The Arch City Gardener

Journeys In St. Louis Gardening and Beyond


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Green is coming through the gray

If this were a Facebook status update I might write, “I’m feeling…sunny and dry.” St. Louis has received 13.2 inches of rain this month and a walk in my backyard now has a sound track: Squish, squish, squish. The lower end of the yard has a bit of ponding. Leaves still cover most of the beds. And accompanying all this rain has been cooler than normal temperatures. On a sunny day, we won’t discuss the gray, drab skies that are predicted to be back tomorrow.

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Even though I cannot get in the garden today, I am celebrating for a couple of reasons. First, and the most obvious, is that it is sunny and dry. Yes! This condition is not expected to last, as our forecast calls for rain for the next 10 days. Second (really first) is that I am off work today! Woo hoo! Third (but truly first) is I will spend the afternoon with my eldest daughter.

Before the day gets away from me, here’s an Arch City Gardener pictoral status update of my plants and beds at the end of March. Oh! And thanks for reading.

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In the front yard spirea begins to leaf out.

DSCN5872Penstemon’s lettucy looking red leaves. I love this plant, which has been happy in this spot for five years.DSCN5873Karl Foerster grass is coming upspring clean up18Just a couple of gumballs to deal with. This is Round 3 of the rake up.

DSCN5887Cranesbill Biokova Karmina (geranium x cantabrigiense). What a wonderful groundcover. And talk about easy care!DSCN5870The oakleaf hydrangea “Alice” looks deceptively docile. My pet name for her is “Godzilla.” The blooms are incredible.DSCN5886Planted about six years ago, this low-growing juniper (Juniper horizontalis) is a slow creeper and provides lovely texture with a green-yellow tint. Behind her are stella d’oro day lilies.DSCN5864The fiddleheads of Ostrich Fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris) begin their graceful unfurling. Ferns are my favorite plants to observe.

DSCN5863Peonies–Eden’s Perfume, Shirley Temple, and Sarah Bernhardt–peek through the leaves. The peonies were a new additions last year to the bed below the paperbark maple.

DSCN5861Creeping jenny groundcover is vigorous and advancing. It had better dry up so I can get out there and rake.

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Weekly Update — Buckets of Rain

rainIt has rained buckets in St. Louis. The photos from my last few posts were taken during the brief reprieves Mother Nature provided. I’m sure even She gets tired of pouring rain. I know my sump pump is working over time, and a distinct “squish” can be heard and felt underfoot during my now twice daily yard and garden inspections. Just three days ago some parts of the St. Louis region received more than 3 inches of rain. And I believe we got a repeat performance early yesterday morning and throughout the day.

Standing water is common after heavy rains in the low lying area of the yard. This is one of the problem areas of the yard. And I am attempting to address it with plants that like standing water.

ponding bed

Ponding occurs in the southeast corner of the yard after prolonged rain or a very hard rain. I planted winterberry in this spot last fall because it supposedly withstands standing water.

Needless to say, my first plant purchases for the season remain unplanted. Accompanying the rain are very warm temperatures. Today we were near the mid-80s F. This puts us more than 20 degrees above normal. While I expect we will cool off, I am not too worried about a major freeze, as our average last frost date is April 12, just days away.

Lest I begin to sound like a complainer, let me cast some sunshine on this predicament. The lawn, trees, shrubs and perennials are emerging quicky. The tonic of moisture and warm temperatures are just what they need. Here’s a closer look at their progress.

astillbe growing

Astilbe Chinensis “Visions” are coming along. Heuchera “Plum Royal” is peeking out near the botton right.

The ferns I planted last summer--and thought would not return--are back!

The ferns I planted last summer–and thought would not return–are back!

bloodgood maple leafing

The Bloodgood Japanese Maple has been a proven winner in my yard since I planted it in 2012.

oakleaf growing

Emerging young leaves of oakleaf hyrangea “Alice.”

"Dark towers" penstemon digitalis.

“Dark towers” penstemon digitalis.


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The Garden in Time

One of the benefits of a Midwest garden is the beauty each season brings. Here’s a look back at one garden bed as it appeared throughout 2014.

Late winter 2013 and spring can't get here soon enough.

Late winter 2013 and spring can’t get here soon enough.

The newly planted foxglove provided lots to look at as the garden got under way in spring. I love the maroon shades of the maple with the blue of the spruce

The newly planted foxglove provided lots to look at as the garden got under way in spring. I love the maroon shades of the maple with the blue of the spruce

Happy summer hydrangea. Little Lamb and Little Lime wind throughout the bed.

Happy summer hydrangea. Little Lamb and Little Lime wind throughout the bed.

I under-estimated just how many plants I will need and how long it will take to fill in this bed.

I underestimated just how many plants I will need and how long it will take to fill in this bed.  I also miscalculated on how large this penstemon would get. I moved her to the back in the fall.

The gayfeather returned this year...I still never really believe the stuff I put in the year before will come back.

The gayfeather returned this year…I still never really believe the stuff I put in the year before will come back.

A close up of texture and shapes. To keep in the garden or snip to add to a vase?

A close up of texture and shapes. To keep in the garden or snip to add to a vase?

Anchoring the south edge of the patio bed, the rudbeckia is a profusion of blooms in the hottest month of the summer.

Anchoring the south edge of the patio bed, the rudbeckia is a profusion of blooms in the hottest month of the summer.

As summer give way to autumn, the rusty brown plumes on this perennial grass contrast well with the blue spruce

As summer give way to autumn, the rusty brown plumes on this perennial grass contrast well with the blue spruce

The grasses plumes drape gracefully under the weight of a wet snow.

The grasses plumes drape gracefully under the weight of a wet snow.

The muted tones of fall beneath a blanket of snow: Harvest brown foliage and faded hydrangea blooms and the tall maple at the top of the bed; maroon leaves on the Japanese maple; and the tall pine in my neighbor's yard.

The muted tones of fall beneath a blanket of snow: Harvest brown foliage and faded hydrangea blooms and the tall maple at the top of the bed; maroon leaves on the Japanese maple; and the tall pine in my neighbor’s yard.