The Impatient Gardener: May 2009

31 May 2009

The woods comes alive

It always amazes me how quickly the wooded area of our property is taken over by Ostrich ferns.

May 8

May 14

May 31 (pay no attention to the path of inflourescence-looking stuff. I spread some DE the day before. Oh and yeah ... all that stuff in the foreground is garlic mustard weed that must be pulled ASAP.)

All those Ostrich ferns and would you believe I've never eaten fiddleheads? By the time I remember to try them the ferns are too big. When I walk through them many are eye level.

The ferns are beautiful if not a tad aggressive, but for the most part I let them go where they want. When they pop up in the lawn they just get mowed with the rest of it.

30 May 2009

157 ... and counting

The scene of the crime. And this isn't even all of them!

Do they offer plantaholic 12-step programs? I'm seriously thinking I may need to find one. Noticing that my "holding area" (formerly the pit of despair, but somewhat spruced up) is getting a little tight, I took a count of the plants I need to plant. And the total was somewhat astonishing: 157. That's perennials, herbs and veggies that I intend to get in the ground in the very near future. That does not count annuals (of which I've got hordes, but they don't count because um ... well, I have no good reason other than that it would make the total embarassingly high—which is not to say that 157 hasn't already achieved that mark) or tree starts from our various maples that I intend to just keep growing out in pots until such time as we know where we want to put them and they are big enough to survive there.

Does anyone else have this issue? I sincerely hope so because this definitely feels like an addiction.

These are just some of the hostas waiting to go in the ground. The blame for these lies entirely with Pam at Gardening with Queenie. She's a hosta addict and she willingly shares the addiction! Last I heard she's got 930 varieties and is pushing for 1,000 by the end of summer. Go Pam!

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29 May 2009

Some great gardening companies (and a coupon too!)

Our Master Gardeners Heirloom Plant and Herb Sale was held May 23 and I was in charge of door prizes and gift bags, which means that I got to call up companies during one of the worst recessions in a long time and ask them for donations. Many have said "No, not this year." And I understand that. But a lot of them have helped out and I thought it'd be worth mentioning them here because I, for one, like to support those companies that support gardeners, not just sell to them.

Earthbox (donated TWO Earthboxes!)
Great Big Plants (door prize donation and a coupon code-- I'll share it below)
Osmocote (Oodles of samples)
Bluestone Perennials (two gift certificates!)
Potlifter (this thing is so cool)
Organic Gardening Magazine (magazines, subscriptions, books, what a great donor!)
Baker Seeds (samples)
Deer Off (samples)
Jung Seed (oodles of seed packets)
Drew's True Value in Port Washington, Wisconsin (Drew's—one of my favorite stores in the world—came through with bags for the gift bags at the last minute when another sponsor dropped out, and they even ordered special biodegradable bags!)

So Great Big Plants is awesome liquid organic compost. I use it for everything: I dip plants in it before transplanting, give 'em a good soak with it once they are in the ground, foliar feed with it, you name it. They offered this GREAT coupon through June 30. And best of all, they are really nice people.
So if you wanna give it a try to to their Web site and use the coupon code WISMG for 15% off your purchase AND free shipping!

27 May 2009

Garden art?

Garden art or a tree stuck in the ground upside down? You make the call!

I'm a big fan of garden art, but not such a big fan of paying for it. Fortunately, I'm also a fan of driftwood, so I'm always on the lookout for interesting pieces. A couple years ago I found a driftwood tree (the whole thing) that had some interesting roots. So I grabbed the husband, a rope and a chainsaw and had him cut off the bottom chunk, and drag it up the beach. It's been sitting around (and drying out, thankfully) for about 18 months now and the other day I was inspired enough to do something with it. So what does one do with a driftwood tree? Well ... plant it upside down! So there it is, standing like a little soldier in my garden. It looks pretty stark now, but once some plants fill in around it, I think it could be pretty cool. I've also planted a clematis by it that I'm hoping to sort of wrap around it. We'll see. It's just an experiment, but it was free so how can you go wrong?

I have a few other pieces of driftwood "art" around the yard, including one that I always thought looked like a person diving. It now holds a house number plaque that my husband made out of carbon fiber. Just a tad ironic to have driftwood holding carbon fiber, don't you think?

You came back! You came back!

