Perennials: A Picturesque Portrait

Breathes there anyone with a soul so dead,

Who would not admire a perennial bed?

Most of us start gardening too late in life. When we are young and sprightly, we have too many other interests. The middle years are taken up with furthering our careers and/or raising families, so that by the time we should be hitting our stride, our stride has turned into a totter; bones are creaking and backs are aching. The spirit might be willing, but the knees are weak. However, it’s never too late to start. Procrastinating about doing a project is like looking at a wheelbarrow; nothing will happen until we start pushing.

Planning a Large New Border:

Study the photos in gardening books then choose the layout and the plants you most admire within them. Like Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot, we must use the “little grey cells” in order to choose the best plants. Picture this large border as a stage and like Cecil B. de Mille you’ll soon be directing a cast of hundreds.

Digging:

Roses are reddish,

Violets are bluish,

But they won’t grow in soil that’s glueish!

Gardening is 10% preparation and 90% perspiration; most of the latter comes from digging.

  1. Make sure the soil is soaked but not soggy.
  2. The tines of the fork should go in the full length. Large clumps should be broken up with the back of the fork or spade.
  3. Spread large amounts of compost, peat, and manure then dig again. The soil will become friable. (For a vivid example of this, read page 39 of Too Late for Regrets.)

Planting:

Place the plants in the area where the holes are to be dug. Move them around until you’re happy with the result. Container plants bought from the nursery might have become rootbound; tease out some of the roots and spread them out before planting. Water thoroughly, and make sure that any weeds appearing are eradicated promptly.

Sun-Loving Perennials

  • Aurinia (Basket of Gold) – low growing, mid-spring
  • Rock Cress (Arabis) – showy racemes of pure white, late spring. Ideal for rock gardens.
  • Centranthus Ruber (Jupiter’s Beard) – has upright stems bearing fluffy clusters of pink flowers. 2 feet, needs staking.
  • Rudbeckia (Goldsturm) – Black-eyed Susan. Stunning orange flowers with a black center. Shasta daisy makes a spectacular splash of white, mid-summer.
  • Coreopsis (Tickseed) – “Early Sunrise,” “Sunray,” charming yellow flowers at the end of wiry stems, 1-2 feet
  • Heliopsis (Helianthus) – False sunflower, long blooming, 2-3 feet. Plant at rear.
  • Phlox Paniculata (Garden Phlox) – “Eva Cullum,” exquisite clusters of deep pink flowers on sturdy stems, stake. 2 feet, mid-late summer.
  • Aster Frikartii – lilac daisy-like flowers, late summer
Kniphofia (Red Hot Poker)

Kniphofia (Red Hot Poker)

Stacys 1.5 Feet, Upright Stems

Stacys 1.5 Feet, Upright Stems

Achillea (Yarrow) "Paprika"

Achillea (Yarrow) “Paprika”

Aster Novae-Angliae

Aster Novae-Angliae

Sandwort, Early Summer, Low Growing

Sandwort, Early Summer, Low Growing

A Well-Planned Perennial Bed

A Well-Planned Perennial Bed

Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia)

Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia)

Glorious Roses – Part Two

The following roses can be added to the list of desirable roses.

In harsher climates, the rose fancier should limit choices to the hardier varieties. For example, Canadian roses.

Some gardeners prefer own root roses as they develop deeper root systems. The disadvantage is that they will be smaller than container-grown roses, but in time own root varieties will become stronger.

Aphids:

These annoying pests can be dealt with by relying on the gardener’s best friend, the ladybug. If there is a paucity of them in the garden, they can be purchased in mesh bags from the nursery. The bags should be kept out of the sun until the late afternoon; this is the best time to scatter them. They will go to work immediately with amazing efficiency.

Another–though tedious–method is to rub the buds and stems of the plants gently between forefinger and thumb. This will dislodge and squash the pests, giving the gardener much satisfaction.

"Winnipeg Parks"

“Winnipeg Parks”

Pink "Touch of Class"

Pink “Touch of Class”

Climber, creamy, white "Sally Holmes"

Climber, creamy, white “Sally Holmes”

Musk rose "Ballerina"

Musk rose “Ballerina”

Yellow "Sunsprite" and pink "Simplicity"

Yellow “Sunsprite” and pink “Simplicity”

Why Latin is Important

Latin is a dead language,

As dead as dead can be;

It killed the Ancient Romans,

And now it’s killing me! 

Using botanical names is important. Without them, the gardening world would become like the Tower of Babel. Common names can vary from region to region, but Latin is the unifying language. Making the effort to study botanical names has its benefits. For example, when you’re in a group of frighteningly erudite and knowledgeable gardeners and “Helenium autumnale” lightly trips off your tongue. It beats “sneezeweed” hands down.

There was a French gardener, Monique,

Whose English and Latin was weak,

She bought plants quite wrong, they didn’t last long,

Mon Dieu, were those tags all in Greek?

Pictured below are lovely photos of perennials. Their botanical names are quite a mouthful, but take the weekend to learn them! Otherwise, you’ll end up like poor Monique!

What are some of your favorite Latin phrases that can be thrown into casual conversation?

"Helenium autumnale, heliopsis helianthoides"

“Helenium autumnale, heliopsis helianthoides”

"Sedum spectabile, rudbeckia fulgida"

“Sedum spectabile, rudbeckia fulgida”

"Heliopsis helianthoides"

“Heliopsis helianthoides”

Annuals – Gems of the Garden

To plant is human–to succeed is divine. 

Annuals are indispensable for filling in gaps between perennials. They are obliging plants and will bloom until the first frost.

