30 April 2009

April Snowflakes

One of the few ornamental plants that were growing around the house when it was purchased many years ago were these spring flowering Snowflakes (Leucojum). According to the linked web site, these are native to southern Europe, and are poisonous. Their name comes from the Greek word for 'white violet.' These are reliable, and are often confused with snowdrops which are shorter and bloom much earlier. The plants this year are blooming quite late. I believe they were planted in late November, so they are paying me back.

For The Record:
  • Well drained soil
  • Full sun
  • Bone meal fertilizer applied in the fall

Garden Calendar:
  • Blooming: Dogwood, bridal wreath spirea, azaleas
  • Seed started: castor plant

24 April 2009

Earth Month

Red peony tulips were sent as a free gift from Breck's with a fall order of bulbs. They started growing this spring, where I had forgotten what they were. As they started blooming, I then realized they were a free gift - something I would never have ordered. But I actually ended up liking them until it rained. They form a cup and hold lots of water in all those petals, and then tend to tip over.

The orange tulips were bought at a local hardware store late in the season about three years ago after everything else had been picked over. I since lost their variety name. They are mid-season and generally re-bloom each year and multiply.

Update: The orange tulips are 'Beauty of Apeldoorn.'

These are posted as part of a blog meme for Earth Month from FilterForGood Blog Meme Contest. The five actions I will pursue this summer to help out Mother Earth:
  1. Install a rain barrel at the rear yard. This will catch rain water from the roof downspout, and save it for use on the vegetable garden during hot summer months.
  2. Compost all kitchen vegetable scraps to cut down on household trash. Last year I got lazy and threw out more materials than I would want to.
  3. Turn off the modem and router when I leave the house during the day to save electricity. Currently they are left on all the time.
  4. Combine auto trips around town when running errands to reduce gas consumption, especially at weekends. This will take some planning at the beginning of each day.
  5. Install that extra blanket of insulation to cut down on heating and cooling loads in the house. All winter long, I have been meaning to add another layer to the existing 6-inches (15 cm) in the attic.

For The Record:
  • Full sun
  • Moderate moisture
  • Light bone meal fertilzer in the fall

Garden Calendar:
  • Blooming: Red peony tulips, poet daffodils, Beauty of Apeldoorn tulips, dogwood, grape hyacinth
  • Seedlings progress:
     Tomatoes germination, 7 days
     Amaranthus germination, 4 days
     Lagurus germination, 5 days
     Cleome germinated, 11 days
     Snapdragons germinated, 9 days

15 April 2009

First Bloom Day, April 2009

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day
What's blooming in the garden on the 15th of each month
This is my first garden blog bloom day submission. I only recently learned what it was all about.
Red Peony Tulips
A free gift that came
with my fall order
Orange Midseason Tulips
Don't remember their name
Poet Daffodils
Need dividing
Still going strong after a week
Fifer Daffodils
Found growing around the
house 25 years ago
Lemon Chiffon Daffodils
Creamy yellow cups turn to light peach

13 April 2009

Count The Hyachinths

Count the hyacinths in this photo. I did not purchase this many bulbs. Apparently the 12 originally planted found time to visit a fertility clinic.

In the depth of their second winter, the grape hyacinth (muscari armeniacum) leaves were green and seemed to have grown through the cold season. I wrote about my concern and questioned their fall-winter growth [2.13.2009]. Now, as they are spewing forth flower spikes, I wondered if they were too crowded. One look at a photo of the Keukenhof Gardens in Holland answers that.
    Some info found around the www:
  • They are not actually hyacinths, but members of the lily family
  • They are native to the eastern Mediterranean and Asia Minor
  • The name 'muscari' comes from the Greek word for musk, relating to the smell of some types
  • The name 'armeniacum' relates to Armenia
  • The bulb is supposedly poisonous (hello, squirrels)
  • Each 'grape' flower in the cluster has six petals
For The Record:
  • Well drained soil
  • Full sun
  • Bone meal fertilizer applied in the fall

Garden Calendar:
  • Daffodils blooming: Lemon chiffon, ice follies, & fifer
  • Tulips blooming: red emperor, generic orange, yellow dover
  • Seeds started: Amaranthus, snapdragons, cleome, lagurus planted 11 April
Seedling Progress Record:
bell pepperred onion

10 April 2009

Bad Tulip Posture

The Red Emperor tulips (tulip fosteriana) are one of the favorites because these large-flower plants pop out early in the season. Last year, a few more were purchased to supplement my older collection. However, this year I noticed that these newcomers came on shorter stems in comparison to the older ones. Both were planted in the same bed under the same conditions.

