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Thursday, May 31, 2007

Garden Bloggers' Book Club April-May Meeting Post


Welcome to the “virtual meeting” of the Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day for April-May. Our selected book for these two months is Passalong Plants by Steve Bender and Felder Rushing.

Now go get yourself a tall glass of iced tea (green tea for me!) and take your laptop with your wireless connection out to your favorite spot in the garden and visit the posts linked below to read about the book and some of our favorite passalong plants. (No wireless connection in the garden? Then at least sit by a window so you can enjoy your own garden view while you read these posts). If this was a real meeting, we would most definitely sit outside tonight and I’d be serving some kind of strawberry dessert because I have a lot of strawberries ripening in the garden this week.

Here are the posts in the order I received a comment or email about them:

M. Sinclair Stevens (Texas) at Zanthan Gardens

Connie at Rose Cottage Garden

Carol at May Dreams Gardens

OldRoses at A Gardening Year

Annie in Austin at the Transplantable Rose

Bonnie at Kiss of Sun

Mimi at Gardening on a Very Small Scale

Lisa Blair at A Shower Fresh Garden

Kris at Blithewold

Tracy at Outside

Gloria at Pollinators-Welcome

Entangled at Tangled Branches

Gotta Garden at Gotta Garden

Carolyn Gail at Sweet Home and Garden Chicago

Pam at Digging

Kathy at Cold Climate Gardening

Melissa at Dilly Dalley Doolittle Garden

I hoped you enjoyed visiting all the blogs and reading about all the passalong plants and the book, too. If you want to know more about Felder Rushing, one of the authors of the book, you can check out his web site here.

If you are feeling left out now and want to join in and post your own thoughts, feel free to do that, and then let me know via a comment or email and I’ll add you to the list above. Or if I missed your post, please let me know!

That’s what’s wonderful about a virtual club meeting… you can’t really be late. I can add you to the list at any time!

Did you notice we had some new participants this month? I found several new garden blogs and bloggers who’ve joined us for the first time with this book, which is a side benefit to the book club.

And thank you to all who participated in the book club this time. I hope you will return for the June-July club post. I’ll post more on that later, including how to participate even if you can’t read the book selected.

We gardeners do love our passalong plants. If not for the miles and climate zones that separate us, I’m sure those participating in the book club and other garden bloggers lurking about reading these posts would be passing along plants to each other at a furious pace this spring.

Now, who would like some of my chocolate mint, an easy plant to passalong, with a suitable warning about mint in general! (And shame on you if you’ve ever passed along a thug like this to a na├»ve, new gardener! Anyone want to confess to doing that, even accidently?)
And with my mint, some Lamb’s Ear, another plant that is easy to share with others.

“Gardeners are generous because nature is generous to them and because they know what it means to read about something and not be able to get it.” Elizabeth Lawrence in the introduction to Gardening for Love: The Market Bulletins, another book about how gardeners share plants with each other.


Wednesday, May 30, 2007

What I Have... Is Yellow

A garden should be more about what you have and what you've done than about what you don't have or haven't done. Gardeners, me included, spend too much time thinking about all that needs to be done and all the plants we want to get, which can be discouraging.

Sometimes you just have to sit back and think of all that you have done and all that you do have in your garden. The end of May is a good time to do that.

What I have right now is a lot of yellow flowers. Want to see them? This first flower is a coreopsis, Coreopsis lanceolata. I grew it from seed back in 2000. Let's all take a vow to not call this by its common, Tickseed. That's a terrible name for a carefree flower like this!

This is a yellow daisy flower with silver, lacy foliage.
I long ago lost the name of this flower, so if someone has an ID on it, please let me know. It self sows quite a bit, but not in an annoying way, more in a way that you end up with lots of little starts to passalong to others. If I want to impress someone who comes to visit, I won't call it "yellow daisy that I forget the name of", I'll call it Daisius argentifolia 'May Dreams'.

The evening primrose is blooming!
This one is Oenotherea tetragona 'Sunspot'. It isn't real obvious from the picture but the foliage has little yellow spots on it. This forms a nice clump, so it would be easy enough to cut out a few starts to passalong to others.

