sunday morning in the garden

This morning I planted out my Hatch green and red chiles into trays. They are showing some real leaves, so it was time. They are still inside under a grow light. Hopefully just after Mother’s Day I will be able to set them out.

Mother’s Day seems to be the magic expiration date of frosty overnights here in Chester County. I am itching to plant, but I know I pretty much have to wait.

I also found the pink swamp milkweed seeds my friend Meredith gave me. I am starting those in trays under grow lights. I will eventually plant out as many plants of those as I can get. Pollinators and butterflies love them.

I gave my David Austin Generous Gardener climbing rose a good prune recently. I took out diseased, dying, and dead canes. I also took out crossing ones to open up the rose and it has rewarded me by sending out loads of leaf buds. The clematis which grows in this climbing rose also got cleaned up and is sending out new growth as well.

Both of my tree peonies are also showing wonderful new growth. They were presents from my friend Dr. Foo who grows the most amazing array of tree peonies in his gardens. Some of my other peonies are starting to stick their heads out as well. I planted a lot of peonies in the fall bare root. I am anxiously awaiting their emergence from the ground. I do not expect them to necessarily bloom because I have learned that peonies planted bare root need a couple of years to mature before they really start to bloom.

I have had casualties in the garden, however. RIP to one of my David Austin Abraham Darby roses. I had two but the wet summer last year bought borers and other things to my roses, making it a very difficult rose season last year.

I was going to throw both Abraham Darby’s away but one in spite of the borer damage sent out a couple of new shoots so I cut it back and moved it. I have this one little corner of the garden that is like a rose infirmary. There are no positions of prominence, so I just plunked it in the ground and perhaps it’s a little Darwin survival of the fittest, but it will either live or die. Much like my John F. Kennedy hybrid tea. Borers are a problem in this garden, and I will be more dedicated with insecticide drenches this year. As a cancer survivor I don’t like to use chemicals but sometimes I just have to. I have a lot of time, money, and sweat equity invested.

I will be planting two new bare root roses soon when they arrive, so I will just try again. I haven’t quite decided where they will go, but I will by the time they arrive.

Soon my other plant orders will be arriving. I am adding more native species. I am also adding a couple of more witch hazels. Red ones!

I also am happy to note that my camellia made it thorough the winter and the flower buds are growing nicely. The one I have was started at Morris Arboretum and is called “Balustrade“. It was grown to be winter hardy and so far so good!

Other things blooming now include hellebores. I never planted them much before this garden, but my friends at Applied Climatoloy (they sell at the West Chester Growers Market) convinced me to go outside of my comfort zone and plant a bunch and well…they were right! The last photo in this post is one that is such a deep purple it is almost black.

Yesterday I went and looked at a friend’s garden to help her kick around ideas of how she can plant it and make her ideal garden come to life. She has a bunch of terrific foundation plantings already and basically, it’s softening the edges one bed at a time to give her what she desires.

Sometimes it is hard to envision HOW to get to where you want to be. That is why I think things like Pinterest are a great resource. Pinterest is loaded with photos of gardens and even ideas. I have a great collection of gardening books, but not everyone does, so Pinterest should not be overlooked.

The other thing is simple- when you bring plants home, place them out in your beds before planting and don’t be afraid to move the pots around. I don’t like even numbers, I arrange and plant things in groupings of odd numbers. I use my imagination to see how I want things to look eventually. But because gardens evolve and grow, I move plenty of stuff around when I realize I have a better spot for whatever it is.

I will close with a great source for garden inspiration is Monty Don’s Gardener’s World on BBC. If you stream BritBox on Amazon Prime you will find the current season.

It’s a beautiful day today. Put on some sunscreen and putter around in the garden!

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