Finishing touches (and new beginnings)

No garden is ever “done” — perish the thought! — but during planting week/month/season we all race to beat the heat. In the last couple of weeks here at Blithewold we closed in on that finish line, just in the nick of time if yesterday’s stickiness is anything to go by… The greenhouse, which has been heating up into the 100° range, is finally empty and thanks to our amazing groups of volunteers, everything* is planted. *(Not everything-everything. We held a few plants back for succession planting, such as summer vines that will go in around the tuteurs in the North, Rose and Cutting Gardens when the sweet peas come out.) And last week, after planting the last* of the annuals and tender perennials, we put what I think of as the “finishing touch” on the gardens — we top-dressed each garden with buckwheat hull mulch (in the North and Rose Gardens) and shredded leaves (the Idea/Display Gardens). Both are light enough to allow self-sown seedlings to find the light but will also help hold moisture in the soil. What little there is… We’ve had a very dry stretch lately — yesterday’s downpours barely made a dent — so we have also had to start watering.

Top-dressing the Pollinator Bed with leaf mulchFlower-of-an-hour (Hibiscus trionum) seedlings coming through the leaf mulch

Meanwhile, we are remembering to stop and smell the roses — even as we weed around them, and enjoy the exuberance of June. I am in love with every single rose (especially ‘Easy Does It’ pictured at the top of this post) and the ethereal plume wisps of the goat’s beard (Aruncus ‘Horatio’) against the the North Garden wall. (Click on pictures for captions and better view.)

the herb and greens gardenThe North Garden wall bed with Aruncus 'Horatio' in the backgroundKathryn putting finishing touches on a gorgeous arrangementLinda and Sue weeding amongst the roses

And as we race to “finish” in the gardens, another major project is just starting, timed for completion in the fall: a new plant house! Originally, the Lord & Burnham greenhouse complex, built in 1901, was more than twice the size it is now. When it became too expensive to maintain, the family opted to dismantle the plant house, two-story palm house, and rose house. Fast forward 75 or so years… In 2005 the remaining Lord & Burnham greenhouses, which were in pretty tough shape, were restored  by Heritage Greenhouse Builders using modern materials. To see pictures of that project, click here. In the last few years, we went through a master plan process that identified, among many other things, our need for more growing space. Thanks to a very successful capital campaign, grants, and very generous donors, wishes are coming true all over again. 

Original rendering of Blithewold's Lord & Burnham Greenhouse Complexthe big dig for Blithewold's new plant housePlant house foundation as of this morning

Have you reached the finishing line in your garden yet? Have you started any new projects?