30 July 2011

Christmas Present In July

Some of the best plants are those that are gifts. At Christmas, I invite some close friends over for dinner every year. I don't know when it started, but we began exchanging small inexpensive gifts at these dinners. This past year, however, I received a large gift certificate for plants at High Country Gardens from one good friend. Her justification was that I had her as a dinner guest several times during the year.

I spent the winter combing through the catalog and adding up the totals. One of the six plants I elected to order was the kniphofia Wayside Flame. A previous post documents the experience with my first monstrous kniphofia. [26.6.2010] Last fall I moved the big bad boy to a more appropriate location with lots of room to play. I had looked at several other kniphofias that would not take over the front cottage garden, so I appreciated the opportunity to get a smaller replacement sooner rather than later.

High Country Gardens had a few different varieties in their catalog. I settled on my selection after checking an online Kniphofia List from the International Bulb Society. The plants came in spring and were planted. I expected my Wayside Flame to bloom next year, but surprise - a present in July. It sent up one lonely flower stalk this year. Most appreciated.

For The Record:
  • Fertile well-drained soil
  • Full sun
  • Small amount of fertilizer
  • No serious pests or disease

Garden Calendar:
  • Blooming: pink cosmos, mexican zinnia, nicotiana, kniphofia, cleome, zinnia, cosmos, rudbeckia
  • Harvested: 1 tomato, 40 cherry tomatoes, 3 cucumbers

25 July 2011

July 2011 Flowers In The House

This is a past photo of the Fourth of July 'dinner on the deck' flowers. The liatris represent skyrockets in flight, bursting over the rudbeckia.

Find other garden bloggers' Flowers In The House at the blog Small But Charming.

15 July 2011

July 2011 Bloom Day

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day (After)
What's blooming in the garden on the 15th of the month.
Many more blooms are found in the garden now, but these are a few plants that are new to the garden this year. The Echinops was given to me last year and is blooming for the first time this year The marigold is an old heirloom variety that I grew from seed. One rain lily bloomed to date - pink instead of the white I ordered. This is the first white cleome for me.

Find other garden bloggers' bloom days at the blog May Dreams Gardens.

Echinops ritro Globe Thistle

Tagetes patula French Marigold 'Harlequin'

Zephyranthes Rain Lily

Cleome spinosa

Garden Calendar:
  • Harvested: 8 cherry tomatoes

08 July 2011

Ankle Deep In Poppies

My seed order came in spring with yet another free seed packet of something I didn't order and didn't know where to plant. Upon closer examination, this free seed packet was filled with poppies - how could anyone refuse free poppies? And these were California Poppies (Eschscholzia) to boot. I am not sure which exact species these ankle-high babies belonged to.

I read the seed packet to learn more about the booty of treasure I had been blessed with. OK, now I get it:
Packed for 2010. Sell by 10/31/10.

I threw them outside in full sun, in clay soil, along the platform running down the side garden. They took their sweet time in germinating, and then began filling in the small space with blue-green lacy foliage as I had imagined. They were off to a good start.

After our hot weather hit, they started blooming. Only 9 inches tall at most (20 cm), the plants barely made it up to the raised platform surface. The first blossoms were biggest, then as the weather got hotter, they decreased in size. The mixed colors of red, orange, yellow, and cream on the seed packet turned out to be mostly yellow, with a few cream.

I was a bit disappointed in the limited number of blooms. In fact, the number opened at one time never amounted to more than 20% of the plants. I was hoping for the showy displays in the Dave's Garden photos and on the seed packet. They were, however, planted in Virginia clay, and never thinned out as the seed packet recommended. Who thins out outdoor seedlings?

In researching some facts about my tiny beauties, I found that they are native to North America, but named after Johann Friedrich von Eschscholtz, a German botanist. They are toxic (so they are at home in my 'poison' garden.) Native Americans used Eschscholzia californica to treat lice, and to induce sleep in children. (I hear toxic plants usually do that to children.)

"This species is highly variable (more than 90 infraspecific taxa have been described), not only among different plants and locations but also within individual plants over the course of the growing season, especially in petal size and color."
An interesting feature on the plant is the seed pod. It starts out small inside the flower, then grows into a 3-inch long (7 cm) string bean after the blossom dies. I will try collecting seeds for next year to cultivate more blooms if they are not self-reseeders.

For The Record:
  • Heavy clay soil with some peat amendments
  • Full sun
  • No serious pests or disease

Garden Calendar:
  • Blooming: pink & orange cosmos, rudbeckia, nicotiana, liatris, cleome, coneflowers, marigold, echinops,
    coreopsis, calendula, loosestrife, rose, physostegia, eschscholtzia, daisy
  • Harvested: 3 grape tomatoes

04 July 2011

I Thought This Was Lobelia

When a little local nursery that carried a unique selection of perennials closed for good last fall, I picked up a few cheap plants and planted them around the gardens. I am too lazy to label, but I did set markers out so I would know something was planted in the location, preventing me from disturbing the area in the spring.

I was looking forward to the new red lobelia (Lobelia cardinalis) this season. A few plants did not make it through the winter, but the lobelia was alive and growing this spring. I thought it was lobelia. It turned out to be the crazy daisies. This is fine, but it seems the lobelia was one of those other piles of dead material with adjacent stick markers that was lost in the winter.

What was I thinking? The white daisies are next to the white phlox, which is next to the white cleome. Everything else in the bed is colorful.

The Shasta Daisy (Leucanthemum x superbum Crazy Daisy) is about 2 feet tall (60 cm) and blooming quite well for its first year. They have remained upright and growing in a tidy clump with blossoms looking wild and raggedy. The flowers last longer than most others, and I am wondering if deadheading them will produce new blooms for the summer as the care instructions indicate.

The lobelia clump (at least I think it is) was further down the slope and now quite dead, overgrown by the nicotiana flopping over.

For The Record:
  • Heavy clay soil with gypsum & organic amendments
  • Mostly sun
  • Small amount of fertilizer
  • No pests or disease

Garden Calendar:
  • Blooming: pink & orange cosmos, rudbeckia, nicotiana, liatris, cleome, coneflowers, marigold, echinops,
    coreopsis, calendula, salvia, hostas, loosestrife
  • Harvested: Dill
  • Lettuce now bitter