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Showing posts with label houseplants. Show all posts
Showing posts with label houseplants. Show all posts

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Obsessed gardener looking for an old variety...

Begonia 'Gloire de Lorraine' (American Gardening, 1900)
Obsessed gardener looking for an old variety of Begonia, 'Gloire de Lorraine'.

Described by Buckner Hollingsworth in Gardening on Main Street (1968) ~

"From a tight cushion of bright green foliage a great many lax stems emerged, each tipped with only two flowers, but when these fade and fall the stem lengthens and two more flowers appear. There are so many stems of so many varying lengths that the plant becomes a fountain of rose-colored flowers."

Hollingsworth also called it by another common name "A Yard of Roses". 

I searched the Internet and found ;Gloire de Lorraine' in a place called the past. Indeed, the picture above is from an issue of American Gardening dated December 1, 1900.

I found another article about 'Gloire de Lorraine' dated 1968, the same year Gardening on Main Street was published. And I quote, "The decline in popularity of 'Gloire de Lorraine' Begonias can be chiefly attributed to their unsatisfactory response to the living room climate. The leaves tend to curl and turn yellowish, and usually sooner or later become attacked by mildew which rapidly renders the plant unsightly. Moreover, the plants are susceptible to bud drop, and the flower colour presents only a limited range: white or light to deep pink."

I still want it.

Someone who went by the initials H.G.L. wrote the editor of Country Life in America back in 1903, "anxious to learn the secret of success in this culture" of Begonia 'Gloire de Lorraine'. He lost nearly all his begonias and wanted to know how to save those he had left. The editor provided a lengthy answer describing when the begonia needs a period of rest, how to harden it off so the buds don't drop inside and more. He makes it seem just a bit challenging to keep this plant going from year to year.

I still want it.

But I don't think I'm going to get it. I think it really is in the past. I even checked the website of the American Begonia Society and they have just one reference to it in one article.

This is one of the pitfalls of reading old gardening books.  They often describe plants that are lost to the ages, cast aside in favor of newer, maybe better, varieties or hybrids.  I can find newer, maybe better, begonias which long ago replaced 'Gloire de Lorraine'.  I'm not sure I want them. I just wanted to grow the begonia Hollingsworth described.  Or at least try.

Obsessed gardener looking for an old variety of Begonia, 'Gloire de Lorraine'. If you find it, let me know.

Friday, July 11, 2014

The Optimist and The Pessimist

Two houseplants just got put out on the patio to spend the rest of the summer in plant rehab. We'll call one plant "Purple Leaf" and the other "Ivy".  Let's listen in as they discuss their situation. 

Purple Leaf:  Oh, look! Look!  We are outside. Isn't it wonderful to see the sun like this and not through a window?

Ivy:  Are you kidding me? I'm going to burn up here. It's so bright. I want to go back inside. Who's in charge here?

Purple Leaf:  Relax, Ivy.  With all this nice sun we are sure to grow some big leaves now.  I've noticed your leaves have been getting smaller lately.  You could use some more chlorophyll.

Ivy:  Well, okay. Maybe the extra sun will be nice, but geez, I'm drying up out here. We are going to need way more water than that slop of water we get once a week inside, if we are lucky, that is.

Purple Leaf:  Didn't you notice, Ivy?  The plants out here get watered nearly every day.

Ivy:  I knew it, I'm going to drown.

Purple Leaf:  No, Ivy. You won't drown. You'll be just fine.  Oh look here she comes now with the water.  I just love when I get watered so much it comes rushing out the bottom holes of my pot.

Ivy:  Speaking of pots, I could use a new one here, and some new soil, too. Do you know how long I've been in this container? And how old the soil is around my roots? It's been so long, it's just gross.

Purple Leaf:  I think we are going to get new pots, and new soil, too. Look, there's a big bag of it over there. That has to be for us. I think I'd look wonderful in a dark green pot, don't you?

Ivy: If you say so. Hey, aren't we going to end up with a bunch of spiders and pill bugs moving in on us out here.  Ick. Bugs. I hate bugs.

Purple Leaf:  Relax.  I'm sure she'll give us all new soil before we move back in later this fall. She doesn't want us to bring in bugs and spiders, either. You really do need to stop worrying and relax. Please try to enjoy this outside treatment.

Ivy:  Fall? Did you say fall? We aren't going back inside until fall? That's kind of late for us to be out here, isn't it? What if there's an early frost and she's late bringing us inside. It will kill us.  I need to go inside and lie down now. Help! Take me back inside!

Purple Leaf:  Oh for heaven's sake.  Just stay put. 

Ivy:  Very funny, where do you think I'm going to go, anyway? I'm as rooted as you are.

Purple Leaf:  Well, then, be quiet. I'm trying to take advantage of this time outside to put out some new leaves. I mean, really, we are a sad couple of houseplants. We are so sad looking she won't even post a picture of us. Instead, she posted a picture of one of our neighboring plants, a canna. Just look how pretty it is over there. Yoo-hoo, Canna. Over here. We are new here.  Can you tell us when we'll get some fertilizer?

