As I mentioned in my last post, my garden was responding to the unseasonably warm temperatures. The daffodils were rising ever higher toward the sky, clover was sprouting all throughout, irises were poking through, more violas were springing up in containers and all throughout the garden, chives and garlic onions were poking through the earth and if I am not mistaken, there was a mass of Flander’s poppy seedlings emerging. I say all these things in the past tense because the garden was quite rightly responding to what they perhaps considered an early spring. Then, in typical Colorado fashion, it turned very cold and six inches of snow blanketed everything. Snow is a natural insulator so I am not too worried but I can’t imagine these upstarts are enjoying the sudden rudeness of the cold. Maybe they are? I mean I LOVE the snow so perhaps they are enjoying it as well.
It is currently a balmy 41 degrees outside and the snow is disappearing rapidly. I am a strong proponent of conserving as much water as possible so I have been removing the snow from the stamped patio, the furniture, etc. and piling it in the various beds. We live in an Alpine desert environment so water is extremely precious and I garden with that in mind. As the snow recedes, I can see that the plants braving the sporadic nature of late winter don’t look too worse for wear. Unless we have another incredible heat spell, I think slow and steady will be the name of the game for the bulbs, etc. and those other plants that have yet to grace my garden will do so at a more appropriate time – I hope.
This is the year I shall take my indoor seed starting very seriously! Last year, I started my seeds too late and because my grow rack is down in the basement, I learned so many important lessons. One – It is chilly down in the basement, thus don’t expect the seedlings to be too robust without a heating mat. Two – Sporadic watering is not a good way to ensure success. In fact, letting your delicate seedlings dry out is a very quick way to kill them quickly. You would think I would know better.
Well, this year, I built a bigger rack and I attached the light properly (with the help of my handyman). Next I bought a self-contained kit which includes a 72-cell tray, a lid AND most crucial, a heating mat. It is made by a company called Hydrofarm and I bought it from my local garden center. It has mixed reviews on Amazon but considering it is under $40, I am hoping to have success with it.
With everything set up, I filled the cells with some Jiffy mix and then selected some seeds. Here is what I chose to get started:
These selections were purchased from Botanical Interests.
All the seeds were planted on February 22nd and yesterday I noticed some alyssum sprouts! This is a bit farther than what I got last year. Once the true leaves form on the alyssum, I will get them transferred out of the dome and into some paper pots. I need to purchase a second light, another mat and perhaps some other accessories such as a temperature regulator for the mats and timers for the lights. This can get very expensive very quickly but after this initial investment, the savings will be realized when I am not buying full grown plants from the nurseries. Anyone reading this knows that it is very difficult to walk out of a nursery without spending over $100.00 – particularly when you go in early spring and are very anxious to get immediate satisfaction with instant color!
The botanic gardens currently has a fantastic selection of orchids on display – most likely to entice more people to visit during the “drab” winter months. I don’t find winter drab at all. I find it peaceful and quiet. For me, the ideal time to go to the botanic gardens is during the winter for these very reasons. I am invigorated by cold so that doesn’t bother me either. Saying this, when I go to the gardens this time of year, I am there to take photos of dried seed heads or perhaps something exciting in the tropical conservatory.
A few weeks ago, I was delighted to see the many varieties of orchids and I enjoyed taking several photos of them:
Well, as luck would have it (I say with a tad of sarcasm) there was a local nursery selling some of these beautiful orchids. “Oh no!” I thought to myself. I have tried growing orchids before. I mean, how can anyone resist trying to grow these beauties at least once? That ended badly. Once those first blooms were spent, the plant never bloomed again. Was it light? Water? Too much or too little of each? I read that they like this or love that so was trying so many different things. In the end, I think I watered it too much (or maybe too little, I don’t know) and the stalks withered away to nothing. “No more orchids!” I exclaimed resolutely.
This crafty vendor proudly displayed her wares directly adjacent to the entrance of the orangery. Tuning into my affinity for her beautiful specimens, she softly and sweetly asked what I thought of her orchids. I was taking photos of them so I smiled and said I love them very much. “We have several varieties that will grow well in a bright spot of the home” she added.
