Sunday, May 27, 2012

Catty-Corner Garden Catalog, Spring 2012

Yesterday when my dad stopped by the house so that we could show my nephew some of the improvements we'd made since the last time he visited, dad mentioned that I hadn't updated the Catty-Corner blog in a little while.  Well, dad, here ya go...this one's for you. 

If you don't love plants, then prepare to be bored to death, in a manner similar to counting sheep.  Because I'm about to take you through the current garden catalog of Catty-Corner Cottage.

Yes, I DO have a garden journal, with diagrams of my flower beds.  I've discovered over the last year or so that we've been here how much of a passion I truly have for gardening.  Am I good at it?  Well, my thumb may still be tinged more black than green, but I'm enthusiastic about learning, and my plants are quite patient with me. 

Catty-Corner Cottage, a front view as of this sweltering warm Memorial weekend Sunday.
The left view of the front of the house.  We'll go into detail ;)

The right view of the front of the house.

Remember when I was really worried about my hydrangea in the spring?  Like, to the point of wondering if I should just dig it up and plant a new one?  Well.  Nuff said.
I have two lambs ear plants in the front flower bed.  They are so enthusiastic about growing!  I hear that's pretty much their reputation.  I love lambs ear...sometimes I'll even break off a leaf and bring it in to rub it between my fingers.  It's so soothing and really does feel like animal fur.
Last year we had an absolutely beautiful hanging basket of Scaevola Blue on our front porch.  We went to Baker's Acres and they were kind enough to transplant a custom hanging basket of just Scaevola.  (no one else around here had it at all)  When we first got it, it looked rather thin and sparse, but they assured me it would grow in.  So far so good!
The lavender pots by the front stairs are starting to bloom.  I did some research this year on the best time to harvest Hidcote lavender, and look forward to having lovely dried spears for sachets or other such gifts.
The Blue Fortune Anise Hyssop is doing quite well too.  It's about 2.5' tall so far, and that's without any blooms on it yet.  This plant is a big seducer for bees and butterflies, so it could make things interesting for watering my flower beds, since the spigot is almost right behind it.  Ah pain no gain.
The flower boxes continue to do well.  Here's the one on the sunny side of the front.
And on the partial-shade side of the front.  Both are doing well, but it's interesting to see how different plants are thriving more in each one.

The latest addition to the front.  After seeing this absolutely awesome artwork, I've been a bit fixated on Foxgloves.  For some reason this year, I've had a thing for tall spear-like cottage flowers.  Hollyhocks and Foxgloves are all I can dream of.  So I went out and bought a couple of Foxglove plants for either side of the window box under the bay window.

The other one.
I mean, seriously, how could I resist this?
The Hellebore seems to be ignoring the fact that it's a late winter/early spring bloomer, and the blooms have stayed on the plant.  Most have faded to a light lavender, but they're still there, and looking beautiful.

A view of the Hellebore from the perspective of an ant.  Or more likely in my garden, a slug.  (grumble)
I planted this last year, and...I don't remember what it is.  But it's doing well!  Behind it is a Columbine all done blooming.

The Hosta, looking a little holey from the slugs in the garden (I plan to try the beer traps method to make sure all the tiny holes in my plants ARE from slugs, but I keep forgetting to buy beer!)  I'm not a huge hosta fan...goodness knows enough people around here think they're the bee's knees...but we do have three of them in the front, and if it's green and it was here when I got here, I kept it. 
Speaking of here when I got here, here's the Lamium I so adore, planted beside the front stairs.  This stuff is so wonderful...a beautiful ground cover that blooms purple almost all summer long.  Last year we transplanted a tiny bit to the other side of the stairs too to try to add symmetry.  It took off quite well this year, though it's a little more sparse because there's less shade on that side. 
A Lamium bloom.
In the side yard, we're fighting a battle against the dirt patch left by the pine tree we had cut down last year.  Apparently after you take out a pine tree, it's very difficult to get grass to grow because pines are so acidic, they mess up the soil pH.  We're taking a sample to get tested by the local county extension office so that we know how much lime to add to the soil to bring the pH up to neutral.  Oh, the things you have to learn as a home owner who wants grass ;)  Anyway, we've put in a new flower bed in the side yard, and I transplanted the Hollyhocks I grew from seed to there.  They...aren't all doing so well, but some are surviving, like this one.  We hope to put a white arbor at the fence gate in the side yard, and I have seeds for a fast growing bean vine with red flowers to plant on it.

