Sunday, May 25, 2008

NO TIME FOR BLOGGING

I can't believe that it has been a week since I posted last. I also can't believe that we are into the last week of May! This Spring has gone by so fast, I have almost missed it.
The rain that we have had over the past few weeks has put us behind schedule. It is hard to make customers understand that every rain day pushes everyone waiting to have work done, back. Most people are very patient, and understand about the weather. We have had a lot of work that had to be done for graduations, so of course those were a priority. Thankfully, we were able to get everyone done that had events planned, and will now be able to get to everyone else.
This picture is the back yard of a customer that was having a graduation party. The beds needed to be cleaned up and mulched. The flowers blooming are Bachelors Buttons, or Mountain Bluets. They are beautiful, and reseed themselves every year.
My yellow tree peony is blooming! After removing the side shoot, it has done very well. I love the lemon yellow color. My "Miss Kim' tree lilac is also blooming. It seems especially fragrant this year, and covered in blooms.
I always look forward to Memorial Day weekend, because I usually can spend it in the garden. We had rain all day on Friday so the garden was to wet on Saturday to get anything done, so I spent the day organizing my shed, which I did not take a picture of, because I was so ashamed of the shape that it was in. It's all cleaned up now, and so much easier to get around in. I have found that when I am organized, I am able to accomplish a lot more. I found so many things cleaning the shed that I had forgotten that I had. I even found my bird bath heater that I replaced last winter because I could not find the one that I knew that I had somewhere. Now I have two, the birds are going to love me next winter!
After church this morning I stopped at my 90 year old friends home to check on her. It has rained the past few Friday's so I have not been able to do any gardening for her. I took a few pictures of her garden while I was there. The first is of her poppies in bloom, they have the most beautiful 'tissue paper' flowers. The second is a picture of some lupine's. The lupines sprang up in front of the compost pile, I assume the seed was dropped when they were finished blooming, and were added to the pile. The tall purple plant along the fence is Dames Rocket, also a volunteer. I commented that sometimes the random acts of nature turn out better than our planned gardens.
Our forecast is for rain tonight and tomorrow. I am hoping that they are wrong, and the rain comes tonight, and then moves on so that I can get some weeding done tomorrow.
Do take time tomorrow to think of all of the men and women that have given their lives so that we can spend a warm Spring day puttering in our gardens.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

PURPLE, PURPLE, PURPLE

Our town is participating in the America in Bloom program this summer. The flower color that they have chosen is purple. So that means that any properties that are participating, will use purple flowers in their landscapes. One of the properties that we maintain has always used a red and white color scheme, but this year, it will be purple. So, as you can see, my greenhouse is decked out in purple.
I plan to use purple and white petunias, purple verbena, and perilla. We will probably start planting next week, if it ever warms up.
My amaryllis is blooming again. If I could just get it to bloom like this at Christmas it would be great. But this flower has a mind of it's own, and blooms when it gets good and ready. I enjoy it anyway, whenever it decides to bloom.
I was able to get a little work done in the garden this weekend. I got my green beans planted, but I think that it is still to cool to plant my tomatoes. I think our April and May got mixed up. April was very warm and dry, and so far May has been cool and wet.
My tree peony is blooming. This one is a red and white
bicolor, 'Shimanishiki'. These are some of my favorite plants. They look very exotic, but are as easy to grow as the common peony.
My yellow tree peony is just coming into bloom, and my blue one is still about a week from blooming. I will post pictures of them when they bloom.
Well, it's back to work tomorrow, and I have something going on almost every night this week, so I won't get to spend any time in the garden until next weekend, I sure hope it's nice.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

