Posts Tagged With: irvington garden tour

I’m Famous!

Check out CAS's lovely blog entry on my big day at the garden tour. I particularly love the photo of Calvin and me, although I never thought I'd look like a Mary Engelbright card!

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The Garden Tour (or, how I talked about plants for four hours)

Huzzah! The Irvington Garden Tour today was a resounding success. I'm not sure how many people came through, but I made about 200 maps (see previous post) and we went through all of them. Despite the occasional threatening cloud, we had gorgeous weather: blue skies, light breeze, and temps in the mid-70s. CAS and son came over to help out; Calvin spent a goodly part of the afternoon mowing my sidewalk with his plastic mower. Amy F. volunteered for ticket taking, along with a couple of other lovely women. And the people were wonderful.

I spent almost all four hours in the back garden expounding on my garden, gardening in general, and cultivation of some specific plants. I answered lots of questions, and several plants came up over and over. So here's the Irvington Garden Tour FAQ, Fraudulent Farmstead edition:
Spiderwort (Tradescantia andersoniana 'Caerulea Plena')
This unassuming shade plant was an object of intense interest by visitors, partly because it's one of the few plants that flowers well in shade this time of year. It has long, strappy leaves and a scrambling habit. The blue flowers bloom in clusters in the morning, but close up by late afternoon into buds that resemble bunches of grapes. In my garden, it blooms from late spring through mid-summer. It can't handle sun, so give it full or part shade and ample moisture. Wikipedia has this to say about spiderwort.

Anabelle hydreangea (Hydrangea arborescens 'Annabelle')

This old-fashioned hydrangea sports giant clusters of white blooms that dry well. It's best in a part-shade setting, since full sun can fry it, but full shade inhibits its growth. Anabelle generally gets about 4 feet tall and equally wide. Best of all, it loves Midwestern humidity. It blooms on new growth, so in late February or early March, whack it back to the ground. You'll get stronger, less floppy stems and more blooms. Here's the Wayside Gardens entry for Annabelle.

Endless Summer Hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla Endless Summer)

This relatively new mophead hydrangea blooms on both old and new wood, so you are guaranteed blooms even in the event of a late frost. Don't prune it at all, unless a branch breaks off or something. Full size is about 5 feet tall by 4 feet wide, but my four-year-old plants are still at about 2.5' x 2.5'. These hydrangeas do best with protection from the afternoon sun and a lot of moisture. They'll be pink in alkaline soil, which is what most of us in central Indiana have. If you want them to be blue, you need to acidify the soil. You can use aluminum sulfate, elemental sulfur, or the old-fashioned method, burying rusty nails in the soil. I only need to correct soil pH every two or three years. Here's more about Endless Summer from Wayside Gardens.  


Lavender (Lavendula angustifolia and Lavendula x intermedia)
Lavender is my favorite plant; contrary to what you've heard, you can grow it in Indiana. The trick is to find plants well adapted to Zone 5. My favorites are Lavendula angustifolia (which is narrow-leafed or English lavender) 'Hidcote' and 'Mustead' for their dark purple blooms and intense fragrance. Lavindin (Lavendula x intermedia) varieties 'Grosso' and 'Provence' have long stems ideal for crafts and are particularly good for Indiana. Plant them in full sun in little hills amended with some sand to improve the drainage; they don't like wet feet or rich soil. At the end of the summer, cut off the flower stems to shape the bush into a globe. In late February or early March, cut them back by about 1/3. Don't cut into the brown, woody part, though; they won't releaf from the woody stems. Expect about a five-year life span for each plant. Wikipedia has more info about lavender here.
Caryopteris (aka Blue Mist Shrub, Blue Beard, Blue Mist Spirea)
This shrub sports small purple flowers when it starts blooming in August, and it keeps blooming through frost. Butterflies love it. I can't remember the specific variety I have, but the mature size is about 3' x 3'. Cut it back in late February to early March to between 6 and 12 inches; it flowers on new growth. It roots easily too; after a few years, you may have little shrublets for your pals. It likes full sun; in my garden it gets eastern light. It will tolerate less-than-stellar soils. This Bluestone Perennials link is for Caryopteris Longwood Blue.
Love in a Mist (Nigella damascena)
This full-sun annual fills in among the perennials in my rose border. It self-seeds like crazy, but any unwanted plants are easy to pull up. Its flowers look like bachelor buttons, but the ferny foliage is soft. The white, blue, and purple flowers are followed by seed pods that look like little lanterns. I think my Nigella is the Miss Jekyll Blend, so that's what I'm linking to. 
It was a fabulous day, and I loved talking with people about my favorite plants. Thanks to all who visited!

