Wednesday, May 30, 2007

SWEET BAY MAGNOLIA

OK, my first pick for plant of the week is Sweet Bay Magnolia (Magnolia Virginiana). I have chosen this plant because it is one of my favorites.
Sadly, my tree was greatly damaged by the freeze this spring. The tree had four forks, all of which had started to leaf out when we had the freeze. Three of the forks never came out of it, the other one leafed out, and is now in bloom. I don't know how long it will survive.
So my solution....cut down the three dead trunks, and leave the fourth until it dies. Meanwhile, I planted a new tree as close to the stump as I could get it. I cut the other stumps off, and set a bird bath top that I had, on to them. My idea was to try to make what was left of the first tree, fit in with the new tree, and tie it all together. Sweet Bay's generally will grow in sun or part shade, and love a wet area. They start blooming in May, and continue off and on throughout the summer. The flower is a creamy white, and dries to a tan color. The fragrance of the bloom is very strong, and you will probably smell the blooms before you even notice the flowers. The leaves are glossy, and usually hang on through the winter.
The tree grows in a kind of vase shape, and can reach 15-25 foot tall.
I would recommend planting this tree near a patio, or a window.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

PLANT OF THE WEEK

I occasionally scan the blog's on Garden Voices, and ran across one today written by Jocelyn at The Garden Corner. She is posting on her blog, a 'plant of the week'. I really like that idea, and think that I will copy her idea, (I hope that she doesn't mind).
I have not been able to keep up with the Garden Blogger's Bloom day on the 15th of the month, (to many pictures, and to little time), but I think that I can handle one plant each week. The hard part will be choosing only one.
By the way, I saw my first lightning bug tonight....now it is truly summer!!

Monday, May 28, 2007

THREE DAY WEEKEND

I have waited all month for this weekend. Three days in my garden. I would get loads of work done. By Monday night, I was sure to have the garden in perfect condition.
Well, Mother Nature had other plans.
We need rain so bad that I didn't even mind when the forecast was for rain, all three days. The problem was, that it rained off and on, all weekend, but we only ended up with 1/2 an inch total. It seemed like every time I got involved in something, it would begin to sprinkle. So, I ended up doing a lot of weeding, and planting some plants that I have picked up at the various big box stores.
I know, I shouldn't be shopping at those places. They don't take care of their plants, and often don't have a clue what they are selling. But our local Lowe's store has a habit of putting some of their less that perfect plants on 75 % clearance. I can't pass them up. I just know that I can save them. So I buy them for pennies, and take them home and pamper them back to health. So far I have had pretty good luck. Most of them make it and do well. Some of the plants are just past their bloom time, and that is the only thing wrong with them. So I take them home, and plant them, and am happy to wait a year to see them bloom in my garden.
I have a nesting box on the back of my shed that the robins have ignored for several years. This year they decided to move in. Of course they didn't want me around, but they did allow me to take this picture, before they take off on their own.
I am beginning to worry about my wren's. They are always moved in by now, but so far I haven't seen or heard them anywhere in the yard. I have several houses to choose from, but they just haven't been around to check them out. I have had several families every year since we moved here, but nothing yet this season. I sure hope they show up. I can't imagine a summer without them.
My rose bushes are starting to bloom. This large one, I think the name is 'William Baffin', always seems to do well. It gets no special care, but only blooms once, so I have to enjoy it for the few weeks it is in bloom.
I still don't have my vegetable garden planted. I did get it tilled on Saturday, but then it rained just enough to keep me from getting anything planted. Maybe I will be able to get that done some evening this week.
The forecast is for rain again towards the end of the week, so I had better not leave the vegetable garden until the weekend, or it may not get planted.
Memorial Day seems to mark the end of Spring for me. My goal is to always have my annuals all planted, and hopefully the garden in.
I didn't make it this year.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

MIDWEEK UPDATE

I don't know what is going on with my tree peony. I posted a picture of it blooming yellow on Sunday, but today the same plant had a pink bloom on it. I am going to have to examine it closer and see if there are actually two plants.
I am also posting a picture of my "Dortmund" rose that is blooming. It suffered a lot of winter damage, so it is not as pretty as it was last year,
but it is still alive!
The last photo is of my sweet bay magnolia. My favorite tree, and it looks like it is not going to make it. I am not sure what happened to it. The tree has four forks, one of which leafed out and is now blooming. The other three trunks looked like they were going to leaf out, and then the buds just shriveled up and died. I waited as long as I could, and kept it watered, but I am now giving up. I think that I will plant a new one beside it, leave the branch that is alive, and cut of the other three trunks. I am grateful for the live trunk that is in bloom now. I am so used to the fragrance from the magnolia when I am working in the garden, I would really miss it. This tree was about 12 years old, so it will be a while before the new one catches up. I really hate this, but mother nature makes the rules,not us.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

ANOTHER WEEKEND

I wait all week for the weekend to come, and then it goes by to fast. I had so many things to get done, and even though I accomplished a lot, there is still so much more to do. My project this weekend was a large shrub bed that had to be redone because of a drain that was put in. This bed had to be done right away because I had removed a row of hosta from the front of the border, and they had been sitting in my garden cart for 3 weeks. They needed to be planted soon. So, I had no choice but to tackle this job before I started anything else. I worked both days, and got it all done. But, my vegetable garden, and my annuals are still sitting in their flats. I keep telling myself that it is still May, and I have plenty of time, but that is only going to work for one more week.
My second tree peony is blooming this week. This is the first time that it has bloomed, and it is a beautiful yellow. I enjoy these peony's much more than regular peony's. They don't have as many blooms, but the ones that they do have do not droop and end up on the ground after a rain. Not that we have to worry about rain. We got about a 1/4 of an inch last week, and nothing since then. The forecast was for rain tonight, but it skipped us. Everything is so dry, and the lawn is beginning to turn brown in some areas.
I had hoped to get some planting done after work this week, but I will probably have to spend my time watering.
Until next weekend...

