Garden Diary

I started this blog as a garden diary - and it still is - but it hasn't been a very good diary. In hopes of attracting viewers and followers, I've avoided the day-to-day "this is what I did" posts.  I'll be using this page for notes and pictures about what I've planted, transplanted, lost to the elements, lost to my own negligence, lost to the pests, etc., etc.  I'll record the weather and the tasks accomplished.

I'll add another page to give some background and history on how I've gotten to this point - I'm working on collecting pictures and putting them in chronological order - a little tedious and not high on the priority list at the moment.  But I'll get there!  Meanwhile, I'm going to jump right in with a record of what I did over the weekend.

These entries will be in reverse chronological order so that the newest is at the top.

April 24, 2012
Gardening season is well under way after a mild winter.  No snow or ice - I missed having a good snow but didn't miss the ice!  Spring arrived early and has been beautiful.  In the front garden bed the gallardia is blooming along with the irises - not a very nice color combination, I'm afraid.  Most of the hostas are up, the lantana is coming back,  the hydrangeas are budding, and the azaleas have already faded.  We had a good long soaking rain on Sunday - much needed.  I'll spend as much time as possible this coming weekend pulling weeds and tidying up.  Zinnias, basil, dill, fennel, and daisies have sprouted from seed and some purchases from the Master Gardeners sale are in the ground - butterfly weed, Autumn Joy sedum,  Mexican Hat coreopsis, and Heliopsis.

September 29, 2011
Where did the summer go!  Since my last diary update we've been through a hurricane (Irene) that did much damage in our neighborhood - many trees on the ground and on houses.  The moonflower that had volunteered under the shepherd's crook was one of the casualties of the hurricane but otherwise we were mostly spared, just losing some branches.  The drought ended with the hurricane though the heat didn't.  The milkweed never bloomed and the butterflies remained scarce.  I did see a few and had cats on the parsley.  The bees were everywhere, though!  I planted several more ferns in the shade bed by the fence as well as some hydrangea and hosta under the oak tree and two clematis - one to climb the birdhouse pole and the other by the front gate.   The lantana in the front bed is beautiful now and nearly filling the entire length of the border.  The garden is now winding down and the dogwoods are turning.  There's much to be done to prepare for the winter but not much time to do it in.

July 26, 2011
Obviously, I have been busy in the garden with no time to update my diary!  That coreopsis that I was afraid I had lost in April - well, I did lose it.  I also lost a couple of other plants that I'd purchased from the discount rack at Lowe's.  But the seedlings I wrote about are all doing well - the salvia has it's first bloom!  The plants that are really thriving in the garden now, though, are the weeds.  They seem to fill up the beds overnight.  A moonflower vine volunteered under the shepherd's hook by the side porch and has covered it completely - I'm hoping for blooms soon.  The moonflower seeds that I planted are just now getting started.  I've only seen a few butterflies so far and am hoping that they are just late to appear.  The milkweed - in its second year - is huge but isn't blooming.  The luna blush hibiscus has outgrown its pot and is struggling.

April 26, 2011 We are going full speed in the garden now - there is so much to do!  Basil, salvia, sunflower, and cosmos seedlings should be ready to transplant soon.  I'll plant zinnia seeds directly in the ground and will plant some parsley for the butterflies.  Bluebirds are nesting in the bluebird box.  The hydrangeas have budded and the azaleas have faded.  The irises are blooming and the hostas are all fully unfurled and looking grand.  I may have lost a coreopsis to slugs.  The crown of the plant was totally taken over by the nasty slugs before I noticed them.

April 3, 2011  I'm ashamed that I've not documented anything in three months -  not that there was much to document in the dead of winter other than  the weather.  But Spring has arrived and my to-do list is long and growing longer.  It was a beautiful weekend after a week of rain - a great time to weed the beds and put down compost.  I cleaned up the herb garden, the bird bath garden, and got started on the large bed by the privacy fence.  I put compost around the hydrangeas and around the plants in the bird bath garden.  I was happy to discover a couple of weeks ago that the Jacob's Ladder that I feared was a "goner" survived the winter  - it is now blooming.  The astilbe that I also feared had died is looking healthy.  I had put both plants in pots and moved them to the deck for some nurturing.  I appeared that some sort of insect had been eating away at them at ground level.
Many of the hostas have unfurled their leaves and others have shoots poking out of the ground.  The irises I transplanted last season are looking healthy - I'm hoping for lots of blooms. The azaleas have begun to bloom, and the dogwoods are at peak.  There are still a few lingering daffodils.  The chestnut oak in the back yard has leaved out but the one in front is just budding.

