Thursday, May 07, 2009

Spring Woodland Garden Views

How about a little change of pace from the regular parade of bulbular delights? It's not that I don't have more nice shots of the remaining bulbs blooming (I do!) ... I just am short on time for this post due to a very busy day today at work, so I've gotta do a quickie here, and since Hanna didn't do anything cute today, I don't even have a new puppy pic. Ok, I dissemble (as one certain presidential doofus once said: And that means to lie!) ... she did plenty of cute things, I was just busy and didn't get pictures!

Anyway, I thought I'd choose some of these shots Fernymoss took of the Woodland Garden in his last session, so here goes. Obviously the Bleeding Heart (Dicentra spectabilis) is going great guns and getting huge already, and before it's done growing it will likely reach 3-4 feet tall as it usually does. This particular specimen was one of the very first plants that went into the Woodland Garden back in 1999, so it is quite well established. I don't think we could divide it even if we wanted to because its base has gotten so woody that it would probably take a saw to do it, and that would probably kill the plant. Never mind though, this one seems to produce enough little seedlings every year that we always seem to have a few to pass along to other gardeners (my sister won't even take any more because I've given her so many!).

Let's go a bit wider here to get a little more context ... this is a peek into the "inner" part of the Woodland Garden not visible from the sidewalk, a "secret garden," if you will. The obvious plants here are the Bleeding Heart and the Hollies, but if you look carefully, there are three other plants that you'll find in this view: the emerging Solomon's Seal (Polygonatum), Ligularia 'The Rocket' (Ligularia spicata) and Ligularia 'Desdemona' (Ligularia dentata). Regular readers already know that we are huge fans of Ligularia, and for anyone with a shady or woodland garden both these varieties are absolute necessities. Though they bloom entirely differently ... 'Spicata' has a large bloom stalk that towers above the plant (thus the name Rocket) whereas Desdemona's flowers are held close to the top of the plant and will fool you into thinking they're Black Eyed Susans from a distance. Before we knew what this plant was (years ago) we'd see it in gardens and wonder just what it was because it just seemed that flowers like that shouldn't be blooming in shade! Then we found out ... and have been huge fans ever since. We currently have two of them and if we see another nice plant for sale this year, it will be coming home to join its relatives somewhere in this rapidly getting crowded area of the garden....

Finally, here's one of the many emerging Ostrich Plume Ferns (Matteuccia struthiopteris) that are beginning to become a bit "thuggy" in this part of the garden. Actually we don't mind, because we want them in other areas around Casa IVG, so when they start encroaching on something we consider more valuable, we just dig them up and move them. With a little babying (extra watering), they quickly dig in and thrive in their new homes, as long as they are in shady places. We plan on moving a bunch of these to the front of the house along the porch foundation this year, because nothing but weeds will grow there, and the few we've already planted there are doing nicely, so these classic ferns make a great plant along foundations where you might need to cover up unsightly areas. We also have them along the Woodland Garden foundation where they blend nicely with Lily of the Valley (which are almost ready to bloom now, just a bit later than it does in France as I noted on May 1).

The weather outlook for this weekend so far is looking good ... mid 60's and only minimal chances of rain, so we'll need to get busy and get all those plants we got last weekend into the ground or pots before we make any more purchases! Though Fernymoss doesn't have Saturday off, he does have Friday (alas, not me!) off and is going to get at least the new Hellebore and Trillium in in the Woodland Garden. Looks like a busy planting weekend shaping up here, so I'll make sure we have the camera handy to document what we've gotten done.

Last weekend I ordered a bunch of plants from Van Bourgondien, (my favorite bulb supplier), since they had sent a "double your money" sale catalogue that made some things on our wish list actually affordable. So ... I ordered some fancy Caladiums, a couple of fancy Cannas, some giant Elephant Ears to plant in pots, but the most exciting is: we're finally getting a Tree Peony! We've had our eye on Rimpoh for a couple of years now and this sale finally convinced me to shake loose and order one! We've wanted a tree peony for years, but usually they are priced so high that we have to pass them by, but not this time ... we're going to put it just inside the northeast corner of the fence in the back yard with the other new peonies we planted last year, which are already up and starting to put on tiny buds. This is the corner of the yard by the sidewalk so preferred by Pepa and Rolly (for watching the world go by), and where we are going to inter their ashes later this spring or summer. We were discussing this Saturday night and realized what a great tribute it is having the Peonies, especially the Tree Peony, nearby them ... since the Peony is traditioinally a symbol of immortality in Asia, it's only fitting that they will have their final resting place among the Peonies. Sunday we saw some irregular blocks of Obsidian for sale at a reasonable price, so we think if we can find some pieces we like, we are going to get them as headstones to sink into the ground as markers. Fernymoss will use his Dremel to polish them up a bit, so if we find just the right shapes, that's how we'll commemorate these two very special dogs who brought so much happiness to our lives for so many years....

24 comments:

Beth said...

I discovered the ligularia last year. The Rocket - was just that. It was large and colorful - the other variety - looked a lot different and never really fully bloomed right (at least to me).

I also tried Canna (which is what BOTH of us are - according to the What kind of flower test are you) and they were very nice - but spread quickly! I have so many bulbs this year! My co-worker from Indiana brought them here with him and shared them with me. They are a nice attractive accent to the backyard.

Roses and Lilacs said...