To put a positive spin on this next yellow flower, I won't say, "this is a weed that I just haven't pulled yet". Instead it is a wildflower that I have let stay for awhile.
I wish I knew the name of it. Anyone? I once took a course in Weed Science, but don't recall having to learn about this particular weed. Maybe it's a more recent import and wasn't so prevalent 'back in the day' when I was in college? You don't think I once knew what it was and forgot, do you?

I bought some yellow Lantana to put in hanging baskets. I like how they are performing now. They are in full sun and seem to be able to take it in stride.

I can't really have a post about yellow flowers without showing the Stella d'Oro daylilies.
At least, that's what I think this is. I'm not 100 percent positive, but I don't recall buying any other yellow daylilies, so that must be what it is. This is another plant that is easy to dig and divide and passalong to others. And look at all those buds, I'll have flowers on these all summer long.

I'll wrap up with some yellow foliage.
This is Tradescantia 'Sweet Kate'. In previous posts and on the last Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day, I mis-identified this as 'Blue and Gold'. I think they are probably quite similar.

There you have it, those are my yellow flowers blooming now. Since I've focusing on what I have, I won't mention that I don't yet have yellow tomato or squash flowers yet. I'll have some soon enough, I'm sure.

So Happy Gardening and please enjoy the last day of May tomorrow by remembering what you have in your garden and what you've done so far this spring. I'm sure it's a lot.


(By the way, I'm looking forward to tomorrow when I post the virtual meeting of the Garden Bloggers' Book Club. There is still time to post about the book or passalong plants, as I won't be publishing the virtual meeting post until later in the evening tomorrow. We have at least three new gardener/readers participating for the first time, which is wonderful!)

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Excuses

Excuses present themselves all the time, excuses for why you can't do one thing or another in the garden. It's too hot, it's too dry, it's too wet, it's too cold. It's too early, it's too late.

Or my new favorite..."there's a bird's nest over there that I don't want to disturb".

This evening I found a nest of eggs in my 'Miss Kim' lilacs, about five feet off the ground. Does anyone know what kind of bird this is by the seeing the eggs? Mama bird was way up on the neighbor's roof squawking at me and telling me to get away while I carefully parted the branches and took this picture. Now I have an excuse for not pruning off all the seed heads on the lilac. It's a tedious task but I think it increases the next year's bloom when you do it at the right time.

Later, I found my neighbor's cat, Jake, lounging beneath my grape arbor, back by the vegetable garden.
I praised Jake for helping keep the rabbits out of the garden, and told him he was most welcome to stay for doing such a good job. He's a sweet kitty. Then I went about my business, never thinking to check the vegetable garden for rabbit damage, as Jake seemed to have the situation under control. (Yes, those are dandelions and grass growing in that bed, but thank you for being kind and not noticing or saying anything about that.)

Later as I was wrapping up my work in the garden this evening, which including mulching around the trees and watering the container plants, I decided to quickly check the vegetable garden to see if my squash or corn or beans were coming up.

What I saw was not pretty. Brace yourselves...
The bunnies have eaten off at least six tomato plants, six pepper plants, and all but one eggplant plant, maybe more. The picture above is of the pepper plants after I dusted them with cayenne pepper. The ones without pepper on them are the ones the bunnies chewed off. And they don't even eat the whole plant, they just bite it off.

What is Jake's excuse? I left him in charge! He was supposed to be keeping the rabbits out of the garden.

Fortunately, the corn and beans have row covers on them, so the bunnies can't get to them, and they are sprouting. The squash is not covered, so I sprinkled them with cayenne pepper, too.

Any other suggestions for keeping the rabbits away?

But lest you think that May Dreams Gardens is just about excuses and ravishing rabbits...

Here's some Beard-Tongue blooming in my renovated perennial garden.
It's fancy botanical name is Penstemon digitalis 'Husker Red'. I like the white flowers with the red stems and the dark green foliage. And the white flowers glow at night.

