in which i believe tony avent when he says it is a myth that baptisias are hard to divide

part of me wants to say that it’s been unusually cool and rainy for the past several weeks and then i remember that no, actually, it is meant to be about this temperature (50’s and 60’s) with a liberal application of rain showers this time of year and it just hasn’t happened recently (3 years?  longer?  last year this time it had already hit 90 and baked most of my plants).

so i have decided to be methodical (or obsessive, whichever adjective you prefer) and to dedicate this welcome cool and rainy period to doing perennial upkeep chores like dividing and transplanting.

including (especially??) my baptisias.  much googling revealed that it is a truth (almost) universally acknowledged that baptisias have huge gnarly roots that hate being divided but i found a naysayer in plant guru tony avent, who was quoted on a garden forum saying that is a total myth. i’m a contrarian so i went with that.  my “vanilla creme” produced many little shoots for me – my “lunar eclipse” reluctantly gave me two for the price of one – my “white knight” was completely uninterested in tony avent’s opinion.

friday 27 april:  2.2 miles; ~5500 steps
saturday 28 april:  5.2 miles; 12,151 steps

tick count: 1
number of times i was bleeding:  3
proof that there is a god and she wants me to be happy:  a pizza in the freezer for dinner (hallelujah)
proof that for every up there is a down:  i looked at my finished to-do list and man, it felt like a lot more work while i was doing it

sisyrinchium angustifolium
liatris spicata
echinacea “cheyenne spirit”
tiarella cordifolia
sanguinarea canadensis “rosea”
sanguinarea “multiplex”
cimicifuga “brunette”
hakenochloa “all gold”
burgundy lace fern
aruncus diocious
primula kisoana

germination report:
sanguinara canadensis “rosea” (!!!!!) from seed i collected last year
asclepias ovalifolia
asclepias viridis
asclepias tuberosa
asclepias exaltata
asclepias hirtella
asclepias purpurascens
asclepias syriaca
asclepias incarnata
asclepias verticillata
asclepias arenaria

wild senna
aslcepias incarnata “cinderella”
echinacea “pow wow white”
crooked stem aster


8 may 2016: continuing the woodland wildflower garden


over a couple of different weekends i have laid out and prepped (with black plastic for solarization) my woodland wildflower garden under a small copse of trees.


this was my first round, using the basic layout from my garden-planning book, and i added to it with some ‘dalmation creme’ foxgloves because why not? i also added, behind the trees as a sort of shrub hedge, several species peonies that are woodland suited. they have the greatest name ever: molly-the-witch. who wouldn’t want a peony named molly-the-witch? most of the time, it is a yellow flower, with occasional variations into the pink spectrum. perfect. i am going to underplant them with violets and geranium samboor.


here’s a better shot of the area, where i added several more combinations. the main one is a grouping of Trillium lutem with a border of heuchera and interplanted with lilies of the valley.  i saw this combination in david culp’s the layered garden and i have been obsessed with it.  i also plan to add pulmonaria, because i love those as well.  they are so interesting too look at and they have awesome foliage.

pulmonaria ‘opal’

finally, i bordered the whole shebang with a combination i found on pinterest:

japanese forest grass, sedum sieboldii, ladys-mantle



garden diary 16 april 2016: the “spring garden” gets a plan and a layout, and some of the boxes get emptied


another bit of inspiration from my go-to source, perennial combinations by c. colston burrell.  i fell in love with the combination of native woodlanders and more exotic beauties, like daffodils and pulmonarias and hellebores.

i was also struck by this combination (also from the book) and it became my ‘mood board’ photo:


i love foamflowers (tiarella) and developed a weird obsession with primula kisoana after reading about it and discovering that it is hard to find, because of course i did. i did track down some seeds from Plant World Seeds in the UK, and i have winter sowed them (no sprouts yet) and i found them for sale at both my local catskill native nursery and by mail-order from edelweiss perennials.

in one of my (many) plant orders from this spring, i indulged in some special selections just for this combination, including a hybrid of heuchera and tiarella called “heucherella”. this one, ‘cracked ice’, has gorgeous purple-blue foliage that went really well with the color scheme i am going for under my birch trees:  yellow, white, blue, and pale pink.  to that end, i eschewed a classic bleeding heart and went with a pale white selection called ‘amore rose’.  i think it will blend well into a design i am working on behind the birch trees as well.

the big score (and sigh of relief) on this design was the virginia bluebells, which i ordered bare-root earlier in march and which came, like, the one weekend all winter that it was cold.  i was convinced that i had not properly potted the roots, but as i dug them out this weekend i saw them emerging just the way they are meant to.  i guess mother nature really has it under control – it’s us who mucks it up!

i also filled in and added to the planned combo with some new ideas:  crested iris (iris cristata), siberian iris, bloodroot.  here’s a kind of weird shot of the area with the plantings laid out for digging in:


on the gray area, really close to the roots of the trees, i plan to put a mixture of ferns (probably christmas fern / Polystichum acrostichoides) and a sedge (probably pennsylvania sedge) and if i can get it, four-leaf milkweed (asclepias quadrifolia). all of these guys can take the dryness that close to the roots.

garden diary: 11/12/13 march 2016



spotted:  wood frogs, daffodils (DAFFODILS ALREADY?!), grape hyacinth, cherry buds, monarda foliage, yarrow foliage, witchhazels in bloom (FINALLY)


also, my first winter sowing results: some annuals in my large box of “bee-friendly” plants for the willow bed, and breadseed poppies.

i cut and prepped three new areas for flower beds, meaning, i laid out their approximate shape and size with either a garden hose or a 100-foot extension cord, then edged around it with my old half-moon edger.  then i took a rest, because that was tiring.


then, fortified by hot pockets and diet coke, i sallied forth again into the yard and prepared the cut areas for solarization.  this year, for a change, i actually splurged and bought several rolls of thick black plastic for the purpose.  that way, i can cover the to-be-planted areas and smother the grass underneath without any herbicides or other sprays.  depending on what is ready to be planted when, i will either cut through the plastic where appropriate or pull it off and mulch around the plantings.  i am anticipating that this year the plastic will stay on for most, if not all, of the summer, so that the new bits can settle in without too much competition.  then next year i can mulch and build up the beds.

in fact, while doing this i finally had an epiphany on a tough shady area i’ve been battling for a few years…

…so of course i had to order more plants to fill the aforementioned shady area.