Sunday, January 31, 2010

Pink Blossoms and the First Narcissus

Taiwan cherries, Prunus campanulata are the first of the spring blooming ornamentals.
 Taiwan cherry tolerates heat better than other flowering cherries. USDA Zones 7B-9.

Notice the rain drop?

Paperwhites are the first narcissus in bloom.
These were forced a couple of years ago, and salvaged.
Shoots of other daffodils are springing up everywhere.

Weather has not been kind to camellias this Winter,
but I wanted you to see this seedling's first blooms.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Colors of Winter, Promise of Spring

Could I find a rainbow in a mostly dormant garden, without the bright hues of Spring?

Pursed lip red Camellia buds await warmer days to reveal their true color.
Those in a more sheltered spot have already begun to open again.

Lorpetalum is putting out tentative buds and will bloom until after the azaleas of spring. Orange leaves shed as new green comes on.

Dogwood leaves stayed green until well into the winter, the freeze turned them burnt orange.

Violas survived the freeze, bright orange and yellow in the sunshine.
Look! There's hyacinth foliage just above that leaf.

Variegated yellow leaves on a rooted cutting from the old euonymous that used to form hedges here. Spiderwort will soon put on buds, while shasta daisies await warm spring days.

Greyed greens of rose campion and spanish lavender complement the greens of a mossy stone.

Blue foliage of dianthus 'Bath's pink' spilling over stone is joined by California poppy seedlings of almost the same hue.

Glorious blue skies are marked by a vapor trail above Little Gem magnolia foliage.

Purple violas with yellow faces complete the spectrum.

This is my take on the winter Rainbow Garden Invitation from Rebecca @ In the Garden.

Go! See lots of rainbow posts linked at her blog.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

What's in Your Windows?

The informal poll on keeping plants over during winter showed that half of us have something growing in our kitchen windows, and 30% have plants in other windows of the house.

Only 1 in ten of those taking part said they keep over no plants through the winter.

We keep plants and cuttings and seedlings in sheds, greenhouse, solariums, under grow lights; tucked wherever they can survive until Spring.

Two hyacinths in vase are on a window sill, opening faster than the ones in containers of stones in the green house where it is cooler. This is the first to bloom.

I frequently have cuttings rooting year around where I've brought in something that either broke or I wanted to try to root a piece. Right now I have a piece of porterweed and a rose cutting that was left when the flower dropped its petals in the kitchen window.

In the greenhouse, shrimp plant, red alternanthera with little clover-like blooms not seen in summer gardens, and a white shrimp bloom at the top. The red shrimp and alternanthera are in water. The white shrimp is in soil, after rooting in water.

Pentas are growing in both water and soil in the greenhouse. This pale pink is one of my favs. After the prolonged freezing temps we had, I'm afraid the pentas in the garden may not return. I'll be glad of every little rooted cutting.

What's in your windows? I love to hear your comments.
If you've pics, please do blog about the plants in your windows, and link back here.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Fruit in the Garden: What Will You Plant?

There's a new poll on the sidebar. This one is about fruits you have planted or want to plant in your garden.

I've never planted a Bradford pear. While ornamental pears are showier in bloom and in the fall, they produce no useful fruit. We make pear preserves, pear sauce -- like applesauce, but tastier -- and poached pears with ice cream and chocolate sauce.

Strawberries make good groundcover, if you don't mind crawling around on the ground under the shrubbery trying to get to the fruits before the critters do.

A recipe for Fig and Walnut Loaf was posted on Vegetable Matter recently. She used dried figs -- I used preserved figs, drained, and it was tasty! Great for breakfast, toasted.

My blueberry bushes have not yet produced the way the neighbors' down the road do, yielding gallons and gallons of berries which they share. Blueberries require much the same care as azaleas, except blueberries prefer the sun, azaleas the shade.

Scuppernong Grapes.

What fruits are you growing? Are there some you plan to plant soon? I saw blueberry plants at the garden center this week. Other vines and trees are coming to a nursery near you.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Native Plants or Naturalized?

Have you counted the Native Plants in your garden? Not an advocate of an all-native garden, I could not do without roses, for example. Nor do I restrict my azaleas to those natives that bloom after the colorful azaleas of the Orient that are part of the essence of place that signifies South Georgia along with winter's Camellias, also from the Orient.

False indigo in foreground and native azalea at upper right, Jones Lab last April.

