Garden Dreaming — And Scheming!


What February should look like – -but doesn’t. This is from our storm a few weeks ago — which was all melted by the next afternoon!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012
Waxing Moon Second Quarter in Taurus/Gemini
Mars Retrograde
Celtic Tree Month of Rowan
Cloudy and mild

The weather’s been totally wacky this year; way too warm. While my bank account is grateful, in terms of the heating bill, I’m worried about my plants. Was it cold enough for the tulips, or will all 125 that I planted (on time, for once) last fall — my very first attempt at tulip-ing — rot? The barrel of heather is blooming beautifully — will it wear itself out before spring? The forsythia and lilac have buds — but my witch hazel hasn’t popped yet.

I’d hoped, since the weather is mild, that it would also be sunny today and I could get outside and do some more yard clean-up. The front’s in good shape, but the back needs work. So far, though, it’s drizzling, which means there’s not a whole lot I can do. I figure if I do a little bit every nice day, by the time it’s warm enough to really plant and tackle things, I’ll be in good shape.

I’m going through the garden books and magazines and the designs, dreaming big dreams. Then, I have to scale them down so they make sense in my life!

I have a lot of seeds, so I’m okay in the seed department. I’ll buy a lot of the herbs in 4” pots to start, instead of doing them from seed. I’ve got some repotting to do today, and, in the spirit of it being Imbolc Eve, I’m planting some lemon seeds from a zested, juiced lemon. I’ve got a lovely tangerine plant started the same way.

This year, I’m going to start the moonflowers and morning glories inside first, then transplant them up the big wagon wheel at the side of the house. Last year, I put them directly into the ground — not realizing there were hostas there, who popped up and didn’t give them enough sunlight! Plus, I think my seeds were too old. This year, fresh seeds, start indoors — in March, I will probably set up the grow light and a seed table in the back room to get things started.

The Elsa Memorial Orchid has two new shoots! I’m very excited. As long as I leave that plant alone, it’s happy. I get the hint. For those of you new to the blog, the Elsa Memorial Orchid was sent to me by a group of friends when my beloved Elsa died shortly before the move to the Cape. It blooms beautifully at least once a year, sometimes twice, and the agreement is that it will keep blooming as long as I don’t try to “help” too much. Message received.

I’m looking forward to a deck and an expanded back area full of plants this summer, especially more medicinal herbs. I’m thinking about getting some clematis or American wisteria to grow up the sides of the deck, like a natural privacy screen. But I don’t want the deck to feel closed in. The roof is so wonderful, it’s nice to have the breeze coming through. The big lilac in the ground and my neighbor’s hydrangeas work well on that side. It’s just on the other side that we need a bit more coverage.

Devon

Planning: Sometimes the Best Part


Amaryllis. It reached its full glory on the night of the Twelfth Night Party

Wednesday, January 18, 2012
Waning Moon Fourth Quarter in Scorpio
No Retrogrades
Celtic Tree Month of Birch

I ran into an acquaintance-on-the-road-to-becoming-a-friend a few weeks ago at a music event. She asked why I stopped writing the blog, because she enjoyed reading it! So, here I am!

My heather’s blooming, out front, in the barrel. It looks lovely, but

Learning how to maintain a garden was a little overwhelming for me last year. All in all, although I won’t win any prizes, I learned a lot, I had a LOT of fun, and there were great times. The Black King eggplant (who lived in the house until a spider mite kerflamma) grew to be nearly six feet tall and spat eggplants at us until nearly Thanksgiving; the tomatoes were put in late, so it was nearly Thanksgiving before we got any, but I’d pulled them in and put them under a grow light in the back bedroom — so we had tomatoes. It was too wet for the pumpkins, and they died, which was disappointing. The cucumbers would have been great, but the squirrels hollowed them out and left the rinds; the green peppers were good. The salad greens were amazing.

Supposedly, anyone on the planet can grow a radish. Not me.

Win some, lose some.

While I’m glad I don’t have to live through the winter on the harvest, it wasn’t bad for a first time out.

The culinary herbs did well, and I need to add some more medicinals in this year. The lavender was kind of hit and miss. I’d been told lavender is easy, but I must not have given it what it needs. Some of the plants are dormant now, cut back, so we’ll see what happens in spring. In fact, I have a whole section of the garage with dormant, cut-back perennials.

I bought a witch hazel tree from Country Gardens. I absolutely adore it. It was beautiful all summer, it turned lovely colors in fall. It wants to bud, but hasn’t yet.

My Blue Prince and Princess hollies are doing very well. I also dug up another holly from a difficult place in the yard and stuck it in a pot. It’s doing well, too. From this past Holly Walk at Ashumet, where we get to take branches, I took some of the Goldie berries and planted them — hoping something will come up. I’d love to have a holly that can trace back its lineage to Ashumet, which is one of my favorite places on the planet.

The Boomerang Lilac is still on the back deck, along with the hollies and the witch hazel. I pulled them back, to protect them from the harshest weather, but they’re out there on the deck and seem happy. It looks like the Boomerang will have some nice buds in spring.

