Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Blog Reboot!

After four years, and many life changes, I'm writing a fresh post!
The start of every year, begins with seed catalogs...! this season, I'm planting seeds of fool-proof plants that can take the extremes of Midwestern weather, and still produce quality cut flowers.
This list is topped with Zinnias, followed by Cosmos, then tall Marigolds, Snapdragons and Sunflowers. there are many more plants to trial, but these are mainstays of the summer cutting garden.

Of course, I MUST plant Sweetpeas, a yearly ritual that brings me back with memories of me and my Dad in his garden. My father learned to plant the fragrant flowers from his Auntie, who also had Peonies, Iris and a large vegetable garden for the house- a necessary element in a turn of the century household. sweet peas have been growing since before Christmas, and later varieties are just coming up now.
the old timers would say to plant seed outdoors by St. Valentine's Day, but I find that I get better cutting stems if they are started much earlier. the real secret to decent bloom before the heat hits, is to not let the young plants get pot bound, and to move them up to larger sized pots as they grow.
I like to use recycled beer cups, the kind you get at a sports event.
You can use new cups of course, but in any case, good drainage is a must! I stack many together, then use a drill bit to make four uniform holes in all the "pots" at once.

bright sunlight or quality artificial light for twelve hours a day gives you stocky, lush growth. keeping seedlings of all types well watered and fed can and should be a daily habit .

time spent now, nurturing the small seedlings will pay off big in the near future, I'm itching to get growing outside!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Indian Summer's End

The frosts have touched the garden, yet pockets of life survived the cold. The days have been warm and somewhat windy, always calming down by dusk. As I walk with Darla down the long drive, We go in and out of warm temperature layers, almost like how lake water can be, depending on the depth.The spicy scent of oak leaves and tall grass and the pungent stank of a buck in rut,  somewhere close.                                                                                                                                                                                              

I have the native orchid Spiranthes species, blooming in the grass, like little fairy wands. These vanilla scented wildflowers are always a treat to look foreword to during October. I found a beautiful cultivated variety at a local nursery, to add to a shade garden by my house. It is at least four times the size of my delicate native variety-I love then both!
 My local native Spiranthes, could be S. cernua?

I am not a big fan of all the "landscape" roses being sold everywhere here, but I bought on on sale, to fill a
spot in my front garden. It has been one of the most colorful, healthy roses I have ever had! It's called R."carefree celebration", a glowing coral pink that blooms and blooms-non stop! It has even gone through a light frost, and till kept blooming!
The Great Blue Lobelia-Lobelia sphilitica
I've always taken long walks, as a child with my dad, and now with my dog, Darla. We explore all the many areas of the farm, so I'm more likely to find special plants and flowers in isolated spots. We had a horribly dry fall, it still is- my pond is three feet down from normal, but the grass is still somewhat green.On a walk with Darla a week or so ago, I found a beautiful Lobelia siphilictica, the Great Blue Lobelia. If it hadn't been so dry, they would be in many spots, but not this year!

A few weeks ago, I went on a hike with my friend Jeff at the creek at the front of the farm. Normally, this would have flowing water, but it's just puddles in places right now, so it was a good time to explore, when we could walk it's shore. We found a pretty blue Campanula americana overhanging the edge, so beautiful.

Campanula americana

Friday, October 28, 2011

Beauty Before the Frost

Colchicum "Lilac Wonder"

In the last glorious weeks prior to our first frost, fragile beauty abounds. Every year, I add a few more Colchicums, They are referred to as autumn crocus, but that title has already been taken by the real autumn flowering crocus, a very different thing, and genus. Colchicums bloom at the time when every gardener needs a shot in the arm! Their interesting foliage arrives in the spring when everything else is surging in to bloom.It is gone before you know it, blending away in the cacophony of Hosta, Violet and Monarda leaves surrounding them. The garden fills in and blooms, going through the spring and summer seasons, then it slows way down, the heat and lack of rain taking their toll. Then, in early October , we get a decent rain storm. The rain triggers the Colchicums to surge in to growth, literally over night. The buds appear like a true Crocus, but continue to expand and grow in to a large clump of translucent lavender bloom. They are supposed to spread, but mine have not so far. There are many varieties to try, double, whites, checkered-they are pricey, but get better every year, and live long lives in the perennial garden.

This little Morning Glory, Ipomea sp. has traveled with me through my entire life. When I was little, I would help my father in the vegetable garden, were we also grew Sweetpeas for the house, as well as broken, flamed tulips, sweet Williams and this little beauty self seeded every year.I would gather the light tan seed pods in the fall, crumbling their shells off, exposing the jet black seed.When I moved away from home, the first garden I created, I plantd these simple flowers. You would think that they would be invasive, like the variety  I."Grandpa Ott's", but it keeps a low profile, never taking over the scene. This spring, my neighbors Ann and John gave me some seed they had saved from the same type of Morning glory, so I have "fresh blood" for the next seasons progeny, It's like a miniature I."Heavenly Blue", but with tri-lobed leaves,( and not the species I.triloba..) Does anyone know what variety this is? I found this vine growing through an Abolone shell by my door, what a perfect combination!

Anemone japonica  "Whirlwind"

Plants that come in to their own in the fall are so underused. These perennial Anemones are fantastic tall flowers to use in groups, or as a soft focal point all by themselves. They are beautiful cut flowers, but the blooms last at least a month on the plant if they are getting ample moisture. There are varieties in white, pink, mauve, raspberry-some single, others fully double. They will bloom until a hard frost, and even then, you might get some continued blooming if an Indian Summer settles in. This is a new one for me, and I've planted it in more sunlight this time, and gave it more organic matter in it's planting hole, I think the change will be good, my others are planted in dry shade, and suffer from low moisture in the soil. The new planting bed will be kept a little wetter than most of the areas in my gardens.

Iris germanica "Immortality"

I love this Iris, it blooms beautifully in the spring with the rest of the Iris, but then reblooms again in the fall, especially if it's gotten good care during the growing season. These Iris are called remontant, and there are many other colors and varieties  to try! This is an oldie, but a goody,with very fragrant blooms,  a whisper of pale blue on  a pure white ground. Remember to never plant a tall bearded Iris too deep-their rhizome needs to see some sun, half out of the ground, like a turtle in the water. The night after I took this picture , we had the hard freeze, ending the party, but this was the last blossom on the plant, so it was great timing!

Tricyrtis "Miyazaki Hybrids"

I love Tricyrtis, the Toad Lilies. I would have a serious collecting lust for them, but I loose them after a year or two, due to the population of voles that eat their roots in the winter here. I guess I could grow them in wire baskets, sunk in the ground, but that's not my style. I enjoy them for a few seasons, then get a few new ones to grace the fall shade garden. They look like tropical lilies or orchids, often banded and speckled with purple and brown. Although none of them are what I would call tall, they make great cut flowers, exquisite and long lasting. Some have striped foliage, or even spotted. Great companions of Epimediums, small Hosta, and ferns. Dappled light, even moisture and a light organic mulch will suite them well-and if happy, they will form gently expanding colonies. They are also super in containers with similar shade loving plants or all by themselves in a group.