Thursday, February 03, 2011

Gettin' Better

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Almost 10:30 AM here on the mountain. 16° with a 3 mph wind. The sun is still trying to break through the clouds but to no avail. Kinda like me trying to get back to The Vermont Gardener after two weeks of fighting a virus. I always get a flu shot but this year, even after the shot, something did an end run. All I can say is that if I had encountered the "real" thing, I'm not sure how well I would have done. I'm still weak but I'm making myself do a few things every day. Yesterday's storm left little choice and minutes ago I came in from plowing the last of yesterday's gift. Alex will get the paths shoveled for the final time and Gail will feed the birds.

Tons of fresh white snow make gardeners yearn for color. I return to this simple picture of a garden at our house when I want to show how easy and inexpensive it is to put together a season-long mass of color that involves Vermont hardy plants. When we ran Vermont Flower Farm out of our house, the gardens around the property served to represent mature examples of what we sold in pots. We lined the paths with thousands of pots, all in alphabetical order and all properly signed. The pots are gone now and the displays are unkept but the notion of inexpensive gardens remains.

Take a look at the picture and you'll notice some tall reds. Those are Crocosmia 'Lucifer', a bulb that will remind you of a gladiola. This plant is from the plains of southern Africa and only 'Lucifier' is hardy here in Vermont. It needs to be planted in a light moist-to-dry situation. You'll know if you have it placed right by year two when it will be profoundly absent or have happily reproduced into more and more flower scapes.

3 foot tall lavender flower scapes from various hostas border the fence. Their numbers wave in obvious clumps and last a number of weeks. Rudbeckias from yellows and oranges to mahogany browns begin in July and bloom into late September. Over time the flowers dry somewhat but the color binds everything together.

Daylilies line the borders and provide continuous color. Simple daylilies such as Lemon Lollipop or Mini Pearl bloom from July into almost Columbus Day and rejuvenate themselves daily as there is fresh color. The cream shades of Joan Senior and Miss Amelia and So Lovely provide varying heights and nice color even after frosts have begun.

Across the fence a collection of actaeas, formerly known as cimicifugas, range in height from 3 to 8 feet and put up bottle brush flower plumes that draw daytime butterfly visitors and any-time moths and insects. And then towards the backdrop, hollyhocks mingle with hydrangeas and garden pholx in purples, whites, lavenders, fuchsias, "almost" blues, reds and pinks. None of these are difficult to grow and all can be used as cut flowers.

So as you look out at new snow cover, think positive thoughts about the colorful gardens you have or can have without great expense or work. If you have questions or comments, drop us a line.

Writing from the mountain above Peacham Pond where three crows just found a new addition to the compost pile.

George Africa
The Vermont Gardener
Vermont Flower Farm
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1 comment:

Sissy said...

I just love the Lucifer, but it does not come back for me, here in Zone 5. Yours is lovely!