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Friday, April 17, 2015

Tweaking and experimenting in the garden

Star flowers. They capture the color of the sky
and bring it to earth in a flower.
It's been a spring of tweaking the garden a bit because, well, not all the plants are where I want them and I wanted some new plants.

So far...

I had a crew come in and take out two gigantic Viburnums that had grown well, served well, but were on the decline.

In their places, I planted pawpaw trees, two different varieties for pollination.

The same crew removed some shrubs up by the sunroom in the spot I've reserved for three Camellias, hardy ones, which I expect will be shipped to me in a few weeks. I'm going to call that border "The Garden of Southern Follies & Delights", for obvious reasons.

On Sunday, I myself dug up the six blueberry plants I planted by the side of the garage last spring because they just looked so puny.  I re-planted them in a narrow bed on one end of the veg garden where there were once three apple trees and now there is just one apple tree. Fireblight took the lives of the other two last year.

It sounds like that was a bit of work but the blueberry plants were/are still quite small. I was able to pop them out with the help of a perennial spade and then just as easily replant them.

Just a little tweaking, a ten minute job, really.

Where the blueberries were I am going to plant some jostaberries. I ordered them Sunday and hope they arrive soon. They are bare root so now is the time to plant them. I've never grown them before and don't know anyone else who has grown them, so it will be a nice experiment to see how they do.

Other tweaks?  Oh yes, I bought and planted a quince tree.  There was an open spot for it in another bed.  At least I think it was a open spot. There might be a few perennials that come up around it. I'll just move them around as they come up.

Oh, and don't let me forget I want to move some of the violets, and there is that forsythia that is obviously in the wrong place, even though it is in its third place in the garden. By now it should be used to being moved around and won't mind me digging it up again.  I wonder where I'll replant it...

A typical spring in the garden.  Tweaking and experimenting.  All gardeners do it.

And for as long as I garden, I hope to always have plans for tweaking and experimenting, and the courage and strength and fortitude to carry them out.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - April 2015

Brunnera macrophylla
Welcome to Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day for April 2015.

Here in my USDA Hardiness Zone 6a garden in central Indiana, it is most assuredly spring and every day something new is blooming.

When I went out to take pictures for bloom day, I almost missed the pretty little blue flowers of False Forget-me-not, Brunnera macrophylla.  The plants are hidden from view,  but I caught a glimpse of them when a knelt down to take a picture of a nearby Hellebore, Hellebores sp. probably Helleborus orientalis.

Helleborus orientalis
I am amazed every year to see, again, how quickly the hellebores recover from their spring haircut, the removal of all the foliage that overwintered.  Cutting back that foliage is usually one of my first post-winter garden clean up activities.  They look like the dickens for a few weeks but then turn into a lovely clump of blooms.

Of course, I also have daffodils in bloom here, there, and everywhere.
Narcissus sp.
I go through spells with daffodils. I like them, then I don't like them.  Now I've decided I like some of them, like the ones pictured above which remind me of pretty yellow butterflies.  I do not love the big bright yellow daffodils, but I have some in my garden. Who doesn't?

Flanking the gate to the veg garden, I planted two honeyberries last spring. Or two springs ago?  Regardless, they are full of blooms even though they are still small shrubs.
Lonicera caerulea var. kamtschatica
Honeyberries are supposed to be good substitutes for those of us who live where blueberries, Vaccinium sp. struggle to grow.  Our soil is just not acidic enough for them.  (Of course, I'm still trying to grow some blueberries, but we'll talk about that some other time.)

In one of the few shady areas of the garden some Fairy Wings are in bloom.

Most people know these as Epimedium sp., but when I found out a common name for them is Fairy Wings, well, of course, that's what I call them. The garden fairies insisted.

Other blooms? Oh yes, violets, star flowers, glory-of-the-snow, serviceberries, tulips,  and the Star Magnolia are all putting on a good showing right now.

And trilliums!

And Virginia Bluebells!
Mertensia virginica
And the very first columbine, a little dwarf variety, has its first bud.
Aquilegia sp.
It is definitely spring in my garden.  If we can survive another month or so, we'll be frost free and on our way!

