Monday, May 26, 2008

Finger Rock Perspectives

These two photos by Fernymoss, (taken on 22 May, 2008), show a couple of different perspectives of one of (what we consider) the highlights in the front boulder garden: Finger Rock. I think the nickname is pretty self-explanatory, but if not, we call it that because that's what image it summons up for us! When we had that huge pile of boulders and rocks to start with, we saw immediately that a few really had potential as accents in the garden we were building, and this was one of the first we put aside until the appropriate placement emerged in the bed. (Which didn't take too long once we started filling it all in!)

Let's look at them one by one ...
The first photo reveals a lot, first and foremost, the Globe Alliums that are currently demanding attention from behind the rock ... Directly behind it and a bit to the right is 'Porcupine Grass' (Miscanthus sinensis), a vigorous and very attractive tall grass we have really come to love in the past few years. Its only real drawback is that it's really easy to slice yourself up if you're unfortunate enough to get entangled with it (as I did last year when I slipped and fell backwards into it, causing some nasty cuts and lacerated skin), so admire from a distance! That veritable 'field' to the left is 'Bee Balm' (aka Monarda didyma), one of our real show stoppers come mid-June to early July, with its fiery red blooms massed in the ever increasing space it inhabits. This is one of the plants we share freely with interested gardeners because not only can it have a tendency to 'take over,' it actually appreciates and is stimulated by division every couple of years. We just dig up a good sized clump, fill in with topsoil and it's soon populated heavily again. It's a mint, remember ... and all mints have somewhat of an 'enthusiastic grower' reputation (to put it diplomatically!) In the background, you can see our (also ever increasing) stand of Ostrich Plume Ferns (Matteuccia struthiopteris), another of our fond memory favorites. (Boran2 are these the ones you have?) To the right of the ferns you can see Lysimachia vulgaris, a start of which was given to us by a gardening friend who swore it was yellow Bee Balm (though it bears no resemblance to it!) It's beautiful, but a bit of a thug, and we need to tame it a bit and dig a good bit up and get rid of it this year, either to willing takers or to the compost. The foliage is a very attractive reddish-maroon colour, and the profuse yellow flowers it produces in July and August are very pretty indeed. (You'll see more of this as it develops over the summer.)

The second shot is obviously dominated by this quite attractive Artemisia, the name of which I've forgotten,since we didn't save the plant tag that came with it (a common practice here, alas). I haven't had much luck determining exactly what it is, but it's pretty enough we like having it where is right now. It gets a bit unruly (e.g. threatens to take over) after it blooms (which is going to be soon, if you look closely), but we usually just give it a quick pruning (definitely cutting off the flowers, which are nothing to write home about!) and that seems to keep it in line for the rest of the summer. There are tons of seedlings in this shot, namely Zebrina Mallow, Calendulas and our neighborhood favorite, "Frank's Poppies" that are coming up all over the garden, getting ready to wow the passersby again this year. I think I can also spot a few 'Bells of Ireland' seedlings in this shot as well, though they tend to concentrate toward the front of the bed ... additionally you can see the last of our spring bulbs, Hyacinthoides hispanica, or 'Spanish Bluebells' or 'Wood Hyacinth.' These guys have really been spreading the past couple of years and we couldn't be more pleased to see them do that! When I originally planted these in fall 2005, I had purchased them from Park Seed, who claimed they were Scilla hispanica, so I was initially fooled into believing we just had a later blooming species of Scilla, even if they didn't even vaguely resemble Scilla's foliage or bloom type. That sent me to the Google of course, and I soon learned they were really a member of the Liliaceae and more closely related to the Hyacinths, which made a whole lot more sense. But what's in a name? They were a steal when I got them ... I got a box of 100 (yep, a hundred!) for $5, so they're showing up all over the place out front and along the walk. Every year they just seem to bloom better and better, and they were spared last year's late freeze period because they hadn't come up yet when we had that cold spell. And it's kind of nice to know that all the bulbs are definitely done when these bloom ... it provides a nice season changer to know that other flowers are about to claim the 'star' mantle in the display.

One last plant I'd like to point out is the 'Sea Holly' (Eryngium giganteum 'Miss Wilmot's Ghost'), one of our favorites that is close to achieving 'weed status' in its current position, but it's so unusual and pretty (and has the advantage of attracting many beneficial wasps) that I don't have the heart to go after it too aggressively (though Fernymoss has his differences with me on that particular issue!) Again, you'll be seeing more of it in future posts, but if you're curious at this point, just click the 'Sea Holly' label below and you'll get a preview of what's to come.

So that's the state of the garden at this point, and since I have some time off from work this week, I'll be out a few hours every day, weeding and planting our new annuals and perennials, as well as seeds as I get the areas cleared. Today, I cleaned out the small bed with the Primroses, in preparation to planting some coleus, nasturtiums, balsam, lupine seeds. The Toad Lily out there is already looking good in its second year and I expect great things from it come late summer ... so much to get done, but somehow we always seem to pull it off somehow! And with all the plants we got over the past two days, we have our hands full!


Mr. McGregor's Daughter said...

That's a great rock & Miss Wilmott's Ghost makes a nice color echo. Rocks make such good focal points.

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hi there MMD ... thanks, and we knew right from the start it should have a prominent place out front. We've got another one we still haven't quite decided what to do with yet, but it's going to show up somewhere out there, lol.

I love Eryngium though a mere eight years ago, I had no idea what it was, nor that it even existed! It always gets lots of comments from passersby, most of whom think it's some kind of ornamental thistle! :-)