Sunday, October 4, 2015

Perennial Plant Association: the garden tours (part 2)

Harness Creek

Looking through these photos, it's hard to believe it has already been more than two months since the Perennial Plant Association's annual symposium in Baltimore.  I've already written one long blog post about the symposium (see Five days of plant geek pleasure), and another with photos from the Wednesday garden tours (see Perennial Plant Association: the garden tours (part 1)).  As promised, here's part 2, with photos from the Friday tours.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Perennial Plant Association: the garden tours (part 1)

Garden tour mob

 I would be terrified to let these people see my garden.

This horde was one of the tour groups for the Perennial Plant Association's national symposium in late July, a gathering of "green industry" professionals that included wholesale growers, garden center retailers, landscape architects, garden designers, garden writers, and garden bloggers like me.  The gardens below were part of Wednesday's design/landscape tour, featuring five different private gardens that differed greatly in size, character, and style.  The photos below represent only a small fraction of the several hundred I took; for the rest, check out my Perennial Plant Association album on Flickr.  I'll do a separate blog post about the Friday tours, which were great in an entirely different way.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Five days of plant geek pleasure

The flock is gathering

For five days in late July, I convinced myself and everybody around me that I was (a) a morning person and (b) an extrovert, neither of which is remotely true.  It takes a pretty special event to pull off a stunt like that, and that was the Perennial Plant Association's 2015 national symposium in Baltimore.  Every time I think about distilling five very busy, very intense, and overwhelmingly pleasurable days into one blog post, I get slightly dizzy.  Instead, I've broken it into two blog posts. In this one I'll give my general impressions of the event, and I'll follow up in a few days with the gardens we saw on the tours.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Cannas for the lazy gardener

CannasCanna indica 'Red Stripe' (September 2012)

I don't think I've gone a single year since starting this garden without growing cannas.  They are a lazy gardener's dream, producing maximum "oomph" with minimal work.  They look tropical, they grow fast, they love heat, they require little care, they have handsome foliage, and hummingbirds love their flowers.  What more could we ask of any garden plant?  Well, a bit of hardiness, for one thing.  I'm sick of people telling me that their cannas overwinter in the ground when I've had no luck with them surviving any but the warmest winters.  That means digging up the rhizomes and storing indoors, buying new ones in the spring, or bumming them off a gardening friend or family member.  Let's see, which one of these requires the least effort?

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Labor day laziness

Deck, early September

Monday was a holiday and I woke up a bit earlier than I would have liked, but the morning sun and cool breeze were worth it, hinting at fall just around the corner.  It was a perfect long weekend and the perfect end to the summer, three straight days of blue skies, warm sunny days with low humidity, and cooling down nicely at night.  Aside from finishing a blog post and puttering in the garden a bit, I didn't accomplish much but what better place to laze on a pleasant end-of-summer day than the roof deck.   

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Testing the limits: 2015 winners

Garden, early September

If you're going to "test the limits" you have to be willing to take a few losses.  That was the point of my previous blog post (see Testing the limits... and finding them: 2014-2015 losers) when I wrote about the plants I lost last winter, which along with 2013-2014 brought my area's two coldest winters in 20 years.  Each of those two winters, on its own, wasn't so unusual; we get winters like that every 10-15 years and we were several years overdue.  What was unusual was getting two such winters back to back.  That makes the survivors all the more special to me.  They don't necessarily look their best this year, but considering the minimal protection I gave them I'm more than happy.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Testing the limits... and finding them: 2014-2015 losers

Garden, late August
August 2015: no more windmill palms

I've always been interested in testing the limits of marginally hardy plants, plants that are new to cultivation, and plants whose hardiness is otherwise unknown.  For better or for worse, my last two winters have been very good ones for testing hardiness!  The low temperature in my back yard in Washington, DC (zone 7a) during both winters was about 5 degrees (-15° C), my area's coldest temperatures in 20 years.  Despite the similar low temperatures, the two winters were very different in terms of wind, snow cover, and timing and duration of the cold.  Several plants that survived the first of the two winters didn't make it through the second; in some cases I think they were weakened going into the second winter, but I also think the ground froze more deeply, doing more damage to otherwise healthy plants.