“Oh, I am sure” I replied with a giggle. I then explained my woes of past growing experiences.
She then grabbed the specimen I was drooling over and had previously photographed. “I see you like this one.”
I swallowed hard. “Yes, it is so beautiful.”
“Well this guy is so easy to grow” she chirped. “All you need is a bright window facing south and this orchid will bloom for you easily.” She went on to describe its watering and feeding needs along with another declaration of how easy it was to grow.
I held this forbidden bit of temptation in my hand. “Look, she said. I have one here where the pods haven’t opened yet! Do you have a south facing window?”
“Just say no, just say no,” I repeated to myself “and this whole affair will be finished in one fell swoop.”
“Yes, I do” I said. “It is very bright and I have a coffee plant growing there along with other plants that love bright lights.”
“What! What are you saying! Stop, NOW!” I exclaimed to myself.
“Well, this would go perfectly in that window, don’t you think?” The sweet lady asked with the sincerest tone.
“It would actually” I said with a smile that stretched from Colorado to Texas.
I had to concede. I had to! I mean, look at this plant. This is MY plant after the pods opened. I listened carefully to all the advice this wonderful woman was willing to part with including light suggestions (my orchid would love the bright, south facing window) and water (at least once a week, don’t let it dry out).
“Do you have food?” She asked.
“I have some from when I tried this a long time ago. It is some smelly yellow powder” I responded.
“I have something here that we make ourselves.” She then handed me a tub full of white and green dots. It was almost like getting handed a serving of Dippin’ Dots. The tag of $20.00 was displayed prominently. “This is quite expensive” I stated after tallying in my head what all this was going to cost me (as you can see from the photos above, I also picked up another beautiful orchid — Neostylis Lou Sneary ‘Blue Bird’ — oh and a pot for the Cattleya).
“You only need ½ teaspoon” she returned. “So, this tub should last you a year. Do you have African violets?”
“I sure do” I responded happily because I am always on the lookout for a decent violet food.
“You can use this for your violets as well. They’ll love it!”
“I’ll get it!” And with that, after not intending to buy a single thing, I purchased two orchids and this wonderful, homemade orchid food. I was feeling good and optimistic about my purchases!
Before I left the gardens that day, I noticed (conveniently) they had several books on orchid care in the gift shop. I started thumbing through one called “The Orchid Whisperer”. I resolved to buy it but to save money would buy it online. I hate to say that but I dropped nearly $100.00 on the orchids, food, etc. and being on a budget, saving $15.00 on a book was very appealing.
Well, my orchid buying adventures went on for a bit there so discussing all my other indoor gardening adventures must wait until next time. I will end by saying that my orchids are still doing well and I am learning a lot from my book. I will touch more on that next time as well. Until then, happy growing. May you all have a very blessed day and as always, thank you so kindly for reading!
And, now some garden photos!
26 May 2013
The title of this post immortalizes the feeling I had the day I planted four of these seeds. They were unusual looking seeds and I am looking forward to them sprouting.
Here is an excerpt from my written journal I created that day:
I sit now in relative peace and quiet and it is very relaxing. I was up with the sun and I feel blessed to have seen it rise. As I write these words I am reminded of Diane Lane in Under the Tuscan Sun as she writes a postcard for someone else. I am reciting what I write in my head just as she did in the movie.
There is a slight breeze which makes the aspen sing; this combined with the bird chatter creates a peaceful melody.
There should have been more to write in my journal that day but as it turns out, three hours later, I was rushed to the hospital due to a nosebleed that just would not stop. When all was said and done, the suspected cause was stage two hypertension and the severe nosebleed was a symptom to alert me to this. What an alert it was! After that, I could not do any work in the garden for over a week which was very frustrating considering all there is to do.Fast forward three weeks and my blood pressure is more under control and it is business as usual in the garden and there is much to share. First, there are seedlings abound in the large pot where I planted the Kiss Me over the Garden Gate (Polygonum orientale). One item of note is I really should have taken the time to spread the seeds out more as there is a large mass of seedlings competing for space and I fear this may not work out too well. A few of the Polygonum seeds have sprouted but I am hoping there will be more. I may purchase some more seeds as I would love to have a grove of these growing along the entire fence. I paused from writing for a bit to order a few hundred seeds from Seed Savers Exchange. Though I of course do not need this many, this will ensure I am able to create that grove I want. From what I have read, there is a long germination time so I will be sure to soak the seeds first to speed up growing times.
