive of activity. Butterflies, bees, clear wing moths, and sometimes even the hummingbirds head that way. This one is a Clearwing Moth on Rockin'® Playin' the Blues Salvia.

 

 Hummingbird Moth on Tall Garden Phlox.

This time in flight.

Bumble Bees on Unplugged® So Blue® Salvia and Rockin'® Playin' the Blues® Salvia.

 

 

Bees on Heat it Up® Yellow Gaillardia. When I don't see bees on this one, I wonder what's gone wrong.

On to Butterflies. First up, some Painted Ladies.

  

Let's look at some other butterflies. This first one is a bit battered, but still beautiful. I think it is an Eastern Swallowtail.

I think these are both Spicebush Swallowtails. They're hanging out on Luscious® Marmalade Lantana. There were at least a half dozen of them in the flower bed at the same time. I did get a couple of photos with three butterflies on the same plant, but none of them were very good. So the photos just show two of them, plus my best close up of a single Spicebush.

I believe this butterfly is a Great Spangled Fritillary. This was the first of its type I've seen in my garden. This is such a beautiful butterfly. She hung around a long time.

Ok. On to actual plant focused photos. My AquaPot didn't come until midsummer. It's been great. I put it in my shade bed where it is adding some nice elevated height and color. The Begonias are thriving in the pot. I've never put a container in this spot before because lugging water that far to keep the soil moist was a pain to do. Having the Aquapot makes it workable because I can fill the reservoir once a week. One thing I didn't pay attention to when I set up my pot was making sure the overfill drain was in a spot where I can see it. I have it at the back of the pot where the shrub makes is difficult to check on. It's been awesome and so easy to care for.

This is the big bed from the bottom of the hill. It is still holding great color. This photo is from about a week ago. The Black-eyed Susans are starting to lose petals now, but the color in this bed is still amazing.

Now the view from the top of the bed. The left photo shows the whole length of the bed. The one on the right is a closer up view of the top half of the bed. I like the blue and orange combo of Luscious® Marmalade Lantana and Rockin'® Playin' the Blues®, and both are pollinator magnets - which you can tell from the pollinator photos earlier in this post.

 

This is a closer look of the bottom half of the bed. It's full to overflowing, which is just how I like my flower beds.

This is one of my favorite plant trios from this year's garden. Heat it Up® Yellow (complete with bee), Whirlwind® Blue and Heart to Heart® 'Radiance' and Heart to Heart® 'Fast Flash'. Red, Yellow and Blue is a classic combo.

Blue and yellow is the softer side of orange and blue.

 Most of my pictures are of the front of the bed, but the view from the back of the bed isn't bad either.

This is the bed to the right of the front steps. It's filled in really nicely. I did trim back some of the Rockin'® Playin' the Blues® Salvia somewhat in this bed. They were reaching forward because the back of the bed gets less sun, and I wanted to uncover the Heart to Heart Caladiums and give them some room to breathe and develop better. It took quite a bit of time to fill in, but it ended up looking really nice. The trim back on the salvia should give me more color into fall as well.

A little bit closer up of the Heart to Hearts.

The photo from the front of the bed.

 Right now the star of this bed is Summerific® 'Holy Grail' Hibiscus. I love this plant.

M's Rainbow Garden is still looking good too. I did go in and trim back all of my Vermillionaire® cuphea in the garden - the Japanese beetles are done, and I wanted to cut off the damaged foliage and stimulate some new growth and branching. It should pay off at least through September and most likely into October. The plant that has really blossomed and is looking better than ever is Zesty Yellow Zinnia which is in fuller and better bloom now than it has been before. We thought we were going to lose some of the plants, but they bounced back really well and look awesome right now. First the full bed and then a closer up showing the Zinnia more closely.

The zinnia is the yellow in the foreground. Toward the back of the photo you can see one of the fall blooming sedum that will burst into bloom when everything else wants to be done. Butterflies adore it.

And I'm finishing off with this photo just before sunrise. I was out for a walk, and I thought the sky with the rising fog looked really cool.

