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Monday, June 12, 2017

Unkept Corner of the Yard

Japanese umbrella pines are pretty formal plants, but I have it growing as the focal point of a wild part of my backyard and I think it works pretty well (Maybe I'm just saying that because I'm living a 1000 miles away now and can't go out to weed every day!). The violas took the spot over, but at least it's blocking other taller weeds that would pop up in its place.

Friday, June 9, 2017

New York Loquat (from late May)

Loquats are surprisingly hardy. Mine was really put to the test and saw temperatures in the mid teens. There was some leaf drop, but no die back.
Here's a lackluster photo of the backyard. Things are slow to come back this year with all the rain and cool weather in the Northeast, but hopefully I can come home to visit in a few weeks and clean things up for the summer. The roses are loving this weather and the spanish moss survived the winter on my Crape Myrtle which is exciting!

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Hardy Ground Orchids Bring More than Just a Tropical Touch

Hardy Ground Orchids need to be more popular. Their bloom time is short, but their flowers are unbelievable. I don't know how they aren't more popular in both formal and informal gardens. They fit so well into both and are another lower option for shade gardeners. Does it get any better!

This is the second year I've had my ground orchids (Bletilla striata). They require really no care or looking after at all. I bought it with about 4 bloom spikes. This year it looks like it's tripled that number. Next year I think it'll be a very noticeable clump.

They come up at a time where the hostas are not at their tallest so they mesh together really well and make great companion plants.

Bletilla striata is not evergreen, but it still deserves a spot in your yard!

Monday, June 5, 2017

Azalea "Garden Rainbow": An Incredible Deciduous Azalea!

Garden Rainbow is a great variety of Azalea that I bought last year from Rare Find Nursery in NJ. It's the first Azalea I've grown and probably will not be the last. It loses it's leaves during the winter, but puts on an amazing show in late spring.

The blooms start off yellow and as they age they turn a pinkish orange and eventually red. The effect is a multitude of warm colors on the plant all at once. It's kind of the same idea as a "yesterday, today & tomorrow" plant which is a popular one in the south.

If you look at the previous post you'll see the entire plant underneath my Ashei Magnolia.

The variegated plant underneath the azalea is a Vinca. I don't recommend you buy those. Very invasive!

Saturday, June 3, 2017

My Unprotected Fatsia Japconia

I bought my Fatsia in September 2015 while on a trip in Newport Beach, CA. Usually when you're growing marginally hardy plants it's better to find a cold growing that has a history of acclimating their plants to cold. But although Fatsias are common plants in the US, I've never seen one for sale in my area.

So I took a risk buying it and I am glad I did! I planted it very late in the year (another thing not to do when you're trying to grow a borderline hardy plant, you want to plant it early in the season) so I gave it protection it's first year. But this winter it got absolutely nothing at all. And it did great! It was a mild winter (even my Soft Caress Mahonia's survived without protection and they are a zone 8 plant), but I still think its survival is impressive.

It's already grown a lot of fresh leaves. That's the nice thing about Fatsias, although they are evergreen and shade tolerant, they are not slow growing and will outgrow winter damage quickly.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Magnolia Ashei - Amazing Foliage, Even Better Blooms!

 Magnolia Ashei is a subspecies of M. macrophylla. M. Macrophylla grow to be huge trees with large, beautiful leaves that definitely give a tropical feel even though they are native to the Northeastern US. 

Ashei is a shorter growing version making it a better option for a NY backyard. I have mine in full sun and it tolerates it pretty well, but it loves shade so this would be a great option for a magnolia in shade. This is it's second year and the second time it's bloomed. It hasn't branched out yet. We'll see if that starts to happen this summer.

The fragrance is incredible. It smells identical to a Southern Magnolia bloom, but the bloom itself is shorter lived and not as strong as southern magnolia blooms.