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Friday Favorite: Plume Poppy

May 25th, 2018

Two years ago I spotted a plume poppy (MACLEAYA) in the gardens at Shelburne Farms in Vermont. I didn’t know what it was at the time and spent a bit of time searching to no avail. I was struck by the size of the plant and how delicate it was despite its towering nature.

Fast forward to last summer, I spotted this plant in the gardens at Fieldstone Gardens when we were there visiting. Naturally, I purchased one and planted it in the nursery area of the back garden. Since I now knew the name, I did some research on favorable conditions and the nature of the plant (is it thuggish or invasive, etc). One of the great features of this plant is that it’s a perennial so it dies back to the ground during the winter. Than can make it a valuable plant in areas with lots of snow.

While it does spread by runner, I’ve both read and heard that it’s easy to pull up the side shoots to limit spread (once a season suffices according to most sources). Mine has tripled in size in a year, which is actually great because I want it to be a large plant and take up a large space. With the vast nature of the gardens here at Chiot’s Run, we welcome plants that can spread, grow large, and take up a decent amount of garden real estate. I’m also always looking for giant wonders to add height to the garden.

Have you ever spotted a plant in a garden and spent a year or two trying to find out what it was?

Here She Comes

May 24th, 2018

I’ve been waiting and watching to see if my copper birch leafed out this spring. It’s planted in the main garden for now, waiting for a spot to be prepared for it in the pasture. I first fell in love with copper beeches when I visited Longwood Garden 15 or more years ago.

I’ve been looking for one for quite a while, at least one that wasn’t ridiculously expensive. Last summer, I found one at Fieldstone Gardens.

After watching all the local native beeches leaf out, I was wondering if my little copper beach was going to leaf out or die. One day I looked and saw one leaf popping out, the next day it was almost fully leafed out. This summer I’ll be preparing a place of honor for it in the garden. It will become a specimen tree, planted in a spot all to itself where it can grow to its full glory. Now that we’ve lived here for a while, it’s time to start adding specimen trees as focal points throughout the garden. This tree will take years and years to grow old and stately. No doubt it will be around long after I’m gone.

What’s your favorite tree?

New Plant: Sweet Woodruff

May 23rd, 2018

I’ve been looking for a few small groundcover type plants to add under the big apple tree. Years ago, I spotted sweet woodruff growing as a groundcover under large trees and filed it away in the back of my brain. When I was at a greenhouse recently, I spotted one for a few dollars.

Often, when I’m thinking of adding plants to the garden, I purchase one and watch it for a year. Plants can be pretty specific about their likes and it’s always good to watch one plant for a year before investing lots of money in a lot of one thing.

So far this plant is thriving under the old apple tree. I’ll be particularly interested in watching it next spring to see how it survives the winter and how quickly it gets going in the spring. For a ground cover to be effective as a weed suppressant, early emergence is an important factor.

Do you have any favorite ground covers?

Homegrown Lemons

May 22nd, 2018

I purchased this meyer lemon tree a year or two ago to add to my collection of potted citrus. It bloomed last year and set 9 lemons. Considering I have a lemon tree that’s over 10 years old and has only set 1 lemon, I was AMAZED.

I’ve been harvesting the lemons and using them in drinks. It’s such a wonderful feeling to plug a lemon straight from the tree and squeeze it into some fizzy water.

Even though I’m still harvesting ripe lemons, the plant is getting ready to bloom once again. Now if only my other citrus trees would be this productive.

What fun things are you growing and harvesting?

Potted Hydrangeas

May 21st, 2018

Last summer, I dug up two ‘Endless Summer’ hydrangeas from one of my perennial borders. They didn’t bloom very well, I think perhaps the winters are a bit too cold for them. The local deer also find them very tasty and nibble them down in the winter.

After transplanting them to large terra-cotta pots, they lagged for a bit but then started to perk back up. I rolled them into the basement for the winter, then wheeled them back out a month or 6 weeks ago. They had already started to set blooms in the basement.

The foliage got a little sunburnt after I moved it out, I should have moved them outside a few weeks earlier. With our late spring, I didn’t want to risk them being damaged by frost (or the containers either). When they put up new shoots, that will help them fill in and cover up any of the crispy leaves. This summer they should fill in nicely.

This past weekend, I moved them to their spots flanking the front door. They seem to be thriving in their containers and with their warmer, cozier winter digs. I’m hoping for a huge flush of beautiful blooms this summer and lovely fall color.

Do you overwinter any plants in the basement? Do you grow things in containers to protect them from cold or nibbling animals?

Seeds and Sundries
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Berkey Water Filter

This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.