Primula Denticulata and More

7 March 2021 16:30 p.m.
(Date I originally began this post)

Sipping deliciously refreshing Moroccan green tea. Busy day today. I am sitting outside finally able to relax. So, what have I accomplished today?

Trading One Fern for Another

In the family room, I have a beautifully decorated ceramic pot. There, an asparagus fern (actually a herb and not a true fern) has been languishing for a while. I brought the pot outside, dug out and discarded the asparagus fern, emptied the old soil into the bed where the elderberry’s grow, filled it with black gold soil and planted my little bird’s nest fern that has managed to hang on despite my neglect.

I am amazed the bird’s nest fern is still alive. It has been sitting on the north window ledge for so long in its original, small plastic pot, it was completely rootbound and removing it proved to be quite difficult. So much so, I had to cut it out. Once released, I discovered it was sopping! I trimmed away the little grow pot thing that encased it… well, as much as I could. I then tucked it away into its new home and topped off the pot with some orchid mix.

Looking into the crown, I could see that any new leaves that were trying to emerge were black. ? so hopefully it will find a way to thrive in its new home. One pleasant surprise was the Oxalis growing in the center. It is very welcome to flourish at will.

Bird’s nest fern in its new home. May it happily thrive!

Oxalis in center of bird’s nest fern

Interlude:

I truly do not know what I was thinking! Bird’s-nest ferns are epiphytic and grow in tight, nest-like clumps usually in nooks and crevices of trees. If I were to leave this plant in the pot seen above, it would languish and die. I promptly removed it and transferred it to a small terracotta pot as seen below:

More Primula Denticulata!

… The obsession continues. Prior to today (7 March 2021 when I wrote this post), here are all the places I have planted some drumstick primula seed:

• Climbing rose bed
• Under sugar maple
• Yellow pot under sugar maple
• The two small pots at the foot of the left set of stairs
• Little black pot indoors (set up in the basement as they need things cool to germinate)

The left set of stairs leading to the upper slope of the garden. I planted the primula denticula seeds in the two pots at the bottom.

…. and here is the right set of steps just so you can see the other side of the garden! 🙂

There may be more places but that’s all I can remember right now.

Yellow pot under the sugar maple (I still owe you part III of the Cicely and maple story arc). Just behind the pot are Flo and Ringo my resident flamingos and to the right of Ringo is Dum Dum my Easter Island head pot. 🙂

And Today (7 March 2021) …

I emptied a terracotta pot sitting on the bottom shelf of the wire grow rack. I don’t suspect the original inhabitant – Virginia Stock – that was planted last year will come back. I then broke up the soil clumps, added some black gold mix, soaked the pot and added the drumstick primula seed.

Here is the wire grow rack I mentioned. You cannot see the bottom level due to the drifting show from our recent storm.

Next…

I have two scalloped pots near a wagon wheel next to a bed dedicated to my strawberry mint. I filled these with black gold mix and again planted more primula seed.

My most sincere hope is that I will get just a few of these plants to germinate and better yet bloom! Oh! The hopes of the gardening soul!

Right Now (7 March 21)

The sun is setting lower in the sky, finches are arguing for a place on the cylinder feeders filled with black oil sunflower seed, the peanut feeder has been filled but so far, no jays have descended upon it, my custom crafted wind chimes made from bottle caps and various trinkets is singing to me, the dried grasses rustle, a robin searches for seeds and it is getting cold. So, that’s all for now.

A dear friend of mine custom crafted this wind chime using a colander, bottle caps and other random treasures.

Until next time, I wish to thank you most sincerely and humbly for taking the time to read my garden musings. I appreciate your presence. Until next time, I wish for you and yours the very best in health and all things. Many blessings.

As always, here are some current photos of the garden. Enjoy!

** All photos were taken by the author. If you wish to buy some primula denticulata seeds. I recommend Plant World Seeds. They have such a great collection of not only primula seeds but many other wonderful and unique varieties.

The Gift of a Christmas Cactus

For Linda

Winter will soon be here and the garden for the most part has gone dormant. I have failed to keep this blog up to date and for that I sincerely apologize. I have so much to share but it is just a matter of taking the time to sit at my desk and write. Easier said than done so it seems.

With not much that needs doing outside, my energies are devoted once again to the indoor (winter) garden. For this post’s inspiration, my Christmas cactus has once again put forth a profusion of blooms.