Beyond the sprouts in this pot, there has been a prolific amount of growth everywhere in the garden and each day’s new discoveries are so humbling. There is a beautiful sort of magic that only tending a garden can provide and I am so blessed to have such a tremendous amount of beauty surrounding me.When we first moved into this house, I noticed some viola tri-color volunteers emerging from the grass. At that time I employed a lawn mowing service and thankfully I noticed these volunteers before they came in with the machines and removed them. I rescued them and placed them in the half whisky barrel where eventually a group of day lilies went (note I need to get a few more clumps to create a mass planting). Within the last couple of days I noticed the small flowers of what is my favorite species of flower poking out which reaffirms my opinion of these being among the friendliest flowers. Speaking of volunteers, I intentionally purchased a plant from Holly Acres Nursery that had a viola tri-color contained within. At the moment, it is outperforming the original plant. I suppose that cannot be helped though considering it was a victim of the hail we had a couple weeks ago. Though not a devastating storm by any account, it did its fair deal of damage. My new Virginia Creeper was mangled and shredded along with scores of tree foliage, extensive damage to the bee balm and a fair amount of damage to other low growing plants including the Corsican violet. I am pleased to say that most everything is recovering nicely now and I have left a fair bit of the leaves etc. on the lawn in the hopes of providing organic material for it to possibly grow better.
Back in February I wrote an article about how I was waiting for some Impatien seeds to sprout within containers inside the house. Well, to date, none have but a few weeks ago I nonchalantly threw a few into the whisky barrel at the front of the house and today I am pleased to announce I have sprouts! As I added all the varieties I purchased from Plant World Seeds, I do not know which will come up but the fact that any are growing at all is very exciting. I will provide updates over the coming weeks.
Before closing, I wanted to journal some plants I purchased from Wilmore Nurseries over last weekend (15-16 June 2013). The main reason for going there was to replace a St. John’s Wort, Mother of Thyme and trumpet flower that did not break dormancy. While there, I purchased some new plants to help fill in some blank spots. Here is what I purchased:
Two Delphinium grandiflorum ‘Blue Butterfly’
Two Penstemon “Scarlet Bugler”
One Lemon Balm
One Mystery Grape Vine
Two ‘SunPatiens’ Compact Deep Rose (Note, I really should have looked at the labels of these plants. I do not like engineered plants really. Despite being for the sun, these were placed in the shade)
One more thing for the journal is to note that the Strike It Rich rose did not make it sadly. I was able to exchange it and I chose this as a replacement:
Olympiad Hybrid Tea
Description: Each large bright true-red bloom is held on long stout stems and holds their color to the very end. Distinctive grey-green foliage on a very vigorous upright plant.
Color: Bright true-red
Bloom/Size: Medium-large, double
Petal Count: 30 to 35
Fragrance: Light fruity
Parentage: Red Planet x Pharaoh
The world of gardening is probably best summed up as ordinary miracles happening every day. Being a gardener is a sheer joy and to make something out of a little bit of earth is a blessing. I hope you are having an amazing start to the growing season and until next time, Happy Gardening and Blessings to you all!
It is amazing what can happen in just two and a half weeks! Spring has finally arrived and actually, the temperatures lately have been more summer than spring like. Like all things, this is only temporary though and cooler weather returns this week. With the warmer weather, I am pleased to share that everything seemed to make it through the record cold mentioned in the last post. All the new plants suffered a little bit but overall made it through unscathed. The rock jasmine’s canopy of miniature white flowers died off so I cut them back. Today, I noticed they are coming back in grand fashion. There was some burning on the bellis but through it all, the pink showy flowers are still pink and showy. All the buds formed on the aspens, elderberry, etc., made it through fine as well. There is so much new growth and new surprises every day. It truly is miraculous and so humbling.With the rise in temperatures, I have been very busy improving soil, digging, planting plants and seeds and moving things around to conform to whatever my current mood ends up being. I want to make a point to keep a journal of everything I do outside so I can refer back to it in the future. This will be particularly useful when it comes to planting seeds. I tend to forget not only what I planted but also where and when. Hopefully I can be diligent enough to remember to write in the little notebook every time I am outside. Here are my notes thus far:
Friday, 3 May I planted several Flanders poppy seeds along with some marjoram near the mint julep. I also planted some carrot seeds in the green house.
