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Reviewing 2015 Projects and Plants, Challenges and Results

Lexington, MA(Zone 6a)

The fall gardens are almost finished for the year. What did you learn? What are your achievements in the garden this year? I will post and I hope you do too!

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Thomaston, CT

Lovely photos, Rosemary! Hard to say what I learned about the gardens this year....I finally dug up the 3 year old huge clump of phlox that never bloomed.....will replace that in the spring.....glad I didn't rip out the tons of asters that seeded all over the gardens, because the bees really need them....never got to my overgrown shrubs in the front garden next to the house.....next year's project!

Lexington, MA(Zone 6a)

Thank you, Marilyn. Sounds daunting to get to overgrown shrubs. the pollinators seemed to love goldenrod more than anything else. The sounds were terriffic. I want more native asters like you, Marilyn. We never cut the New England asters when they appear and they do seem to multiply a bit. Here are a few plants that the bees and insects really liked: Soldago, tatarian aster, salvia gigantium, ageratum, and the whole array of coneflowers got attention.

Somehow the photos got lost! I'll redo this post!

This message was edited Oct 27, 2015 5:38 PM

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Lexington, MA(Zone 6a)

Goldenrod, tatarian aster, salvia gigantium, perennial ageratum, and of course, milkweed, are pollinator tested in my garden. All the mint family seems to get a buzz.

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Lexington, MA(Zone 6a)

I think it was Christopher Lloyd's books that got me thinking of garden areas as rooms. This secret garden took form after I got tired of staring at the uncut grass beyond the fence. My family still doesn't understand this project. Starting with the before...plants are cedrus atlantica 'Blue Cascade' in front of a large yew tree that was there with the house, and tucked in the corner by the bench, a number of hostas, Capistrano rhodi and picea abies 'Big Wave.'

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South Hamilton, MA

The dryness hurt the garden. Irises which are our main focus did well. But it was so dry, fewer golden rod plants in bloom. DH has taken down dead trees for firewood. the top of one trunk of a pine we had tree service take down, it had broken off. Way at the rear of our property an oak came down. He could see later that again it was the top. Neighbors there said they heard a loud noise. Could last year's winter have weakened the trees? These have been here for years.

Lexington, MA(Zone 6a)

It was hard to stay in only a few areas this year because the conifers all needed different things. Here is a terra cotta birdbath sitting on a stump, surrounded by Hillside creeper scotch pine, a dwarf balsam and others. Two views of the lasagna beds. Over time, I hope to be able to make them look more natural. The hill garden which has been a major effort over the past five years, has been crying out for more conifers. Here is picea abies, 'The Cobra.' Most of the front yeard is done now.

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Lexington, MA(Zone 6a)

Crosspost. Our oaks and ash trees looked very peaked this year. I sincerely hope all the digging and adding soil didn't drown any roots. Hopefully nothing too drastic will happen here since branches show need for trimming. It is sad to lose a tree. We were visiting where I grew up in Illinois this fall. It was very disappointing to see the huge white oaks that I thought would last forever--were gone. They had lots of rain there so it wasn't because of dryness in that case.

Our iris plants were a big disappointment this year since they tended to dry up. Clearly know-how and steady purpose make a difference.

Thomaston, CT

Wow, Rosemary.....! You've done an awesome job on your property..I love the front of the house with the rock wall, & the JM & conifers......also love the stone bench you installed......I let goldenrod stay in my gardens this year to help the bees, & was amazed how they loved it....will keep them! Lucy, I've noticed a lot of trees down behind the dams that I walk behind.....5 years ago we were hit with the most horrible concrete snow & ice storm that left my road without power for 10 days....& we were among the luckier ones! I think that storm took a huge toll on the trees & that they are showing the stress in this very dry summer & fall!

South Hamilton, MA

What type of iris plants do you have? Siberians & the native versicolors need more water than the bearded.

Lexington, MA(Zone 6a)

In my yard it has helped to plant the Siberian and versicolor iris in the lower areas. They were barely OK. The TBIs had really weak stems and the blossoms didn't last.

South Hamilton, MA

Strange about the weak stems. Do you know the names of the iris?

Lexington, MA(Zone 6a)

Summer Olympics, Batik, Fascination, things like that. I'm sure my tromping around didn't help but I don't think I particularly knocked them over. They were stronger other years. Some have somewhat sandy soil that doesn't hold the nutrients very well. That's my only idea about it.

South Hamilton, MA

Batik should have a strong stem. I am not sure of the others.

Thomaston, CT

My iris were fine this past year.....am hoping the rebloomers will be OK this winter, although I did choose ones hardy to zone 5.....

Lexington, MA(Zone 6a)

I wish I could get more compost onto the beds. There's never enough no matter how hard I work at it. Composting the beds has been a project lasting the entire season. Maybe next year will be better if they aren't disturbed as much. And I promise to do a better job of deadheading and trimming the salvias too.

