Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Wonderful Rain

 We've had a gloriously soaking twenty four hours of rain and it continues to pour down. While it may have ruined many picnics and parades this Memorial Day, it was a welcome deluge for the garden. Hand watering cannot compete with water from heaven. I swear this buttercrunch lettuce grew 2 inches overnight. The heads of curly lettuce in the next cubby are so tight and full, that I can't pry off a leaf without breaking the head. I'll leave them alone to grow internally. This is only the second time I have grown lettuce, and these were from nursery 4-packs. My previous attempt was to scatter Mesclun seeds and they went crazy and I couldn't keep up with them. Thinning never occured to me. Duh. 
The two heads of Romaine are also bigger than ever. I do take leaves off the outersides of these and the Buttercrunch and they make a fabulously fresh salad. I am promising myself to add more lettuces like these in the cooler weather after August.  

 The yellow coneflowers I planted last summer are opening now. Have to unpot them and find a new home for them in the garden.

 I took advantage of the early morning drizzle to plant some seeds and a half flat of coleus. I got wet but it was still enjoyable. The seeds were lettuce leaf basil, chives, beets and hyacinth bean. I know they will sprout really fast with all this warmth and moisture. Lettuce leaf basil is my fave, with it's puckered leaves that are huge and spicy. But I also have a bunch of plain ol' sweet basil seeds, for a second crop. In pesto they all taste the same.

 Here's my vegetable garden, soaking wet and awaiting Nick the landscaper. Not this week as it continues to rain. The watermelon is already beginning to vine, so I must take care to find it a safe place to grow in its pot. One little tomato is plumping up on a bush Goliath. O boy!

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

It's Only May

 I feel as tho I must scramble to get the garden in and have to keep reminding myself that it is only May and I have all summer to build this garden. Our growing season will last well into November, without a frost, so what's my hurry? As mentioned, I had a berm made along the inside of the fence for my eleven hydrangea, and four clematis, and many many hosta. Yesterday that was planted and mulched. Doesn't look like much yet but I planned on giving them enough space to grow into the big plants they will surely become. Interspersed are some bleeding hearts, celandine poppy, and baby hosta.

The big pots will be planted at the end of the season, after dividing their contents. 

At the end of this berm are four baby Bowl of Beauty peonies, which I started from bare sticks. Always a lovely surprise when the leaves appear. 
 Similarly this hosta Empress Wu came in bare root and the core was broken off and looking rotten. I requested a replacement, which they sent and voila now I have two healthy specimens. Who knew? They are small now but will become monsters in three years. 48"x70".

 I have two of the new Bloomstruck Hydrangeas and they are thrilling me with their blooms. We'll see if they stay blue in this garden.

 A new variety for me in coreopsis, Ladybird, a red one. I also have the standard bright yellow Early Sunrise and Moonbeam. 

 Getting ready for phase two, the veggie garden, I decided to get while the getting was good, and now I have peppers to keep alive. Poblano, CoolapeƱo, Big Bertha, Mammoth Jalapeno, and the wonderful Giant Marconi.

The tomatoes I will be growing are Red Pride, Debut, Celebrity, Husky Red Cherry, and Bush Goliath. I prefer determinate varieties rather than the indeterminate, so I can control their sprawl. These shorter varieties will still be staked. but hopefully will fruit abundantly. 

And we have Cantaloupe Super 45, and Sugar Baby, a smaller icebox watermelon. 
 The lettuce is looking great and I plan to gather some leaves for salad today. The basil is both great and puny. All these were planted at the same time and yet they are growing so differently. Hmmm.

So let's have that rain that is forecast, and let it be a good soaker!

