Category Archives: Maintenance

The Workers

Today we are getting two workers. This is the first time that that has happened since I started this website, and the first time through this source. I had mixed feelings about it in the beginning, and as the time approaches I find that my feelings are still mixed – even though I was formerly excited.

A large part of me feels like I should be able to handle the weeds myself. To hire someone feels like using a maid… like I am sitting above as the ruling class, using the lower classes to do my dirty work. Interesting, I did not feel this way about paying someone to mow the lawn (back when we had a lot of lawn). I have begun to see, however, that I am just not able to get to the weeds all myself. “Help” is ok sometimes. We did have one worker last summer, who since disappeared, that was very fast, very efficient, very thorough. I saw him as a professional, and justified the help that way: a professional would do a better job than me, so employing one is ok. I know nothing about these people… if they are going to be faster or slower than me… no possibility for sun fatigue today…. we had some disasters in October…. mixed…

I am going to lift bulbs today. I’ll write more about that in another post. I have found someone who will store them in his storage unit, which gets them out of the garage. As you have seen from the photos on this site, there are a lot of bulbs (tulips, daffodils, hyacinths…). I am going to leave in the Dutch iris, I think, to get them time to absorb sun (since they bloomed more recently). This will take some sorting and organizing, because the yellow ones definitely need to be separated from the front yard bulbs. There have been some recent purchases for the yellow/cornus garden, plus some crocosmia bulbs which may have gone bad (my opinion about purchasing bulbs later).

Yes, we have the weeds bad, maybe I will talk about that in another post. I refuse to include pictures of the horse tails!

Crossing fingers – stay tuned!

Pulmonaria and Aster Pruning, Pieris Dead-Heading

The pulmonarias bloomed several months ago, and afterwards their foliage needs to be cleaned up.

'Bertram Anderson' pulmonaria before pruning

‘Bertram Anderson’ pulmonaria before pruning

'Bertram Anderson' pulmonaria after pruning

‘Bertram Anderson’ pulmonaria after pruning

Ciscoe Morris advises to cut down one’s fall blooming asters so they don’t get as leggy and so that they don’t bloom too early. We only took off one half, to be safe.


Aster Novi-Belgii 'Daydream' before pruning

Aster Novi-Belgii ‘Daydream’ before pruning

Aster Novi-Belgii 'Daydream' before pruning

Aster Novi-Belgii ‘Daydream’ before pruning

Aster Novi-Belgii 'Daydream' after pruning

Aster Novi-Belgii ‘Daydream’ after pruning

The big pieris was dead-headed, cleaning up its look.

big pieris before deadheading

big pieris before deadheading

big pieris after deadheading

big pieris after deadheading

Lupine Pruning and Moving

As I stated in a previous post, I have mixed feelings about the lupines. The bloom period is so short, and afterwards they look so awful. We had three alongside the sidewalk (which got bigger than I expected), which is pretty good real estate. The co-gardener and I both independently came up with the idea of moving them to the back and putting something else in instead.

When they look good (although the best part was while I was out of town):

2013 Miscell 1618 lupines

When they are finished, look bad, and need to be pruned:

2013 Miscell 1824 lupines before pruning and removal

The pruning pile (note the powdery mildew):

2013 Miscell 1834 lupine pruning

The lupines after pruning – not attractive:

2013 Miscell 1835 lupines after pruning

We dug them up and moved them to the back. While they were blooming, I liked the way the three looked together. However, once the blooming is over it is too much blah in one area.

These new spots (in the middle of the backyard) don’t look like much in the pictures, but here they are:

Lupinus Russell Hybrids 'The Pages'

Lupinus Russell Hybrids ‘The Pages’

Lupinus Russell Hybrids 'The Governor'

Lupinus Russell Hybrids ‘The Governor’

Lupinus 'The Chatelaine'

Lupinus ‘The Chatelaine’

They might rebloom this year, but the blossoms will not be as abundant. Or, the lupines might die (a couple spent the night out of the ground because we ran out of soil-building compost).

A dwarf shasta daisy and a salvia were put in that spot by the sidewalk. Pictures of that later.

Planting, Pruning, Potting

This is recent work that the co-gardener and I have done in the yard. The order is not especially correct, but that little matters.