Remember how I said my Disneyland rose didn't make it through the winter? I was truly convinced it was a goner. All of the wood was dead. Fortunately my procrastination habit has finally paid off! I didn't pull it out of the ground. I'm not sure if it's because I was dreading dealing with the thorns or I was hoping for a miracle, but it sat there untouched.

Last weekend I went out and bought a new rose. I'm no rosarian (and I think I'll just go on record now and say I'll never be one), so when I saw one from a series called "Easy Elegance" with a big "Two-year guarantee" tag on it, I grabbed a pretty coral-pink one called Kiss Me. It came blooming and the fragrance is incredible. Hopefully I'll be able to make it bloom again, since it's pretty much done for this year, I fear.

Then I went out and bought another rose. I don't know why. I think it's because I secretly covet those English roses with huge petal counts. So I bought one. Windemere. It's sort of a cream color. I don't even really like white roses, so don't ask me what came over me.

Anyway, I was about to start digging to plant my two new acquisitions, and I look down and lo and behold what is coming out of the ground but tiny sprouts on my Disneyland rose. The old babe made it after all! My shock subsided as I realized I now needed to find another space in my garden for a rose, since I was planning on planting one of the two new ones in Disneyland's spot.

Anyway, now this girl who truly is clueless when it comes to roses but still oddly fascinated by them, or maybe by the challenge of them, has FIVE roses. I can't believe it. Since three are new this year I think the real test will be to count how many roses I have next spring!

Easy Elegance "Kiss Me" came to me flowering. Its scent is even more intoxicating than its blooms. But will it live? It's got a two-year guarantee (provided I can manage to hang onto the reciept that long), but who knows.

P.S. The title of this post is a Wizard of Oz reference, in case you didn't catch it or haven't seen the movie about 800 times as I have.


26 May 2009

The real reason newspapers will never die

I love the most recent post from Michael Tortorello's New York Times blog. I've been following Michael's misadventures of a new gardener with his first vegetable garden with interest (and frankly, a little bit of jealousy. Is the NYT paying him for this? How come I didn't think to pitch that idea?)

He's talking about using newspaper to block weeds, of course, which is something a lot of gardeners figured out a long time ago. I've been doing it for three or four years now when I start a new bed (aka lasagna gardening ... sort of, in my case). I'm a fan because I think it works and it's a hell of a lot better than poisoning the world with a case of Round-up. But Michael makes a great point and it's one that's near and dear to my heart: what are you going to use to keep your weeds in check when newspapers are gone? Organic Gardening magazine addressed this in the letters column of their most recent issue by suggesting using paper grocery bags or kraft paper. First of all, haven't we all given up on grocery bags? I suggest everyone go out and buy a bunch of Baggu bags and keep them in your car or purse. On the rare occasion that you forget your Baggus, just get plastic and use it to pick up dog poop, or store your wet swimming suit in when you come home from vacation. Well, whatever, I'm not going to get all preachy about grocery bags, but I don't mind getting preachy about newspapers. So subscribe, then use 'em in your garden!

Oh, and here's a tip on the newspaper thing: You know when you're doin' some lasagna gardening and it gets to be a huge pain to unfold all those papers and then they start flying all over the place? Call up your local newspaper and ask them if they have end rolls. Since I work for a company that also publishes a newspaper I have access to all the end rolls I can use (end rolls are small rolls of paper left at the end of a roll after printing. They don't want to run out on a print job mid-roll so they stop before the end and start a new roll). I roll them out in about 20-foot lengths and double back and forth to create about nine layers of newsprint. Then I roll them up, carry them to where they need to be, unroll them, wet them down right away with the hose and move on. Works like a charm!

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Lovin' this plant

This is dicentra Gold Heart, and she has become a star in our garden. I picked it up at the hardware store two or three years ago and even though she's not in a great spot for a bleeding heart (west exposure) she just keeps getting bigger and bigger (and is currently taking over a mini hosta growing underneath it). It's one of those plants that you spot from the other side of the yard and are just drawn to.


25 May 2009


All the dahlias, sorted and waiting (no, begging!) to be planted.

Well I hope everyone had a great holiday weekend. Memorial Day is sort of do-or-die time around here for gardening stuff so the extra day off was much needed. And what a day it was. But like most you, I never get to the bottom of the list. So, even though I had an extra day, I could use about a week! But I'm wondering if even that would do it. I mean, has anyone, EVER, crossed off everything on their gardening to-do list? If so, I want to hear about it.

