Archive for the ‘garden’ Category

5 vines i must have

Tuesday, January 17th, 2012

The plant stalking for spring continues. This time up: vines. The more crazy and exotic it looks, the more I long for it.


Mina lobata “Exotic Love Vine”   an old fave. must revisit.

mina lobata “exotic love vine or spanish flag” |















Clematis viticella ‘Alba Luxurians’   so unusual. love.

clematis viticella ‘alba luxurians’ |














Vitis coignetiae (Crimson Glory Vine)   brilliant 10-12″ leaves!

vitis coignetiae (crimson glory vine) |




















Apios americana (Groundnut)  native. looks like a wonky wisteria.

apios americana (groundnut) |













Passiflora caerulea (Passionflower)   somehow mine got dug up.

passiflora caerulea (passionflower) |















Where will I put them all? Um… hmmmm. (Btw, I added a few others to Pinterest.)

frozen fish sticks?

Monday, January 16th, 2012

Seven degrees two nights in a row. What does the koi pond look like?

pond officially iced over













And the fish? The fish are still swimming around in under there. Verrrrrry sloooowwly. Luckily the bubbler has kept one 4′ spot from closing up, so they still have oxygen…

a hole in the ice












This is good. Supposed to start warming up a little again. Still, I may take up knitting and make those fishes some tiny sweaters. It’s a long time until spring.


plants i’m digging for spring

Tuesday, January 10th, 2012

Thought I’d do this post for those of you who haven’t found me on Pinterest yet. Have been flipping through spring catalogs as they arrive and dog-earing things that catch my eye. This is what I’m drawn to so far…



Stachys lavandulifolia Pink Cotton Lambs Ear

stachys lavandulifolia Pink Cotton Lambs Ear |












Rosmarinis officinalis ‘Alcalde Cold Hardy’   COLD HARDY!

Rosmarinis officinalis ‘Alcalde Cold Hardy’ |












Lavendula stoechas ‘Purple Ribbon’  (Spanish Lavender)

Lavandula stoechas 'Purple Ribbon' |












or maybe this one?

Lavendula stoechas ‘Madrid Blue’ (also Spanish)

Lavandula stoechas 'Madrid Blue'  |












Monardella macrantha ‘Marian Sampson’   Freaky!

Monardella macrantha 'Marian Sampson' |












Bouteloua gracilis ‘Blond Ambition’ (Blue Grama Grass)

Bouteloua gracilis ‘Blond Ambition’ (Blue Grama Grass) |












Salvia greggii ‘Wild Thing’  Love the one I got last year so much I must have more.

Salvia greggii 'Wild Thing' |











Euphorbia ‘Blue Haze’

Euphorbia 'Blue Haze' |












Hesperaloe parviflora Perpa ‘Brakelights’   A red yucca!!

Hesperaloe parviflora Perpa ‘Brakelights’ |












Pterocephalus depressus (Carpeting Pincushion Flower)

Pterocephalus depressus (Carpeting Pincushion Flower) |













Monarda ‘Lambada’   whoa. that’s a bee balm?!

Monarda ‘Lambada’ |













Euphorbia polychroma ‘Bonfire’  the machines killed most of mine.

Euphorbia polychroma ‘Bonfire’ |














Tricyrtis ‘Blue Wonder’ Toad Lily  love. need a few more of these.

Tricyrtis ‘Blue Wonder’ (Japanese Toad Lily) |















Veronicastrum virginicum ‘Fascination’ (Veronica)

Veronicastrum virginicum ‘Fascination’ (Veronica) |














As catalogs roll in, you can expect more updates. I’ll cover vines in another post. Don’t want to wear out my welcome, ya know.


FYI: have been thrilled with many a plant purchased online from the companies above and I’ll buy that way again, fo shizzle.

back to the front

Thursday, December 29th, 2011

Well, we did it. Managed to squeeze one final outside project into 2011: the front walkway. I didn’t feel strongly about having one but David did, so we enlisted Jim Egan at Land Design Associates to create something that would tie to the rest of the hardscaping he’s done for us.

Here’s what Jim came up with…













Basically three terraced levels with steps in between. In his drawing, the top level (far left) shows the original concrete walk that fronts our concrete entryway steps and walls being replaced with granite. That’s this area…





















There was also talk of facing the concrete steps and walls with granite but that just doesn’t make sense. I think the concrete is integral to the design of the house. And there’s nothing wrong with any of it other than that stupid crack (under the black mat in the photo) at the bottom of the steps. So we’re keeping it as is and adding below it down to the street level. We realize that a granite walkway will never match the old concrete but think we can make it work.

