Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Monches Farm, Wisconsin

Towards August of last year I was restless in the garden. I wanted to have a little adventure and see Monches Farm, a rural garden center I read about years ago in one of my magazines. Quite spontaneously we googled directions, and headed out the door.

The directions from google weren't correct, so we drove around and around forever, but finally (after hours) we found our way. I found the buildings scenic, and quaint.

I was confused, and felt like I needed a map, but could not find anything, not even a sign. I just began to roam around and make my way. I found clusters of girls in fairy outfits, and by listening and reading a sign I found they had a fairy party scheduled for the day which had been cancelled, and rescheduled for the next day. The kids all looked heartbroken to not have their fairy party, and the weather was more than cleared up by the time I was there.

I did not see one staff member until I was inside the gift shop trying to pay. I was hauling around a large potted plant, and couldn't figure out where else I could pay for it. I felt terribly uncomfortable bringing a muddy plant into a nicey decorated gift shop. I purchased one hardy hibiscus, which bloomed later that week, the dropped all it's leaves. I am hopeful it will return in the spring.

Most of the gardens looked at though they hadn't been tended to, like this:

but others were extrememly nice, and well worth photographing. Perhaps, once you own a busy garden center (the place was bustling for an August day in such a rural location) you just choose to run your business or manage your garden. Still, I could not help but wonder why they wouldn't hire someone.

I read in the original magazine article, and also on the website, that this farm had animals my kids could see. Hard as we tried, I saw one peacock, and some chickens, and nothing else.

This pergola was beautiful.
Once you passed through the pergola you were surprised by this:
My children enjoyed the pond.

This hosta was so gigantic. My oldest son, who was 4 in this picture, was so excited about the plant!
The above hosta was not labeled, but I was able to locate all of the hostas for sale. I would have loved to buy one of these huge ones, but which blue one in the picture below could it be? lol.

Again, very scenic the shopping area.
The daylilies available for sale:
Inside a green house, some beautiful birds in a great handmade birdcage!

I would probably not return to this garden shop, but I thought I'd share the picture with you before I delete them from the computer.

Friday, February 12, 2010

My Attempt at Clematis from Seed

Last early spring I decided to try growing clematis seed. A friend from GardenBuddies sent me some Ashva seeds, and I followed her advice, sticking them in a large ziploc bag with perlite, and soil. I placed them on top of my fridge, where it's warm, and checked on them once in a while. I got handful of sprouts by late spring, and transefered them as they came to their own spots. I kept them, all summer, in a tiny tabletop greenhouse in a shadier spot in my backyard. I kept them from drying out, and waited patiently. They grew to a few inches, and did that stand-still thing that many of my clematis do in mid-to-late-summer. Cme frost, I moved them indoors to the basement, allowed them to be drier than usual, and let them up in a corner of the grow-light area.
I check on them regularly, under the florescent lights. I found some new growth a few weeks ago on 3 of them. I thought they might be ready for a transplant. Here you see on of the seedlings.

Here is another, about to be potted up in it's new home. I don't know much, but I think the roots look like a good size. I was pleased.

Here we have it potted up, heavy with perlite on top so I could keep track of the sprinkled cayanne pepper I put on it to deter the 5 cats I have.
I thought this year I would try a few more. I saved tons of seeds from last year, including several clematis varieties. I did not label them. I know that is terrible, but I was too busy all summer, and was proud I at least kept them from molding or worse. lol. The varieties I took seeds from include Etiolle Violette, Violet Charm, Rooguchi, Polish Spirit, Elsa Spath, and an unknown.

Aa close up of some of the seeds I'm sowing now.

I'll keep you posted on the results. I hope to see last year's babies bloom sometime this year.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Last summer a good friend I ventured onto a local garden tour run by our local public gardens. Several gardens around Janesville, WI were featured. I was impressed with the diversity, some elaborate and mature gardens, and some newer; some with focus on plants and color, and other with elaborate water features; some in new homes, and some in very, very old ones; some close together in one neighborhood--in fact with connecting back yards, and others practically out of town. I thoroughly enjoyed my afternoon!

I thought exploring these garden pictures on this dark, blustery, winter day would get me excited for spring!

This unique house was along the way on the walk, but the garden was not featured. I liked their landscaping quite a bit as it reminded me of what my home's landscaping looked like when I moved in. :) I have got to trim hedges to get this nice manicured look back!

A beautiful water feature.

A sunny and wonderfully colorful front yard garden. You can click on the photo to enlarge it. I love this!!

Another enviable manicured area.

The homeowner told us this was a bowling ball with grout, pennies, and marbles. She got it free from a bowling alley when they were getting rid of balls. Neat idea!

A massive water feature, in an extremely scenic side yard.

An out of bloom clematis grows low on this unique fence trellis.

A distant look at the huge water feauture.

Beyond the water feature this shed, and whimsical glass balls. I loved this scene, and stared at for a long time.

Grape vines and grapes clung to the stone walls of the old home.

