Tuesday, September 6, 2011

What's That Behind the Garage? A Fairy Hobmother!

Let's continue the tour around the gardens shall we?  Lurking on the far side of the garage is my favourite project of the year.  Possibly because it's one of the few things that was completed!  Last fall I put down newspaper and compost to create a new bed behind the garage.  This spring I decided it wasn't quite large enough and used the sod cutter to widen it just a bit as well as lengthen it. 

I wanted to make sure the bed was wide enough to contain the plants once they had grown to full size
I wanted this bed particularly for a plant I had bought at last year's plant sale.  The Plume Poppy is an excessively large plant that has invasive tendencies and I thought putting it in its own bed might help to contain it.  Once the bed was created I dug the poppy out of its place in the entrance bed and brought it over.  It has done well to say the least.

It took no time for this plant to grow several feet high and wide
Prior to Hurricane Irene the Plume Poppy was approximately 6 feet tall with sprays of tiny white flowers adorning its tops.

Days before the storm
Unfortunately this plant cannot handle wind.  Despite the thick stalks, the plants were pushed over in the wind gusts and even uprooted.  The bed doesn't look quite as good now but since this plant is such a rampant grower I think it will grow back in the spring just fine.

In addition to the poppy I planted hollyhock seeds from my mother's garden.  They are a single red variety that I hope will complement the leaves of the Plume Poppy.  I seeded them pretty thickly and they have formed a carpet of plants now one foot high.  

In keeping with a theme of large leaved plants I moved a large hosta from the front of the house and divided it into three plants.  I was shocked at how quickly the divisions grew.  Each division is now almost the size of the original plant! 

The hostas in this picture were divisions of just one plant!
Other additions from nursery shopping excursions included Heuchera sanguinea 'Ruby Bells'

Columbine 'Winky Purple-White' (Aquilegia vulgaris), Speedwell 'Blue Bouquet' (Veronica spicata)  and Hardy Geranium 'Samobor' (Geranium phaeum).

When I expanded the bed in spring I went right around to the back of the garage.  Here I placed Lily of the Valley and the mystery corm.  I thought the corm was a tropical plant and would like the heat.  Surprise!  A dear relative was able to identify this plant for me and hot is NOT what this plant was looking for.

The leaves finally opened!
Turns out this corm is actually a native plant called Jack in the Pulpit or Arisaema triphyllum.  A plant that thrives in woodlands and part shade.  Little wonder it was struggling with the hot and dry conditions on this side of the garage.  A change of location is definitely in order.

Plants that are liking the hot and dry conditions are Echinacea purpurea 'Powwow White' and Rudbeckia laciniata 'Golden Glow'.  The Echinacea was only recently planted but the Golden Glow has had all summer to get comfortable and it appears quite happy.  I love coming round the corner and seeing the cheery bobbing yellow faces.

But what about the Fairy Hobmother you say?  Even if you look closely she is hard to spot but if you ask nicely perhaps she'll visit you personally.  Last week I was traipsing around the blogosphere visiting Jen at Muddy Boot Dreams.  Jen mentioned a Fairy Hobmother had been to see her and maybe the Fairy from Appliances Online would visit me too if I left a comment.  Well, what a surprise.  This Monday morning I opened my mail to discover the Fairy Hobmother had come to visit.  New plant markers will be on their way to me by days end!  Would you like the Fairy Hobmother to leave you a present too?  Please leave a comment below and you might be the next lucky recipient of her magical ways.


  1. Oh the Fairy Hobmother has been busy hasn't she?

    I am so glad that you were picked. And garden markers are perfect for that garden bed. Hope that all the plants recover from the hurricane quickly.

    Jen @ Muddy Boot Dreams

  2. Marguerite I have noticed how quickly divisions build up and are soon as big as the original, wish I had known this years ago and I would have divided plants sooner, I only started to divide a few last year but will be dividing more, lots more,
    it's nice to see plants from the house but it's also lovely to walk around the garden and find blooms around corners, I'm glad your garage beds are giving you pleasure (or were until Irene),
    love your Rudbeckias, Frances

  3. Marguerite, Maybe hurricanes are part of the life-cycle of the plume poppy, a way of keeping them within bounds. :-) I, too, have had that experience with some hosta divisions growing surprisingly fast. How can it be that the little division I took about 3 years ago of Krossa Regal to put in my Gettysburg garden now looks like the plant that ate Pennsylvania? -Jean

  4. Marguerite, you are a hoot. When you mentioned the jack in the pulpit did not like it hot and dry I about fell over... It is interesting you can put a heuchera, hosta and hollyhock in the same bed. Here the hollyhock, echinacea and rubeckia would be in the same bed out in the sun. The hostas and heucheras under a dense forest. Never to see the light of day. How different we garden with many of the same plants.