July 20

This time I am going to primarily be showing you photos from the big bed.  I think my garden is currently at its peak colorwise right now. I choose plants that tolerate or love hot weather, which means full color for me is generally mid-summer. Now through at least the first part of August this bed should look pretty awesome and it will carry good color into fall as well. Peak color will be over when the Black-Eyed Susans stop blooming, since they do add a big mass of color. Many of the annuals I plant attract pollinators as well, so the bed tends to be buzzing and humming most of the time when the sun is up. I'll walk you through the plants I have in the big bed.  Our yard slopes down toward the house. I am going to start at the bottom of the bed and work my way up to the top. 

But first in honor of the upcoming Summerific Hibscus week, here is my Summerific® 'Summer Storm' which is no longer in the Proven Winners collection. It has been replaced with a newer, better version called Summerific® 'Perfect Storm.'  We are always looking to improve the plants we are selling so we can offer you the best possible plants for your garden. Check out the buds that are still maturing. It's going to bloom for weeks.  I also have a Summerific® 'Holy Grail'.  I pinched it this spring which led to more branching, but it does make it later to bloom which will occur in a few weeks.

Ok on to the big bed. This is the front side of the big bed.

This is the back side of the bed. The front is definitely more interesting than the back, but the back does hold some good color as well.

I didn't get all of the Karl Foerster grass that anchors this end of the bed in the photo, and that adds height on this end of the bed. There are two shrubs in front of it, Lemony Lace® Sambucus is the frilly plant at the bottom edge of the bed and just up from that is a Double Big Bang® Spirea.  The seven red plants are Heart to Heart® 'Scarlet Flame' Caladiums. They got dusted by a late frost and have taken some time to recover. They love heat so they should keep filling out and just getting better.

 

Next in the front we have five Truffula® Pink Gomphrena plants at the front of the bed. Behind that is Goldsturm Rudbeckia. I know it has disease issues for some people, but it has been rock solid awesome in my garden for 15 years now. They spread on their own, so I end up pulling out plants every year to keep them from taking over everything. Behind that is a tall garden phlox that my mom contributed. All of the varieties in this part of the garden are great pollinator plants.

Bonus bee photo.

Heat it Up® Yellow Gaillardia is a gorgeous color of yellow and bees adore it, there are five plants here. Tucked in the front is a Whirlwind® Blue Scaevola. Behind the Heat it Up is a Rockin'® Playin' the Blues® Salvia and then further back are more Goldsturm Rudbeckia and a Suncredible® Yellow Helianthus and to the right are three 'Storm Cloud' Amsonia - they are just green blobs at this point, but have early spring blue blooms. The vine in the back is 'Sweet Summer Love' Clematis.

Close-up of Whirlwind® Blue Scaevola. It is a very heat tolerant plant. 

Bonus bee photo on Heat it Up® Yellow Gallardia.

The next set of plants includes three more Whirlwind Blue and four Heart to Heart 'Radiance' CaladiumRock 'N Round® 'PopStar' Sedum is between the Heart to Hearts. Behind that is Storm Cloud' Amsonia and you can see more Goldsturm.

The view toward the bottom of the bed from this vantage point.

A closer look at Radiance.

Next up in the bed is a mix of Diamond Frost® Euphorbia (five plants, I think) and Unplugged® So Blue® Salvia - seven plants I think. I mixed those two plants in a kind of a checkerboard pattern. Whirlwind® Blue Scaevola flows up into this area as well.

You can see the checkerboard pattern better in this photo, taken a couple of weeks earlier.  The small plants shows the design a bit more, although I like the full to overflowing look the most.

Rockin'® Playin' The Blues® Salvia (five plants) mixes with Goldsturm behind it. There are some Radiance Caladiums tucked in here as well, but they aren't quite keeping up with the Salvia.

 We are finally at the top of the bed. You get a fuller view of the Karl Foerster Grass here than we had at the bottom of the bed. Rockin'® Playin' The Blues® Salvia is in the bed here as well.  The orange in the front is Luscious® Marmalade Lantana.  it is still filling in.  We have a few Caladiums up here as well.

 

A second view of that area.

And I am finishing things off with another view of the big bed.

 

And now the final photos. I got some good photos of a Zebra Swallowtail.  This is a side view and a bit obsured and then two full shots. And that is the end of the update, hope you enjoyed!

