03 June 2018

Garden Bloggers Fling Prize

So here we are another year later, and I am reading the posts from other gardeners on their fling expeditions in Austin Texas. Although not attending, I want to add a contribution to their excitement by introducing the results of one of last year's Bloggers Fling prizes. The yellow tree peony (Paeonia suffruticosa).

Fling Host Tammy had several prizes at the table which we could take our chances on. We were all given something like 25 tickets, and could put them all into one prize's pot for the drawing (increasing your chances of winning that one) or spread them around in other prizes' pots. I did drop a bunch into the peony pot, and won. Good for me because I lived in town and did not need to pack up the large potted plant (no blooms at the time) and ship it home as many of the others would have.

Tammy, I must confess to being rather lazy -- the peony stayed in your pot for most of the summer, and only got planted into the ground around September. At first I did not know what it was, other than a peony. I was not familiar with tree peonies. But, its leaves were differently shaped than other peonies, and it was developing a woody stem. With the help of the internet, I learned that it was a shrub (meaning I have to get it out of the place I planted it) and that tree peonies are expensive.

The tag that came with it cannot be found, so sorry I can't remember the name. I thought is was something like "American Garden Beauty" but cannot find that anywhere online. If Tammy remembers where the donation came from, we can track it down. The flower is really exquisite -- a soft pale yellow tinged with some rose in the central area. The fragrance is, ...well, I prefer the regular sweet peonies. This was more subtle, with some "talc powder" smell mixed in.

Also note: for the first time, I placed a support ring around the regular peony plant this year, but it was only about 10-inches high (25 cm) above the ground. But, it worked wonders to keep things on the straight and up.

For The Record:
  • Heavy clay soil with organic amendments
  • Mostly full sun
  • Small amount of fertilizer
  • On a slope so well-drained soil
  • A little munching on leaves from some insect

Garden Calendar:
  • Blooming: peony, rose, daylily, yarrow, coreopsis, phlox, poppy
  • Harvested: snap peas, cilantro

27 May 2018

Leaning Tower of Cabbage

I run many experiments on the garden, (plants, techniques, timing, breeding), only to find out what happens if ... Sometimes I am pleasantly surprised, and other times I am just surprised. The results of this experiment is the latter.

Cabbage is a cool weather crop not bothered by frost, so I wondered what would happen if cabbage was left in the ground over the winter. Would it continue to grow and produce a bigger cabbage next year? Would I be able to harvest it in January? Would it die back?

A cabbage in the front flower garden was left in, being about the size of a baseball -- 3 inches in diameter (75 mm). You see the results. A loose head remained intact throughout the winter, but disappeared in early spring as a rosette of new leaves began to emerge from the core. I thought I was going to get a big head, in more than one way.

But then, it began shooting up. It stopped at 6-feet high (1.5 m). Flowers happened, which is only logical since cabbage seeds must come from somewhere. It leaned to one side when the flowers appeared -- that's why they are growing in one direction. I straightened the plant for the photo.

22 May 2018

That Supposed to Be Red

This is one of those perennials that I started from seed, and this is the year they are supposed to leap (you know - sleep … creep … leap). Now in their third spring, I might sense a little hop, but no leaping. I read they are also called Painted Daisy, although I always considered another plant as that name.

Seeds for pyrethrum, (Tanacetum coccineum), a native to southeast Asia, were purchased and planted in the spring 2016. I was drawn to 'Jame Kellwway' pyrethrum for its deep red petals and yellow button centers. No blooms that year. Last year, they produced about 3 blooms on 5 plants. This year, three plants have survived and thrived, and are producing a few more blooms, although I would not consider their numbers excessive.

Stems are strong (thank heaven because of the spring storms), upright, and flowers are about 2 inches across at most (5 cm). Thus far, blooms have lasted four days and show their age by fading when older. Leaves are lacey fern-like. Last year, the plants all about disappeared toward the end of summer and I thought I lost them.

The garden catalog photos lied - are you surprised? The color is actually a deep magenta -- not red. it's very appropriate if you have a darker colored background, but I see them getting lost because of their size and low density when placed in a vibrant field of other plants.

Directions for growing pyrethrum call for deadheading in order to produce more blooms. We will see. They also make good cut flowers, so let's try that to help encourage more blossoms. They are in mostly full sun, on a slope, and seem to love the conditions. Because of their light thin foliage, it's easy to lose them as they are emerging in the spring. Maybe I lost a plant or two when I was taking out weeds this spring. New plants take some time for me to become familiar with their leaf structure.

For The Record:
  • Heavy clay soil with organic amendments & mulch
  • Full sun
  • Small amount of fertilizer
  • No serious pests/disease

05 May 2018

And Into Adulthood

From season to season, year to year, I wish some of my garden inhabitants would pick up the pace and grow a little faster. I often imagine what they would look like when fully grown after initially placing them in their 'permanent' new homes. In reality, I only imagine the feeling or ambience each would create, and not the actual visual.


Some of those plants are now in their adulthood. Consider the phlox divaricata or woodland phlox. This was a plant sale purchase at a local botanic garden. It is now in its year five and as vibrant as ever. I wrote about its three-year birthday in 2016. [posted 29.04.2016] In fact, it is now getting to a point where I don't want it to spread any more. Some pieces have ended up in neighbor's yards and at the local plant swap.