And I picked more strawberries yesterday, a big bowl full. I'll be eating these all week, and I think there are this many more berries ready to pick today.
The variety is 'Ever Red', and I hope they produce some berries all season, though I know most of the berries will be ready to pick this week.

And that's today at May Dreams Gardens.

What excuses do you have?

Monday, May 28, 2007

Time to Relax

The garden is moving into its summer phase, and there is nothing that can be done to stop it.

Just a few weeks ago, I found these robin's eggs in a nest out front, and I could not get anywhere near this tree without Mama Robin squawking and flapping her wings at me from the safe distance of the roof.

Then the babies hatched out one day.

And grew.

And now they are gone. Sometime in the last few days, they learned to fly and have left their nest.

And when the baby robins left, they took with them all my excuses for not cleaning up the bed around this tree. So today I cleaned it all up and mulched it.

I didn't redesign this bed as I had hoped to earlier in the spring when it seemed like there would be time to do everything. Instead I just cleaned up what was there and re-mulched.

Around the tree are some black-eyed susans, and over by the fothergilla are some large, bright yellow daylilies. Along the sidewalk, I've left the sedum and variegated liriope. And I've left the limemound spirea which all came back after I cut them down to the ground earlier this spring.

Now it's time to move into "summer maintenance mode" in the garden. In between mowing the lawn, tending the vegetable garden, and keeping everything watered, along with occasionally pruning some shrubs and trees and weeding, there should be time to relax and enjoy it all.

Did anyone get everything done this spring that they intended to do , or had hoped to do?

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Gardening in the Racing Capital of the World


Wonder what it is like to garden in the racing capital of the world?

When you live in Indianapolis, you can’t help but learn a little about Indy car racing and race car drivers because of all the media coverage throughout the month of May. No information is deemed too trivial to talk about or write about if it relates somehow to the Indianapolis 500.

Finally it is “race day”. All morning, all three local network stations have been broadcasting extended news coverage from the track to give updates on the traffic, the crowds, the celebrities, and the weather. And this morning, the weathermen are getting the most air time as they try to predict if there will be enough dry weather to run the race.

Yes, we are finally getting much needed rain in central Indiana today. We’ve had some periods of rain since Friday, but now it looks like it is really going to rain. We definitely need this rain and I’m happy to hear it on the roof and see it watering the garden. If we hadn’t gotten this rain, I was going to have to haul out hoses and sprinklers and start watering everything. Ugh, I hate to do that!

But out at “the brickyard”, “the Speedway”, “the 500”, whatever you want to call it, I would guess this rainy day isn’t making anyone happy.

Did you know that the race is blacked out on TV here, so the only way to see it is to either go someplace where it is on TV (anywhere in the rest of the world) or go to the race in person? Growing up around here, we all listened to the race on the radio, and for the longest time I thought that’s what everyone did, until I realized it was live on TV worldwide, but just not for us.

So I’ll listen to the start of the race on the radio. The big highlight will be the singing of the chorus of “Back Home Again in Indiana” as part of the starting ceremonies. Right then, that moment, will signal the beginning of summer for me.

Then I’ll go about my business in the garden, which today, if the rain let’s up, will probably be the business of weeding. I still need to clean out these non-performing forsythia and the weeds that have grown up around them. It has become a terrible mess!

Or maybe I'll paint my garden bench or finally use those 15 bags of mulch that have been piled up on the patio since last fall. But whatever I am doing, and whenever it is dry enough to start the race, I'll stop and listen to the singing of "Back Home Again in Indiana", so I don't miss my own official start of summer.

Back Home Again in Indiana

Back home again in Indiana,
And it seems that I can see
The gleaming candlelight, still shining bright,
Through the sycamores for me.
The new-mown hay sends off its fragrance
Through the fields I used to roam.
When I dream about the moonlight on the Wabash,
How I long for my Indiana home.


If you would like to hear Jim Nabors sing this sacred Hoosier song, accompanied by the Purdue University Marching Band, here's a video. It's the wrong race, but you get the idea...

