End of the Month Garden in May
Hey, I have been talking about how my garden has been a bit of a bore for others to see on such a regular basis. As a followup post to Is Garden Blogging Dead, I decided to test a theory that was presented during a discussion we had at the Fling event a few weeks ago.
A garden blogger in attendance did say that photographing our own gardens might be why we hit upon nothing to blog about. Also, I feel from my own experience, it may be one reason why we can experience a drop in readership because we may be relying on repetitive postings on our own gardens.
I have thought this for a while since starting my monthly weather calendar, not because I have a drop in viewership, but because my garden, being so tiny, might be a bit boring to see over and over, month after month, season after season. Others may not find this, but I have been seeing my posts have fewer readers where I show my own garden, compared to when I post on other topics or gardens.
This got me thinking if he might be right, so I thought to test it out during the heaviest blogging time of the year, going head to head with all those wonderful garden images from the Fling.
Oh, and don’t try figuring out the chart above, because WP changes the increments of thousands depending on the quantity of monthly traffic. It is not the lowest increment and shows the time in months that the blog was started until May 2012. It is meant to illustrate that blogging is not waning and traffic is not dropping overall.
I think because my garden is so small, that others might find it a bit over-posted. So to eat my words, I am testing the market here with an End of the Month post in which I usually don’t participate. No sprucing up the garden, no fancy photo editing, just some slight cropping to the photos. I didn’t even clean the soil off the sidewalks.
For comparison, here is close to the same bloom time as last year. This post has better photos too.
These photos were taken around 9 am, with a partially overcast sky. The lens on the camera was a wide-angle lens, because as I mentioned in comments, I shoot the tiny garden BIG. This lens gets in more of the scene, and being very sharp does fine on macro shots.
In the image from my garden above, you can see that my neighbor has removed all the very old heirloom plants that I showed you last year. It looks like Roundup was used on the 90-year-old peonies. I am a bit teary eyed.
Gone is the Weigela, Snowberry, Kerria, Spiraea, and a French Lilac. The post in the previous sentence has what the home looked like last year with all the blooms. One lilac remains, behind my Arborvitae. I see some bleeding hearts that they planted, dying in the heat without rain. Iris are also planted on the opposite side, but I am not sure of their fate. I would have cut back and refurbished these old plants. I did that to the lilac you see remaining in the photo, long before these people bought the house. It is the only remaining original plant in the yard left. Gone are the heirloom shrub roses too.
Here is my garden shot on May 29th. I also was saying no one would be interested in me ripping out the Carex ‘Ice Dance’ in the front beds. Seems I was wrong, as a couple of bloggers said they would read a post like that.
Risking boring your socks off, let’s test whether or not Steve was right.
Here is the reason I removed the Carex, and why I use it often on large commercial projects. Let’s start with an image of it living happily in the garden last Oct 6th., long before the big tear out.
Carex is an evergreen plant of sorts. It retains its green color through winter, and not many perennial plants can say that in our cold Niagara winters. So let’s chalk one up in the plus column.
See the green in December? This plant is unfazed, but does get browning edges from winter winds.
The images above show the Carex weeks apart from late December 2011 to mid January 2012. The boxwood suffered substantially more bronzing from wind burn due to little snow cover than did the Carex. But see how fast it grew since October? The plant is a real speed racer. This can be both a plus and a negative. A wash on this one.
You can trim off the brown tips if you like. I have even mowed the Carex and let it grow right back up, like you would do with turf grass. I don’t necessarily recommend this, it is hard on the mower and the Carex, but you can see the frustration you get with a plant that fills in so rapidly. Plus, plus, plus. Takes a beating.
I dug out the Carex because it is the fastest growing plant there is, well I am just guessing here, but it would be a thoroughbred in the racing world worth placing a bet. It looks pretty contained in the image from October 2011, and that is a key factor. The plant runs and will overtake the world if you let it. Make darn sure it cannot escape the area where you put it. Oh, a negative here. Keep that baby corralled.