As another example, take my 'dwarf' Snow azaleas. Please. They are beautiful, but I cannot label them dwarf any longer. They are part of the first attempt at landscaping after purchasing my abode in late 1980s. I killed one trying to move it. It was too close to the magnolia tree, and extracting its roots intertwined with the tree roots was like pulling a tooth - I dare not repeat with the other four plants so I left them and they seem to be happy for it.


Oh that red one - the one that looks like something from your LSD trip? That was in the yard when I bought this place. I just moved it down to the end of the yard with the new white azaleas so they all had some company and could get to know each other. Red has remained somewhat dwarf because I trim it back every so often. I hate those unnatural sickening colors.

Now I wait for the bearded iris and the daylilies that I have bred to bloom some year. I thought one or two of the seven iris would flower out this year, but looks like another year's wait.

24 March 2018

Hellebores Ain't Not Bores

After a few years of organizing plant swaps in my neighborhood where six or seven people would show up with typical plants, my master gardener group began hosting a swap in the spring with attendance of 30 or so. One of the plants I picked up last year was a hellebores.

I did not have any hellebores, but I had shade. The plant went into a nice mucky clay shady spot and did not grow for the entire year. The leaves stayed green -- that's always a good sign. I had some high hopes this spring, and am happy to report some blooms.

However, there appear to be two different plants growing together, producing different blooms. It's not unlike one of those grafted novelties like the half pink and half white dogwood in the yard a few houses down the street, or a good friends half-breed crape myrtle -- half pink and half purple. Novelties? Maybe man-made freaks is a better word. I must have two plants intertwined.

During the spring, some new foliage shoots popped up above the half baked dark green leaves of yesteryear. Blooming began two weeks ago, and I am rewarded with some hellebores surprises. These are are probably not surprises to anyone that grows them.

First, all the blooms do not pop out at the same time. It's nice to see a succession of blooms from a spring perennial, unlike a daffodil's or tulip's "Here I am and then I'm gone." Today there are two more new buds coming out.

Second, the blooms actually change color as they age. The magenta blossoms get more dull and darker and the creamy ones go green.

Third, the magenta blossoms are more upright while the cream colored ones face more downward making them difficult to appreciate (and photograph.) No worries -- the neighbors are now used to seeing my on my stomach and back with my camera. They hardly take notice any more.

I am pleased with my new additions, even though I do not know their cultivar names. I will need to separate them after blooming, and look forward to two patches of low evergreen ground cover in the shady back.

11 February 2018

Dallas Redux

An annual fall convention took me to Dallas this past year for a second time. I was there for a visit in 2010 when my convention was held there that year. I needed to satisfy my botanic garden thirst one day on my recent visit before the convention started, so I hopped on a long boring bus ride out from the downtown hotel and spent time at the Dallas Arboretum.

This botanical garden is one of my favorites, filled with interesting things and things that I like to see. Enjoy my photo log of the latest visit.
No this was not Jurassic Park, but there was Alocasia everywhere. Love it.

Are they started indoors in a prior year?

Alocasia, coleus, and crape myrtle.



Coleus like a hedge.

Coleus "Red Head' as a hedge, again with marigolds and colocasia 'Coffee Cups'.

Orange coleus and dark colocasia.

It was a relatively hot day, and the cool shade under some old impressive trees was appreciated.



Water helped provide cooling relief in several places.





Dallas is designated as a test garden for All-American Selections, a non-profit that tests, evaluates, and recommends herbaceous and edibles every year.





Everette DeGolyer was a wealthy oilman and philanthropist whose mansion and estate serve as the beginnings of the botanical garden. No photos of the interior of the house.

And last, the old crape myrtle allee.

21 January 2018

More Day 3

OK, so I am still writing about a Blogger's Fling held in June, and this is the final post on it. More regular blog posts should follow once again, as I am brimming with ideas and photos to post

Virginia's Garden, Middleburg, VA
This estate out in the county was a tamed and beautifully manicured oasis in the rolling hills and meadows of horse county.



Tabletop succulent centerpiece

How does she get that lush turf growing under that tree?





Pat & Ed's Garden, Hamilton, VA





Meadowlark Botanical Gardens, Vienna, VA

Echinacea hybrid 'Sombreo Adobe Orange'

Red crocosmia, red echinacea, red daylilies



Korean pavilion

04 November 2017

2017 Garden Bloggers Fling - Day 3

The trips on the third and final day were spent in the Virginia countryside for the most part. Private gardens as well as a final stop at a public garden were on the schedule. These are some highlights of the first half of the day.

Tammy's Garden, Bristow
Our hostess Tammy's garden was the one of the first stops for the day. Located on the outskirts where suburbia meets country, the garden was my kind of place. Loads of natural arrangement looked like my yarden, but there were no vegetables mixed in with the flowers.



Looks like this place is a gnome home.

The owner is especially fond of gardening for nature. Lots of birdhouses and natives.



My master gardener group meets at Merrifield Garden Center in Fairfax. Our fling tour took us to Merrifield's sister facility further out (and much larger) in Gainesville. Look what the people at Merrifield left out for us. Of course, everyone bought something -- I picked up a Mojito Colocasia.

Linda's Garden, The Plains
The front and large backyard gardens featured water and pathways meandering around the grounds of an old historic home.



A very interesting begonia color

A tiny coleus with absolutely no green

I would love to know what this white daylily is.

A Thai temple bird house



Never found out the name of this hydrangea with just a hint of blue. Stunning.