The seedpods of Lilium martagon 'Claude Shride' give a clue to the deep red of the flowers. It's one of the few plants I let go to seed because it does not seem to weaken the plants and it increases the numbers of lilies in my garden, albeit very slowly.
The photo below was taken on Wedneday, May 28, as we started to pull out the trees and shrubs that did not make it through our monstrous winter. At this point I am much less distraught than I thought I would be. Once you have a 60-year-old tree come crashing down in a winter storm, it changes your persepctive on smaller losses.
Nothing that we took out or that suffered major die-back was a distintive design feature of the garden like the pine that came down in December, 2012. Though it's a long list of trees and shrubs that went to the city for composting, I am already looking forward to new possibilies and Zone 3 is my new mantra.
Goodbye, old friends.
All of our boxwoods came through with flying colors except for two unidentified varieties that we bought some years ago at Home Depot. All the others came from Olbrich or local nurseries and are from the Chicagoland growers program for Midwest hardiness.
Whoops! That's not completely true. We did lose one other boxwood, whose twin — planted in another area of the garden — didn't have problems. That boxwood was from the old Heronswood Nursery and had bright yellow-variegated foliage. It was grown from a cutting from Chartwell, Winston Churchill's home, making it a plant of great sentimental value.
We also lost a dogwood that Mark's brother gave us. He bought a couple of them at a close-out sale at a big box store at the end of the season. It had no specific id and I was leery about its hardiness zone. I think it succumbed due to wrong zone and late planting. That's really what happened to a number of things. Planting things from Zone 5 has not been a problem for us until this year when we had a Zone 3 winter. We lost our smallest Chamaecyparis 'Green Arrow,' another recent translplant (above).
Some things that never had problems had serious die back like our Acer palmatum atropurpureum, both of our striped-bark maples (Acer tegmentosum 'White Tigress' above) and our huge weeping Alaskan cedar (Chamaecyais nootkatensis 'Glauca Pendula'). The big Gentsch White Hemlocks had some burn damage but seem to be putting out new growth all over, unlike this little hemlock, Tsuga canadensis 'Westonigra' (below).
The three maples we got late last May on a trip to Klehm's Song Sparrow had mixed results. The one I was most confident about — Acer truncatum 'Velazquez' (below) — succumbed. Acer palmatum 'Ariadne' and 'Spring Delight' both had lots of top dieback but sent out a flush of low growth that appears to be the proper leaves.
On the other hand, the tiny Carolina Silverbell we got at Klehm's is doing wonderfully well and had bells all over the branches this spring even though it's barely two feet high! Our big bamboo died back to the ground for the first time. It was so large that we dug part of it out this spring. That combination is making for slow growth but it doesn't seem to have suffered permanent damage.
One of our area's premier gardeners, Joan Severa, visited our garden last month. She said that when she was just starting out, her garden "mentor" told her there was one thing you must understand if you are going to be a gardener: "Things die!" It's a lesson that many of us had forgotten until this winter. But one that I expect will stay with most of us this time around.
In the midst of all my gardening books are two cardboard magazine holders. One is for the current year's garden catalogs and the other is for the prior year's catalogs. A good catalog offers more than pretty pictures. There is critical information about planting, mature size, climate limits and light requirements. I keep two years' worth of catalogs because nurseries often rotate what they offer, building up stock one season and selling it the next.
If I consistently order from a nursery I may keep their catalogs for lots longer than two years. My oldest Klehm catalog is from 1995 when it was more words than pictures and included beautiful water color illustrations. They were memorable.
Even though I order via on-line catalogs and look through their hundeds of words and images on the computer, nothing matches slowly paging through a paper catalog. This year Klehm re-instated their print product — brought back by popular demand after a year without a catalog to scroll through with our hands.
The Klehm family knows their customers and they took our distress to heart. Their response doesn't really surprise me. That's why I keep coming back: fabulous plants from an equally fabulous family of plants people.
Since we had a mini heatwave this week I took advantage of the chance to wander in the garden before the big temperature drop-off began again. Everything looked good except for the plants that I meant to cut back and clear out and never got to. I mainly wanted to be sure that the cages I put around a number of plants were all in place and securely fastened to the ground with no openings a tiny critter could crawl through.
Though I keep seeing beautiful cages on-line, like the ones directly above and below, mine are nothing more than chicken wire bent over on itself to make a cylinder and held in place in the ground with sod staples. On my garden tour I counted 28 cages of different sizes. I made a few cages the same height as the plants they're protecting but most are the full height of the wire.
That's because I now know animals will just meander on top of the snow and eat whatever they can reach. Depending on snow depth that means you can lose everything sticking above the wire cage. Yes, I learned that one the hard way. The same way I learned that a rabbit chewing a new shrub to the ground the first year or two after it's planted is often the death knell for that plant.
