Monday, April 28, 2014

Twilight Garden

This is such a busy time of year in the garden that I have to force myself to stop and take photos. I took these one evening last week right before dusk. I love how the chartreuse foliage pops in the fading light.

The Kousa dogwood "Wolf's Eyes" has just leafed out and seems to glow in the dark. It is one of my favorite small trees.  

Deutzia with hostas, underneath Sweet Olive (Osmanthus fortunei

Salvia "May Night" growing under "Buff Beauty" rose. I severely pruned "Buff Beauty" two years ago - I did not want to do it but there were so many dead branches underneath. It seems to be coming back nicely but I would not advise pruning it like this unless you just have to.

Spirea "Gold Mound" - a truly wonderful, carefree shrub.

Smoke Tree "Golden Spirit" (Cotinus coggygria) with Lespedeza "Gibraltar" (Lespedeza thunbergii 'Gibraltar') underneath.

Chinese Snowball (Viburnum macrocephalum)

Creeping Jenny (Lysimachia nummularia) growing between the patio steps.

Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

April showers

The April rains are really causing the garden to go into overdrive. Everything is popping out all over. The white wisteria has started to bloom as well as the spirea.

I've never seen so many blooms on Leathleaf Viburnum (Viburnum rhytidophyllum). The pink blooms to the right of it are on the Piedmont Azalea (Rhododendron canescens)

The Kerria (Kerria japonica) continues to shine - I could not find a good viewpoint without getting the oakleaf in the photo. :( 


I love these Spanish Bluebells (Hyacinthoides hispanica) - they are among my favorite bulbs.


The blooms on the Chinese Snowball (Viburnum macrocephalum) have now turned white. It puts on quite the show. Notice all the weeding I have to do!


Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy

Friday, April 11, 2014

Tulips at UNA

I have been admiring these tulips everyday as I leave the library. We have had a few that have come back year to year but generally, tulips are treated as annuals here and planted every year. 

They are beautiful but I can't figure out why they only planted 1/4 of the bed?

Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Transplanting Large Oakleaf Hydrangeas

A few weeks ago, Michael moved out of his salon (he sold it back in December but the new owner let him rent it until April 1). I had planted various shrubs and trees on the strip behind his salon that separates the salon from another parking lot. He kept telling me that I should dig up two large oakleaf hydrangeas because they were so pretty and who knows what will happen to the plants.

In the meantime, a rather large Colorado Blue Spruce that I planted in our front garden the first year we moved into the house (1992) has continued to deterioate and several of the lower branches had died. I reluctantly decided to cut it down although this created a huge hole along our fence border. When the issue of the oakleaf hydrangeas came up, I thought that might be a good replacement for the spruce.

Transplanting is one of my least favorite jobs and I always worry if the plant(s) will make it. Since these hydrangeas were large, I had my doubts but I decided to tackle the job and get it over with. I cut the spruce down in sections (sad) and was aghast at the big hole it left (our privacy!).

The first hydrangea was the smallest of the two but it turned out to be the most difficult to dig. I finally got it out and transferred it to our house and planted it. The soil at the salon has lots of clay so fortunately the rootball stayed intact. I know it is best to prune back newly transplanted shrubs but I did not want to loose the height of the plants.

We have had several rainfalls since I moved the plants and in addition to that I have kept them watered. So far, so good! The leaves were just about to open and I have not noticed any change in them. I hope this is a good sign. It is best to move plants when they are dormant - during the winter months is best - and I know this was a bit too late. We will see what happens!

Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Spring is here

I love this time of year when everything seems to pop out overnight. I've noticed a few losses from our tough winter - at least one rose bit the dust ("Felicia") and the rosemary also looks like a total loss. Some of the obviously tender plants like the Armandi clematis and Sweet Olive (Osmanthus fragrans) survived but there are lots of brown leaves. The jury is still out on the Confederate Jasmine (Trachelosperum jasminoides). I have cut it back severely but it looks like it is still alive. Ditto on the Carolina Jessamine (Gelsemium sempervirens).

But, on to the brighter spots in the garden -

The wickedly thorny Hardy Orange (Poncirus trifoliata) is covered with tiny white dainty blooms. In the fall, it will have lovely but inedible oranges. This results in seedlings popping up everywhere that have to be dealt with. I think it is worth it, it is definately a conversation piece. I'm going to try to get some potted up this year for the Master Gardener's plant sale.

One of my favorite shrubs is Kerria (Kerria japonica) or Easter Rose. I've grown this since my beginning days of gardening. It is always in bloom at Easter time. 

The same came be said for Viburnum 'Mohawk' (Viburnum x burkwoodii 'Mohawk'). It is always a dependable bloomer and though the blooms don't last as long as the Kerria, it makes up for that with its spicy fragrance.


Chinese Snowball (Viburnum macrocephalum) is covered with greenish blooms at the top of the shrub (I've never figured out the correct way to prune this) that will turn white over the next few weeks.

The camellias are not as profuse in bloom this year but a few are notable.

"Taylor's Perfection" has the most blooms. I just love the clear pink blooms even though they have a tendency to nod.

 Only two blooms so far on Camellia "Magnoliaflora" but it is still a very small shrub.

Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginica), one of the most exquisite wildflowers.

Variegated Solomon's Seal (Polygonatum odoratum) has sweet smelling flowers but the foliage is the main attraction.

The reseeding Money Plant (Lunaria), another pretty blue wildflower.

Hosta "Dancing Queen" - I bought this last year from Harry Wallace's nursery. I was a big Abba fan back in the day.

I'm a sucker for chartreuse foliage - another favorite is Golden Creeping Jenny ( Lysimachia nummularia ‘Aurea’)

Celandine Poppy (Stylophorum diphyllum) with cheery bright yellow flowers.

Chester does not seem to be amused by any of this.

Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy