Nicotiana mutabilis

This plant, taller than I am, traveled 3000 miles to New Boston to live with me. I bought it, and two other Nicotiana cultivars, from Annie’s Annuals in California. I grew this flower in Tennessee where it remained small and reluctant. But I remember Elizabeth Lawrence, the best of American garden writers, writing that once she had seen the nicotianas blooming in New England gardens, she never again tried to grow them in her garden in North Carolina.

Mutabilis has large rosettes of basal leaves and long weeping arms drooping down from the main stem. It flowers all summer in pink and white.

When I was young I spent my study halls reading Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings over and over. I remember the story of the Entwives, who wandered away from their tree shepherd husbands, the Ents, to find fields and open places to plant their flowers and fruits.

This plant looks like an Entwife to me,sweeping her arms down into the garden, caring for her flower children.

The Fourth of July, and a Phantom Train

I live up the road from the Lang Railroad Station in New Boston. The station is now part of a town forest and walkway along the old railroad line. No train has been heard here since early in the last century.

But one went through last night.

I was home from work at midnight and watching HBO’s “Perry Mason”, when I heard a loud approach of an unmistakable train whistle. I thought it was the TV, then realized it was out on the road. I saw lights as it went by, then heard it up on Rte 13. About an hour later, it went by again.

I believe it might be one of those idiosyncratic small town traditions of the Fourth. Someone with loudspeakers on their truck cruised the dark roads of New Boston in the early hours of the Fourth sending a lost sound of the past out into the night.

This morning, as I was in the front yard thinking of how to stuff mothballs into the burrow of my plant destroying enemy, a parade of ancient automobiles draped with flags and filled with waving people, drove up the road.

I expected nothing from this grim Fourth , but these were unexpected heart lifting events, transient though they were-

Happy Fourth, and may you hear ghost trains tonight and watch motorcades from happier times-

And here are some obligatory garden pictures .

The Bow Garden Club Garden

When I moved to back to New Hampshire I bought books about New England gardening,but nothing in them taught me as much as driving down Rockingham St. in Concord , or visiting The Fells near Lake Sunapee, or stopping on my way home from work in the morning to see what was blooming in the Bow Garden Club garden on Logging Hill Road.

Eyes opened, I saw flowers I had had only seen in English garden picture books. Some plants were such mysteries I had to look them up

What was this Bleeding heart blooming in the late summer in the Bow Garden Club garden? I had never heard of a bleeding heart that did not disappear after blooming-

What could this be? I have been to many Southern gardens, but never encountered this plant-

Centaurea dealbata- a hardy Bachelor’s Button. now passing its peak.

Could this be Campanula glomerata?

It is. But is this next flower, not yet open, another campanula? If so, which one?

I do not know-

Here are some views of the garden, and some more familiar plants.

In The Meadow

Orange hawkweed may be a pest and an opportunist, but it does shine, and it shows how complimentary orange and green can be. It came from the old world through the old seaports, not one hundred miles from here.

The maiden pink came too. This patch came with the garden here at the farm.

This is the blue biennial Canterbury Bells in a pot.

First blossom of the African Mallow. The woodchuck babies tried to prune it. I have not seen them near the garden in three days, though I see two small ones way down on the neighbor’s lawn. Maybe they are the same animals, and maybe they left because I laid down garlic and peppermint repellent.

Or maybe the fox I saw take a squirrel at dawn the other morning out on the front lawn caught them too. The fox has habits. She trots up the driveway, and I see her going up the rise outside my kitchen window on many mornings.

Blooming in Mid-June

Though I have left crape myrtles, ginger lilies, and cannas behind, there are some favorites from the South I could not give up, even if I have to keep them in containers and have them shipped from Louisiana or California. Here are the salvias,ever-blooming and ignored by deer and woodchucks.

This is “Cold Hardy Pink”, reputedly hardy in Zone 5. It is a dry land Gregg salvia from the West and grows in sandy soil.

“Mystic Spires” is a smaller version of “Indigo Spires”, and is one of the few tender salvias I see here in garden centers. It sells fast, and at one store I saw 7 plants surrounded by pink tape, and marked “sold”. Someone knew a good plant.

Here is “Love and Wishes”, one of the “Wish” series that followed “Wendy’s Wish”. Blooming always, and dry soil tolerant- why do the garden stores here ignore it?

Not a salvia,but similar, is Phygelius “Magenta”. I could not make this plant grow in Tennessee, but it is happy here in New Hampshire, though it is tender and likes a container.

Tough, and in bloom most days is the Mexican Petunia,Ruellia brittoniana. Cuttings root easily in water. Here it is in a pot.

Next are two of my favorite Million Bells(Calibrachoa) . They are called “Mini-Famous”.