So now I cage newly planted things that can easily be disloged like bare root Japanese peonies that went in this fall. All the new trees and shrubs that I bought last spring at Klehm's Song Sparrow Nursery were also caged. And any dwarf shrubs that I don't want to take chances with like my mini Ginkgos or Acer palmatum 'Mikawa Yatsubusa'.
Some of the first cages I made used this stiff wire with small openings. I discovered it was harder to manipulate than chicken wire and it is more visible in the landscape. Caging plants is my least favorite garden chore but it's fun compared to discovering a favorite shrub or tree decimated and dead from hungry animals during the winter.
Do you cage any of your plants and have you got a better or easier method to suggest?
Neither snow, nor wind, nor rain, nor multiple frosts have put a damper on this bamboo. We planted Fargesia rufa 'Green Panda' (from Song Sparrow) in 2006 and it has performed beautifully. It is a clumper and is almost at its mature size of 6-8 ft. high x 8-10 ft. wide.
That's a pair of dwarf Ginkgos inside the chicken wire cages. Don't know if critters are likely to munch on them but I'm not taking any chances.
The little shrub has creamy white foliage over fresh green, as evidenced from the Klehm catalog photo below. It's a deciduous conifer which originated as a witch's broom on M.g. 'White Spot,' according to the on-line description. If you are not familiar with Dawn Redwoods, they have delightful feathery needles that typically turn a cinnamon color before they drop in the fall.
KLEHM SONG SPARROW NURSERY PHOTO
This shrub seemed to settle into our garden immediately and has had no pest or critter problems all season — unlike neighboring shrubs which have had both. Though it still has to make it through its first winter, I'm not worried given that we have three other Dawn Redwoods who've been doing well for a number of years. I'd highly recommend giving M. g. 'North Light' a try.
Mark took the photo below recently in our garden which indicates our shrub lost some of its white over the season. It's continued to do well despite the heat and dry conditions we've had lately. I've done very little supplemental watering and it is in full sun.
Woodland peonies produce seedpods that are as gorgeous in this season as the flowers are in April.
These are all from my Paeonia obvata var. alba.
My Paeonia japonica produces similar seedpods but a bit smaller. These photos were taken about a week ago and the seedpods are even more open and exotic-looking now.
Though this plant is from the late Seneca Hill Perennials you can find similar plants at Song Sparrow, Hillside Nursery, and Plant Delights — just not every year. It may take a bit of searching but they are worth the effort.
If you'd like to see them in bloom, click on peonies in the category list.
It's also worth noting that the leaves on woodland peonies do not have the fungal problems that my regular garden peonies seem to suffer from by late summer. All my woodland peonies are still fully leafed-out and looking good.
This is a special benefit that we enjoy as members of the Wisconsin Hardy Plant Society. Klehm's is a mail-order nursery and does not normally have on-site shopping for the general public.
But in the last few years the WHPS has been one of a group of organizations that has been favored with a unique shopping experience at the nursery. There is a limited time slot for shopping and we're on our own for transportation to Klehm's which is about an hour away from Madison.
Once we arrived Klehm's well-oiled machine swung into action. Staff were outside directing us where to park and telling us it was OK to take a shortcut across the grass to the shipping room where we would begin our shopping experience.
The pictures above show Klehm empolyees signing us in on their computers. Then they gave us a list showing all the plants, the hoop houses where they were located, prices, and a map of the set-up. These "shopping lists" were attached to clipboards along with a pen.
If that wasn't enough, there were coffee and doughnuts available to fuel us up before we began our shopping spree.
If you noticed, in the first image, the sign says "Welcome Ed and Friends." Ed (above and below right) is UW Horticulture Professor Emeritus Ed Hasselkus, the link between Klehm's and the WHPS. Ed, a longtime member of WHPS, has also had a long professional and personal relationship with Roy Klehm, Vice President of both Beaver Creek Nursery and Klehm’s Song Sparrow Farm and Nursery.
This is how Rotary Botanical Gardens described Roy (above left takling with Ed):
"Roy Klehm represents the fourth generation of his family to work in the nursery business. His grandfather was a founder of the American Peony Society, and in the plant world, the Klehm name is practically synonymous with peonies because of the number he and his family have hybridized and that they grow and sell.He has hybridized and selected peonies his whole career, naming about 300 new varieties and growing between 700 and 800 named varieties of peonies."
Ed and Roy are two of the pre-eminent men in the horticulture field, both are generous with their time and knowledge. And the Wisconsih Hardy Plant Society is lucky to share in the largesse of both.
Ed Hasselkus, age 80+, got the ball rolling as he headed toward the hoop houses with Jane LaFlash, WHPS Membership Coordinator and Trip and Tour Co-Coordinator.
I exit the starting gate with my list, my pen in my mouth and my embroidered Hmong bag with checkbook and credit cards at the ready. I had also downloaded photos and info about the plants I was interested in and printed them out, in essence creating my own mini print catalog.