November and December 2010  It was a beautiful fall - the colors were amazing and I took many, many pictures.  The weather stayed mild until December and then turned very cold, with snow the first weekend.  Diana Page gave us two Cape Jasmine gardenias, propagated from gardenias at her aunt's home, the Sunday after Thanksgiving.  We were so busy that it was over a week before we got them in the ground.   We planted one on the edge of the hydrangea bed and the other in the bed by the side porch.  I look forward to blooms in the Spring.
We were treated to a beautiful snowstorm - well over a foot of snow - the day after Christmas.  The birds flocked to the feeders and I took many, many pictures.  The snow lingered until this weekend when the thermostat reached the 60s and we had rain.
Once again we have neighbor problems. I noticed that the Carolina Jessamine we planted at the fence , in hopes that it would grow to soften the edge of the fence where we once had a beautiful overhang of trees, looked unhealthy.  A closer look revealed that the neighbor had sprayed the other side of the fence, all the way to the top, with Round Up.  What to do?  We will do nothing until we aren't so angry.
The Professor Sargent Camellias are full of buds and should begin blooming within the next month.  Everything looks sad and bedraggled and in need of a good clean-up.  Dried foliage from mums, brown hydrangea leaves, felled but not yet decomposed impatiens.  January and February may be difficult months with lots of dreaming of the Spring!

October 31, 2010  Only a few hours in the garden this weekend, but it was long enough to divide the daylilies and plant some crocus bulbs.  I also planted firecracker penstemon seeds.  The zinnias are full of terrific blooms but also covered in powdery mildew.  Fortunately, the mildew isn't visible in the view from the sun room window, and they're still a great sight for my eyes when I look out in the morning.
I have a white iris blooming - one that I purchased at the master gardeners sale in the spring.  The label only said "white iris" so I don't know if this is a re-blooming variety or if the bloom is an anomaly.  It's shorter than I anticipated and I'll need to move it to a more visible spot after it blooms.

October 24, 2010  When I went to Lowe's for compost this afternoon I found two very healthy Agastache aurantica 'Coronado' at 50% off.  This plant was on my "wish list" and I'd not seen it at Lowe's all summer long.  I felt like those plants were there just for me!  I was able to get them planted in time for the rain forecast for Monday morning.  I also divided canna lilies and spread some of that mulch. Still MUCH to be done.

October 23, 2010  Today was to have been spent entirely in the garden, tackling my long list of chores.  But I slept in until 8:00,  then lingered over coffee and the beautiful view of the morning light coming  through the trees.  Then I took my camera out to take pictures.  After the photo session I took my shears and cut mums and zinnias for vases - such an abundance of color in the garden and I had to bring some inside.  The late planted zinnias are a variety of bright colors and looked wonderful with yellow and lavender mums.  Then my husband wanted to do a little shopping, followed by lunch, so I didn't get outside until almost 2:00 p.m.!  But I had a productive few hours dividing plants and spreading compost. I can check at least one thing off the list - dividing the calla lilies. Tomorrow I'll be back out to divide the daylilies and maybe the hosta.

October 11, 2010  I wasn't able to get in the garden last week and then only for the afternoon yesterday. I have a long "to-do" list for fall, including dividing the canna and calla lilies, spreading compost on all the beds and replacing the mulch, transplanting liriope, and pulling out more english ivy.  Yesterday I was able to divide the coreopsis and transplant a mahonia (not on my list), plant a 50% off snapdragon (in great condition), and begin pulling ivy and vines from under the camellias.  Today after work I had about an hour of daylight and pulled more ivy and vines.
The most exciting garden happening was seeing a Monarch butterfly yesterday - the first that I've observed here.  I saw it mid-morning and several more times during the early afternoon but wasn't able to catch it on camera.  I had decided that it was a lesson in just seeing and appreciating what I see - a reminder that sometimes the camera can get in the way.  But in the late afternoon the Monarch posed for me on a zinnia and I got several good pictures.

October 2, 2010  The rain stopped yesterday with a grand total of over 13.5 inches for the week!  Today is a beautiful cool, crisp day - I can really believe that fall is here at last.  This morning's newspaper column by Nancy Brachy was about bulbs and reminded me that I needed to get started planting the daffodil bulbs under the chestnut oak.  I cultivated 12 inches down for each clump and so it wasn't a speedy process.  The rest of my gardening time was spent staking up plants that needed it after the heavy rain.  Fortunately only one of the mums had flattened in the middle.  The sunset sienna coreopsis was a little flattened but seemed to be reviving.  The new plantings from last weekend were looking healthy and even sporting a few blooms.  About half the spinach that is growing in containers seems to have drowned.  I had a few more seeds and so pushed them in the soil.  I hope they'll germinate.  The Jacob's Ladder that I dug from the lower fence border is struggling.  I hope it doesn't join the Coral Bells and Astilbe as a casualty.  I do still have hopes for all three plants, though - I have them in pots and hopefully away from whatever was devouring them.  Maybe they'll revive in the spring.

September 29, 2010  I worked hard over the past weekend knowing that the forecast called for a lot of rain this week.  I planted two varieties of coreopsis - creme brulee and limerock dream, and sunburst scarlet halo blanket flower.  Also three azaleas on the other side of the dogwood tree in the backyard, a fern,  and some mondo grass.  All of those plants were 50% off at Lowes.  I planted six small hardy mums in the back in front of the dogwood tree  and two large hardy mums in the front perennial bed.
I spread fresh pine straw under the dogwood tree.  Just as I was finishing up on Sunday afternoon, the rains came in.  What a relief!  It had been 95 degrees or higher and the gnats were relentless.  We had 7.5 inches of rain Sunday and Monday.  No rain on Tuesday but we woke up to it this morning and the rain gauge has another two inches in it!