Lastly- a flower I have never grown before and have only seen in English garden picture books. Canterbury Bells, a biennial I found at Goffstown Ace Hardware. This is the pink one. The blue is not open yet. I put it in a container and not in the garden bed because it dies after bloom and would leave blank dirt that I would have to scramble to patch.

And here is my most precious of seedlings. Chrysopsis villosa, the Prairie Golden Aster. The seed came from Prairie Moon on line. I had this in Nashville. It is made of iron and will bloom in 100 degree dry heat and drought. Small yellow daisies on a three foot plant that blooms from mid summer to frost. Ruth Clausen, in “Essential Perennials” wonders why it is so little known and little grown. Zone 5.

I buy plants from:

Annie’s Annuals- California

Almost Eden-Louisiana

Flowers by the Sea-California

Lupines in Dunbarton

Across the road, down from Dunn Cottage and its daffodils, is a small conservation area. Naturalized lupines are blooming there now, and I stopped to take pictures. Anyone who thinks to pick these or dig them out, would see, as they grow closer that these flowers are surrounded by “Leaves of three, Let it be!”.

Poison Ivy everywhere-

Garden escapes are everywhere along the back roads- daylilies, Dame’s Rocket, Siberian iris. They take care of themselves.

I had bought two peat trays of seedling lupines to plant in my dry garden. I sent them to my sister’s garden instead because of a baby woodchuck who comes out of the rock wall when I am not out there. He ate the leaves of the lupines, ate the baby cosmos, and trimmed the petunias. I have ordered repellent from Amazon, as violence is out of the question.

Tall Evening Primrose

I found several fine specimens of Oenothera biennis, the tall evening primrose, growing in a ragged section of the lawn. I wanted them for the new dry border so I dug them out, potted them up, and put them on a shady porch to wait out transplant shock. Then I went onto the Internet where I read that these plants were impossible to transplant, would never live, and needed to be grown from seed.

I doubted this. This is a tough plant that can grow out of a crack in stone, that can grow in sand. Why would transplanting discourage it to death?

Had I planted it in hot sun right into the garden it might have failed. But when I transplant this late in the season, I always shelter plants in place, in pots, and always in shade.

The two plants sulked for days, but now at two weeks, here they are.

I will keep them in the pots another few weeks as insurance, then into the border they will go. They came off the porch into the sun 3 days ago.

The point of this little post is not just about transplanting, it is about gardening advice one finds on the Internet. Someone sees that someone else tried to transplant the tall evening primrose and failed, and that failure takes legs and runs off in all directions.

New Hampshire Desert

The ground I garden on is the same ground that defeated New Englanders trying to farm and live on hillsides away from the fertile valleys of the Merrimack and Connecticut rivers. They abandoned their plots after the Civil War, and left for the more docile, welcoming soils of the Midwest.

Always dry, this soil is harsher this spring since no rain has fallen in a month. But the lowbush blueberries and the roadside and ditch weeds will abide.

This photo is of the lawn in front of a granite retaining wall. Feral daylilies hug the wall base because the foot of a wall is a moister place to be. Not one tuber tries to venture out.

But look at what does dare to grow here-

Hawkweed,cinquefoil, and in the center, Aster lateriflorum.

Just the place for a new garden bed! I have already dug out this aster and some others I found to save them from the mower man, if he gets to this patch of ground before my shovel does-

What will I grow here?

Russian sages, globe thistles, white perennial scabious, Clary sage, Silver King artemesia, “Fireworks” gomphrena-

Then, looking to the power lines and the harsh fields- the Old Field goldenrods, the Showy goldenrods, the Heath asters, and the Calico aster, the biennial tall Evening Primrose.

The Gold Sword Yucca, for architecture and as a foil to all the flowering.

Marsh Marigolds

These Marsh Marigolds were blooming last month along a stream in New Boston. I had not seen this flower since I was a child, and I am now old. I was going to post this photo earlier, but spent April unnerved. Every week the plants I ordered in February and March came via UPS or the mailman. I bought them before shadows came over everything, and I wondered if I would be dead or sick when they arrived, for I have a dangerous job.

I have started work now on the dooryard garden of a house 20 years shy of 300 years old. There are persistent plants out there, some too persistent. Lily of the Valley, the Rambunctious Bellflower, Spiderwort, white and purple violets. The bed liberated from the Lily of the Valley had to be dug out three times, and it is still not clean. Along the front, behind a lilac, the buckwheat that is the Kudzu of New Hampshire is still sneaking above ground, and I see it with a foot hold in foundation cracks.

The sun is dropping now, and I am headed out till late dusk to do tasks I avoided at 2pm when it was 87 degrees. And my best friend in Nashville thinks I have moved to the frozen North-