aspenhill's blog

Annual FSK Iris Society Sale
Posted on Jul 21, 2019 6:56 AM

Yesterday I went to the local FSK Iris Society sale. It is held annually on the third Saturday of July and it is an event that my friend Jill and I have been going to since the 2008 timeframe. Some years we make it, some years we don't, but it is always something to look forward to. It doesn't look like much, being set up under a canopy with several folding tables in the parking lot of a nursery, but the selection is nice. Actually it is kind of deceiving that they are able to get so many in that space and the prices are great. It is mostly bearded iris, but they always have a few non bearded iris (Louisiana, Japanese, Siberian, Species) too. This year the selection of non bearded was just as extensive as the bearded.

I've probably written a blog post before about my passion for collections. I don't know why, but my two favorite parts of gardening are design ideas and collecting different cultivars of favorite plants, not necessarily two things that go hand in hand. Trying to fit so many different cultivars into an overall pleasing design can be a challenge, but it is a challenge that I embrace. Iris falls into the collection category for me. Thanks to the annual iris society sale and one very memorable day trip excursion to an iris farm in West Virginia, my iris collection has steadily grown. I just looked at my records, and my individual iris cultivars now tops 110+.

From the design aspect, most of the bearded iris are in a staging bed with the intent to relocate them to garden areas once I see what they truly look like in bloom. I want to match up pleasing color combinations and simultaneous bloom periods before I set them out in what will be their permanent location. Sad to say that years and years go by without actually getting to it except for onesies and twosies here and there. As always, so many ideas and so many good intentions when plans are made at the beginning of each gardening season. Then the reality of the time it takes to do everything sets in and the plans left undone stay on the to do list awaiting the next season. And so it goes. It didn't stop me from purchasing more iris yesterday though. I ended up with 12 new bearded cultivars and 12 new non bearded cultivars Green Grin!

Oh, I also spotted a shrub in full bloom near the entranceway of the nursery where the iris sale canopy was set up. I really don't have much of anything blooming this time of year so I NEEDED it. Some kind of Clethra Thumbs up

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Deer Damage Assessment
Posted on Jul 17, 2019 2:59 PM

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I have a love/hate relationship with deer. They are pretty creatures and who can resist the cuteness of a fawn, but I wish they would leave my gardens alone!!! Mike and I saw this fawn a few weeks ago as we were driving down our lane. It was obviously a newborn, still wobbly on its legs, and its instinct when it saw us was to drop down in place as flat as it could get. Its mother stood as still as a statue somewhat camoflauged in the ferns.

After a two week hiatus from the gardens nursing an absolutely miserable summer cold, I finally had enough energy to do a walkabout. Over the last two years I've steadily been removing plants from my gardens that the deer find irresistible, but I was surprised at the plants that they are going after that have previously been left alone. On the list now are mock oranges, japanese anemones, toad lilies, lily of the valley, and recently purchased annuals that I was using in containers - english ivy, caladiums, and a beautiful double impatiens. I've not been finding perennials that bloom this time of year that the deer leave alone. So far the only one is thalictrum. Roses, daylilies, and oriental lilies that should be blooming this time of year continue to be ravaged by the deer and I haven't made up my mind yet whether to start eliminating them or not. Heavy sigh. I have been toying with the idea of building cages to enclose some of the plants that I would love to keep, but I'm debating whether it is better visually to see cages and have blooms or to just give up on those plants altogether. I'll try an experiment at some point and then make up my mind after seeing it.

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The Stumpery on Summer Solstice
Posted on Jun 21, 2019 1:58 PM

I think the pairing of a stumpery and the summer solstice somehow go hand and hand. They both conjure up a bit of medieval folklore to me. I'm finally getting started on "The Stumpery" after several years of dreaming about it. I first heard of a stumpery from Annie (Lysmachiamoon) when she was creating one in her gardens. It sounded so mysterious and ancient. I started googling about it and after finding out more about what it was, I knew I wanted to create one too. I decided to put it on the path that goes between my house and Bonnie's cottage. We both walk that path every day so we will be able to see it and enjoy it often. I picked out a spot that had several decayed stumps and logs there already, dragged one that I could manage by hand from about fifty feet away, and started clearing out limb debris that I didn't want to keep there. There are five stumps out in the woods that I have my eye on, but I need Mike to get them with the forks on the tractor or rubber tired loader. Over the last two years I collected a few pieces of garden art that fit the theme and they are now placed. Today I planted the first of what I hope will be many ferns and other stumpery themed perennials. I got seven pass along Japanese painted ferns last weekend from Sally (donnerville) and I know they will do well there. Goodness knows that I have more than what I can maintain already, but oh do I love new projects!!!

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Quick Snaps
Posted on Jun 18, 2019 9:51 AM

Just a few quick cell phone snaps from my gardens. Every once in a while a planting combination or scheme that I actually planned turns out exactly as I envisioned.

Begonias adding all summer color in the shade in the Lemon Garden.
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Monarda 'Purple Dragon' filling in after initial planting last year. That area had been filled with tall garden phlox for many years, but the deer found it to their liking and started decimating it a few years ago. Even though it kept re-emerging each season, by mid summer each plant was stripped of flowers and leaves, looking really pathetic. The monarda is similar in height and form, but the deer don't eat it. The cultivar 'Purple Dragon' had great reviews regarding resistance to powdery mildew too.
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My annual planting of a container collection of mints. Love the look of the pot color and style with the stonework of the parking area. The pots are fiber-resin type material, were fairly cheap, and have held up to the weather nicely.
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Clematis 'Diamantina' in the cottage garden by the side door entry into the house along with one of my garden plaques.
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Japanese Stiltgrass - Ugh!!!
Posted on Jun 12, 2019 3:25 AM

Japanese Stiltgrass

It seems like I'll never get on top of this obnoxious weed. It really tries to take over everywhere. I spend hours and hours, days on end, weeding the garden areas. My goal is to get as much done as I can before it sets seed in August. The information that I've read about it indicates that the seeds can remain viable in the ground for about five years though. One of the recommendations is to use a pre-emergent herbicide such as Preen, and another is to use mulch to exclude light from the soil to keep it from germinating. For eradicating the stiltgrass right now, I'll spray it where it has creeped into the open woodland areas, but it is mostly hand weeding in all the garden beds. It does pull out easily, but oh soooooo tedious. I'm putting a thick layer of mulch down after weeding and then I will use Preen where I can late winter/early spring. I started tackling 'Camelia Corner' a few days ago, spent a solid six or eight hours on it, can't remember now, and got less than half done. I switched to something else for a few days just to break the monotony, but I'll work on it again today if the weather cooperates.

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