No More Invasive Shrubs

It happened so easily. Perhaps you can relate to how invasive shrubs end up in your gardens. Here in my area, the landscapers use variegated privet a lot. When we built our house in 2005, I was so overwhelmed with the building process that I didn't select the shrubs and trees.

For another year, I didn't pay attention to what had been planted. One day, I found out that we had the variegated privet that is on the invasive list - meaning that if it gets loose in the wild (which it will do), it can crowd out native species. We decided to keep the shrubs trimmed so that they wouldn't flower and set seeds.

Recently, Grumpy Gardener wrote about Five Awful Plants for the Front of Your House. There was the reminder again about invasive variegated privet. I showed the story to my husband. We knew that we really needed to go ahead and pull all of the privet from our gardens. My husband set about doing that immediately. The task was easier than he thought.

By pulling the invasive shrubs along the east foundation of our house, we had room for a garden bench by the waterfall. We widened the stepping stone pathway between the waterfall patio and the lower dining patio in the fragrance garden. I planted two urns and put on each end of the bench. We now have another nice place to sit by the waterfall.

In the garden bed along the east side of the house, we added a variety of salvia greggii, agastache, lavender and gaillardia. Since the fragrance garden already has an abundance of fragrant blooms, I focused on adding fragrant, touchable foliage plants and used the gaillardia for the shape of the blooms and long bloom time. The butterfly ginger remains in the original location.

I never realized how much sun this space received during the day until I focused on what to plant there. I took a few days to make sure of the conditions. In the summer, it has sunshine from sunrise until 2:00 pm in the afternoon. Right now, the planting is sparse as I bought small pots to save on cost. In another year, the perennials will fill in the space and it we'll have fragrant foliage along with the fragrant flowering shrubs and trees in our fragrance garden. We've had a lot of rain this week and the plants have already started growing!

After pulling the rest of the privet out of the garden beds in front, we planted more sun-loving perennials like salvia and sowed annual seeds to keep the cost down.

The project wasn't as expensive as we had thought if we don't think about the original cost of the fifteen privet located all around our property. We probably spent around $150 (we got a metal bench on sale locally for $50) to clear our conscious and create nice new garden areas.

It feels good to do the right thing.

Story and photos by Freda Cameron; Location: home garden; May 2009

Larkspur Blooms from Seeds

To say that I love these annual larkspur flowers is an understatement! The range of colors, the height and width of the larkspur is easy to use in several garden locations.

I planted a mix of Larkspur 'Galilee Blue' and Giant Imperial 'Lilac Spire' in a random pattern in October 2008. The seeds sprouted up during winter and the seedlings really began to show some height in late March 2009.

Larkspur 'Carmine King' seeds were also sown in October, but those are just now beginning to bloom and are much shorter, about knee-high. I don't know if the height is associated with the variety or with the location in my garden. The color of deep pink blends harmonically with spirea 'Neon Flash', but I also sowed the seeds all along the outside of the cottage garden fence. The Knock Out® Roses 'Radrazz' are inside the cottage garden fence, so I attempted to work with the deep magenta color scheme. Since I'm not getting the height/bloom yet, I can't provide feedback on whether or not I'll use this color again.

I am using the larkspur in both the deer resistant garden and the cottage garden. In both locations, the larkspur is used for color until my peak summer bloom season. The narrow width of the larkspur makes it easy to use between the larger perennials and shrubs. I did get a bit close to some of the perennials as they have filled out, but it doesn't seem to matter how close the larkspur is to the other plants.

Larkspur is deer and rabbit resistant. Although a rabbit sampled a few of the seedlings (all parts are supposed to be poisonous), the plants bounced back and bloomed.

Sowing the seeds was simple. I just pressed them into good garden soil in October while I was planting fall bulbs. I am so pleased with the results that I will sow more seed again this autumn.

Story and photos by Freda Cameron; Location: home garden; May 2009

Rose Campion as a Companion Plant

Over the last few years, I've been trying different "filler" plants to grow between the perennials until they mature.

Rose campion (Lychnis coronaria) is now one of my favorites for this role.

I have several clumps spread throughout my deer resistant gardens where it keeps company with stachys, salvia, spirea, lavender, nepeta and agastache. Annual larkspur, sown from seed in the fall, has joined the rose campion as a filler plant.

The fuzzy, silver foliage of rose campion is tall enough (two to three feet) to send the flowering branches above other plants along the slopes in the gardens. The base is a rosette of fuzzy leaves and the spiking branches pop out above the base. In my zone 7b garden, the foliage is evergreen during the winter months.

Besides being deer and rabbit resistant, it is a drought tolerant, easy-keeper! After the blooms have finished, I cut back the spikes to the base foliage. It blooms again, but not as full as the first bloom.

Although it reseeds, but there hasn't been a population explosion in my garden due to my dead-heading. I need to leave a few more flowers for more seedlings this time. I have found a few tiny rosettes around the mother plants and have easily relocated those to fill in gaps while waiting for perennials to mature. In fact, the seedlings even sprouted among the rocks in the dry stream! This old-fashioned plant is short-lived and suitable for sunny locations in zones 3-9.

