Thursday, June 14

Notes to Self: June

I originally started this blog in part because I had tried (and failed) to keep a faithful garden journal for two years in a row. So here's my little garden journal entry for the month of June--complete with pictures so I can see what exactly I am talking about when I review these notes later.

Note #1: I must remember that while not all flowers bloom exactly as advertised, some do. Modern plant marketing with all of its little white lies and spin did not exist in the early days of 'The Watchman' hollyhocks (reportedly grown by Jefferson at Monticello) so I should not be shocked that they actually turned out to be black.

And since I purposely planted black hollyhocks, I should not be disappointed that they aren't really dark purple. I hadn't realized just how much color and light the black flowers would suck up without something silvery or white--or good positioning, to take advantage of backlighting--to relieve their severity. Ah well, the foliage isn't up to my standards so I probably won't grow them again anyway... I'll just enjoy the flowers for right now and make sure that I catch them in the right light.

Note #2: WOW, does a little acidic color wake up an otherwise tranquil mix of blues and purples or what?! In the bed with the purple ninebark (which was labeled 'Diablo' but I suspect is actually 'Summerwine,' darn it!) my eye keeps being drawn down to the flowering lady's mantle. If only it kept flowering until the self-sowing purple amaranth and Russian sage grow big enough to add to the show.

Side note: And here I used regularly cut off the flowers on all of my alchemilla mollis because I didn't want them to obstruct the view of the beautiful, fuzzy leaves. Now I see what I must have been missing.

Note #3: Speaking of cutting off flowerheads, I've been rather lax with a few other perennials that I normally head off at the pass, too. The 'Purple Knockout' salvia lyrata is one such plant--probably the one plant that I should deadhead, as its blooms don't even have a real color. I find that I kind of like the way it combines with the lavender blooms, a nearby bronze sedge and California poppy seedlings to make the front garden look a little wild, though.

Another side note: 'Purple Knockout' really does glow in the late afternoon sun. I need to plant more red- and purple-leaf plants on the west side of my house to take advantage of that jewel tone look.

Note #4: When it comes time to plant garlic in the fall, I have to figure out a way to use it a bit more artfully. Maybe it needs to be in more of a strict layout instead of messy-looking clumps. This fall, I think I'm going to plant it to form snaking lines of greenish blue accent foliage instead of grouping it in clumps like you see here.

Of course, this bed will be livened up when the self-sown purple amaranth seedlings grow up a bit more... and maybe I'll change my mind about the garlic then. We'll see.

On the last side note: The goatsbeard (aruncus sinensis 'Zweiweltenkind') seriously lightens up this bed on the east side of my house when it's in flower. The dark rhodie leaves look particularly handsome breaking up the single plants (in front and to its right) from the larger clump of 4 plants you can kind of see beyond the rhododendron.

That's all the notes for June. I hope to review them myself in July, and have more observations to share next month, too. More observations will mean that I've been spending more time in my garden! :)


Anonymous said...

re: 'acid color'. I have a friend who once counseled never to grow a plant that looks sick when it's healthy. I'm a sucker for any plant that looks like it's nitrogen deficient. I've got a tradescantia that's a particular favorite. Sometime I'll have to go around and shoot them all.

Alchemilla is also one of my favorites. But watch out if you're leaving the flowers. It likes to seed around.

Goatsbeard is another favorite. I have it along the west end of the driveway where it can often be viewed when backlit or in low light. The flowers almost seem to glow.

Anonymous said...

I love that 'Notes to self'...can I borrow that? Yesterday I saw a container (did not post picture) of a fabulous combination of fuschia which was a regular old geranium-pelargonium-Purple leaf heuchera and acid yellow coleus and it was stunning! Next container combo? You bet! Love Lady's mantle and it looks great in a bouquet!

Colleen Vanderlinden said...

I have nothing to add other than to say that everything is looking really gorgeous! I'm also happy to hear that the 'Black Watchman' is really as dark as the description said it was. With flowers like that, I can't wait until next year when I get to see mine in bloom! While you're saying you won't grow it again because the foliage isn't what you'd hoped, I'm saying "Give me those blooms!"

meresy_g said...

