A Gardening Year

The adventures and misadventures of an heirloom gardener

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

More Tulip Hits & Misses

I’m glad that I planted so many new tulips last fall. Not all of them turned out as well as I had hoped but I love all the color in my yard. Like most gardeners, I’m already planning what I’ll be planting and where next fall.

The white lily flower tulips have opened in the Entry Garden. They are even more underwhelming than the pink. None of the tulips I planted in that bed for last year came back. However, I’ve noticed that the Darwin hybrid tulips that I planted years ago in other beds are still making annual appearances. I’m going to keep the pastel color scheme in the Entry Garden, but use Darwin hybrids instead. The only problem I can foresee is that they bloom early in the tulip season. I will have to look for something to bridge the gap until the peonies and iris bloom.

The second type of tulip that makes up the “Purple Dreams” collection in the Purple Garden has opened. It’s Attila and a real looker. I can’t wait for the Shirley tulips to complete this group.

I couldn’t resist including another photo of the wonderful Darwin hybrids that look so spectacular with the iris in the Butterfly/Hummingbird Bed. I’m definitely going to plant more of these in the fall.

I had high hopes for the Parrot tulips that I had planted in the border along the Ugly Green Fence. My hopes have been dashed. So far only this pink and a few whites have opened.

They have not had the impact that I had hoped for against the dark green of the fence. I’m not sure if it’s the flowers themselves or if I planted too few. Perhaps they would stand out more if I had planted more and massed them, rather then arranging them in separate groups.

In addition to changing the types of tulips I plant, I’d like to change the way I plant them. I realized this spring that the reason the daffodils in my yard look so good is that they have been growing and multiplying for years. I have to start planting bulbs in larger quantities. I’m calling it The Carol Look.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Jack Makes His Debut

We are having one of the driest Aprils ever. The ground is like concrete making it impossible to weed. The Jack Frost Brunnera doesn’t seem to mind. It has come up and is now flowering despite intense competition from weeds. Definitely worth every penny that I paid for it.

Never Assume - Part 2

As you may recall, I have been employing new weapons and tactics in my war against the local squirrels. The squirrels, in turn, have become more sophisticated. Through the use of surveillance, accurate mapping and weather prediction, they were able to completely wipe out a bed of allium. Or were they?

This little gem greeted me this morning. As I admired it, I found myself wondering. Did the Death Squad assigned to this bed miss a bulb? Or are they merely taunting me?

Old Friends & New Friends

No, I didn’t play with the color in PhotoShop. They really are that intensely red. I loved these last year, their first year in my garden. I love them even more this year after they returned and multiplied. I planted more of them last fall, but not all of them came up. The ones that did are lagging behind the originals.

Right next door are the species tulips which also appear to have multiplied.

And next door to them, more intense color. I don’t think I’ve ever seen violets this purple in my yard before. It’s almost as if the drought has brought the best in them.

I don’t remember what these were called. I planted them in the fall of 2005. I just love the yellow stripe around the trumpet.

Remember the Darwin Hybrid Tulips that I ordered and when they arrived, couldn’t remember where I wanted to plant them? Ta da!! Don’t they look great next to the Iris Bucharica? Okay, I’ll fess up. I didn’t actually plan this. I knew that the iris was there and tried not to disturb it while planting the tulips, but I had no idea that they would bloom together and look great together.

I have to get more of these Tahiti daffodils! And find another place for my wintersowing containers. They definitely spoiled the esthetics of this bed.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Green Thumb Sunday


Hiking at Hacklebarney State Park

Gardeners, Plant and Nature lovers can join in every Sunday, visit As the Garden Grows for more information.

Tulip Mania

The tulips are beginning to bloom. Some disappointing, others breathtaking. Among the disappointing are the first of the lily-flowered tulips.

I was hoping for tall and stately. These are nothing to write home about. I’m happy about the little rosebush in the corner. It’s a Therese Bugnet that I though died last year. I left it in place and suddenly it has come back to life. Gotta love those tough old heirlooms.

The squirrels/rabbits are falling down on the job.

More colors from the this collection are showing up. I’m not sure that I like the orange/red with the lavender.

Here’s something to get excited about:

I was very disappointed with these Peppermint Stick tulips last year. They have returned and multiplied. I love it!

A Zurel tulip, part of the “Purple Dreams” collection:

Oh, yes. Definitely dreamy.

Here’s an unplanned combination that worked out well.

Lunaria and Thalia daffodils.

In fact, I really like how the lunaria looks against the Ugly Green Fence.

The iris Bucharica gets better every day.

Yes, that’s a beheaded tulip. No, I’m not sure who is doing the beheading.

The hellebores just won’t quit.

I wish I had some other colors, though. They do come in other colors, right?

And the “Flower of the Day” award goes to . . .

Fritillaria meleagris aka Guinea Hen Flower. Only one or two came up last year. This year there are more. I’m hoping for more flowers also.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Hiking at Hacklebarney

I had an opportunity today to explore what was once described as the most beautiful park in New Jersey, Hacklebarney State Park. It had been suggested that I wear my hiking boots. A glance at the website told me that it was no exaggeration.

Our hike started out innocuously enough.

Um, okay. So where is the steep ravine? The rushing river? The glacial morain?

Found it!

Click on the above photo to enlarge. Note the size of the boulders compared to the people.

Despite the hot weather (80F, 27C) I’m glad I wore my hiking boots. Because the trail went from this:

To this:

To this:

Yes, that is a “trail”.

There were lots of wildflowers and plants along the way.

Skunk Cabbage


Jack in the Pulpit




I know, it’s not a plant but I thought it was really neat.

The views along the river were spectacular.

We couldn’t resist the lure of the river. We ate our lunch on a boulder in the middle of the rushing waters.

I took off my boots and socks and dangled my hot feet in the cold, glacial stream.

After lunch, we explored all five miles of trails, clambering over rocks along the river and up and down the sides of the ravine.

The rugged beauty captivated us.

You can see more photos of our hike on Flickr.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Daffodil Mania

The daffodils seem to be peaking now. More of the Tahiti daffodils have opened.

I really like them now that they are fully open.

Here’s a disappointment:

Geranium daffodils. They are heirlooms from 1930. The cups are supposed to be orange.

Never a disappointment, Actaea daffodils.

Developed in the 1920’s, this is the flower that turned me on to heirloom flowers.

The Thalia daffodils along the Ugly Green Fence are doing much better this year than past years.

The Fortissimo daffodils just keep getting better.

As do the iris Bucharica.

I raked out that bed twice already! Where are the leaves coming from?

My favorite Red Riding Hood tulips are back.

But only the original ones. The ones I planted last fall still haven’t made up their minds if they are going to grace us with their presence or not.

I love unintended combinations that turn out particularly well. Birds probably planted this lunaria in front of my house.

It looks well with the Darwin hybrid tulips that come back year after year and the grape hyacinths that multiply every year.

Even my neighbor’s trees are beautiful at this time of year before they have completely leafed out and shading my yard.