  

June 24

I was out taking photos first thing in the morning. This was my sunrise.

I am concentrating on garden beds this time. This bed right by the steps is still my favorite, but other beds are really coming along. I love the look of Superbena Sparkling® Amethyst. The color is beautiful and the plant is awesome. I love the color combo of it with the Sunshine Blue 2 Caryopteris.

 

M's rainbow garden is looking good. Invincibelle Wee White® Hydrangea is in full bloom and perfectly fills the spot I had for it.

 

This bed is filling in, but I'm not sure if it is really going to fill in like I want it to. I am still contemplating adding some plants. I'm not sure yet. It's getting quite hot now...

I trimmed back Cat's Meow a couple of weeks ago - i cut back by at least 1/3 maybe a bit more. It has branched back out and is starting to begin blooming again.

Summerific® 'Holy Grail' is looking great and should start blooming soon.

The big bed is also showing a good amount of color. The ends of the bed is where the plants are a bit thinner. Some of the plants got planted pretty late, so they haven't filled in as much as the earlier plantings have. 

This is the view towards the bottom of the bed. It hides the fact that the Heart to Heart Caladiums at the very end haven't yet filled in.  Vermillionaire® and Truffula Pink are looking great though.

Heat it Up® Yellow, Whirlwind® Blue and Rockin'® Playin' the Blues®.

J

This checkerboard planting of Diamond Frost® and Unplugged® So Blue Salvia is looking good, I think it is going to be awesome all summer.

Luscious® Marmalade was planted late, but getting ready to burst into growth. This is my favorite lantana. The 5 Suncredible® Yellow sunflowers are filling in nicely.

 

The two pots flanking the front door look great.  Supertunia® Lovie Dovie is looking awesome.

 

Lastly, one combo from the deck. The Japanese beetles have arrived and I've been picking them off of Vermillionaire® and dropping them in soapy water. 

But I really wanted to highlight the Double Delight Primrose begonia that is new for next year, it's center left in the pot. The flowers are a day or two from being fully open. They are going to be SO pretty and the foliage is such a great color too.  it looks (and is) so healthy.

June 8

We've had some hot weather and many of my plants have kicked growth into high gear. I thought this time we would start with photos and plant lists of each of the containers on the deck.  This is the overview of all of them. They are filling in nicely.  

 

This container has Vermillionaire® cuphea as the thriller. To the right you can see Hippo® Red hypoestes improved. At the front is Sunstar® Pink pentas and to the is nasturtium that my daughter grew as part of a germination study for a 4-H project. Birds, bees and hummingbirds all visit nasturtium and the leaves and flowers are edible - depending on how they're grown.  Every plant in this container except the Hippo Red will attract pollinators.

These two containers are similar, but don't match.  Both have Vermillionaire as the thriller.  The container on the left also has Double Delight Primrose begonia (two plants) on the left and center. Then on the right is Double Up White Begonia. The Double Delights have large double blooms and trail over the edge of the pot. The Double Ups are upright/mounded plants with small white double blooms on chocolate foliage.

King Tut, as usual, hangs out in the corner of the deck.

These two containers are just to the right of King Tut.  In addition to Vermillionaire, these both have Nasturtiums.  The planter on the left also has Superbells® Coral Sun Calibrachoa (in the middle front) and High Noon Euryops (to the left).The container on the right includesBright Lights® Red Osteospermum (right side of the container) and Laguna® Sky Blue lobelia (to the left of the container). 

These are the last three containers on the deck.  I'll list plants in them from left to right.  They all have Vermillionaire cuphea. The first one on the left also has Laguna® Sky Blue Lobelia, Supertunia® Royal Velvet Improved petunia, Whirlwind Starlight Scaevola and Bright Lights® Red Osteospermum.  The middle container has Lemon Coral Sedum, Double Up Red Begonia, which has bronze foliage and Sunstar Pink Pentas.  The container on the right has 2 Sunstar Pink Pentas, Heart to Heart 'Heart and Soul' Caladium and Whirlwind Starlight Scaevola.

 Colorful foliage is a constant presence in the garden. This bed continues to look really good.

