Sunday, May 4, 2008 Helen’s Haven Flower Find

I am officially calling my herb garden her best year yet. After years of struggling with French Lavender, I finally went Spanish and I’m calling it a success! The Spanish cannot compete with the French with regards to scent…not even a close second, but I like that it blooms earlier and that is more tolerant to our humidity and rainy spells.

Today, Aster and I are at the shed. He makes the most basic observations that I often overlook. We have a volunteer fig tree next to the Shed; it is about 7 years old now. Our main Brown Turkey Fig is probably 12 years old and it is loaded with figs. The younger one has none, as Aster points out. He says, “Mom this fig isn’t as good as the other one, because the other one has lots of figs on it – ready for eating in a couple of weeks. This one has none.” Indeed! I really like that I have someone to share my garden with. It makes it so much more enjoyable than to garden alone.

This is the time of year when the e-mails are flying back and forth from my editors of the gardens I am preparing to style for Meredith Corporation publications. This spring, I am the field editor for several stories to be published in Better Homes and Gardens, Country Gardens, Perennial Magazine, and Nature’s Garden. I have known for weeks Better Homes and Gardens would be coming this week shooting a Raleigh garden, but it wasn’t until today as I leisurely “work” in the garden that I realized they will probably stop by here, they usually do. I was going about my business of taking photos, notes, trimming branches off the Scarlet Curls, pulling a weed here and there, mowing the lawn, and planting the new plants I received from a friend – generally puttering in the garden. Then I realize that she is looks good, but is not worthy of showing off. Oh well, I am sure my editors will realize that I am indeed nothing more than a cobbler and my kids need new seeds.

I met with Patrick, my go-to garden handyman and THE one I recommend to those who need to prepare beds, mulch, and trim. We worked out a plan to help me “fix” my back bed. It drives me nuts that kid’s “soccer field” is not true…perhaps I have already shared this frustration in an earlier diary listing. Until it is fixed, I don’t believe I will be happy. Again, today as I mowed, I had to make that north corner of the shape right. We will also make the shape more of an oval and pop some box to reshape the formal aspects of this back bed.

Yes, I am doing this in the midst of national exposure. Again, oh well, what’s a girl to do…I just have to have it right. And so does Patrick. He was here edging these twin beds last week and noticed the imperfection and it drove him nuts too…my kind of guy!

I am happy to report I got both of my 250 gallon rain harvesters’ level and secure. One is hidden behind the Leyland’s and covered with burlap. The main one under the drain spout and is covered with netting from the Army/Navy store. Now, all I need is a new reducing fitting at the bottom to be able to hook up to a garden hose. I think Bill and I will work on that next week.

Plants in the garden that are just coming up or just getting started include:

  • Crinums
  • Echinacea
  • Buddleia Butterfly bushes
  • Rudbeckia Black-eyed Susan’s
  • Crocosmia

Plants in the garden that are waxing include:

  • Climbing fig
  • Rhodos in a container garden
  • Hostas are up. I am surprised I have any at all as much as voles love them. Could it be they are not everywhere yet?
  • Verbena on a Stick
  • Amaryllis
  • Bottle Bush
  • Brown Turkey Fig – full of fruit.
  • Hydrangeas – Oakleaf, Lady in Red, Lime Light, Endless Summer, Nikko blue all leafing out nicely
  • Santolina
  • Clematis – added a new trellis to support it – first flower – purple
  • Passiflora Incarnata Maypop is ready to pop! I have this strong-growing vine in my garden because it is the host plant for Gulf Fritillaries
  • Spice Bush (both Lindera spp. and Lindera spp.) These were a gift from the JCRA and make a nice addition to my garden because they are the host plant to Spicebush Swallowtail
  • Arisaema tripihyllum Jack in the Pulpit
  • Pink Phlox in the mixed border
  • Confederate Jessamine

Plants in the garden that are peaking include:

  • Herbaceous peonies (spp?)
  • Achillea yellow yarrow (spp?)
  • Japanese Maples in full leaf
  • 7 sisters’ rose
  • Spanish Lavender
  • Grecian Foxglove
  • Foxglove
  • Verbena ‘Homestead Purple’
  • German Bearded Iris, purple and yellow
  • Siberian Iris (blue spp.?)
  • Dwarf Iris cristata, Columbine
  • Brunnera macrophylla ‘Jack Frost’
  • Hardy Orchid
  • Chrysogonum virginianum green and gold ‘Allen Bush’
  • Lavandula stoechas Spanish Lavender
  • Pink Double Knock Rose
  • Cl. Rose Stairway to Heaven with two hundred blooms
  • Tree peony (spp?) white,
  • Sage blooming (spp.?)
  • Edgeworthia – all leafed out
  • Big leaf Magnolia – all leafed out
  • Salix ‘Scarlet Curls’ all leafed out and needing thinning
  • Dianthus (spp.?)
  • Campanula (spp?) – a white variety given to me by Annette Hunt from New Bern whose garden will be in Better Homes and Gardens 2010 Salvia macrophylla ‘Hot Lips’
  • Tradescantia (spp.?) – a volunteer,

Roses in bloom besides the Stairway to Heaven include Honey perfume, Bride’s Dream, Europea, French Lace, Iceberg, Fragrant Wave, Julie Child, Pristine, Sweet Valentine, Pink Peace, Rainbow Sherbet, Black Cherry, and Don Juan.

Plants in the garden that are waning include:

  • Iberis sempervirens Candy Tuff
  • Fringe tree (just added in honor of a friend)
  • Cross Vine
  • Hellebores (seeding)
  • Vinca
  • Ajuga
  • Lady Banks Rose – still a couple of flowers holding on

Voles found my cast iron on the north side where I never had any before.

The frogs are croaking and Aster is so very excited. We don’t see any tadpoles though and Aster is getting a little worried. I think everything is alright, but my little guy is concerned. Hopefully, we can visit with Eliza, the originator of our frogs and get some of her tadpoles. She loves kids and anything and everything to do in the garden…I am sure she will be happy to oblige!

We had a close call with Lily’s guinea pig, Love today. The cage was outside to be cleaned and to give Guinea and Love some fresh air. Lily decided to get Love out for a visit. Love was quick and ran away. “Maaahhhmmmm” I hear from my screaming sweet 8 year old daughter, “Love ran away, you have to get her.” I check out the situation. Love is now in the Leyland Cypress trying to look stealth. Behind him is a 250 gallon rain harvest storage unit so he can only go straight, left or right. He goes left and is quick, but I’m quicker. I got him! Lily is happy that she has Love back and I’m happy for one tiny moment, I could be a hero in my daughter’s eyes. Oh, what we do for our children.

Helen Yoest (Philbrook)

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