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Passalong Plants: My Post for the Garden Bloggers Book Club


Night Blooming Cereus, One of My Passalong Plants

When ever I go away on a vacation, I like to go to whatever bookstores are nearby to see if they have different books from what we have “back home”. One year I went to Mantoe Booksellers in Manteo, North Carolina, where I found and purchased my copy of Passalong Plants by Steve Bender and Felder Rushing, the current selection of the Garden Bloggers’ Book Club.

I was not too concerned that this book was written by “southern” gardeners because in looking through the book, I quickly recognized many plants that I both had or could have in my own zone 5 central Indiana garden.

Like many gardeners, I have a garden enriched with many passalong plants, some from family and some from friends, all reminders of how generous gardeners are to each other. As Bender and Felder write in the introduction “Luckily, to a gardener, all other gardeners are friends”. And I’ll add to that, all other gardeners are a source of new plants!

When I had my first garden, I turned to my aunt for starts of Michaelmas daisies, Lily of the Valley, mums, spiderwort, old-fashioned roses, hostas, daylilies and more. I filled my new little garden with those passalong plants from her garden. Then when I moved, I passed my plants along to several other friends and family members so I could circle back around and get new divisions of these same plants from them for my next garden. And this was repeated once again to bring my passalong plants to my current garden.

Now whenever I go to one of my sisters’ houses in the spring or summer, inevitably we end up on a slow walk around the yard, looking at our commonly shared passalong plants and noting new plants we can share. Then magically, someone produces a trowel and some plastic bags and we are digging and dividing and sharing again.

I can’t imagine a garden without passalong plants, constant reminders of the generosity of other gardeners.

But my favorite of all my passalong plants doesn’t grow out in my garden, it stays inside. If you’ve visited my blog before you may have read about it before, My night-blooming cereus, the night bloomer, the queen of the night, Epiphyllium oxypetalum.

Every passalong plant has a story to tell or a memory of someone associated with it, a history about it that makes it special. Here’s the history of the night-bloomer.

My main plant was my Dad’s and it happily occupies a corner of the sunroom. He got his start from a family friend who came from Czechoslovakia, though I doubt she brought hers from there. This night bloomer has only bloomed three or four times for me, but each time it has bloomed, it has been an eagerly anticipted event. I have a second, smaller night-bloomer that was a start my Dad gave to my aunt probably 30 years ago, which she asked me to take last spring. I was happy to take it. While transporting it, a branch broke off, and from that I started six more night-bloomers. My older sister took one start, but she says she doesn’t plan to let hers get as large as mine. We’ll see. Now I have five remaining starts to pass along to others and I hope to find some willing takers before the end of the summer.

What’s your favorite passalong plant? Even if you didn’t read the book, Passalong Plants, for the Garden Bloggers’ Book Club, you can still join in the club “virtual meeting” by posting about your own passalong plants before May 31. Then leave me a comment or send me an email to let me know about it, and I’ll include it in the “virtual meeting post” on May 31st.

Friday, May 25, 2007

How's Your Garden This Year?

You just never know what might happen when you ask a simple question like "how's your garden this year"? The other day, I asked my neighbor who lives next door to where I grew up how his garden was doing and he said he was only planting a few tomatoes this year. He was just not in good enough health to plant the rest of it.

Well, a good garden should not be left unplanted! So, this morning I went over there and tilled up the rest of the garden (it had been tilled up once earlier this spring by another neighbor) and with my niece Sophie's help, we planted some acorn squash and sweet corn. Later this weekend, I'll be back to plant some bush beans.

With corn, squash and beans, I almost have a "three sisters" garden. Almost because I'm not being quite true to how they should be inter-planted together. In this garden, each is in its own rows.

My own vegetable garden is all raised beds, which never need to be tilled up, so it was fun to run a tiller again, especially through his rich garden soil which really just needed a 'back scratch' to be ready for planting.

