25 May 2008

In Praise of Fertilizer

These poppies are very unusual and are easily grown from seed each year. The multiple ruffled petals give the appearance of peonies, and the blue-green foliage has the appearance of a cole vegetable plant. The seeds are sown directly in the ground in fall.

These were obtained from a yard outside Binghamton, New York, where they have prospered for decades in an upstate New York climate. They have not been specificallly identified from any garden catalog, although peony poppies are found in various nooks and crannies on the internet, and seem to come in purple and dark red in addition to this pink.

This year, a few of the plants really took off in height and size, while the remaining plants are average. All were planted in the same plot and fertilized with slow release organic fertilizer in the spring. The larger ones, however, were planted very close to alliums, which had the benefit of bone meal fertilizer applied in the ground in the fall. Lessons learned.

For The Record:
  • Growing in medium soil, full sun
  • Slow release organic granular fertilizer, some bone meal in the fall
  • Does not transplant
  • Blooms do not last long
  • Unusual color & flower gets ooo's & aah's

Garden Calendar:
  • Blooming: poppies, calendula, purple salvia, geranium, nicotiana, foxglove

18 May 2008

Pretty in Pink

After several rains, the mountain laurel (kalmia latifolia) has burst into display. This variation is called 'Sarah,' and is a bit different from most mountain laurel. Its flower clusters are vibrant pink, turning to an only slightly lighter color when open, instead of the more common white or pale pink. The branches do not support themselves well after a few years, tending to fall over or break off with heavy winter snows or wind.

For The Record:
  • Growing in heavy soil, mostly shade, some sun
  • Light acidic fertilizer applied in late spring
  • Organic mulch
  • Weak support branches
  • Prolific bloomer gets ooo's & aah's

Garden Calendar:
  • Blooming: geranium, foxglove, calendula
  • Annual seeds sowed

10 May 2008

Dependable Geranium

Not much is going on in the display gardens at this time of season. One exception is the calendula that overwintered. Its seeds that fall in the autumn are still just seedlings. Another exception is the perennial geranium (geranium sanguineum).

This donation plant from a fellow gardner years ago is a dependable, low-maintenance performer. It is trimmed and trained into a small low growing mound of lacy green foliage needing little care or water. The plant's small flowers are not numerous or showy, but provide a subtle front border. The flowers taper off during the summer and fall. It does require periodic trimming (usually done in the fall), to prevent spreading.

For The Record:
  • Growing in heavy soil, mostly full sun, some shade
  • No fertilizer applied
  • Need annual trimming to prevent excessive spreading

Garden Calendar:
  • Blooming: geranium, calendula, rhododendron
  • Annuals, tender summer bulbs planted
  • Vegetables transplanted into the garden

04 May 2008

Plant Swap Iris

This is the first plant received from a neighborhood Plant Swap Brunch that has performed well. Last spring a few bearded iris rhizomes were received and planted in the spring. They were tended to all summer, and this year are blooming well. Not knowing the variety, a search of the internet iris culture turned up a lot of similar varieties, but nothing matched perfectly. There was always something that did not match - a ruffled petal, a light blue stripe, an orange fall.

The size is surprising- leaves up to 24 inches (61 cm) tall, and flower stalks up to 5 feet (1.5 m) - clearly the tallest thing in the garden. The location receives a small anount of shade, although iris love full sun.

The spring Plant Swap Brunch for the neighborhood took place on Saturday. My garden gave up some purple asters, white dragonflower, numerous calendula and green nicotiana seedlings (sprouting from last year's plants.) In return, a white-tipped hosta and white shasta daisy plants were received.

For The Record:
  • Growing in heavy soil, mostly full sun, some shade
  • Slow release organic granular fertilizer applied
  • Somewhat taller flower stalks that expected

Garden Calendar:
  • Blooming: dutch & bearded iris, allium, columbine, perennial geranium
  • Early tulip bulbs lifted

01 May 2008

Are You Blue

Happiness is a plant meeting or exceeding expectations. When the 'Discovery' Dutch Iris (Iris hollandica) bulbs arrived last fall, there were too many to plant in one location, so they were planted in three groups throughout the property. The sunny location is now in full bloom, and I realize that they could have been planted a bit closer together into 2 groups. They are as blue as the photo suggests, and are striking in their height and intense color- a little over 2 feet (60 cm). Here's hoping that the catalog description is correct in that they easily multiply. The shadier locations where these were planted are just now beginning to bloom.

For The Record:
  • Growing in moderate drained soil, mostly full sun, some shade
  • Bone meal fertilizer applied in the fall
  • Great form and color - gets ooo's & aah's

Garden Calendar:
  • Blooming: Dutch & bearded iris, allium, columbine, perennial geranium
  • Canna planted