SATURDAY TRIP

Sorry that I never got back to share my Saturday trip. My Sister and I headed out Saturday morning for Cox's Plant Farm. One of our fellow blogger's recommended it, and for the life of me I can't remember who. If you are reading this, please let me know and I will give you credit for the tip. (UPDATE: IT WAS KAREN AT KAREN'S PLACE) We had not got 2 miles out of Lafayette and we saw a garage sale sign. We had to stop because you just never know what you might be passing up. In this case, it was this great fountain. It just needs to be cleaned up, and if I get motivated, a coat of paint. It is also is covered in lime so that will have to be removed, but I just couldn't pass it up for $10.00! What a bargain. My Sister got a good laugh out of me trying to get it in the car. I bought a sheet at the sale to wrap around it, but it was going to be a challenge fitting plants around it for the rest of the day, but I knew that it would be worth it.
So we head out and get as far as Crawfordsville and see I sign for Davidson Greenhouse. If you have never been to this greenhouse, it is worth a visit. They have been around for as long as I can remember and have a great selection of plants. Lots of odd varieties of coleus, geraniums, cactus, and other oddball plants. The signage from Highway 231 is very good, and needs to be because they are located in the middle of the countryside. As we were leaving I snapped a picture of this little girl 'riding' this concrete lion. I wish that I had thought to give her parents my blog address so that they could have a copy of the picture.
So we finally leave there and head for Cox's. We arrive around 1 o'clock and the place is VERY busy! Duh, it's Mother's Day weekend, what were we thinking. They claim to be the largest garden center in Indiana, and I believe them. I have worked in a retail garden center and I don't know how they do it. They must have hundreds of employees. Just keeping up with watering would be a huge job. We spent a couple of hours shopping, and decided that we were starving and needed to find someplace to eat. We both commented on the fact that we were surprised they don't have a food vender on site. As we walked outside and around the corner, there was a tent set up for the Boy Scouts, and they were selling hamburgers, hot dogs, and chips. Wow, what luck! I bet that they made a fortune that day. It looked to me, by there set up, that they had done this before, probably every weekend so far this Spring.
So, after we had each helped out the Boy Scouts with their fund raiser, (I like to think of it that way instead of pigging out), we headed into Indy. We didn't really have a plan of where we wanted to go when we got there, so we just started driving. By chance, we ran across Eagle Creek Nursery, but didn't find much there. When we left there, we got lost, which we often do when we are on on of our trips. We always say that we are going to map out our route before we go, but we never do. At one point, we pull up to a stop sign, with me driving, and my Sister trying to figure out where we are. As I look to my left there is a church there, with a sign meant just for us out front. God has a great sense of humor!
We managed to find our way back to a main road, and found a few more interesting places to stop. Of course no trip to Indy would be complete without a few minutes at the Half price bookstore, well it was actually more like an hour but whose keeping track?
Only my Sister could have gotten me out of my garden last Saturday. I knew that it was supposed to rain on Sunday, which it did, and that I would be back to work on Monday. So, another weekend that I got nothing done outside. But I also knew that if I tried to get out of going, she would give me a huge lecture about enjoying the Spring season, not just working every weekend and missing it.
I hope that everyone has someone like my Sister in their life, to remind them of what really is important.
Thanks Peg.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