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My Most Excellent Maps

Not to brag or anything, but people at the garden tour liked these maps. And given that Illustrator has regularly been kicking my butt over the last ten years, I feel entitled to gloat ever so slightly at finally turning out a good product with it.

Unfortunately, Vox doesn't support PDF files. I had to upload these as JPGs. Click on the image; it will take you to another screen. Then click on the image again for a full-size version. 

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Countdown to Garden Tour

It's one more day ("One daaaaaay mooooooorrree!"–sorry, too much musical theatre at a tender age) until the Irvington garden tour. You may have been wondering why I haven't been blogging. Well, I'll tell you.

I was working. I was, in fact, working like a borrowed mule. Sometimes with Spotts, sometimes at the store, and often in my own garden, attempting to get it ready. The good news is it was in pretty good shape for the party last weekend, so this week has been a bit less frantic. Still, I have quite a bit left to do:
  • Finish weeding and deadheading the front yard borders.
  • Prune the front yard lilacs. I finished the viburnum in that border already.
  • Set new stones in berry bed.
  • Finish spreading the yard of mulch currently in a great hulking pile in my back yard.
  • Finish my totally cool garden map. I've dusted off my long-forgotten Illustrator skills to make a map/program. It's not done yet, but you can rest assured that it will rock. I'll post a PDF of it when I'm done.
  • Make with the general tidying up and whatnot.
As I have only tomorrow from about 4:00 on and Sunday morning, I'm grateful I managed to get the lawn mowed before the thunderstorm that is currently rampaging about my house. Many, many props to Amy F, who devoted an evening to weeding with me; the woman can clear a border faster than you can believe. 
Will I make the deadline? Who knows? Either way, the garden is looking pretty good. Once the tour is over, maybe I'll be able to kick back on my (newly painted) garden bench with a cold beverage and watch the butterflies. 

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Updated to-do list

With the Midsummer party fast approaching and the garden tour hot on its heels, I'm starting to feel some pressure to complete garden tasks. I'm not too worried, though, as the BF spent a goodly portion of Sunday helping me in the garden (he mowed the lawn and cleaned the gutters, which were starting to sprout maple seedlings) as well as completing work on my most excellent potting bench (see previous post). Terry and Amy from Spotts have both offered to help with weeding, etc., and both my sister and CAS are on-tap for day of hostessing duties with me. So it's under control. It just doesn't look like it when I examine The List.

  1. Finish planting berry bed.  
  2. Mulch the berry bed and add some stepping stones.
  3. Cut back the honeysuckle bush before planting in shade border.
  4. Plant the ninbebark shrub in the shade bed . 
  5. Plant a coleus container. 
  6. Plant window boxes and pots. The windowboxes are seriously waterlogged thanks to recent heavy rains. I'm hoping with a severe cutback I can salvage most of the plants.
  7. Figure out a shrub to replace nest spruce in front yard. Found a deutzia 'Nikko'. Planted it on Sunday.
  8. Finish painting potting bench and place it. It is, as earlier reported, fabulous.
  9.  Clean and repair garden bench. 
  10. Paint garden bench the same turquoise color as my potting bench. Primer and one coat done, one still to go.
  11. Level out holes where potting bench will go, move it into place, and clean up work area. This is mostly done, but the BF and I agree I could use some pavers under the spigot to control mud issues.
  12. Label plants.
  13. Add planting markers to raised vegetable beds. I thought I had finished this one, but the yardsticks I used for this purpose last year look terrible, so I need to replace them with the same kind of wood I used on the other square bed. On the upside, I made a very cute 4' tall bean trellis out of the conduit lengths left over from making trellises.
  14. Plant summer seed vegetables. 
  15. Plant annuals.
  16. Plant annual herbs
  17. Replace pavers in front of grill 
  18. Weed and deadhead. A lot.
  19. Mulch. Also a lot.
  20. Mow.
  21. Prune the lilacs and viburnum in the front yard.
  22. Finish digging up half of remaining hell strip. Plant. I transplanted some very pretty fern-leaf peonies from the BF's farm to that strip and added some divisions of Siberian iris and geranium. But I need to strip some more sod out. I still have strawberry plants awaiting planting, so they may also go in that bed.
  23. Create map/shameless self-promotion piece for the garden tour.
  24. Stock up on drinks and snacks for my cohostesses and garden volunteers.  
The astute reader will notice that new items have been added to The List, even as old ones are crossed off. So there's still lots to do, but I (and team Farmgirl) are making big strides. Updates as they occur.

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