Compare the above picture to the same flower bed last July after we put all the new flowers in.  Very little has bloomed yet this year, but look how much more LUSH the plants are coming in!!

At the far left of the flower bed along the fence, there's a purple coneflower starting to bloom.
The Coreopsis next to it is just starting to show signs of its cheerful yellow blossoms.
Next to that is a purple Columbine almost at the end of its flower.

And behind that is a Siberian Iris.
With another Siberian Iris to the other side of it.
Our neighbors were generous with giving me Sedum.  Here's one of three plants in this flower bed.
Next to that is a thornless Raspberry plant I just got a couple of weeks ago at the local Master Gardeners plant sale.  A Vinca Vine is beside it, and has made babies all over the flower bed too.
Next to that is another purple coneflower.  I was super-worried about this one as the other one was already starting to bloom and I saw no signs of any buds or stems on this one.  But... appears to be starting to work on it?  This is my first year with the purple coneflowers...I put them in last year already fully grown as a transplant from a friend's garden, so seeing them come up from the ground is new for me.  I'm still learning what the buds even look like on the plant.  Can anyone confirm?
In front of the Coneflower is Burgundy Glow Ajuga.  It's a groundcover that spreads like wildfire, but it's so very pretty.
To the right of the Vinca vine, behind the Purple coneflower, is another Siberian Iris, probably feeling pretty crowded.  I may have to move this one eventually.
Earlier in the spring another generous neighbor gave me a baby Foxglove.  Here it is starting to grow.  And of course another baby Vinca Vine next to it.
Two more Sedums!
And finally the Bee Balm is going crazy as only a semi-wild domesticated plant can do.  I love the stuff, so I hate to thin it out...I started to try in the spring, but whenever I cut any of it it just smelled so good.....
Around the edge of the patio I keep my daylilies.  My coworker Sheli generously gave me these cheerful yellow early bloomers last year.
And my preciouses, the Egyptian Queen Daylilies that are arguably among my top favorite garden plants, (and turned the tide on my opinion of daylilies in general) are starting to shoot up stems in preparation for blooms....

My friend Salena, who also gave me the Purple coneflower last year, introduced me to the joys of Calendula, an enthusiastic self-seeder that comes up with cheerful orange blooms in at least two or three different styles among the same plant.  They've started to bloom.
An overview of the patio edge.  The lilac is shooting up tall as's almost as tall as me now.  Please to be ignoring the mulch bags on the bricks.  ;)

The mum we planted last year as a memorial to my Uncle is doing well. 
My parents gave me this 'Telstar Mix' Dianthus last year for my birthday, and it's covered in blooms this year.
On the back porch is a planter box with ivy and morning glories.
I have a couple of antlers in the planter box and I love how the vines are twining around them.

It's amazing how these vines don't even need to be trained to twine beautifully around the supports provided.
Under my beloved Hawthorn tree is a Coral Bell
(dreamy sigh) I so love this tree....
In the back corner of the yard is a bed I mostly let grow wild.  These ferns don't quite get enough shade, and sadly by midsummer can get brown and dead-ish.  But for now they're lush and green.

The only thing I  planted in this bed is a thornless blackberry plant I picked up last year.  It's doing quite well, and I hope I can beat the birds to the harvest this year.
The same neighbor who gave me the baby Foxglove also shared with me these orange poppies she originally picked up from a coworker over twenty years ago.  I love the sharing aspect of gardening.  It's so romantic and sentimental!  Anyway, this is the first year for these baby poppies, so they're doing well just by staying green.  Next year I look forward to blooms.
Finally, I have four tomato plants along the garage wall in the back yard.  Three of the plants were generously given to me by a patron at my library, and how can I say no to that?  I wasn't planning to try tomatoes yet, but I decided to give them a try.  This one, the fourth plant, is an heirloom black cherry tomato I picked up at the Rural Society Antique and Garden Show a few weeks ago.  It's doing very well, and I eagerly anticipate the dark purple-black tomatoes I'll taste from this.

So there you have it.  An epically long tour through my gardens.  Of course, my birthday is coming up, and I've already given my husband my wish list.  Which may or may not include a plethora of more plants....