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 Jun 26th, 2015

When the past catches up to you

Jun 26

…it’s usually an unpleasant surprise.

Not this time. Recently I’ve been “contacted” by people I haven’t seen or heard from in a couple of years informing me that I’ve been missed. This post is dedicated to one of them, Becky at stonewallgarden.blogspot.com

I still like to visit your blog, but it was better and funnier when you were there! Ed uses wood mulch and every time I see a birds nest fungus, I think of you!

Now I’ve got to think of something funny besides my resemblance to fungus.

Guess, I’ll just post about where I’ve been hiding and hope something amusing comes to mind. I’ve been spending a lot of time on Long Island were I’ve been busy gardening lately. (week on – week off) Lets start with a couple of photos:

Front bed – June 8
Front flower bed

Front bed – June 20
front bed just over a week laqter

12 days later the Coreopsis “Zagreb” and the unidentified Sedum are in bloom. Both are favorites of mine. Both, like my wife prefer full sun and propagate easily. The propagation process works a bit different with the plants. Good thing too, taking cuttings from my wife and sticking them in the ground is probably a criminal offense.

Sedum has to be the easiest plant to propagate. Just snap off a stem and stick it in the ground. Those cuttings in the foreground were already well rooted after 2 weeks. They like the ground being kept moist but it’s not an absolute requirement. I’ve had broken stems dropped on the ground take hold without any watering.

The Coreopsis “Zagreb” isn’t as easy as Sedums because you should keep the soil moist. I like to pot my Zagreb clones and keep them in partial shade. Once established they go to a garden. Zagreb is also a spreader given loose well drained soil kept moist. I generally plant 1 gal. pots as ‘plugs’ about a foot apart. They’ll generally close ranks in a season.

June 8 – Frog fountain
frog fountain

Originally the fountain bubbled out of the “bedrock” under the frog. I usually don’t add garden nick nacks because I find them tacky. None of the others visible in the photo were placed by me. I only added the frog because I dug it out after finding it half buried in the old landscape and figured I might as well clean it up and use it. The carved wooden mushrooms and stone geese aren’t bad looking and I have to admit to liking them. I still like the natural look of the fountain without the frog but it does add a pleasant sound of water falling.

June 8
front bed

Unseen is the “Walmart” parking lot in the front of the entrance garden. The parking area came within 12 feet of the front steps. You can see the boundary at the far left of the photo by the orange rose. It was a very difficult area to make “look right” because it was too narrow to really plant in depth. The original bed only extended to the first flagstones in the steps landing. Cutting 5 feet of the parking area made all the difference in the world. I’m more than happy with the results.

June 8 – the front bed gets expanded

Originally the front bed ended at the first Cedar on the right. (hidden by the Salix – the willow with white new growth foliage) There was a double gate in the fence with lawn up to it. Moving the gate was as rewarding as cutting back the parking area. With room to expand the bed the garden took on a much more pleasing look.

I’m home until after the 4th of July. I told the home owner I wasn’t going to be available in July and he was truly distressed so I said I’ll come back for another week. It truly is a dream “job”, money is not a problem and I do what I want. Dropping a couple grand for a new bed is always fun.

Which leads me to realize that generally I’m a husband’s nightmare. Most men couldn’t care less about flower gardens and dropping hundreds if not 1,000s of bucks means their dreams of a man cave, boat or whatever is being turned to mulch.

Posted by WiseAcre on May 29th, 2012

Long Island Garden

May 29

Last thing I remember was hunting wildflowers back in April. Hard to believe it’s the end of May and I haven’t been back. Busy, busy, busy. Oh, I shouldn’t forget extremely sore and tired too. The Long Island garden is finally underway. Looking back to March 2010 you can see the beginning of the destruction that lead to 6 years of gardening being wiped out.

To see more, check this out – Holey Moley

Tearing the house down

April 2012, time to start over. This is one of the few times I have taken ‘before’ photos. I really don’t like seeing them, they make anything ‘after’ look better.

The new house is beautiful but needs something besides the ‘contractors just left’ look.

new house

The future secret garden. A fence will block the view to the area at the end of the house where the master bedroom is.

future secret garden

Doing an about face, the view looks towards the street. There’s gong to be one long narrow flower bed running along the property line. Over time it will gain more depth. Right now I have to limit the size of the planting areas. Even limited space is going to require 1000’s of perennials.

long bed

The old straight driveway is gone, replaced by a curved drive that leads to a large parking area. Yet to be finished, it will be done in crushed stone.


I couldn’t help myself. All the owner needed to say was he wanted to see a striking display as he drove in. There’s going to be one massive flower bed right off the bat.

Big plans turn into a hard-pan nightmare. Two full days of roto-tilling clay ‘concrete’ got me down about 3 inches. I wanted 6 but even with a rear tine self-propelled tiller I got pretty beat up. The tiller bucked and bounced more than a rodeo bull.

large flower bed

20 yards of ‘manufactured’ compost added another 3 – 4 inches of depth to the bed and made tilling much easier. The ‘topsoil’ is now mostly ‘compost’.

compost added and tilled

It comes as no surprise. Dig a hole in compacted clay and you end up with a pond after a heavy rain. Add loose clay and compost and the down slope section of the bed becomes soup. A thick pea soup like mess stopped my planting activities. I’ve changed my plans for the area not yet planted. There’s going to be a pond at the point instead of a huge boulder and Astilbes will be replace with Yellow Flag and Japanese Iris along with some Ligularia.

one sopping wet flower bed

I said it was big. There’s already over 600 perennials in the bed. Astilbes make up a major portion in order to get one big mass of color. Other perennials are Bee Balm, Black Eyed Susans, Bug Bane, Joe Pye Weed, Ligularia, Siberian Iris, Sweet Woodruff, purple leaf Coral Bells and I’m sure there’s something else I forgot.

one huge flower bed

I did start planting the narrow flower beds around the perimeter of the property. I’ll get back to those later but here’s one quick view of a small section that’s adjacent to the secret garden area. The small lawn cutout is my sitting area. Behind the chair are 3 blueberries. What was I thinking when I told the kids what they were? Now I’ll have to see just who gets to them first.

narrow bed

This was pretty much the view in mid May. I came home for a week to plant a shrubbery then returned for another week to do some more planting. So far there’s over 1000 perennials in the ground. It’s a good start.

So if you were wondering what happened to me, now you know. I’ve been playing.

Posted by WiseAcre on Apr 25th, 2010

Holey Moley

Apr 25

I went to see the hole. I knew the house and garage was history but it still seemed a bit odd not seeing them when I pulled into the driveway. From this vantage point things almost look normal.


Once past the gate it’s easy to see things are far from normal. Small mountains have sprouted in the lawn. Thank goodness the excavator left the area between the trees undisturbed. I was afraid the trees would be killed if he smothered the whole root zone by piling dirt there too.


There’s the remainder of the house but where’s the hole?


Holey Moley. That is one mother of a BFH*.


Guess they decided to shore up one side rather than go any farther into the neighbor’s yards. Thank goodness, I really didn’t want all that extra work putting their yards back together too.


*Big Freaking Hole

I didn’t drive 400 miles to just go look at a hole. Tomorrow I’m headed to the east end of the island and my favorite perennial grower. I need to find out exactly how many potted plants I can fit in my truck.

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