Saturday, 4 May I planted some purslane. (UPDATE 13 May 2013) I can see the purslane seedlings emerge.Saturday, 11 May
Imperial Giant Larkspur planted behind the juniper shrub. (Note: I am very doubtful this shrub is going to make it. Is the growth (if it is indeed growth) green or grey? It is so hard to tell. It looks so tatty at the moment and though I am a very patient gardener, I am not sure about whether I will keep it.
Kiss Me Over the Garden Gate from Seed Savers planted in large pot near shed
Red Flax (Linum Rubrum) from Native Seed Company (I believe this went in the large pot near shed)
Wave Petunia Mix planted in two small stone planters and also in leaf shaped bird bath. UPDATE 19 May – I converted the bird bath to what it was made for and dumped the dirt with seeds, etc., in retaining wall bed.
Found tag for blackberry planted under the large aspen and now I have its name — It is called Triple Crown Blackberry. This plant has been slow to break dormancy.I retrieved the roses I purchased from Holly Acres. I opted to plant them in front of the large planted area that contains the large aspen tree. I already had the hole for one dug so I placed the rose into its new home. Here is the information on the tag:
(cv. WEKscemala) Chihuly Rose (Floribunda)
In naming a rose to honor America’s famous glass artist, Dale Chihuly, it had to have impeccable style and an ever-changing array of flashy colors. This rose has it all! As the sun hits the opening petals, they blush from subtly-striped apricot yellow to dazzling orange and deep red . . . . producing a remarkable display against the deep dark green leaves and mahogany-red new growth.
Bloom/Size: Medium-large, double
Petal Count: 25 to 30
Fragrance: Mild tea
Parentage: Scentimental and Amalia
Comments: Larger flowers in cool conditions
I purchased another trumped creeper to mirror the other planted on the right side of the patio. I dug its hole today. Here is the information from the tag:
Campsis x tagliabuana ‘Madame Galen’
All summer flowering
Large, fast growing, clinging vine with stems to 15 to 30 feet
Tuesday, 14 May:
Planted some desert sunflower seeds near the Chihuly rose
Thursday, 16 May
Planted old Marigold seeds among the clover under aspen
With the ground wet from fresh rain, I created the other hole for my second rose. Note, when removing from pot, the root ball collapsed. This rose is definitely struggling a bit and the broken root ball is not going to help things. Here is the information from the tag:
Strike It Rich
(cv. WEKbepmey) Deep golden yellow spun with orange-pink. Grandiflora
You are in the money . . . If you love spicy fragrance, loads of bloom and super-long elegant buds of gold polished with rosy pink. The long-lasting sparkling yellow-orange tones are rich and opulent enough to bring out the gold digger in any gardener. But id does not take a stash of expensive chemicals to keep this good lookin’ girl happy in the landscape. The natural disease resistance and strong vigor do the deed. Very dark green leaves and unusual red stems set off the many showy clusters of blossoms. Hit pay dirt with Strike It Rich!
Height/Habit: Medium-tall/upright and bushy
Bloom/Size: Large, double, informal
Petal Count: About 30
Fragrance: Strong sweet spice and fruit
Parentage: ChRiscinn x Mellow Yellow
Comments: ‘Scent-sational’ for a bouquet and ‘beauty-full’ in the landscape.
