My end-of-June garden

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My garden was featured in a garden tour at the end of June. While June can be a fabulous month for garden tours in most of the country, my garden is usually at its best in July. I think my garden looked better the week after the garden tour! and, two weeks later, it’s even prettier.

While I’m weeding my gardens, I pay special attention to volunteers that have popped up throughout my ornamental and vegetable gardens. I’m particularly fond of this Dianthus that’s been appearing throughout my gardens.

Dainthus sp.

Dianthus always seems to find the right place to volunteer – this time near a small water feature.

One of the delights of having a garden is being able to eat fresh salad greens all summer long. Right now, my spinach and lettuce are at their best.

Heirloom Bloomsdale Longstanding Spinach and Black-seeded Simson lettuce

Heirloom Bloomsdale Longstanding Spinach and Black-seeded Simpson lettuce

Heirloom Bloomsdale Longstanding Spinach has a fabulous yield and is slow to bolt. I’ve been plucking small leaves to put in salads and we’ve been enjoying it with dinner – steamed with a dab of butter.

 

One of the secrets to using fewer pesticides on my food crops is using floating row cover to keep the insects away from the plants.

Floating Row Cover

Floating Row Cover keeps the insects away so I don’t have to spray.

In these photos you see my broccoli and kale under cover. The kale leaves are always perfect and my broccoli is beautiful!

 

I’m loving being outside to experience my garden in bloom. My oriental poppies stunned everyone with their size and color this year.

Oriental Poppies

Oriental Poppies

Because we had a cool spring, they bloomed later than usual. The last ones to bloom are extending the show. They were definitely one of my WOW plants!

 

My garden shed has been flanked by a few large-leafed, moisture-loving plants for years. This year, they’ve grown so large that we’re having a hard time getting into the shed.

Astilboides tabularis on the left and Duck's Foot Rodgersia on the right.

Astilboides tabularis on the left and Duck’s Foot Rodgersia on the right.

On the left is Astilboides tabularis and on the right is Duck’s Foot Rodgersia (Rodgersia podophylla). For the time being, we’re squeezing through the foliage, looking for dinosaurs.

 

I love to have a touch of whimsy in the garden. This year, I took advantage of a tree trunk that houses a chickadee family.

Tree lady

Tree Lady

Tree lady protects her flock.

Snowbird Gardener Inspiration – Vacation to Sunny Florida!

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What does a snowbound northerner crave after a brutal winter? GARDENS!

I’ve had the good fortune to be able to visit the fabulous Marie Selby Botanical Gardens in Sarasota, Florida during spring break for several winters. Many of the tropical plants grown at this garden inspire my gardens in Maine in the summer time. Here are a few of the plants that got my attention this year.

Caladium

Caladiums – Who needs flowers with leaves like this? I’ve had good luck growing them in Maine as long as I give them a head start in the house. They detest cold soils and may fail to sprout if planted directly in the ground in spring.

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Staghorn Ferns make fabulous houseplants. Several of my friends grow them in Maine.

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I’ve grown plenty of Alocasia in my garden in the summer but I’ll be looking for this very different one. I love the white markings. Envy!! I start these in a warm area in the house to give them a head start.

Tropical pitcher plants

Tropical pitcher plants will become a conversation piece houseplant.
(Nepenthes sp.)

Tropical pitcher plants

Tropical pitcher plants love the warm greenhouse at the Marie Selby Botanical Garden.

Tropical pitcher plants

Tropical pitcher plants.

Australian Tree Fern

I have a love affair with fern leaves. This Australian Tree Fern towered over me – beautiful, lacy, sculptural leaves. I’ve got to try it as a houseplant.

Orchid

The Marie Selby Botanical Garden is know for its world-class orchid collection.

Orchid

This tropical orchid is related to the beautiful lady slippers that grow in northern areas.

For more information about growing these beautiful tropical plants go to the Marie Selby Botanical Garden website: http://www.selby.org/

I highly recommend a vacation to a warmer area – for gardening inspiration and to recharge your creative energy. When I return to Maine, I’ll be ready to put my hands in the dirt and start my gardening. My suitcase will certainly have room for a few “green travelers” from Florida! (An Australian Tree Fern, perhaps?)

The Benefit of Snow – YOU CAN GROW THAT!

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It’s been a particularly snowy winter in Maine. Skiers and snowmobilers have been ecstatic with the accumulation of the white stuff… but gardeners only measure how much snow has to melt before we see the ground.

On the positive side:
Snow can make a plain little table into a piece of art!

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Birds like snow art too!

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Snow insulates the soil, buffers the extremes in temperature and protects all my dormant plants.

Snow gives you a different perspective on your garden.

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I’ll have to be content to look outside through these windows…

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..with my houseplants, patiently awaiting Spring.

October in a Maine Garden

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There’s still lots of color to be found in my Orono, Maine garden.

Hydrangea 'Strawberry Vanilla'

Hydrangea ‘Strawberry Vanilla’ – Pure white in summer and brilliant pink by fall.

Castor Bean Pods

Beautiful castor bean pods (Ricinus communis) command attention but beware, they’re poisonous

Spirea

Spirea japonica ‘Firelight’ displays a remarkable mixture of pink, gold, orange and red.

Rudbeckia hirta 'Indian Summer'

Rudbeckia hirta ‘Indian Summer’ blooms and blooms and …

Verbena bonariensis

Verbena bonariensis volunteers throughout my garden

Delphinium Envy

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I’ve had Delphinium envy for a long time.
This year it’s particularly intense.

Betty's pale blue delphinium

Betty’s pale blue delphinium

I’ve been coveting my neighbor’s tall blue spikes for weeks.
They’re poking up all over her garden.

Betty's dark blue delphinium

Betty’s dark blue delphinium

I can see why the centers are called bees.

Delphinium bees

Delphinium bees

I’m so glad that my very good friend and neighbor is a gardener.
I can borrow the view across the street.

Next year I will have delphiniums!!

Spring Break

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I  had the good fortune of going to Florida this winter. What does a gardener do when they’re on vacation? You guessed it – get some gardening inspiration.

I took a few Florida Master Gardener classes and learned that gardeners in Florida deal with many of the same things we do in Maine – weeding, watering and maintenance. They have examples of fabulous landscapes and many, many landscapes that consist mainly of plants shaped by people with power tools (boring).

Anthurium veitchii

Anthurium veitchii

I visited the Marie Selby Botanical Garden again.

Clerodendrum quadriloculare 'Brandon'

Clerodendrum quadriloculare ‘Brandon’

It never fails to awe me.

Dendrobium smillieae

Dendrobium smillieae

There’s a greenhouse filled with orchids and lush tropical plants; I love the bamboo;

Bamboo

Bamboo

the koi fish pond

Koi

Koi

and of course, the banyon tree.

Banyon

Banyon

I had the pleasure of attending garden club meetings in North Port as well as Punta Gorda. A highlight of my trip was visiting the garden of Gordon Bower who is a palm tree collector.

Palm

Palm

I never knew there were so many.

Florida, I’ll be back!