This planter is from the garden show, and will have flowers spilling out of it soon

2013 Miscell 1235

I pruned the last set of ferns

pruned fern pile

pruned fern pile

You can see that the ferns that I previously pruned are coming back nicely

ferns growing back

ferns growing back

Potted conifers

potted: Cryptomeria japonica 'Pygmaea' and Chamaecyparis obtusa 'Spiralis'

potted: Cryptomeria japonica ‘Pygmaea’ and Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Spiralis’

potted: Cryptomeria japonica 'Pygmaea'

potted: Cryptomeria japonica ‘Pygmaea’

potted: Chamaecyparis obtusa 'Spiralis'

potted: Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Spiralis’

These two heucheras (‘Snow Angel’) were moved out of the shady woodland garden, where they were not doing well, and into the peony area. Hopefully they will refoliate and flourish. Ciscoe Morris, at his talk, mentioned that heucheras sometimes need to be moved.

moved: Heuchera sanguinea 'Snow Angel'

moved: Heuchera sanguinea ‘Snow Angel’

moved: Heuchera sanguinea 'Snow Angel'

moved: Heuchera sanguinea ‘Snow Angel’

A new lamium was planted in the peony garden, in partial shade. It had two different tags on it – “White Nancy” and “Pink Chablis,” so it is unknown what color it will be when it blooms.

deadnettle: Lamium maculatum 'White Nancy' or 'Pink Chablis'

, deadnettle: Lamium maculatum ‘White Nancy’ or ‘Pink Chablis’

This year’s African daisy (osteospermum)

African daisy: Osteospermum

African daisy: Osteospermum

The lantana potted up

Teenie Genie compact lantana: Lantana camara 'Monike'

Teenie Genie compact lantana: Lantana camara ‘Monike’

I thought that since lewisias need so much drainage, a pot might be the way to go.

Lewisia cotyledon 'Sunset Series'

Lewisia cotyledon ‘Sunset Series’

The new evergreen honeysuckle, planted. It is to grow over a woody section of the big clematis.

evergreen honeysuckle: Lonicera 'henryi'

evergreen honeysuckle: Lonicera henryi

The co-gardener did some spontaneous pruning of the abelia (Abelia x ‘Edward Goucher’) so that it would no longer merge into the ceanothus (Ceanothus thrysiflorus ‘Perado’). Some of the neighbor’s bamboo came out too.

pruning pile: abelia, bamboo, cherry trees

pruning pile: abelia, bamboo, cherry trees

pruning: neighbor's bamboo

pruning: neighbor’s bamboo

after pruning: El Dorado ceanothus: Ceanothus thrysiflorus 'Perado' and Abelia x 'Edward Goucher'

after pruning: El Dorado ceanothus: Ceanothus thrysiflorus ‘Perado’ and Abelia x ‘Edward Goucher’

after pruning: El Dorado ceanothus: Ceanothus thrysiflorus 'Perado' and Abelia x 'Edward Goucher'

after pruning: El Dorado ceanothus: Ceanothus thrysiflorus ‘Perado’ and Abelia x ‘Edward Goucher’


shasta daisy: Leucanthemum x superbum 'Marconi'

shasta daisy: Leucanthemum x superbum ‘Marconi’

shasta daisy: Leucanthemum x superbum 'Silver Princess'

shasta daisy: Leucanthemum x superbum ‘Silver Princess’

sea thrift: Armeria maritima 'Dusseldorf Pride'

sea thrift: Armeria maritima ‘Dusseldorf Pride’

variegated sea thrift: Armeria maritima 'Nifty Thrifty'

variegated sea thrift: Armeria maritima ‘Nifty Thrifty’

variegated sea thrift: Armeria maritima 'Nifty Thrifty'

variegated sea thrift: Armeria maritima ‘Nifty Thrifty’

variegated sea thrift: Armeria maritima 'Nifty Thrifty'

variegated sea thrift: Armeria maritima ‘Nifty Thrifty’

sea thrift: Armeria maritima 'Alba'

sea thrift: Armeria maritima ‘Alba’

Echinacea purpurea 'Pink Double Delight' (coneflower)

Echinacea purpurea ‘Pink Double Delight’ (coneflower)

wallflower: Erysimum 'Winter Orchid'

wallflower: Erysimum ‘Winter Orchid’

Scabiosa columbaria 'Pink Mist' (pincushion flower)

Scabiosa columbaria ‘Pink Mist’ (pincushion flower)

Seeds to plant (plus some poppies not pictured here). The zinnias, nasturtiums, and poppies are already in (near the fountain).