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Pentecost Stole

Pentecost is this Sunday so I got myself in gear and made this psychedelic stole for our pastor. I dyed the fabric years ago and who woulda thunk it would end up as a church vestment? The flames are hand dyed silk shantung.  Red is the color of Pentecost and I hope this passes the red test.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Wood Chips

Those of you following our adventures in Tennessee will know that wood chips are a constant theme in our gardens. Mostly free from the local town recycle stations, but occasionally we have paid for them too. Once again we are having mulch days here and this time we really mean it. This was the first truck load and the big boy got stuck in our mud and had a dickens of a time getting out again. The second truck load was much easier and he stayed mostly on the driveway, to be sure.

Doesn't it look lovely? We can walk anywhere without getting stuck in mud! And the fence is up!!! Yay! That means I can let the dogs out and not worry that they will wander away. Double Yay!! 

You will note that the fence is partial here. The pots of plants are at the end of our driveway and the dogs won't even try to jump over them. We won't be having the fence extend any farther because this is where the fish pond will be built; above ground, three courses of concrete blocks lined with a heavy rubber liner, and visible from the patio. It isn't the very next thing on my list so for a while the pots will close off this entrance. We do have a gate in the fence for entry.

Here's the rest of the fence which surrounds the whole yard. Pretty invisible but high enough to do the trick to keep the boys in. In front of the fence is a planting berm for our hydrangeas and hostas. It rained like crazy just as the job was finished so I will wait til it is a bit less wet to plant.
I have been studying gardening videos on You Tube, mostly Charles Dowding an innovator of  No Dig gardening and followers like Paul Gautschi and his film Back to Eden, and I have gained the confidence necessary to embark on this huge garden for the remaining years of my life.
For example, this area below between our fence and our neighbor's is a pathway which surrounds the patio garden. It is always shady and muddy. Now with the wood chips and in the autumn lots of leaf litter, it will become a productive area for woodland plants and my beloved hosta collection. The depth of the chips will prevent weeds and break down slowly to improve the soil below. 

 As with all my gardens, I prefer to have raised beds, but that doesn't mean the garden is contained only in those beds. Already I have planted peonies and daylilies in front of the patio, in a little berm of good soil. 

 This area was where the pile of debris had been and now it is holding the remaining chips, soon to be distributed up our hill, behind our bamboo and along the rest of the path. But wait there's more. A series of four long raised beds are going to be built here for my veggie garden. It is a very sun baked area which will do very nicely for things like watermelon, peppers, tomatoes, and of course zucchini!

Friday, May 11, 2018

Hardy Perennial Salvias

Always on the lookout for blue flowers, I fell in love with Blue Bedder Sage years ago. But it is only one of the seemingly zillion varieties of wonderful plants in the Hardy Perennial Salvia family. East Friesland Salvia is a must have and is gloriously blue purple early in Spring.
 GardeningEast Friesland Salvia - A favorite for its long bloom season, East Friesland salvia is a mound-shape plant with spikes of violet-purple flowers in summer and fall. It attracts a lot of bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds to the garden.  Just now starting to bloom are several Blue Bedders that I relocated from my downtown garden. Lucky for me that they are considered a perennial in my zone 7b.

Culinary sages are part of the same group and I love those too, with or without blue flowers. For this new garden I have collected six of the herb varieties. Purple, garden, tricolor variegated, golden, pineapple and Russian. And I just discovered a sage that smells and tastes like cucumber! I didn't buy one...yet.
Pineapple Sage Salvia elegans Item #40026 USDA Hardiness Zone: 8 - 10  A fragrant, perennial herb for garden or patio with showy scarlet-red flowers in late summer. The blooms contrast nicely against bright, pineapple-scented yellow green foliage. Crushed leaves have the aroma and taste of pineapple, used to make tea, potpourri, jams and jellies.
 Pineapple sage gets huge in one season and attracts hummingbirds with its scarlet flowers.

