Happy Fifth!

I’ve worked in Bristol, RI – home of the oldest (longest, biggest, bestest) 4th of July parade in the country – for a few years but now that I’m an actual Bristol resident I can tell you the 4th lasts at least a month (and is plenty fun and noisy)! Daylilies 7-5-07I’m pretty sure mandatory parade attendance was written into our purchase and sales agreement and I am running the risk of expulsion because mine is the only house in town not draped in red-white-n-blue bunting. The fourth is a big deal here at Blithewold too (at least for Gail and me) because it marks the day we clap dirt off our hands, rest them on our hips and say “Well done! – time for a vacation!” So Gail’s off for a couple of weeks and I had an event-full 5 day weekend!

One day, at this time of year, is long time to be away from the garden but after 5 days it seems like everyone has grown up and gone off to college! The daylilies along the path to the water garden look like they’ve already been blooming for awhile and the Nicotiana sylvestris in the Rose Garden which I described as the size of teakettles no more than a week ago are the size of totebags now. North Garden first thing this morningThe North Garden was the most changed. Daily plucking of the daylilies will commence today, and the roses and lady’s mantle were due for massive deadheading. The roses (Rosa ‘Ballerina’) have set tons more buds and a greenish day today will certainly be followed by pinker pinks very soon. The North Garden after deadheadingRain overnight made for wet work in the garden – don’t do as we do! Even in the wet we have to keep the gardens looking well tended for visitors and we take the risk of compacting the soil by stepping in the beds. Unless you’re on the garden tour tomorrow, give your garden a chance to dry out before walking on it! Plus I can tell you because I know, wet pant legs and sodden shoes are a chilly bummer.

Deadheading the Alchemilla - Go down to the crown!The day after Independence Day seems like the right sort of day to talk about going Back To The Crown: Some plants like lady’s mantle (Alchemilla mollis) which send blooms out from a basal clump, can be deadheaded by cutting the flower stalk all the way down at the ground. Some might find it more patriotic to cut the blooms off at a leaf but the stumps and papery left leaves are an unsightly contrast to the fresh growth unfurling from the crown!

6 thoughts on “Happy Fifth!

  1. The borders are gorgeous and I love those lipstick red hollyhocks! What a punctuation point! Did a little deadheading myself today. It is a gratifying task isn’t it?

  2. Thanks, Layanee – We left a lot of self sowers in the garden this year – I’m pretty sure the hollyhock is one of them because it’s not a color we typically plant in that garden – but the garden needed a little lipstick here and there as it turns out! Deadheading is definitely gratifying – I completely zen out and then when I stand back to take in the whole picture, I’m amazed at the change!

  3. I just bought a Yackiyotsubaki tree peony on impulse, and I’m looking for some advice for planting in a northern climate. I have a sheltered, shady garden at home and one with full sun but a much harsher environment by the sea a few hours away. I’m a bit worried about the advice that came with the plant, saying new shoots need protection from late frost. I live in Newfoundland, off the coast of Eastern Canada, and we can have late frost anytime until mid-June and the plant would be more or less on its own if I put it at the cottage. Any advice would be appreciated. You can e-mail me if you like.

  4. Janet, I don’t know a whole lot about tree peonies and even less about growing anything in Newfoundland! But I did some research and I think you might have better luck planting it at home where you can baby it. According to Cricket Hill Garden’s website (http://www.treepeony.com/planting.htm), it needs to be planted in a site with good drainage and half shade is fine. They do recommend mulching for zone 4. (Are you colder than that?) Good luck and keep us posted!

  5. Thanks for that reply Kris. I wonder if anyone else finds the gardening hardiness zones as frustrating as I do? Technically, we’re in zone 5b, but in fact, our weather is nothing like other places in that zone that are inland. I’m going to have to translate from metric to make sense to American readers. The summers rarely go above 77 and at night they usually fall to about 60. In winter, they hover around freezing. We can get lots of snow, but it might turn to rain at any point in the winter. We also get a huge amount of precipitation, about 40 inches a year, with lots of cloud cover. In Newfoundland, “full sun” means partial shade, partial shade means really shady, and actual shade is for ferns and sweet woodruff, pachysandra, vinca and not much else. The unreliable snow cover can be harder on plants than climates with colder weather. Technically, this climate is subarctic, but I can grow some things, rhododendrons for example, that won’t grow in more temperate zones farther inland. Old English garden plants like delphiniums, columbines and lupins flourish here.
    To me, it would make more sense to classify plants by whether they can tolerate wet cool weather or hot dry weather, and maybe a sort of fussiness classification. Some plants that are supposed to be grown in certain conditions will tolerate just about anything and some *really* do need very specific conditions. It would be nice to know that when you read the label at the garden centre. I’ve found it takes a lot of trial and error, dead plants and (worse to me) plants that just languish rather than flourish to discover how close the labeling is to reality. I guess that’s what gardening books and websites are for.
    Thanks again for the feedback, I appreciate the help.

  6. Janet, you’re warmer (technically) than I thought! Zone mapping is a tricky business and I think there are probably only a couple of points on the globe where it’s truly useful. Otherwise we all have to do a bit of guessing and trowel and error (not my pun but I’m not sure whose…) I am a sucker for the perfect plant (can completely relate to wanting that tree peony) and have been known to convince myself that the label must have been misprinted… Sometimes you’ve just got to try! A few years ago we were told that we couldn’t grow Rosa mutabilis here … the ones we bought anyway are doing beautifully! Never know!

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