And I got to use his hoe, which he has probably had for 40 plus years. The hoe was at one time straight across with sharp corners, but after years of use, the corners are rounded off, one very noticeably so. I loved the weight of the hoe, the length of the handle; it seemed so easy to use, as though that old hoe knew what it was supposed to do in that garden. I let it lead me.

You can see in the above picture that I had my "tilling boots" on, an old pair of hiking boots with red laces that go back to my own college days nearly, how many years ago? Geez has it been that many years?

And up by their house I saw these beautiful yellow columbine flowers. I've never seen any that color, they almost looked like little orchids from a distance.
So you just never know what will happen when you ask a simple question. Who knew at this time last week that I'd have a second vegetable garden this summer? One big enough for lots of corn, beans, and squash.

How's your garden this year?

Thursday, May 24, 2007

How To Photograph a Robin's Nest

Several people have commented asking how I am able to take pictures of the baby robins that I've posted a few times. I'll attempt to provide some step-by-step instructions here.

First, plant a crabapple tree like this one.
This is Malus 'Guinevere', one of the first ornamental trees I planted 10 years ago.

Let the tree grow for a few years until it has this nice, natural "nest platform" formed where the main branches were grafted on to a standard. This platform is about four and half feet from the ground.
Then wait for a robin to find this perfect nesting platform and build a nest. Wait, wait, wait.

Once there's a nest, to get the picture, you crouch down to get under the tree branches, then carefully raise yourself up between the branches. This part is kind of tricky because if you mis-judge where a branch is above you, you can hit your head on it

Then, with camera in hand, raise your arms up above the nest and snap some pictures.

This is how the babies look tonight, catching a few rays of the early evening sun.
You need to be kind of quick about the process because the whole time you are taking the pictures, Mama Robin is perched nearby squawking and flapping her wings to try to scare you away.

I don't think it will be too much longer before these birdies leave this nest and fly off to start their own families next spring.

That's why I went ahead and picked these strawberries this evening. They are a little undersized because of the lack of rain, and I might have left them another day to ripen just a bit more. But then I might have lost them to the birds and bunnies.
This way, they were mine, all mine! And good, too! Just a little tart, yet a little sweet, and perfect because they came from my own garden.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Thirsty

Do these baby robins look like they are thirsty?

These cactus don't look thirsty at all. I'll be writing about them when I write my post for the Garden Bloggers' Book Club in a few days. I haven't finished the book that we are reading, but I have enough passalong plants to write about, including these cactus, so I'll probably go that route. I hope you, garden blogger reading this now, will join us with your own post about passalong plants or the book. Send me an email or leave me a comment when you have posted, so I can find you and include you in the book club post on May 31.

Yes, this cactus is hardy here in Zone 5!

These Variegated Sundrops (Evening Primrose of some kind) look very thirsty. Almost dead thirsty.

We've just not gotten enough rain this spring. Only one inch of rain in May so far.

There is a chance of thunderstorms every day throughout the Memorial Day weekend, but you don't win any popularity contests around here wishing for rain on the Biggest Weekend of the Year for Indianapolis. I still want it to rain, and rain a lot, even on Sunday.

I've never had to water in May. Usually after I finish planting the vegetable garden, I just water where I sowed seeds. But tonight after I finished sowing all the seeds in the garden, I decided to run the sprinkler to give it all a good soaking.

It even smells dry outside. You know that smell of "dry", right? Generally, we don't smell this kind of dryness until August. Yes, it smells like August outside, not like May.

If it doesn't rain by Friday morning, I will have to begin to water and I'm not talking about just the lawn, which is already showing signs of going dormant. I am talking about watering trees and shrubs and established flowers. Unheard of in May. Simply unheard of, at least in the 20 or so years that I've had my own gardens.

And yes, I didn't wait to water those sundrops, I took care of them after I took the picture.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

My Best Peas Ever?

Are these my best peas ever? This is somewhat embarrasing to admit, but I've never been all that successful at growing peas. Some years the bunnies eat the vines to the ground before they have a chance to flower, or the vines end up so short from bunny nibbling that the few flowers that do form pea pods don't seem like they are worth the effort of finding and harvesting.

