Y’all know about the Garden Blogger Bloom Day, no doubt, so let’s get right to the photos. As usual, I interpret “blooming” loosely to include seasonal foliage color. So shoot me.
First up, the front porch made prettier by mums, annuals holding their own, the foliage of a Spirea, and in the foreground, Alyssum that blooms its guts out all season.
Then the view from the deck into the valley.
In my woodland garden, everyone notices the birdhouses, but my favorite focal point is this oakleaf hydrangea – that the deer won’t eat!
Part 2 of my Bloom Day report is here on the Homestead blog.
Azaleas at Ladew Gardens
More online coaching going on, this time about all the renewal pruning everybody should be doing on their shrubs. I’m talking cherry laurels, azaleas, spireas, forsythia, viburnum, weigela, and lots more. Renewal pruning may be counter-intuitive, but it really works to improve the look and health of shrubs, and is fun to do.
Pruning is hard of tricky to teach, I’ll admit, but man, it’s so easy to put “prune camelia” or whatever plant into Google and get the answers. And then to check Youtube for demonstrations of pruning techniques. And me, I still consult Lee Reich and Peter McHoy in print.
My job (self-appointed) is to keep talking it up – pruning, that is. I’ve declared it the most important totally neglected gardening task in American yards today! It makes shrubs so much happier, and gives homeowners all kinds of confidence in the garden. I’ve actually been told people it’s empowering.
A whole lotta garden-coaching is going on over on the garden-center blog I write for.
First up, I show off my favorite and most-recommended shrubs for turning a yard into a garden with big, showy ones, most of them fast-growing. Cheap, too. Like the Weigela above – ‘White Knight’ on the left, common pink on the right.
I’ve also compiled my favorite perennials and shrubs that brighten even the darkest of shady spots. Like the Euonymus ‘Emerald Gaiety’ above left or the Bottlebrush Buckeye on the right. Recommended perennials include Euphorbia amygdaloides, Solomon’s Seal, Hardy Begonia and Hakonechloa grass.
Take a gander at some super-common English Roseums on the shady side of my front garden. Just posting this photo, I notice how much better they show off against the new fence than they ever did against the ivy-covered chainlink. Big improvement! (Though I DO hear from neighbors who “miss the ivy”. I bet they wouldn’t miss the constant cutting back required to keep it off the beds and the sidewalk.)
But about rhododendrons, they sure don’t do well around here – except when they seem to flourish, and I may never understand why. But even when they stay alive, my shrubs look great one year and then lose half their scrawny stems over the winter, and I start all over trying to nurse them back to a nice shape. And this particular rhodie is often recommended as the most likely to succeed in this region.
On a positive note, the temporary nature of their perfection makes them all the more awesome today.
With so many people interested in adding native plants to their garden, I thought it was time to weigh in with a list of my favorites. That’s based on their actual performance in my garden, y’all.
I’ll fess up that this ‘Little Henry’ Virginia sweetspire isn’t mine, though. My full-size Itea is doing well and since seeing its little brother here in someone else’s garden, I ran out and bought 5 of them. Now it’s “Grow, Henry, grow!”
With cherry blossom petals everywhere, our eyes go straight to the dramatic boulder. Add a few leaves and flowers – of any plant at all – and the scene’s a winner in my book.