Monday, April 28, 2008

Frost Advisory

Please don't kill my plants...

At least once each spring I find myself covering my plants for a late frost advisory. Tonight weather forecasters projected we'd be down to 28F, but they've raised it to 31F last I checked. At any rate, I'm running about the back yard, scrambling to find vessels to cover my plants for one night. I would not reccommend anyone use this method for more than one or two nights, but it had worked for me in the past... I take the empty containers I save and re-use, flip em' over, and create a little warm spot for the plant to spend the night. Here are my tomatos:

Here are some of my roses (note: I'm almost ready to throw out the arborvitae... they have a few more weeks to impress me).

What's pretty now?

Nevertheless, there are a few beautiful thing in the garden right now. Here's Lamb's Ear, covered with water from an afternoon rain. About 2-3 weeks ago when I uncovered it from mulch it was quite beat-up, but now, it's wonderful.

This is my neighbors tree, a 1/3 of which hangs over the back of our yard. The tree is massive, I wouldn't know how to begin to describe the dimensions to you; I believe it's a Red Maple. The leaves are a dark eggplant purple all summer. I never bothered to get close-up to this beauty in the spring... would you just look at this? How could I have not noticed it makes these little flowers in the spring?

The hostas are all poking up, standing so orderly in neat little clumps all around the yard. The previous owner put a line of hostas encircling the house. I've since divided and divided and doubled the depth of the bed... and begun my own little hosta obsession.

Before I moved into this area of the country I never paid any mind to lilacs. You can't grow them where I grew up in southern california as they need winter to thrive. When we moved in to our house the previous owner had put in a dozen lilacs along the back property line. To say I fell in love is an understatement. These flowers are so beautiful and fragrant, I feel so lucky to have them in my yard. I've taken great care to learn to properly prune them, and this year seems to be paying off. Many of the early bloomers are forming buds. In about 2 weeks I think I"ll be showing vases full of them!

I am so excited to see this baby emerging. Last spring I took on growing lupines from seed. Usually when I grow a perennial from a seed packet I get 2-3 good plants from the packet that come back year after year. Several of the lupines are coming back strong. Not pictured here are dozens of bee balm plants I also grew from seed last spring... they are all strong now, too. A great year for seedling returns here.
Here's a more typical result of a seed packet for me: one lone survivng Maltese Cross. For a 99-cent seed packet I'll take one healthy plant happily.

Just incase all the growth dies in the frost tonight, here is my Morden Centennial rose, full of life, and ready to make some buds.

The radishes are coming...

This is what the sky looked like as I was out there taking pictures. A very pretty sunset.
My front bulbs bed looks a little silly. I expanded the bed in late fall, removing more grass. Before that I had planted bulbs. I could not fill the whole bed with bulbs b/c I hadn't put any plants in the rest of the bed yet. At any rate, here's the bulbs together, muscari and apricot-colored tulips, with bleeding heart, allium (not yet blooming) and snapdragons.

A close-up of the stunning bleeing heart. It still seems too early for this to bloom?

So much to come this week. I'll be putting in some more bare root roses, planting my annual seeds (zinnia and cosmos and more...), transplanting some of this years perennial seedlings, moving my containers out for good (they are all back in tonight!), and planting some more veggies and herbs. I am so excited! Deep breath. Check back soon.

Filling Vases

My first flowers to bring in from my garden this year: hyacinth and muscari with a branch from the willows. If only you could smell this goodness with me.

Daffs and peach tulips also with willow branches. Sunny and so springy!

The best part about this one? It's in a glass cowgirl boot. :)

When I've acres and acres to grow plants, someday, I'll grow acres and acres of cutting gardens and share my bouquets with everyone who cares. For now, I clip here and there and fill tiny vessels with my blooms, while trying to leave something to look at outside.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Before the rain...


I wanted to show my mom some close-ups of some of the begonias I have right now. For some reason, I gravitate toward orange lately. Salmons, apricots, I love em'. See, mom, won't this go good with your patio furniture?

Before the rain came today I ran out to take a few picture of the blooms int he garden today. I planted these apricot bulbs with muscari last fall. This is the first peak I have had at them. I'm pleased. There is lamb's ear beneath them, and some bleeding heart mixed in. The rabbits took a few nibbles, but when I put bone meal down over them, and a few of Laura's turds around the edge of the flower bed the rabbits were as good as gone. LOL.

The stamens in the center of the tulip are a deep violet purple; I tried to get a picture of the inside, but the light wasn't working for me, and it was windy, so I had to hold the flower still. I wish I had a million of these so I could cut and make bouquets... someday?

