Sunday, June 29, 2008

Good News!

Where to start? Sister's blue bird family had a second go around and so far so good (picture courtesy of said Sister)- Ma, Pa and 5 babies are doing well-Yeah!!! My Gruss an Aachen rose has a bud!!! Yeah!!! My mystery-Sweet Promise rose has a tiny bud too- Stay tuned to find out if it is acutually a Sweet Promise or if they mystery continues. Mystery plant (came with the house) has buds on it. I think it's a hydrangea but as it's never bloomed, I'm not really sure. I found out from my MIL that one of my other mystery plants is a Potentilla. Good to know! I like that one. Mystery Foxglove has been tentatively idetified as either "Candy Mountain"-spitting image but doesn't "turn it's blossoms up to the sun" or the Camelot series Rose.

I've been making a concerted effort to check out all the local nurseries. Upstate Gardener's Jounal did a bang-up job cataloging the places on the east side of the city. Luckily a lot of them are right around my area. I was very impressed with Lucas. There I got 6 -4" pots of creeping thyme to plant amongst my pavers for the low-low price of $5.60. I've planted half of them so far. They look a little fatigued but I think they'll make it. Hopefully it'll take and I'll have nice thyme growing between the flagstones instead of weeds! I also got some Serrano chile plants-some how I got them confused with Aneheim a nice mild chile -Serrano are 5x hotter than jalepenos-Whoops!

I had to go to Buffalo this week for work. I decided to stop at a really large gardening store on the west side on the way home- it was humongus! At first I thought: UH-oh this is going to be very dangerous... but I was able to control myself. I stuck to the list: potting soil and new gardening gloves. In the end I wasn't really impressed with the place for a few reasons: There were no birds or butterflies to be found. It smelled like chemicals (probably the reason I didn't see any birds or butterflies). Prices weren't any better than any other place. Selection wasn't nearly as good as some of the smaller places -they had a lot of stuff but it was a lot of the same stuff and pretty pedestrian at that-impatiens, geraniums by the acre. The place was so huge it was overwhelming. I do have to say they had a nice selection of landscaping bushes and pots. The staff wasn't terribly helpful or friendly. There were many bunches of kids standing around chatting. One nice kid put the bag of potting soil into the cart for me. Check out was painful 2 registers were open and they both had a hang up for some reason or another. When I checked out the cashier was too busy chatting with her coworker to even acknowlege me and as a result I was left on my own to wrangle the bag of potting soil into my car-It was a bulky 25-30lb bag and I was wearing heels and a business suit. I managed and didn't mess up my suit-Yeah!!!

Friends of ours just bought a new house in the city and moved in last weekend. It's a beautiful old house with a wonderful established garden complete with fruit trees and a pond. They don' t know anything about gardening and asked for help. I copied and printed some articles from old gardenig magazines about basic stuff and stuff specific to what they have in their yard and I found a nice book that should work as a good reference. It looks like the neighborhood has quite a few accomplished gardeners living there, and with gardeners being notoriously nice and helpful, I think they are in good shape.

Camera is still on the fritz and is probably dead. Hence the bluebird photo.

I place my Heritage Rose and Eden Rose in head to head combat last week here are the results:
Scent- Heritage by a landslide, vase life-Eden, maintenance-Eden (heritage has an aphid problem). Eden wins by a hair but the scent of Heritage makes it closer that it looks! Eden doesn't really smell like anything.

What's blooming: Lady's mantle, Yarrow, foxglove, delphinium, roses, spiderwort, potentilla, clematis

What's budding-Buddeleia, rudbeckia, echinacea, mystery plant (hydrangea?)

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Can't see the forest for the trees....

I hate helicopters!!! Not the kind that fly around in the sky monitoring traffic congestion and video taping police chases in Los Angeles (although, really, is that necessary?) I'm talking about the seedpods for maple trees. I have shovel fulls of these things all over the yard, the patio, the veggie garden, the flower garden...and with all the sun and rain we've had, mini maple trees are popping up everywhere! I'm trying really hard to appreciate the beauty and force of nature. For millions of years this area was forest and within the last 200 years or so-probably not even that long-people have chopped down the trees, planted farms, tilled up the farms and planted suburbs. Nature is just trying to gain back it's equalibrium. I'm all for being one with nature, but I would like a little variety! Needless to say I've been pulling up maple tree seedlings and picking up piles of 'helicopters' all week. I really need to get out in the veggie garden and do some hoeing or I won't be able to see the tomato plants for the trees...

