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Reviewing 2015 Projects and Plants, Challenges and Results

Thomaston, CT

I'll trade you for your snowblowing hero.....No one plows or shovels or snowblows my property except for the company I hire each year....they won't plow under 2"....we received 1.5" of concrete- like snow/ice which I cannot shovel....hoping it all melts in tomorrow's 40 degree warmth! Rosemary, I wish I could grow huechera, but I have no luck except for a few that gamely hang on.......

Lexington, MA(Zone 6a)

Donna is too kind.

Carrie, as long as the vines are weakened I think it will be possible to pull what survives, and put a shovel (and maybe a pruner) through it to plant new stuff, and to chop through with a spade without having to handle a healthy tangle, which is a totally terrible job with this vigorous vine. As you say, there is no guarantee that it will stay dead. I don't like weed killers.

Apparently many heuchera plants don't live a very long time,and most are sterile, which is one reason for planting different cultivars as an experiment, and always on sale! My personal rule is to always get varieties that are sun-tolerant, since the shady ones inevitably get sunstroke through some accident of branches moving away. Colored sedum are also going into that patch so something will keep reproducing.

Anyone have hellebores blooming through the snow? That is the plant I often can't seem to keep from either changing colors or just exiting stage left. It doesn't stop me from trying, though, because the foliage is always nice.

Elgin, IL(Zone 5a)

The only heuchera (and I tried about 20) that survives year after year (some are 8 plus years old) is Firefly. I found the seed at JL Hudson and started growing them. I even grow them for clients. One of the tricks is to dig them up every three years or so and divide them, put them deeper in the ground and surround them with compost. I found that it is one that can lodge and survive. And it's true from seed. I grew about ten in 2009 and brought them all to my new house, where they have thrived. And they grow, in my yard in anything from full sun (with some water) to just about full shade (with no care). I grew them because I loved 'Cherries Jubilee' but I had to keep replacing it, and the cost went from $7.99 to $13.99. A friend of mine gave me some native and near native ones ('Dales Strain' being just one) and they either keeled or are the same size (small) after 5 years.

I do have a theory that plants you grow from seed are sometimes stronger. I was given a store bought digitalis mertonensis that did not do well. Then last year I grew them from seed. I started them in December, put them in to overwinter (which tends to be when you lose them) and of the five I installed four came up and bloomed and rebloomed. They are overwintering nicely. Since they cost about $14 each I am a very happy camper!

Here they are with the foliage of platycodon grandiflorus grown from seed (on the right), and campanula takesimana 'Bellringers' from Bluestone. The foliage effect of the three is great, but for heaven's sake don't grow the campanula unless you are prepared to dig it up and divide it every two years! But it is great for beating down creeping charlie and violets, so I am using it to do just that!

In the second picture are my original takesimanas. I just love them with geranium biolovo (thank you Gemini Sage aka Neal, for sending them to me!) peony Lady Alexandra Duff and allium christophii. As you can see I am a cool color girl but I also adore texture. The trick, I find, is to keep aggressive plants from overwhelming others and destroying your design. Not that this was really a design. I just kept slapping in plants wherever I had space!

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Pepperell, MA(Zone 6a)

caramel which you can find at the box stores does very well - i got the big pots which had 3 plants in them if you looked close - split them up and planted - have been spreading them around - have several others that seem to be doing well although not to caramel extent.

https://www.provenwinners.com/plants/heuchera/caramel-coral-bells-heuchera-villosa

Elgin, IL(Zone 5a)

It's a beauty!

Thomaston, CT

Bill, Caramel does well for me also....I have it in pretty deep shade by a hemlock.....

Milton, MA(Zone 6a)

Taking notes. Heucheras have done well for me in the past.

Thomaston, CT

Many of mine that have died off have been in the same garden, so I'm wondering if the soil isn't what they want, although at the other end of the same bed, there are 3 Green Spice doing great.....

South Hamilton, MA

I grew a couple with green leaves for years & they finally died. I think because I didn't take care of them.

Lexington, MA(Zone 6a)

I think I'll find room for Caramel. Green Spice and Dale's strain have survived several years in nearly full shade, but they don't multiply for me. If I get truly involved I'd like to try Donnas idea of growing Firefly from seed--another one of the fire series no doubt.

Last night's temperature was 6 degrees F. Fingers crossed that the two new atlas cedars are well enough sheltered to survive. I read in Prevention magazine, no less, that the natural foods businesses are marketing the oil of atlas cedar as an aphrodesiac.

South Hamilton, MA

It will be getting warmer tomorrow. However only temporary, I think/

Thomaston, CT

I, too, hope your cedars have made it! This roller-caster weather isn't ideal for plants....but I'll take the warmer days....My coral bells don't multiply, I'm just happy they survive....

