Good morning! Let me start this morning by saying that I have had several dozen e-mails about leaves turning black, flowers buds rotting and other awful descriptions from gardeners. There is one answer, and one answer only to these conditions – too much rain.

You aren’t doing anything wrong and unless you know a really good sun dance you can do, there aren’t many solutions.
If we’re talking about just a few plants, try a fungicide with copper. It probably won’t fix the plant this year, but it should help in keeping the crud from spreading. Sun and warmth are really the only antidotes – sorry!

Some advice: don’t compost any of this foliage or rotted blooms.

Now, I would just like to pretend it isn’t raining, yet again, and move along in my positive gardening frame of mind. I hope you come along. …

I made mention last year of planting gardens at the new Turner Town Office and what fun it had been. Well, I thought I would give you an update on how those are coming along. I have included photos of each of the sites and want to tell you about why things were done as they were and what has worked and what has not. We all learn by doing and then correcting, hopefully.
There were no trees on the site, except those few on the edges. I chose to plant a variegated-leaf maple for its beautiful leaves, which are green with a lot of creamy white mottling. The drawback with a maple is, of course, its slow growth. But sometimes to get something lovely, you have to be patient. It made good progress in its first season. Under it are a variety of large hostas, all of which will survive sun quite nicely. However, being true to their nature, they will also thrive 10 years from now when the tree is providing mostly shade. Their leaf variations provide interest in a circle around the trunk and leave a nice space for annuals to be added for color.

The second challenge involved an ugly pipe rising out of the grass that was needed to fill some tank of something. The opening needed to remain accessible, which meant it couldn’t be covered with something like a bird feeder. So a rock, with character, was placed in front of it and a small half-moon bed was built around the front face of the rock. I chose a small weigela to further block the pipe from view toward the building, and the other view can be seen only from behind. The weigela will grow about as tall or a bit taller than the rock and will fill out quite nicely in another season or two. It has a deep burgundy bloom that will last from three to four weeks in June. The rest of the bed was left for annual plantings to brighten up the expanse of green grass and to give color after the shrub stops flowering.

The third spot is around the flagpole, which stands toward the middle of the lawn area. This is a mounded bed and is planted with various tall daylilies offset by burgundy-leaved coral bells around the circle. The daylilies seemed to have done quite well, and, despite a lack of sun, are currently putting up their first blooms. They range from cream to soft and bright yellows to burnt oranges. Only half of the coral bells came through winter and I think, although I am not certain, that the compost mulch was too close to their stems and they suffocated.

I will check all of the gardens after we get some weeks of sun (and yes, I do have faith that we will get at least a few weeks of summer before the leaves turn) and evaluate what should be replaced and what should not. These particular plants were chosen because of their strength in the face of summer sun with no respite throughout the day. The circle bed was made large enough to accommodate annual plantings around the entire outer edge, and they add all-season color.

Thank you, Wes
I need to give credit to Wes Clark of Clark’s Farm Stand on Route 4 in Turner. Wes has volunteered his time and the annual plants from his stand for all of these beds, and he has done a terrific job. We discussed the plantings and the only suggestion I made was no orange since most of the beds contain lavenders, various shades of pink and several different yellows. I totally forgot that the daylilies are shades of yellows and oranges; and while the bright pink annuals around the flagpole this year are beautiful, they do not necessarily work well together. Oh well, you live, learn and sometimes remember from year to year. Probably something white or bright yellow around those daylilies for next year would be more complementary.

The purple and lavender annuals with the hostas are beautiful, and the bright variety of colors in the front beds has turned out great. Wes is a wonderful man and his willingness to do his share for the town is to be admired. He also always shows up with his wonderful dog, Bear, a big old golden who is just a sweetheart — an additional bonus.

The two front beds on either side of the front entrance are about 24 feet long and about 8 feet wide. These are lovely spaces to fill with the white background of the building’s walls helping to set off the flower colors. Spaces just made for flowers. We had to consider a few mitigating circumstances before they were planted. The snow load from the roof falls directly onto the beds; therefore, no shrubs or small trees could be planted because they would be continually broken each winter. That is just an exercise in frustration. And because of the way the building is sited, one bed receives morning sun and the other afternoon sun, and both are exposed to north winds and rainfall runoff from the roof.

I planted peonies in the back of each bed and after another two or three years, they will provide a much larger presence in the beds, giving them a more established visual picture while several astilbes will provide the airy, ethereal picture of fragility. The mounding perennial geraniums provide almost continuous color in the summer months and the addition of coneflowers and brown-eyed Susans will give late-season brightness along with tall sedums. The sedums, at this point, have green broccoli-like flower heads; but as August moves on toward September, those will slowly turn from pale pink to darker shades and provide really late-season color for the garden.

Several of the silver buttons in the front of the beds did not winter and that was to be expected. It has been my experience that the addition of their foliage enhances a garden, but they either like a place or they don’t. They either thrive for a long time like several I have at home that are a decade or older, or they die quickly and replanting them is usually an exercise in frustration. Just one of those plants — so some contemplating will have to go into replacements for that foliage feature. If anyone has a great idea, please let me know.

Finally, last fall, I put in almost 200 daffodil and hyacinth bulbs in the various beds and was thrilled this spring to be greeted by their brightness and, as always, their promise of beautiful things yet to come.

So until next time, try to get into the garden even if it has to be between showers, evaluate what you have done and take joy in the successes and learn from the mistakes, make a pie for yourself and one for that lovely person down the street who shoveled your walk this winter or helped you in some other way – and hang onto the belief that we may still get some summer.

Happy gardening!

Jody Goodwin has been gardening for more than 25 years. She lives in Turner with her husband, Ike, her two dogs and two cats. She can be reached by writing to her in care of the Sun Journal, 104 Park St., Lewiston, Maine, 04243-4400 or by e-mail at [email protected]

Reminders
Try to get to Deer Wood Farm and Garden in Waterford for Daylily Days. This marvelous jewel has more than 200 varieties of field-grown daylilies and they are marvelously beautiful as you look across the expanse of colors. And it never hurts to add another daylily to your garden or give one to a friend. You can find directions to the farm on the Norway Road online at deerwoodgarden.com or call 583-2412.

The annual auction at the historic McLaughlin Gardens in Paris, its largest fundraiser of the year, will be held Saturday, Aug. 22, and will feature both a live and silent auction with items ranging from trips to trinkets. It is important for gardeners to understand that if they want resources provided by public gardens, including workshops and special events, those activities need all of our support. For more information, visit mclaughlingarden.org or call 743-8820.


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