Sunday, April 29, 2007

WEEKEND WORK

Do any of you ever have a plan in your mind of what you want to accomplish for the weekend, and then end up working on something completely different? I tend to do this a lot. During the work week, I will be thinking about what I plan to do on the weekend. Then come Saturday morning I head out to complete these things. Something will get me off track, and before you know it I am working on something completely different that what I had planned to do.
This weekend I had my mental list of things that I wanted to accomplish. As I headed out to gather my tools together I passed a groundcover bed of pachysandra. When this bed was planted I mixed in some myrtle. Over the years the pachysandra has done well, but the myrtle always looks bad, especially in the spring. The bed also had a lot of leaves in it. So, I get in there and start ripping out the myrtle. Hours later with that done, I notice that there are some hosta in that same bed that need dividing, so I work on that. Needless to say, I never get to the job that I had planned.
But wait, I still have Sunday. I try not to do any heavy work on Sunday, because I think that we all need a day of rest. But, it is spring, and there is so much to do. So I decide to putter around with some little things that need to be done. I planted some strawberries that I had bought bare root, and needed to go in the fruit garden. That led to starting my 3 foot fence around this garden because the rabbits see it as their own personal buffet. They munch the blueberries down to nothing, and chew the raspberries off and leave them lay.
So I decided this year, that I would get some fruit out of this garden one way or another. So, up goes the fence. I didn't get that job completed because I ran out of fencing, and didn't want to tackle the local Menard's on a weekend. So I am hoping that I still have some plants left tomorrow. I will post a picture once I get the fence completed.
I do have a few photo's to share. The first is a Fritillaria. This is the first year for it, and I was very pleased with the size of the bloom. If you have never grown these unusual bulbs, you should try them. They are said to be repellent to most vermin. I think that it might be because of their unusual odor. I won't say that it is unpleasant, but it is definitely unusual. They should be planted in the fall.
The second photo is of my Purple Beech tree. These are my favorite trees and I have three different varieties in my yard. It is just beginning to unfurl it's leaves. They start out a bronze color, and turn a deep purple over time. They stay that color the entire summer.
I think my passion for them started about 25 years ago when there was a beech tree in our town that was about 150 years old. There were no ordinances at the time protecting these old trees, and when a pharmacy bought the lot that the tree sat on, and built their store, the tree was cut down so that the sign for the store was visible from the road. I still remember how I felt that day when I drove by and the tree was cut down. I could not believe that they had done it.
There was such an outcry from the people, that they now have an ordinance against cutting down any trees, without approval from the city. I never did shop at that store, I just couldn't get past them cutting down that tree. So my job is to plant as many beech trees as I can!
Well, I didn't get any of my jobs done this weekend that I had planned to get done. But next weekend is just 5 days away, so I will start making my mental list of what I want to get accomplished, and I just might stick to it this time!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

SARGENT CRAB


After being hit with a couple of good freezes, my Sargent crab (Malus sargentii) has decided to go ahead and bloom. It is not as bright white as usual, but I will take what I can get at this point. The unknown azalea variety growing under it is not doing to badly either.
The most plant damage that I have found has been on crab trees and hydrangeas. The crab trees seem to be dropping the old dead leaves and sending out new ones, but the hydrangeas are just sitting there. I have noticed a little new growth at the bottom of some of them, but a few don't look like they are going to try again. That makes me sad, because you can never have to many hydrangeas!
The rain from yesterday sure made a difference in my yard, the plants loved it. We are getting another shower now, and then the weekend is supposed to be clear and warm. So it looks like I will spend another couple of days mulching. I am way ahead of last year, and with another couple of weekends work, I should be able to sit around the rest of the summer and enjoy the flowers.
I know, that's not going to happen, but it's nice to dream!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

RAINY DAY

I sure have enjoyed the weather this past week, but I was very glad to see the rain come. We got 1 inch of rain today, and expect more tomorrow. Everything was very dry here, and I could just tell that the plants just needed a little boost. I also had done some seeding in different spots around the lawn, and I hate dragging a hose around.
While out on my 'garden check' walk each evening, I have watched my Variegated Solomon's Seal, (polygonatum multiflorum 'variegatum'), sprout, and then grow inches every day. It almost looks like asparagus when it first comes out of the ground, but quickly stretches up and leafs out. It grows in the shade, and multiplies quickly, without taking over. In my garden, everyone who sees it wants a start, so it never has a chance to spread much. I have pulled it up and shared it with friends throughout the year, and it never seems to mind being disturbed.
As you might be able to tell, it is one of my favorites. There aren't many plants that are so carefree, don't seem to be bothered by any pests, and gets along so well with other plants and in a shady situation. I always look forward to there little heads poking up out of the leaf mulch first thing in the spring.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