Milton, MA(Zone 6a)

"Roller-coaster weather" is definitely not ideal for me, either. :)

Lexington, MA(Zone 6a)

Young and old in my house are showing signs of being "under the weather." Lets all hang in this winter! I decided it was too hard to plan a London trip around work, although i've googled just about every garden (bummer) , but we're at the age where people we know are retiring. One attractive invitation is to go to Tallahasee later this winter to visit a friend who designed a polynesian house. There must be some tropical gardens to inspire.

Elgin, IL(Zone 5a)

I went to Pensacola a few years back at this time of year. It was really wonderful - I had friends from my old community who sold their house and were moving back. They had an amazing condo. A military couple. He had been with the Air Force, and at the time had gotten a lovely gig with a major airline. She was on her last tour - domestically, thank goodness. A chink in the armor was that they had overpaid for their house in my community and sold it at a loss, so the wife was going to have to work five more years than she had wanted to. But they were lovely people, and we (OK I) befriended them when many of our silly neighbors didn't. For whatever reason there was snob thing that you were a second class citizen if you didn't build your house - even if you paid much more than the original builders like that did.

I met them because their lovely young son (was he 8?) called out a hello to me when I was running. I stopped in my tracks, because children up here are taught that strangers will eat them alive. I said hello, and his father came out and introduced himself. It turned out that he too was a runner and convinced his son to be very impressed with the crazy woman who actually ran in the winter.

After they went back to Pensacola they invited us down. Here is a taste of Pensacola in mid-January!

I must go back!

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Milton, MA(Zone 6a)

Ahhhh!

South Hamilton, MA

I am starting to know about irises available for next year. I will wait until the catalogs start arriving to order. I am mainly interested in the dwarf irises.

Elgin, IL(Zone 5a)

The catalogs are arriving!

I just ordered some lilies from Brent and Becky. I had forgotten what bargains they are, especially with 10% off if you pay for them now. I got ten lilies for $25, including shipping. My problem used to be that they will not sell you fewer than five, and I used to think that I did not have the room. But they had a longiflorum/Oriental (Prince Promise, which is very similar) that I was trying to get from Faraway Flowers but she was out of stock, and a gorgeous new Oriental Trumpet cross that has an intensity of color I sought. Ten lilies would normally cost more than $60 before shipping, and shipping on them is usually over $20, so this was great.

Here is Bellsong:

https://brentandbeckysbulbs.com/Lilium-longiflorum-Bellsong/lilies/Lily-bulbs/Lilium

Here is Kiss of Fire:

https://brentandbeckysbulbs.com/Lilium---Oriental/Trumpet---Kiss-of-Fire-/Liliaceae/Lilium/-Kiss-of-Fire-

I am going to get a couple from B&D but I am waiting for their paper catalog to get the 10% coupon code.

We are fortunate here in that the beetle has not arrived, and frankly, no one within miles grows lilies!

South Hamilton, MA

I have discarded all our lilies. with the attacks of the red lily leaf beetle, it takes too much attention to be rid of them; attention taken away from our irises.

Thomaston, CT

I have Bellsong & love it.....My Brent & Becky's hasn't come yet.....I'm about ready to order a few more things, but my gardens are pretty full.....I bought a bunch of reblooming iris from the source you gave me last year, Lucy....I hope they make it through the winter.....

South Hamilton, MA

They should be all right. Whether they bloom (at least in the spring) may be how they like it there. they may wait until the 2nd year. Plants should be healthy. Are you getting snow cover? It may help.

Elgin, IL(Zone 5a)

It was an online message from Brent and Becky. I have been ordering from them for many years - I actually got my first ever lilies from them. I got the asiatic 'Montreux', which I proceeded to drown, but I also got 5 lilium 'Regale', which is s great lily for a beginner. They were 5 for $6 - can you imagine? And they multiplied beautifully. I had forgotten how very nice B&B lilies are.


Lexington, MA(Zone 6a)

My early order so far has been to get galanthus bulbs from OHG and a few other places for October delivery, but a little discounted. Wishlists are growing too. This is my year to start enkianthus and disanthus cercidifolius.

Some bed ideas just have to marinate. While turning into my driveway today I had the distinct impression that some redtwig dogwoods near low and berry-filled juniper shrubs would be very nice to finish that edge. I knew I wanted some in the front yard but it wasn't palpable yet as to where they really belonged. The heucheras near the house were just an echo of that future red-brown color before the redwood color of the house greets you as you enter from the bluestone steps.