September 18, 2010  There wasn't much time for working in the garden this weekend, and maybe that was a good thing as it was so hot.  But his afternoon I did some cleaning up - cutting down a volunteer shrub of unknown variety that was shading the forsythia in the back corner, trimming dead and chewed leaves from plants, filling in the holes that Bear dug in my flower bed, and watering.  No rain in days and days and none forecast all week - with highs in the 90s right through the weekend.

September 15, 2010  While watering the containers this morning I noticed buds on the dahlia.  I could hardly believe it after an entire summer of nothing but foliage.  Maybe I should have been pinching back the foliage?

September 14, 2010  I was away over the past weekend and the garden is suffering.  My sweet husband continued the chore of pulling ivy and vinca from under the azaleas and around the well house (my future garden shed).  Since returning I've spent all of my garden time watering  - it is so dry!  Today I noticed that the New England aster is beginning to bloom and that the black swallowtail caterpillars have no more fennel to munch on.  The yellow mums are beginning to bloom and all the others are full of buds.  The moonflower vine has settled in and looks natural on the birdhouse pole again.  The city marked our utility lines under the sideporch/driveway bed and we have pulled up the remains of the shrubs.  The lone remaining ageratum has been devoured by something - not a leaf left! 

September 7, 2010:  While out watering this morning I noticed that the moonflower vine that had been climbing up the birdhouse post was no longer climbing - it had slid all the way to the ground.  I had not attached the climbing wire tightly enough to the top of the pole.  I tried to repositioned the vine and secure the wire, but it now looks messy.  I'm hoping it will continue to grow, fill out, and fall into place so that it looks natural again.

September 4 & 5, 2010:  Labor Day weekend.  It was delightfully cool - and especially nice drinking coffee on the deck in the mornings.  The mosquitos were a pretty fierce in the evening, but it was still such a nice change from the heat.
Garden tasks accomplished:

  • Lots of watering - soaker hoses on the Hosta under the chestnut oak and on the azaleas under the dogwood.  No rain in well over a week.
  • Cut the giant zinnias back, leaving the freshest stems with buds.  This eliminated much of the beetle damaged foliage.
  • Transplanted liriope to the base of the bird feeder under the chestnut oak.
  • Transplanted the lavender lantana from under the basketball goal to the front side bed.  It never bloomed this summer - not enough sun.
  • Started pulling ivy and vinca from the back corner of the back yard.  Decided to clean it all out and fix up the well house as a garden shed.  I'm excited!
  • Practiced with the new camera - trying to master macro shots.  Saw some improvement.  Took a lot of butterfly pictures.
  • Removed a nasty tomato worm from the ornamental pepper.
  • Put the last of the compost around the snapdragons and hot lips salvia.  Will need to get much, much more for all the other areas that need composting before cold weather.
  • Noticed that the heuchera and one of the astilbes have been eaten nearly to the ground.
  • Cut the privet hedge to the ground and plan to pull them it all up.  Need to research what would work well there and have the city mark the gas and power lines that might go under the bed.
  • Sept. 5 was  the anniversary of the massacre on the other side of the fence - the removal of the trees.
  • Still in mourning about it.

September 2, 2010:  Hurricane Earl, a category 4 storm,  is moving towards the coast of North Carolina. The National Weather Service predicts that it will turn and move away from the coast without making landfall - and that we will have little to no rainfall as a result.  The temperature tomorrow is predicted to reach 99 degrees, and so I turned on the soaker hose under the hydrangeas and put the sprinkler on the flower beds this morning.

August 28 & 29:  Sunny and hot, no rain in sight.  Highs in the upper 80s during the day, but cooler in the evening. Beetles of some variety are eating holes in much of the garden foliage.  Something is eating away at the candytuft - so much so that I'm afraid it won't survive.  The Luna Blush hibiscus is still putting out a few blooms here and there - a nice change from the last two seasons when I cut it down to the ground before the end of August.  Most of the foundation shrubs appear to have been damaged by aphids or something that causes similar damage.

  • Cut zinnias, fern, caladiums, and coleus for vases.
  • Harvested basil and froze it with a little water in mini-muffin cups.
  • Made a pitcher of lemon balm/mint tea.
  • Made hummingbird nectar and washed and refilled the feeders.
  • Planted two Indian Hawthorns in the side front bed.  They were on clearance at Lowe's but were in good shape and not even close to being pot bound.
  • Divided a big clump of Black-eyed Susans, also purchased off the clearance rack.  Put two clumps in the ground and potted another for the deck.
  • Cleaned the deck and side porch of all the fallen petals and leaves, watered and fed all of the containers.
  • Sprayed the privet and other shrubs with neem oil.  Will have to use dormant oil in the late winter to get rid of scale.  If the privet didn't provide such nice shelter for the birds, I'd want to get rid of it.
  • Deadheaded the zinnias, spirea, and knock-out rose.
  • Moved liriope to fill in bare spots in the front side bed.
  • Spread compost around the liriope.