I also braved the nursery (and I do mean braved: a nursery on Memorial Day weekend is not for the faint of heart) because I wanted to pick up some annuals while there were still some left. I think I have everything I need for my containers, well most of them anyway. And a few things I don't need. I got to the checkout counter and looked in my basket and thought, "Hmmm, I wonder what I was planning on doing with that plant?" An hour before it was all clear but you walk around that greenhouse long enough and your head gets a tad foggy.

So I got oodles of delphiniums from Graceful Gardens planted. Their delphiniums have always done great for me the first year. Which is good, because I have about a 2-50 record of getting them to come back the next year. Weeded and mulched the circle garden, did a bunch of other stuff. And just as I was thinking about taking up my neighbor's generous offer to help relieve him of oodles of very course mulch left for him by the people who rape the trees near the power lines for the electric company, I had a revelation: The dahlias were still in the garage!

Whoops. I realized it's definitely time to get those guys in. So I unloaded the bins carefully (I'm hoping my labeling system worked), and got them all in the ground. By now it was approaching 4:30 p.m. It's supposed to rain all week so it's A.) a good time to get them in and B.) my last chance until next weekend (which will be equally filled with gardening chores). The first ones in were very lovingly planted in nicely dug and amended holes. By the end, I'll be honest, they were lucky if I managed to get them planted at more or less the correct depth.

They were so eager to get going that almost all of them had sprouted quite a bit.

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22 May 2009

Herb bonanza!

Well, I've not posted much this week because I've been über busy with our Master Gardeners' sponsored Heirloom Plant and Herb Sale. Today was the big set-up day. It's amazing, actually, 11,000 plants doesn't look like that many in an enormous gymnasium. I love this sale. I shopped at it a long time before I started helping at it. It's fantastic to have access to all these unusual varieties of herbs. The one thing that wasn't there that I'm bummed about is lime basil. Was really hoping to give that one a try.

The tomato and peppers area

I also picked up my tomatoes for the year. The Master Gardeners grow all of these from seed and they are really well loved. Here's what I bought:

Caspian Pink - not an outstanding tomato, in my book, but it's consistent and produces well
Brandywine - sorry, I'm a traditionalist
Black Krim - between this and Cherokee Purple, I can't decide which is my favorite dark tomato
Green Zebra - it's pretty
Kellogg Breakfast - I didn't really realize what I was buying, but apparently it's an orange/yellow beefsteak. Oh well, I'll give it a try.
Black cherry - the one I'm most excited about this year
Ponderosa Red - another new one for me

Basil as far as the eye can see!

I also am going to try peppers for the first time, and picked up some of those, plus a few of my favorite herbs. It's too early to plant most of them, but in a week or so they'll all be in the ground!

The photos are a few shots from the set-up today. If you're in the area, come on out and buy everything you need. Doors open at 9 a.m. but people start lining up around 7 a.m. It all ends at noon. If you do come there are great gift bags and door prizes (organized by yours truly). There are a lot of really generous gardening companies out there and the best stuff goes to the first people in line (free subscription to Organic Gardening magazine anyone?)

18 May 2009

Great plant names

I never used to care much about the name of a plant. Cripes, who can care about names when you're worried about whether it will grow or not? Then I started to read a lot about theme gardens. A lot of people make gardens in honor of someone. So they try to find cultivars of plants with that person's name in them. Or they purposely pick up a specific cultivar because it is their child's name. That sounds way too hard to me, but I do love hearing cultivar names.

I thought it would be fun to start a list of great plant names, and I invite you to add your own. I'll add to this list whenever the urge strikes.

A new one I love:

Duckalicious nasturium

On the whole I think hostas probably have the best names of any plant (prove me wrong, please!) I suppose that's because there are so darn many of them: desperation breeds creativity. Here are a few good ones:

Bacon and Eggs
Blue Mouse Ears - (a great looking hosta with a cute name)
Brazen Hussy
Elvis Lives
Exotic Dancer
Fair Dinkum
Final Answer (I presume this was when "Who Wants to be a Millionaire" was popular)
Five O'Clock Somewhere (a mantra I've been known to favor)
Hooters (For some reason I thought this one would have a more distinctive look. Maybe like a backwards Abiqua Drinking Gourd)
Key West
Komodo Dragon
Love Spat (a sport, I'm sure, of Love Pat)
Lovely Rita (just because that's one of my dogs' names)
Marilyn Monroe (I usually don't like famous people plant names, but this baby's curvy like its namesake)
Moby Dick
Red Neck Heaven
School Bus
Ugly Duckling (obviously going for the sympathy vote)
X-Rated (come on ... it's a hosta, how X-rated can it be?)

