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I was trying to find some old pages I had written in the online Wayback Machine. Unfortunately, I had deleted them before the old geocities site had been recorded (they only started recording it in 1999). Oh well.
I did, however, find the beginnings of my “garden journal” when I was just starting to look into the then-new blogs and blogging. I was looking for something less cumbersome than updating an html page on my little website of the time.
I thought -just maybe- you would find these old entries sort of interesting. A peek into my gardening efforts of the time about two decades ago.
My Garden Journal- Old School
This is a sort of garden journal to give you an idea of how my gardens are working out without cluttering the main portion of the garden section; which should be reserved for the more general writing on subjects that can benefit any gardener. Also, the more ephemeral matters of this particular seasons weather or observations can find a place here.
One such matter would be last years roses. We had a climate pattern like one that could be expected one or two zones south, and the effect on my roses was so impressively magnificent.
Do you think I exaggerate? For the first time my roses bloomed on old and new wood filled with huge blossoms that perfumed the garden in a way I had never before experienced-not even on a visit to a public Rose garden! I had large old-fashioned shrub roses that truly came into their own, and I considered that I might, someday, like to move to the South, just to replicate that rose bloom. I don’t imagine soon seeing that in Ohio again, but it was blissful while it lasted.
|Last year I had a chance to work on some of the structure of the garden,(and believe me, my work is very simple and small scale) and it made such a difference. Using scrap 4×4 boards to make a curved raised area around a corner of the house with a footpath of limestone stepstones beneath the rise made a simple and utilitarian solution for a small washed out sideyard. Such things can make a subtle difference in the strength of a garden’s design.|
|(Oct. 10 ’99)I could say something silly like “Time flies”, but the reason I have not updated the journal is due to the effect of the drought. Like the other living things around here, the dryness caused me to just lie low in the garden (actually I stayed in the house and attended more to the children and housework than usual -good for me). |
I spent the morning garden time visiting the essentials with the garden hose -just to barely keep the new things alive. I gave up on the rest-it was “live and let die”. Also, instead of real gardening I worked on changing these pages around and making some graphics. Illusions of work in internet gardening…. oh, dug up some plants for someone who promised to water it faithfully, and that was it!
I do have a theory on drought, my captive audience: I think periodic drought has a purpose in the lives of our gardens and in our own. If a plant has a decent root system, the dryness forces the roots to grow more deeply and strongly into the ground. So long as the plant survives the vicissitudes of this time, it emerges a better plant. Of course anything at all weak or the young must be attended to carefully, and if they can just be kept alive ’til the rain comes they should be fine. Details such as mulching and weeding make the difference for these plants. Drought also requires value judgements: if the tree is valuable and you cannot suffer losing it, share some precious water with it.
Think a little and it is not too hard to apply some analogies to our relationships.
One more little thing: although now is the ideal time to plant bulbs, if you have the stomach to work in the cold wet months of late November and early December (anytime before the ground freezes) you can plant your bulbs- sometimes get extra on sale and put them in. I no longer count on the sales, though, the stores don’t have them as in the past. So, buy the bulbs soon, get them in when you can.
I use the second person, because I haven’t decided where my budget and work time goes – trees or bulbs? bulbs or trees? I really don’t have the time this year, but the fall is the best time for gardening in the Midwest.
Only roses are iffy, and if you are careful those might even fare better planted now (the hardy ones, ok?).
I need a vote box here, tell me… The House? The Garden? The homeschooling? Christmas Preparation? Friends and Family? THE webpage? Which gets my time?
ALLLL of the above in minuscule and inefficient bites as always.
|(Aug. 10 ’99) You notice I totally ignored the month of July- the weather was not to my liking and I became ill, as well. The garden takes a back seat at such times. |
The combo of the hot dry 90 degree weather with the occasional inundations worthy of the rain forest produced some unhealthy results in my plants. The leaves turned yellow between the veins and the edges turned brown in many different plants, I didn’t know what to do.
It also totally switched some plant behaviors: Rosa rubrifolia kept all its leaves and Zepherin Drouhin lost hers to Blackspot. Right now, I am catching up on weeding and waiting for when I can start dividing and planting the perennials . Tune in later.
|(June 22 ’99) Rain is just not materializing in measurable amounts, so my hopes of taking pics is dashed, as is homegrown sweetcorn-it just isn’t worth putting in more seed. |
Oh well, at least I’ve been cleaning up the garden somewhat: “Death to Weeds!” I cry, as they wither in the sun and dearth; my able adze vanquishes all in its path. And what the adze misses the CLAW seeks out. Didn’t realize the sadistic tendencies that gardening brings about? Well, consider yourself advised and educated…a new study for the psych experts.
I must say that roses thrive in this weather, they look healthy and bloom fully and freely. If you would like to know what other plants stand up to hot conditions- the achilleas are a group that looks fresh and undaunted. Blue salvias look spectacular with these in the same conditions (hot, sunny, dry).