This year's seeds (plus poppies)

This year’s seeds (plus poppies)

The hops vine (Humulus lupulus ‘Aureus’) in the ground. It, too, is hopefully going to cover up the woody part of the big clematis.

golden hops: Humulus lupulus 'Aureus'

golden hops: Humulus lupulus ‘Aureus’

The new dahlias from the garden show planted

dahlias planted

dahlias planted

And as always, I’ve been weeding

Weeding, Planting Sedums and Herbs, Pruning Jupiter’s Beard

Recently the co-gardener and I did some work in the garden. I can’t say that it was a ton of work, but I wanted to post about it regardless.

I weeded the cornus/yellow garden, the woodland garden, and the stump area. Yes, I am still catching up – some of the areas of the yard have not been weeded yet this spring. I’m getting there though. I think that if I gave it a solid eight hours I could have it done.

The co-gardener planted up the sedums and hens and chicks from this post. I think they look quite nifty in their container. I need to make a little chart of them and then take the tags out. They are: Sempervivum ‘Ruby Hearts,’ Sempervivum arachnoideum ‘Spumanti,’ Sedum lydium, Sedum acre ‘Aureum,’ Sedum oreganum (native), Sedum spathulifolium ‘Carnea,’ Sedum sieboldii ‘Mediovariegatum,’ and Sedum album ‘Faro Form.’

2013 Miscell 1040 sedums 2013 Miscell 1041 sedums

The co-gardener cut down the over-abundant Jupiter’s beard (Centranthus ruber) in hopes that this way it won’t get as leggy by mid-summer. I really wish that I had before and after photos, or a picture of the debris. I do have a shot of how one clump looks now. The Jupiter’s beard probably needs to be divided, but it has really deep taproots and we just haven’t taken the time in the fall to do it.

pruned Jupiter's beard (Centranthus ruber)

pruned Jupiter’s beard (Centranthus ruber)

Also, the co-gardener re-planted the pot of herbs. Last year all of the herbs were variegated, and included a variegated rosemary and a variegated mint. This year it is a little less varietal, but still looks nice. Included: unmarked prostrate Rosmarinus officinalis, Thymus x citriodorus ‘Silver Posie,’ gold variegated thyme: Thymus x citriodorus ‘Aureus,’ lime thyme: Thymus x citriodorus ‘Lime,’ Thymus x citriodorus, tricolored oregano: Origanum vulgare ‘Variegata,’ an unmarked curry: Helichrysum italicum, golden variegated sage: Salvia officinalis ‘Icterina,’ and Thymus pulegioides ‘Foxley.’ I guess the pot has a lot of thyme in it, but that is alright.


herb pot in April: it will grow-in

herb pot in April: it will grow-in

Finally, little nutmeg creeping thyme (Thymus praecox ‘Nutmeg’) was stuck in the ground, near the sidewalk. It is supposed to get a foot wide and one inch tall.

nutmeg creeping thyme: Thymus praecox 'Nutmeg'

nutmeg creeping thyme: Thymus praecox ‘Nutmeg’

Planting Conifers, Weeding, Dead-Heading Hydrangeas, Cutting Astilbes, Juncuses, and the Bluebeard

In the past week, the co-gardener and I have done a variety of work in the garden. You may have noticed by now that we are buying faster than we are planting, so getting things in the ground is a priority. Also, I am working at weeding the whole garden, and it is going slowly. Some areas have not been weeded yet this year, and until they are, will not be appearing on this site. Weeding is a boring subject and will probably never include photos. Otherwise, I will give some details, although possibly not in order.