Other years, I lose track of time and before I know it, I've got dried peas on the vine. Or I plant too late and it gets hot and the pea vines wilt and the few pods that form are small and have one or two peas in them.

But this year? I think this will be my best pea harvest yet.

It won't be a lot of peas because my row of peas is only eight feet long. But I think it will be enough to actually taste the peas.

And what has been the difference?

The wisdom of an experienced gardener scrawled out on an old seed packet that I found in a box in my garage. You might remember me posting about that in January, when I boldly declared, on that cold winter night, that this was to be the Year of the Pea.

The seed packet I found was the from the last peas my Dad sowed before he passed away twenty years ago. I learned two things from that packet. Sow early, and get the variety 'Green Arrow'. And from others' comments to my post about the Year of the Pea, I decided to add an innoculant to the soil.

See how many peas are forming in these pods?

It's a critical time now. I need to water frequently, I think, so the peas are nice and plump.

I also need to watch out for the rabbits. See that little bite out of that pod? That is no doubt from a rabbit. I saw a rabbit in the garden yesterday when I went back there to plant the tomatoes. They are eating my food. I am at war with them.









One of my tactics to keep the rabbits away is to set out this fake owl, which I have been doing faithfully for many years. But it doesn't seem to scare the rabbits one bit. That's what I get from trying to get garden wisdom from a marketer trying to sale fake owls as a cure for rabbits. It is just a decoration at this point.

Where do you get your gardening wisdom? I'm convinced that the best source of gardening-know-how is to talk to an experienced gardener, one who has learned from other gardeners before them and from their own trial and error over years, if not decades, of gardening. Watch what they do, see when they plant, find out what varieties they like to plant. Then maybe you won't have to wait so many years, like I have, for a decent handful of fresh garden peas.



Monday, May 21, 2007

First Strawberry

I found the first ripe strawberry of the season this evening, on the corner of the raised bed, where it probably gets more sun. These are everbearing strawberries that I planted last year. My hope and plan is to have a few strawberries to pick all through the season, if I can beat the bunnies and birds to them. I've already noticed that the bunnies have eaten one section of the plants, but there should still be plenty of strawberries for me.

I also planted the tomatoes, peppers, eggplant this evening.

Are you a staker or a cager of tomatoes? I was raised a staker, and so that's what I do. I've never caged a tomato in my life! I set out stakes, plant two tomatoes at each stake and then pinch off the suckers and tie the tomatoes to the stakes as they grow.

This lasts until about July 1st when I realize some suckers have gotten away from me and are bigger than the main plant. Then I just do what I can to contain the tomatoes and swear that next year I'll do better. So this year, I will do better!

Here's a picture of how I do my stakes.

I pound sections of PVC pipe into the ground as far as I can. Then I drop the stake into the pipe. I find this is a lot easier than trying to drive a six foot stake into the ground. I still don't get them all perfectly straight, but I tell myself that even if I pounded the PVC pipe in straight to begin with, over the summer the stakes would still end up leaning this way and that way, so it isn't worth it to try to make them perfectly straight to begin with.

I planted Beefsteak, Oregon Spring, Cluster Grande, German Johnson and Jelly Bean Grape tomatoes, all started from seed this spring. I still have room for a few more tomatoes, so I'll venture out to find something in the garden centers to fill in with this weekend.

By the way, in the picture of the stakes, ignore that mess behind there, that's the compost bin piles. I have some bamboo screening that I put around all that to hide it better, but the screening is in the attic and I just haven't gotten it down yet. But I will this weekend!

I will also finish planting all the summer vegetables by this weekend, a little each evening. Tomorrow night, I think I'll plant the squash and cucumbers.

Does anyone want to help? What I could use everyone's help with is rain. If you know how to conjure up some rain, please do so for central Indiana. The weatherman said this is the driest spring since '92. I can smell how dry it is (you know that funny dry smell, don't you?). When I hoed up the raised beds for the tomatoes and peppers, I raised up big dust clouds. We need real rain, not just a sprinkle. We need a steady rain for an entire day.