The hordes have left town and everything is back to normal. We went out to dinner with friends last night in the village. It was hot again, a cold front came through earlier in the week but by Friday it was back in the 90's. We went to the new "Irish Pub" in like the old Pub better. The new place is trying too hard to be authentic. The old Pub isn't trying to be anything but a place to hang out and drink beer and maybe have a little supper. During dinner the heavens opened up and it started to pour. Lightning, thunder- the whole enchilada. We decided not to have dessert at the new pub so we ran out in the rain and went across the street for ice cream. We sat on the porch along the canal and ate ice cream and watched the storm. It was really kind of nice.

With the thousands of tourists gone it was safe to go the the farmer's market again today. I tried to get as much produce as possible. Everyone is totally freaking out about the tomato/salmonella outbreak-OMG stop eating tomatoes!!! Eating tomatoes that have been shipped 3,000 miles is totally gross whether or not they have salmonella-they taste like crap! This time of year the farmers with the greenhouses have tomatoes ready. They aren't nearly as good as garden grown but they aren't picked when green and hard as a rock either (and shipped across the country while they ripen). Side note: is 230 cases of Salmonella in a population of 300 million really something to freak out about? I bet there's a lot of other things on those tomatoes worth freaking out about it but since you won't feel the effects of it for another 20 years or so, don't worry about it.

Anyway, I digress. In additon to the tomatoes I also brought home scallions, lettuce and radishes. I meant to pick up some scapes but I got distracted again by the flowers....damn flowers. I had a plan, it was a nice economical plan: only get the things on my list of flowers that I have space for in the garden, it was a short list. The plan got shot to hell and the list got tossed aside. I got another salvia (Salvia nemorosa "Blue Queen"). I meant to get catmint (to replace the one that died) but the salvia was really pretty and the catmint was looking a little stumpy. Salvia went in the catmint spot. I also got 2 foxgloves (Digitalis purpurea). I love foxglove. The original plan was to buy some in a few years when I put in a flower bed next to the gate. I jumped the gun. I couldn't resist. One looks like "Pam's Choice" and the other I'm not sure. I'll have to do some investigation. It's hot pinky-raspberry color....Sweet! I have space, I just need to dig up and move some newly planted iris (see below about the free irises). I tried to sneak out of there but Japanese maple-man stopped to chat about the status of my Green Cascade. Then-caught like a cheating lover-I got stopped by the lady I usually buy my perennials from (the best prices, heathly plants, nice variety, really friendly and helpful) she wanted to tell me what beautiful plants the foxgloves were (I got them from the grumpy, not too helpful chain smoker with a better than usual selection this week). Luckily she had delphiniums-they were on my list! Redemption!!! I got 2 delpiniums to replace the (1) delphinium that Bodie accidentally dug up this spring while persuing a couple of chipmunks under the deck. I could easily have gotten 8 -so I consider it a victory! Dear Husband doesn't quite see it in such a favorable light. He shudders everytime I leave the house on a Saturday morning. I tell him he's lucky...I could be a drug addict, an alcoholic, a shopaholic. I could get my hair done, my nails done, I could hire a decorator to re-do the house, a landscaper to re-do the yard. I don't do any of that. So what's a few flowers? At really good prices I might add...

...Also I saved him over $720 this did I do that? I went to my pottery class and my friend Michelle gave me 16 Hostas, 6 irises(recently moved 4 feet forward to accomodate above mentioned foxgloves) and a columbine for free(!!!!!). Have I mentioned how much I love free stuff????? I planted everything and DH didn't even have to dig one hole. How do I calculate the savings? My friend Holly hired a professional landscaper to give her an estimate and a plan to re-do some beds in her yard. HOLY SMOKES! What a rip off!!!! I know these guys need to make money but A) it was a damn ugly design B) totally lacked imagination C) it clearly didn't take into account the mature size of the plants. Sell more plants, make more money, customer rips the plants out in 5 years and that's money down the drain, plants die a senseless, tragic death. D) Where do they come up with these prices? He charged $45 for a hosta!!! ONE HOSTA! That must be a damn fine hosta (16 hostas x $45= $720 savings to DH -I love it when math works out in my favor!). I know that includes labor but how labor intensive is hosta-hole digging? It's not like a rose or an ancient redwood, you don't need a backhoe! Luckily for Holly, she's a smart girl and realized she was about to be ripped off and it was a damn ugly design (complete with fake-red mulch). I told her to wait a few years and I'd divid my hostas and sell them to her for the low, low price of $39.99 each...I also mentioned to her that I have a bridge in Brooklyn I'd like to sell...