Ivy: Oh, I assumed we didn't get our pictures posted because of privacy laws. We are under treatment, after all, so she really shouldn't post our pictures. Though for the life of me I cannot imagine why we are trusting her with our treatment. She's the one who has been so neglectful for all these years.

Purple Leaf:  Bygones! That was then and this is now and isn't it a glorious day out here?

Ivy:  If you like sun and all that,  I guess it is. But isn't that a storm cloud over there?

Purple Leaf:  Oh yes, and I love rain water. It really is the best for our treatment, after all...

Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Rabbit Holes of Winter

I've recently decided that January is one of my favorite months to think about gardening.

There is time in January to relax a bit.  The holidays are over.  The winds howl and only the hardiest of souls try to garden when the ground is frozen, or nearly so.

It's best to just stay indoors.  Indoors where there are gardening books, and houseplants, and seed catalogs, and warmth, and books.

I'm currently watching my Lily of the Valley pips grow indoors.  I see the beginnings of the flowers.  In just a few days, they should be blooming.

My friend Dee of Red Dirt Ramblings left a comment on a previous post about these pips asking me to report back on how well they work out.  She has never been able to grow Lily of the Valley in her garden, so has never smelled them.

I am pleased to report that so far, they are working out nicely. 

I've also read some comments from other gardeners, both on my post and on a picture I posted on Facebook, about how they may just dig up some Lily of the Valley pips from their own gardens and pot them up inside to force them into bloom.  That may work if they allow time for proper chilling, but proper chilling usually takes from 12 - 15 weeks for Lily of the Valley.  Without proper chilling, I'm not sure when the flowers will bloom.

I didn't like the idea of waiting or wondering, so I paid a rabbit's ransom for my Lily of the Valley pips. Someone else did the pre-chilling before I got them.  I just had to pot them up and then wait a mere three to four weeks.

Because a watched flower never blooms, I've been diverting my attention from the Lily of the Valley to the new library, which was formerly the dining room. Though, to be truthful, it was never really used as a dining room. It was more like that room where I put stuff  to get it out of the way until I decided what I would should do with it.  Mostly what I decided was to let it all just sit there.

But now that room is a library, with proper shelves and cabinets.

This weekend, I started to move the gardening books from other rooms to the library.  I don't really have a system in mind to organize them, yet.  I'm just putting them on the shelves in groupings that probably only make sense to me.

I can attest that it takes great strength and willpower to put these books on the shelves without opening them.  I've had a few "I forgot I owned this book" moments.  I wanted to stop right then and look inside those books, but I was strong and forged ahead with moving more books.

I've also had a few other moments when I've noted "I want to read this book next".  Of course, they can't all be next. I guess once I've moved all the books, the last one I'm holding in my hands while thinking "I want to read this book next" will be the next book I read.

The books are all giant rabbit holes, full of twists and turns. They lead me in all directions, through decades of gardening and around the globe.  Goodness, how many times  have I crossed the ocean in those gardening books?   

I'll probably criss-cross the ocean several more times this winter, with these gardening books as my ship of choice.  I'll be carried away by thoughts of gardening, while outside the wind howls, the ground is frozen and the real rabbits shelter themselves under the big spruce. 

We are all thinking about gardens and waiting for spring.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Blooms for the Twelves Days of Christmas

I suppose it really does work out better if the blooms of the Christmas season reach their peak after the 25th of December.  

I will have more time to enjoy them while I relax after the hustle and bustle of pre-Christmas preparations. 

Imagine me sitting in an easy chair by the window so I have view out into the garden where I can see the birds flitting around the feeders I set out and filled with the finest "boss", black oil sunflower seed. 

If I crane my neck just a bit I can the spot where I planted the Christmas Rose, Helleborus niger, several years ago.  It didn't bloom on Christmas, but is loaded with buds and could bloom anytime the temperatures get above freezing and the sun shines..

Just a few steps away in the sun room, the three amaryllis bulbs I potted up the weekend before Thanksgiving have sent up seven bloom stalks.
They are a bit taller than I'd like, mostly I think because they didn't get enough light.  They are on the table in the center of the room, equal distant from all the windows. Next year, I'll put them by a window and then once they've started to bloom on shorter stalks, I'll move the pot to a location where I can enjoy them.

In another three pots, all the lily of the valley pips, Convallaria majus, are sending up shoots.
This is the first year I've tried to grow these indoors.  I look forward to smelling the blooms, which might be open by New Year's Day.   Later in the spring, I'll plant these out in the garden.

I also have more Christmas Rose plants...

Garden fairies here.

We are garden fairies and we would like to make it known that the bookshelves are in and the dining room is now a library.  But it is a library without books. Carol has no time to sit by the window and gaze at bird feeders or moon over her holiday blooms. Chop, chop, there are books to move. The book fairies are impatiently waiting to ride the library cart from the back room to the library.  We don't know what they will do if Carol doesn't move them now to the library.  Now. 