Sedums, of course, the variegations enhanced by the weather; the Russian sage, Petrovskia (?), is in its element, too.
|(June 18,’99) After such a promising beginning, I am now just trying to keep the new things alive.Such is gardening! Central Ohio is experiencing dry conditions for this time of year; I’ve already been watering as though it were August. |
This does not bode well for my newest plants, but I bought a another soaker hose. These are very useful, you just arrange them in the garden area and leave them,I think you can cover them with soil or mulch, too.
The water is delivered in a slow soak when you connect a normal hose and turn on your water. Much more efficient than standing with a hose in your hand, both for time and water.
I have a bumper crop of cherries this year, although I’m wasting them as usual- why I can’t raise food AND preserve it is beyond me..another manifestation of the dreaded sluggardliness (in me, not the garden!) It’s too dry for the slugs! I’m the only one left, now where is the salt?
|(May 20) I’ve been busy, busy, busy! My hands are again grimy and my body threatening to mutiny as I weed, seed, and hoe, spade, water, and edge. |
I started to wonder why I do this when the roses started blooming, along with the Dames Rocket, iris, and Sweet Woodruff…then I am rejuvenated or bewitched (whichever -you decide!).
It is very dry for this time of year in Ohio; normally one doesn’t water the garden in the Spring. My gardens are spread out enough that I dread watering, but after planting so many new things it will be necessary. I do a type of xeriscaping, but new plants have to be watered until their roots grow deep enough to endure dryness. At least I have mulch on many areas, that helps to keep the soil moist.
A small observation on the fringe trees (Chionanthus): when all other trees and shrubs are fully blooming and glorious, the fringe tree bides its time looking like a dead stick of a tree. Then when the lilacs are done and the crabapples are blown, the large light green leaves and sprays of cream white fluff-fringe hold sway and send their fragrance on the air. A lovely companion for the early roses.
The Minuet Weigela has the prettiest deep rose-pink blooms that match up well with the Therese Bugnet Rose, and promise to look good with the peonies. I always used to dislike that shade that peony growers call “red”. I find it is quite good with Charles De Mille roses- and now Minuet Weigela.
How did I come to own one of “those” peonies? A gift…it’s always worth it to try plants from someones generous offerings. It is wise, however, to place them in an experimental area to see how they do, what they look like, and whether they have tyrannical habits.
The little girls’ lettuce and chard is up and big enough for a salad tonight; put in the corn seed last week and let my nine year-old plant pumpkin seeds alongside the corn rows. Planted the bell peppers, sweet banana peppers, and tomatoes. The Heavenly Blue morning glories are coming up along the fence and so are the sweet pea vines.
|April 25- After the dry and warm March, the weather and soil have returned to the more normal wetness level. Now, I remember why I would often put off work on the perennials until the month of May: the clods of damp soil are unpleasant to work with and the days are less conducive to outdoor work. But intrepidly, I went forth and planted all sorts of things, motivated by the sight of so many of last falls transplants flourishing. |
I face a conflict in my gardening between the artistic and educated me and the childlike and collector me. Artistically, I know that choices have to be edited, what is left out is as important as what is chosen. Then I go to a garden store and decide that I want one of this and one of that, etc., until the garden plan becomes a challenge of how to flex and fit all these different plants together.
This year I gave in to Magnolia trees. The price was right and the weather conditions showed what a magnolia tree is capable of, nevermind that this is the first gardening year I can remember that we didn’t get blasted by late frosts. Well, I put in a ‘Jane’ liliiflora AND a ‘Royal Star’ stellata.
Soon I’ll look like an arboreteum around here, since I already have Amelanchiers, Cornus(both types), Chionanthus (due to a super price last fall), assorted fruits,…..I’ll spare you the entire list.
I also planted rose replacements, egged on by the good response to the Canadian planting technique. Although, I know these last two winters are foolers, Ohio will have a fierce unrelenting winter again that will test the technique in truth.
The lettuces I had the little girls plant are coming up nicely and it’s time to hoe the veg. garden to get rid of the weedlings. There are so many it’s scary.
|April 15- It’s a rainy day, finally, fitting for tax deadlines. Ohio’s vagaries worked in reverse, unusually warm and dry weather meant a full blossom season with even the Magnolias capable of showing their magnificence. It also meant that much was withered prematurely. |
I now understand how insidious this computer habit is: wasted several gorgeous working days figuring out my graphics software. But back to gardens: I am so unsatisfied with my gardens! I haven’t planted any new tulips and my stinginess is so apparent; tulips have to be replaced every couple years and they need to be grouped to suggest abundance. That is a general rule for gardening: generous abundance is beautiful and stingy spots of plants are pathetic. You just feel sorry for them!
