By PAULENE POPARAD
July is for .... taking stock of the mature garden.
Translation: what have I done wrong, how can I fix it and avoid this in the
In my case, some of my earlier plantings are starting to reach mature
heights and, as usual, I’ve planted too closely. With perennials, this
sometimes can work and even reduce maintenance by blocking sunlight that
would germinate many weed seeds, but I’m talking shrubs.
For some unknown reason I planted a ‘Rhinegold’ arborvitae, a fluffy choice
chartreuse evergreen that will bend to the ground in wet snow and pop back
up unhurt when it melts, next to three -- count ‘em -- three red dwarf
Japanese barberry bushes, an ‘Anthony Waterer’ spirea bush and a shrub
viburnum trained as a tree.
What must I have been thinking?
All those roots are trying to suck up the same nutrients, competing for what
little water is available this year as well. Something’s got to go, but
That’s easy. The 4-foot ‘Rhinegold’ is by far the best performer and most
unusual, so it’s staying put. The spirea, while nice, is common and readily
replaceable. Out of here. Same with the barberries; they easily can be
moved, albiet gingerly because of the thorns.
The viburnum had a growth spurt this year and has turned out to be very
special, its attractive fuzzy green leaves forming a rounded mound 55-inches
across crowned by white spring flowers, all suspended 36 inches above the
ground atop a strong single trunk.
I’m toying with the idea of when I take out the spirea, swinging the
viburnum back about 24 inches to fill that space. If I do it right, I might
be able to leave some of the viburnum roots in place. I’d attempt this in
the fall when the transplant would be assured greater success.
Making these decisions is only half the equation; what do I put in the
vacated spaces? The perennials scattered throughout the yard that are
overcrowded and need to be thinned. And if you twisted my arm, I just might
be convinced to buy something new.
A nifty new plant that is blooming for me for the first time is heuchera or
coral bells ‘Cherries Jubilee’. Its burgundy leaves are pleasing enough but
the real show is the dainty coral-red flowers dangling along 17-inch stalks.
I used them with pink astilbe as filler in a large CHS graduation open-house
arrangement I made for my twin nieces Katie and Sarah.
Describing color is a difficult thing because one person’s lilac (light
pinkish purple) is another person’s mauve (purplish rose) and yet another’s
lavender (pale reddish violet).
The Plant Delights Nursery catalog uses a specific numerical color
designation for many of its flowers. If I recall correctly, this is the
Royal Horticultural Society color chart. When describing verbenas, pinkish
lavender ‘Greystone Daphne’ is RHS 74B, bright pink ‘Fiesta’ is RHS 57A and
light lavender ‘Mystic’ is RHS 87C.
All I know is my pretty ‘Sisters’ daylily that just began blooming is a very
pale shade of Dutch Boy H-1-1 (216 B) Pretty Poppies.
Breaking news! Bev Stegeman of rural Chesterton, well-known in area hosta
circles, has hybridized a new cultivar that likely will be on the market in
early 2004. She started hybridizing in 1996, the first year growing 99
seedlings of which about 10 promising ones have been grown on for further
Bev’s first introduction is ‘Skylight,’ named because she thought it was the
color of a bright blue sky. The plant has some hosta ‘Dorothy Benedict,’
montana macrophylla and possibly ‘Blue Vision’ genes. Bev nicknamed
‘Skylight’s’ unregistered mother or pod parent plant ‘Space Station’ because
the leaves held themselves out horizontally like landing pods for space
‘Skylight’ forms a neat 36 inch-wide clump of good-substanced leaves with
prominent veining and puckering. The flowers are a very pale lavender.
‘Skylight’ babies are being tissue cultured in test tubes in Ohio for later
catalog sale and probably locally; no price has been set.
Bev has one other seedling, a very puckered ruffled green, that she’s
considering registering. For her, “The personal satisfaction comes from
sharing the variety and beauty of hostas with others and seeing them become
Quite an accomplishment. And I was thrilled when I was weeding recently just
to find a ‘Big Daddy’ hosta seedling that self-sowed. Bev must be deservedly
My cousin Carole from Granger and I recently were talking about our shared
garden problem -- an explosion of chipmunks or ground squirrels.
Carole said they’ve live-trapped nine and let them loose at a creek. Take
mine, please. The chipmunks, who eat breakfast with the birds under the
feeder, are making holes everywhere and causing air pockets under plants,
disrupting their root systems, especially in this mini-drought where even
Sunday’s surprise rain skipped over our house.
Speaking of birds, late May and June were especially rewarding here.
Last year’s indigo bunting, a bright all-blue finch, returned for a few
brief feeder sightings, while new to the yard was the brown-headed cowbird,
a small blackbird. Hearing the old adage that if you cut an orange in half
and put them out baltimore orioles will follow, we tried it and 20 minutes
later a brilliant orange/black male did just that. The duller female came
days later, but in this heat the oranges go uneaten and the bunting and
orioles are MIA.
Bird books are a riot. One tells us the cowbird says “weee-titi” and
“glug-glug-glee.” Can a bird really say glug? Or chupity? Whatever does
zhilp sound like? The other day a bluejay chirped three times and a bluejay
in the next tree chirped four times; it was a pleasant sound, and that’s all
I needed to know.
It’s been like Wild Kingdom lately. Friday I saw a huge heron standing at
the edge of a pond on County Road 550N just west of Meridian Road, and
Sunday a coyote ran across U.S. 20 as we approached Michigan City. Saturday
I found my first Japanese beetle in the rose garden, which responded
amazingly from early June’s severe pruning and is exploding with color and
fragrance (and still a little black spot).
Gardeners who really got it right will have their beds and borders on
display July 6 and 7 for the Crown Point Garden Walk. Six homes in and
around the city will be showcased. Visit www.cpgardenclub. com for details.
The $6 tickets, which include a detailed map, can be purchased at any of the
participating homes or at Hubinger’s, The Artful Garden or Cynthia’s Cafe,
the latter a fine eatery on the Crown Point square.
On the garden walk will be a picnic deck overlooking a wooded ravine, a
garden pond on a country farm, dense woods reclaimed for shade beds, a
garden path to a pond with waterfalls, and a private backyard retreat.
July 13 and 14 the Miller Garden Club hosts its Secret Gardens walk, the
theme this year Blooms, Lagoons and Sandy Dunes. Tickets are $6 in advance
and $7 the day of the event, which begins at the aquatorium in Marquette
Park. Visit www.millergardenclub.com or phone 938-8532 for more information.
Garden walks are sort of good news, bad news. You either get really good
ideas that will solve problems in your own yard, or you want to go home and
bulldoze the whole thing and just start over. Either way, it’s $6 well