We are garden fairies and we are sorry to have hijacked this post, but we saw no other way to get the word out, to exert some pressure, to call Carol out for her lack of moving books to the library.  Thank you for your understanding and support. ~ Violet Sweetpea Maydreams, Chief Scribe and Self-Appointed Head Librarian for the Garden Book Library at May Dreams Garden.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

I am not buying a poinsettia this year

I am not buying a poinsettia this year.

I am not buying a poinsettia this year.  Been there, done that.  I'm more into the Christmas Rose as a potted plant for the holidays.

I am not buying a poinsettia this year.  As soon as I bring them home, they start to drop their leaves. I think they put those foil pot wrappers on the pots of poinsettias to hide the bare stems which show after all the leaves start to drop.

I am not buying a poinsettia this year.  All those spray painted, glittered up, tarted up poinsettias in blues and purples seem oh so wrong to me. I usually rush by the displays of poinsettias in the big box stores. 

I am not buying a poinsettia this year.  I'm not afraid to admit I actually have a fake poinsettia plant, complete with a container wrapped in foil, I bought it on clearance years ago. From a distance, it looks like the real thing and I'll set it out if I want to have a poinsettia on the hearth for Christmas.  It's an easy plant to fake, I think.

I am not buying a poinsettia this...

Hey, is that variegated foliage?
I bought a poinsettia this year.  Who can resist that variegated foliage?  What makes it more unusual to me is that the bracts, the specialized leaves that give the poinsettias their color,  are not variegated.

I bought a poinsettia this year.  I'm going to keep it watered and growing inside and then put it outside in the spring after all danger of frost and see how it does as a summer foliage plant.

I bought a poinsettia this year.  Curiously enough, this was the only variegated leaf poinsettia in the entire display. If it had been a toy, I guess it would have been banished to the Island of Misfit toys with the likes of Charlie in the Box.

I bought a poinsettia this year.  It doesn't have a foil pot liner so it looks a tiny bit bare around the base but who cares? No one is going to look at the bare stems with leaves like those.

I bought a poinsettia this year. 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Lily of the Valley for Christmas

On the surface, the story appears to be that I happened to see some pre-cooled Lily of the Valley pips for sale and decided to order them and give them a try.

But actually the story of how I came to this point of planting Lily of the Valley pips a few weeks before Christmas so they will bloom for the holidays starts way back many decades ago when I was a little girl.

Every Sunday when I was growing up, we drove from our house in the suburbs to my grandma's house on the near East side of Indianapolis for an afternoon visit.  Visits in the spring were especially exciting because when the Lily of the Valley were in bloom, we were allowed to go out and pick them, as many as we could hold in our hands.

We'd give our bouquets as gifts to Grandma and my mom who graciously accepted them from us and remarked, always, how pretty they were. Often we picked violets, too.  Grandma would put them in little vases and row them up on her china buffet.

I think that Lily of the Valley is the first flower that I really knew by name and could identify when I saw it, along with violets.

I've always had at least a small patch of Lily of the Valley growing in my garden through the years.  Here in my current garden, my little patch has become a bit sparser lately as I dug up borders and beds where they grew for various and sundry reasons.  That's one of the reasons I used to rationalize my purchase of pre-cooled Lily of the Valley pips. After they bloom, I can grow them on and plant them in the garden in the spring.

I received my Lily of the Valley pips yesterday and potted them up last night.  I look forward to seeing the leaves and then the blooms in a few weeks.

Smelling the blooms of Lily of the Valley in the wintertime will remind me of my grandmother and my mom, of warm spring days, of times long past.  I won't think just of spring, though, I'll remember the Christmases of my childhood, when Grandma would come to our house on Christmas Eve to spend the night and read 'Twas the Night Before Christmas' to me and my siblings.

I'll remember aunts and uncles long gone, too and cousins who we rarely see these days. I'll remember the dinners, the presents, the laughter of many Christmases a long time ago.

And that's really the story of why I bought Lily of the Valley pips to force into bloom in the winter time. I really bought them for the warm memories contained in the scent of each tiny bell-shaped flower.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Tips to Avoid Thanksgiving Day Clashes

Just a little coleus I'm attempting to turn into a houseplant.
Welcome to May Dreams Gardens, home of the clashing Thanksgiving Cacti.

Here in my sunroom, the big story, just in time for Thanksgiving, is about my two clashing Thanksgiving cacti.

Technically, they are both Schlumbergera truncata, and though they share the same name, I must keep them separated in the sunroom to avoid the clash they cause when both are in bloom.

One is hot pink.
Some people like pink.
The other one is bright orange.
Some people like orange
You can just imagine the clash of color when these two cacti sit side by side.  It's just awful.  They fight for attention with their screaming colors.

"I'm the prettiest pink ever!"  "Ha, as if people want to see all that pink in the fall."  "Yeah, well, your orange is like a hunter's hat!"  "It is not. It's the color of fall."  "Pass the water, I need a drink."  "You drink like a fish and then drip all over. It's disgusting!"  "I do not. I like it dry but my pot is smaller than yours so I need more water."  "I need a new window, away from you."

And so on.

