Thursday, April 14, 2016

April is the weirdest month

So after a lot of spring bloomers responded to the warm winter by flowering and leafing out early in March, we've been hit by deep chill and fierce winds in April. Who knows where we're going next, but I for one will not be surprised by a repeat of mid-May frost - don't put those tomato plants out too soon! I only had one serious blow from the weather - alas my poor kiwis - mostly because I've been too wimpy to plant stuff in it. My community garden plot is pretty empty...

Anyway, I do have a Bloom Day post this month, so here we go. Just photos and a very few words since I am too tired to look up all the cultivars or mostly the Latin. It is a riot of bloom out there (and today is beautiful).

Still have daffodils:

And the forsythia is still blooming, barely:

I don't have a lot of tulips left because squirrels and deer, but some of them are in bloom:

Redbud (the tree is tall now!):

Lilac, quince, Pieris japonica, and Mohawk viburnum:

Blueberry flowers that survived the north wind and freezing temps:

Epimedium and white bleeding heart (pardon the weeds, a phrase you can assume repeated throughout this entry):

Spanish bluebells, grape hyacinths, polemonium:

Virginia bluebells with bleeding hearts:

Bleeding hearts with celandine poppy - both thugs but pretty:

A friend is coming tomorrow to rid me of some of the excess celandine poppy, which as usual is occupying a good half of certain beds.

Packera aurea is starting to be a bit thuggish too but I don't care. I can dig it up and spread it around in sunny spots.

Another pretty thug:

A couple more daffodils for good measure:

And some pansies:

That's enough to be going on with. Happy Bloom Day!

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Signs of spring

It's not really worth doing Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day today, but I figured I'd go ahead and post a couple of shots. Hellebore and daffodil closeups:

For the record, the first daffodils here bloomed March 9. I've also got crocuses (the snowdrops appear to be done), and I did see a miniature iris the other day but it wasn't around this morning. Magnolias are in bud, forsythia is forsything, but in general spring is sidling into view rather than dramatically bursting on the scene and announcing itself. Which is fine - we may get a frost and snow flurries this weekend, in time for the official start of the season.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Spring tasks

Haven't posted here in ages! Well, it has been winter - a rather strange one, with Christmas at nearly 70 degrees F. and then a blizzard in January (29 inches of snow in 1.5 days). Overall it's been a bit warmer than average (whatever that means anymore) and spring is raring to go. (At the moment there is an inch of new snow on the ground, but it won't last more than a day or so.)

I will have flowers for Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day this month! In fact, there are snowdrops (which have been going all winter, even under the snow), crocuses and hellebores blooming right now, and daffodils will likely appear before the 15th.

My big task for the spring is to get going on this Food Forest Thing (FFT) which won't be strictly a food forest, since it will include plenty of native (and non-native) non-food-producing plants, but whatever it is it'll involve some planning and lots of land-clearing and planting. I should probably have a Five-Year Plan or something, but I get overwhelmed if I see things in too-large chunks of Help and Bother, so more likely I'll be dealing with it one little piece at a time. But here's the big picture, for once:

This is the view looking down on the Way Back (before it snowed, obviously). The fence posts (coming out slowly but surely, and perhaps faster now that we have a proper post jack) are the borders of the former vegetable garden. The gate frames are staying in, because they are cool and my athletic cat likes to climb them. Taking this, I am standing at the back of the parking area, next to the shed. We are going to build a retaining wall just in front of me. The mess of green fencing to the left is protecting some current (not currant - those are to the right) plantings, including a young fig tree which will become the focus of Guild #1 (or whatever I end up calling it). (Assuming it survived the winter.) There are also some raspberries that need to be moved, and some blueberries that will end up in the front side yard replacing the privet hedge if we manage to rip it out. Plus various herbs and little bush cherries.

I have re-formed the black raspberry parallel rows into a cross-shaped formation, which will be easier to access if I get behind on pruning.

I'll try to post here with updates. FFT Go!

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Flowers still hanging on!

I thought I might not be able to post for Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day this month, but in fact here I am. After the frost in October, we've had ups and downs in temperature, but on the whole it's been warmer than usual, so while most of the leaves have colored up and fallen off, some of the flowers that formed last month are still around. Here's what I found in a quick stroll around the yard:

Tropical milkweed
Pineapple sage
All tender plants, hanging on in a sheltered bed in the windy front yard. These floral displays would be pitiful in midsummer, but in November it's great to see those bright colors. I can also see some bright pink cosmos in my neighbor's vegetable garden from the back porch - cheery!

This is my 'Mohawk' viburnum which has decided for reasons known to itself to throw out a flower half a year out of season. *grins at it*

The 'Winterthur' viburnums in the back have nice shiny red leaves. They have grown a lot this year, and are looking like real shrubs rather than branched sticks. I'm looking forward to a red hedge in years to come.

And I have to laugh at the pawpaw tree with most of its huge leaves fallen off, clutching on to a few like it's reluctant to drop its underwear or something. They'll all be gone in a few days.

I hope all of you have flowers or bright leaves to enjoy in mid-November!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

A few October blooms

Here's my Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day post a day ahead. Yes, I still have a few flowers in bloom despite the drought (now ended) and the upcoming frost. Here are some of them.