What's blooming in your garden in mid-April?  Join in for Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day and show us.

It's easy to participate. Just post on your own blog about what is blooming in your garden and then come back here and leave a link to your bloom day post in the Mr. Linky widget below, then leave a comment to tell us what you have waiting for us to see.

All are invited!

And remember the inspiration for bloom day, "We can have flowers nearly every month of the year." ~ Elizabeth Lawrence

Sunday, April 12, 2015

An Update from the Vegetable Garden Cathedral

Vegetable Garden Cathedral
I spent some much needed time in the Vegetable Garden Cathedral this weekend.  Both the garden and I needed it.

The garden needed it because it was quite a weedy mess, with henbit (probably Lamium amplexicaule) growing in nearly every bed.

Henbit is a winter annual which generally shows up in early spring.  The trick to controlling it is to pull it out before it sets seed.

I pulled a lot of it out.

There was another weed which seemed pretty rampant in the Vegetable Garden Cathedral,  but I haven't put a name to it, yet.  But I'll name it and then figure out how best to control it, too. In the meantime, I pulled out as much of it as I could.

I also, finally, sowed seeds for lettuce, radishes and spinach, and planted out onion sets. Onion sets are those tiny onion bulbs you can buy in most garden centers in the spring. I am a little late in sowing the seeds for those cool season crops, but I think I'll still get enough lettuce, radishes and spinach to make it worth my while.

Earlier today, I pulled out the six blueberry plants growing out in front by the garage and replanted them in the narrowest bed in the cathedral. The acid-loving blueberries don't look great, and probably will alway be less then vigorous due to our alkaline soils I decided it would be better to put them hide them in back rather than prove to all the neighbors that it is difficult to grow blueberries in our soils.

The blueberries are now in the same bed where I had planted three apple trees and lost two last summer due to fireblight.  The lone remaining apple tree, which was thankfully in the center of the bed, is now flanked by three blueberries on each side of it.   One question that remain unanswered at the moment is if there is another apple tree nearby in someone else's garden to cross pollinate my apple tree.

Time will tell.

With the cool temperatures and plenty of sunshine, I was happy to spend time in the Vegetable Garden Cathedral, even if most of the time was spent on my knees weeding.

It's where I come up with some of my best gardening ideas.

And this weekend, I came up with a good one...

Saturday, April 11, 2015

The Controversial Violet

Viola sp. grown from seed many years ago. 
Oh, the controversy over violets!

There are some people who consider violets of any species to be lawn and garden weeds which should be pulled out, or worse, obliterated with herbicides.

There are others, and I am in this group  of others, who think violets are the most charming of flowers, which should be allowed to flourish just about any place they decide to do so.

A dozen or so years ago, I actually hunted down all kinds of violet seeds with the hopes of adding some different varieties of violets to my garden other than the common woodland violets.

Oh yes, I actually dug up some common woodland violets and brought them to my garden and planted them in my garden.  Where did I dig them up, you ask.  Well, originally, when I was about ten years old, my dad let us dig up some violets from a woodlot out in the country which we knew simply as "Bob's Farm", named after the neighbor who owed it.

We always went out to Bob's Farm to look for morel mushrooms. One year my Dad brought along a trowel so we could dig up some violets, my mom's favorite flower, and quite possibly also my favorite flower.

Those violets have flourished for decades and it is from that group that I dug up some violets for my garden.

Of the violets I started from seeds way back when, only a few remain, and they are flourishing in one spot on the side of the house.  In the picture above you can see how pretty they are.  And you can see how many other seedlings are coming up around them. Seedlings of more violets.

That picture, those violets, bring me joy, though some may shudder at it.  Shudder all you want.  I am going to transplant some of those to the back garden, probably to the semi-shaded border around the honeylocust tree.  For those keeping track, that's the garden border I call Bird's Blanket.

Why Bird's Blanket? Because the bird feeders are on the edge of the border and all the plants within are intended to be low growing, quiet, restful-to-see plants.

Then I think I'll start my search again for seeds for all kinds of violets to add to my garden.  And I might even attempt to remember which species is which this time.

Or I might just enjoy them, violets, one of my favorite flowers.