Some native plants I never introduce into the garden. Festoons of Carolina jessamine adorn the trees along woods' edge in spring, but there isn't a spot for it in my garden. So far I have not found a suitable spot for Baccharis other than at woods' edge or field edges. Seeds of Native Carolina Cherry Laurel is frequently brought in by birds. It's a lovely bright green evergreen, growing to great heights. It makes a beautiful screen between our field and the neighbors just to the north.

Echinacea was a recent post: Echinacea: One Seed Chicago so I won't post echinacea again.

Stokesia at left, being visited by a Tiger Swallowtail. At right in the pic is blue eyed grass, our native Sisyrinchium. You can barely notice the tiny blue blooms at upper right. I found the blue eyed grass at the edge of a pasture. Not a real grass, it has segments like an iris and loves to be divided. Stokesia has been in this garden as long as I can remember. It will die out if not divided every few years.

azaleas,calycanthusCalycanthus, our native sweetshrub has maroon flowers and bright green foliage. It is a suckering plant, so propagation is easy.

Sumac and Sassafras are two small native trees that add the brightest spots of fall color along with native Dogwoods. Sassafras blooms during the winter, little yellow blooms resembling Witch hazel.
Blueberry is a native, popular for fruit in these parts.

Oakleaf hydrangea,Strobilanthes,lilies,sago
Oakleaf hydrangea

Please Sing Along:

The Pawpaw Patch
Where, oh where, is dear little Nellie?
Where, oh where, is dear little Nellie?
Where, oh where, is dear little Nellie?
Way down yonder in the pawpaw patch.

Picking up pawpaws, puttin' 'em in your pocket,
Picking up pawpaws, puttin' 'em in your pocket,
Picking up pawpaws, puttin' 'em in your pocket,
Way down yonder in the pawpaw patch.

Asimina, our native paw-paw which grows in high mixed shade.
Paw-paw is the host plant for Zebra Swallowtail Butterflies.

Callicarpa americana is known as beautyberry (spelled all together, not two words) or French mulberry, or American beautyberry. When speaking of beautyberry as a garden specimen, much is made of the purple fruits which appear in fall. The summer beauty is pale pink flowers that precede the berries and are attractive to butterflies.

Beautyberry often volunteers within its range, sometimes with such vigor as to be regarded as a weed species, but the rogue plants can be easily removed. Fall interest is the yellow-green foliage combined with the purple fruits. Other cultivars are C. bodinieri, C. dictoma, and C. japonica, about which I know nothing.

Invasives that I've been offered from the gardens of others include Popcorn Tree. Growing on the property are Chinaberry, Privet and Lonicera japonica, planted by birds. Brooklyn Botanic Garden has a great guide to native plants to use instead of less desirable invasives :

Native Alternantives to Invasive Plants

One plant that BBG mentions as an invasive, Vitex, has never reseeded in my garden and I have four large plants that were rooted cuttings. The callicarpa that they advocate as a substitute does seed about everywhere here. You may find others such as Japanese Spiraea listed as invasive that are well behaved in some gardens, not others.

What natives are you adding as you edit your gardens?
What non-native plants do you retain as indicators of a sense of place?

Saturday, January 23, 2010

January Work, In the Garden: Path

On Monday, Tara said, "The more entries a landscape has the better...." That reminded me that the center path joining the upper and front gardens had never been finished. The Grandson helped with the heavy stones for the steps a couple of years ago and the path stopped there.

On the Upper garden side, there was no path, just a wall of azaleas.

Buffy shows where we hacked back azaleas to reveal a path to the front yard.

Buffy invites you to climb the stone steps to the Upper Garden.
Gardenias on either side will commence bloom early June.

Now we must make a destination point beyond the path in the upper garden. The stone behind Buffy can go elsewhere. Rocks here roll and are easier to move than a plant.

We're thinking about moving this stone to the stairs because of the moss patina and ferns.

Friday, January 22, 2010

White Dawn, What Nice Hips!

James asked if my pink roses turn into hips? None of them. It seems the rugosas, Eglantine and wild roses are more likely to have hips. The only nice hips in my garden are on 'White Dawn.' White Dawn is not as vigorous as New Dawn and the blooms are pure white, but it's a nice rambler.

I went out to look. Some of the hips on White Dawn have turned dark red. I picked a couple. The redder one tasted pretty good. When I researched rose hips, I learned they were a popular source of Vitamin C during WW II. Native Americans used them as food during winter. They remain popular today for jellies, tonics, pills and teas. Most writers says that birds leave them to the last. I wondered if it is because they are long lasting without rotting.

