Remember December 2015

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Hello. 2015 has been a very busy gardening year here at the new Fairegarden. At what point does the new garden become simply The Garden, one wonders? Let’s start that right now, for there is now an actual garden here. Shown above is a plant much beloved at the old garden (there will always be the old garden, for reference and nostalgia purposes), Calluna vulgaris ‘Firefly’. There are three of them in the front walk bed, still quite small but with great potential. They will grow to be about twenty-four by twenty-four inches unless pruned. Pruning helps keep them neater and fuller so when they get larger there will be some snip snipping.

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It is overcast and wet but the rain stopped long enough for these images to be captured. Looking out the windows the colors were still joyful as fall slides soon into winter. Some leaves remain, even some flowers are still in bloom and the grasses are erect if bowed by wetness. Juniperus virginiana ‘Blue Owl’ can get larger than desired for this design but is easily pruned while small. Eryngium yuccifolium from saved seeds scattered last winter produced a few blooms the first year. Lamb’s ear, Stachys byzantina has been spread about and is a vigorous grower. Great gobs of it have already been pulled out to make room for other plants. The Aster oblongifolius ‘October Skies’ should prove to be a worthy opponent. May the best plant win, but if things don’t look right, the arbiter will step in with the shovel. The pink muhly grass, Muhlenbergia capillaris is fading but still a frothy mass of beauty. This plot is the back of the bed behind the mailbox at curbside.

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Continuing in the mailbox bed, along the curbing is a trio of Cornus sanguinea ‘Midwinter Fire’ still holding their leaves. The stems will offer winter interest with hues of coral, red and gold. These shrubs were hardly a foot tall when planted and have grown at a surprising rate. They are expected to be four feet tall and wide with hard pruning every three years. We will see how that goes. Ground covers include grape hyacinths, Muscari armeniacum most likely. They were inherited at the old garden so we really don’t know but they are wonderful and spread rapidly by seed and bulblets. I wouldn’t be without them. The Japanese blood grass, Imperata cylindrica ‘Red Baron’ has been a little finicky to get going, but seems to have found its stride. This plant is listed as invasive in some places but it never has spread for us without me manually doing so. It is struggling here but alive. Violas and crocus will offer support in spring.

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Peering through the Cornus, the pink muhly can be seen. Harder to discern is the white flowered muhly, M. capillaris ‘White Cloud’ directly above the copyright symbol in the watermark. Only a couple of blooms were managed this year, but that is a hopeful sign since it never flowered at the old garden after the first year when it was bought in bloom. This shot shows pumpkins still sitting on the large boulders that were a Christmas present from The Financier last year.

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Evergreen foliage that is not green has been added along the front side bed that divides the property with our next door neighbor. A row of six Lavendula x intermedia ‘Provence’ have done well. Artemisia ‘Powis Castle’ still looks good as do the bobbles of yellow sheffie mum spent flower heads. Several Salvia greggiis, sedums and a variety of other perennials fill this portion, all planted just this spring and summer. We will stand back as it sorts itself out, editing as necessary.

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Pycnanthemum muticum, mountain mint clumps have been added to the wilder back areas of the front side bed. Planted directly into an unmown lawn were an assortment of the toughest of the tough perennials including many daylilies, ornamental grasses and stalwart wildflowers. This is no place for sissies, having to compete with well established lawn grass. We were glad to see some wild asters, goldenrod, ironweed and fleabane spring up and flower this year. Everything will be cut down by mowing or weed whacking in January. It is to be a lawn/meadow similar to what we had at the old garden. Click here to if you are interested in learning more.

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The very back of the front bed is to be a collection of small trees and shrubs. Dogwoods, willows, ninebarks, a blue atlas cedar are now joined by winterberry hollies. Ilex verticillata ‘Winter Gold’ will be planted in the cluster of I. ‘Winter Red’ and the male pollinator I. ‘Southern Gentleman’. A variety of Chamaecyparis will grow to brighten the area in front of the large pine trees that form the back property line. Or that is the vision, anyway.

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Let’s go through the gate into the back. These beds have not been shown on the blog much because they are still very much a work in progress, but progress has been made. Two small sections of boxwood hedging, Buxus ‘Wintergreen’, the same as we had at the old garden, some even from cuttings, line the nursery and lower nursery beds. Carex buchanii has been spread directly behind the boxwood for color and textural contrast. The most delightful and generous Alison of Bonney Lassie was so kind to send me packages of plants that included this Carex earlier to help get my new garden started. I am proud and pleased to say that everything you sent has taken hold nicely, Alison, and I cannot express my gratitude in words for your meaningful contribution to my gardens. XOXOXO

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Ordered on a whim while selecting some climbers for the fence was this climinging aster, A. carolinianus. Having never grown it before, I didn’t know what to expect. It turned out to be evergreen and very late blooming, covered in pinkish lavender flowers that fed the pollinators well after most everything else had been zapped by several freezes. Chamaecyparis thyoides ‘Red Star’ stands below in a large container. There are three such containers sitting on the gravel patio area between the shed and the fence, all with red stars.