My original rose campion was purchased in pots from a garden nursery, but you can sow the seeds directly in the fall as the seeds like a little chill. This makes it a great seed to sow at the same time as annual larkspur and poppies.

Story and photos by Freda Cameron; Location: home garden; May 2009

A Few Scenes from Paris

We stayed in a perfect, petite studio apartment overlooking the Seine. View from our apartment window - that's the Hôtel de Ville (city hall) across the river:

Parisians take their dogs everywhere. This fellow was dining with owners at a cafe:

Saint-Sulpice was behind scaffolding, so I took a close-up of the lion in the fountain:

There are pedestrian-only streets throughout Paris. We walked through Rue Montorgueil on our way to Sacre Coeur in Montparnasse. We crossed through an indoor shopping area with interesting architecture. The patisserie windows are stocked full of colorful goodies:

The arch at the Louvre lines up with Place de la Concord and the Arche de Triomphe in the distance:

An entrance to the Paris Metro near the flower market:

During our visit to the Luxembourg Gardens, I asked a woman if I could photograph her little dog who she put into her tote bag to carry:

I enjoy taking photos of architecture, such as this bridge close-up. The light shining on the green paint highlighted the details:

A great restaurant in the Marais neighborhood. It has been reviewed in the NY Times and we can add to that recommendation for the best fallafel!

This was a unique approach for earning a little income:

Pont Neuf (a bridge) was our favorite evening spot for photographing sunsets and nightfall:

Paris: Marché aux Fleurs and Cathédrale Notre-Dame

Île de la Cité is an island in the River Seine in the middle of Paris. There is a Marché aux Fleurs (flower market) six days a week - Monday through Saturday. On Sunday, there is a pet bird market in the same location.

Our rental apartment was just a few blocks away from the flower market, so we often strolled past it as we went about the city. The flower market was overflowing with potted arrangements, cut flowers, shrubs, annuals, perennials and even large trees! Some of the vendors specialize. For all the others, it was difficult to determine where one stall ended and another began with the street, stalls and sidewalks so full of flowers. With the US customs restrictions as they are, I brought home photographs of the flowers and no flowers.

Cathédrale Notre-Dame is also located on Île de la Cité, so we often passed by the this famous sight as well.

On several evenings, we went up to Notre-Dame so that I could capture the light from the sunset as it turned the cathedral stone to a golden color. Using the 20x zoom lens on my Canon SX10 IS camera (no tripod), I made many attempts to photograph the gargoyles up on the roof and buttresses.

I couldn't zoom straight up the cathedral walls, so I had to move back a distance from Notre-Dame. I lowered the resolution on my camera in order to extend the capabilities of the zoom. On the Canon, the setting that I used was M3 to lower the resolution down to 2M (1600 x 1200) from 10M (3648 x 2736). Since I intend to use the cathedral zoom photos for web viewing, rather than printing enlargements, this lower resolution works fine.

We had both been to Notre-Dame on a previous trip, but I never realized the different faces on the gargoyles until I started taking photographs. At that point, I got a bit carried away with photographing different architectural elements on the cathedral!

Paris: Jardin du Luxembourg

Jardin du Luxembourg is a favorite park for Parisians and a wonderful outing for visitors, too. The open spaces and green lawns are backed by the stately Palais that was built in 1610 under the direction of Marie de Medici (that same Medici family from Florence, Italy), the widow of Henry IV and mother of Louis XIII. The palace is now home to the French Senate.

Jardin du Luxembourg was only a 20 minute walk from our apartment in Paris. Although it was a cloudy and cool day, we dined outside at a patisserie, Dalloyau, to have cafe express (espresso) and a just-baked pain au chocolate (chocolate filled croissant) for breakfast before visiting the gardens. We visited the gardens several years ago when our two sons were with us. We didn't venture through much of the gardens on that trip, so I was ready to see more of floral displays this time.

Wide gravel paths, in sun and in the shade, are filled with Parisians throughout the 22 hectare park. With the large size of the park, it doesn't fill crowded. This is a beautiful place to people watch... French queens, saints and mythological characters are among the sculptures that dot the landscape.

There are plenty of chairs circling the central pond where children maneuver their remote-controlled sailboats while mother ducks maneuver their tiny ducklings out of the way.

Flower beds are planted with seasonal annuals and large containers of orange trees are rolled out into the formal gardens in the spring. The French combination of tulips and forget-me-nots were in many of the flower beds. Wallflowers and dusty miller were also used in abundance in broad swaths of gardens. Formal, clipped miniature hedges were edging many of the gardens around the palace. There are informal cottage garden flowers mixed in large borders, even within the formal lines of the gardens.

For all the grandeur of the setting, the Jardin du Luxembourg is a relaxed park for everyone to enjoy.

Story and photos by Freda Cameron; Location: Paris, France; May 2009


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