Elgin, IL(Zone 5a)

Oh, Rosemary, I heard you with the percolating ideas. I was pulling into my driveway when I realized that my property line extends to the area of my neighbor's parkway - it's a good three feet. He goes onto my driveway with his riding mower (when he thinks I'm not looking) but otherwise does not maintain the area, so it's weedy. It has one of those old fashioned wooden light poles, and I got a brainstorm. To beautify the area, and to keep him from coming onto my driveway, I am going to add some of my billion geranium Bevan's Variety (wow - they are evergreen - I have at least 75 all over the yard and in well trafficked areas and love them) and then I am going to grow thalictrum 'Splendide' in front of and up the pole.

And I am starting to appreciate evergreen plants more. I have a PJM rhodie - not my good taste - it's been there at least 30 years - and its winter color cheers me.

I have been putting bird food out that seems much appreciated. This is next to the rhodie on my front steps.

I am probably the last to learn about it, but here is the thalictrum:

http://www.perennialresource.com/encyclopedia/view/?plant=1954

I used to grow lots of rochebrunianum - need to get that again - I loved the tall, frosted stems and its tendency to reseed so 8 became 20!

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Thomaston, CT

You ladies have some wonderful plans.....I'm hoping to buy some dahlia, glads, & lily bulbs, stick them here & there & hope for the best!

South Hamilton, MA

The iris catalogs are not coming as yet & I may ask the local garden center about winterberries. Certainly get some more Grass B Gon.

Thomaston, CT

I love to look at the catalogs this time of year....helps me to stay sane! I ordered 2 winterberries from Bluestone....hope they grow quickly.

Pepperell, MA(Zone 6a)

made my first order for the new year yesterday.

South Hamilton, MA

Ordered Jap. maples?

I am waiting for iris catalogs, but one which I use posted on facebook that his will be a bit late.

Elgin, IL(Zone 5a)

I have about 15 catalogs. The great thing is that I know which companies are awful (thank you Garden Watchdog!) and which are great.

I just realized something. David Austin Roses sends me their catalog every year. I have never ordered from them because their roses are so ridiculously overpriced - you can get them for 40 to 50% elsewhere. And he seems to be producing a lot of lookalike roses, undoubtedly because of the royalties on new ones. And some of the things he writes simply don't match my own observations. Red roses that promptly fade to fuchsia is one. Vigor that doesn't exist is another.

But the thing that really stunned me, which is buried inside the catalog, is that unless otherwise specified, all of his roses are grafted onto Dr. Huey stock - including his old garden roses, and there is no need for that! His list of own root roses in incredibly small. Grafting can work - I have never lost a grafted rose from Pickering - but Dr. Huey? Pickering didn't use that stuff. The most popular red rose in the country is Dr. Huey. Because people ordered roses grafted on it and are left with it. One of my clients has it - except that they planted 'Golden Showers', a beautiful repeat blooming yellow climber, and now have a once blooming (if that) extremely thorny rose with wicked thorns that grows like crazy and grabs passersby. And the flowers fade to brown. Better yet, I can't get the rootball out of the ground. I don't have a problem with Austin using Dr. Huey but he should put the reference to it in a more prominent place.

Thanks for the pretty pictures, but I'll take a pass.

Pepperell, MA(Zone 6a)

not a jm --- yet. a new kousa dogwood with supposedly has the pinkest flowers yet and a prolific bloomer - developed out of Rutgers.

South Hamilton, MA

About 29 years ago my husband bought 2 Cornealian cherry trees . Not sure of the spelling on that. they have yellow flowers & are a relative of dogwoods. The one is fairly heavy shade is still there but not doing as well as the one with more light. The flowers appear before the leaves & heavy cherry like fruit in the fall.

Thomaston, CT

My Dad planted a Cornelian cherry near my bedroom window when I was 10.....still remember how much I loved it.....The Kousa sounds nice, Bill. Donna, I've lost every David Austen rose I have planted here, but I think they are only marginally hardy in my area......

Elgin, IL(Zone 5a)

I have a number of Austins, but I have never bought one from him directly. Is that the source of yours? The only ones attributable to him I bought at Milaegers in Racine in 2005o (they are at my former home). And they were bought at deep discount. The Heritage that was marketed at the old overpriced amount of $24.99 and the Glamis Castle at $$27.99 were actually purchased for $9.99 each. The Glamis was in a Star Nursery pot and the Heritage in a Bailey Nursery pot. They couldn't sell them at the higher prices. It was August (great time to buy if you want roses that are subject to blackspot!) and they were big.

All of my other Austins were purchased at placed that grew them own root, like Roses Unlimited and Chamblees, or at Pickering, which uses a stronger grafting plant.

So don't blame yourself. While I don't buy them from him, I have Heritage, Rose Marie (a white sport of Heritage), 2 Glamis Castle, a Constance Spry (which is zone 4 and only blooms once, but is incredible), 2 Dark Lady, Tess of the D'Urbervilles, Rose Marie, The Ingenious Mr. Fairchild, Jude the Obscure (obtained as the result of an error).