OK, let's hear your favorite plant names! In the future I'll stray from the hostas, including clematis and even roses (the fuddy-duddies of the naming world).

Lovely Rita. The dog, not the hosta.

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16 May 2009

More new plants I love

Last time I focused on some of the great annuals that are new. This time we're talking perennials.

The first one on my list HAS be this beauty which I cannot find anywhere but if I do find one (at a nursery) I'll snatch it right up and figure out where to put it later.

It's the Incrediball hydrangea (Spring Hill Nurseries photo). Oh how I love everything this hydrangea claims to be. I hope it's all true (unlike the much-marketed Endless Summer hydrangea which has been a big disappointment for me and many other gardeners). This is an improvement on the Annabelle hydrangea, which I have and love, but it suffers from serious droopy stem syndrome. Incrediball is supposed to have much stronger stems and HUGE puffball blooms. If it's everything it claims to be I'll forgive the stupid name.

I have a thing for echinacea. Ever since the Itsaul Plants series came out with the beautiful Summer Sky and the rest of the "sky" series, I've been head over heels for this plant and on a bit of a mission to own every variety that I like (there are some I'm just not that keen about). Two of my favorites this year are Tomato Soup and it's natural partner Mac n' Cheese (Terranova Nurseries photos). I'm particularly excited about Tomato Soup. A RED echinacea! And I'm very happy to say I have several of each of these that I bought through the co-op sitting in the "greenhouse" getting big enough to plant.

I'm also developing a "thing" for heuchera. Terranova is the leader in new heucheras and one of the new ones I really like is Lime Marmalade. It's supposed to be bigger than Lime Rickey and it has a really nice ruffled leaf. I have a few of these in the greenhouse too. I just love pops of lime green in a shady bed.

OK, so those are a few of my new perennial fascinations, but I'm sure there are oodles more out there that have you salivating. So what did I miss?

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15 May 2009

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day

So very excited to be participating in my first Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day. Things are pretty slow in my zone 5 garden. Because of our proximity to Lake Michigan we're a good week to two weeks behind any zone 5ers to the west of us. I expect the Serviceberry will bloom next week (and then it will rain the next day). Right now the things that many gardeners said goodbye to a month ago are now just peaking in my garden.

Unnamed daffodil. I don't know what it is but I sure love it.

The Virginia Blue Bells and the daffodils look wonderful together right now.

The pulmonaria with the striking variegated iris behind it. I know the iris isn't blooming, but damn, that's a fine lookin' plant.

And the best blooms of all: this fantastic surprise in the woods. Is there anything better than Mother Nature doing something like this all on her own? I doubt it. And as for the trilium, I think it is the best example there is of the beauty of simplicity. Unlike a calla lily, which is almost brash in its simple elegance the trilium is humble. Three leaves, three petals. The best.

14 May 2009

Hidden gems

There are a couple nurseries I shop at regularly where the staff are extremely well versed in plant care and selection. I know when I go to these places that the plants I'm buying have been well cared for and provided I don't do anything stupid, they should be fine in my garden.

But there a couple other places I look for plants. One is a major big box home improvement store and the other is the local hardware store. I never go to either of these stores specifically for plants (unless I'm bored) but I do love looking through the racks for a special gem. The big box store takes horrible care of its plants, so its important to try to get there within a week of delivery. A friend told me she picked up some Hakonechloa, so I had my eye out for it. Well it's a good thing I had that in the back of my head. Near a pile of unnamed hostas (which I think is really criminal because hostas have great names and even if you don't care which one it is, everyone should be able to enjoy its name) was a cart full of random plants. And way on top were the Hakonechloa: about four flats of them. Of course they were being cooked in the sun, but most of them were in good shape. I snatched up three of them for $8.99. They were a nice size, and frankly that plant has been hard to find (which makes no sense since it's the perennial of the year).