White Dawn, early September. Notice the Hips in the background.

I brought in a few seeds. White Dawn's near neighbor is Rose de Rescht.

I want to hear about your roses that make significant hips.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

What if You Had a Little Greenhouse?

Several visitors commented on Bloom Day how lucky to have a greenhouse. With DH's help, I turned my wish into a greenhouse. It isn't as cute as an improvisational carpentry shed would have been. The old windows I'd saved for years went with the scrap man because we just are not up to that kind of DIY building any more. Instead we bought a 10x12 Harbor Freight greenhouse made of aluminum with polycarbonate panels for the glazing, in 2007.

 Begonias and pentas are among the stars that tend to bloom all season. They came from the summer garden, either dug and potted or as cuttings.  There's a little bit of licorice plant, too.

The greenhouse came in a box, in a million pieces. I will spare the details of the assembly in the garage out of the wind and how the wind lifted it off the trailer when we hauled it around to set it in place. The directions are confusing. Reading every post of every person on Garden Web who ever assembled one was very enlightening. Most reinforced the basic GH in some way. Every base was different, but sturdy. Ours is fastened to t-posts driven into the ground. It stayed put in a windstorm that tore limbs off the cedar tree behind it.

Potting Bench

Interior and Walkway Photobucket

There is a base for the water barrels and potting bench and a walkway of concrete stepping stones with bricks to piece the irregular spaces. The rest of the floor has cypress mulch. I've been using seed pods as a decorative mulch lately as I clean seeds. I found little wood slat walkways made in Russia at an import store for the larger open spaces. They can be taken up to put transplants into the ground if needed.

epi tree pics, 2008 The epi tree is a curved dry cedar limb that supports plants with long dangling limbs like the night blooming Cereus. No epiphytes actually live on the 'tree' because the GH is empty during the summer.  Potted epis and syngoniums spend the summer outside in shade.                               
Night blooming cereus with tiny buds
Cereus and Syngonium

2009 photo: plants move in for the winter, before the Christmas Cactus bloomed.
The post about moving in is HERE. You read it before, I had forgotten what I said.

January 2010 Bloom Day photo.

Here are notes from my Greenhouse files:
Desirable Plants for which to Search:
Best Azaleas for GH forcing
Forcing hydrangea
Acalpha pendula
'Goodwin Creek Grey' lavender (put in 7" pot)

Made a note to Look for:
Dwarf Gardenia for GH
Rosemary standards 10" stem, 5" pot

Vowed to Take Cuttings:
Porterweeds -- long pieces, keep in water, root the tops in late winter in soil.
Pentas -- pot up and take cuttings as well.
Persian Shield for the color. Keeping pots of PS for winter, grow on through summer, bumping up.
Alternanthera -- cuttings in water are sufficient in winter.
Not sure if Licorice Plant is hardy, may need to pot some of it.
Salvias: Mexican Bush Sage and Pineapple Sage, lots of cuttings.
Need to root and pot up Pentas ahead of cold weather. Potted, well rooted plants will live over winter in the GH and be a good start in the garden, April 15. Only the Rose pentas returned in the garden in 2009.
Lemon Grass Too much room for too little gain, but one pot for Ikey to chew might be good.
Rosemary -- standards in 4" pots
Airplane plants
Begonias: some will already be potted. Worked well last year to pull out of urns and put in hanging basket containers.
Arrowhead vine (Syngonium) next to 'epi tree'
Plants of Black Pearl peppers -- this would be a good choice to start plants.
Black Magic colocasia -- dig pieces.
Porterweeds can be long pieces that grow in water until late winter, then cut off and root the tops.
Hedychiums are not evergreen. Can take pieces of Variegated Shell Gingers, Cardamon Gingers.
Keeping Heliconias and BOP in pots for the summer, can go inside for winter.

*Anthurium, bought July 10, 2009
*Areca palms, also July 10. Small.
*Red Emerald Philodendron, July 19, 2009, gallon pot or larger.
Amaryllis -- get some new bulbs to force.
Hyacinths -- force a few.

Need another bag of river stones, this time slightly larger stones.
Pineapple Sage, take cuttings in the fall. Need lots of these.
Lots of cuttings of Blue Porterweed, long stems in vases. Keep cutting off bottoms until Spring, then root in soil.
Cuttings of alternanthera can spend the wiinter in water.
Not sure how long Persian Shield will persist in winter.
--Sometimes I repeat myself. If I hear it enough times, I might do it.