Here's the muscari blooming beneath the bulbs.

This muscari is coming up right in between one of my oriental lilies.

Also blooming: Delft Blue Hyacinth

Could this already be the allium? I bought a truck load of allium last fall, and I've never had them before. I thought they blooms with the roses, much later? I know this is allium, I'n just not sure which kind (I planted several). I guess only time will tell.

More daffs...

Spring Growth

A gardening friend of mine asked whether or not my butterfly bushes were coming back yet. I have two that are not showing too much life yet, but the others looks like this. I was surprised the first year I had Buddleia as I expected it to come back on old wood; in reality all of the butterfly bushes I have die completely back and grow from ground up to 5-7ft high again.

On a similar note, I have two clematis that have never been given a chance to grow. Last year, shade from a taller perennial covered one and it never grew; the other I accidently pruned when I pulling weeds. This year I have made sure that they are well protected. The varieties are mixed up, but once they bloom, I have the tags, so I can match things up. Here's one of the clematis, coming in strong. Seeing this make me so happy, it makes my heart tingle a little. That's how much I love my plants. I can't wait to see the blooms of this beauty:

Bleeding Heart

It seems way to early for bleeding heart, too? This beauty has doubled in size since last year. I can't resist the small heart shaped flowers. It looks like this plant is sending up quite a few blooms this year... maybe the bone meal around the bulbs helped it? I looked at this plant yesterday and it was half this size. I bet you could see it growing if you hung out long enough.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

A Winged Visitor

I stepped outside to a take a few pictures the container flowers. I thought the cloud would make for some great shots. I looked up at the bougainvillea hanging basket and saw this guy hanging out. This dragonfly did not seem to be injured in any way, but he sure let me get close to him.

Of course, I did find a few blooms, too. This daffodil is stunning! Shouts spring to me!

Non stop red begonia:
Lithidora Difuusa 'Grace Ward'
Enjoy! Happy Day!

The Flower Factory

Last night I made my first spring trip to The Flower Factory, a perennial farm of sorts located south of Madison, west of Stoughton. The FF specializes in locally hardy perennials, selling no annuals, shrubs, roses, edibles or trees. Just thousands and thousands of perennials of every variety you cold dream up-sedum, phlox, penstemon, heuchera, hostas, lilies, peonies, and more. I was in a state of bliss slowly browsing aisles while dad took the boys to get milkshakes, and then to play in the sandbox at the FF.

I had been to this place once before, in late when it was freezing and raining and they were putting things away for the season as I shopped. I bought my sedum 'anegelina' and gentiana makinoi 'blue' there, two of my favorite plants currently.

I can't emphasize how great the prices are that this place! I almost paid $10 for a plant more locally that they sell for $6, likewise for another I almost paid $12 for, they charged only $8. I usually pay $5 for a small perennial starter, and most of theirs are $3.50. Clematis the same size as theirs are $20 here, and they sell them for only $8.50!

Here are a few pictures of my journey through the place.

I spent a good amount of time in the clematis house. I love clematis, and a few were even blooming. I came home with a variety I have wanted for some time, clematis hybrid 'multi blue' although it was not in bloom yet, thankfully. I did not write down the names of these varieties, but they sure are pretty. The second one is a non-clinging variety of clematis, which I never realized there was such a thing. Cool. Bushier, still tall, but bigger stronger branches and leaves.

This is also the place I discovered my obessesion with blue balls as accents in the garden. Here are a few of their blue ball decorations. They had one giant blue ball on the ground surrounded by groundcover geraniums, but I missed getting a picture. I will next time, b/c it was gorgeous.

These are the treasures I came home with:

2 delphinium belladonna-oriental blue garland delphinium-bright blue
delphinium elatum-russian wild dissected leaves-dark blue spikes
delphinium tatsiense (reseeds) ferny dissected leaves brilliant blue
helianthus strumosus woodland sunflower yellow daisies 36-72 inches in height (yay tall!)
helenium autumnale 'helen's flower' yellow daisies 36-40 inches in height
centranthus ruber 'jupiter's beard' red rose color 24 inches (like my mom grew up with)
lupinus perennis-wild blue lupine-true blue spikes
aster azureus 'sky blue aster' -blue daisies
aster laevis 'smooth aster'- blue daisies
echinacea green coneflower 'green envy'
bluemist shrub 'summer sorbet' (amazing foliage!)
clematis 'multi-blue'
huecherella 'alabama sunrise'
stokesia 'honeysong blue'

We were there until the sun began to set. So delightfully relaxing.

Happy Gardening everyone!