31 March 2016

in the front

There are more new plants; these I put out in the front yard.
Around the mailbox I put a little Geranium (the greenhouse person told me it would have pink or purple flowers but couldn't give me a variety name- I picked it up off an outside table it wasn't actually marked for sale yet).
And this 'sugar plum' Dianthus. Another with blue-green leaves.
While at the greenhouse I found a lot of different echeverias. I didn't realize there were so many kinds. I'm starting to become interested in all the variety of succulents- some have the most curious leaf shapes. But I resist buying them because I know I don't have sunny enough windows to keep them thru the winter, and not all are cold hardy. I did find two that looked very like my own wedding-day echeveria, both which are noted to be cold hardy. So I took my least-favorite pot of these and planted them out in the mailbox space as well. Just to see how they do. The other echeveria pots are now staying outside day and night, and they're doing fine with it. (I'm still shuffling in-and-out the pepper plant, geranium tree, mint and crassula.
Near my porch I planted a peony. I did not get this for the flowers- in fact I find it unattractive when peonies bloom because they always fall over and I don't like to be troubled staking up flower stalks. I like peony for its foliage. I think I will just use them as cutting flowers- the kids can enjoy them in the house for a short time, and I will enjoy the plant bareheaded outside.
This purchase was a spontaneous one- Rhubarb! Greenhouse employee told me this variety does better in our soil and climate than the one I had before- which struggled with summer heat. I have put it near the house where I hope it gets enough sun but is easy to remember regular watering if it needs that.
And last of all (except for the annuals): daylilies. These are 'jersey earlybird cardinal'. I was surprised when I dug into the spot against driveway and house wall, to plant them. It wasn't heavy reddish clay like around most of the yard, but loose dark rich-looking soil. Someone must have ammended the soil for a particular plant here before. I wonder what it was.

the bedding plants

It was a lovely day of work in the dirt to set out the new plants in my back flower bed. I guess it will be a flower bed! I bought most of these because I found their foliage attractive, but really they are sold for the flowers. Here they are:
I arranged them first by final height estimates. The plant with a kind of round, spiky shape front right in the group pic is one I missed when taking individual photos later- it's Argyranthemum 'sassy pink'.
Heartleaf Brunnera 'jack frost'. It has delicate blue flowers but I got it for the stunning leaf pattern.
Columbine Aquilegia. This specimen is a lot bigger than the one I transplanted last year and it has lovely blooms. Not sure if the smaller one will come back this year...
Three varieties of Astilbe- 'purple candles', 'little vision in pink' and 'peach blossom'.
I really love the foliage of this Heucherella, foamy bells 'tapestry'. (What an odd name).
Lupine- all I've ever known of these were their flowers. I had no idea they had such pretty leaves.
Bee Balm, monarda didyma.
Larkspur Delphinium 'new millennium'- I think the foliage of this plant is really cool, too. I put this in the back of the garden area- label says it could get six feet tall!
Another new favorite for its silvery blue-green leaves is this 'Beaujolais' Lysimachia. I have to keep an eye on this one- I place it on a slope where the ground is drier, because in damp areas it can get invasive.
They look so insignificant across the expanse of still-naked ground. I hope some of them will get big enough that I can divide and spread them in a year or two.
While planting I found a few fiddleheads coming up from my ferns which I thought had died last year!
And these two are not in the general bedding area, but against posts flanking the little garden plots. I've always wanted to have clematis, and hope they are not too finicky. These are both purple varieties with people names- 'H.F. Young' and 'Mrs. N. Thompson' which I will never remember unless I look at this post again.

limitations

The coldframe house is strong, but not impervious to chill. We had a night of frost, and I thought everything in there was okay. But I lost most of my basil seedlings- only the biggest one survived it. And my one little sage plant almost died (its first true leaves are just big enough to touch them and receive scent of the herb). I rushed it back indoors and propped its stem gently with a nudge of soil- it seems to be recovering. So now I am still shuffling the more tender seedlings indoors on colder nights.
Carrots and beets are coming up in the garden spot. Three echinacea in a jug planter, and cosmos sprouting in two others. I thought I was done sowing seed but today started some nasturtiums in trays on top of the fridge. And more basil, of course. This time marking the tray.

30 March 2016

two just for me

I don't really think of the yard plants as mine, because they will stay here long after we move on someday. But I got two plants from the greenhouse place just for me. Ferns. This gorgeous unreal-looking tropical bird's nest fern. I'd never seen anything like it (except in pictures). It is now my current favorite (especially because the boston fern is still shabby).
Reading up on care for the bird's nest fern made me recognize that my boston fern probably got yellowed leaves when on the porch end of last summer from too much light- when the sun direction changes as fall approaches its spot got hit with more sun at the end of the day. And its more recent ailment of browning, failing foliage a few months ago was from too much fertilizer- I distinctly recall that week my aquarium water had too much nitrates in it and I bet that's what hurt the fern.
I also got a little foxtail asparagus fern- another kind I've always wanted to try. While the bird's nest fern will spend summers outside, the asparagus fern is a houseplant. It needs a potting up soon.