The strawberries gave us a small harvest over the summer, but a second, much larger one in fall. We had strawberries for breakfast for weeks up until late October. And they were delicious. They’re cut back and resting, so hopefully they will be even more productive and delicious this year. The kitten (Tessa) doesn’t each much people food, but she does like to pick her own strawberries from the plants and eat them.

The plants from Territorial Seed Company did not do well, other than Black King eggplant (which was magnificent). The Peppermint Ice Hellebore (the most expensive) was unhappy (it’s struggling, but unhappy), the Huckleberry is struggling, and everything else died. Well, the Lemon Verbena arrived nearly dead, but that was simply ignored. I may buy the Black King from them again, but . . .moving on.

Eden Brothers seeds did pretty well, and the locally bought seeds were fine, too. Johnny’s, as usual, worked the best for me. The bulk of my purchases this year will either be from Johnny’s or from the local shops.

I’m sitting down and planning for planting season. I want (and need) more herbs. It makes more sense to buy them as small plants locally than start them from seed. I hope the rosemary comes back, and some of the others. I want more different varieties of thymes and basils. The Feverfew did well — this year I have to harvest it, instead of just oohing and aahing about how pretty it is. The Echinacea did NOT do well, so I’ll give that another go. I want to add chamomile and dill to the mix, and I need tansy, rue, and pennyroyal. I’d like to expand to coltsfood and horehound, but don’t know if I can this year. I use both herbs a lot in cough and cold mixtures.

Vegetable-wise, I’ll put some things in the bed as last year, and others in pots that will line up on the ground below the terraced area in the back. It gets a lot of sun. I need to grown the Asian vegetables I like to use in cooking, and have a hard time finding.

I’m going to start tomatoes earlier, and go with locally-started plants instead of trying to do everything from seed. There will also be more marigolds, and they’ll be EVERYWHERE. Cucumbers, eggplants, zucchini, peppers — hey, a girl’s gotta have enough for ratatouille, right? And cucumber sandwiches. I want to try some lettuces, cabbages, spinach, and peas. I like the IDEA of corn and beans, but don’t know if I’m actually ready to deal with them. I will try pumpkins again.

My questions for planning the season are:

–what do I use most in cooking, and like best?
–can it grow here?
–what herbs do I use and need most?
–can it grow in a pot?

And then, it’s just trial and error.

I wasn’t as dedicated to good note-keeping last year as I should have been. I kept buying plants and not making up sheets for them or noting when they were replanted or died. I have to be better about that this year.

I am an azalea and rhodie convert, and I even fell for the hostas, once they were up. When we first moved here, I did not understand the love of hosta — to me they looked icky and wilted when I cut them back. Then, they came up in spring and summer and were gorgeous. I can’t wait for the Stewartsonian Azalea I bought last year to start blooming again. It seems very happy in its barrel.

I want more pansies this year, and more petunias. The petunias looked lovely with the coleus and the dusty miller in the urns out front. The mums were a little disappointing — the orange, which I loved, where the quickest to fade. Some of the deep reds and the yellows stayed much longer. We will see if they are annuals or perennials. I was told if I got them into the ground quickly, they’d be perennials. Some went into the border in the front, some stayed in pots, so we’ll see. The cosmos looked lovely, so hopefully they’ll come up well this year (I’ll plant more), and I plan to put the poppies in early enough so they can actually come up.

I planted 125 tulips in the fall — a true red, a white, a red-and-yellow (Carmen Del Rio), a yellow and maroon, and a maroon (Queen of the Night). I’m concerned, with the temperate weather, that they’ll get confused and come up before it’s time.

The Arbor Day Foundation is sending me ten trees and two flowering shrubs, so getting those situated (in pots — this is a rental) will take up some time.

The peace lily which was bought for last year’s Twelfth Night party is huge and gorgeous. The small roses are struggling — I think the spider mite plague was more than they could survive. Last year’s primrose is doing well. I bought three more small ones for this year’s party — they’re not as happy. I’m not sure if they need replanting, or were just forced too early or what. We’ll see how they fare.

I want to schedule my time better. Now that I know the garden needs more time, I want to schedule my writing day so that the writing and the garden both get what they need.

Really, this is the best time of year, garden-wise, because anything is possible!

Devon

How Does My Garden Grow? Not sure, but it’s Growing!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011
New Moon in Gemini
Solar Eclipse at 5:16 PM
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Celtic Tree Month of Hawthorn
Sunny and pleasant

What a busy time! First, Spring dragged its feet getting here; now, everything needs to be done at once!

I can’t keep up deadheading the rhododendron; there are too many, and it’s too time-intensive. I just do as much as I can each day that I can, and that will have to do.

I still have not found my mowing Zen, although I’m getting better at the physical aspects of it. And wrestling with that heavy mower means no jiggly arms — they are toned for summer tank tops! Look for the bright side, right?

The back meadow looks awesome when it’s mown!

The irises are starting to bloom! Iris is my favorite flower — heck, I even have a cat named Iris! However, the Very Expensive Iris I bought from White Flower Farm — the Moonsilk, black, and SuperEgo — not much happening there. The black iris vanished, the Moonsilk is dying, and the SuperEgo — not sure what’s going on there. Disappointing.