A rock garden nestled in one of the sunnier spots beside the water feature. Love how the gold ball ornament is just stuck down in between the sedum.

More views of the water feature from different angles.

This is another home, in a shaded woodland area.
This sun was suspended from fishing line in both directions, and just dangling above a garden bed.

In yet another garden these gorgeous roses were growing beside this bird bath.

Love these bird baths made from elephant ears, but have never seen one in real life. So cool!

I love this idea: to keep track of her roses, this gardener painted their names on rocks, in an obviously weather-proof paint.
This very tall yellow orienpet lily was gorgeous, and smelled incredible!
I did a lot of chatting, and exporing, so I didn't take as many pictures as I may have liked. I hope you enjoyed my snapshots of the 2009 Garden Walk.

Saturday, February 6, 2010


When we moved into our home we were delighted by the two newish trees in the front yard. The lady who owned the home spoke of selecting and planting them herself. She said they were Colorado Weeping something or another. I have never been able to find the name of the trees, but I can tell you, they grew super fast, and have been plagued by multiple problems. Here is a picture of the trees last summer, the one closest to the sidewalk, in the background of this picture, was the bigger problem.

The tree had was diseased. Whole branches would dry up and fall off. In the middle of a normal sunny summer day one of those huge branches fell! We are so lucky no one was around; a neighbor was walking across the street and said she heard crackling, though it was me putzing in the garden, and then looked to see whole branch come crashing down. The other, even heavier branches that could fall next would have crashed through our home, and possibly the kid's bedrooms.
The tree also had some white powdery moldy type substance in the region of the dying branches, as well as strange mushroom shapes growing out of it. More than half of the tree was entangled in the power lines.

This winter we have had a couple huge ice and snow storms, and the branches became extremely heavy and looked like this:

Last fall we received a letter from the energy company stating they would be coming to our area to trim trees off the lines soon. We waited, and waited, and autumn came and went with no tree trimming trucks in our yard. I finally saw an energy truck on our block in January. The driver was making notes of something, likely from a project they were working on around the block. I walked over and pointed out the trees to him. We had a huge storm forecasted in a day or two, and I told him how the trees looked so far this winter. He agreed, made a note, and promised someone would come out soon. They came, a few days later, and I went out front to ask if they were there to trim the tree. "Yes," they said, but not for a few more days. I asked them to take the whole tree down.
I thought they would say no, they couldn't. Instead, they excitedly said, "Really?! We wanted to, but were afraid to ask. Homeowners usually don't want their trees taken down!"
I explained all the problems with the tree, and they agreed to cut it as low to the ground as they could, and to put a chemical on to kill the remaining stump and roots. Amen! My family and I could not afford a tree trimmer, let alone a stump grinder. And this willow tree would inevitably try to keep growing, as we had seen with each branch we had cut off in the past. Success!

The unexpected, and delightful result is that you can really see our whole house! And I now have a sunny front yard. A area that was once confined to just hostas and impatiens, due to the deep, deep, shade provided by the tree, is now a full sun locale. I already pinched pennies and found a white arched arbor on clearance, and have been sketching up plans to spend every dime of birthday cashola on some roses and clematis for the front yard arbor walkway. That being my entire budget, the other plants will have to come from seed and my existing garden. I have spent hours browsing pictures of last seasons garden pictures for crowded and showy plants that might like a division, or full-on upheaveal and move to the front yard garden, coming soon!

Here is our home today!

I plan on repainting the front windows white, and even taking the black paint off the railings of the front porch, and painting them either white or a nice neutral brown or green color. I think we need a new porch light sometime soon, and a new or freshly painted screen/front door also. The arbor will be in placed the middle of the walkway that leads from the sidewalk to the house, and it will be cloaked with a minimum of two hardy climbing roses, and two clematis. I am hoping to find, nice large Perle d'Azur, and Cardinal Wyzinski clematis, and am I undecided on the specific roses.
So far, I know of several plants in the garden I will be moving/dividing to the front, including one of my smokebushes, tiki torch echinacea, marmalade heuchera, hens and chicks, sedum angelina, centranthus ruber, obedient plant, moss phlox, fried banana hostas, iris, erynigium, black eyed susan, and lady's mantle. I may try and move my Catalina rose, if it makes it through this winter. Seeds will make purple alyssum a key part of this walkway, too.

The stump, which will likely persist for some time, will hopefully be topped with a whiskey barrel for now. I plan on putting all my red flowered canna bulbs in the whiskey barrel, and planting around the stump with alyssum and other perennials. I would like to incorporate my giant Red Banana container plant into the front yard as well.

I also plan on adding a large specimen of "Etoille Violette" clematis, pictured below, on the front porch, near the base of the railing on the left side. The pictures EV clematis are take from the back of our home, on the side of our garage. This clematis has been a favorite of mine for 6 years now.
Nevermind the excitment that my front porch hanging baskets can finally include something beyond fushchias and impatiens!!!

I am having so much fun planning a front yard garden. I picked up a half-dozen books from the library to help me visualize. I have been sketching constantly. I'll share more as the ideas come to me!