Meet Mary

Preface:
As it turns out, I have written about my Christmas cactus previously. That only confirms my sincere infatuation for this plant. You can read that post from nearly five years ago here where I not only share my thoughts on the Christmas cactus but the wonderful Cosmos plant.

Christmas cactus in full bloom

A profusion of blooms on my beautiful Christmas cactus

I love to name my specimen plants and I do not think I am alone. This beautiful Christmas cactus was given to me by mother-in-law Grace. In her honor, we have named her Mary which is not only Grace’s middle name but also her mother’s name.

Each year, around this time (which I suppose technically would make this a Thanksgiving cactus), I am blessed with a sudden burst of abundant red and fuchsia colored blooms. As the outdoor garden sleeps, this magnificent display of color is definitely most welcome… particularly this year.

It has been a very challenging year for everyone and now more than ever, it is vital to appreciate anything that provides joy. My gardens, both indoor and outdoor, provide an abundance of simple joy. It is this joy that I love sharing with anyone who will listen or in this case read.

If you are able to visit your local garden center (please try and avoid big box stores and it is so important to support small, local businesses right now) I recommend treating yourself to the beautiful and easy to care for Christmas cactus. Given the right conditions, this plant will provide years of happiness. I promise.

Some intimate shots of Mary’s beautiful flowers taken a couple days ago:

Christmas cactus macro bloom

Christmas cactus macro bloom

The Secrets to My Success

I know there are some out there who have a difficult time getting their Christmas cactuses to rebloom. For all those people, I will share with you what I do. This is really a very undemanding plant and if you follow these guidelines, you too will be greeted with a plethora of blooms just in time (or slightly after) Thanksgiving.

Water and Fertilization

Do not let the name cactus catch you off guard! This is a tropical plant from Brazil. They are actually epiphytes and their native habitat is within the rainforest tucked into trees or rocks. So, they like water and humidity. Because of this, I do not let the soil go dry. I also am careful not to overwater. I find that in the summer maybe a thorough watering twice a week is sufficient. In the winter, just once a week.

When it comes to fertilizing this plant, I mix in some orchid fertilizer with my water. Just to make things easier, I mix in a pinch or two of Flower Fantasy Fertilizer granules from Fantasy Orchids, fill with very warm water and use that to water my Mary, the Christmas cactus. She seems to like that.

Light

My Christmas cactus is near a window that has a southeast exposure. It seems this is sufficient for what it needs to thrive and of course continually bloom. Oh yes! Speaking of this. Once the primary bloom of November ends, don’t be surprised if you see subsequent blooms even into summer!

Pruning

I never really pruned this plant until it grew so much I could no longer close the blinds. So, last September, I took my garden scissors and gave it a massive haircut. What happened next is why I will forever and always prune this plant in September.

The blooms had multiplied 10-fold! I was always so blessed with a decent amount of blooms but after pruning, every single stem had blooms. This year, I pruned again and had the same result. Based on this, make a note on your garden calendar to give your plant a trim in September before flower buds form.

Final Thoughts

As mentioned above, this has been a difficult year and any one thing that can provide joy is so appreciated. If you are reading this blog, you are one of those people that gain joy from gardening. I have always thought that if every single soul on the planet took the time to grow something, anything, the world would transform into something amazing.

As I close this post, I want to thank you so kindly for reading. I truly appreciate it.

There is one thing I failed to mention. All those stems you end up with after pruning can be planted directly in soil and they will make a new plant (rather quickly I might add). So, if you cannot get a plant this year, would you like me to start one for you? Just leave a comment or send a message and I will be happy to share a cutting from my plant.

Thank you again and I wish for you the best in health and all things.

Until next time, happy gardening!
Benny

As always, here are some photographs taken toward the end of this year’s gardening season. Enjoy!

A volunteer sunflower most likely planted by my bird friends. This sweet little bloom lasted months. It stood in solitude near the fence and brought me joy each day.

Ami blooms. You can barely make it out but there is a native bee on this cluster of flowers. I started these indoors but next year, I will probably just plant directly outside.

It rained and then the rain froze. This viola bloom became frozen in time as a result.

This is a beautiful variety of snapdragon called Night and Day from Botanical Interests. SO beautiful.

Seed pod clusters on the Norway maple.

A Swenson Swedish pea bloom. Sadly, there was a hard freeze not long after this photo was taken so I could not take part in enjoying a second crop of peas this year.

Special Notes:

If you too want to grow what I grow here are some links you may find helpful.

You can purchase the astoundingly beautiful Night and Day snapdragons from Botanical Interests.