 

The yellow lilies are adding a really nice pop of bright color to complement the orange of Vermillionaire Cuphea, the pinky-red of the honeysuckle and the blue of'Cat's Meow' Nepeta - planted at the base of the honeysuckle.

M's rainbow garden is going strong. Invincibele Wee White® Hydrangea is starting to bloom.  it is a perfect miniature shrub.

A close up of Invincibele Wee White®

Superbena Sparkling® Amethyst improved verbena is looking incredible. I saw it in trials all over the Midwest in August last year and it was awesome in every location.

The bed to the right of the steps is still filling in. The  large open space was Caladiums. They are recovering from the cold snap so I am hopeful this will fill out nicely as time goes on. You can see the lilies in the foreground, 'Cat's Meow' Nepeta next to it as well.

A close up of the Lily and 'Cat's Meow'.

A better photo of 'Cat's Meow'.

Heart to Heart® 'Heart and Soul' Caladium - tiny but coming back.

Summerific® 'Holy Grail' Hibiscus is coming up and filling in. I'm excited to see how it does in this spot.

The big is starting to fill in as well, some spots more than others. It is getting good color now for sure.

One of my favorite new plants is Heat is Up® Yellow Gaillardia. When I saw it in trials the bees were blissfully swarming it. I haven't seen much in the way of bees on it yet in my garden, but I'm sure they're coming!

Heart to Heart® 'Radiance' Caladium is now pushing out new leaves and with the hotter weather we are getting they should be growing like crazy.

Diamond Frost is inter-planted with our new Unplugged® So Blue Salvia and our new improved Whirlwind® Blue Scaevola.  This heat tolerant blue and white combo will look great as the heat gets these growing fast. I think this planting is going to be beautiful.

Rockin'® Playin' the Blues® Salvia is the big brother to the new Unplugged So Blue. Every pollinator loves salvia. Look at the branching on those plants. They are going to be so gorgeous!

Suncredible® Yellow is coming along well too.  I can't wait to see how they do all summer.

May 28

I was out first thing this morning getting photos of my garden. It was overcast and foggy, so you might spot fog in a few of these pictures. 

I haven't shown my containers so far this year, so let's start there.  I have 11 containers this year, plus my daughter planted a fairy garden as a 4-H project. You can see nine of them here. Graceful Grasses® King Tut® is in the corner as usual, with eight more containers on the deck.  My new variety samples took a pretty tough ride with UPS and a pretty good chunk of them didn't survive the trip. I'm really impressed though with how well the rest of them are bouncing back.  I did add Vermillionaire® as a thriller to each container. The hummingbirds are very excited to have the plants and I'm thrilled to look out my office windows and see the hummingbirds zipping around.

A couple of closer shots of the containers.

I have two pots of Vermillionaire® tucked into garden beds as well.  I like to do that sometimes to add height and color in a spot that is needing a boost.

This one is tucked into the corner by the steps. I'm contemplating whether I should plants something more permanent there or if I should just continue to use a pot.

 

This is the other Vermillionaire® tucked into the bed by the honeysuckle. It will add constant color in this spot that's crowded with perennials.

 This bed by the steps is filling in nicely.

Lemon Coral® Sedum is flowering - something I've never seen before. 

 

The rainbow garden my daughter, M, planted is looking pretty good. The zinnias are struggling a bit with mildew issues, which I predicted would happen.  But she wanted that specific yellow and I couldn't change her mind. From a distance they still look strong. She has very nice color in her bed.

 

The red and white section of her rainbow. Some green too, with the Lemon Coral®

The rainbow garden includes some perennials, like Color Spires® 'Crystal Blue' Salvia on the left-hand side of the photo. This is the orange and yellow section.

This is the blue and indigo section, the Unplugged® So Blue® Salvia isn't blooming yet but it is budded. The violet section is to the right and isn't quite blooming yet either.

The containers flanking the front steps.

The bed to the right is coming along. The Lilies are about to bloom. The Peonies are finishing up. 'Cat's Meow' and Double Play® Artisan® Spirea are adding a lot of color. 

'Cat's Meow'

The big bed is filling in. I did add some fill in plants to this bed. The cold did take out some of my caladiums, so I added in some fillers.

Suncredible® Yellow Sunflower is starting to bloom. 3 of the 5 that I planted are already in bloom.