Oh, and that ripe strawberry pictured above. Like I said, I'm competing with the bunnies and birds to get to these. Yes, I could cover the strawberry patch with white cloth to protect them, and I just might. In the meantime, though score is Carol 1, bunnies and birds 0.

And it was very good!

Sunday, May 20, 2007

First Daylilies

The first daylily bloom appeared this morning. It is no doubt a 'Stella D'Oro', which should bloom all summer long to the point that I'll likely not notice them along the edge of my patio after awhile. They will be a background to the rest of the garden.

These were some I had dug and divided this spring and I'm glad that has not kept them from blooming.

I'd be more proud of this first bloom if I had not stopped at my sister-who-does-not-garden's condo yesterday to put a few small trellises in a couple of pots with sweet potato vine growing in them. They have a whole row of these already blooming by their condo. I consoled myself that those daylilies are along a south facing wall, so the soil there probably warmed up a lot faster.

I will further console myself in large bowls of home grown lettuce. Look at all that lettuce. How shall I eat it all? In salads, on sandwiches, as snacks! I have lots of lettuce to eat and also some spinach.

The spinach is buried under all that lettuce, I promise. It has been YEARS since I've harvested any spinach from the garden, though I try to every year. Usually the bunnies get to it first. But not this year! I don't know what is different, except the neighbor's cat, Jake, comes to play in my back yard occasionally. It almost makes me want to get a cat. Almost, but not quite. Why have a cat if I can borrow the neighbor's to chase off the rabbits?

Have a great day in your garden today.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Garden Bloggers' Book Club May Newsletter


Welcome to the May edition of the Garden Bloggers’ Book Club newsletter.

Update on April-May

Who is going to join us for the book club post this month? For the Garden Bloggers’ Book April-May selection we chose Passalong Plants by Steve Bender and Felder Rushing. There are two ways to participate. Read the book and post a review about it or write about your favorite passalong plants, either those you’ve received or those you like to give to others and post that. Post by May 30th so I can include you in the club post on May 31st.

If you would like a sneak peek at a book review, check out M. Sinclair-Steven’s review at Zanthan Gardens. Or go over to Annie in Austin’s to read about her visit to Florarama in March, which included a talk by Felder Rushing. If between those two posts you don’t get excited about passalong plants or the book and decide your going to post something then, well, let me know what would get you excited about one of the best things about gardening, the sharing of plants. What other hobby allows you to divide something and multiply it at the same time. Think about that!

June-July Book Selection Announcement

For June-July, the selection is Who Does Your Garden Grow by Alex Pankhurst. And this time we are also offering an alternate selection, Legends in the Garden: Who In The World is Nellie Stevens? by Linda L. Copeland, Allan M. Armitage. The idea behind these books is to read the stories of the people who have plants named after them. You don't have to read both books, you can read either one. For those who would like to participate but can’t find either book at your local library or you don’t want to add either book to your library, you can still participate by just figuring out who some of the plants in your garden are named after and posting about that.
A quick note on the alternate selection… I ordered it from Amazon some time ago, and have not yet received it. It is supposed to ship in June. Not sure why that is, but wanted to let people know that the Legends in the Garden book, the one that is the alternate choice, seems to be taking a long time to ship, at least from Amazon.

August-September Book Selection

August-September will be the last of the “two month” selections and then we’ll go back to reading a book a month. If you have a suggestion on what we should read, leave a comment or send me an email note.

That’s it for now, and I hope some of you have haven’t participated before will join us this time for Passalong Plants!
(The little Geranium above is a passalong plant from my younger sister, and she doesn't really garden. But everyone has plants to passalong so I can always find something for my sisters to share with me whenever I visit them!)

Friday, May 18, 2007

Light Frost is Not a Color

We did have some light frost last night (Thursday night, Friday morning). I do not believe it was enough to cause any damage. It was the kind of frost that if you weren't an early bird, you probably wouldn't have noticed it.

Who are you calling an early bird? Oh, me. Yes, I am, generally. That's how I knew we had some frost.

