Tea Talk in the Garden: Overzealous perennials

Welcome to Tea Talk in the Garden! Grab a drink, pull up a chair and join us! Tea Talk is the virtual letter exchange between  my garden pen pal Angie of The Freckled Rose. We share the latest happenings from our gardens, and you (the reader) are always welcome to join us in the comment section below.

Angie and I both garden in New England, so we often share the same weather patterns and regional challenges. We both enjoy growing edibles and cut flowers, but we also have our own take on gardening. Browsing through Angie's site with her beautiful photography will definitely motivate you to go outside and start digging!

Click here to read Angie's last letter to me.

My response:

Dear Angie,

Life has been so crazy, but I'm glad to finally be able to update you on my garden! I recently had a nightmare: My neighbor had decided to cut down my row of lilac bushes that mark the property line. He claimed that they were actually planted on his side of the line so therefore he was justified in cutting them down. But wait — it gets worse. He actually removed my entire front garden as well! There was just a huge expanse of lush green lawn in its place. I was aghast and crying. "But my plants! How could you take away my plants?" I demanded furiously. I ended up waking myself up, talking out loud about my poor rhododendron which was going to flower for the first time this year and how he just couldn't chop it down.

This bad dream makes me think that I have a little gardening stress. The native asters have self-seeded themselves everywhere. My tall phlox (which varies in pink, purple and white) has also reseeded itself all over the garden — including in the paths. Right now, my garden looks a little untamed and wild — which might be why my nightmare reflected an intense approach to regaining control: Rip it all out and put in a verdant lawn.

However, I didn't realize how much I hate the monoculture of a bright green lawn until I actually awoke in despair that morning!

I think part of my uneasiness is linked to my garden's bloom cycle being off this year. Spring was different in Zone 6b, with snowdrops blooming with forsythia and more mid-season daffodils blooming with later tulips. Usually every plant takes its time, which extends my season until the peonies bloom, but this year I've found that there's a huge gap. My friend recently stopped by and shared that she couldn't wait to see my garden. But while she was here, I felt that I was apologizing more than anything! "Sorry, if you come back in a week the peonies will be blooming. The front garden will look great once the wisteria starts to bloom. It looks a little wild right now. Sorry..."

Why is it so hard for gardeners to embrace their gardens — no matter what stage of growth it is in — and just politely nod and say, thank you?

When I arrived home last week, I took a photo of my garden from the car. It was raining, but the garden was a sea of green. From the car, it was easier to spot he overzealous perennials that were taking over. I also noticed some holes of iris divas who did not return this year. (And as usual, when you are expecting a main character to steal the show, and they don't, it's a major disappointment, right?) I'm a little embarrassed to show this photo of my garden that I took from the car that evening, but I feel like many gardeners are occasionally (often?) in the same boat.

It looks a bit wild, right?

It's not all bad of course. But I think a gardening goal this year needs to concentrate on creating a better succession of bloom. When I visited Winterthur two years ago, Henry Francis du Pont finessed the succession of bloom in his gardens with 65 years of observations. I obviously am not that patient, I'd like to correct this before next season!

Sometimes, I forget about all the annuals that are always ready to jump in and lend a hand. What are some of your early to mid-spring blooming varieties? I've been growing petunias from seed and I think it is time to put them outside. That should help my lack of color! Your post on providing a pop of color to the garden made me really excited! Maybe the solution to my very green garden is to focus on annuals after all!

But as of today, its beginning to look a bit more colorful. The irises, wisteria and oriental poppies are starting to bloom with the peonies. It's nice to see the color returning (there are more photos on my Instagram account, too). My garden always seems to hit its peak in early summer — thankfully! So it should only get better from here!

Speaking of early summer, the garden club in town is talking about a roving garden tour, where a day would be selected for members to tour each other's gardens. I am interested in participating, but I'm not sure if I would be officially ready to share my garden in July! Have you ever participated in an open garden day?

In other gardening news, I was able to dissuade the area groundhog from feasting on my poppies, coneflowers and black eye Susans by applying Repellex. I bought another container of it from my local garden center at the end of April, and I am so glad that I did! (Unfortunately, he (she?) ate my Queen Anne's lace before I remembered to apply it there — and I'm not sure it will recover.)

How are your raised beds coming along? I feel like May zipped by and I'm still trying to catch up! I was so happy to see that the milkweed I planted last year has come back! I cant wait to see the monarchs again and I really hope they lay eggs in my garden this year!

I will continue to follow your updates on your blog and Instagram account. I love to see the plant combinations you come up with!

Talk to you soon!



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