 

May 13

Two weeks ago my daughter and I had a two-day planting marathon and finished off the beds and containers for this year.  A few of the Heart to Heart Caladiums looked pretty bad - UPS gave them a pretty rough trip.  Fortunately, the plants are really tough and most are looking good now, despite lows in the 30's. There is one spot where I think I am going to add some backup plants. The Heart to Hearts I put in that spot were small and pretty iffy after shipping. I want to add some insurance plants.  I'm going to be looking for Vermillionaire® Cuphea and Rockin'® Playing the Blues® Salvia. You can see the empty spot just to the left of the chartreuse foliage to the right in the photo. There are plants there, but they are really small and I think their size, the tough shipping journey, and then the cold temps might have overwhelmed them. 

The view from the other end of the large bed.  So far so good with this part of the bed.

I took a few closer up photos for this bed. I like Diamond Frost® a lot. It should fill this space in well and provide great contrast to the large, bold leaves.

The Honeysuckle I started from my first one is coming along nicely. I think this year will see an explosion of growth since the plant has had time to become well rooted and settled in.

Decadence® 'Lemon Meringue' Baptisia continues to be one of my favorite spring flowering plants.

In recent years I have massively neglected my shade bed. This year I had time and nice cool weather to work on the bed quite a bit. My daughter helped me reset the bed edges and I've added a lot of the Heart to Heart Caladiums to the bed. I'll be working on a list of perennials I want to add to this bed in the Fall. This is the backside of the shade bed. You can't miss the Dream Catcher® in full bloom in center of the bed.

A close look at the back side and a partial view of the front of the bed.

The view from the front of the bed. I can't wait to see how this bed matures through the summer.

With the cold temperatures we had last week and this week so far, I haven't seen the bees on Dream Catcher® yet. If past years are any indicator as soon as it is warm and sunny, the bees will be out in full force.

The bed to the right of the front steps is looking good. I used several Heart to Heart Caladiums in this bed as well. This is one area I think will be fantastic this summer, I'm looking forward to watching the plants mature.

'Cat's Meow' Nepeta is already in bloom!  I have three of these perennials and they all look great--love how they bloom all summer.

With the warm weather we're expecting that these planters will take off.

My daughter recently turned 8 so this year she was able to join 4-H.  She signed up for Floriculture as a project and decided she wanted to design and plant a rainbow garden. It wasn't necessary to actually plant it, but she wanted to. We needed to use a few different plants than what her plan had, based on what we could find locally. We now have everything tucked into this bed. There are a handful of perennials and shrubs in here as well.  We have 5 plants for each of the rainbow colors. She was considering planting her garden in the big bed, but decided to do this bed by the porch instead. Three of each plant would have been enough, but we have 5 of each, so it is packed!  I tried to get her to use all Proven Winners, but she insisted on a handful of non-Proven Winners. It looks good so far....

The Peonies are about to bloom!  Here's the red one.

This is the white one. You can see a pot tucked into this bed in the lower right corner. I included Vermillionaire® to add all summer color and an extra snack for the hummingbirds that love to visit the adjacent Honeysuckle.

And here is the honeysuckle in its full glory. You can see another one of my 'Cat's Meow' Nepeta at the base of the honeysuckle.

At this particular moment, this is my favorite flower bed (my daughters rainbow garden is in second place).  I am loving the colors in this bed. In the far back corner is anothe planter of Vermillionaire®.

Spilled Wine® Weigela is just starting to bloom. 

And last, but certainly not least, the planters on the deck. My new variety samples really got tossed around by UPS. I salvaged what I could and have been impressed by how well the plants are bouncing back. I think everything I planted is going to survive and a week ago I didn't think that would happen! I did add Vermillionaire® as the thriller in all of my planters. I love the Heart to Heart® Caladiums and I think they are going to be wonderful, but they aren't a pollinator attracting plant. I added the Vermillionaire to give the hummingbirds more plants to feed on and it was a sure thing that I know will do well since I was afraid that the new variety samples might not make it.

