WiseAcre Gardens

north of the adirondacks – wildflowers & perennials that survive winters colder than my wife's feet

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Posted by WiseAcre on May 18th, 2009

Chapel Street Garden

May 18

Two plants are making a statement in this garden. I’m afraid the Woolly Thyme is a bit louder than the Speedwell and is grabbing all the attention of the passerbys that drive by. Those walking have a bit more time and get a chance to focus on both but you and I both can guess what is catching their eye first.

Chapel Street Garden

Woolly Thyme – Thymus pseudolanuginosus

Planted last year in the cracks between rocks this creepy little thyme has started to cover the rock. By the end of this season it should finish the job and become the green ‘water’ falls I invisioned. That is except when in bloom, during show time I don’t care what it appears to look like. The carpet of color will make it’s own statement.

Woolly Thyme in bloom

Woolly Thyme is a tiny plant and only grows about a 1/4 inch high. I love using it to cover rock in sunny dry areas where moss is out of the question. The flowers are tiny too but it’s habit of forming a carpet of blooms is one more reason that makes this a very impressive addition to the garden.

Woolly Thyme Flowers

I can’t help but to get in just a bit closer for a better look. I prefer to call this plant by it’s common name. When I try to say pseudolanuginosus people think I’m swearing.

Woolly Thyme flower

Speedwell – Veronica chamaedrys

This low growing Veronica is a pretty plant with it’s blue flowers. It’s also pretty aggressive. Give it sun and well drained soil and it will take off for parts unknown. I once had a patch that must have covered 600 square feet. No kidding, the patch had to be at least 20 x 30 without exaggeration. Do I really have to say it makes a great ground cover in sunny dry areas?

Speedwell ground cover

The flowers are small but numerous enough to give the area where the plants are growing a blue haze. They are all to fleeting though.

Veronica chamaedrys flowers

I’m very pleased with the way this garden is turning out. Planted last year it has had a chance to become established and I’m looking forward to the progression of blooms. But I’m not done yet. The poor home owner hasn’t seen me come back from the perennial nursery yet this year. I say poor because I don’t think dropping a couple hundred bucks at a time in the garden is any big deal as long as the money comes from their tree.

I just love spending their kid’s inheritance so I can play in the dirt.

Posted by WiseAcre on Apr 15th, 2009

Sandstone Garden Path

Apr 15

Well the first garden path of the year is behind me now. Sometimes I do finish what I start. I can’t take all the blame though since getting good sandstone slabs is harder than you might think. I didn’t finish this walk last year since the supply of good slabs ran out.

Sandstone source

Availability isn’t the only problem. The supply ‘store’ is not much more than a hole in the ground surrounded by piles of rock. Believe me hand picking stone can be a pain in the backside. Digging through the piles to hand pick usable stone, getting it to the truck and then loading it all takes it’s toll. Then once I get it to where it’s needed I have to unload. It is slabs like these and not the big 7 ft x 4 ft ones that are back breakers.

Slabs on truck

I try to lay the stone as it comes off the truck. Believe me you don’t want to move it any more than you have to. This is where the fun begins. Building a walk with slabs is like putting a jigsaw puzzle together. The only difference is you need to cut the pieces to fit. It really is not hard. A chisel and hammer works just fine. Now it takes some really good whacks with the hammer so you better have good eye-hand coordination. Even then, I can attest to having some fingers that don’t feel like they used to.

Sandstone cutting

This is where picking the right stone makes all the difference. You want good solid stone – not flaky or loosely layered for cutting. Fresh stone (yes fresh) will cut easy, old stone that’s been exposed to the air for a long time gets hard and brittle and will shatter in directions you don’t want.

This is what I call a rough walk. The edges are not perfect and the width varies some. Since the idea is to have plants overlap the edges it doesn’t make much sense to over do the labor or to waste large slabs by cutting them up for that perfect fit. Close enough is all that’s needed here.

Sandstone Garden Walk

The boulders were placed last year.

Chaple Street Garden

child: – Mommy why does that guy have a big rock on his truck?
Mom:- Because he’s an idiot, sweetheart.
child: – Why is he an idiot?
mom: – Because he puts big rocks on his truck.

Posted by WiseAcre on Jun 24th, 2008

Chapel Street Garden

Jun 24

The Chapel Street planting is filling out now that I’ve managed a couple of runs to the perennial grower. I know it’s taking a long time but considering each round trip is over 900 miles people are lucky to get anything.

 Chapel Street Garden

 Getting a bit closer on the left side

Chapel Street Garden

Now the right side

Chapel Street Garden

I’m growing a couple new varieties and am happy with them so far.

Coreopsis Verticillata ‘Creme Brulee’

Coreopsis 'Creme Brulee'

The first is a real test. I only wished I took more when offered to try them out. The “Plantage” on Long Island is offering a new variety of Coreopsis ‘found’ in the owners garden and they’ve been busy propagating it for us lucky gardeners. Coreopsis Verticillata ‘Creme Brulee’ seems almost a cross between the broad leaf and needle leaved types.  The foliage is a very narrow leaf and the flowers are similar to ‘Moonbeam’ and ‘Zagreb’.

 The ‘Creme Brulee’ is blooming before the ‘Zagreb’ which is only beginining to bud.

Coreopsis 'Creme Brulee'Wouldn’t you agree this is a very nice?

 Achillea m. ‘Paprika’

Achillea 'Paprika'

 I have avoided Yarrows since transplanting some ‘wild’ Yarrow into a garden years ago. That garden is long gone but the Yarrow has established a colony that only the lawn mower keeps restrained. I have a feeling if it wasn’t mowed it would have spread to the next town by now. But newer varieties of Achillea are not nearly as aggressive so I thought I give ‘Paprika’ a chance. It was just too hard to resist those nice red blooms.




Achillea 'Paprika'

 They are a bit floppy right now. Right after being planted they were hammered with one hell of a storm.

Geranium pratense ‘Hocus Pocus’

 I had to try the ‘Hocus Pocus’ just for the foliage. The color is a deep purple and it make for a great contrast against the light colored rock and the green of the Sedum. The flowers are nice too.

Geranium 'Hocus Pocus'

And now for something completely different!

This daylily should almost be considered a wildflower. I haven’t seen any of these sold in years but the supply around here is almost unlimited. Miles of roadside are lined with these large old daylilies. They’re quite tall often growing over 4 feet high. Unlike the newer daylily varieties these must be considered very aggressive. They’re not hard to controll but you better not forget or you’ll be up to your wazoo in them.

Common Orange Daylily

Common Orange Daylily

Ok the planting is done for now. I need to make another trip to the nursery but I’m going fishing first.