Oh, I like the black watchman. And it isn't really black. You can see in your picture that its a really dark red. I think it is striking and something you rarely see. I love the goatsbeard in front of the rhododendron. It really stands out. That purple knockout is really swell too. I have a small area on the west side of the house that nothing much wants to grown in, and might look great with all that red foliage. Is it fussy? As far as garlic, I've found that garlic doesn't like to be crowded and my smallest bulbs resulted from being too close to other plants, so you might want to reserve a little area somewhere where you can just plant them in soldier rows.

All your beds are so well thought out and nicely put together.

Unknown said...

Craig, I'm grinning over your friend's words of wisdom. :) Thank you for your advice on the self-seeding alchemilla mollis, too--I had heard about that long ago, I think, but had forgotten.

Is that the 'Sweet Kate' spiderwort that you are talking about? I would love to see a "real" picture of it instead of just the plant advertising stuff! And I'm with you on the goatsbeard. The clump in front of my picture window catches the early morning light very nicely.

layanee, "steal" away. I want to borrow your "View from the Windows" idea in return, though! That combination sounds lovely--you have an eye for good containers.

Colleen, I think you'll love it in your cottage garden! By the way, guess what... I went to go throw out my failed winter sowing containers yesterday and I found: A 'Cinderella' asclepias! YAY!

meresy_g, the salvia lyrata is on the west side of my house. This one is a little larger than the other two (which were small Bluestone Perennials purchases in early '06) but I don't know if that's because it's stayed in its spot for a year and half or because it gets a bit more sun. None of them are fussy at all, though. Btw, I'm going to be doing a post on west-side-of-the-house gardens soon. It really is a tough place!

Thanks for the tips on the garlic and crowding issues, too. I think that I will either plant more than I need (to compensate for smaller heads at harvest time) or mark out some lines for them now where they won't be too covered by other plants.

A wildlife gardener said...

What a beautiful garden you have! Lots of texture and colour contrast. The black hollyhocks are amazing, aren't they? We have some growing up the front of our porch. I'm looking forward to these later in the summer, when the weather is warmer than the measly 8 degrees we have today!

Yolanda Elizabet Heuzen said...

It's all looking lovely Kim and I'm glad you decided not to cut off the flower stems of the alchemilla anymore, but let it flower instead. Do you know that after it has finished flowering you should give it a severe haircut and cut off all the flowers AND all the leaves? Not to worry, within a week or 2 the leaves are back and the plant will flower a second time and give a lots of acidity on the colour front. ;-)

lisa said...

I really like that hollyhock! Funny, I started my blog for the same reason-keep track of what I'm doing, and make some friends with similar "afflictions", of course!

Unknown said...

That hollyhock is fabulous! As always, I really love the mix of foliage color and texture you work into your garden too.

Unknown said...

Sorry for the slow responses... I was out of town on business for the past three days. This wasn't a surprise trip or anything, just one about which I conveniently forgot to think about and plan for until the last minute. :)

wildlife gardener, those hollyhocks really are growing on me, I admit. I went through and ripped off the worst of the rust-decimated leaves, and I think that helps! Hope it warms up a bit for you there soon.

yolanda elizabet, I actually do remember reading about that before, but the leaves never seemed to get too ratty on mine so I didn't bother with cutting back the whole thing. Now that you reminded me it may bloom again, though... :)

tiffany, thanks for stopping by! I'm deleting your comment only because you included your email address in it--don't want any of those nasty trawlers to find it and put you on spam lists. But I will email you.

lisa, why must you refer to them as "afflictions?!" You say that like we have a problem or something! ;) lol.

Clare, thank you. That compliment really does make me feel a little better about my lack of flowers. Silly to feel a little inadequate because of that when I really do love the way my garden is, I know... I'll have to work on overcoming that.

MrBrownThumb said...


I grew (probably) the same black hollyhocks this year. I didn't know what their name was or that they were grown by Jefferson.

I also had a double form of the black hollyhocks that I thought was particularly spectacular. I posted picks of both after a long wait because I couldn't get the right color in the picture that I saw in person in the late evenings when the sun wasn't as harsh.

Hopefully you grow them again, because I'm a little broken hearted that they're already done blooming. But at least I have seeds!

btw did you get some weird beetle-like bugs on yours?

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