MOTHERS DAY LIST

Today is Mother's day, or as it is known around my house, 'Slave for a Day'. Because it is windy and rainy out, my list will probably not get completely done. Some of the things on my list had to be done outside, so they will have to wait for next weekend. I guess that is the true meaning of getting a 'rain check'. They did get my swing frame repaired, and my new water feature for my patio started. Both required the use of the welder, and I don't weld. I am replacing the water feature that I had next to my patio because it only held about 5 gallons of water, and the wind would blow the water off of it. So I was constantly refilling it. I am replacing it with a 25 gallon container, and a lower fountain, so it should not be bothered by the wind.
The flowering trees have been especially beautiful this Spring. This picture is of my 'Prariefire' crab tree. As the petals began to fall, it looked like pink confetti all over the sidewalk. It is also very fragrant, which is why I planted it by the back door to the house. These little Anemone Sylvestris 'Snowdrop' are beginning to worry me. They seem to really like this spot, and are spreading
rapidly. I really like them, and they flower very early, but I am going to have to keep an eye on them so that they don't take over the bed. Right in front of them in the picture is a Heliopsis 'Loraine Sunshine'. It has variegated foliage, and if I remember right, a yellow flower. I really like variegated plants, and this one has done pretty well. The picture below is in my back garden where I try to plant things that I don't have to fuss with. The plants in this garden need to be able to take care of themselves most of the time.
These are some variegated hosta that I had no place else to put, so I stuck them in here last fall. At the time I wasn't thinking about how they would look when the sweet woodruff was blooming. Sometimes things just work out with no help from us. I love how these two look together. Sweet woodruff is a wonderful groundcover for the shade, and spreads slowly over the years. The tree peony that I wrote about last Spring has begun to send out new growth. If you look closely it looks like two different plants. Last year I was puzzled by the plant blooming the expected yellow, and then blooming pink. When I was at the wholesale nursery earlier this Spring I asked one of the workers there about this oddity. He told me that this was very common. Tree peony's are grafted onto other peony rootstock, and the pink colored peony is coming up from the rootstock. I was surprised that they were grafted, because peony's are very hardy. He said that he was surprised too, and could not explain why this is done either. So, I cut they taller branches off of the plant. It was hard to do, because they looked really healthy and vigorous, but I know that the yellow peony is the grafted, and more desirable one.
Well, the 'slaves' need my advice on their work, so I am off. I will try to post later on my road trip yesterday, 'garden center hopping'.
Happy Mother's Day to all of you Mother's out there in blogger land!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

PASS-ALONG PLANTS

After reading Jen's post over at Our First Garden, I thought that I might share with you my thought's on pass-along plants.
I believe in always being prepared when it comes to acquiring free plants from generous gardeners. You must always carry in your vehicle the necessary items to make the sharing of plants as easy as possible for both parties, the giver, and the receiver. The givers will be so impressed when you open your trunk and show them that you are prepared to receive as many plants as they are willing to share. They will also feel that anyone so prepared to take the plants, can also be counted on to take good care of them when they get them home.
The items that you will need will all fit into a shoe box, so there is no excuse to leave home without it. In what I call my 'Pass-Along' kit I carry these essential items.
1: A shower curtain. This is the most important item because it is cheap, folds up into a very small area, unfolds to cover a very large area, and most important, keeps my car safe from loose soil, or wet plants. This item is also very handy for garden center visits. I would never venture out on any trip without a shower curtain.
2: plastic grocery bags. We all have tons of these, so keep 10-or 20 in your kit so that each shared plant can have it's own bag. The bags can be labeled on the outside or by using the number 3 item in the kit, old plant labels.
3: Old plant labels, and marker. I keep old plant labels and a marker in my kit so that the name of the plant can be added to the bag, or written on the outside of the bag. If the person sharing the plant with you knows the name of the plant, by all means, write it down. Don't count on your memory. If you are lucky enough to get lots of bags, it will be very hard to remember which plant is which. You can also write on the bag whether the plant grows in sun or shade, and other notes about it.
4: A pair of gloves and a knife. Always have a pair of gloves on hand, and a kitchen knife, or the root knife, shown in the picture, that I bought at Lee Valley tools. It cost's $8.50, and really works well. I have several of them, and they have held up great. I even use them in the Fall when I am cutting the foliage from daylilies back for the winter. The knife is used for dividing a perennial or cutting a small start from the main plant. You may also want to keep a pair of pruning shears in your kit if you have an extra one.
5: Camera. This is not essential to the kit, but if you take a picture of each plant that you get, you will be able to look at them when you get home and decide the best place to plant it in your garden by noting the size that it is in your givers garden.
When receiving pass-along plants from other gardeners the rule of thumb is not to thank them. The belief for this is that the plant will die if you thank them for it.
I always thank the giver for plants that I receive, and don't feel that I have suffered any losses because of this. I do think that if I appeared ungrateful, they might not be as generous next time, so I ignore the 'no thank you' rule.
Don't get hung up on having the name and variety of plants that you receive. After all, they are free! Some of my favorite plants are unnamed. The miniature Iris in the picture had no name, but it always blooms first thing in the Spring, without fail, and I like it as much as any of my named varieties.
Now, to be honest, in all of the years that I have been sharing plants, not one person has ever showed up with a "Pass-Along' kit. So, to remedy this situation, I keep plenty of bags and tags handy, so at least when they get home, they know what they have got.
Maybe I should make up these kits and market them? Hey, if they can sell pet rocks, anything is possible!

