Sunday, August 03, 2008

August Colors

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Already heading for 8 PM here on the hill and I'm finding it difficult to get ready for tomorrow. Sat down to read mail and get off a little something at Vermont Gardens and I remembered that both pairs of glasses were sitting on the window ledge at the nursery. Four miles is a long reach when you can't read without your glasses. Karl the wonder dog and I headed down and it was apparently enjoyable for him as he got to bark at 5 different deer and one young turkey that should have been on roost by now.

Back here I just began to settle in and Gail presented me with three envelopes of checks that have to be processed for the bank. Apparently it's my turn to do this and I don't remember. We add the names and addresses to our data base which we use for mailing out notices about special events, overstocks, and that kind of thing. It's important data but not something you really want to do at the end of the day. I'll get to that a little later.

I made a quick tour tonight of the gardens here on Peacham Pond Road. Yes, they have not received any attention this year but they contain surprises along the way. Along the fence are some very tall Lilium superbum. They are in the eight foot range and they were obviously planted by chipmunks some time ago. Rodents love the starchy sugars of lily bulbs and as they scatter scale pieces about and store some for winter snacks, they are really planting future flowers. Rodent memories are apparently about as good as mine at times as this spring we have a collection of misplaced looking lilies that neither Gail nor I planted. This is obvious down in the lower hosta garden where lilies are out of place but actually quite strong and interesting. I suspect the work of chipmunks as that area is more popular with them than the red squirrels which work up closer to the driveway.

As Karl and I walked along the sandbox, prominent with untouched metal Tonka trucks from days gone by, I noticed a very old Asiatic lily which was like meeting an old friend. This was something we carried at least 8 years ago--probably closer to 12. It was not the strongest lily back then and it had some bad traits including an affinity to botrytis greater than usual and a habit of picking up tulip breaking virus at the blink of an eye. These must have come back from scales that were dormant for years as I just cannot remember how far back these go. I do remember that people used to call them tiger lilies like the old orange lancifoliums and that drove me nuts.

As I continued along, a phlox caught my eye, pushing away Sweet Annie and other improper weeds which have gotten more and more carried away by our brief absence. The phlox is a strong signal of what we will have in a couple more years at the nursery where Gail intends to build a substantial collection of various varieties. I am just beginning to learn the names of what we stock this year but I do know we already sold the last Starfire today and the Tenor, a less bright red, is going fast too.

Older gardeners and New England gardeners like phlox even though they remember the mildew problems of the older varieties. I was told one time that if you plant phlox within other perennials, the mildew will be less of a problem and the individual plants will stay very strong. That may be true but I like big swaths of color. If any of you are successful with phlox and have any pointers or written resources, we'd all be very appreciative I am sure.

Adjacent to the phlox but very much unplanned were groupings of pink hollyhocks which add nice contrast to the phlox. Again this was probably part of the rodents seed relocation project, an annual event which precedes winter. Regardless of the "how did they get there?" it's a fact that they match nicely.

I keep eyeing the pile of checks and guess I better end here. I hope the buckets of rain haven'
t bothered your drive for a handsome garden. If you can't stand the rain, get in the car and get up to see Gail. She always has a new idea and a new surprise color to consider.

Good garden wishes,

George Africa
The Vermont Gardener
Vermont Flower Farm
Vermont Gardens

1 comment:

Barbee' said...

George, I think you just solved a mystery for me. There is only one true lily on this place. It comes up in the peonies. For years I recognized it as lily foliage so it was saved from being pulled. One summer it surprised me with blooms. Last year babies came up in the center of the Japanese tomato ring which isn't very far away, but too far for a lily to walk unassisted. We have oodles of chipmunks and squirrels. I never thought about them collecting and storing bulblets for wintertime snacks! Thank you for that information.