 Golden Sage has bicolored leaves, and I hope to keep it going until it blooms, to see if it does, and what color they may be. 
Pbs - Perovskia Blue Spire - Russian Sage
And finally, Russian Blue sage. Haven't had this one before but have enjoyed seeing them in full bloom in other gardens. I showed Dave all these plants and boasted about how huge they grow. He responded that they are planted awfully close together here, which is true, but that's because they will be moved to the veggie beds, when they get made, soon. Nick the landscaper said the wood chips and dumpster will be delivered on Monday, which makes way for building phase two of the garden. 
 Other new plants are Beth's Blue Starflower, Larentia axillaris.
And this little cutie, Browallia. I am hoping this isn't too sunny a spot for these six. I may have to move them to a shadier section of the garden. Behind them are the tiny new East Friesland and in the cubbies in front, blue Lobelia. Lots of pretty blues to come.
Speaking of cubbies, I decided it's not too late for lettuces despite predictions of 90 degrees this weekend. Buttercrunch, green leaf and Romaine are filling these, and I will find a red leaved variety when I venture out today. Last year my neighbor bought a planter with three or four heads and shared the bounty with me and we both had more than enough salad for several months.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Garden Q&A

Lobelia erinus Magadi Blue | Lucas Greenhouses

Ageratum..........a natural mosquito repellent and quite beautiful
mlaiuppa asked...
Can you grow lobelia or ageratum? They're blue and low and would work in the front of the cool planter. 
Yes, definitely, and I saw some yesterday at the overpriced garden shop and will try to find them in 6 packs today.

You can't grow clivias? My Mom's are blooming a wonderful vibrant orange. 

All orange flowers and yellow flowers are beautiful and with meanings of their own. So, which do you prefer? Beautiful flowers | small orange and yellow flowers | wedding garden arrangements bouquet, light type of orange flowers yellow flower | pretty flowers aesthetic Clivias
I haven't seen clivias here, and looked them up online. Pricey!

And no fuchsias? They have uprights that do well in shade and filtered sun. All sorts of colors. 
Fuchsia......GRANDMA!!!!!!! <3 u

I haven't considered fuchsias, because we have such hot summers and I always think of them dying of thirst in the pots at Home Depot or Lowe's. On the other hand we have places on the front porch to hang them and a lot of shade in the yard for shrub varieties. I will think about this.

That was a ton of work you did in a 24 hour span, with breaks for food and sleep. 
It was pure heaven to work in that gorgeous dirt. Loved every minute of it. With the exception of trying to get the plants out of the 6 packs. I cut the plastic and still had to rip it off in pieces, in garden gloves which made it more of a challenge. Finally took them off and used my bare hands. You should see my nails now. Ha! I prepared with a hat and wet towel for the back of my neck. That made a difference, but then the next day it was much cooler and I really got things done quickly.

Have you given up on your Scandinavian berm of composting stuff?
Yup. The hugelkulture idea is kaput. The guys who cleared the land put all the debris, wood, pallets, garbage from the previous owners etc. all in that big pile and it will be taken to the dump this week.

Will the new fence be enough to keep the deer from tasting the new buffet or don't you have deer?
We live in town and don't have deer. However we have rabbits, chipmunks and squirrels and the fence won't help keep them out. However our bird feeder and the tender bamboo shoots are keeping the squirrels at bay.

Phase two is the veggies garden and that will need fencing of some sort. Stay tuned.

Any plans for "working" trees? The kind that produce edibles like peaches or apples or lemons?
O gosh...you are way ahead of me. When our veggie beds are in I might take a look at the remaining space and consider peaches or plums.  I am pretty much over spraying fruit trees for good, but if I can find some varieties that do well without spraying I might consider it again. At our first TN house on the mountain it came with an orchard which was so exciting, but then after a few days of rain the trees were actually pushed out of the ground by the water coming down off the mountain. That ended that orchard. 

I must say that this garden is becoming my ultimate dream come true. Having the space, and finances allows me to have it done right, and with speed. Being 70 now makes me aware of the time I have left to work and I want it to be a pleasurable process, using the experience of all my past gardens to avoid the pitfalls.