The new plantings of small bulbs look great and daffodils just love it here. All my transplanted Hyacinths showed bloom this year. The bunch in front of some creamy daffodils and near the budding variegated weigela was the epitome of spring.
A type of hyacinth described as orange is really the softest pinky-apricot and meshes with any color. It is named ‘Gypsy’ I think.I planted strawberries under the vegetable garden fence so that they could grow undisturbed and keep down the hand weeding.
That garden looks wonderful right now, early summer makes everything look under control….and then July hits. The midwesterner’s mettle is tested in July’s heat, humidity, and weed explosion. That’s why this month is prime for getting rid of weeds from the perennial plantings.
I have a whole portion of my main border to redo. I’ve decided to place some shrubs there to give definition to that bed and so I can mulch it to stop the encroaching grasses.
|March 17- I am so proud of myself, I actually put in my sweetpea seeds! The day was perfect with warmth and sunshine; always nice for a gardener’s work. Although, I have been known to brave rain and cold, and misty drizzly days are ideal for planting; if one just waits for pleasant weather the work is overwhelming. And walks in the woods or a lazy nap in the sun takes precedence on days like that, anyway.|
March 25- The crocuses are in full bloom. I love to look out my window and see the bright little groups of multicolors. Usually the golden types bloom first, at least a week before any of the other colors, with the deep purple sieberi next and in concert.
Today I walked around to get close-up looks before my little girl, who can never resist, picks anymore huge bouquets. She loves a feeling of abundance and has a real appreciation of the flowers I plant. Just not in situ…they must be plucked and carried around for full enjoyment. It’s a good thing I planted many new ones last fall, they shoot up somewhat later, so my garden won’t be noticeably bereft.
The snow crocus and the larger size mix perfectly fine in my eye, unlike the different proportions of daffodils. They are now blooming together, and for years I had kept them separated, but in the places where I moved them in together everything works and the larger sizes make the far views better. I have been leaving the perennial stalks through the winter and it almost seems like a woodland verge when the crocus peeks through and blooms.
Yes, this wind scraped farmland requires an imagination to visualise that, but the garden invites such flights of fancy. In the city I grew a great wall of Boston ivy across the garage to mimic a hidden grotto of my dreamworld hidden from the trucks and traffic of a few houses away.
The best gardens are someone’s dreamworld, I think; something of their owners interior that grows into a satisfyingly fantastic elaboration- animated and colored, as well as presenting more than a few ideas of its own.
hope you enjoyed that
I edited to separate the paragraphs a bit better- but the old journal had no pictures (which style I had later begun blogging with, to the complaints of readers). Pictures were not added til much later, and photos after that.
But this gives you a picture ( so to speak) of what my gardening life was like in its heyday.
What are Ornamental Trees?
These trees are usually small with special features like interesting bark, showy flowers, or eye-catching foliage. An ornamental also has a pleasing shape and fits easily into modern yards. This may seem like a tall order of outstanding characteristics, but the “ornamental” part of the description means that the trees are selected and bred to deliver in a big way.
The main feature, however, is that the size is smaller than majestic shade trees.
Using Smaller Size Trees
Because of the more compact dimensions, a greater number of this type may be included in a suburban landscaping plan. The shorter heights may not interfere as much with overhead lines. (Though it is still wise to give utility lines a wide berth from your trees).
Read more about Positioning Trees in Your Yard on Ilona’s Garden website.
First Tip for Success
(1) Even though more trees can be planted, avoid a “spotty” look. One of the key rules of good design is to repeat elements in a cohesive way. With ornamental trees, choose to have groups of the same choice, or use the primary cultivar in several spaces within the landscape plan.
Dotting a different tree into each possible spot create a disjointed effect that lacks harmony. It is a common mistake made with perennials. The same rule applies to trees, perhaps more so.
I edge very close to disregarding this design principle at times. Something of a “collector” there is a wide selection of many desirable trees in the ornamental class. But the rule is to use a number of one plant, the effect being so much more pleasing.
Success Tip #2
(2) Choose specimens that do well in your climate zone and planting conditions. Nothing undermines the good looks of your landscaping than unhealthy trees. Or worse: dead ones! Buy from a reputable local nursery for best results or do your research to discover which of the ornamental trees thrive best on your property.
- Soil pH
- Soil structure: sandy, loamy, or clay
- Drainage is very important. Good or poor drainage, and whether the tree tolerates the moisture levels of the soil.
- Insect and Disease problems likely in your area. Some trees are resistant to problems and some much more susceptible.
Tip #3: Visit an Arboretum
This is one of my favorite tips for successful landscaping of all types. Visit a local arboretum. In my own area of Ohio we have two that I love, Chadwick and Dawes Arboretum.
No book can match the real world lessons of how a plant may look at maturity in the yard. While trips to parks and neighborhoods are great places to pick up ideas on trees to plant, the Arboretums will provide the names and placement inspiration. Taking notes can be as simple as snapping photos of favorites and their plant labels.
Making a Garden Plan
With these tips, once the trees are in place, bring bulbs and groundcovers to the base of the trees to accentuate the beauty of the season they are most attractive. Many will “play nice” with perennials and other plantings to create lovely pictures in a chosen season.
Dogwoods with spring flowering bulbs and Virginia bluebells is a scintillating spring example. Think of your own, and make pictures that bring special beauty to your property.
Are You Ready To Plant?
With these 3 tips to guide your landscape plan, choose some ornamental trees which match your situation and conditions. Fall is an ideal time to plant trees. For most species it is better than the spring. Put together a plan that includes those chosen for fragrance (Crabapples, Witch hazels), winter interest (Contorted Hazel, Stewartia Pseudocamellia), or autumn color (Acer palmatum spp, Fringe trees).
These are only a few of myriad choices available, and if you match the choice to the property (tip #2) this may well be your favorite part of the garden landscape.
The weather has proved unusual, and here is the impact for my garden; plus some jots about other notable conditions and effects.
It has been far wetter than usual, and then there is the inverted effect of our temperatures… June was as miserable as any July-August might have been. The heat and humidity was horrible at the beginning of summer, but what happened in July? Perfect June weather happened. The month of July was perfect for me: cooler temperatures, regular rainfall, prevailing blue skies. It was just lovely.
The Weather This Summer
Now, how did that weather pattern effect my garden? I could not, would not, work in those terrible temperatures of June. Weeds went wild whilst I secluded myself in an air conditioned sanctuary. However, I did manage to plant some containers and a small raised bed with many herbs, a tomato plant and some pepper plants.
Since the weather turned rainy, cooler, and more often cloudy than not, the tomatoes have not yet produced. There are a few green ones coming on… but the Swiss Chard got big and beautiful. Cucumbers have done well, but peppers (who like the same conditions as tomatoes) have done diddly-squat.
I, however, cannot complain since the weather has been good for catching up on weeding. When not working in that capacity, I simply enjoy the lovely days stretched out on my zero-gravity chair.
Getting older means not feeling guilty about such pleasures.
Now, Let’s Talk About The Japanese Beetles
They were back in their hordes this year. It meant the death-knell for my Contorted Hazels. Every year the beetles had been eating the leaves and weakening the trees, but this year there just wasn’t the strength left to the trees to rejuvenate. My dear Harry Lauder Walking Stick trees are gone and I blame the effect of the beetles.
The cherry trees were defoliated before I realized, not that there would have been anything done about it. The leaves looked a strange apricot color from a distance. That was because they were becoming skeletonized. The farmers had crop dusters out in force this year, and I suppose it was to spray pesticides for the beetles and their ilk.
A nearby orchard draped all their trees in white netting. That was a first for this area.
Here, we went ahead an put out some of the traps and (emptied loads). The trouble with traps is that they work by attracting the pests, but we had to do something. Grapevines and some of the roses were also eaten into apricot-colored oblivion.
When invaded by such numbers there is no defense from trying to pluck off the little beasts from your plantings.
After emptying out piles of beetles from the traps, I wondered whether such things could be turned into feed for chickens on those huge egg farms or something?
Butterflies And Beauty
At the beginning of this summer I was pleased to see lots of butterflies and the spotting of a lone praying mantis, but after the crop spraying, the numbers dwindled noticeably. Except for some of the cabbage butterflies; their presence survives despite all onslaughts, apparently.
There were many more Monarchs in June, and perhaps they have laid some eggs on the milkweeds. I haven’t had the idea to check for them. All my time outside is spent weeding, or harvesting basil for salads and pasta.
I also have the most adorable hummingbird. I noticed the presence of hummingbirds fairly early, so went off to buy some red flowers to pop into the container plantings. The red fuchsia and scarlet sage (Salvia splendens) provide morning stops. As in past years I notice that the lilac bush is a favorite rest stop. Butterflies and hummingbirds enjoy resting on this bush for some reason.
The Rural View
Earlier summer had flooded the fields. The crop plants are mostly recovered and while some corn remains stunted, most fields around here have 8 ft. cornstalks. All looks lush, from soybean to cornstalk to tree. As I mentioned previously, there has been much farm field spraying. While the latest was probably for insects, the other spraying was likely for diseases and fungus.
The hayfields look like they yielded exceptionally well.
I imagine other neighbors are also having a slow harvest of tomatoes- I don’t see any signs for roadside sales of the fruits.
Today was misty and cloudy with comfortable upper 70 temperatures. I hope it stays comfortable during the coming month, and I might get my chores, well not done exactly, but progressing forward.
How has your summer gone? (Because yes, it is almost gone already!)