So, our slight revision to Jim’s initial idea looks something like this (click to biggify)…

fronthill2 | rough drawing












The crew came and made short work of it. First they dug out the hillside and leveled out bases for the two terraced parts of the walkway…













That involved moving a lot of soil…





















I added a good amount of that soil to other parts of the slope after they left, shovel by shovel, and then sculpted it as I saw fit. But I digress. The crushed base went down and the steps were heaved into place…





















Then the first granite terrace went in…





















Followed by the second terrace…













And Bob’s yer uncle!

We’re left with a hillside of disturbed soil and it’s too late in the season for plants to take root. So once again, I staked biodegradable Curlex down to hold the dirt in place…

























I rolled erosion control blanket and pounded stakes until almost midnite in a mad rush to beat the ground freezing the next day. But it’s done now and I won’t touch it again until April. Looks much better, no? Remind yourself what it used to look like.

And the crack? I’ll show you another time.


last gasps

Wednesday, December 14th, 2011

Mid-December in the garden. You can tell we’ve been spared an early winter because the strawberry plants are just now turning color…





















The lavender and rosemary are still happy, but the rosemary’s unlikely to make it through January…





















Somehow, the Nicotiana (Flowering Tobacco) is still making flowers…





















Euphorbia ‘Blackbird’ is psyched about the cooler temperatures, as is Dryopteris erythrosora ‘Brilliance’ (Autumn Fern)…





















All three of the Cynara cardunculus (Cardoons) are growing like mad…





















The Ratibida columnifera (Mexican Hat or prairie coneflowers) recently bloomed again…





















And the bottlebrush flowers on the Sanguisorba tenuifolia ‘Alba’ (Great Burnet) are still hanging in there. Believe it or not, I spotted a few local die-hard honeybees on it just last week…





















As usual, Sedum rupestre ‘Angelina’ is going gangbusters. Temperature doesn’t seem to affect it much. Although it hasn’t taken on its typical fall coloring yet…





















New growth on the Acanthus molls (Bear’s Breeches) is about 3′ across now…





















My poppies are suddenly popping up again. And the Conradina verticulata (White Cumberland Rosemary), Festuca glauca ‘Elijah Blue’ (Blue Fescue), Origanum libanoticum (Cascading Ornamental Oregano) and Euphorbia myrsinites (Donkeytail Spurge) are still green (click to biggify)…



Even though it hails from the Mediterranean, the Marrubium rotundifolium (Silver-Edged Horehound) still looks good — though it’s missing its namesake silver margins. At its fee, the Thymus Pseudolanuginosus (Wooly Thyme) is still thriving…





















Turns out that if I wanted to, I could make holiday mojitos. The mint is still happy…





















After I shot this, I ate the last two (wimpy-looking) raspberries…





















Nom nom nom. That’s pretty much it for the season.

winter prep

Monday, December 12th, 2011

It’s 28 degrees this morning. Brrrrrrr. We’ve been trying to wrap things up outside for the season.

Like last year, that means chopping up our bagged leaves instead of dragging them out to the curb…














However, unlike last year, we now have an electric chipper…





















Chops the leaves finer than the reel mower — better yet, it lets us chip all the oak branches that fall throughout the year and add them to the pile. Especially handy after a hurricane, lemme tell ya. We spread out the pile where it will remain under a tarp until late summer, when I’ll start using it around the plants…





















I have to water less and the worms love it, so it must be working.

What else? Well, I sunk the pots of hardy lotus and waterlilies, then pulled all the water hyacinth and water lettuce out of the koi pond…





















Those will be added to the compost pile. No need to waste them.

Now that the water temp is in the low 30s, we’re not supposed to feed the fish. Sorry, guys…





















(Leaf net still up to keep debris out.) They get high-protein food in the warm season, but when the temperature drops below 50 they get low-protein food because their metabolism slows down. Guess that’s why they move more slowly, too. We’re not supposed to feed them again until the spring when the temperature goes back up again.

Have also been making hay — when the sun shines, of course…





















Okay, we didn’t make it — and it’s not hay, it’s straw (no seeds). Picked up from Allie’s in North Kingstown. Which means we can now put the plants to bed. Like the hardy banana (Musa basjoo)…





















Dare I leave it outside in New England all winter? Well, yes. Should be fine with some preparation. I wrapped it in burlap…





















Then I padded it thickly with straw and tied it up tight…





















I will wrap the whole thing up like a burrito to keep it dry for the winter as soon as my white tarp arrives. (White won’t heat up when the sun hits it, unlike green or black.)

I gave the bamboo a thick blanket of straw. The three Phyllostachys nigra (black bamboo)…





















And all fifteen of my Fargesia rufa…





















There are only a few spots around the yard that are still pretty barren looking. I covered this bed with straw to keep the bare soil from sliding downhill next spring when the rains hit…





















Hopefully this will be grown in by this time next year and will not require prophylactic measures.