The ones that were so good that I bought them again are Constance Spry, Glamis Castle, Heritage and Tess of the D'Urbervilles. I find that his best roses are the really old ones that have stood the test of time. Constance Spry is his first, and although it does not rebloom, I do not think that he has ever topped it. It was introduced by Sunningdale Nurseries in 1961.

This is my two year old Constance Spry at my new home, courtesy of Roses Unlimited. Two years, yes! The third picture shows it in 2013! The year I purchased it.

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South Hamilton, MA

I originally bought Wife of Bath which is a Constance Spry child. that has been lost & the red blooming root stock blooms. I had the good luck to meet him on an iris tour in England in I think 2002. When I mentioned Wife of Bath he said that he had improved it (Mary Rose, I think). As an iris hybridizer I knew what he meant.
We grow Pat Austin on its own roots. Something , possibly deer, ate the buds last year. We also have Pegasus which I think is grafted.

Thomaston, CT

The last one I tried to grow was Heathcliff purchased from a local nursery....I cannot remember what the others were....one may have been Mary rose....anyway, they were purchased from CT nurseries......my art teacher had several beauties growing on her patio....last summer, 2 were gone.....we had a terrible drought, that may have been the cause.....C. Spry is very pretty....too bad it's a one time bloomer.....

Elgin, IL(Zone 5a)

Grrrr..Iris, your red blooming rose is almost certainly Dr. Huey. Pickering used rosa multiflora as rootstock. I didn't know what this meant when I was buying roses, but I do know that multiflora is supposed to be incredibly hardy. I had a book on midwest gardening in which a couple in a wealthy suburb with gorgeous roses told a story of how they fell in live with old garden roses and they swore by Pickering because of the rosa multiflora. I have primarily Pickering roses and have never lost one nor had one revert. Nor have I lost one to disease. I read some Garden web threads from 2011 in which people were asserting that David Austin roses from his nursery in Texas was infected with rose mosaic virus.

David Austin has only recently begun to offer a limited selection of own root roses - still ridiculously overpriced. I am looking for a couple more old garden roses, and he only offers them grafted, which I think is outrageous.

Some own root roses take quite a while to get going. I have own root Heritage and Rose Marie plants that are driving me nuts with their slowness. But then I have a Constance Spry, Madame Hardy, and a Kathleen Harrop (sport of Zephirine Droughin) that just went nuts. And they are all from Roses Unlimited. One recommendation, though. If you want roses in the fall (September) then order them from a climate colder than your own. Ones from High Country Roses (zone 5 at altitude) laughed at winter and came up like gangbusters. Roses from Roses Unlimited planted at the same time (South Carolina) died. I had wanted them for the following spring but was encouraged to install them early. Don't. Those are the only roses I have lost that were properly planted.

Another great supplier is Antique Rose Emporium, because they are two gallon containerized roses. I took advantage of a special and ordered three roses that I frankly left neglected in their pots for at least three weeks. They all started blooming, unplanted. Because they are in containers they are more expensive so the deal I got from them really helped. I have Louise Odier on order for spring. Gotta have it - obsession. At my old house I had 23 roses. I'm pushing 40 now. I'm out of control!

This message was edited Jan 20, 2016 9:14 AM

South Hamilton, MA

I ordered a Gruss an Achen from High Country for our daughter in Ohio a couple ars ago as it tolerates shade. She says it is doing fine. I ordered he Austins from their place in TX.

Thomaston, CT

Have remembered another Austin rose I have....Strawberry Hill.....Keep cutting the root stock rose out of it, hoping the Strawberry Hill will conquer the rootstock, but so far they both come up every year!...My best roses are the Canadian bred ones.....Climber John Davis always puts on a great show......Red Rambler is another rose that does very well for me....so is Ebb Tide.....

Elgin, IL(Zone 5a)

I love Gruss. I had three at my former home and I have two here. I got the newest two at High Country Gardens, and they were fantastic year one, which was last year. I am pleased that it grows well in shade, because I love it and would like more. It also grows well in a pot, which is where I had three at my former home. The first picture is Gruss in a pot. I love the way the colors of it can be pink, peach, yellow.

The Canadian roses are amazing. I had three Morden Blush at my former home and I have two here. The second picture is at my former home and the third shows it in my parkway at my new house with salvia Mainacht. The salvia is a funny story. Everyone has this perennial, so I, being perverse, was not going to buy it. But I purchased a plant as part of a project at the Master Gardener "Idea Garden", and because it was a hardy perennial they demanded that I remove it. The others had been tender salvias. It had gotten so big that I divided it in two and threw it on my parkway. Then I discovered why everyone has it, and it was a perennial plant of the year. It's fabulous! So I added the two Morden Blush. And I'm really happy I did, because I love the contrast.

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