The Arch City Gardener

Journeys In St. Louis Gardening and Beyond

Wordless Wednesday

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3 plants in den garden (1280x960)

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A Closer Look at What’s Coming Up in the Garden

Here’s a close up of what’s blooming and coming up in my yard. I took these photos over the weekend, before we were hit with high winds and lots of rain.

A newcomer to the garden, I love the "freckles" on this guy.

A newcomer to the garden, I love the “freckles” on this guy.

Bloodgood Japanese Maple was the centerpiece of my gardens and the first specimen I planted in 2012. In fact, it was the first tree I had ever planted. During spring the leaves seem to change color daily.

Bloodgood Japanese Maple was the centerpiece of my gardens and the first specimen I planted in 2012. In fact, it was the first tree I had ever planted. During spring the leaves seem to change color daily.

lady's mantel april 2014

I can’t wait to watch one of the new additions to the garden–lady’s mantle. This is one of the plants I am obsessed with this year.

 

I am glad to see this shrub blooming. I see azaleas all over St. Louis and really like them, but have a hard time growing them. I plan to move my azaleas to a new location this fall in the hopes that a new spot will be better

I am glad to see this shrub blooming. I see azaleas all over St. Louis and really like them, but have a hard time growing them. I plan to move my azaleas to a new location this fall in the hopes that a new spot will be better

I moved my Frances William hostas because they were getting too much sun. The new spot has morning sun and afternoon shade. I love  the way this plant unfolds as it comes out of the ground

I moved my Frances William hostas because they were getting too much sun. The new spot has morning sun and afternoon shade. I love the way this plant unfolds as it comes out of the ground

The rhododendron got the worst of the winter and suffered lots of leaf scorch. It's blooms are beautiful though.

The rhododendron got the worst of the winter and suffered lots of leaf scorch. It’s blooms are beautiful though.

This silver mound is vigorous and hardy and is a wonderful groundcover at the edge of the patio bed.

This silver mound is vigorous and hardy and is a wonderful ground cover at the edge of the patio bed. Notice how the water droplets magnify on artemisia’s feathery leaves.


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Volunteer Gardening Easter Weekend

I have been busy as a bee in the backyard and enjoying every moment I can get out there. Unfortunately, there haven’t been as many moments as I might like. Easter weekend brought with it a day to give back. I joined several beautification-minded St. Louis souls and volunteered at Castlewood State Park on Saturday morning to maintain the natural beauty of the park, help preserve the Kiefer Creek watershed and plant 800 native trees, shrubs and perennials.

The project was part of Operation Wild Lands, a project of the Open Space Council. The OWL project is a community based project that organizes volunteers to help maintain public lands throughout the St. Louis region. Wildlife habitat improvements include cleanups, trail development and maintenance, planting, educations events, etc. It was a lovely morning to get out, get some fresh air and share with like minded souls. Castlewood is a bit of a hike (no pun intended) from my house and I know it as a park that is good for mountain biking. I would go there when my son–who is now 27–would participate in mountain biking racing events as a teenager. The park also has nice hiking trails, ball fields, fishing, swimming and more. One thing I will say is true about Missouri, the state has a really wonderful park system.

But I digress.

My job was to help place the plants. Easy enough and it allowed me to spare my back for my own garden labor later that morning.

Standing ready, this is just one small collection of native plants the group of volunteers planted in Castlewood State Park

Standing ready, this is just one small collection of native plants the group of volunteers planted in Castlewood State Park

What I enjoyed about this experience is that there were volunteers of all ages who came out. There were retired professionals, volunteers from the Audubon Society, the Coalition from the Environment, Monsanto Company, area school districts, a Boy Scout troop, Truman State University and more. The saying “Many hands make light the work” could not be more true.

The volunteers' experience ranged from very little to very experienced.

The volunteers’ experience ranged from very little to very experienced. In the center, Karen, one of the leaders from the Audubon Society, explains where to place a plant to Tracy, one of the volunteers,while Herb (on the right) checks the plant list.


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5 Plants I’m Obsessed With

Stealing a line from Bravo TV host and hometown son Andy Cohen, I am obsessed with these five plants for the garden:

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1. Tall garden phlox. The color range available and the lovely “eyes” of  tall garden phlox make my heart skip a beat. These tall wonders are first on my list for an after-work garden stroll. They are fragrant and mingle delightfully among the Russian sage, bee balm and Stella de Oro daylily. While I enjoy them most in the garden, they hold up well in a cut arrangement gracing the dining table.

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2. Hosta, “Dorothy Benedict”. This beauty seems to have it all. It looks like a painting with streaks of bright green-yellow, blue-green and green-green interspersed with white. Leaves are textured, edges are smooth. Pop it into the shade garden and gaze away. What’s not to love? Oh yeah, the price (I’ve seen Dorothy Benedict quoted at $200-$500).

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3. Lady’s Mantle (Alchemilla mollis). Chartreuse-hued plants work well in a wide range of applications in the garden. Contrast this plant with cool blue-tinged foliage or the deep purples of “Mainacht” salvia. Or complement lady’s mantle with bursting colors such as bright pink Knockout roses. The old-fashioned girl will make its way into the garden this year.

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4. Kobold Gayfeather (Liatris spicata). I like spikes, and this plant delivers. Commonly known as blazing star, it pushes forth a stalk that really is a bunch of rounded flower heads that are fun to watch unfold from the top down. It attracts butterflies and works well in clay soil. Kobold is a compact version of liatris, and I am told this plant does not need staking, another bonus.

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5. Foxglove (Digitalis). The tubular bells on this biennual are nothing short of amazing. The freckles on the inside if the bloom spill forward on these charming flower spikes will be the perfect addition to my cottage garden. I grew them years ago in my backyard garden in Palatine, IL. Why I haven’t introduced them to my St. Louis landscapes escapes me. But that’s about to change.