If you would like a very dependable, robust pea, I cannot recommend the Swenson Swedish pea more. You can purchase this seed variety from Seed Savers Exchange.

Sweet Cicely and The Maple Part II

Benny's Garden 20 Oct 2019Continued from part I

Juliet Bush Cherry to shade my sweet cicely

Sweet Cicely Appreciates Shade

With the end of each season comes sales! As autumn wears on, nearly all garden centers in the northern part of the United States typically discount the remaining summer stuck of plants significantly. I desired a smallish hardy shrub to go in the center of the raised bed where I had been attempting to grow my sweet cicely. The cicely is growing along the right edge, so I wanted something that grew up to 10 feet high x 5 feet wide. I perused all the shrubs and came across a bush cherry that was 50% off.

I took out my phone and did a quick bit of research. The variety I was considering was the Juliet Bush Cherry. This beauty is happy to Zone 2! It grows to ten feet high and 5-7 feet wide. Perfect! To top it off, one plant can eventually produce 25 pounds of cherries once mature. Quite a delightful bonus, wouldn’t you agree?

Interlude to share the delight of chickadees in the garden

I started creating this post on the 13 August of this year. With that in mind, here’s a moment that happened as I was writing that day:

I am sitting outside writing this and the sun is now in the west which makes it difficult to sit in the shade under the pergola. Because of this, I am sitting on the couch which is still shaded. I have a bonsai with a tray underneath that catches water. The chickadees love to drink from this tray. I am sitting right next to it so now and again I can hear wings fluttering near my head. The chickadee flapping around wanted to land but didn’t like my being so close. I moved down and stole these photos.

I absolutely adore the chickadees and have more dedicated feeders for them than any other bird.

Chickadee Landing

Chickadee coming to drink

Chickadee coming to drink

Back to the Story

I purchased the Juliet Bush Cherry and once home, I created a respectable hole and planted it in snugly into the little raised bed. Digging and planting finished, I removed my gloves, sat down and immediately started looking forward to the day when it would reach maturity. When that day arrives, my sweet cicely will have ample shade and I can harvest fresh cherries as an added bonus!

Because winter would be arriving soon, I added an entire bag of soil pep mulch to the entire area.

Spring Arrived

Though the bush cherry is still relatively small, it did seem it would provide some decent shade for my (hopefully) soon to be emerging sweet cicely. But, would it be enough to allow for success?

I believe it was the second or third week of March when I noticed the little fern textured leaves poking through the ground. Though optimistic, I did not allow myself to get too excited. I had seen the foliage emerge in a similar fashion in years past. It did not take long for me to realize that this year was going to be different however. More and more leaves began to emerge and then! I was blessed with flower stalks. The little umbels were similar to that of Queen Anne’s Lace and their very presence allowed for the type of elation only a gardener would understand. When you try for something so long within the garden, an occurrence such as this is wonderful validation for years of hard work.

Why Was I Successful This Year?

I wish I had a photo to show you, but I cannot seem to find any of the photos I took when the flowers formed. With that said, here is a photo from Wikimedia Commons that is a fair representation of what I saw in my garden.

Myrrhis odorata, sweet cicely

Sweet Cicely, courtesy Wikimedia Commons

I am not entirely sure why I had such success this year. It could be everything combined (clearing out competing plants, providing a bit more shade, etc.) but I am convinced that the main reason is due to adding the soil pep. I say that because I added soil pep to other parts of the garden. In each area where soil pep was added, the plants flourished. I absolutely love this product and plan to mulch the entire garden with it throughout the rest of this autumn season.

This concludes the Sweet Cicely portion of this series. I still owe you a story about the maple and that story shall be told in the third and final part of this series.

I thank you so kindly for reading.

Until next time, happy gardening and thank you for being a part of my community!

As always, here are some photos of my garden for you to enjoy.

Interior of yellow sunflower

This is just one of the many sunflowers that volunteered in my garden this year.

Rudbecia flower against fence

Rudbecia flower against fence

Sweet Cicely Leaves

Hey! Look what I found! This is a photo of the cicely happily growing in my garden!

Borage flower

Borage flower. The leaves taste of cucumbers

Tragopogon dubius (Yellow Goat's Beard)

Tragopogon dubius (Yellow Goat’s Beard) flower

Tragopogon dubius (Yellow Goat's Beard)

Tragopogon dubius (Yellow Goat’s Beard) in seed. I gathered some seeds a long while ago during a road trip. I am now blessed to have these flowers growing everywhere.