Bleeding Heart is my favorite flower today. So elegant and romantic.

I think you have a lovely memorial planned for your dogs.
Marnie

Shanster said...

Beautiful, beautiful as always. Keeps my determination and motivation up to plant and research and overcome my soil circumstances!

Geez. You are making my eyes tear up. Such a lovely tribute to friends that touch our hearts in ways others can only guess.

boran2 said...

Wow, IVG, those photos look great, especially the one on top. That bleeding heart is gorgeous. Hmm, another plant to consider.

Annie in Austin said...

Bleeding hearts are so lovely - and how sweet that your sister grows plants from you. It's a good Passalong plant, isn't it!
My sister in Illinois emailed me a photo of a Dicentra/Bleeding heart I gave her more than 10 years ago.

And you're right about Ligularias looking exotic and incongruous in shade...saw some on the Austin Garden Conservancy tour last October and could hardly believe my eyes.

Nice spring you have going on there, IVG & Fernymoss!

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hi Beth,
Aren't Ligularia great? If you just put them in last year, I wouldn't worry about Desdemona ... ours didn't bloom the first year, but the 2nd year on, quite the performer!

Cannas (depending on the variety) can get huge! The ones we ordered are variegated with bright orange flowers and should get about 4-5 ft tall. They're a pain to dig up but worth it for all that drama they bring to the garden!

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hi Marnie,
Glad I got you the flower du jour! I'm sure you must have some around in your garden, no? I've loved them since I was a kid, so we have lots (the pink, white, Dutchman's Breeches types in pink and white too).

I checked UPS tonight and our Tree Peony is scheduled for delivery on Friday ... Perfect, for just having ordered late last Saturday night! So it will be going in the ground ASAP, along with the new Hellebore and Trillium. (Lucky Fernymoss has the day off....)

Glad you think we have a good memorial for Pepa and Rolly ... we're in no hurry just yet, because we want it to be done right. But it will happen this summer, along with a couple other projects we have planned for the back yard (more on that later).

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hi Shanster,
You can do it! You need to spend the time researching, but it will pay off with less failure and frustration later on....

We're blessed with fantastic Iowa loamy soil here, and folks from out west say that you could throw anything down in the dirt and it will grow here. Almost true!

Didn't intend to make you tear up, but our dogs are our kids in every sense of the word. Hanna's arrival really helped therapeutically with the losses, but there's still an empty space that only Pepa and Rolly can occupy. As it should be....

You might not want to read my posts from December about the dogs because they might likely have you in full tears. It was a horrible time for both of us....

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hey B2!
Bleeding Heart is surely hardy where you are, and really aren't hard to grow as long as you give them a shady spot in decent soil. I made my sister move hers because she had them in sun and kept griping about how they died back so fast in spring. They like it cool and shady ... you mentioned you had ferns, so if you have space among those, it's a great companion to them! Easy to find in garden centers and not expensive at all. (Try Lowe's or KMart right about now. Boycott Wal Mart and Home Despot for political reasons! I'm sure you know why....)

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hi Annie, great to see you!
I suspect you are Dicentra deprived down there due to the heat? I foist all sorts of stuff off on my sister ... Bee Balm, Coneflowers, and 3 years ago I convinced her to plant a Baptisia (australis) seedling ... she was dubious at first, but loves it now!

Wow, they must be watering those Ligularia daily down there in Austin ... letting those dry out is the surest way to kill them off. The slightest wilt I see in ours and I'm out there with the hose watering!

Been a great spring so far, I just hope we don't have any repeat flooding this year in June!

Shanster said...

I can imagine. I lost the first dog I ever owned almost 10 yrs ago. Thought I'd NEVER own another dog because losing him was just way too painful. But here we are with 3 dogs in our lives now. My first dog still appears in my dreams every now and again. I like to think he's stopping by to say hello... they never really do leave your heart do they?

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hi Shanster,
You never forget the first dog (or the second or third...) and it's heartbreaking when they have to leave, that's for sure. My previous two dogs Coco (corgi dalmatian mix) and Pepa (fox terrier mix) had a hand in prompting me to go for Hanna. They both visited me in dreams and Pepa gave her bark of approval ... the next day I filled out the application to adopt, and here we are, a complete family again!

CONEFLOWER said...

I LOVE Bleeding Heart....these "old fashioned" kind especially. They are so delicate looking and graceful. The ferns will be lovely as well.

Mr. McGregor's Daughter said...

Beautiful Dicentra! I don't grow that one because I have enough things that go dormant, but I do admire it. I wish I could grow Ligularias, but my soil is too dry & well drained for them. I'm thinking of trying one in a very large container. Desdemona has the most fantastic foliage.

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hi Coneflower,
We love it too, for precisely the same reasons, they are old fashioned, but timeless! You should plant a couple this year in some of your shadier spots if you ever get a minute away from the big garden! :-)

Those ferns were about 3 ft tall today (yes, the same ones I showed in the post) ... they have just shot up over the past few days after that storm on Friday.

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hi MMD,
Actually our Dicentras don't go dormant until late summer and even when done blooming the foliage looks pretty good for quite a while. Too bad you don't have an area moist enough for Ligularia, but if it's as you say (not that I doubt you), probably best not to try and then be disappointed. I don't know how they'd do in a big pot, but you would have to give very regular waterings and a nice shady spot. Maybe an IV from your rain barrel? :-)

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