Hollyhock – Outhouse (Latin: Alcea rosea)
Planted these seeds behind where I buried my little clump of Vinca Major. I purchased these from eBay from Heirlooms R Us Seeds
I threw some of these into the terra cotta pots where I planted some alyssum. These were planted toward the back while blue fax was planted toward the center. I also threw some seeds near the log. These seeds were purchased from Plant World Seeds
Mint from Russia. Planed in the crevices near the juniper
Latin: Nasturtium officinale
Purchased these also from Herilooms R Us. I cannot remember where I put these. I think in the main bed with the clover. It will be interesting to see where it pops up.
Friday, 17 May
This morning I was up bright and early to head downtown to take advantage of the member’s only morning at the gardens. I will create a blog entry dedicated to this but I mention it now to highlight the plants I purchased:
Two Vining Snapdragons
Salvia ‘Christine Yeo’
I also purchased several seeds which I hope to plant soon
The carrot sprouts are emerging so I am very happy the weather will be turning cooler. Other items of note: two days ago, I noticed poppy sprouts and four days ago sweet pea sprouts! Also two days ago, I had one lone daffodil bloom emerge.
Saturday, 19 May
I have a vining plant of some description in the big pot located in the corner of the Adirondack chair seating area. I am thinking perhaps it gets too much sun. It probably is not but still, this prompted me to plant hollyhock seeds around it in hopes of shaded cover. Not stopping there, I planted some around the Viola Odorata as well. One can never have too many hollyhocks planted. I believe I planted more but cannot recall where. I will find out soon enough though.
Curious if the bee balm located in the half whisky barrel where the chamomile is dominating is coming back to life, I moved some leaves where it should be growing and in that area are leaves coming up which look like they could indeed be bee balm. When there are more, I will rub them in the hope I reveal that distinct aroma.
The marjoram sprouts are emerging.The snap dragons are now nestled among the marigolds under the thistle seed feeder. Speaking of which, I am blessed to have gold finches visiting said thistle feeder. I also planted the new marigolds. As mentioned earlier, I decided to move the leaf shaped bird bath to the top area and use it as such as opposed to a planter. I also moved one of the clay gnomes and the before mentioned marigolds were planted at the foot of the gnome.
I rummaged through some boxes and found soil improver along with a lot of old seeds. I spread the optimizer and in a care free fashion, I broadcasted dill, alfalfa, desert bluebells and African daisies in the planted area where the struggling juniper is. This in addition to the copious amount of clover I broadcasted a couple days ago.
I think it is important to include the notes on the dill I planted. The seeds were purchased The Seed Savers Exchange and the name of this variety is Grandma Einck’s Dill. Here is the description on the back:
Grandma Einck’s Dill
Description: Iowa heirloom grown near Festina, Iowa since 1920 by the Einck family (Diane Whealy’s grandmother). Large fragrant heads are great for making dill pickles, spicing up summer salads or as a unique addition to flower bouquets. Foliage is abundant and long lasting. Being permanently maintained at Heritage Farm for its beauty, fragrance and warm memories. Self-Seeding annual.
Despite previous intentions, not only am I leaving the ‘petunia pot’ on the ledge of the planted area under the large aspen but I also added more pots. Filled with compost, I planted all my rock cress seeds (Aubrieta Deltoidea) in these pots along with some bulbs I believe are rain lily bulbs.
This reminds me . . . Yesterday I planted several onion bulbs along with some garlic in the planted area beneath the large aspen. I have a fear of rabbits infiltrating my garden and demolishing my clover patches I am currently enjoying very much. This is one tactic I will begin with to hopefully repel them. Note, I must take care of all the gaps under the fences to prevent them from getting in at all.
Seedlings are emerging from the large pot near the shed. The best part is, I do not know what the seedlings are as it is part of the mix o’ seeds I placed in the middle of the pot. I am anxiously awaiting the Kiss Me Over the Garden Gate Seeds to sprout.
The clover sprouts are emerging in the bed where the struggling juniper is.
Planted some dandelions in the tomato earth boxes and pumpkin seeds in small pots in the greenhouse.
Each day brings something new to behold. Spring has arrived in all its spectacular, miraculous glory. Each moment I am outside communing with my garden I am studying everything looking for new life and I am always filled with joy and amazement at what I see. Until next time, I wish you all the very best and pray your days are blessed.
I leave you now with some images related to all I have written about. 🙂