I love toad lilies and need to get more of them! This is Tricyrtis hirta 'Miyazaki.' Such a cool thing to come across in an otherwise spent bed.

Sweet autumn clematis strangling the life out of beautyberries is a lovely sight. I really need to pull those vines off.

The conventional chrysanthemum/tall sedum (or whatever they call it now) combination. These need to be moved when they're finished flowering, because they block our view as we're pulling out of the driveway.

I think the 'Limelight' hydrangeas that are too big for their site know that I'm going to cut them down and replace them, because along with the gargantuan now-pinkish-brown flowerheads that started earlier in the season, they've put out a bunch of smaller, cute white ones to entice me into sparing them. Sorry, guys. (Plants do hear us talking about them, okay? Or else why did the annoyingly invasive and sticky Japanese pagoda tree - discussed in an earlier post - fail to bloom at all this year, meaning no seeds spread across the known universe along with no gunk on the cars? We still need to cut it down, but at least we can wait till spring.)

In other news, I'm working on the very early stages of the food forest project, in other words removing that darned fence. Slowly, with a lot of digging out of groundhog wire, ripping up morning glories and chopping down small trees, and using reverse engineering. It'll get there.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Seed Savers Exchange visit

I figured while I was in Iowa (for the International Master Gardener Conference) I should visit Seed Savers Exchange, an organization I hold in high regard. This idea of proximity only makes sense in the context of my drive through large portions of the Midwest, because it took me about 6 1/2 hours, including short stops, to drive from Council Bluffs to Spillville, where I had a B&B booked. Then the next day I drove fifteen minutes or so further on to north of Decorah, where SSE has their farm.

SSE promotes and practices the saving of history: heirloom vegetables, flowers, fruits, animals, and whatever else comes their way. The organization is actually spread throughout the country and the world, and I could have visited it by finding one of my most local Seed Exchange members, someone who's listed in SSE's annual directory of seed savers offering heritage seed for sale. Or I suppose really SSE is as close as my own garden, since I've bought seeds from them and grown them out. I am a member of SSE, but I don't list seeds - generally I only save enough to give out locally. Members get the big directory (as opposed to the smaller publicly-available catalog, which has quite enough in it for most people really) and discounts on merchandise.

Anyway, local is important, but a national headquarters has a vibe, so I went. Aside from the snazzy visitor's center, SSE HQ is a working farm, with seed preservation gardens tucked away in corners for less contamination by foreign pollens. I didn't get to those gardens on this visit (some of the trails were out, due to summer flooding), but I did manage quite a hike after seeing the demonstration and trial gardens close to the parking area. Photos below.

View of Diversity Garden and buildings
Sorghum in trial garden
Spectacular cleome
Diane's Garden, with sun effect
View through Diane's Garden to barn
Ducks and geese
Heirloom cattle
The cattle (Ancient White Park, described here) were very curious about me as I walked a 3 3/4 mile loop around their pasture. It was good to stretch my legs a bit before driving the rest of the day (all the way to Indiana, yikes).

I've been home almost two days now - it's good to be back and not driving so much! Not much gardening in sight immediately as we've just had a big rain front go through and it looks like a hurricane will be passing by this weekend, but at least the plants are finally getting watered? It never rains but it pours, yup.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Missouri Botanical Garden

Several days ago I went to the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis. (I've since spent the weekend in Kansas City and am now in Omaha, NE, but have finally managed to get around to updating.) I was looking forward to the visit a lot, since the garden has a stellar reputation and I'd used their online educational resources many times, and it did not disappoint.

Here are some photos I took, which cover but a few of the many places in the garden.

The garden has Victorian origins, and I like how they honor that in various places throughout with formal and informal beds in outrageous colors. This is near the entrance, but there's a whole Victorian District that I probably only took one photo of.

Cute little cactus.

Entrance to the rose garden (one of the rose gardens). That's a glass sculpture in yellow.

More glass inside the big tropical conservatory. I took a similar photo at the Lewis Ginter garden in Richmond. It's a thing, I guess.

There's a whole separate temperate conservatory, which is where they put the plants they wish would live outside in the winter but which just don't.

In the big WONDERFUL home demonstration garden area, an accessible garden plan.

Part of the vegetable garden in the same area: okra and Malabar spinach, cornering the market in mucilaginous textures.

I was just amused that the aggressive annual vines covered up the educational composting sign. Whoops!

View across the lake. The Japanese garden is along its edges.

George Washington Carver has his own garden, through which he is forever striding.

View of the hedge maze from the observation tower (which I went up first to figure out the pattern so I wouldn't make wrong turns).

Part of the herb garden: big recipe cards. This is a great idea which I may steal for the demo garden.

My homie Linnaeus.

Other things I really liked: the big children's garden, with plenty of room for running around, a treehouse playground, a cave, and lots of educational tidbits snuck in; and the little snippets of experimentation within all the lush beauty, detail and careful maintenance. There were quite a few signs basically informing the visitor "We don't know for sure if this will work (with the climate, soil, or other circumstances) but hey, let's give it a try!"

Absolute must-see when you're in the St. Louis area.