April 28

The temperatures have warmed up and I'm ready to get planting. Unfortunately, it's been raining quite a bit. We've had close to 3 inches over the past week. Every time the ground is about to be diggable, it rains again.  I have some plants on the porch waiting for the ground to dry enough to plant.  I did manage to plant 8 plants last night in my sunniest and best drainig flower bed.  I finished up just in time to head back in before the rain started falling.

The holly bushes are blooming right now. The blooms are tiny, but the bees adore them. When it's sunny there are dozen of bumble bees buzzing around, with tons of smaller bees present too.

The honeysuckle is full bloom now, which is good because the hummingbirds are back.  I haven't seem them a lot yet, but they are around.

We planted up our first two planters of the season over the weekend.  We used Bombshell Coral Pink along with Supertunia® Lovie Dovie Petunia to spill over the edge.

The shade garden is coming along nicely.  My daughter helped me reset the bed edges a couple of weekends ago and the bed looks better than it has in years.  I shoud be getting some of our Heart to Heart Caladiums soon and I have plans to use a bunch of them to fill in this bed.

Spearmint?  Don't you just love the spring foliage color on this one?

The big bed is looking bare right now. As soon as it gets dry enough to plant, I'll start fixing that!

April 16

The past two weeks have been interesting. We went from several days with 80 degree highs last week and then this week we have lows in the 30's every night. Even with the recent colder nights the garden has changed a lot recently.

This flower bed right by the kitchen steps was completely renovated last Fall. I took pretty much everything out of this bed and started over. When I started thinking about changing this bed, i was looking for contant color and one of the best ways to do that is with colored foliage and then you also get the bonus of flowers. The black foliaged plant to the right is Spilled Wine® Weigela, which will have pink blooms. The yellow foliaged plant is Sunshine Blue® 2 Caryopteris. In addition to the golden foliage it will have blue flowers. The gold should contrast very nicely with the black foliage of Spilled Wine. In the back, Invincibelle Mini Mauvette® Hydrangea. It has green foliage and pink flowers which will play nicely with the golden foliage and blue flowers of Sunshine Blue.

There's not really any flower color here, except the honeysuckle is starting to beging to bloom. But everything is lush and green and growing nicely.

This is the good side of the shade bed. The hostas are up nicely and things are looking good from this angle.

From the backside it has some pretty big holes that need to be filled.  Now one of the hostas back in this area is Shadowland® Empress Wu, which will get huge so that will fill quite a bit of the space, but I still have areas to fill. I need to start figuring out which dry shade perennials and shrubs I want to plant here.

Lemony Lace® Sambucus looks fantastic with Double Play® Big Bang®. This is a fleeting look since the Big Bang foliage opens orange and ages to gold. Lemony Lace does remain gold.

'Storm Cloud' Amsonia in front of Irises I dug from my mom's garden.

Newly emerged since last time is Decadence® 'Lemon Meringue' Baptisia. 

March 31

Sunday was a picture perfect day, sunny and mid-60's and breezy. I used garden time to bribe myself into finishing up our taxes, so once I hit that submit button, I headed outside. I intended to weed the garden, but decided instead to reset the front edge on my largest flower bed (grass was making inroads).  After that I did some weeding and a bit of pruning. 

This is the time of year when two weeks can make a huge difference in your garden. A lot has changed since last time. I have all kinds of plants leafing out, more plants blooming and the spring show in the woods is ongoing. The spring ephemerals are putting on quite a show this year and the serviceberry are in full bloom.

Our main entry point is through our kitchen door, which means that flower bed is one of our most closely observed plantings. I have the area mainly planted with shrubs, but I didn't feel I was getting as much color as I could.  So I overhauled that bed last Fall.  The sidewalk is bordered by holly bushes on one side. The hollies are right next to the sidewalk. The bed on the other side of the sidewalk is 4 1/2feet wide for most of the length, but it does narrow down to 3 feet near the stairs. The small dimensions mean that careful plant selection is needed so that plants don't exceed the space constraints and try to take over the sidewalk. I chose three shrubs to be the backbone of this bed. I chose shrubs that are compact, so they are well suited for the space. I also chose shrubs with a wide range of foliage colors. I am using Spilled Wine Weigela, which has black foliage and pink flowers, Sunshine Blue Caroyopteris which has golden foliage and blue flowers and Invincibelle Mini Mauvette® which has pink flowers and green foliage. These plants should lend good color all season utilizing both flowers and foliage. Right now these plants are barely leafing out. Here is Invincibelle Mini Mauvette today. I read the instructions on our website and in early spring trimmed this one back by 1/3 to improve branching and therefore have more flowers later in the season.  I did the same thing to Wee White. I'm excited to see how things progress. This photo of Invincibelle Mini Mauvette shows where most of my shrubs are at this point - just starting to expand leaves.

