Monday, June 30, 2014

Hosta Haul - 2014

After visits to Herb Hidu, Plainview Farms, and the Maine Hosta Society's 2014 Auction, and a gift from Marla and CR Davis of an astilbe, I have enough plant material to fill a new hosta bed. I credit Herb Hidu with most of my love of hostas. Previous to meeting him, I only had two varieties, both dug from my parent's home, one all green and one white and green. When I met Herb I was enamored with his beautiful old home in a very private spot in Sheepscot as well as his amazing knowledge of the names and growing habits of the 15-20 different hostas he had at the time of my first visit. He and his wife are wonderful people, so warm and eager to help others with their interest in gardening. I have made my spring pilgrimage nearly every year since my first introduction and though I may not acquire new varieties, his plants are so robust and sensibly priced that I eagerly gather more of my favorites. Plainview Farms happens to be along the way to Kat and Pat's, so it is an irresistible stop for me if time allows. They have the best selection of hosta in the immediate area and there are still a few I do not have. This visit I came away with "Firm Line" which supposedly goes to almost white as the summer continues. I am skeptical after purchasing "Mostly Ghostly", but it is a nice looking plant right now. Marla and CR were thinning out their beautiful gardens on Montsweag Bay and brought me a lovely pot of astilbe which will compliment the hostas. This trip to the Maine Hosta Society Auction yielded some spectacular plants. I am so pleased to add "Humpback Whale" to my garden as I have been in search of it since seeing it in a display garden on the National Hosta Tour in 2011. It forms a tight mound which very much looks like a whale surfacing for air at maturity. I also got "Royal Wedding" to place by "Diana Remembered" as I am so fond of all things English. Other hostas I added were, "Ullyses S. Grant", "Winter Snow", "Blueberry Waffles", and a sweet little mini named "Church Mouse". Erica is campaigning that it be placed appropriately in the Angel Garden, but it would also make sense to let it join the other minis by Nutshell Cottage. (Erica won, I planted it in the Angel Garden) Maybe a division is in order as it is loaded with plant material!  One of my most exciting purchases was an unnamed seedling which Ron Dow of Belfast brought to the auctiion. The timing was amazing as I had only just read an article about the woman from Massachusetts who hybridized the "Birchwood series" of hosta so-called because that was the name of her home. I was so excited by the thought of an Oak Hill series, I did not contain myself and bored poor Eric to tears with a summary of her accomplishments in the Hosta world! Ron said that it would be a year or two before we could determine if the plant was distinctive enough from its parents to be registered, but that he would help me both with the evaluation and the registration process if I wished to follow it up. I shall keep my fingers crossed!

A New Hosta Bed - June 29,2014

After my annual spring visit to Herb Hidu in Sheepscot and a trip to the Viles Arboretum for the 2014 Maine Hosta Society's Auction, I am the proud owner of about 25 new hostas. Some are new varieties for me and some are repeats of my favorites. I enjoy placing them in groupings and trying to be creative with patterns of colors now that I am not strictly on a binge to add new varieties. There is an area part way down toward Acorn Cottage that just begs for a garden. Before any cutting began, there was a sort of clearing in the tangle of pines that makes up most of the land we have yet to clean up. I know it was once part of my Grandpa's garden, so the soil will be tremendous. It simply needed several trees cut down and much branching of the remaining trees. We will go back during the winter and remove three more of the larger trees which are on the edge of where the lawn begins, but they are likely to fall on my perennial garden, so best to wait until we have snow cover. Not to mention the fact that after working about six hours in the heat, we were ready for our evening wine and garden tour! Now there remains the tilling which will take some time, but it will be a lovely spot for my new plants. 

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

White Takes Dominance In the Lodge's Front Garden

The daffodils and tulips with their bold colors have faded from the front garden of the lodge. Now is the time for the whites to dominate. Bridal veil and viburnums will now take their moment of glory accented by zebra grass and the punch of color that the lavendar ground phlox (better known as Eric's favorite) offers up.I added some perennial geraniums with soft pink blossoms last fall, which are barely visible in the picture, but will soon fill in any blank dirt in the garden.  The Kousa Dogwood (foreground right) is usually beginning to bloom about now, but lags behind a bit this year due to the cold temps it endured in the winter and well into late spring. Soon the honeysuckle will be abloom, followed by the climbing rose. I added a ring of gold edger hosta around the ornamental pear to avoid a yearly purchase of annuals to cover up the gone by tulips. Now that a lot of my hostas can easily afford to be divided, I can begin "decorating" with them. Until now, I have concentrated on adding different kinds and allowing the older plants to get to their mature sizes. The oldest ones will turn eight this year. 

Empress Wu

I have always bought established plants when I buy my hostas, but the year that Empress Wu came to my attention, the limited number of plants made them extremely expensive and since none of my local nurseries had them anyway, I decided to mail-order a starter plant. I knew just enough about "starter plants" to not allow myself to get my hopes up too high, and sure enough when the small box arrived holding not one, but two of my precious new plants... they had only two leaves which were about the size of a tablespoon. For three summers I have watched my Empress's increase in size. They now equal or surpass Sum and Substance in leaf size and surpass any of the plants in height. While I still won't buy many starter plants, as I like instant gratification much better, I have drawn a lot of satisfaction watching the Empress grow from something easily stepped on or pulled out as a weed, to a plant which is claiming more and more presence in my garden. 

The Hole Is Dug

June 7, 2014, the digging began. Lawson and Avery really loved Tom's digger! We laughed that they even wanted to have breakfast in "the hole".  Kind of like giving a kid a cardboard box.... You could build a great swingset but if someone shows up and digs a four foot hole... what could be better!

Will We Save the Birches

The birches in the Event Field Garden were horribly crippled by the ice storm we had in the early part of December. Each of their branches were completely encased in ice and the weight of that ice bent all four of the trees to the ground. Even when spring arrived, they came up only a few feet. Two of them were almost uprooted by the weight of the ice, so we decided we had to cut them down. The other two we are hoping to save. We used our truck and a heavy rope and pulled them back to upright position, then ran a cable to a
large pine tree to hold it in that position. We have been told that birch trees have "memory wood" and now we just have to hope it will remember what it feels like to stand straight and tall!

Hostas Reaching Full Potential

June in Maine is an exciting time. The perennials are beginning to bloom and many need to be divided as they have outgrown their proper spots in the garden. Even my latest planted hosta beds are really coming into their own now. Some of the older plants in the newer beds are entering their third year and their size has increased tremendously. The rhododendrons which I have planted in each of the beds are just beginning to bloom and they too have lots of new growth. The bleeding hearts are still in bloom and are just breathtaking,
particularly the Gold Heart. My pine needle mulch is beginning to be thick enough in the newer gardens to help with weed control although some always manage to plant their feet and I methodically try to search them out early in season so they won't invite their friends to join them!