The co-gardener got the four delphiniums in. They are delicate things, and the leaves were getting broken and etc. from the plants falling over in the wind. Well, and interesting thing: we bought some catnip and then, in a hurry, I forgot to put it up. So I looked out the window and saw our cat seemingly chewing on the delphiniums. I couldn’t make sense of it, until I remembered, “the catnip!” I went down there, put the plants up, and offered our cat a piece. Jay doesn’t usually care about catnip – we plant it in a hanging basket in memory of a departed cat, Rufus – so I was surprised that Jay was interested in it. He ate the piece, and then started chewing on a delphinium. I am not sure if the delphinium smelled like catnip from formerly being next to it, or if it just looked similar enough. I thought “ack! the delicate delphiniums!” and brought down a catnip plant and let Jay enjoy that for a few moments (and then he lost interest). Anyhow, the co-gardener planted them in the rose garden but I am not including any pictures because I have not weeded that area yet. Upon seeing little evidence of any emergence of last year’s delphiniums, the co-gardener got disgusted and said that if they were going to be that way, no more delphiniums would be purchased. I think that there is still time for them to pop up. Besides that, I did see one growing. I pointed that out, and the co-gardener just repeated the disgusted statement. I think maybe four were in the ground from last year – I’d have to do some thinking to know the number for sure.

The co-gardener finally dead-headed the hydrangea heads/blossoms/puffs. No one had gotten around to it. The back part is still not done – it is difficult to reach. Dead-heading is kind of calming, but I was trying to put a priority on the weeds.

dead-heading hydrangeas: partway through

dead-heading hydrangeas: partway through

pile of hydrangea puffs

pile of hydrangea puffs

pile of hydrangea puffs

pile of hydrangea puffs

I realized that the astilbes had new growth, so it was time to cut out last year’s brown stuff. I tend to leave it there for awhile in order to know where the plants are. There are five astilbes in the swamp.

astilbes before pruning

astilbes before pruning

Astilbe x arendsii 'Hyacinth' before pruning

Astilbe x arendsii ‘Hyacinth’ before pruning

Astilbe x arendsii 'Astary Pink' before pruning

Astilbe x arendsii ‘Astary Pink’ before pruning

While in the swamp with the astilbes, I cut at a few juncuses. I read somewhere that this is ok: that dead pieces just happen. We will see if they get perked up.

an example of a brown juncus: Juncus effusus 'Unicorn'

an example of a brown juncus: Juncus effusus ‘Unicorn’

The co-gardener decided to prune the bluebeard (Caryopteris x clandonensis ‘Korball’  Blue Balloon). I said to look it up online, and the co-gardener replied “you know, pruning is my specialty.” Sigh.

pre-pruning Blue Balloon Bluebeard - Caryopteris x clandonensis 'Korball' Blue Balloon

pre-pruning Blue Balloon Bluebeard – Caryopteris x clandonensis ‘Korball’ Blue Balloon

The co-gardener and I did some planting in the conifer garden. I will include pictures of the end result in a separate post. First of all, the conifer garden had to be expanded. This involved moving:

Tasmanian mountain pepper - Drimys lanceolata new location

Tasmanian mountain pepper – Drimys lanceolata new location

The plant was not moved very far. It is still along the fence, but no longer next to the purple osmanthus.

mountain pepper - Drimys lanceolata and purple-leaf osmanthus - Osmanthus heterophyllus 'Purpureus'

mountain pepper – Drimys lanceolata and purple-leaf osmanthus – Osmanthus heterophyllus ‘Purpureus’

I will make the next post about the updated conifer garden. See the last post for additional information about some of the conifers. Unfortunately, I do not think that there is any space for a fir (abies) or an arborvitae (genus including western red cedar, thuja). It would be spiffy to have every kind of conifer in the conifer garden, but it probably won’t happen. Too many cryptomerias, chamaecyparis, and blue spruces.

Rhododendron Planting, Penstemon and Butterfly Bush Pruning

Yesterday, April 4th, I worked in the yard. Although I had not had the rhododendron Bees long (see the previous post), I wanted to get them in the ground promptly. The reason:

Rhododendron 'Berg's Queen Bee'

Rhododendron ‘Berg’s Queen Bee’

The nursery keeps some of the rhododendron plants in the ground, in rows. ‘Berg’s Queen Bee’ was one of these plants – it was not potted but, in effect, bare-root. Therefore, it was important to get it in quickly, and while I was at it I figured I would plant the other four as well.