MY CACTUS

MY CACTUS IS IN BLOOM!
Why is this such a big deal to me? There is always something blooming either in the greenhouse or in the garden. Why do I get so excited when my cactus blooms?
I have only owned this particular cactus for a few years. It was given to me by an 89 year old lady who could no longer carry it outside in the spring, and back into her home in the fall. I promised that I would take good care of it, and brought it home.
She informed me before I took it, that it would bloom only once a year, and the blooms would only last for one day. So I took the cactus home, (which was not an easy task, as you can see that it has a slight lean to it, and it is very prickly), and put it into the basement under lights, for the winter.
When I brought it out to the greenhouse in the spring, it began to bloom. Not once, but many times throughout the spring and early summer. I was especially proud that the cactus bloomed more than once that first spring, and at one point had over 20 blooms at once, but my friend was right about the blooms lasting only one day.
I have people come on those bloom days just to look at it. I guess people feel like they don't want to miss something that happens so rarely. This cactus tends to grow babies, and drop them randomly into the pot, where they root down, and start to grow. These are always offered to the cactus admirers, but there are seldom any takers.
Why do you think that is? Do they not want the responsibility of taking care of such a odd plant? Are they intimidated by all of those prickly parts? Or do you think that they would just rather drive over and gaze at the beauty of the flower, and then go home with a horrible feeling of cactus-envy?
I don't really know the reasons that nobody seems to want these babies, but I don't mind. I know they don't look very lovable, but each of these little ones will one day bloom like it's mama, and so they deserve to only go to a true cactus lover!
To quote Karl Capek, from The Gardener's Year, "I tell you, a mother's pride is nothing to the boasting and bragging of a cactus-man whose cactus has come into flower".
In my case, that would be cactus-woman!.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

MORE BOOKS

What a rainy, snowy , all round nasty day!
We needed to go to Indy to pick up some plants for a landscape we are doing this week. And since it was not a very good day to do anything else, we decided to make the trip. After collecting the plant material that we needed, I hinted around that since we couldn't do much at home, maybe we could find a half price bookstore.
So we went looking. We ended up on Allisonville road at a tool store that my husband loves. As I was thinking, "how boring", I spotted the book store that I was looking for! So I had my husband drop me off at the door, and told him to take as much time as he needed at the tool store, no really, TAKE AS MUCH TIME AS YOU WANT!!
The problem came as I stepped through the door and saw the sign that said, "HALF PRICE ON ALL CLEARANCE BOOKS, SATURDAY AND SUNDAY". What are the chances!! So, needless to say, I made a bee line to the back of the store.
Of course it was crowded, but I managed to wriggle my way to the garden books. There were lots of them. I had to take my basket to the register area twice, to have them hold the books for me. What a great time I had! The best part was, that the book were just 50 cents each, so I got all of them for the price that I would have paid for one book, new.
My question to you is this. When do we have enough books? When do we say, "I don't need any more gardening books, I have plenty". Will we ever be able to say, "no, I don't need to go into that bookstore, I don't want anymore books".
Now, the problem that I will have to face in the VERY near future, (like, right now), is where to put the new books that I purchase. I have used all available space in my house, and until my Son moves out, (and that doesn't look like it is going to happen anytime soon) I have no place else to put them. While cataloging my books at Librarything, I weeded out any books that I thought that I could part with. And because most of my collection of books are of the reference type, unlike novels that I would read and get rid of, I have no hope of any space coming available in the near future.
So that is it. How do I stay away from bookstores until a solution can be found? Surely someone else out there has faced a similar problem. Any suggestions would be appreciated.
Now, I am off to add my new books to Librarything!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

SEEDLINGS AND TEA

My seedlings need sun!! They are definitely a pitiful sight. I started them late on purpose, but I didn't expect to lose all of the warmth and sunlight like we did. They are just sitting there doing nothing. They are on a heat mat, but even that doesn't seem to help. They need sunlight!
I just started a few tomatoes, peppers, zinnia's, basil, and some miscellaneous flowers that I saw in some of my garden catalog's and couldn't resist. No great lose if I don't get anything, but it's the principle of the thing. I went to all of that trouble, the least they could do is grow! I have managed to pot the tomatoes and basil into individual pots, so now I will be able to help them along with a little fertilizer. And until we get some sun, that is the only thing left to try.
I don't like to start them on fertilizer when they are still in the flats, but I am getting desperate.
I tried for the first time last year, compost tea. I like the idea of starting the seedlings off with a natural boost, so I set up my 'tea set' this afternoon. It should be ready by the weekend, and if we get some sunlight, I will be back in business!
I make the tea, 5 gallons at a time. Not nearly enough for all of my plants. So, last summer I was at a school auction and saw a big plastic trash can that had a spigot on it, at the bottom. I thought that it would be perfect, so I bid on it, and got it. I don't think that I paid more than $10.00 for it. When it came time to leave the auction, I went to load my trash can, and after looking at it closely, realized that it was made for exactly what I want to use it for! It is a 55 gallon plastic trash can, with another can that slips inside and stops about 6 inches from the bottom. The inner trash can has a row of small hole in it. So when you make the tea, it filters through these holes, and you use the spigot to drain of the tea. Eureka!!!! How often does that happen!! Finding exactly what you need, no adapting anything.
So my next batch of tea, will be made in my new 55 gallon tea maker. But for now, I will use the little amount for my seedlings, and hope that it helps boost them along. We still have about 4 weeks until it's safe to plant them outside. With a little cooperation from the sun, they will be ready.

