Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Gorgeous Greens

Variety is the spice of life.

gray green

true green


Put it all together:


Perfect Purples

Purple shows up in unexpected places like early foliage, but will explode on blooms later in the season.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Mellow Yellow

I don't have a lot of yellow in my garden, but what I do have is there by absolute necessity: heirloom daffodils with fragrance, and Carolina jessamine (Gelsemium sempervirens), which happens to be the state flower of my home state, South Carolina.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Another garden mistake

The 80 degree yesterday was perfect, and one task was weeding the mystery plant that was rapidly popping up in two large spots in my flower garden. I had a sneaking suspicion it was something I had planted, but a casual chat with a neighbor got me thinking it was a weed that I did not want to get too established. I had nearly decimated one patch when I saw that the plant was emanating from dried stems and a tell-tale clump of potting soil. This was a perennial I had planted last year! It was nowhere on any of my diagrams, and there was no tag lying around, but when I turned to my photos I sadly realized it was Ageratum (mist flower), a plant that did really well last summer/fall and has lovely blue flowers. I think it will bounce back, but lesson learned and vindication--see, Mr. Do, my "crazy" metal plant tags serve a purpose!
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Thursday, March 22, 2012

Garden Mistakes

I planted my asparagus in 2009, and I thought I'd be flush with it by now. I also thought it would be a good idea to let my strawberries grow among the asparagus. There could be other issues, such as shade from the summer vegetable gardens (but the ferns get huge, so it's not just that) or lack of nutrients, but I think the competition from the strawberries is the main problem. I may as well let the strawberries go this spring, but then I will remove them from the bed and see if I get a real asparagus harvest next year.
And here's how to prevent a mistake: planting a mint family plant in the ground. If you do, it will take over, so choose a pot.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Springtime Sights

the most artful little nest--of a house or purple finch
(I need to paint my awning but will have to wait)

                                 swirly leaves of Nectaroscordum siculum var. bulgaricum

                                                         my neighbor's cherry tree

                             my magnolia tree and a neighbor's towering Japanese magnolia

Monday, March 19, 2012

My Own Ramp Patch!!!

On a whim, last spring I planted the roots (with a bit of bulb attached) of some ramps I bought at the farmers' market, and lo and behold, they grew! I was scouring the native plant garden for my blood root, which also popped up last week, and I spotted two onion-looking shoots. I know which weeds grow in my garden pretty well, and this is the heavily mulched area where I planted the ramps, so when I smelled the oniony-smell, I was thrilled. Since ramps are pretty expensive, as well as possibly threatened due to over-harvesting, this is a most welcome surprise! There are only two, so I'll let them do their thing this year and hope they spread. I'll also plant more since it worked the first time.

dude, ramps!
 blood root (Sanguinaria canadensis)
I love the lobed leaves as much as the pretty flowers.

The native Anemone canadensis has also sprouted, but no signs of the Solomon's seal or black cohosh yet. Despite the crazy heat wave we're having, this is a shaded area so probably a cooler micro-climate. I'm spotting new growth every day, so I hope so see them soon.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

What's to Come

The warm weather continues to amaze. Disconcerting, yes, but enjoyable? Heck YES! Seed planting is going on at a hectic pace. The garden is getting gussied up for spring, with a top dressing of compost and leaf mulch. The county again seemed to leave extra. I call it "mulch mountain 2," but at least I did not block my car in the driveway this time.

My clay soil can be unwelcoming to Fritillaria, but I had success with half of the varieties I planted last year (the snake-skin patterned meleagris probably rotted, but the purple-brown and yellow uva-vulpis and acmopetala did well). I was encouraged enough to try a new one when I saw this F. persica with its nearly black blooms. I thought maybe I had not amended the soil enough, but then I spotted them emerging, with the bonus being I have four plants for the price of three, yay!
Thanks to Martha Stewart for introducing me to so many things, but especially for Fritillaria! In addition to their unique beauty, they are not eaten by squirrels, and they are long-lasting as cut flowers.

 Also emerging is rhubarb, but this is one I planted bare-root and practically tossed on the ground. The three-year old plant that I dug a bed several feet deep for and amended with gobs of compost died. Hmmm? 

The asparagus is off to a slow start, but I think this is how it was last year. I hope I am correct and will see a flush of spears soon.
The "Betty" Magnolia tree is beginning to bloom--quite early, as this variety was bred to bloom late to avoid the late frosts that often damage Japanese Magnolia flowers. If this means earlier leafing out, for my tree as well as my neighbor's much larger tree, then that means the McMansions behind my yard are blocked sooner, so I'll find a bright spot where I can.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Spring's Promise

Gardening at this time of year consists of walking around and staring at the ground looking for growth. I'll spare you the shots of dirt and tiny seedlings and bulb growth, but I will share these exciting developments.

The overwintered favas are blooming! I love the black-and-white spotted flowers even if I get paltry harvests.

I got a tad excited when I spotted the first asparagus shoot, hence the wacky photo. I ate one serving last spring, and I'm really hoping that this year I'll get my first real harvest (these were planted in 2009).

The strawberries are looking good, the black raspberry has some healthy buds, but I'm worried about the blueberries. If I ever want more than a few handfuls of blueberries, I've got to get to work. The blackberry is doing great and we'll again get at least a few pounds--if I can just find a bird exclusion device that will not entangle birds!
Bulbs are beginning to emerge, but only the tete-a-tete mini daffodils are blooming so far. If the weather cooperates this weekend, I'll spread compost throughout the flower and vegetable gardens. Next week, I've scheduled a mulch delivery--gardening season is coming!