Last of all, I gave each of my five Japanese maples a little protection from the cold, drying winds that are on their way…





















Wilt-Pruf is organic and biodegradable. Just mix it with water…





















Then spray it on and it coats the branches to hold in moisture. Good for azaleas and rhodos, too, if you have them…





















You probably can’t tell the difference, but the Acer Palmatum ‘Crimson Queen’ can. She says thank you and see you in the spring.













what’s your angle on this light?

Wednesday, December 7th, 2011

Okay, time to order path lighting for the outside so people don’t break their necks trying to get around out there. These lights are specifically for the steps and we really only need a few out front and back.

After tons of poking around for something that’s not over-designed (“i’m an attention hog, do not look away from me!!”) and not too out-there (omg it’s like makers think the word “modern” = quirky and hideous), plus not too delicate (this house calls for something beefy, not slender) etc., I’ve finally located two options that are not only modern and minimal but pretty affordable!

First, this simple right-angled path light in aluminum…

hinkley right angle light bronze















From the Atlantis Collection made by Hinkley Lighting, it’s available in bronze, hermatite or titanium finish…

hinkley right angle options






Or this angled path light from their Piza collection, also in aluminum…

hinkley angle light bronze















Available in bronze and titanium finish…

hinkley angle options





I think either style could work. Our house has both right angles and angley angles…

angles and right angles




















Ah, remember summer when it was warm and the garden was just starting to take off?

Anyway, whaddya think? Angle or right angle? Bronze would blend into the scenery the best. Titanium would almost but not quite go with the aluminum window frames and flashing, as well as the galvanized aluminum planter boxes and steps. Decisions, decisions.

fish goo and molasses

Sunday, November 20th, 2011

What do you suppose that smells like, fish goo and molasses? It doesn’t smell great, I can assure you of that. However, your lawn and your soil love it. So today, I opened up this container (*engage gag reflex*)…

fish goo container




















Initially I was going to mix up my own compost tea to give the baby lawn a much-needed end-of-season feeding. Don’t worry, URI horticulturists tell me it’s okay to feed the lawn until around Thanksgiving. (Do you think I do anything without researching it to death first?)

But in the interest of getting it done at the last minute, I hunted down this Aggrand Natural Based Fertilizer. Already made. Cost just $8.95 for a 32 oz bottle (covers 5000 sq ft). 100% natural! Between the koi pond and the kid, I’m not about to add chemicals.


fish goo in a cup












The best news: the recipe is almost exactly what I’d use to make my own compost tea. So what’s in it? Hydrolized fish solubles (menhaden salt water fish, to be exact), kelp, bloodmeal, sulfate of potash — oh, and molasses to help create a literal microbe orgy in your soil. Apparently this will lead to better soil structure, which leads to deeper, denser roots and healthier grass.

There’s nothing much to it. Measure it out. Add water. Spray…

fish goo in the sprayer




















And then, good gawd, smell the stank. It’s the stank of green.


Handy bookmarks:

– Harvard’s landscaping is now organic, yours can be, too. Build your own tea brewer to feed your lawn at home.

– And create your own compost tea for your lawn or trees.

– Need a visual? How about a video.

Yes, I’ve posted these before. These links still rock.


can’t avoid it any longer

Sunday, November 13th, 2011

The leaves are suddenly departing the trees…

leaves are finally fallish












That’s a net over the koi pond to keep out the fallen. Now where is that grass I planted? I swear it was here just a moment ago.

bamBOO! happy halloween

Monday, October 31st, 2011

I apologize for that. And yet I’m not changing it. Oh well. So out front sits a fresh mound of loam — 6 yards of it…

fresh loam












It doesn’t look like much until you start shoveling it. Then you realize it’s never-ending. So why the soil? I finally got around to planting the Phyllostachys nigra ‘Hale’ black bamboo that’s been waiting for its permanent spot. Quite a project. The hole is somewhere between 2 and 3′ deep, so it required a LOT of soil to fill it…

bamboo planting 1




















This is the 80 mil bamboo barrier that should (hopefully) keep the roots from escaping…

bamboo planting 2




















Try dragging that 70 lb thing down the hill and tossing it into the pit. No, really. Go ahead…

bamboo planting 3












I dug a trench for the barrier a little deeper than the hole. Then David and I ran the sheet around the oval…

bamboo planting 4












Stainless steel clamps run up both sides of the overlapping barrier to ensure that the bamboo roots don’t sneak out…

bamboo planting 5




















Yes, there were nuts and bolts and power tools involved…

bamboo planting 6




















And now the Hale is happily in its new home below the retaining wall, where it should be safe from strong winter winds…

bamboo planting 7












Luckily, I got it in the ground right before the temperatures dropped below freezing this weekend. Nothing like the last minute. Now I’d better get outside and move the remaining 4 yards of dirt. Oy.