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Dying daylily foliage is giving temporary but tempting color right now. Nothing has been cut down in the back gardens as the stalks and seedheads are assessed for strength and attractiveness.

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Among the best  are the Rudbeckia triloba, so far. Most of these have been pulled, none were actually planted. Seeds hidden in the soil of scores of plants that were potted up and brought from the old garden germinated and were a pleasant surprise this summer. They finished up and turned brown early in the season but are near the top of the list of those plants that die well, or as was once written, fading faire.

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Providing color, movement, height, texture and viewing pleasure are Miscanthus ‘Adagio’. We bought all they had late in the season at Home Depot last year and chopped them into many pieces. Most were planted in the lawn/meadow front side bed but four were added as anchors between the nursery and lower nursery in back. A board walk was fashioned out of home made bench tops during heavy rains in late 2014 to get across the two piles of planting mix and topsoil that were trucked in to make these beds. It worked out that there were just enough bench tops, fashioned from leftover decking boards to span the eleven feet width. They look kind of goofy but certainly work very well. Maybe a raised walk can be built in the future, but for now this one has sentimental and utilitarian value.

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There was a lone Helleborus orientalis planted in the nurseries, for the self seeding can overcome an area with babies and there were many other plants I wanted to try here. Ferns, geraniums, heucheras, spring ephemerals among many others were planted in the lower, wetter and shadiest portion. This is an experimental bed and the hellebore doesn’t really belong there, but it sure looks pretty right now.

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This has been fun, sharing what is happening as this garden develops its own personality. I hope to keep posting through the seasons. Gardens are never static but constantly changing. Just like the gardeners. The final shot is Spiraea ‘Magic Carpet’. This was another member of the old garden that was potted up and brought here. Old and new, silver and gold friends….ahhhhh.


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19 Responses to Remember December 2015

  1. There is so much to see in the garden each and every day of the year…I do appreciate your photos and the background information, it provides some great tips and suggestions for my own garden.

    Hi Charlie, thanks so much for reading! You have hit upon my reason for blogging, to share what I have learned with others so they can maybe find something to apply to their own garden.

  2. Barbara H. says:

    Oh how exciting – I made a fresh cup of coffee and sat down to go slowly through your post. I can tell I’ll have to go through it again – there’s a lot of information and lovely pictures, Frances. Inspired by you, I did plant two pink Muhly grass clumps in my front courtyard so I can enjoy them next year from either outside of inside. Have a wonderful December and New Year, Frances. I love seeing your posts.

    What a sweet comment, Barbara, thank you! This post was a little longer than most, it could have been much longer but this was all I had in me today. I am glad you were able to read it slowly, there is a lot more information than I had meant to write. Hearing about your pink muhly makes me so glad. I hope it gives you great joy!

  3. Marguerite says:

    Welcome, Frances to my Inbox. When I see “Fairegarden” ,I roll the red carpet out for you!! So glad to hear from you, especially since, just yesterday as I was poking around my garden, I was wondering what was doing in yours…. thank you so much for the report. These lovely photos are of the plants… was wondering, now that winter is upon us and the garden’s structure becomes more pronounced, how your garden’s “bones” are doing, the ones you worked so hard to establish as your first order of business when you moved. I’m sure the shed is nestled in now and the pleasures of your once new, now emergent garden are unfolding.

    Welcome to you, dear Marguerite, your sweetness brings me great joy! The garden bones still need to grow on a bit since the trees and shrubs planted were such small specimens. I try to envision them as larger when doing the surrounding planting, using annuals or smaller perennials. It’s a good thing I love to move plants. The shed, containers, gravel paths, fence and bed layout have all been done. It pleases me. Even the small plants look good. It is exciting to see how things will grow on and change.

  4. I love all your choices for so many reasons, and I’m glad to see your garden becoming established. That meadow will be sublime. I also have the Carolina aster, and I enjoy it very much.~~Dee

    Hi Dee, many thanks for stopping by. I have tried to be more selective with the plant choices, bringing the best of the best from the old garden and adding new things with forethought. There will have to be adjustments, of course, but the long term should mean less work and more enjoyment.

  5. Yes, it has become The Garden. And editing is the best part!

    Thanks, Kathy. It has become TG much sooner than expected, in front anyway. How plants will do is always a surprise, isn’t it?

  6. Ginny says:

    I can get lost in another place for a while as I peruse your blog. It’s charming. Thank you.

    Hi Ginny, thank you for your nice comment. Getting lost in garden photos is a wonderful pastime when the weather turns colder.

  7. Valerie says:

    Your new garden is coming along so nicely. I can see that you have put in some hard work into making it so special. V

    Hi Valerie, thanks for your support. It is hoped that the hardest work is behind us, us being my husband who has to do the big digging projects. The rest will be a perfect way to keep me occupied into my dotage. HA

  8. flowergirl3 says:

    I absolutely adore your gardens. I, too, read your blog very carefully, going back to the pictures again and again. You have made so much progress with your new garden. Your ability to start over with a clean slate and make such beautiful gardens inspires me to do my best with my own small gardens. I eagerly look forward to reading your posts and visiting your lovely gardens as they progress.