I find it best to keep them on opposite sides of the sun room so they don't spoil Thanksgiving for anyone who gets near them.

I've put up with this clash for several years now.  The pink flowering cactus came first. I've had it for 15 years or so.  The orange flowering cactus is a more recent acquisition. I got it from a co-worker just a few years ago.  Both plants, if not overwatered, should live for decades, so I must  accept their clashing ways as part of the fun of Thanksgiving. They only bloom for a few weeks, after all, then they are just green and get along fine.

In an effort to balance out this clash of colors, I recently purchased a white-flowering Thanksgiving cactus, but haven't introduced it to either one of these. It's actually on the other side of the house, in quarantine, until I'm sure it is pest-free, clash-free, fit company for the other two. In the spring, I'll put it in a new pot and put it somewhere between these clashing cacti.   We'll see how that works out next Thanksgiving.

In the meantime, whatever you do, don't call these Thanksgiving cacti "Christmas cactus". I do that sometimes, out of habit, but they hate that.

The Christmas cactus is usually Schlumbergera bridgesii.  It's stems, called phylloclades if you want to get all haughtyculturist when talking about them at Thanksgiving dinner, are more rounded.  I don't have one, but am going to get one as soon as I find one for sale that I like.  It will probably be red-flowering and though it should flower later than the Thanksgiving cacti, it's early blooms might show up as the late blooms of the Thanksgiving cacti are fading.

Pink, orange, white, and red.

I like to live dangerously, with loud plants clashing and screaming for attention, at least in the sun room.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Amaryllis: From Pinterest to Potted

I was browsing images on Pinterest and came across a picture of some Amaryllis planted in a large container with ivy, pinned by Mary Ann of Gardens of the Wild, Wild West.

I decided right then and there that I would pot up some Amaryllis and ivy for myself, just like in the picture, sort of.

The picture on Pinterest showed white Amaryllis in a white container

I decided on pink Amaryllis in a brown clay container because mine are probably going to bloom a few weeks after Christmas. Plus, that's what I found at the store when I went to buy the Amaryllis bulbs and ivy. Pink and red. 

Step by step, here's how I put the planter together.

First, I set everything out on the table in the sun room, shown above.

Wait.  That table cloth is all wrong. That's kind of springy. I need my wintry, Christmasy table cloth for this project.

That's better.

Wait.  I am going to be slinging around potting soil.  I better put something down, like newspaper, to contain the mess.
That's even better.

I added some potting soil to the container and placed the three Amaryllis bulbs so that when the planting is finished, their necks will be sticking up out of the soil
The bulbs came with plastic pots and discs of compressed potting soil, mostly peat moss. I recycled the plastic pots, they didn't even have drainage holes. I set aside the discs of compressed potting soil, mostly peat moss. I'll probably just chuck those onto the compost pile.

Then I added the twigs and more potting soil.
I'm not sure about those twigs, but let's add the ivy and see how it looks.
As with many houseplants, there is often more than one plant in a pot. I separated the ivy into multiple plants so I could spread it around in the container.
It's starting to look like something now.

Before I finished it off, I took it over to the sink and watered it thoroughly.
If you don't have a plant sink in your sun room, you should get one. They are the cat's meow, the dog's bark, the bird's chirp.

I thought this looked nice once planted, except for maybe those twigs, but decided to do one more thing to it.
I added some green moss around the edges to cover up the dirt.

And there it is. My planter of three Amaryllis with ivy.

Of course, it's going to look a lot better once the Amaryllis actually send up bloom stalks and bloom. That should be in seven to ten weeks, around mid-January, hopefully.

If it looks nice once it is blooming, I'll share a picture of it. 

Update 01/02/2014... the Amaryllis are in full bloom and look magnificent.
This is worth repeating every year.

Sunday, September 01, 2013

I never cared about Camellias until...

This is NOT a camellia, it is a rose.
I never cared about Camellias until I started reading Eudora Welty's gardening letters (Tell About Night Flowers: Eudora Welty's Gardening Letters, 1940-1949, edited by Julia Eichelberger).

I thought I knew all I needed to know about them. My daily iced green tea is made from the leaves of Camellia sinensis  and those grown for the flowers, generally Camellia japonica, are not hardy here.

Not hardy here.  Camillias are generally hardy in Zones 7 through 9.  I am in Zone 6a, formerly Zone 5b. Not hardy here, still.   I did a search online and found that people are attempting to grow them in Zone 6b, but did I mention how much fussing and coddling Eudora Welty seems to have done with her camellias, and she lived in Mississippi in a zone where they are hardy?

They seem like such touchy plants.  Any sudden changes in temperatures, watering conditions, humidity or whatever and the Camellias sulk and drop their flower buds.  And they don't like to be moved. But they are a long-lived shrub, apparently. I only know that from what I read.