Thomaston, CT

My salvias attracted loads of bees & a few hummers....I need to compost as well.....have lovely compost at the bottom of my hill, & no way to get it to the top! Too heavy to carry in buckets, no longer have a dump cart behind riding mower.....sigh...

South Hamilton, MA

DH uses a tarp to move leaves etc. Might work with compost.

Lexington, MA(Zone 6a)

Getting up a hill is the hardest part. I count on my wheelbarrow but we keep looking at lawn tractors. Our hills are probably too steep for a tractor. We rent a Dingo every spring but one day of hauling is not enough!

Thomaston, CT

My hill is too steep for a wheelbarrow....tarp might work, Lucy......I can always try!

Lexington, MA(Zone 6a)

I hope so too.

I said I'd post some of the new conifers. Today's effort was Xanthocyparis nootkatensis 'Green Arrow' and here is 'Flaky' for a pot. last week, mugo pine 'Big Tuna' and globe Alberta spruce 'Humpty Dumpty. A few weeks ago, we put in the last--pinus parviflora glauca. Love the cones on this tiny tree.

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Lexington, MA(Zone 6a)

The cedrus atlantica glauca aurea robusta is a mouthful, but I like the yellow frosting on blue. It will need some winter cold and sun protection to be sure to survive winter. Picea mariana aureovariegata and the dwarf balsam, glauca are new this year. The silverray korean pine, supposedly the source for pine nuts, was thrown in and didn't seem to care that it was ignored.

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South Hamilton, MA

We have really big pine trees which were here when the house was built in 1972.

Lexington, MA(Zone 6a)

You are fortunate indeed! I love having pines nearby. We have only one really tall one that must be at least forty years old. I love having the needles to make mulch for the woodland shrubs nearby.

Thomaston, CT

My big pines are all down.....they were just too close to my neighbors house, & very brittle....I do have both black & white spruce trees, hemlocks & cedar.......I love the dwarf conifers, Rosemary!...Can't pick a favorite, but it may be the dwarf balsam......

Lexington, MA(Zone 6a)

And the balsams are listed as native to the Northeast, too. With growing natives in mind, I am starting dwarf white pines but they have been tricky. The european and asian pines have been easier overall. I had to search until finding a dwarf red fir, which is doing fine though nurtured from a tiny sprout, and the dwarf hemlock, Gentsch white, is a winner for dry shade and reputed resistance to pests.

Do you want an icky picture for Halloween? I can post the apple cedar rust that we had to cut off one by one from the eastern "cedar" last spring. It was disgusting. And I have given up on any native hazelnuts because of the pests and considering how nice the avellana hybrids apparently are.

Thomaston, CT

LOL....I have apple cedar rust as well....yep...pretty disgusting looking! Oh, yes, that was a whip in Grant's hand, but only a play one.......thank God!

Lexington, MA(Zone 6a)

Guess the kids still like Indiana Jones...

Elgin, IL(Zone 5a)

Greetings. Here is a shout out from the Midwest (I peek at northeast forums all the time - so many great things going on).

The biggest thing I learned is - take some chances. There were two plants I had looked at for a while, thinking that I could not grow them. One was eragrostis spectabilis, a gorgeous fall bloomer that overwintered well. I tried one last year, and now I have four. I have always planted for fall, and discovered this year that the tender perennial salvias I had grown for spring (viridis aka hominum, coccinea and farinacea), bloom spring through fall. So I have tons of color - in November.

But the other was dwarf plumbago. I loved the idea of the blue flowers and the great fall color. I found a good place for three plants, under a taxus media.

I installed three and they were nice. Then they bloomed with the most lovely blue flowers.

Upon installation in June (they came from Bluestone) Picture 1

On August 30 in bloom Picture 2

In September, Picture 3

Today, picture 4

There had been nothing in that bed but the taxus. Thus inspired, I have added two Rose de Rescht, a penstemon digitalis Husker Red, an anemone x Hybrida Honorine Jobert, anemone blanda, a small abelia (gift of Raulston Arboretum) and two colors of salvia viridis. And fragaria vesca reugen. And, oh yes, one of my eragrostis is there. Something will be going on from early spring well through November. The ideas kept coming. There is less and less grass there. And eventually the perennial anemone and the plumbago (it's the dwarf cerastigma, not the shrub) will fill it.

The fun part is that this is a mix of plants I grew at home and wanted to grow at home but couldn't because of the soil and the merciless sun. So although I had a wonderful garden, I am having a blast creating one with a lot more years of experience.

The last picture is salvia viridis (hominum) in blue. The cultivar Blue Monday. I also have it in rose. Both from seed, and really easy and fast. It germinates within 48 hours. I had always planted it to flower in spring, and instead of deadheading it properly, had pulled it out. Now I know better. It's been in bloom for months.

I've been gardening since 1996, and I still have the fun of learning new things, often from wonderful people on these forums.