Before I started, I did a little bit of pentemon pruning. In his book, Ciscoe Morris says to prune them in mid-to-late April, but I was getting antsy, and because I was going to be planting right next to a penstemon, I thought I’d go ahead and do it. This is largely done to keep the sizing under control, but also some of the leaves didn’t look that great (penstemons are evergreen perennials). Size?

Penstemon 'Mother of Pearl'

Penstemon ‘Mother of Pearl’

Penstemon x campanulatus 'Garnet'

Penstemon x campanulatus ‘Garnet’

Much too big. I cut them pretty hard:

 Penstemon x hartwegii 'Blue Midnight' and Penstemon x hartwegii 'Firebird'

Penstemon x hartwegii ‘Blue Midnight’ and Penstemon x hartwegii ‘Firebird’

I think they will be fine: the penstemons are pretty robust.

As you can see from the pruning piles, there are a lot of penstemons in the yard.

2013 Miscell 0818 Penstemon prunings 2013 Miscell 0819 Pentemon prunings

The pile on the right is of the variegated pentemons – yep, we found variegated penstemons!

I did some weeding in the rhododendron area, and pruned the butterfly bushes. Ciscoe Morris says to cut them down, but the co-gardener didn’t think it should be all the way since they are new plants, so I went about halfway (maybe a little bit more).

Butterfly Bush prunings

Butterfly Bush prunings

They are dwarf bushes, so planted somewhat close to other (dwarf) shrubs.

Butterfly Bush - Buddleja 'Blue Chip'

Butterfly Bush – Buddleja ‘Blue Chip’

Butterfly Bush - Buddleja 'Purple Haze'

Butterfly Bush – Buddleja ‘Purple Haze’

I wonder if I should have taken ‘Purple Haze’ down further, but it will probably be alright.

I needed to move a phlox out of the way of the new rhododendrons.

Variegated Phlox - Phlox paniculata 'Goldmine' - moved

Variegated Phlox – Phlox paniculata ‘Goldmine’ – moved

Depending upon how big that ceanothus (Ceanothus impressus ‘Vandenberg’) gets, I may have to move it again.

Pictures of the Bee rhododendrons can be seen in the previous post. Only ‘Patty Bee’ is currently blooming (as of a few days ago). In a few years, the area will look great. We will see how the birds like the situation.

2013 Miscell 0825 Rhododendrons planted

Oh, I almost forgot to mention – it rained the entire time I was working.



Conifer Garden, Hebes, Wallflowers, Heathers: Planting and Maintenance

Tuesday April 2nd I worked in the yard, primarily in the conifer garden. It was time to plant the heathers, which were purchased at the garden show in February, and before planting them in the conifer garden I needed to do some weeding (I also weeded the red-twig area while I was at it). I included pictures of the conifers and also an overview of the conifer garden in a previous post.

Before planting the heathers, I planted the ‘Patty’s Purple’ Hebe and the Hebe x franciscana ‘Lobelioides’ in the front yard, in front of the house. To do so, I had to first move a wallflower (Erysimum linifolium ‘Variegata’). As I looked at the two variegated wallflowers, I realized that they should have been cut down several weeks before. I have not read anything about pruning wallflowers, but the things were growing on their sides, weighed-down apparently, with a tiny little stem to ideally hold up the branches. One plant was floppy, but the other was solidly on its side. I cut them down. I knew that I would be moving one, and perhaps it should not have been pruned and moved in the same day, but after a brief consultation with the co-gardener, I went ahead.

2013 Miscell 0770 Wallflower - Erysimum linifolium 'Variegata' - moved and pruned 2013 Miscell 0771 - Wallflower - Erysimum linifolium 'Variegata' - pruned 2013 Miscell 0772 Variegated wallflower prunings

The wallflowers don’t look like much now, but I think they will bounce back fine, and won’t be as floppy now that they are growing from the base.

Once the wallflower was moved, I could plant the two hebes.