  5. Plume poppies and Fairy Hobmothers, oh my! I do like your plume poppy very much...a lovely plant. I think you did a great job landscaping the outside wall...wonderful!

  6. Marguerite, Your before and after shots of the bed behind the garage are very dramatic. Even if Irene did come along and do some damage after the photo was taken, the bed seems so well established that it is bound to recover nicely. My hollyhocks were a disaster and got lost in the sea of Brown-Eyed Susans. I look forward to seeing your single red ones next spring instead.

  7. The bed is very pretty and it is good you dug out the generous space. Your plants will fill in after the storm, they always seem to, no matter what occurs. Perennials seem to weather a lot. At least you got the uprooted Poppy back in.

  8. Good luck with Jack. The wild ones grow well in moist shady areas but I've also seen nice colonies in nearly full sun where the soil remains moist. I'll be doing that post on Jack today. Sometimes a Jack will establish itself in a surprising place.

  9. Thank you Jen for putting me on to the fairies. It was such a nice surprise to get a present to start the week.

    Frances - I sometimes wish I could see this bed from the house but then it's such a treat when I go to the garage to get my tools and get an eye full of plant candy. It's like my own private garden back there.

    Jean - LOL, that's a great way to look at it. and it certainly will keep the plant in check if it gets knocked down at the end of every summer.

    Tufa - I was surprised to learn that hostas could be planted in full sun here but was directed to do so by Jodi @ Bloomingwriter who lives in Nova Scotia just across the water from me. I guess in the colder climate the sun just isn't as hot and the plants can withstand more. I figured if the hostas could take it so could the heuchera so threw that in too. So far so good!

  10. Sage Butterfly - Thank you. This was a fun project. Small enough that it was easy to do in one season and the plants certainly cooperated which helped.

    Jennifer - It seems the hollyhocks really need a lot of sun and space don't they? I planted a double variety in the front garden and they didn't fare as well pushed in among the other plants. I'm still debating whether I should have thinned these red ones though. They are really tightly packed but I suppose we'll see how it goes next year. I still have more seed from mom in the fridge so if all else fails I can plant again.

    Donna - After seeing how much the plants grew I was awful glad I made the space bigger. They always seem to take up more room than you might think.

    wiseacre - oh good, I'm headed right over. this plant seemed to do okay as long as I watered regularly. I'd rather not have to do that so I'll move it somewhere slightly more shaded.

  11. Plume poppy is a new plant for me, I'll have to check it out. I love LARGE perennials that can easily take up as much space as a shrub. It looks like your new bed has filled in quite nicely after only a few months growth. Well done!

  12. Hi Marguerite: Glad I saw your picture of the plume poppy..I planted one, its up to the eavetrough on my hubby's workshop..bought it at a plant sale and didn't know what it was..also planted hollyhocks beside it..but our resident groundhog keeps eating the tender leaves in the spring..ugh!! Love the tours of your gardens..it's a delight for the eyes..happy gardening..Lannie

  13. What a lovely bed Marguerite, it works well size wise, plenty of room for your burgeoning plants, and those hostas are a triumph. I do love how plant divisions respond by growing so vigorously.

  14. Debbie - it certainly took no time for this plant to grow to gigantic proportions and I do love the the shape and colour of the leaves. I did find runners all over the original flower bed though so take care where you site this plant.

    Lannie - LOL, I can't believe we both planted plume poppies and hollyhocks together in our gardens. Great minds think alike?! ;-)

    Janet - had I known all these years that divisions could grow that quickly! I had expected those hostas to take a year or two to grow so full size so I was really surprised to see how big they got and how quickly.

  15. Seeing your plume poppy reminded me that last year someone offered me a start of one of these, but I didn't where to put it--theirs was huge! Looks like you've created the perfect spot for it. I love the tall rudbeckia as well. I'm not sure about the Fairy Hobmother, but I'd like some garden fairies to help with my fall projects:)

  16. Rose, the plume poppy really is a huge plant. My garden guides tell me it can get 8 feet tall. It's almost a relief the storm knocked it down a bit!