...I also got a (red) morning glory vine for $1. I planted it where it will totally clash with my pink perennial sweet pea. I'm big on having a color scheme in the front yard-pink and chartreuse. In the back yard my color scheme: God puked up a rainbow. My poor neighbors.

Blooming this week: Peonies (hurrah!!), salvia, veronica, spirea, bleeding heart, foxglove, delphinium, roses.

Rose Race final results:Captain Sam won the first to bloom race, Distant Drums was a not so distant 2nd. Eden and Heritage are about to bloom any exciting! Winchester Cathedral has little buds on it. Not bad considering Distant Drums and Winchester were little twigs a few short months ago.....Gruss an Aachen doesn't have any buds but seems to be chugging along ok. I'm pretty sure Sweet Promise...isn't. I think it's whatever the root stock is. I diligently inspect it for buds but so far...Nada.

*about the picture-this is an old one- I busted Bodie trying to break into the garden to steal my eggplants. My camera has sh-the bed! I can't get the lens to focus and I get an error message on the screen. I'm hoping a little rest will set it right. If not, I'm formulating a plan B

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Hot Hot Hot!!!

Ugh! Heat wave in's been in the 90's for the past few days with oppressive humidity. All I'm going to say is that I hate it and I'll leave it at that. The people in the Mid-West are having flooding and tornadoes so I feel really lucky that natural disasters are few and far between around here.

I went to the nursery today (festival in town= 250,000 visitors the village this weekend=no farmers market for me!) I wanted to get a hanging basket and fill it with shade plants. The front of the house is kind of blah...and shady- Big red maple out front. Ideally I would like to put window boxes in the front windows. I have the inserts but need to make the boxes- not in the budget this year. So, what I got was some hot pink impatiens, chartreuse sweet potato vine (Marguerite), some chartreuse and pink coleus and asparagus fern. Throw it all together and I think it looks pretty good hanging on a branch of the red maple out front. I also got some Golden Creeping Jenny (Lysimachia nummularia 'Aurea') I had intended to put it in the basket but ran out of room. I put it in a pot with the leftover hot pink impatiens. I'm going to try to over winter the asparagus fern (I'll bring inside and put in the bathroom), the coleus (cuttings) and I'll put the creeping jenny in the ground-I'll try to reuse it all next year in the boxes.....I wonder if I can save the sweet potato vine???? That thing was hard to find..they only had a few and they were all chartreuse, good thing I didn't want a dark purple one!

I also got a flat of marigolds and some purple sweet allysum. I love orange and purple together. I filled some of the window box inserts & clay pots and put them on my deck -not terribly fancy but my back deck was woefully bare- flowers are so expensive!!! I wanted some verbena and lantana but there was no way- too much dinero. Thats why I love perennials, they cost a bit more but they last! I have some Fordhook nasturtium seeds that I planted in the veggie garden last week left over so I put them in the boxes and pots too. Seeds are seeds.

I had never been to that nursery before (we have a lot of them around here). It was really nice. Not too far from my house & they had a huge selection of just about everything and everything looked really healthy, not an easy feat with this heat. I found a rose that I want to plant next to the driveway "Happy Chappy" was the name. I'll have to look it up and see if it will work there. I could have gone crazy and spend a ton of money but I managed to control myself. Besides the creeping Jenny the only other perennial I got was Veronica alpina "Goodness Grows" beautiful electric blue spikes. I couldn't help myself. I love Veronica and used to have it at my old house it's like a butterfly magnet! I just planted it between my Captain Sam and Distant Drums roses. Yesterday those two were neck and neck: who will bloom first???? I think Capt Sam pulled ahead this morning. The first bloom is just starting to open..... Distant Drums bud is still closed up.

Weigelia is finishing up its blooms I should have taken a picture, it was gorgeous this year. Sage bloomed and is kaput. Allium moly is out in full force. My chives are going nuts! Thyme is blooming. Salvia blooming. Stokesia and echinacea buds are forming. Peonies are probably going to bloom tomorrow-I see a lot of peonies blooming in the area. Iris' are out in full force. Bleeding heart is looking really good. I need to pull out the Spiderwort in the front (also blooming). I love it but the purple blooms are clashing with my hot pink and chartreuse color scheme-it was planted by the previous owner who apparently had no color scheme or master plan. I may replace it with some Echinacea from the back yard garden-I've got plenty! I'll see if anyone in my pottery class wants the Spiderwort. That's a great place to get and give plants. Most of us are gardeners in addition to being potters. Picture courtesy of Aunt & Uncle's garden