Monday, April 9, 2007

CHRISTMAS IN APRIL??


Well, I guess that my amaryllis is a little confused. All of this cold weather we are having, it thinks that it is Christmastime!
A few years ago I took a bunch of bulbs and planted them in one pot. They haven't done much, so this year when I took them to the basement to overwinter, I tucked them under a bench where they didn't get any water or light.
I never have been one to try and get my plants to bloom at the 'right' time, I tend to just let them bloom whenever they want to.
Well, when we started having all of the warm weather, I decided to move all of my basement plants, to the greenhouse. The amaryllis had started sending up a few leaves, so I knew that it was time.
They love it out there! They have taken off, and are now almost in full bloom. They are all fighting for space to open fully. I don't know if that is going to happen, they seem pretty crowded. There are about nine or ten stems and with four flowers on each stem, it is quite beautiful. It sure would have been nice to have had her in the house, blooming like this, at Christmastime.
Maybe next year I will try to plan better.
(By the way, I won second place in the March book pile contest. The prize is an annual subscription to Librarything. I don't know what they do if you already have an annual subscription??)

Thursday, April 5, 2007

MARCH WEATHER, IN APRIL

This is my 'Cleveland Select' pear tree in full bloom, two days ago. It doesn't look like this anymore. Not only are the new buds wiped out on my flowering tree's, but the leaves have been damaged also. I am glad that my magnolia's were able to bloom before the cold hit, I did enjoy them while it lasted.
The heat in my greenhouse will need to be turned on tonight. I don't have much in there, but my seedling are in there, and even though they are on a heat mat, I don't want to take the chance of it getting below freezing inside.
Since it was to cold and windy to do much work outside today, I went with a friend to Indianapolis to pick up some furniture that she had ordered. After picking up the furniture, we had the rest of the day to do whatever we wanted. We decided on hitting the garden centers. She had never been to Altum's, so that was one of our stops. We also went to Habig's, and to Smith and Hawken's where I picked up a orchid that was priced at $59.95. It was clearance priced at $14.95!
What a great buy. You don't run into those kinds of deals very often, especially at Smith and Hawken.
Next, we went to Half-price-books, were I left the rest of the money that I had brought with me! Luckily my friend is not as into books as I am, and we only shopped there for about 1/2 hour.
It was a pretty nice day if you were inside looking out, but if you were outside, the wind made it feel about 30 degrees.
Well, as they say. if you live in Indiana, and you don't like the weather today, it will be totally different tomorrow.
I think that we are going to have to wait a bit longer that that though, it sounds like the first of the week before we are back to normal temperatures.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

WIND/MAGNOLIA'S

I HATE WIND!! I hate trying to work in the wind. Everything blows around, and you spend most of your time chasing things around the yard. It just wears me out to be out in it. I will take heat over wind any day. They said that we would have gusts to 30 mph. today, and I believe they were right.
I needed to trim a overgrown cotoneaster, and thought that I could get that done today in spite of the wind. The branches were blowing around, the the kneeling cushions I use to kneel on wet ground, kept blowing away, so finally I just gave up.
My 'Ann' magnolia is in full bloom, and the wind is beating it around too. This magnolia is a great large shrub/small tree. This one is about 6-7 years old, and shouldn't get much bigger than it is now. I like this particular variety, because it blooms heavy in the spring, and then sporadically throughout the summer.
I also planted one of the new 'Butterflies' magnolia's 2 years ago. The blooms are a beautiful soft yellow, and his a very lite fragrance. It gets a lot larger than Ann does, but I think that it will be a very popular magnolia once it is easier to find. It seems to grow pretty quickly, and blooms at the same time that other magnolia's are blooming.
I am glad that I have been able to enjoy the magnolia's this week, because I think by the middle of the week the forecast is for frost, and that would have taken care of them. They bloom for such a short time, I hate to miss it.