Saturday, May 3, 2008

COLD AND WINDY AGAIN


Well, it is Indiana!! We are back to cold and windy weather. I was able to get a few things done outside today, but it was so windy it was useless to try to do any cleaning up. When I went out this morning I really didn't know what to do. It was so windy, that I really didn't feel like working in it, and it looked like it could rain at any time.
Then I thought of a job in the herb garden that I had been putting off and was not looking forward to doing. I decided that it would be the perfect day, and it was in a semi-protected area.
The job was to eradicate the ginger mint. Several years ago I planted ginger mint under my swing in the herb garden. Every year it would creep a little further but the winter would usually kill it back enough each year that it wouldn't take over like most mints do. But the last few years this has not happened, and the mint has moved far beyond the boundaries that I had set for it. I also had decided that I wanted to try a short variety of chamomile in this spot, so the ginger mint had to go. Removing mint that has taken over an area is no fun task. If you do not get every piece of the root it will return within a few weeks. The only good thing about the job is that it is mint, so it smells good the whole time that you are working with it. I do like this mint, the new leaves have a nice yellow variegation, so I saved enough for a pot that I sunk into the ground. This will keep it from escaping back into the garden. It took awhile but I got the mint removed and the chamomile planted. By the time that I was done the clouds had moved in and it was a lot colder, so I moved into the greenhouse to work for awhile.
While walking around the garden today, I noticed a few things. The first is the spruce tree that died earlier this spring. I have no idea why, I just noticed that it had an odd look to it earlier, and when the wind and rain hit all of the needles ended up on the ground. This makes me very sad because I really liked this tree. it was just starting to get some size to it. The only thing that I can figure caused it's death was the weather that we had last year. The late freezes, and then the summer drought, must have been what caused it's death. There was no sign of insects, or root disturbance, so this is all that I can come up with. I won't have a problem filling it's spot though, I have a shrub rose that I didn't have a place for, so it will go there.
The second thing I noticed was that my 'Sensation' lilac is in bloom. This is my favorite lilac because it has a variegated flower. It has that same lilac smell, and gets about the same size as other varieties, but the flower is really unique.
My 'Carlesii' viburnums are also in bloom. I have made a hedge with 3 plants, and they are planted near the new patio off the end of our garage. They smell so wonderful when they are in bloom, it's to bad that the flowers only last for about a week. The third thing that I noticed on my walk was the "Tiger Eye' sumac that I planted last year. I was so happy with it last summer, it held it's color the whole season, and looked great under my tri-color beech tree. So as I am checking to make sure that it made it through the winter alright, I notice shoots coming up all around it. Some as far as ten feet away. This is very bad! In researching this plant nobody mentioned that it sends out runners. Now I have to decide what I am going to do about this problem, because I do not want to fight sumac coming up amongst all of my other plants. The only solution that I see is to dig a trench around it, and sink a barrier so that the runners can not get past it. That seems like a lot of work, but probably the only solution if I want to keep it. I have circled the runners in the photo, so that you could see what a problem this could become.
I am also adding a picture here of a 'PJM' rhododendron that is in my Mother's yard. It has probably been there for 15 years and blooms like this every year. People stop and ask what it is every year. This variety of rhododendron is very hardy, and has smaller leaves than the regular rhododendrons. It makes a nice foundation plant, and it is not deep rooted, so it is safe to plant near your home.














I hope that the wind is calmer tomorrow, and it is a little warmer. I would like to get some mulching done, and maybe figure out what to do with the sumac.