Eudora did send a potted camellia to her literary agent in New York and often wrote him asking how it was doing.   She wrote in one letter, after he wrote telling her how sickly looking his camellia was, "The camellia sounds awful! Did I warn you, I should have, that if it arrived with the ball of earth cracked or disturbed, to send it right back? You read about plants "resenting" being disturbed, or even "highly resenting" but that is pale beside what camellias feel -- they all but put an arm out and hit you if the ball is disturbed and if it breaks that is fatal."
I only know what I read but grown inside, camellias seems to also attract every known insect that attacks indoor plants - aphids, white flies, scale, mites, and mealybugs.  Plus, see above about not liking any sudden changes in watering, humidity, or growing conditions in general.  One week of forgetting to water and the camellia would sulk and drop its flower buds.


I have the good sense to know that in my sunroom, a camellia wouldn't last long.  See above about sudden changes in watering, etc.

But I keep reading Tell About Night Flowers and Eudora keeps mentioning camellias. So I keep thinking maybe I should try to grow a camellia. Maybe.  I keep thinking that those flowers must be something special for all the fussing and fuming and coddling Eudora and others seem to have done to get their camellias to bloom.

Maybe I should give one a try.  Just one.  Inside.  Or outside? Maybe.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Random pictures of the garden

Dormant garden bed
There are some who think I should post more pictures of my gardens on my blog, so I went out this morning and took some random pictures to share.

The vegetable garden is dormant now. It is considered dormant because our growing season has passed for this year and the ground is cleared and bare.  If I showed you this picture in June, and it was still bare ground,  I would call it fallow ground because that's what bare ground that isn't planted during the growing season is called.

I've been thinking a lot about fallow ground lately.

In one of the garden beds, I planted winter rye as a cover crop.
Winter rye cover crop
This cover crop should benefit the soil in many ways.  Its deep roots will help break up hard clay soils and add some organic matter deep down.  Then when I cut this back in the spring and turn it under, it will add more organic matter to the soil.  That's why cover crops are also called green manure.  Finally, while it is growing and covering the ground, this cover crop should help control erosion and keep other weeds from growing in this bed.   All good.

I should sow more cover crops in future years.

I spent quite a bit of time this morning looking at the garden border that I call The Shrubbery.

It never seems quite full enough, quite lush enough for me.  But then I looked at the shrubs in the back and duh, how long have I been gardening? I figured it out. If one is going to plant a garden that is mostly shrubs, some of which will grow rather large, one must realize that it is going to take a few years for it to fill in.

I promise I will be more patient with The Shrubbery, and not over plant it, though I still may add a path through it.

Inside, I noted that the Thanksgiving cacti are both blooming now.
I got a cutting for this orange flowering Thanksgiving cactus from a friend at work. Her aunt had it growing on a screened-in porch for years and I begged for a cutting.  Begged. Demanded. Insisted. Asked every day.

I was patient, and she was gracious enough to give me a cutting.

It clashes nicely with the pink flowering Thanksgiving cactus that I bought about 15 years ago.
I am planning a future post about the difference between Thanksgiving cactus and Christmas cactus as it confusing. Of course, I don't have any Christmas cactus, so I'll be buying one or two or three, for the blog. For the blog!

Readers may recall that a few weeks ago, I planted up the Wardian case. The very one that sat empty, fallow, for eight years.  Here's a bird's eye view of what's growing in it now.
In typical plant geek fashion, I deviated immediately from any kind of design when I figured out what a great environment this is for plants in general.

Starting in the lower left, I have a little amaryllis, offshoot of some amaryllis I was repotting. Who could not plant up a little baby amaryllis bulb to see how long it takes to grow to blooming size? No self-respecting plant geek would have thrown it out.

In the upper left is a creeping fig. I bought it when I thought I didn't have enough plants on hand for the Wardian case.  I may have to take it out if it gets too crowded in there.

In the  upper right is an arrowhead plant, one that came out of a planter from my Mom's funeral. It's hard to believe that was over a year ago. I have several plants from funeral planters that I am keeping going for as long as possible. These new plants are a good companion for some pothos vine that originally came from funeral planters from my Dad's funeral over 25 years ago.

Yes, you can keep houseplants growing for a long time.

The pot just below the arrowhead plant is a little plantlet of Tasmanian violets, Viola banksii,  that I'm attempting to root. So far so good.  The other three little pots are Viola labradorica, which I transplanted from outside just when they were starting to go dormant. They responded by drying up, but, but, but, I could see a tiny bit of green coming up from the roots so I am babying them through and hope they continue to grow and one day, hopefully in the middle of winter, they will flower for me. For me!

The rest of the sunroom is not as exciting as the Wardian case.
It will be more exciting if some of those amaryllis plants bloom. 

You know, if I move some of those pots closer together, I think I have room for more plants. I need some Christmas cactus, maybe other holiday plants, some bulbs to force...

Random pictures of the garden of the garden can be dangerous. You study them, you learn from them, and then you go out and buy more plants.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Dr. Hortfreud discusses Viola banksii

Hello, Carol. 

Hello, Dr. Hortfreud.

Care to talk about this box from Logee's Greenhouse that showed up on your porch yesterday, Carol?

Well, that depends, Dr. Hortfreud, if you think it is a good thing or a bad thing or just a thing that there was a box with plants.

For now, let's consider it just a thing.  What plant was in the box?

