Monday, August 6, 2012

Terrace life carries on

Nothing is as sad as a clematis after its first flush, which is why I hacked the Etoile Violette back hard after the party was over in...when was it over? Late June? Pulled its stems from the climbing Iceberg, scattered dead leaves, got spiders in my hair, and then sat back and wondered - as usual - What Have I Done?!

But it's OK. It's back.And it's also back in the Iceberg. Amazing.

The orange portulaca in the foreground is one of two I bought at the Borough Hall farmers market a week ago, ditching some strawberries in the repotting (too many strawberries!),and the never-say-die blue pansy in the background, planted with the new-ish Abraham Darby.

* Note to self: orange does not photograph well against terra cotta. Try zinc.

The other clematis, Bee's Jubilee, has also made it up to where it was wanted in the first place, inside and on top of the New Dawn rose. It grows in a pot with a gloriosa lily, some tiarella and a hardy begonia, that pot perching on top of the big New Dawn's pot, but wedged in the really shady corner. Follow? After transplanting it from its nursery pot the clematis just sat and sulked, opened three fat flowers, and got bushy. Once its flowers were done I did the hack-thing again, fed it with fish, and about four weeks later it's made it up about six feet.

Oh. On the table above are the foraging spoils from our trip out to Dead Horse Bay yesterday. Phew, it was hot. No beach plums, but lots of chokecherries (Prunus serotina), much sweeter than the others I tasted a week ago, nearby. Also many sea rocket seeds, for pickling. And sumac - Rhus typhina. The seeds are very dewy and young and super-sour. Like intense lemon juice. Also some elderberries, which I'll just add to my Brooklyn bitters, already in progress...

Ahead of predicted storms and a swathe of red and yellow inching east on the radar, I went up to check all the pots on the roof, and to water (it helps weigh them down, but a storm still doesn't water a pot enough, either). I sipped my drink (black currant gin and tonic), watered, watched the sky, saw the storm crossing New York Harbor in a grey curtain, and then dived back down when this arrived:

It was fierce, but brief. 

 Which reminds me of the conductor who said of the soprano: She has a small voice. But ugly.


  1. I just love how you have made such a tiny space into a delightful garden - it looks so pretty.

  2. Yes try the zinc, Marie! It is a good background for so many things! I guess that is what we call corrugated iron in Australia.

    I am continually wondering at the profusion of beautiful things in your garden - is the New Dawn doing well?

  3. So, i 've been following the "rules" and not cutting back the clematis until spring. I like your results better. Do you pay any attention to which "type" they are, or do you just hack away? Thanks.

  4. Thank you, Karen.

    gossypia, also called galvanized metal in the States.

    webb - Bee's Jubilee belongs to Pruning Group 2 and reblooms lightly mid season. I found that cutting it back after that first flush did not hurt. As for winter pruning, it's not much different from Group 3.

    Etoile Violette (C. viticella) is Group 3 and is hacked back hard after winter. And this summer cutting does not seem to hurt, either

  5. That Violette looks spectacular. Am storing away ideas for next spring, as it's getting a little late in the season to start gardening, no? Love that you're an old English rose fan too. Can't wait to see the results.

  6. Russ, it's never too late to start gardening. That is a myth perpetuated by garden writers :-)

  7. Am taking your gentle nudge, Marie. Zipcar on Sunday to head to Chelsea Nursery down in Red Hook. Time to get the late-summer garden started!

  8. That's great, Russ. Stop in at the Gowanus Nursery, too. I think it's on the corner of Van Brunt and Carroll. They have very interesting plants.


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