The biggest lesson I’ve learned this year — get everything locally. The local growers have to deal with you because we live and work alongside each other, so they are going to make sure they sell you something that won’t keel over in ten minutes!

The herbs I bought as plants and repotted are doing well. The lobelia is not coming up in the urn, so I will get some flowers, such as petunias or geraniums (the pelagorums, probably, not the cranesbill) and fill the urn with that. An empty urn out front just looks sad.

The yarrow and echinacea are starting to sprout, so there’s hope. I think I have a pair of male hollies, rather than a male and a female, as they were sold. We’ll find out — if Princess has berries, I’ve got the mixed set; otherwise . . .

I’m madly in love with my witch hazel plant, and need to repot the small lilac. The big limb that broke off my in-ground lilac, which the nursery said would quickly die, is thriving in its bucket of water, so I plan to enjoy it for as long as possible.

Most of the vegetables are in the veggie bed — I hope they survive and thrive. The tomatoes still need to grow a bit stronger before I plant them, but the pots are already prepared, with marigolds and basil.

The strawberries are blossoming like crazy, so maybe we will have some strawberries, even if they’re late.

I love going out every early morning, tending the garden, and then sitting with my morning coffee. The squirrel still races next door, takes two leaves of something, and comes back. He’s checked out my veggie bed, but left it alone. He came right up to the deck yesterday, while I ate lunch, and I tossed him a blueberry. He caught it and dashed off.

I named the woodpecker Carlos, and we have a little morning and evening ritual, where he’s at work, I call to him, he comes and stares at me, then goes back to work. The seven crows in the front leave the owl in the back alone, but they mobbed a hawk that tried to invade the territory the other day. They also tell me when the mailman’s here. Gossipy little things, aren’t they?

I’m in a battle with ants, who’ve pockmarked the front lawn to an alarming extent. I was told I could get rid of them by pouring boiling water down the holes, which seems cruel, but I don’t know what else to do. However, it also kills the grass. I have to call the owner and have him deal with it — that’s why I’m a renter!

The poppies and the morning glories didn’t come up — I waited too long to plant them. I should have started them inside — I’ll know for next year.

I love to sit on the deck in the evenings, with a glass of wine, reading a book, or just sitting there, listening. There’s a lot to which to listen.

Devon

Saturday, May 21, 2011


Witch hazel

Saturday, May 21, 2011
Waning Moon in Capricorn
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Celtic Tree Month of Hawthorn
Foggy and cool

This is what a witch hazel looks like. This is when it’s not in bloom. I hear that when it blooms, the leaves fall off, and there are just white blooms, but I haven’t yet experienced it.

When things start to pop here, they really start to pop! The trees are finally in bud, the lilacs are blooming, rhododendron and azalea are blooming, things look beautiful.

My Black King Eggplant is enormous — the leaves are about 12” long. It got its first flower that’s preparing an eggplant, so that’s all good. The little Nadia eggplants are tiny, but I think will be ready to transplant to the vegetable bed next weekend.

The pumpkin vines are enormous and gorgeous. I hope they can hang on one more week until I can get them into the ground. The cucumbers are coming up, the marigolds are coming up. The green peppers haven’t come up. Neither have the morning glories or the moonflowers, outside. I may have put them in too early, and I may need to start some more inside and transplant.

The male holly is blooming and growing; the female still sulks. Strawberry-wise, the one plant inside is blooming, and the three big pots outside look like they’re preparing to bloom. Things are later here than usual, but that’s okay.

The huckleberry is happy. I think it’ll be a few years until I get any berries, but that’s okay. It’s a cute little plant.

I have two ENORMOUS beds of lily-of-the-valley around the house. One is in no-man’s land, between this house and the house on the left. It’s about eight feet long and four or five feet wide. The other is in the back bed, along the tree line at the back of the property, where all the lilies and extra hostas are. That one, too, is huge. They’re beautiful, and what a lovely, unexpected gift!

I’m starting to understand the hosta love around here. Now that they’re actually coming up and growing, they’re pretty darn lovely! The shape of the plant and the leaf shape, and the variegated colors do add a lot to the garden.

I also found some ferns unfolding! So many surprises! I get up every morning wondering what new plants I’ll discover.

Purslane is growing in my vegetable bed, even though I didn’t plant it. I may have to move it, once I put in the other vegetables.

The catmint I planted in the terraced border is starting to bloom. The stonecrop is naturalizing well. Most of the silver mound artemisia is also doing well — I love its texture. I always wind up petting it! 😉 It’s soft as a cat.

I put in some poppy seeds yesterday, and planted lobelia seeds in an urn in the front yard, along with moving some big pots to one side of the driveway.

If the weather clears up a bit, I have to mow the back meadow today, and then I want to set out the English garden carpet out in no man’s land, given to me by Costume Imp, so that can start rooting. I think it’s warm enough to do so.

It’s so wonderful to sit outside in the early mornings and in the evenings and listen to the yard. I am so lucky and so grateful.