Plant? Singular? 

So it was more than one plant, Carol?

Well, actually, there were three plants in the box, with the potential for many more.

Interesting.  Let's see what's in the box.

Okay, Dr. Hortfreud.  There were three plants wrapped up like this.
Okay, they look well wrapped.  Care to show me the actually plant?

Well, inside that wrapping, there was this wrapping.
Nice sneak peak.  Show me the rest of the plant. Remember I'm paid by the minute.

When I took off the black wrapping, there was this.
The white stuff is a nice touch.

Yes, that's helping it stay moist and keeps the dirt from falling out of the pot during shipping.

And... keep going, Carol.  

I bought three Viola banksii.
Very nice, Carol. Wherever did you get the idea for this plant?

From The New Terrarium by Tovah Martin.  She mentioned Viola hederacea as a terrarium plant and suddenly, I had to have it.

"Suddenly, you had to have it"  I've heard that before, about a hundred times, if I've heard it once. That's the elephant in you talking, no doubt. But you bought Viola banksii?  

Well, that's because I couldn't find any V. hederacea online but I did find V. banksii.  They were once thought to be the same plant but later it was determined that they are different and V. banksii is available, and V. hederacea isn't, so that's why I bought V. banskii.

Carol, it concerns me a bit, but that actually seems to make sense. What are your plans for V. banskii?

Well, I'm going to plant one of the plants in a low wide container and put it under my cloche, maybe with little feet under it to provide some air circulation.  I'm going to pot up another one to take to work.  Then the third one I think I'll put in a small hanging basket and hang it in the sunroom. This viola spreads by sending out little plantlets, so I hope to soon have more of these plants, maybe to share with others. 

Seems like a good plan, especially the part about sharing with others. That's always good.  I will remind you, gently, that it took you over eight years to plant your Wardian case.  I thought you would never plant it, but you proved me wrong, again. When do you plan to plant up these violas?

This weekend, Dr. Hortfreud. I've learned my lesson.  I promise.

Good, Carol. There is hope for you yet, I think.  Now, please see Miss Jane Hortaway on your way out to make your next appointment for Monday. I want to check on your progress on potting up of these violas.

Will do. Thank you, Dr. H.  I find our sessions very helpful.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

What did we learn today by planting a Wardian case?

After carefully aging my Wardian case for approximately eight years, I've finally planted something in it.

I can explain.

Well, I can't really explain why it took me eight years to finally plant something in this Wardian case.  I did at one time put a poinsettia in it at Christmas time. I think that was the first winter I had it.  Then I took that out and left it empty.

There were a couple of times in the middle of winter when I thought about planting it but the middle of winter is not the best time to buy houseplants.  Then spring would come and I would go outside to plant and play in the garden and forget about the empty Wardian case.  I did this for eight springs.

Really, I can't explain, but I can announce that I've finally planted up the Wardian case.

Funny thing. I had everything I needed to plant it except for one plant I bought today.

Here's how it all worked out.

The Wardian case can be lifted off the base to allow for easy access.

First I took off the roof.

Then I took off the case part.
This particular case has a waterproof bottom.

I added a layer of gravel with horticultural charcoal mixed in to the bottom.  Believe it or not, I bought that charcoal eight years ago when I bought the Wardian case.  Before I used the gravel and charcoal, I rinsed both out to cut down on the dust.

Then I potted up some plants in containers and set them on trays in the gravel.
In the upper left corner, I added a pot of Ficus pumila 'Curly Fig'. That's the only plant I purchased today.  In the upper right I placed an Arrowhead plant, Syngonium podophyllum, which was one of the plants in a container sent to us for my mom's funeral, a year ago. I put it in there for height.  Then I added the three pots of Viola labridorica. I dug the viola out of a container outside and divided it amongst three pots, each of which was a different height.

If any of those plants don't make it, and the violas are "iffy", then I can easily pull out that particular plant and replace it with something else.

To finish up the planting, I gathered some rocks from my vast collection of rocks and placed those around the plants, added a little bird next to the arrowhead plant, put the case back together and "ta da".
Planted Wardian Case - I'll take a better picture soon
It's all planted.

What did I learn today?

I learned that I have all kinds of stuff around here that I can use to plant up a Wardian Case. 

I learned that it only takes an hour or so to plant something like this up, after you wait eight years.  Hmmm... I suspect it would have taken an hour or so eight years ago, too.

I learned that the Wardian case looks better with plants in it.  I had cleaned up the sunroom a few weeks ago, removing dead plants, repotting other plants, and generally making it more pleasing to be in there. Once I did all that, the Wardian case was like a black hole without plants.

I learned that there is another Viola that might be a better terrarium plant - Viola hederacea, also known as Viola banksii. As soon as I read about this other viola, I googled it and then ordered three of them from Logee's Greenhouse.  According to their website, they will only ship these if the temperatures there and here and at all points in between are such that they don't die enroute due to freezing.  They will arrive when they arrive.