The local hardware store does a much better job caring for its plants, but lacks some of the technical know-how about them. They don't sell a lot of perennials and what they do have tends to come in numbers of just two or three, so it pays to get there
shortly after a delivery. (Fortunately I drive by every day to and from work so I keep an eye on the plant racks). There is no rhyme or reason to the plant organization. They just line them up on the rack. Sometimes the shade plants end up on the top row (occasionally I'll rescue a heuchera for them and set it somewhere a little less harsh). To really see what is all on the rack you have to do some rearranging and I usually investigate the back of the rack by squinching in between pallets of bagged mulch. That was a tactic that worked great last week as I found a beautiful Japanese painted fern in the middle of the mess. I also picked up a couple of Ligularia Britt-Marie Crawford.

The funny thing about this is that this kind of plant shopping is not unlike picking through the racks at a department store sale, which I HATE. I get bored and frustrated, and never leave with anything that I really like. Guess I'm just better at plant shopping than clothes shopping.

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13 May 2009

Some new plants I love

I love finding new cultivars of plants. It's just interesting to see what plant breeders are coming up with. I hope to have some of these in my garden this summer but often they are in limited supply when they are first released. If I don't get them this year, I'll grab them next year.

First, the annuals (these all happen to be from Proven Winners). Before I had a garden I was a container gardener, and while I don't do nearly as many containers as I used to (you don't realize how expensive containers are to put together until you put that in perennial plant dollars), I still love dreaming up, or more likely, stealing, um ... I mean being inspired by and tweaking plant combinations I've seen.

There are some awesome new begonias on the market. I don't have a lot of containers in shady areas, but I do the one at work, and I might stick some in the new shade garden for some color.

Bellagio apricot begonia (also comes in hot pink)

Mandalay flamingo begonia (also comes in apricot)

Royal queen purple violet tubeflower. This baby gets TALL: 36 to 60 inches. I can definitely see this as a great "thriller."

Duckalicious nasturium. I adore nasturiums and this is an interesting change. I'm not sure I love the color (I have a thing about yellow, blame on a bad coreopsis experience), but the flower is so different. Plus, how can you not love a name like Duckalicious?

I'll talk about some of the other new releases I'm craving in future posts.

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11 May 2009

At the feeders

The past couple of weeks have been great for bird watching. It really is the best time of year to keep an eye on the feeders, as the migratory birds make their way through. Most of the year we fill the feeders once a week, but this time of the year it's about every two days. They are a hungry bunch and you only get to see them if you have food.

Last weekend there was a goldfinch party goin' on. At one point I lost count after I hit 50 goldfinches, most of them on the ground. When something would scare them they would fly away in one huge flock. It was gorgeous.

Mother Nature always knows the best color combinations, which I think why the indigo buntings come around with the goldfinches. We have two males and one female indigo bunting hanging around. The colors are just amazing. Bright, bright yellow and then out of nowhere, brilliant royal blue.

Also hanging out at the feeders are the eastern towhees and the rosebreasted grosbeaks. The males are striking with their red-stained chests, but the pattern of the feathers on the far less showy females is equally interesting.

With the indigo buntings and grosbeaks around, the orioles were not far behind. We dutifully put out oranges and it didn't take long to have two males and a female come hang out. (Of course, the males seem to disappear anytime I have a camera handy so the less brilliantly colored females end up in most of the photos. I'm OK with it ... I'd love to make those ladies feel at home enough to build a nest in our yard.) We may also be lucky enough to see a scarlet tananger or two as we have in past years.

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10 May 2009

A favorite wildflower

We're very lucky to have a woods full of wildflowers and I love walking around looking for them each year. They come back and it's like seeing an old friend again. I adore the Mayapples and of course the trilliums, but I think my favorite is the marsh marigolds. They have such great foliage and cute little yellow flowers. You'd never suspect that when we get a good rain they are drowned by rushing water in our little creek. And within days they are happy and proud again.

09 May 2009

Critters in the garden

My husband is almost finished with the new vegetable garden. Today we put up most of the deer screening. We just need to put the door on. But after all that work, imagine my surprise when a whole new kind of critter ended up in the garden.
That's me wrangling Newfoundland #2 out of the bed. Honestly I have no idea what came over her. She came in to see me and when I told her to turn around she just jumped INTO the garden. Right on top of the lettuce I had just been noticing had germinated. Oh well. Better now than when the whole thing is full of growing goodies.

Guess you never know what the next critter to pose a problem in the garden is going to be.