Hebe x franciscana 'Lobelioides' and Hebe 'Patty's Purple'

Hebe x franciscana ‘Lobelioides’ and Hebe ‘Patty’s Purple’

They are both going to get quite big, so my plan was to put them in front of a section of the foundation that shows. Hebe ‘Great Orme’ (planted Fall 2011) promptly grew quite large, so I am hoping that these hebes don’t take too long.

2013 Miscell 0773 Hebe x franciscana 'Lobelioides' and Hebe 'Patty's Purple'

Yes, one would have probably done fine, but it was a good excuse to get two.

After this I finally planted the heathers in the conifer garden.

2013 Miscell 0735 Heathers alphabetical

Our soil is heavy clay and includes a lot of glacial rocks, so nothing is as easy to plant as one might think. More pictures can be seen in the previous conifer garden and heather post. By the way, I think that some of the heathers might actually be heaths, but the grower’s tags said “heather” so I’m sticking with that for now.


Salvia and Phlox Pruning, Berry Tending

Monday March 25th I worked in the yard, as it was not raining. I pruned the woody salvias (‘Red Velvet,’ ‘Stampede Punch,’ ‘Stampede Lavender,’ and two ‘Black and Blue’), which was somewhat fun. I also pruned/cleaned up three of the Phlox paniculatas (‘Flame Light Pink,’ ‘Goldmine,’ ‘Blushing Shortwood’). Phlox paniculata ‘Flame Coral Red’ didn’t seem to have any new growth at the base yet, so I left it alone – this allows the old stems to act as markers.

2013 Miscell 0612

The rest of the time I spent weeding the cane berries and removing dead leaves. It took a long time and was strenuous. The far side of the berries, by the rockery, is just not that accessible, so it took a lot of contorting. I also did some tying of the canes (although there is more to be done). I was disappointed that I didn’t get more done, but I should remember that that job always takes a long time.

2013 Miscell 0643 2013 Miscell 0644

The first two rows are fall-bearing (or “everbearing”) raspberries, so last year’s growth has been cut down. The last row contains the regular summer-bearing raspberries, which fruit on the previous year’s growth. I have kept these two types of raspberries apart, but within the rows I have planted many different varieties. At the end are blackberries – ‘Cascade’ and ‘Boysenberry.’ I am not sure how this year’s crops will go… I have had some problems with verticillium wilt before.

Lawn, pruning, weeding, and strawberry-planting

Yesterday I had a work-day in the yard, largely because I knew that it was the last rainless day for awhile.

I had purchased some more Hood strawberries at the home/garden/grocery store, so planted them in the strawberry pyramid. They were not much more impressive looking than last time, and I don’t think that I got all ten. Bare-root strawberries costs less, but I feel a little uncertain about it.

Bundled Hood strawberries

Bundled Hood strawberries

The only lawn in the yard is a tiny non-circular one in the front yard. I finally brought myself to tend it yesterday, but inconveniently had planted some bulbs too close so sheared the edges. I had the idea that I would shear the whole thing, but it was too time consuming so I got out the weed-whacker. Much to my irritation, I hit two bulbs with the unwieldy weed-whacker. There has been talk of taking out the lawn and putting in Stepables lawn-replacement groundcovers. I definitely like this idea.

2013 Miscell 0569 2013 Miscell 0571

I didn’t do all of my weeding before weed-whacking, so ended up with lawn clippings all over the weeds – not convenient. After whacking, I weeded and cut at a fern – not worthy of a photograph.

I also removed mulch from around the base of some plants: I had put it there during a cold snap. You can kind of see what it looked like from this picture (formerly used):

Hebe 'Jasper'

Hebe ‘Jasper’

I decided that sufficient new growth had begun, so pruned the four hardy fuchsias (as according to Ciscoe Morris).

2013 Miscell 0573 4 Hardy Fuchsias prunings

Hebe ‘Pinocchio’ suffered some weather damage, so I cut it down. It had grown really fast, so I am not concerned about it making a good recovery.

2013 Miscell 0572 Hebe 'Pinocchio' pruning

Weeding is not that enjoyable, but it is part of being a gardener. Nicely, for part of the session my face was amongst hyacinths and near a daphne, so I was surrounded by pleasant fragrance.