Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Keeping Busy In Winter: Indoor Gardening

How does an obsessive and cheap gardener like me keep sane in the winter? Well, I have two lil' kids, a husband, and multiple hobbies including scrapbooking and as of recently, knitting. But, i also bring a huge chunk of my garden into the house.
I can count on some of my houseplants, like this still-small Christmas cactus to entertain me all winter long.

Also, I try and do forced bulbs each winter. This year I found a bunch for super-duper cheap. We're talking 12 daff bulbs for $1.25! All-in-all this year I have 2 Amaryllis, 2 dozen daffodils and 6 or more hyacinth. My paperwhites bloomed over a month ago already. When the bulbs finish blooms I set the aside, and come spring I'll put the in the ground so they can bloom for years to come, expect the tender Amaryllis which makes its way in and out of the house each year. Here comes the newest Amaryllis:
The amaryllis is underplanted with this Oxalis, and they seem delightfully compatible!
This basket of coleus cuttings is growing on the dining room table. I take cutting of all my favorites in the fall and stick them in the dirt of these tiny pots, and add water.

But, I also bring in the whole coleus plants, and every other tender thing in the garden, including elephant ears, plumbago, angel's trumpet, wandering jew, ficus, passion vine, potato vine, sweet potato vine, geranium, and more. This is a chest I keep under our dining room window, where the sun shines intensely all day. You can see it's jam packed.
This New Guinea Impatien has been blooming for months in the dining room window's full sun.
This is my scrapbooking room. I've never tried to do plants in this room for the winter, and they are doing so very well.
Look at this variegated potato vine is spilling over into the norkolk pine's pot. The pot vine sharing a pot with a blue passion vine, happily!
These are the 2 south facing windows in our bedroom. I add a humidifier in here to keep things moist. I lug water up the steps to water these thirsty babies, as we have no bathroom upstairs.
One of my favorite coleus:
I also have an awesome story to tell. I've had this jasmine, the tall obelisk in the back pictured here, for 5 years. FYI: It's in the dining room with a star jasmine, passion vine, and wandering jew.
I bought it a Home Depot when we first moved here, and I've faithfully taken care of it, bringing it in and out summer to winter, as it's not hardy in my zone 5 garden. I have not seen it bloom since I purchased it in early 2004. I've replanted it in a bigger pot, and visited the local nursery for advice, where I was promptly sent to the fertlizer aisle, and told to buy "bloom burst." I've been feeding this plant bloom burst for 2 years now, and still not a single bloom. I had all but given up.
About a month ago I had a dream that my Great Aunt, Eva Mummu was watering her garden (which in the dream was a mix of my picket fence, my grandma Helena's stucco house, and Eva Mummu's yard). She was watering her jasmine, which was growing on her fence, hardy in southern California for sure. She told me, "You have to water it from the top." Simple, short advice.
I woke up, and thought about my dream, and decided I would try it. I've been spraying the jasmine more than usual with my spritzer bottle, and even gave it a shower (something I do for a lot of houseplants, but not often enough). I fed it's normal dose of "bloom burst." I had forgotten to look for blooms. I accidently glanced up at it, noticing it needed training again. I got in close, and could not believe my eyes:
Those are flower buds people! I can make no claim that jasmine of any sort needs added humidity, or a wash down, or "water from the top" as Mummu put it, but nonetheless, it worked for this gardener. You remember the pics of me carrying pink jasmine bus all around camrbia on my husband and I's vacation? It was this variety. If I can actually get it to bloom in my dining room I'll be so happy I won't know what to do! Of course, I'll share picture when and if the blooms actually open.
I've been planning already. Sure, it'll be 4 months before I can plant anything, but our local Hobby Lobby already has gardening stuff out (and Target, too), and last year's journal was darn near full. I picked up a blank journal from Borders and began sketching. Part of my plan this year is to stay focused and cheap but look at the big picture. I have decided there a 3 biggish things I'd like to complete this year.
First, I need to build a support for the "Aunt Dee" Wisteria growing beside my back deck. I intend for the support to be as cheap as possible, rustic, and to provide shade for the back patio, which is in scorching all day sun.
Second, I need to balance out the yard. I want to add one more walk through arbor on the other side of the house, near a step-up to the side door walkway. I'd like to plant clematis and roses there right away, but keep more big purchase items for that area for clearance or even next year. Eventually, I'd like the garden to make it to the curb along the walkway in this area, but in due time.
Third, in keeping with adding balance, I'd like to add more color and interest to the street side of the house (same side I want to add the aforementioned walkthrough). When we moved here there were hostas lining the rim of the house. I've kept them, added dwarf spruce the first year, nothing the next few, 3 $3 limelight hydrangeas in late 2007, and last year I added 4 weigela, two coneflowers, and one clematis.
I know for sure I'd like to start a couple more clematis on this side of my house, behind the row of hostas that have been there for years, and the 4 "red prince" weigela I found $2 a piece last summer. I want to a try atleast one Etiolle Violette, one Jackmanii, and then some dark pinks. All in all, I'd like 3 up against the house, and 2 on the arbor walkway with the roses.
I'd like one William Baffin rose and one Ramblin' Red on each side of the arbor. Chaos and cottage country garden is the look I'm going for.
For two of the spots up against the wall I found these trellises for 50% off, making them $12.50 a piece. You can't find a good wooden trellis for that price, so I was thrilled to find these. They are sturdy metal, painted white, with a twig and bird design. Because they are short, I plan on mounting them to the walls of the house,

I've also been to the library, where I found these gems. I've been flipping, and reading random snippets from these all month. Ideas galore are flowing...
Happy midwinter "gardening."

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Checking In: Fall Photos, Winter Dreams.

There's no excuse for my lack of posting. I truly did get carried away with the holidays! My garden may be deep beneath more than a foot of snow, but it's still in my thoughts all the time.
I keep a basket by my bed filled with magazines, a sketchbook, and a pencil. Almost every night I put myself to sleep by daydreaming about next spring, and all the magical things I can do once I'm out there again.
I hauled in all my tropical and tender plants in early October when nights got too cold. I took longer than I should have letting my dahlias dry out, and mistakenly stacked them in a bucket where they molded quickly. So, I lost all my dahlias! It was a tragic moment for me, but the only thing I can do is budget for more this spring. Otherwise, I have been pleasantly surprised that most of the plants are enjoying the indoors. My passion vine blooms in the dining room periodically (last week included), and my amaryllis are preparing to bloom. I forced some bulbs that I found on clearance at Farm and Fleet this fall. I laready enjoyed one batch of paperwhites, and have hyacinth and larger daffodils growing now also. I have some serious prayers on a jasmine vine that has not bloomed in years. It looks promising for a bloom this spring, as I've been feeding her bloom burst diligantly.
Paperwhites in early December:

I did find some fall photos I hadn't shared yet. Autumn was nothing to frown about. It was wet, which kept me in more than I wanted, but thanks to dry late summer and early fall we had spectacular color:

I found some fun pumpkins on a field trip with my son:

About town:

Despite the cold and the snow I stumble out into the garden once in awhile and walk around, check on things. I make sure the bunnies aren't destroying my young apple trees, and I fill the bird feeders every other day. I have recently added a finch feeder, and I have already seen some finches there. I'm excited for spring. I have been browsing onlne catalogs, and pouring over the David Auston catalog! I have plans to di up some more boring grass and put in a new little flower bed. I have been praying this week cold snap (high today is 1F, and later this week, there's a low of -18F) won't kill my roses. I hope the blanket of snow protects them.
I should be posting more regularly again, as I have more interesting things to think/talk about. Until then, stay warm, and happy garden dreaming!