Stonecrop Plant Sale

Last Saturday rose to find sunny skies and gently drifting clouds. A perfect day for a plant sale! Not just any plant sale, but a venue from the cream of the alpines. Whohoo! Stonecrop Gardens has sponsored this annual event for a few years now. Have you been there? If not, plan to make a trip - it is a beautiful garden, well maintained and full of great garden performances. And remember to look for the April sale next year.

A variety of vendors have cycled through over the years, but stalwarts Wrightman Alpines, Everymay Nursery and Don Dembowski reliably show along with the crew from Stonecrop. This year Garden Vision Epimediums and Betsy Knapp Troughs joined the list. And they did not disappoint. Rare alpines, shrubs, and  perennials were available in limited numbers. Of course it pays to get there early as the horticultural cognoscente zoom in from three states. This was definitely a two elbow event! Yes, most of those elbows belong to old friends, and it was good to see and talk with all of them, after buying.
Don Dembowski Jacques & Anne
Richard MayWrightman tufa
Stonecrop sales tableLori & Joe
Jacques & Alex Stonecrop sales table
Dean & Anne Caroline Burgess
Garden VisionsSylvia & Ginny

The new crevice garden needed quite a few choice xeric alpines to create the backbone. So I stocked up with the likes of silver saxes, small ipomopsis, choice daphnes, tiny genistas...a little of this and that...all small, dryland, and impressive. I am very interested to try the new xeric salvias. One would think if it is hardy in Ontario, it would be also in Litchfield County. But Ontario does get a bit more snow cover, which hopefully explains the difference.

Yes, I already have batches of penstemons, miscellaneous choice composites, a few alliums, eriogonums, lewisias and zinnia (to name a few) coming from seed. I was especially impressed with Eritichium howardii germinating like cress this year. Seed came from Alan Bradshaw (Alplains) in 2009. Imagine if it were not already a year old already before I sowed it! The crevice garden is a big new canvas that will hold multitudes more of seedlings yet to come. I just need to remember to be selective.

After organizing Saturday night, I spent Sunday planting in perfect weather - raw and misty. I got them all in, including the few more androsaces, primulas and saxes for the Zvolanek beds. (Wrightman has been growing some really unusual androsaces lately!) Then the rains came to press in all the roots. The new gutter on the south porch did its duty well and the cylindropuntia remained dry. This bodes well for the rest of the hardy cactus which are to be planted soon. Maybe this garden will beat the black rot to which they have been prone out in the open. Those lost in trials were generally planted in too much shade, I think, and with a western exposure. So this new southern exposure with a roof overhang should help.
Magnolia at Stonecrop

April- Time to Start the Vegetable Garden

The more things change, the more things stay the same...

1. April twenty years ago

 2. Windblown seed

3.  Reemay

4. Slug fest

5.  Beer moat

6.  Burp

7.  Fencing

8.  Hornets

9.  Gardening on earth

And today: all for us!

April Pop

In the space of a day, scores of plants popped out of the ground and started to open. The day was the first Saturday in April. After that morning we moved on through a heat wave. Magnolia stellata plumped and opened its buds in less than 8 hours. Pervasive smells of honey wafted from Aethionema oppositifolia, one of the earliest harbingers of my spring garden. (What a great easy plant! Just give it scree, sun and drainage. It spreads without overcoming its neighbors.) It blooms with the crocus and flowers for over a month, partnering the first and last of the Kabschia saxes.
Aethionema oppositifolia
One of the early saxes, is a fine peachy color. S. 'Joyce Carruthers' is named for that intercontinental plantswoman of rock garden crevice fame. Karel Lang hybridized S. kotschyi x S. x megaseaeflora ‘Krakatit’ in 2006 to produce this outstanding cultivar. It has settled itself into the granite scree here in Goshen.
Saxifraga 'Joyce Carruthers'
Adonis vernalis, which had already popped through the mulch that first morning, opened by afternoon with a smile. Another good do'er, it is blooming still after three weeks.
Adonis vernalis
Another popper on that first day is the common Pulsatilla vulgaris. Yes there are other more aristocratic of the genus. But these feathery heads invite touch. And no one is squeamish if a bud is "overloved". The purple flowers are welcome, but have not the same showstopper appeal as buds or the seed heads.
 Pulsatilla vulgaris
Drabas began their cycle that first day. The first, the woolly Draba polythricha, resides in the large soapstone trough near the driveway. It has a temperature mitigating stone wall at its back, blocking weather from the eastern front. Perfect conditions for this scree lover include lime crevices and sun.
Draba polythricha
The first day it was possible to work in the garden, turned out to be shirt sleeve and shorts weather. Rod and Ed took up planting the rest of the rocks in the new crevice bed. To get some perspective, on this same date a few years previous, everyone working outside was freezing even with coats and sweaters!
We are using crushed stone called "Process" to pack the cavities. It ranges in size from thumb size chunks to fine sand like stone. What works best for the plants is a two inch planting area between stones.