Early Summer Garden Musings

By: Anne Corke

Jun 19 2015

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Category: Gardening


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Finally summer has arrived. Once more my thoughts turn to the gardens and I contemplate what’s working and what’s not, Spring was rather dry but the last couple of weeks have more than made up it. In fact the ground is so damp that mushrooms are popping up all over the yard. A hard frost in late May damaged the new Gingko leaves just as they were unfurling. The older of the two has managed to put out new leaves and is now well covered. However the younger Saratoga variety is struggling. I think they’ll both survive. After all Gingkos have been around since prehistoric times. A bronze maple in the backyard has been languishing the past few years and now bears multiple oozing wounds and many dead branches. A Schubert chokecherry by the road is also in a bad way with perhaps only twenty percent of its usual canopy. Both of these will soon be coming down. But on the bright side, the lilacs were fabulous this year. As for the perennials, it seems they’ve all survived that long cold winter. No one is missing in action. Only the goatsbeard is looking unhappy and I think it may be suffering from little critters digging underneath as has happened before.

While we’re on the subject of perennials, I’d like to mention a few of my favourites. Of course, anyone who knows me, knows that I love daylilies. I’m sure you’ve heard it all before so I won’t go on about the ‘perfect perennial’. I have a few in bloom but in a couple of weeks, they will be amazing. Check out my two previous posts about daylilies and browse daylily photos on my Flickr page.

And who doesn’t love peonies. You can keep your roses. Those old varieties of peony are more scrumptious by far and they don’t have thorns. Long lived, scented and virtually foolproof, peonies add a touch of beautiful nostalgia to your garden. Every house I’ve ever lived in had peonies in the garden. Some of the varieties in my current garden came from our house in town where they had been planted in 1944 when the house and gardens were renovated. At the farmhouse where I lived as a child, the driveway was lined with peonies. After the flowers have faded, their sturdy foliage is a perfect backdrop for summer perennials. Unfortunately, it often seems that just when they are at peak bloom we get a torrential downpour that flattens them. A friend referred to this phenomenon recently as “peony rains”.

Another perennial that I am becoming more and more enamoured with is the hosta, a staple in so many gardens. Hostas used to be rather ordinary but now there are so many varieties available, different colours, different forms, different sizes, that I wish I had more shade gardens. It’s no wonder that there are gardeners who collect hostas as I collect daylilies. Hostas speak to me of languid summer afternoons spent lounging in the cool shade with an iced tea while cicadas sing in the trees.

Shade gardens are also perfect for ferns. My first experience with ferns was a bit off-putting. I was looking for a fern to plant on the north side of the house. At a local garden centre, which will go unnamed, one of the staff recommended an ostrich fern and assured me that it was a well behaved fern. In a few years, the entire north garden was transformed into a scene from prehistoric times. I half expected to see a tiny dinosaur pushing his way through the lush green wall of ferns leaving footprints in the soft moss that now grows where once was grass. The ostrich ferns crowded out the bleeding hearts and the pink turtleheads both of which retreated to the northeast corner where they could live in relative peace. In disgust I declared ‘no more ferns’. But then I saw a Japanese painted fern and fell in love with its lacy pink and green fronds. In a shady corner in the back garden (pictured above), I found a home for one amongst several hostas and later added a ghost fern with beautiful silver and green foliage. As you can see, pulmonaria and lady’s mantle have made a home here too. This wee garden is becoming one of my favourite spots in the backyard.

In the sunny gardens, coneflowers are a must-have. Long blooming, rainbow hued, I find it hard to resist these sturdy flowers. They are delightful companions for my daylilies. Several varieties of salvia (sage) also call these gardens home. Two favourites are a white variety called Cirrus and a purple with dark stems called Caradonna. Their lovely flower spikes are a great contrast in form to the daylilies. In the front bed I have a blue false indigo beloved by the bumblebees. Its soft blue blooms look stunning with the pink peonies and soft yellow of the lemon lily.

I think I have rambled long enough for this post so I’ll save a few more for another day. Happy Gardening ’til next time.

Copyright 2015 Anne Corke

2 comments on “Early Summer Garden Musings”

  1. I have missed your interesting blog. the thing I like about shade plants such as hostas and ferns is that they multiply and you can create new batches. Kinda like daylilies and peonies, two of your other favourites.
    I have missed your posts and am pleased to read the last two. Thank you and I hope you
    are doing well.

  2. Thank you Cynthia. I’ve been rather busy with other commitments but I hope to get back to my blog more often. Summer is such a busy time. All the best, Anne.

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