28 March 2016

new plants!

I made a wonderful discovery. There is a local grower not ten minutes from my house. It's not a big box place and they don't advertise, I only found it because a friend mentioned it a few years ago and I finally drove down the small side street that turns into a dirt road to look for myself. The exterior is a plain, modest building with ten greenhouses flanking it. I stepped inside and wow. The plants were gorgeous. I was agog at a giant decades-year old staghorn fern hanging from the ceiling in the first greenhouse. I perused all the buildings and made a solid selection- all for the yard, to start filling in our blank spaces. Most of the plants I got are perennials, a few annuals which are waiting in my coldframe house for the last frost date to pass.
Here's the lot of them! I found quite a few varieties I've always wanted, and more I've read about on other garden blogs and had earmarked for consideration in my yard. Others I picked out just because the foliage was so pretty and the light requirements seem to match what we've got (mostly part shade in our backyard) so I thought to give them a try.

I haven't had time to write up their individual details (for my own later reference) but will do that soon, here.

27 March 2016

fixes

The coldframe house gets too hot when temperatures rise in the middle of the day. Nice and steamy, but threatening to wilt some plants. I lost my first tomato seedling because I forgot to open the door soon enough one day. Brought that particular tray back inside to germinate the rest of them (now have five more tomato seedlings- a late start again, I know). I had been propping the door open with a large pot, but it would bang around in the wind and a hole got punched in the plastic (easy fix with tape).
I folded a paper clip to make a hook and eye, that holds the door open just a gap. So far it's working great.
Finally found a better way to get vermicompost out of the worm bin. Without waiting weeks for the worms to migrate (that takes a long time no matter how encouraged they are by food sources) or spending long, tedious hours handpicking worms from piles. I made a sieve. Cut the bottom out of a deep plastic plant tray, punched holes in it and reattached with duct tape. Wanted to test it the idea before I go out and buy a sieve of the right size. Trial and error to figure out what size holes would let enough compost through but keep out all the unprocessed bedding and most of the worms.
I was able to sift through the entire bin in just a few hours, and got almost half a five-gallon bucket of very nice, fine compost. Didn't have to prep an entire new bin, either, as the worms went into it with a lot of bedding still intact. It probably does stress the worms being shaken around in the sieve, but they're the variety that can withstand a bit of disturbance, and this is only going to occur once every few months...
On my fish tank, I finally made the wooden block "feet" for the light strip secure with screws.
And colored them black. I thought I would have to attach a strip of something to hug the lip of the tank on the outside edge and hold it in place, but it's not really necessary. If I shift the light forward a bit, the blocks wedge on either side of the lid hinge and make it secure enough there's no shift side-to-side.

26 March 2016

on the porch

The mock strawberry on my front porch is starting to look attractive.
The boston fern is not. I cut it back hard, removing all the old, tattered foliage and just leaving the newer fronds. It looks so pathetic!
But there are plenty of fiddleheads emerging.

spring in the yard

Yesterday I started doing some spring weeding and checking on the yard plants- and thinking what I could do to add to their numbers. My yard has too many bare spots, not enough plants! So here's the main cheer: forsythia.
It's such a small clump in the back corner of the yard I was starting to wonder if it was alive- glancing out the window I never saw a spot of yellow or even green, while bright sunny color is bursting in spots all over the neighborhood. I tromped back there and looked close.
Yes, I finally have forsythia blooms.
I'm delighted to see that my little lilac bush is putting out new buds- the leaves looked sickly in the fall so I wasn't sure if it was healthy, worried it had got some pest or disease...
Clearing away weeds from the small planting I have in the backyard revealed how large the salvia has grown out already. It looks great.
The hellebores (lenten rose) have gotten so much bigger! And I'm so pleased with this plant- they stay green all winter, which is nice.
The bunch of them looked crowded, so I dug out the three biggest ones and put them into their own spaces.
That left seven smaller plants still grouped together.
I also really like these plants in the daisy family- they stay green all winter as well. I need to find the plant label I saved somewhere among my empty pots, and find what it is so I can get more of them (in other colors, I'm not too fond of white flowers).
And I think they might have naturalized in my yard? Nearby I found several small bunches of plant that look like the same leaf shape, only much smaller. I plucked a leaf off the parent plant to compare. Will let these grow and see if it matures into the same thing- and what color the flowers might be...
There's other little plants I paused over when weeding- some of them look rather attractive, though I'm sure these are just weeds.
This one I left alone- it has red tint undersides and I wonder what it is- might be something nice or useful? I will let it grow a little bigger and see. Maybe it's an opportunistic tree seedling...
And these soft-leaved pale plants I find here and there in the lawn. I think they are lambs ears. I want to transplant them but not sure where to. Lamb's ears are a plant I always think look kind of out-of-place, not sure where they can go to be a nice contrast instead of an oddity (in my opinion).