06 May 2009

A stick in the dirt

This is my plumeria. While at the Philadelphia Flower Show this year, my mom, sister-in-law and I saw these for sale. Three for $20. So we bought them and decided to have a competition. First one to get a bloom wins. Now we're starting to think the first one to see a leaf wins. We dutifully potted them up. I read up a little on what to do. And then I waited. And I'm still waiting.

I read I wasn't supposed to water it until it started leafing out, but the soil got bone dry so I've been trying to just ever so slightly moisten it. Mostly I just try to keep the cat from knocking it over.

The funniest story relating to these plumeria cuttings (which we've since learned basically came from QVC, apparently it was their plant company that was running the booth we bought them from), is that my sister in law was stopped at airport security on the way back from the show. They checked her bag several times and then asked, "Do you have a slingshot?" Of course she said no, until they pulled out the plumeria. When she told them it was a plant all of the security folks were laughing about the stick this crazy woman thought she was going to stick in the ground and make grow.

I'm beginning to think they knew something we didn't know.

(Apologies for the wretched photo. The camera situation should be sorted tonight.)


05 May 2009

Fun sponges need not apply

I just got the Wisconsin Master Gardener newsletter. One of the articles in it was an admonishment by ... um ... someone that we should be calling our Master Gardener organizations "associations" rather than "clubs." The author felt that calling them clubs made it seem as though such organizations are social rather than purposeful.

Well pardon me for raining on the serious parade but when did social and purposeful become mutually exclusive? One of the wonderful things about gardening is that it's one the few hobbies (obsessions?) you can have that you can do alone or with others. Some people love the solitude of working in their gardens, and others love hanging out at the community garden or getting together with friends to clean out the beds of a public garden they volunteer to maintain. And I suspect, most of us like to do both.

Part of the reason I wanted to become a master gardener was because I thought it would be great to meet people to participate in garden projects with. And if after you're done potting up plants for a sale or weeding a bed at a local women's shelter, you decide to have a beer or a glass of Cabernet, what in the world is wrong with that?

The article in the master gardener newsletter said calling it, even informally, a "master gardener club" gives the wrong impression. But for an organization that can always use more members—our branch (pardon me, association) is very strong but we still are begging for volunteers for various projects—the wrong impression would be anything that discourages people from joining. And getting nitpicky about semantics about the name, is pretty damn discouraging.

Master gardeners, I've come to learn, are a nice bunch of people who want to learn more about their hobby, use their skills to help others and just have a good time. By making a fuss about whether we call ourselves a club or an association, those fun sponges reinforce all the negative sentiments they were working to dismiss in the first place.

And really, isn't it supposed to be about fun? No one volunteers for an organization for long if they aren't enjoying themselves. It's time for some of the master gardeners to stop taking themselves so seriously. The rest of us having a great time and we'd love for them to join us.

So what do you think? Am dead wrong about the distinction (or lack thereof) between clubs and associations? Or do you think it's time for everybody to stop worrying about who calls what what and to just get in the garden?

Photo courtesy of Flickr

04 May 2009

That's Hackenackaloa to you!

I am not one of those people who insists on using Latin names for plants, but I understand there is value to knowing them (since there are a lot of plants with similar common names). But this weekend, as I was in the nursery butchering the pronunciation of "Hakonechloa macra Aureola," I was thinking it would be nice to just know what it's supposed to sound like sometimes.

Well of course Google had an answer for that. Here's a link to Fine Gardening magazine's pronunciation guide, with RECORDED plant names. Hallelujah!

Check it out!

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How'd I do?

Friday I posted a long list of weekend gardening chores. The weather this weekend was stellar, which we deserved after the previous weekend's 2.5 inches of rain. Here's how I did:

Edge all beds - DONE. They look great. I don't like edging, but nothing cleans up a garden like fresh edges. (Note: I'm just looking at that picture. It looks like I might have been drunk while edging!)
Finish weeding beds — Not done. Almost ... but not quite. Plus, there will certainly be more weeds to follow so this isn't really something you can just check off and be done with.
Plant tree peonies — Done. I planted three: A dark red, a dark pink and a light pink. They came bare root and my understanding is that it's not a great time to plant bare root tree peonies (fall is better), but they were about $7.50 each through the co-op. There's no way I was going to pass that deal up. I hope they do well. I'm guessing if they think about blooming this year (unlikely), I should cut the buds off to focus all the energy into the roots, right?
Divide daylilies— Nope. But I only have one that needs dividing so this a good after-work project.
Determine if the Disneyland rose made it through the winter—Well, I didn't pull it out of the ground because I'm hoping for a miracle, but I think it's dead. I don't get what happened. I bought it potted at the nursery and planted it at the level it was in the pot. (Was that correct?) I'm pretty sure it's an own-root rose. This winter I mounded soil around it's crown, caged it and mulched it heavily (as in 18 inches deep) with shredded leaves. Not one stem is alive and there are no signs of life there. This happened with the last floribunda rose I planted too. I think I'm the only person the world who grows roses as annuals. I may very well replace that Disneyland. It was GORGEOUS last summer. And probably worth the $15 it cost even if it only lives one summer. I sure wish someone could tell me what I'm doing wrong though.
Deal with "The pit of despair"—Nope. Still a pit. Still full of despair.
Plant peas, lettuce and maybe beets — Check, check and check!
Hopefully take a trip to Caan's garden center—Done! By about 2:30 p.m. yesterday I was so stiff I could barely move, so even though there was lots left to do in the garden, I ran up there for a bit of a break. Boy was I disappointed. They only had two of the six perennials I was looking for, so I picked up three variegated Solomon's Seal, and a Baptisia, and a hanging plant for my mom for Mother's Day (trust me, you do not want to be at a nursery specializing in hanging containers on Mother's Day weekend).

All in all it was a pretty good gardening weekend. But gardens should come with chiropractors!

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02 May 2009

No room at the inn

My co-op buying has reached epic proportions this year. Through the co-op I have access to oodles of great perennials at great prices. The only catch is that they are plugs—what most local nurseries buy from wholesalers, then pot up and grow before selling them to the public, for up to four times what they paid. I don't begrudge nurseries that money at all. It's hard work to pot up all those plugs, and care for them until they are saleable. Plus, pots, dirt, heat, fertilizer and help doesn't come cheap. But I want in on that action.

So I've started buying a lot of perennials through the co-op. It's the only way I could afford so many of them. When they come I pot them up and grow them out in this thing I call a greenhouse. They call it a Flowerhouse, but make no mistake, it's a glorified pop tent.

I've got most of what I've purchased this year all potted up and settled in. The only problem? I ran out of room in the greenhouse, so a few thing are just going to have to tough it out in the big bad outside.

Here's a close up of what things are looking like in there.

And here's the whole "holding area." The larger pots are hostas I bought through the co-op last fall. I buried them in the ground, covered them in a bunch of leaf mulch and they ALL made it. I'll plant them in the new shade bed this summer. This is also the location of the aforementioned "pit of despair." Dealing with it is on this weekend's agenda, but today was rough, and frankly, it's lower on the priority list so we'll see what happens tomorrow.

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01 May 2009

A big weekend

Since last weekend was pretty much rained out, I have a long list of things to do in the garden this weekend. Here's just a few:

• Edge all beds
• Finish weeding beds (groan)
• Plant tree peonies
• Divide daylilies
• Determine if the Disneyland rose made it through the winter. It's not looking good.
• Deal with "The pit of despair"—the bed on the side of the house that I've done nothing with because hopefully some day we'll be putting a deck there. It has become sort of a holding bed but it's gross, so I'm going to pull the weeds that are there and cover it all in mulch. At least it won't be gross.
• Plant peas, lettuce and maybe beets (have to check the timing on those) in the veggie garden. I'm way late on the peas and the lettuce already!
• Hopefully take a trip to Caan's garden center. I wanted to go up for their Spring Expo last weekend but it was so miserable out, I just couldn't do it. This weekend they have buy 10 perennials, get two free and a sale on flats of annuals. Not sure I should be buying that many perennials right now and it's a bit early for annuals (and the "greenhouse" is getting crowded), but I'm sure I won't walk away empty handed.

That's a pretty ambitious list. Frankly, I'll be thrilled if I get the edging and weeding done.

So, what are you up to in your garden this weekend?

(Photo courtesy of Flickr)

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Happy flowers

Aren't these just the cutest little flowers? They are bloodroot, and I wish they were in my garden. These are actually from my mom's garden, and I'm thinking that once they are done blooming I might just have to steal a few!

Just try to look at these and not smile. I dare ya!