Monthly Archives: June 2009

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Up until last week, every time I looked at my mockorange, I wondered why I would have planted such a bush so prominently right next to the greenhouse door. The bush looked like nothing more than a blob of greenery, a not especially graceful blob of greenery.

This week I did an about-face on my mockorange; I’m enthralled with it as it sits there draped in large, lily-white, semi-double flowers. And if those flowers weren’t enough just to look at, they fill the air with a most delicious, fresh scent that is vaguely reminiscent of orange blossoms.

Mine is not just any old mockorange. It’s a named variety, perhaps Flora Plena. Blossoms on run-of-the-mill mock oranges open earlier and are smaller and have single rows of petals.

It’s sad, but I know I won’t be looking fondly upon my mockorange again in another week or so. …

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I have some of the nicest volunteers in my garden this year. A few of them are people, many of them are plants, and one of my favorites – among the plants, that is – is columbine. Years ago, I planted some native columbines, those dainty plants whose orange and yellow flowers hover on thin stalks above the ferny foliage. Since being planted, these wildings self-seed – volunteer, that is — every year in various nooks and crannies around my yard.

I once also planted cultivated columbines, probably the common McKana Giants, and their offspring have also been volunteering around the yard as well. Flowers and foliage of these more cultivated sorts are similar to the natives, just bigger in all respects, which is not necessarily better, just different.

Colors of these larger columbines are different from that of the natives. My original McKana Giants were mixed colors both between …

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EARLY JUNE GARDEN

I know that wallflower is a plant, but my wallflower is acting just like a wallflower, the human kind. It’s one plant, sitting there all alone in the bed atop my stone retaining wall among lots of fritillary, peony, anise hyssop, and snow-in-summer plants.

Still, the plant is very unwallfloweresque in broadcasting its presence with egg-yolk orange flowers that practically jump out (visually) amongst its more subdued neighbors. The flowers have the sweet scent for which wallflowers are so famous, although I have to admit they smell to me too much like baby powder, which is fine on a baby but not on a flower.

It’s not my fault that my wallflower is a wallflower. Last year I sowed many seeds and ended up planting out a slew of plants, so my one plant was supposed to have …

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May 21, 2009

For a day every week or so, my yard smells like salad dressing. No, I’m not getting the lettuce dressed while it’s still out in the garden. Yes, that smell is vinegar. For the past few years, regular strength vinegar, straight up, has provided nontoxic (except to sprayed weeds), sustainable, “green” weed control on the edges of beds, in paths, and on my brick terrace.

I specify “regular strength” vinegar because our USDA has also been looking into vinegar as weedkiller. On the theory that if a little of something is good, a lot must be better, USDA research focuses on using more concentrated solutions of vinegar – even 20%. Those more concentrated solutions are more effective but you have to be very careful using that stuff. It burns. I’ll stick with salad dressing strength 6% solution.

A couple of benign …

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