Saturday, July 28, 2007


If you need a tall, stand-out plant for a special place, Rudbeckia nitida 'Herbstsonne' is it. Blooming from July until frost, the bright yellow cone flowers are a cheery addition to a blank wall or back of the garden. The seeds feed small birds from summer into early winter.

The plant must be staked in places where you don’t want to give it a lot of room. At over 8 feet tall, our yellow rudbeckia stands sentinel at our garage door.

I bought it at Point Phillips Perennials. This great garden with wonderful plants for sale is located 15 miles north of Bethlehem. (see web site for directions) Kay and Herb Johns also offer classes, seminars and tours.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007


The hydrangeas are in bloom. These great showy bushes are a delight - little care and great blooms. The bones in the garden.

Hydrangea ‘Venice’ is a small, about 2 1/2’, plant with large blooms that is tucked away in part shade in my garden. It was a gift in 2004 and has bloomed every year.

The lace cap hydrangea was also a gift and planted in 1994. This plant is taller at about 4’ and also blooms reliably every year. The blooms form on the previous year’s growth.
This plant is nestled next to a tall spruce which shelters it from some of the late spring frost that burns new growth.

Neither plant blooms blue due to lack of an acid soil, but the flowers are great no matter what the color. I fertilize with Holly Tone once a year. I cut off dead branches and flowers as they fade and I trim it back if it gets out of bounds. The smaller ‘Venice’ has needed no trimming so far. Neither bush is bothered by any pests.

More information on hydrangeas:

Saturday, July 21, 2007


I finally got another load of mulch to finish the garden. Spreading it is not much fun at this time of year. The plants have grown and most of the mulch must be spread by hand. I have to be careful not pack the mulch against the stems to prevent burn. But the soil will benefit. It should help keep weeds down and hold moisture during the hot summer.

My next few days will be filled with moving mulch. The plants always stand out after a fresh layer of mulch and the garden looks neat and tidy. Bring on the Gatorade.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

English Garden

I’ve always admired the look of an English garden. My attempt at an English garden contains perennials and re-seeding annuals. The garden, pictured above, contains: snapdragon, snow-on-the-mountain, a tall ornamental grass, yellow/orange cosmos, coleus, cleome, a red rambling rose, pussy willow, mum ‘clara curtis’, annual forget-me-not, sweet alyssum. Coreopsis ‘moonbeam’, purple cone flower and a purple liatris are not shown in this picture.

My aim is to have something blooming all summer – from daffodils to mums. The garden is different from year to year and I think that’s part of the charm. Although there are many interpretations of an English Garden, this is my version this year.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Fragrant Lily

Lilium ‘American Dream’ purchased from White Flower Farm in 2003 grows to nearly 8 feet tall with a mass of blooms and a heady fragrance. I don’t know why this lily grows so tall and has such a terrific show of blooms. It loves the spot where it is planted. Sometimes a gardener gets lucky.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Coleus for Color

A variety of spectacular colors, shade or sun varieties, tall or short, spreading or upright, easy to propagate, easy to grow – that’s the mighty coleus. A friend turned me on to these wonderful annuals several years ago and I’ve been a fan ever since.

I planted about 70 cuttings in May and added few new ones. They are now coming into their full colorful glory – pink, yellow, white, green, orange, red. They brighten up dark spaces and provide color all summer. They look great grouped or standing alone - in pots or in the garden.

The bloom on the coleus is not spectacular so I pinch off the flowers as they appear. I fertilize the plants when/if I get around to it. I water when I can or if they begin to droop. Of course, the pots need to be watered daily. I’ll begin taking cuttings in August to start next year’s crop. I am definitely hooked and, some would say, a little out of control.

The infinite variety of coleus can be seen at

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Compost Tea

I continue to make compost tea. Here's a picture of the compost sack which looks like a floating turd. It will sink when it get's thoroughly saturated.

One difficulty is deciding how much tea to sprinkle on each plant. I get the leaves thoroughly wet and wet the ground around the plant. I can't find any information on the amount of compost tea to use on each plant. So, I'm using my judgement. Maybe my judgement will improve with experience.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Container Vegetables

This year I am trying container vegetables for the first time. I have two large pots on the deck.

I ordered cucumber Bush Champion and pole bean Kentucky Wonder from Burpee and planted the seeds on May 7. The seeds germinated by May 12. I watered frequently (sometimes in the heat, 3 times a day) and fed with an Algoflash solution, fish emulsion (1X) and compost tea (2X).

I picked the first cumbers on July 1. There are a lot of flowers and small beans on the vine. So far I'm happy with the progress. We'll see how in goes through the heat of July and August.