Photography courtesy of Terry Donnelly
About the Garden
We are thrilled to tell you that we have a new partnership with Herban Feast, the 2014 Seattle Brides Magazine Best Overall Wedding Vendor, to exclusively manage Froggsong Gardens for Weddings and Events. They will handle everything from marketing, showing, contract through all aspects of running the events. They will provide one stop shopping for those lucky few folks who will be able to host an event in our space. Our task will be to keep everything looking great – a task we embrace! Check out the Herban Feast website and their Facebook page. Of course we still love to share the garden with other garden groups. Feel free to come by for a tour or visit.
I am so fortunate to have two wonderful, talented and gracious friends that recently included Froggsong Gardens on their webpage. I’m speaking of the husband and wife team of professional photographers, Terry Donnelly and Mary Liz Austin.
They are nationally known photographers and have published six books, the most recent being “Wild Seattle, A celebraton of Natural Areas in and Around Seattle” and “California, Preserving the Spirit and Beauty of the Land.”
Their photographs of Froggsong gardens are so vibrant and color-saturated that they’ve given me a whole new perspective. It’s fun to see your garden through the artistic eye of such gifted photographers.
If you would like to see some of these beautiful photographs (as well as the many they’ve taken at other locales around the world) be sure to visit their website.
Last night was the first frost of the season. It slipped in quietly but there is no denying that summer has left and we are heading into a chilly Fall. In spite of the gentle shower of leaves all day from trees and shrubs and the last gasps of the perennials there are a few late and hardy bloomers to add some surprise color. One of my favorites is Tulbaghla violacea “Big Violet”. The cold hardy Society Garlic is a reliable bloomer from summer to frost. It forms a clump of lovely aromatic leaves to about one foot tall and a little wider. All summer long it puts out lovely lavender purple flowers on 2 foot spikes. If you are constant with your deadheading of spent flowers it will perform all summer and into Fall. It prefers full sun to light shade in rich, well draining soil. Don’t let it dry out during the summer. It is deciduous below 20 degrees. Site this gem in a spot that you can enjoy once the weather turns chilly and damp. I was able to find this gem at Dig Nursery on Vashon Island.
Fall is a sad time for me, when it comes to the garden. Sad that the glorious summer is over, sad that the long, cold, dark, rainy days are ahead and sad that it is time to put the garden to bed, because it is a heck of a lot of work. As I begin to cut back the tattered perennials I’m always surprised by the little evergreen shrubs I find tucked in behind all that rampant summer foliage. Actually it is good garden sense to remember to place some evergreen shrubs amongst the perennials so that the beds aren’t so barren in the winter. There are usually good sales this time of the year and good bargains can be found if you shop wisely. Avoid buying little 4 inch pots of perennials. They may get lost in the beds and may not get established enough before cold temperatures arrive. It’s a good time to buy trees but avoid specimens that are root bound and have their roots seriously growing out of the bottom of the pot. It really is ok to gently lift a tree a bit from it’s pot to check on the roots. Avoid trees that have broken leaders, tall thin trunks or big gaps in side branches. A tree is a big , long term investment so shop carefully.
On another note, Froggsong Gardens will be hosting Vashon Island weddings by next summer. The building will be able to accomodate 200 guests for a sit-down dinner with a built in fireplace, tiled patio and many other unique features. There will also be a caterer’s building, Of course the gardens have many sites for a romantic, one-of-a-kind wedding, including getting married in a labyrinth.
Here is a short list of garden to-do’s for this month as well as some photos of the garden in Fall.
1. side dress peony plants , dephiniums and helleborus with lime to prevent botrytis next year
2. finish planting Spring flowering bulbs
3. Use compost instead of beauty bark for mulch. Feeds the plants and soil
4. Continue to water any new shrubs or trees until Fall rains are frequent.
The garden will certainly be the place to see the malaise of late summer: the tattered leaves, the drooping flower heads, and of course in the Northwest, the crispy brown lawns of dormant grass. In spite of the garden starting to wind down, there are some lovely ladies that are a ‘must have’ for the late summer. These are the perennial lobelias. Don’t confuse these with lobelia erinus which is the annual lobelia that graces hanging baskets all summer long with delicate blue flowers. The perennial lobelias come into their own in August and present a full month of dramatic flowering in blues, reds, pink, magenta or purple. The most well-known one is lobelia cardinalis with dark red stalks and delicate masses of red flowers that attract bees and hummingbirds. Native to the South they are hardy in zones 2-9 , so will do fine in many parts of the country. These lobelias grow best in moist soil with dappled sun or light shade , but if well watered, will do fine in drier spots. Make sure the soil is rich with compost. Lobelias are especially lovely with astilbes, siberian iris, lime green hostas , ligularia or acteas. They have little or no pest or disease problems and generally don’t need staking until the flowers begin to fade and the stems weaken toward the end of bloom time
After flowering, remove the flower stems .. New growth will be apparent at the base of the plant. If the growth appears vigorous and good-sized, it would be a good time to divide the plant if you want more.
Lobelia “Monet Moment” Lobelia siphilitica
On another note, construction of the new ‘Event site” for Froggsong Garden is well underway. I’ll be sure to include some photos as the construction progresses. Of course the best part is that it will provide the opportunity to do more landscaping.
Oh, the late summer blues…sounds like a song, sort of. It is difficult to believe but I find myself yearning for rain, clouds, and cooler temperatures. The garden has its bright spots but I think the ultimate truth is that I’m ready to start the Fall cleanup, ready to get the compost on the beds, move and divide perennials. With that thought in mind here is a short list of things to accomplish in the garden before the major Fall work can begin.
1. Deadhead oriental, asiatic lilies as they drop their flowers. It’s important not to let seed heads form as it will sap needed energy to form next year’s bulbs
2. Cut back perennials that won’t continue to form late summer flowers
3. Remove spent hydrangeas flowers on the macrophylla (mopheads) that you don’t intend to dry for Fall color, it will keep the shrub looking nicer and may actually encourage some late summer blooms
4. Continue to deadhead echinaceas as it will encourage them to continue blooming. Once they have finished flowering for good, leave some of the spent seed heads for the birds.
5. Don’t forget to keep newly planted trees and shrubs (i.e. ones you planted this Spring or early Summer) well watered. Keep a close eye on the garden as a whole and water any plants that are suffering from lack of water.
6. Begin to let roses form hips as this will signal the plants to begin slowing down and prepare for winter dormancy.
7. Certainly don’t fertilize trees, shrubs or perennials. (the key word is “no new growth heading into cooler Fall temperatures) Of course this doesn’t apply to pots.
Well, I said this would be a short list so I’ll stop for now.