Heat: Electric heaters, two small ones with thermostats set. Without heat, the inside will be the same temp as the outside by morning on freezing nights. The recent prolonged temps in the 20s F were not usual. This is zone 8b. Ordinarily we have freezing temps for a very brief period just before daybreak. The sun warms everything quickly.

Before I had the greenhouse, I kept the epiphyllums in the unheated laundry room with what cuttings I could squeeze in and I started hyacinths in the sink. I trundled seedlings in and out of the tool shed when the weather began to warm a little but there was still chance of frost. It's all fun.

There's a poll on the sidebar for seedlings and potted things, how you manage.
What would you do with a hobby greenhouse?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Pink Roses

So far the latest informal poll shows that Pink Roses are considered by many to be their most romantic flower.  DH notices that there are pink roses in the bed in front of the tractor shed. I prefer the brightest oranges and yellows of the beds in the front garden and the more purple toned pinks of Rose de Rescht and Reine des Violettes.

Carolyn's post on Diversity on Monday was illustrated by a Diversity of Pink Roses.

Among the Favs in my garden:

Belinda's Dream

Carefree Delight

Rose de Rescht & Gulf Frit
Rose de Rescht

Gene Boerner, my fav floribunda, even better than Knockout. Shown with Loropetalum
Gene Boerner

Nearly 50 years ago, my DH's only sister, then a teenager, had a tonsillectomy. As she roused from the anesthetic, her father asked her if she wanted anything. "Pink Roses!" she said, and he saw that she got them.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Romantic Flowers

It is never too early to speak of Romantic Flowers. I put a little Poll on the Sidebar so you can choose your favorite Romantic Flower.  This time you must choose only one, unlike previous polls. If I'd waited until Valentine's Day, I'd have had to include Cyclamen, which are almost always available then, and Primroses. The late florist Mr. Loran told me once that he always wanted a primrose path, but they didn't thrive in his garden. The list of romantic flowers is endless. If yours isn't included, please leave a comment and tell us about it.

Dianthus is a broad category that includes Garden Pinks as well as Carnations . Carnations were popular for high school prom corsages fifty years ago when the accompanying photo was taken. While we're spreaking romantic, I always loved a big fat football mum corsage with little chenille stem trinkets in the school colors during football season, even if my date happened be from the town of the opposing team.

You might write and link a post on Romantic flowers and review last summer's prettiest during this bad weather. I would like that.

Roses are always good choices for most romantic:

I hestitated to include Wisteria in the list because I agree with Susan at Miss Rumphius' Rules concerning Wisteria. Then I looked at the book Ninfa. Giardini di Ninfa is called the most romantic garden in the world. It features the thugs Wisteria and 'New Dawn' roses, true thugs but very, very beautiful and romantic along with  flowering cherries, ruins, walls and evergreen trees which add to the romantic look.

We eliminated a large overgrown patch of spirea and wisteria this fall, but left this tree-form wisteria in the midst of boxwoods. I continually hack at these plants to keep the wisteria out of nearby trees. Wisteria not only has spectacular spring bloom, but reblooms through the summer and smells good.

Which are your favorite romantic flowers? Everybody has a romantic story?

Friday, January 15, 2010

January Bloom Day: Violas and Ice

A careful search of the entire yard turned up no blooms of any kind, except for the bed of Violas that I planted in November. The ones I covered entirely with pine straw have better foliage, the ones with an uncovered crown have better blossoms.

Last January, there were plenty of blossoms to display.
This year, Camellias have not recovered from the freezing nights that turned the open blossoms brown and hindered tight buds opening until they feel warmth again.

The buds of Taiwan Cherry are still tightly closed. Last year they were open by Bloom Day, as were blooms of Lantana montevidensis and deciduous magnolia 'Leonard Messell.'

Every year is different. I do have blossoms in the greenhouse: Begonias, Pentas and the still blooming Christmas Cactus and Amaryllis.

Freezing nights in the 20s F for more than a week are the reason for the lack of blooms. Despite a warm day today, we still had ice. Buffy did what she could to help remove it.

Many thanks to Carol for hosting Bloom Day every month. You can find links to many blooms in gardens across the world at her site, May Dreams Gardens.

Happy Bloom Day. I look forward to February and March.