    Thank you so much, I do appreciate your kind words. Starting from scratch, meaning nothing but crabgrass lawn has been challenging but the gardens are coming along. I was forced to start again and resented it, but now the vision is becoming clearer. Small can be beautiful and I know your own gardens will be so.

  9. It was such fun reading about your garden Frances. It is really coming along nicely. I like all of your plants. That aster is one I have never heard of, is it a Southern plant? It will be interesting to see how your garden grows. I look forward to the next update.

    Hi Lisa, thanks for your loyal readership. The aster says zones 7a to 9b so that would be for the south, I guess. We are 7a here but it is planted against a south facing fence in gravel in a protected area. It survived last winter’s snow and ice with no damage at all, completely evergreen.

  10. indygardener says:

    I’m impressed by all you’ve planted so that the new garden is now the garden. You are an inspiration.

    High words of praise from a gardener such as yourself, Carol. Thank you. I have been a planting maniac but that should slow down now. A little.

  11. Sandra says:

    I’m physically not able to garden now, but I do love to dream that I can. Love your post.

    Hi Sandra, thanks for reading. I hope your dreams to garden come true someday. I had physical issues for the last two years with time spent in a wheelchair. I am better now, knock on wood, and am so very thankful to be gardening again, if somewhat diminished in ability. My best to you.

  12. You’ve made so much progress in a short time–very impressive! Your Dogwood shrubs are lovely. I was also impressed with your Mountain Mint. I’ve been thinking about adding that plant to my garden since I know the pollinators love it. Thanks for sharing your beautiful new garden!

    Hi Beth, thanks for stopping by! Midwinter Fire is one of the best colored twig dogwoods, I highly recommend it. The mountain mint is wonderful, very long season of interest but it can spread quite aggressively in garden soil. I had it in the lawn/meadow at the old house and it was perfect. It was planted in the nursery’s excellent loam and did so well that most of it has been moved to the new lawn/meadow where it can combat the crabgrass! The pollinators are mad for it.

  13. jsteppok says:

    I can’t believe how GREAT everything looks in such a short time ! Big time congrats 😃

    Thanks for those kind words!

  14. Rose says:

    Oh my, yes, this is definitely a garden, not the beginning of one! I so enjoy seeing all the different plants you’ve chosen and how you combine them all, Frances. The climbing aster is one I’ve never heard of before, but what a find! I do have Rudbeckia triloba, though, which suddenly appeared in my garden a few years ago and has made itself quite at home:) Looking forward to seeing updates on your garden through the coming months!

    Hi Rose, thanks for your continuing support! You are much appreciated. Choosing the plants is the fun part, even if they have to be grown from seed. R. triloba is a keeper, but I don’t actually keep all of them. It is so prolific. The climbing aster has been great. I am wondering how big it will get or if it needs to be cut back. Gardening is so full of surprises.

  15. Gail says:

    Hello dear. I love all the seedheads, fading foliage and golden grasses you’ve shared. Everything looks fantastic. Your Carolina aster is magnificent! I’ve killed it twice, but am going to try it again in the sunniest spot I have! xoxogail

    Hi Gail, thanks for visiting. Learning what looks good as it fades away, most everything it seems!, is a new aspect of gardening for me. Planting with how things die in mind, like the master Piet Oudolf, adds another season of interest. The climbing aster is in the hottest, sunniest, driest part of this yard and was not watered at all, one could call it benign neglect even. HA XOXOXO

  16. Kathy Sturr says:

    Such wonderful color in this new garden. A beautiful beginning. I love Cornus, Ilex … also have Winter Gold. Truly stunning in November when skies turn gray. I love the green and blue shades you have introduced to compliment the reds and golds. Decorating at its best!

    Hi Kathy, thanks for those kind words of encouragement. I am being mindful of foliage color, texture and form in this new garden. That is something not considered when the old garden was created. Doing so has certainly made this garden more interesting for a longer period of time. There’s always something new to learn, even after over 50 years of gardening.

  17. Michele says:

    So lovely to hear from you and get caught up with your garden. Thank you for sharing.

    Hi Michele, thanks for visiting!

  18. Vicki Jacobs says:

    What a wonderful surprise on this cool, gray December day. It is so good to watch your garden come alive and fade so gloriously. Great progress. Wishing you and yours peace and good health in the coming year.

    Hi Vicki, thanks for reading and the good wishes. I appreciate your interest in watching this new garden emerge from the lawn of crabgrass. May you and yours enjoy the holidays in peace and good health, as well.

  19. Now this garden is starting to look familiar! Does it have a name yet, or is it also Fairegarden? Glad to see that you’re pulling it all together. It takes time, doesn’t it?

    Hi Robin, thanks for visiting. This is also Fairegarden. I was thinking of adding something to differentiate it from the old garden but decided not to. This is now *home*. It has been over a year and it finally, but not completely feels familiar.

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