Here's a close up of the frost. Only on the Internet, right? Stare into that frosty picture for a full 60 seconds and tell me what you see. Or just 15 seconds...

Yes, I thought I saw some garden fairy footprints in there, too. They go from the lower right to the upper left corner. Or did you see something different?

In other garden news, some of the daylilies I transplanted to my renovated perennial garden by the patio already have bloom scapes on them. I assume it won't be long before I have some daylilies blooming.
I won't know what the variety is until they start to bloom. Then I'll try to match the flowers to the tags I have or ask Gotta Garden, because she has hundreds of daylilies.

I was going to plant the vegetable garden today, but it might be cold enough for light frost again tonight, so I decided the tomato and pepper plants are safer on the brick patio next to the house for a few more days. With radiant heat coming off the brick of the house and the brick of the patio, it is unlikely that they will be bothered by any frost.

So I cleaned up the garage instead of planting. I had pretty much destroyed it when I was on vacation last week, leaving stacks of pots and flats and spilled perlite and peat moss all over. I still have stacks of pots and flats, but at least now they are neat stacks of pots and flats and the floor has been swept clean.

Tomorrow I plan to put together two wooden towers that I bought on clearance last fall at Menards. I'm going to put them in the vegetable garden to grow pole beans on. They are not cedar, so I should put a wood preservative on them.

While I'm doing that, and in a painting mood, I'm also going to repaint the bench in the vegetable garden. See it in the first picture? I painted it cream the first time. Now I think I should branch out and find an actual color on the color wheel to paint it. Any ideas? Pumpkin orange, tomato red, maybe eggplant purple? How about tomato blossom yellow? Or maybe all those colors?

Some gardeners are confident about using bold colors in their gardens, like Pam/Digging in Austin. Hey, until I saw her garden, I thought the cream bench I had was a little "edgy"!

Just kidding, I knew it was b-o-r-i-n-g, but I think I had some spare cream paint or something like that when I decided to paint the bench. Yes, that's my excuse, I already had the paint and I didn't want it to go to waste.

Another thought... why I am I thinking of just putting a wood preservative on my new towers. Maybe I should paint them a color to match the bench?

They Came Back, Can I Keep Them Awhile Longer?

The spirea along the walkway, Spirea japonica 'Limemound', that I cut back to the ground in early spring came back all nice and springy-green. They look so pretty and I love that color of foliage. That's why I bought them, for that pretty foliage.

When I posted about cutting them back completely to the ground, the comments to my question about whether or not I should let them grow back were all, "no, don't let those grow back there". I know it was a bad design to line them up along the sidewalk like that. I know that bed has more potential without them there.

But look how pretty that foliage is! Can I keep them there awhile longer? Maybe I can keep one there and move the rest in the fall?

The shrubs I really wanted to see come back after cutting them back were the St. John's Wort shrubs, Hypericum frondosum 'Sunburst', on the side of the house. But they are still just stumps with ivy growing around them. (Don't ask about the ivy, I know it was dumb to plant it, but I couldn't help myself.)

And next to them are three Deutzia shrubs, Deutzia gracilis 'Nikko', that were killed off by the awful winter weather we had in April.


I found one little tiny Deutzia bloom in that bed.

But that isn't enough, I'm afraid. They just aren't going to make it.

So I think I need to spend my time cleaning out this bed of St. John's Wort and Deutzia and English ivy before I get too concerned about the poor design in the front bed. I want to remove all of these dead shrubs and the ivy, then add new soil and replant it.

And if the fact that there are dead shrubs there isn't a good enough reason to work on that side bed instead of the front bed? In the front bed is the crabapple tree and in that tree are the baby robins and oh my, did I hear it from mama robin when I took this picture this evening.
She squawked and hollered at me like nobody's business. I'm sure she wouldn't like it if I did too much in that bed right now while she still has her babies in that nest! I'll just have to wait until the robins grow up and fly away before I clean up the mess of black-eyed Susan's, bee balm seedlings, sedum, daylilies and water sprouts growing around that tree. Or dig out those shrubs.