The one shrub that is ahead of the others is Dream Catcher® Kolkwitzia. We no longer sell this plant, but it is a wonderful part of my shade garden. The golden foliage is awesome all summer long and into fall and the spring flowers are beloved by bees. When it's flowering, you can hear the bees when you approch it. It's not flowering yet, but the golden foliage is already glowing.

Nepeta Cat's Meow has been one of my favorites since we introduced it. I have it planted in a tough spot. It's between my sidewalk and the honeysuckle bush, which always tries to overwhelm it. It just hangs out, a little blue blooming machine all summer long. I love it. It is fully leafed out and looking good. It's an utterly reliable plant for me.

The honeysuckle is budded and I haven't yet seen the hummingbirds, so hopefully by the time they arrive they'll have flowers to visit.

 Now I'm going to show you photos of plants that are budded, blooming or leafing out. First up are the black shoots of 'Storm Cloud' Amsonia. It's so cool.

 

Show Off® Sugar Baby Forsythia is blooming. I think I may swap out the Sugar Baby Forsythia for one that is a bit bigger.  I'll have to think about that...

The Double Take Scarlet® Quince is just about to unfurl that gorgeous double flowers.

I uncovered Rock 'n Grow® 'Popstar' while weeding. The weeds were trying to bury it, but I launched a successful rescue mission!

The lilies are growing fast. It makes me happy. I've been staying home this Spring, so I haven't impulse bought any more of the lilies. Turns out their eye candy good looks in Spring are hard for me to resist!

March 18

Spring continues to slowly unfold here on our property. The first of our lilies is just emerging from the soil. This lily has been our earliest each year since it was planted.

The fall blooming sedum has advanced substantially, the foliage is really dense now.

The peonies are advancing as well, instead of one small shoot coming up, there are multiple shoots emerging. Please ignore my weeds!

The daffodils are in full bloom, but the forsythia is still in very tight bud, so it'll be a bit for that one yet. Here's a close up of one clump of daffodils.

This one give you a better idea of scope.  In this picture you really, really need to ignore the weeds. It's way too wet to do anything about them right now.  I did trim back the honeysuckle, but the background isn't good for showing off a mostly naked plant.  The Dream Catcher Kolkwitzia, one of our two crabapples and a spirea are just barely starting to open leaves at his point. It's such fun to watch the changes. I will admit that I wouldn't be paying this close of attention if I wasn't heading out the door looking for signs of spring for this article. I should thank Proven Winners for motivating me to do it!

March 2

It was lovely over the weekend so I went out looking for signs of spring in my garden. I found a number of signs that Spring is starting to make its presence felt.

The early daffodils are up with a few buds looking close to unfurling. My later daffodils are lagging behind, which is exactly what they should be doing. Choosing several different varieties with varying bloom times keeps the color going for a much longer time.

 

My fall blooming sedum are showing inital sprouting as well.

The Hellebores are blooming too. I love the deep color of the flowers, unfortunately that makes them a bit hard to see.

Daylilies are just barely emerging.

Only one of the peonies is showing signs of growth, but the others will soon be following suit.

My heirloom honeysuckle started from one my grandma planted on the farm decades ago has been a mainstay in my garden for a dozen years. Its stays put where it is, but does try to take over more than its fair share of space. I would let it have as much space as it wants, but my husband isn't so much into a fantastic tangle of plants, he needs something more precise then that. So I need to go out and give this a good trim back. I did start a new plant from this one and last year I planted it in my large flower bed. It will take a bit of time to really fill out, but I expect a good deal of growth this year.  I'll try to trim it back at least a couple of times this year to encourage good branching.  The soil in that bed is better than where the original plant is, so I expect it to be going gang busters in no time!

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