Gertrude Jekyll, doyenne of English gardeners, introduced an imaginative way of using annuals; she arranged annuals within the same color wheel. For example, she used various tints of blue and purple, or different shadings of pink. (See Victoria’s border “Pink Magic” in Too Late for Regrets, page 251.)

A circle around a tree or birdbath can be stunning.

The phrase “be fruitful and multiply” in the Book of Genesis applies to perennials; annuals, on the other hand, complete their entire life cycle in one year, focusing all their energy into making seeds, which is why deadheading is important in prolonging the flowering period.

While the blooming period of perennials is three or four weeks, annuals bloom more quickly and for a longer time. Although their stay in the garden is ephemeral, it’s brilliant while it lasts.

In colder climates, annuals brought from the cozy environment of the nursery should be hardened off for a few days before being planted. For example, one should bring them indoors at night. If perennials are the batter of the cake, economizing on compost is like leaving out the eggs or sugar in a recipe.

Annuals are the fastest way to achieve color. When the season ends one can sigh, “The annuals have ended, but the memory lingers on.”

Impatiens, begonias encircle a tree

Impatiens, begonias encircle a tree

Dwarf snapdragons, lobelia erinus and alyssum.

Dwarf snapdragons, lobelia erinus and alyssum.

Alyssum in a container, spill over in a pretty cascade.

Alyssum in a container, spill over in a pretty cascade.

Cosmos bipinnatus and zinnias fill in gaps between perennials.

Cosmos bipinnatus and zinnias fill in gaps between perennials.

Gloriosa daisy (rudbeckia hirta).

Gloriosa daisy (rudbeckia hirta).

Birdbath surrounded by flowering impatiens.

Birdbath surrounded by flowering impatiens.

Too Late for Regrets For Sale at Boulder Book Store

Thanks to readily accessible self-publishing services and independent publishing companies, having your e-book featured on multiple online platforms is now a viable option for all aspiring authors. But there is something very exciting about seeing your work featured on a bookshelf–a physical bookshelf!

Thank you to Boulder Book Store in Boulder, CO for featuring Too Late for Regrets in their Recommended section. If you won’t be making your way to Boulder to ski this season, you can also order a physical copy on their website (link below)!

http://www.boulderbookstore.net/9780692229668

TLFR Bookshelf 2TLFR Bookshelf 3

Glorious Roses

Ask not for whom the roses bloom,

Climbing pink "America" and red "Champlain"

Climbing pink “America” and red “Champlain”

they bloom for thee.

English Roses

English Roses

Christmas is around the corner: the season of good cheer, excess, and the opening of gifts (MORE STUFF!). After the last guest has departed, why not collapse on your bed with a handful of rose catalogs, pen and paper in hand and choose the roses you want to plant in the next coming year. In Colorado, it’s wiser to wait until all danger of frost is past before planting.

The photos will whet the appetite and serve as an inspiration to anyone who has ever wanted to enter the wonderful world of this garden aristocrat–the rose.

Climbing Rose

Climbing Rose

Tips for Roses 

  • Prepare the planting with plenty of compost and manure.
  • Provide adequate water; approximately one inch per week.
  • Fertilize 1st of May, 1st of June, 1st of August

Recommended Roses:

English Roses – “Gertrude Jekyll,” “Graham Thomas,” “Abraham Darby”

Floribundas – “Iceberg,” “Carefree Wonder,” “Betty Prior”

Musk Rose – “Ballerina”

Canadian Roses – “Morden Blush,” “William Baffin”

Yellow "Graham Thomas"

Yellow “Graham Thomas”

The problem with growing roses is that no matter how many one has, it’s never enough. Like Oliver Twist, we want more. At the nursery, it’s better to entertain the idea of buying another rose than to actually buy it. But what the hell–as the Duchess of Windsor always said, “Nobody can be too thin or be too rich–or have too many roses.”

For more leisurely reading about roses, see Too Late for Regrets page 251!

Pink Gertrude Jekyll

Pink Gertrude Jekyll

Climbing Rose - Red Blaze

Climbing Rose – Red Blaze

Gardening Tips of the Week

  1. When buying annuals, perennials, or vegetables, avoid leggy or wilted plants. inexperienced gardeners will be disappointed at their lack of success; disgruntled, they will rush back to the nursery with their pathetic purchases, their dismay matched only by the gloom of the sellers.
  2. To prevent squirrels or other miscreants from digging up newly planted bulbs, throw a few mothballs into the planting hole.
  3. A pair of kitchen scissors is a useful garden tool. Deadheading, decapitating copulating slugs, digging out shallow rooted weeds and cutting string are among their many uses.
  4. Tie a colored ribbon around your small tools; if you lose them in the unmown grass, they’ll be easier to find.
  5. If you are stung by a bee or hornet and are allergic to them, elevate the limb and apply ice packs to the area. Contact your doctor.
  6. Please yourself; that way you’ll be sure of pleasing at least one person.
  7. Livening up inexpensive clay pots. Wipe the exterior of the pot with a damp cloth. Attach masking tape vertically to make as many stripes as you want. Paint the entire pot white (including tape). When the paint is dry, remove tape. The result will be a white pot with perfectly straight orange stripes. Plant with either boxwood or with annuals or perennials of the same color. Line several of these pots against a wall or along a path for a striking look.
    Healthy alyssum and petunias.

    Healthy alyssum and petunias.

    Vibrant flowers surround a fountain.

    Vibrant flowers surround a fountain.

    Great choices make for healthy flowers.

    Great choices make for healthy flowers.

    Potential DIY project for the spring - decorating a simple clay pot!

    Potential DIY project for the spring – decorating a simple clay pot!