Sunday, May 13, 2007

WE NEED RAIN!!

It is so dry here! We have not had any measurable rain for at least 3 weeks. I have never seen a spring where the ground has cracks from the lack of moisture. There are areas in my lawn that are burning up, this usually doesn't happen until July or August.
Many of my plants suffered from the late freeze, and now the lack of rain is adding additional stress. My sweet bay magnolia has one side completely leafed out, and the other side just starting to leaf out. I finally had to run the sprinkler on that bed, to try and help it along.
I didn't get much done in my lawn on Saturday. We had to go to Indy for plant material for some landscape jobs we have lined up. The only good thing about giving up my Saturday morning, was that because it was the day before Mother's Day, I managed to convince my husband that I needed a few more perennials, to replace the ones that I lost over the winter. I also picked up some new roses.
On Sunday, Mothers Day, my gift from my husband an Son was, 'Slave for a Day'. I have gotten this gift for the past few years, and I love it! They agree to do anything that I want them to do in the yard, for most of the day. Now neither one of them care one bit about gardening, so I save up the things I want done, and they get as many of them done as possible. So, tonight I have a new water line buried to the back of the property, so I don't have to pull hoses, and a few other misc. jobs that I have had on my 'to do' list for a while. This gift means a lot to me, because I know how bad they didn't want to be doing 'gardeny' things on such a beautiful day.
I worked on a perennial bed that was ruined when we buried a drain to the ditch in front of out property. I removed a hedge of roses, that never did as well as I thought that they should, so this opened up all kinds of space for new plants.
The mourning dove has chosen the spot in this perennial bed to build her nest. I have been working in this bed off and on, this Spring. She never moves a muscle, no matter how close you get. But today, my husband was digging with the back hoe, and that finally did it. I took this picture of the little ones, while she was away from the nest. I always say that mourning doves are the laziest birds. Their nest is usually just a few twigs. But this Mother put a little more effort into the nest for her babies. I don't suppose that it will be long, and they will be gone.
I don't know where my wrens are. I know that they are back, but have not been in any of the houses that I have for them. I hope that they show up, they are my favorites.
I have been trying to attract blue birds for years, with no luck. So of course my neighbor puts up a house, and within a few days, the blue birds have found it and are moving in. Very disappointing, but at least I can enjoy them over the fence.
Well, until next weekend.....

Sunday, May 6, 2007

WORMS AND WORK

Well, this is the time of year that I get to spend the least amount of time in my garden. Most of my time is spent in other people's gardens, trying to make them beautiful. You would think that I would get enough of it during the week, that I wouldn't want to do it on the weekends. But at least through Spring, I am in my garden every weekend. In the evenings when I get home from work, I do take a stroll around to see what is blooming.
Yesterday it was the tree peony (Paeonia 'Shimanishiki'). I planted this one in 2003, and it has done very well. It blooms earlier than the common peony, is very exotic, and comes in many different colors. They also don't die to the ground like common peonies, they are like a regular shrub. They can be expensive, but are well worth it.
My two goals that I set for myself this season was Vermiculture, (a fancy name for raising worms), and chickens. I have raised chickens before for eating, but I want to try raising them for eggs.
Well, I have got the worms going. They are now consuming most of my kitchen waste. I tend to research everything to death before I get into it, and that is very easy to do with the internet, so after much searching I decided on the Can-O-Worms. It is a very neat setup, consisting of trays that can be stacked up as the worms eat their way through your garbage. It is made from recycled plastic, and looks like it should hold up for a very long time. The literature states that you can keep these in your home, but I placed mine just outside the back door. It will be moved to the basement in the winter, because the worms can not take the cold weather. You use red worms because they are the best composter's, so I ordered them also. The Can-O-Worms came weeks ago, but the worms just showed up this week. I guess that it was to cold to ship them any earlier. The little guys got right down to business, but they are shy and don't like sunlight, so when you lift the lid for a peek, they disappear into the bedding. The booklet says that they can eat about a half pound of food waste per day, so it may be difficult to keep up with them.
The beauty of the system is that there is a spigot on the bottom, so you can drain off compost tea. And after each layer is full of worm casting, you just add the next tray, and the worms move up, allowing you to take the first tray and use the castings in your garden.
The main reason that I wanted to try this, was that you can use the casting to make compost tea. I have been buying my 'starter' for my tea, so I think that the worms will pay for themselves over time, and I won't feel guilty throwing out all of those egg shells, vegetable waste, and coffee grounds. They love all of those things. You can even run paper through your shredder, they love that too.
So one goal has been accomplished. The chicken's are going to take a little more time. The shed is not ready for them, so I may have to put them off until Fall.