The long stem emperors (right) were preferred since they stood taller and were more visible. As often happens, there were a few very windy days this spring. After Mother Nature calmed down, the long stem emperors all ended up leaning one way as a result of the wind. The shorter emperors (left) remained straight up. Maybe a short stem variety is better after all.

My past experience is that these bulbs always split and multiply, but the resulting bulbs may take two years to actually bloom. Also, warm weather in the spring tends to hasten the bloom decline faster than other tulips.

For The Record:
  • Well drained soil
  • Full sun
  • Bone meal fertilizer applied in the fall

Garden Calendar:
  • Blooming: Lemon chiffon, ice follies, & fifer daffodils; red emperors & orange tulips
  • Seedlings: Tomatoes planted 9 April

06 April 2009

Cherry Blossom Spring

Tidal Basin
In Washington, we know it's spring when the cherry blossoms and the tourists come out. Both were in abundance this past weekend in Washington around the tidal basin. I haven't been to the area in years, and Palm Sunday seemed like an opportunity to trek into town on a warm sunny day.

Blooming cherry trees can be seen here and there around town without tripping over the tourists, baby strollers, and stepping on dogs. But there is a unique feeling in experiencing so many trees (and people) in one spot along the water. This entry is basically just a photo souvenir for my journal.

Garden Calendar:
  • Blooming: Emperor tulips, ice follies daffodils,
    korean rhododendron, lemon chiffon daffodils
  • Seedlings progress: Purple basil germinated, 7 days
  • Outdoor progress: Spinach, radish germinated, 6 days
  • Outdoor benchmark: Broccoli seedlings transplanted

Tulip Library
The National Park Service maintains a Tulip Library nearby. Well, 'maintains,' is a matter of opinion. The area consists of about 100 beds of different tulips. It helps gardeners get a good idea of what different varieties look like, as well as their bloom times. In the past, a photocopy sheet with a map listing the varieties was available from a nearby box. This year, only an empty box stood, presumably a victim of budget cuts. There are no tags or markers in the different beds, leaving one to guess what varieties are planted. I found a map online when I got home.

Smithsonian Garden
Afterwards, my feet carried me to a few nearby Smithsonian museums. The courtyard around the Sackler Gallery was in full bloom with fritillaria, thousands of purple hyacinths, saucer magnolias, and a weeping cherry.

01 April 2009

Cornell Pink in Rehab

One of the first plants purchased from mail order years ago was the Korean Rhododendron (Rhododendron mucronulatum). There were two colors available, and 'Cornell Pink' was selected over the lavender version, which is not easily found now.

The early flowers on this deciduous rhododendron can be ruined by very cold temperatures, just as the magnolia. Flowers slightly larger than 1-inch across (3 cm) occur in clusters that start forming at the ends of the branches in the fall. The leaves come out after the blossoms fade, and drop in autumn after turning a luminous yellow.

This shrub is 20 years old, and a bit forlorn after years of sitting in the corner of the garden that is not well attended. It will be replanted this year when the backyard garden goes into rehab. A new deck was installed and new lawn planted last fall, and new plants are currently winging their way here from several online spring mail orders.

For The Record:
  • Medium heavy soil
  • Mostly shade
  • No fertilizer, surface mulched once a year

Garden Calendar:
  • Blooming: Star magnolia, emperor tulips, ice follies daffodils, korean rhododendron
  • Seeds planted: Angels Trumpet Ballerina, purple basil
  • Seeds planted outdoors: Spinach, radish, poppy
Seedling Progress Record:
pepperbroccolired onion