Technically, I didn't learn about the violas from planting the Wardian case. I learned about them from two books I purchased because yes, after decades of gardening I still purchase books about plants and gardening.  The two books are  The New Terrarium  and The Unexpected Houseplant, both by Tovah Martin.  These are the kinds of books that a gardener takes to bed with them to read before falling asleep so that all her dreams are about plants.

Now, enough about what I learned by finally planting my Wardian case. Did you know I have this  large glass cloche that is begging to be used to cover some indoor plants?

This might pre-date the Wardian case so I think it has aged suitably to be planted now.  I guess the next step is to find a base to plant on that is about 15 inches, maybe 18 inches around.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Not having the plant is punishment enough

Euphorbia milii
I confess.

I broke one of the cardinal rules of gardeners.

Namely, when you see a plant you want, get it.

I saw a crown of thorns, Euphorbia milii, for sale. It had bright yellow bracts instead of the pink bracts that are more commonly sold, that I already have.

I wanted it. I picked it up. I looked it over. It was the last one. It was a little rough looking. You'd be rough looking too if you were sitting in a big box mega-sized grocery store waiting for someone to buy you.

I told myself I had no business looking at house plants. I've got more house plants than house right now. Then I told myself "But you've never seen a yellow one".

I resisted. I put it back. I forgot about it. I moved along. I bought groceries. I went home. I thought no more of it. It's in the past. I didn't get it.

Then I started to water the house plants. Oh, so many of them, but none of them was Euphorbia milii with yellow bracts.

I realized then that I wanted it, that I'd broken the rule about "when you see a plant you want, get it".

I hope it is there when I go back tomorrow. Or maybe I should go back now? That store never closes. The plant should still be there.

Or will it be gone? Perhaps another gardener saw it? Maybe they bought MY plant. My yellow bracted (is bracted a word?) crown of thorns.

I confess.

Please be kind and don't chastise me for not buying this plant. Not having the plant now is punishment enough.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Happy Houseplant Season!

'Tis the day after Christmas, the official beginning of houseplant season.

Did you forget to water your houseplants while your attention was distracted with shopping, wrapping, cooking, baking, gift-giving, gift-receiving, traveling, eating, greeting, and other ings of the Christmas season?

Then you are in luck because the best way to celebrate houseplant season is to water your houseplants.

Water them well until the  water is coming out of the bottom of the pot, but don't let those plants sit in saucers of that water. In fact, it might be easier and less of a mess if you took the plants over to the nearest sink to water them.

While you are watering the plant, letting water drain out the bottom of the pot and into the sink, check for signs of insects and diseases, pull off dead, yellowing leaves and wash off the leaves that are left. And since you are doing all that why not scrape off a little of that top layer of potting soil and replace with some fresh top soil?

Go all out for the beginning of houseplant season.

And if you feel like you are watering a dead plant, take a deep breath, say good bye to it and dump it on the top of the compost pile, where it can decompose and relive again as good compost. Then scrub up the pot and find a new plant to put in it.

Then water that plant well.

After all, it's houseplant season. Let the dirt fly, let the fun begin.

Happy Houseplant Season!

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

How to Sell Rosemary Plants

Do you know how to sell a rosemary plant to a gardener who has a sun room full of house plants?

I'll tell you how you sell a rosemary plant to a gardener who has a sun room full of house plants. It really is quite easy.

First, have two rosemary plants for sale.

Then wait for the gardener to come by your booth at the farmers market where you have the two rosemary plants for sale.

When the gardener reaches out to gently touch the rosemary plant so she can smell its rosemary-goodness, say something like, "Doesn't that smell wonderful?"

Then the gardener will say something like, "Yes, it does. You know this rosemary plant doesn't look like those that they sell at the big box stores."

Then you say, "It isn't, it has longer leaves and straighter stems."

At this point, the gardener will remember that she has a sun room full of house plants many of which are in containers without good drainage, so she really should repot them soon. She will slowly back away and say something like, "Let me see what else is here, then I'll come back by and decide."

Don't be discouraged at this point. Be patient.

Soon another gardener will come by, and you can repeat the same conversation, only this time, that gardener won't hesitate to buy one of the rosemary plants because she won't have a sun room full of house plants in containers without good drainage that really should be repotted. She will definitely buy one of the two rosemary plants.

Then across the room, the first gardener, the one with a sun room full of house plants, many of which are in containers without good drainage so she should really repot them, will glance back at your booth and see the other gardener beaming with pride, walking away with her new rosemary plant. Instantly, the first gardener will realize that she is at risk of not getting a rosemary plant that isn't like those she sees in the big box stores because it isn't like those. It has longer leaves and straighter stems.

She will forget all about the house plants in her sun room, many of which are in containers without good drainage so she should really repot them. She will forget about everything and everyone else at the market. She will walk quickly, almost run, to get back to the booth, lay her hand on the rosemary plant and say, "I'll take this one".

Then as she walks away with her new rosemary plant, forgetting momentarily that she has a sun room full of house plants, many of which are in containers so she should really repot them, and beaming with pride because she got the last rosemary plant, the one that is different from those in the big box stores because it has longer leaves and straighter stems, you can casually mention that after the holidays, she should really repot the rosemary plant.

