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Robin’s Ohio Garden – FineGardening


My name is Robin Leja and I live and work in Pickerington, Ohio. I call my place Robin’s Nest and I maintain a blog called Life in Robin’s Nest, which I update at the end of each month.

This photo essentially shows the beginning of my gardening year. This is Iris reticulata ‘Harmony’ (zones 5-8), which is usually the first light bulb to appear in late winter, sometimes even in late February but usually in early March. I particularly like to plant it under my ‘Angelina’ sedum (Sedum rupestre ‘Angelina’, zones 3–9) because ‘Angelina’ usually takes on yellow, orange and red tones at this time of the year and forms a nice contrast to ‘Harmony’ .

Forest Pansy Redbud TreeIn my front yard I have a ‘Forest Pansy’ redbud tree (Cercis canadensis ‘Forest Pansy’, Zones 5–9) that we love very much. It blooms at the same time as my tulips and makes such a beautiful backdrop for them. The white flowers are Candytuft (Iberis sempervirens, Zones 4-9), and I’m delighted how they bloom at exactly the same time as the tulips, making the perfect undercover. Creeping phlox (Phlox subulata, zones 3–9) also bloom with them.

pink and red tulipsI am a big fan of tulips, which I usually plant every fall. I treat them like yearbooks because they don’t come back as reliably as many people think. For most years, my best friend and I visit Holland, Michigan during the Tulip Time Festival, where we wander through the tulip fields to pick out the bulbs that we will use in the fall. This year I chose a color scheme of apricot and coral colors.

Princess Victoria Louise PoppiesMay is one of the most beautiful months in the nest when warm weather arrives and everything is in full bloom. These are my ‘Princess Victoria Louise’ poppies (Papaver orientale ‘Princess Victoria Louise’, zones 3–7). This started out as three tiny plants about five years ago and has since spread around this display. I like how they look with my bottle tree.

NigellaAt the end of May my Nigella (Nigella damascena) blooms. It is a self-sowing yearbook that is very productive in my garden. I give every seed and have a lot left. The blue flowers are an unforgettable sight.

Finally roseJune is a particularly joyful time here in the nest, with a riot of flowers at every turn. This photo is a close-up of the ‘At Last’ rose, which is carefree, disease resistant and blooms profusely throughout the summer. I highly recommend it!

Clematis on a lamp postOn my front lamppost, I grow two different clematis, but they have become so intertwined over time that it is impossible to tell which is which. On the front, which you see here, it should be in honor of “Jackmanii Superba” (Clematis “Jackmanii Superba”, Zones 4-9) and on the back it should be “Polish Spirit” (Clematis “Polish Spirit”, Zones 3-11) of my husband’s Polish heritage.

Fire light hydrangeaThis is a front view of my bay window. This white hydrangea is called ‘Feuerlicht’ (Hydrangea paniculata ‘Feuerlicht’, Zones 3–8) and I recommend it to everyone. It starts out white, then turns pink and finally burgundy red in autumn. It is ALWAYS full of flowers during the season and they are especially nice to preserve by drying.

Monarch on sunflowersI raise milkweed and raise monarch caterpillars in my kitchen. I examine the milkweed leaves, collect the eggs and wait for them to hatch. Then I keep supplying them with fresh milkweed until they form their pupae. As soon as the butterflies appear, I release them in my garden. Often times, they stay for photos before taking off. I especially like it when they pose on my sunflowers. I call this shot “Incoming!” Because I didn’t notice this bee until I saw the shot.

Talavery potteryWhat I liked about this particular shot was that it was a study in orange. I sat on the patio and it just caught my eye – my discarded orange gardening gloves, my ever-growing collection of Talavery pottery, and my tri-colored geranium (Pelargonium hybrid, zones 9-12 or annual) in full bloom, potted basil and succulents nearby and even a couple of Oklahoma salmon zinnias (Zinnia elegans, annual) in the corner.

Fire light hydrangeaHere is my September ‘Fire Light’ hydrangea. A few years ago I had the chance to test a few plants for proven winners and this was one of them. I give him a very enthusiastic thumbs up. It starts to bloom in white, then turns into pink and finally into burgundy. It’s a very reliable bloomer!

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Robert Dunfee