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South Hamilton, MA

Enjoyed your photos. I love blue in the garden.

Thomaston, CT

Hi Donna....thanks for the photos...love to see what everyone's gardens look like. Last year, I had salvia blooming into Nov. This year, the temp went down to 18 degrees in the middle of Oct. That wiped out all the tender plants......I'll plant a large variety next year because they are hummer magnets....

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South Hamilton, MA

I saw one hummingbird checking out the Siberian iris last June. I didn't those birds looked at them, but anything goes, I guess.

Thomaston, CT

I've seen hummers on plants where I didn't expect them as well, but I know they love tubular blossoms like the salvia & fuchsia....

Pepperell, MA(Zone 6a)

Rosemary your yard is looking good and the collection of conifers continues to grow!

for me this year is the realization that I am running out of space:) so i have begun playing golf again and will limit my attention on potential new plantings that have no where to go. Of course yard keep up will still be a priority.

Elgin, IL(Zone 5a)

I love Rosemary's posts. She knows more than almost anyone else about evergreens, and she has some rare and gorgeous ones. It's such fun to see what she will come up with next. I google more of her plants than anyone else's. And I have started to discover that I could probably add some nice dwarf conifers to my yard. I put in a bunch of shade tolerant viburnums - I grew them in full sun at home and didn't realize until I corresponded with Gary Ladman that some of the ones I loved could be grown here.

So if I can grow shade tolerant viburnums.....

Thomaston, CT

Wow, Bill....golf? Yes, space here is also at a premium....however, I'm removing some overgrown bushes from the front of the house in the spring, & hopefully, can find some dwarf conifers to put there.....I'm not sure if I'll keep JM Kasagiyama there or not....it's gotten pretty big for the space!

South Hamilton, MA

Even dwarfs grow.

Thomaston, CT

True....I was hoping for slower growth on the gold thread juniper & bird's nest spruces....also on the JM....but they all have outgrown the space....

Lexington, MA(Zone 6a)

Nice to hear from folks here. I've just returned from a trip to Washington where there was opportunity to admire the huge pair of bald cypress in front of the Dept of Agriculture building.

Donna flatters me. I consider myself a learner on the subject of conifers. I think I'll remember her lead and grow more varieties of salvia from seed since hers are lovely. Being lazy about that, I was disappointed that the place where I usually buy a black and blue salvia in spring didn't have them this year. Compared to the standard kinds such as Mainacht, it is clear that there are some that are just altogether better pollenators as well as beautiful. Nice pics and thanks for the ideas about dwarf plumbago. I like fragaria too, and also started mixing fragaria into the heuchera border because it tickles me to find little surprises in the garden. Next year perhaps more edibles among ornamentals---i.e. trying a chard border. Some grasses are on order for near the stone bench because Donna got me thinking that way.

I have little doubt Bill will continue to find ways to tweak his gorgeous garden. I am looking forward to the day when I can look outside our windows and feel satisfaction that something of beauty is there.

Elgin, IL(Zone 5a)

Rosemary, I know what you mean about being bummed because a plant was not available. I was too slow in getting elegans (pineapple sage) and I really just stumbles on it twp years ago when I grew plants for the "Idea Garden" at Illinois Extension Master Gardeners. I didn't realize that it didn't bloom until fall, so I took two plants home in August, tossed them into the ground and was stunned to find that not only do they in fact smell deliciously of pineapple but are a scintillating red. I got Mainacht the same way. I'm perverse in that I don't like to grow plants everybody has, and May Night is pretty ubiquitous. But I put it in the parkway - in fact, it was so vigorous that I divided one plant into two. It really does make a nice ground cover, although it tends to lodge if you don't keep it deadheaded. Completely stunning with the pale blooms of rose Dublin Bay, which I bought two of the following season because it seemed weird to have the two in the parkway. The interesting thing is figuring out the difference between seemingly similar plants. People who couldn't get Mainacht often bought 'Cardonna' and it's really inferior. I didn't realize that because I was seeing Cardonna, mistaking it for May Night and wondering what the big deal was.

My fragaria story I may have told before. I got the seed from J.L. Hudson and put one in a pot and one in the ground. After a few weeks the one in the pot disappeared. I didn't know what to make of it until little fraisies started popping up around the yard. Ah, rabbits had, shall we say, spread the seed around. And I'm glad they did, because I then realized how easy they were to transplant, and wow they make nice edging plants. A friend gave me about 25 geranium 'Bevan's Variety', an amazing plant that clumps like mad - I have at least 50. I have been using them as edging plants, fillers in sun and shade, borders and what have you. I took out a clothesline that had been there and installed a bunch of them as a plan to just hold them, but they keep pleasantly multiplying. I now use them as borders between my property and the neighbors - they really resist weeds. So I have less need for the fraisies but wow, are they cool or what! And I have never bought one. Bless J.L. Hudson!

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