And that's how you sell a rosemary plant to a gardener who has a sun room full of house plants...

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Garden Fairies Guest Post: Status on Tomato & Pepper Seedlings

Garden fairies here! We garden fairies hope you fine folks get all excited when we decide to post because you should know by now that we are going to spill the beans on what's really going on around here.

We'll give you the straight scoop, no sugar coating it. No siree, sugar coating and being all nice and politically correct just is not in our nature as garden fairies. We are garden fairies after all.

We garden fairies have to hurry this morning because there are just a few minutes before Carol shuts down this laptop and goes to work, so we'll have to make this short and to the point.

Though we are garden fairies and sometimes we know we take a long way to get to the point or we get lost on our way to the point and never quite get to the point. Or we spend so long getting to the point that we forget what point we were going for.

Anyway the point is, we garden fairies have something important to tell you all about what is really going on around here at May Dreams Gardens, but now we've almost forgotten what that point was.


Oh, right! We garden fairies have noticed that it is already the sixth day of April and Carol has not started her tomato, pepper, or eggplants from seed yet!

Shocking, we know, so we garden fairies will give you all a moment to let that sink in.


We think what happened is that she had someone come in and paint the sun room, which is where she starts all her seeds and so she waited until he was done to get started on the seeds. Then the room was a wreck and she had to put everything back.

We garden fairies thought it was hilarious when Carol moved that ginormous night blooming cereus in the corner and it started leaning like it was going to fall over.

Well, it didn't fall over because Carol trimmed it all back. Just look at all this mess on the floor!
We garden fairies were a bit nervous that there might be a tree fairy or two in there and they might get thrown out when Carol cleaned it all up, but we counted tree fairy noses and everyone was accounted for.

Whew, that was a close call!

Afterward, we garden fairies thought the night-bloomer looked a bit sparse...
... but we think it will grow out of it.

We garden fairies thought for sure once she finished that big job she'd sow those seeds, but she did not! I know,  we are shocked, too.  Carol always starts her tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants from seed.

Now we believe that she is not going to sow those seeds at all this year, but instead she is going to buy her tomato, pepper, and eggplant plants. "Eggplant plants"... we garden fairies think that is so funny to write that.

Anyway, that is good news for the garden centers and the seed sellers, too. It sort of means that Carol bought them twice, unless she saves those seeds for next year.

Oh, well, we are garden fairies. We can not, will not, and do not concern ourselves with the finances around here! What we are most concerned about is that the tree fairies who came in at Christmas time with the Christmas tree and then stayed on through the winter in the sun room, where most of the houseplants are, often hide amongst the tomato seedlings for a free ride out of the sun room in the spring time.

How will they get out now?

We just hope when Carol buys her seedlings that she puts them in the sun room for even a few hours, to give the tree fairies a chance to get a free ride out of there.

Submitted rather quickly by
Thorn Goblinfly
Chief Scribe for the Garden Fairies at May Dreams Gardens

Sunday, January 30, 2011

In Other News... Winter Continues

Winter continues here at May Dreams Gardens.

The good news is that my Christmas cactus, which bloomed several weeks ago, provided me with a few bonus flowers this week.

It's funny, but I don't usually have orange flowers outside in my garden, except for a few ditch lilies that I have planted on the side of the house.

I planted the ditch lilies simply because someone gave them to me and they reminded me of driving down to my grandparents' house in the summer. I'd watch out the window as we passed by miles and miles of ditch lilies growing along the side of the road in... the ditches, of all places.

My orange-flowering Christmas cactus is a passalong plant, too. I'll take some cuttings from it this spring to pass along to others. Plant it forward, as they say.


I went out to the garden today and walked around in the melting snow.

Clearly, someone, or something, has also been out walking in the garden.


Maybe one, maybe two.

And where there are two rabbits, there might as well be a hundred rabbits.

I'm sure they are finding all kinds of succulent lower shrub branches to chew off. Go eat the henbit that is coming up, you rabbits, and leave the shrubs alone!

There, that ought to keep the rabbits under control while winter continues.


I surveyed the vegetable garden while I was outside looking at rabbit tracks.

It is clear to me that I must replace the raised beds. The trick will be to do it early enough in the spring so that I can still plant peas.

In other words, I must find that sliver of time when the ground is dry enough to work before St. Patrick's Day or risk not having a place to plant the peas, spinach, and lettuce when I normally do.

My Dad always seemed to find such a time in early spring, as I recall him tilling the garden, at least part of it, before he planted peas around March 17th.

In that sliver of time, I'll have someone pull out the old wood around the raised beds, rake the mulch out of the paths, pull out the landscape fabric in the paths, till the whole thing up, form the new beds and edge them with some kind of stone.

Yes, stone of some kind, I think, which will allow for curves, if I decide I want some, and which won't have to be replaced after a few years.

But before that gets done, I'll need to endure a few more winter storms, including one heading this way which is predicted to arrive late Monday or Tuesday and bring with it the most dreaded of all winter elements -- ice.

Winter continues...