Adjacent to where we started was a flatbed truck with special sale plants including White Tigress maple trees. These are the first boxes filled with the purchases of folks who started buying before they even made it to the hoop houses.
Klehm staff were outside the hoop houses putting together boxes to hold our plants and writing our names on them so no boxes got confused. They even took them up to the check-out area to await our arrival if we didn't want to be burdened carrying them ourselves.
There are shade and sun houses, spots for evergreens and woodies, and multiple dwellings for the tree peonies.
Cindy Fillingame, current president of the West Side Garden Club and a friend and gardening neighbor of ours, was one of the many serious shoppers we saw on Saturday.
Everywhere you looked, there was Ed Hasselkus chatting with folks. I corralled him to ask a plant question. Always nice to have an expert on hand!
It didn't take long before folks begin to load up their purchases for transport (above and below).
This year Klehm joined the chorus of nurseries who no longer send out a print catalog. While I spent a lot of time pouring over their on-line catalog, there were still plenty of plants that were a surprise to see in person. I was so dazzled by this evergreen that I forgot to note its name; though Mark is of the opinion that it may be too bright for our garden.
Sometimes the way a plant is captured in a picture by Mark gives me a whole new appreciation for its attributes as well as new ideas about how to use it in the garden. Typically I use these colorful-leaved Heucheras as single accents but I love how they look in this photo: big broad swaths of contrasting color. I can imagine them in a checkerboard pattern in the right location.
We are not in the market for tree peonies but they were in full flower during our visit so we stopped in every peony hoop house. I kept ooohing and aaahing and pointing out my favorites to Mark.
He was enamored of this dark red one as big as his hand.
I liked this slightly smaller one that was the same color as my hand! I did write down their names just in case we decided we need them in our garden.
This is probably the most famous tree peony in the world: Joseph Rock. This is the double version.
As you might imagine, Klehm's has row after row of hoop house complete with heaters and sprinklers.
They are lined with plastic and covered with netting. So they can be kept warm or airy as needed.
There are also massive plant-growing fields as well as farm fields as far as the eye could see.
We came home with four trees and two shrubs, a pretty modest haul. And most of the trees are small enough that it will be a good ten years before they provide any serious shade. I've decided that I will enjoy watching them grow in my newly sunny garden. By the time they're mature I'll be ready to enjoy a mini forest with a lot fewer plants — surn or shade varieties — and less maintenance. At least that's the plan for now.
A big "Thank-you" to Roy Klehm and all the friendly, helpful folks at Klehm's for another wonderful Saturday shopping spree.
How could I forget to point out that daylilies, a classic Midwestern summer stalwart, have held up well under this summer's tough growing conditions. Mine performed just about as usual and I saw them blooming in gardens all over the area. Just in time for (I hope!) cooler fall weather comes a daylily sale from the fabulous Klehm's Song Sparrow Farm and Nursery. Check out their large selection — and enjoy 15% off on all daylilies.
Be sure to sign up for e-mail updates about sales and new introductions — which is how I heard about this sale. Klehm plants are not cheap but they are worth every penny. And they are a third-generation daylily and peony breeder so they really know their plants!
(Disclosure: I am not getting any remuneration for this post; I am just a long-time fan of Klehm's nursery and plants).
Photo: Hemerocallis 'Shy Boy' from Klehm's on-line catalog.
I ordered this 'Coral Sunset' peony from Klehm's Song Sparrow Nursery last fall. Amazingly I had a flower this very first year, opening on May 18. And though it was only one bloom, it was spectacular. The bud started opening a lipstick coral and it only got brighter as it unfurled. Then it aged through an array of pinks. Three very hot, sunny days after opening it still looked good but by then was a delectable baby pink moving towards white! I can hardly imagine how gorgeous this plant will be in a few years.
The catalog described it perfectly: "Intense coral blossoms with overtones of rose and accented by full, deep yellow stamen centers. Outstanding plant habit. Roy's (Klehm) favorite coral. Slightly fragrant. American Peony Society Gold Medal Selection." Worth every penny! And so bright you can spot it across the garden peeking out from behind a group of yew spheres (top).
If you love peonies, stop by the West Madison Ag Reseach Station at 8502 Mineral Point Rd. When I was there on Friday (5/18) to help set up the WHPS sale, there were two peonies blooming right outside the office at the end of the parking lot. They were identified as "Coral N' Gold", which had an amazing gold center, and 'Abalone Pearl' which was pink fading to white. Both were outstanding in flower shape, color and the plants were huge and holding up the flowers very well. It's a great chance to see unusual cultivars in full bloom.
I picked 'Coral Sunset' to contrast with a weeping purple beech tree that is its neighbor (above). Here it is in the early moring light four days after it first opened (below). This group of pictures gives you a sense of what a mature plant of this variety might look like as the flowers come and go.
Even though time of day and the light can make colors look different depending on when a photo is taken, these pictures are all untouched 'Coral Sunset' peony.