I have another plant out back that does the same thing, Campsis radicans ‘flava’, Trumpet Vine. Both plants are wonderful, but require a lot of maintenance to keep them in bounds. Boo, hiss. A lot of work to control the running and reseeding too.
So Out the Carex Came
Every three years it needs to be dug up and separated into small sprigs, which rapidly grows back by the second year to fill the space. Mounds of work in a small space. Negative on that one. They are a bear to dig out too.
My little self seeding pride and joy above is getting a little frisky also. I have so many Foxgloves starts and they generally do not like our growing conditions. These are for my friend at Experiments With Plants.
My use in commercial properties of Carex is precisely for how fast it spreads. Here the negative turns into a plus.
We have designed banks that one year they are built and within three years are consolidated, acquired and closed. So it is preferable to use fast growing plants in these situations so the property looks good without much maintenance. I add that here because the area devoted to the Carex is a huge expanse carpeted in this fast growing groundcover. No maintenance is required because it is contained and not growing in a small bed like in my garden. It is left to fill out naturally without division. Definitely a positive.
The same goes for fast food restaurants. Every five years, many of them put in completely new fast growing gardens so they mature quickly, and healthy existing plants get tossed. So Carex does its duty in these situations, then is discarded five years later. Not a positive for the plant to end up composting on the farm.
Oh, and this variety is not a true NY native, yet it often has this classification attached. It is a hybrid variety and is not on the NYS Native Plant List. You want another post with a lot of commenting? See The Melting Pot of Plants, What Goes. It has the link for the NYS Native Plants, USDA List besides all the commentary. We break even here.
So what am I replacing it with you might ask? Right now, just the annual Ageratum ‘Artist Blue’. I may pop in the low growing Blue Rug Juniper, Juniperus horizontalis ‘Wiltonii’, when they are ripped out of the next McDonald’s. Hey, you can’t beat free?
It needs to be a tough plant liking dry, hot conditions to be happy in this location. Oh, by the way, Carex suppliers will tag it “Likes partial shade and moist soil”, ” Sun: Part shade to full shade and tolerates: Wet Soil, Dense Shade, Deer” , but trust me, the plant lives anywhere. Another reason it is planted in new build conditions where soil quality is usually rather poor is that it will actually live in these conditions, even though it is certainly not optimal.
The sidewalk location on my property has these lean conditions of nutrient free rock and ruble. The Carex bakes in the sun too with no shade. This area is fast draining which the sedge likes, but it does not retain any water either. The masonry keeps the space very hot, a little better suited to the Juniper, but it is not in detriment to the Carex that I have ever noticed. The Carex has been planted here for quite a while too. I divided it twice in its time. And tossing it is equally back-breaking work.
So there you have my Carex story. Hope I did not bore your socks off or send you for another cup of eye-opening coffee.
So now, let’s look at a few plants around my garden that I have not given the heave-ho.
This Hosta really is blue, despite appearances. And it needs dividing often. I send them to plant sales.
Droopy plant alert!!!!
The Husker Red is coming along nicely.
Now the side yard.
The Barberry are bright red next to the new growth on the Yew. The Barberry are rejects from fast food properties, along with a couple of yews.
The color palette pales toward the back side yard.
The Japanese Lilac trees above and a closeup below.
But go to the front of the property and the red roses pop. And you guessed it, another plant from McDonald’s. That is actually how I got most of the red and yellow plants in my yard. Next I will be erecting the Golden Arches.
I did a post a while back on color and now you know why I know this stuff. Now for out back.
My favorite splash of colors in pinks, purples and white. The peonies pair with the Dahlia and pink geranium. This year they are less full than last year. And we had cats digging their way inside the plants. See the in and out paths? They smashed the geranium too.
The Viburnum is blooming and all my miniature Hosta and ferns are doing well.
So what do you think? Thumbs Up or Thumbs Down on home garden shots three or four times a month?
I am joining the End of the Month View postings over at The Patient Gardener’s Weblog. Go see others from around the world and show that our gardens are fun to view.