Friday, April 02, 2010

Foamflowers and Spring Thoughts


Friday, April 2, 2010

Another beautiful day here on the mountain. 38 degrees, 98 % humidity and a sun rising above the fir balsams that stand between here and Peacham Pond. It will be another great day with a prediction of 80 degrees by early afternoon.

Today is the second day of my retirement from over 40 years of government work. I like it and apparently I am having no trouble hiding my enthusiasm for cutting the ties with old habits. My work ethic is strong so I will continue to rise early and get more accomplished by noon than many do in a day or two. That 's just the way it is. Yesterday I started things right and followed advice from my friend, Gail from Peacham. She advised to have fun every day, work deliberately if I must, but work slowly as there is plenty of time. I am following her advice. I told friends who stopped by the nursery that I had trouble on my first day picking the color of a shirt to wear and which boots would feel best in retirement. It wasn't really that extreme but I did sit for just a minute with a cup of coffee looking at two ducks on the trout pond and thinking that this will be fun for me and Gail and Alex.

I was in the middle of talking the plastic off the perennials when a visitor pulled into the drive at the nursery yesterday. Visitors are always nice in early season before we open as it breaks the chores and gives a chance to talk for a minute. The woman had just come down from the Lanesboro Road up above Depot Street. She had stopped to enjoy the rushing waters of Vermont's longest waterfall and had driven as far as Marshfield Pond. I have yet to make that trip this spring but she said the road wasn't too bad. She was driving an Audi so that suggested the pick-up truck will be fine. We talked for a bit about amphibian migration around that pond and then she left, promising to return when the flowers were up and we were open for business. It was a very nice conversation.

It's too early now but along that very road my visitor had travelled grow beautiful patches of foamflower which will begin to leaf out with today's warm weather. The patches of white flowers will become really obvious by mid May and will be a harbinger to tiny dwarf ginseng, trilliums, trout lilies, false Solomon seal and finally the various wild orchids that brighten the forests come the end of May.

I like the hybridizing work that has been done with tiarellas. I often refer to Dan Heim's valuable resource book, Heucheras and Heucherellas : Coral Bells and Foamy Bells as it offers a pictorial evolution from tiarellas to the myriad of colorful garden beauties we have today. Actually since that book was written there are dozens of new varieties of heuchera out there.



Years back Gail and I offered a nice little assortment of tiarellas which did so well in the lower shade garden perimeters. We have promised to work back into those now when our new shade garden is finished by the end of this season. Spring Symphony, pictured up above, is a great plant and I personally love to see it full of unopened scapes the day before they pop.

Iron Butterfly is very nice and Cygnet is another I like. Both names are kind of neat too!

The tiarellas, wild or hybridized, work well with all the heucheras but I add a caution here to keep the heucheras headed towards sun and keep their feet more dry than most descriptions might advise. The center core of these plants needs air to do best and the difference between planting in deep shade and on woodland perimeters is quickly obvious. Do not disappoint yourself as the heavy snows of Vermont winters slow the beauty of this plant when really just a little more spring sun leads to a jump start on a bigger plant and almost no losses at all.


I lined the rock walkway leading down to the lower garden with tiarellas, epimediums, pulmonarias, and the Solomon's seals including the little Polygonatum humile from Korea and Japan. Small and miniature hostas are added here and there and up top there are a few different painted ferns. Of all these flowers, the tiarellas in bloom really do make you pause.

Well, the sun is up, and fun beckons. I have a friend's birthday party today at 1:30. I'm liking retirement. I love gardening!


Writing from the mountain where I can hear tom turkey's in the lower field. Yesterday a flock of 11 scooted by. It may be a bigger flock today. Have to check!

George Africa
The Vermont Gardener
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In the garden at 2263 US Route 2 Marshfield as "retired me"

2 comments:

isadora said...

Gongratulations on your retirement! I know you'll have fun with it, I retired about 4 years ago and never looked back! I love the foamflowers, I think they are a little tougher here than the heucheras. We have to grow those in a little more shade here as the summer sun scorches their leaves badly, and they need a bit more moisture than I imagine they do up there. But I love all the new cultivars! Hybridizers have just gone crazy with them in the last few years and there are so many to choose from, I just have to try them all!

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