April 9, 2012

It's here! My Revised 2012 Blog Project List - Want to add to it!



IN OCTOBER, I SOWED SOME SPENCER SWEET PEAS IN A METHOD SUGGESTED FOR ZONE 5 IN A 1905 BULLETIN - SWEET PEAS IF PLANTED LATE ENOUGH IN ZONE 5,  NEW ENGLAND, WILL BLOOM EARLY IN THE SPRING.



When I first started this blogging project back in 2006, there were few bloggers to compete with, but today you readers have a lot of options.  With more than 10,000 gardening blogs, it's a completely different world online, so trying to remain relevant and fresh is even more difficult. As this blog gains more popularity and a broader audience, I don't want the content to become to repetitive or diluted. I am trying to keep my content a little unique, so there are just some things that I don't bother to blog about -  I would rather cover something more interesting, say....my adventures with mastering how to germinate Convolvulus species or as I am documenting more recently, how to achieve amazing success with what was once America's most popular cut flower (in 1910) - Spencer varieties of Sweet Peas. 




I’ve had to think a lot lately, about what makes my blog different that the others – I suppose that one of those differentiating aspects is my history and experience -  having gardening for a lifetime – or, more accurately, since I was about 9 years old in the same garden that my parents and grandparents gardened in. I never really think of this fact as anything to brag about, but I think the real value here isn't that specific fact, but rather that I've grown everything that I write about, so generally, I've experienced both success and failure, and believe me, I rarely give up easily. All plants have different cultural techniques depending on where you live and garden, so although a British gardener may have very strong opinions about growing one sort of plant, the same method may not work in California, or in New England.

MY SWEET PEA TRIALS ARE UNDER WAY!~ THE BAMBOO CANES ARRIVED BY FREIGHT LAST WEEK, AND THE FIRST CROP IS BEING TRANSFERRED FROM THE 'ROOTRAINERS' POTS ( WHICH WORK SO WELL) INTO THE GARDEN. THE PLANTS HAVE BEEN PINCHED BACK TO PROMOTE SIDE GROWTH, AND FED WITH A LIQUID FEED TO PROMOTE MORE ROOTS. I USE A 2.10.8 ANALYSIS.


In an effort to stay competitive, yet highly interesting and unique, I’ve decided to take on a more focused venture – or shall I say formalize a few series of postings, a bit – I am going to try start more specific projects, a sort-of 101 method of instruction for plants and craft for the garden ( like my poppy post), where I can show the plants, progress, successes or failures of a focused series of projects.


I am selecting a half-dozen or so projects which in which I will delve in deeply, to share my research, my trials and tribulations, and most importantly, share my results, and progress, hopefully in multiple posts – I think this will be more demonstrable and authentic. Besides offering you a more in-depth review,  these posts should prove to me more informative, and inspirational. I will continue to still post more garden datebook material - seasonal posts, what's in bloom today, etc. You seem to like those too.

Here are my current 2012 Projects  ( you may have guessed some of these since I hinted about them in an earlier post).

1. The Growing With Plants Sweet Pea Trials –  With 30+ varieties of heirloom and modern English Sweet Peas, I will share my process, progress, failures and successes in cultivating exhibition sweet peas. Focusing on tried and true traditional cultural practices established by British growers a century ago, I will show how to grow sweet peas on everything from brush and wire, to growing them on cordons and Bush methods ( which yes, my readers have pointed out is not new, but they are for me,) as well as newer methods such as bush training, and integration into annual and perennial borders. (Always share your thoughts please!).

2. The Great American Annual Border – We all want the perfect cottage garden, right? But real gardeners know that what is often the perfection in the eye, is far from that in the garden. Most often, the ideal cottage garden only exists in fantasy paintings, calendars, puzzles and perhaps at a couple of the great British estates, but the lost art of growing annuals in a border needs some serious rediscovery. That's right - I Mr. Garden Snob said 'annuals'.  We know there are lovely ones, and we know that the best seem to be hard to find today, and we may even know that they look best planted in huge drifts, but who really does that any more? I intend to try it.  A hundred and fifty years ago, annuals borders were magnificent, and grand – so in an effort to revitalize the lost art or mastering annual flowers – I am converting a 60 foot perennial border in our garden over to the greatest annuals in the world. Many, lost or heirloom varieties, but also using newer strains. Wish me luck!

3. The 1805 Tuberose Project – It’s official, I am growing a collection of potted tuberoses in the methods described in that 1805 gardening book that I shared with you all last Christmas. From making my own long-toms and firing them, to getting the rootstock to sprout and grow, these challenging plants will hopefully scent the evening parties in September, if I can get all of my pots made in time, and the proper vintage roots ordered.

4. Chrysanthemum Show – That’s right, I said chrysanthemum not the new name which no one really uses unless they are a botanist. I happen to have a fondness for the old ( and new) exhibition varities of mums, which I dabbled in a few years ago. With 40 varieties ordered, I will be sharing with you all how to pot cutting, how to train and care for plants for exhibition, and how I will be staging them in our greenhouse for a private parting in October – maybe you can come and visit too if I hold a drawing for a ticket! Another 19th century treasure needs to be rediscovered, and exhibition mums just may be the plant.

5. Greenhouse Cucumbers – Yes, you guessed it – not only just growing seedless, Japanese cucumbers, but I will be sharing my adventured with training the cucumbers to grow in heart shapes and stars – since my most popular post has been the Tranined Japanese Cucumber Post. Who know’s how this one will turn out, but last years melon experiment worked so well in using the wasted greenhouse space in our hobby greenhouse, that I think I am ready for taking on cukes.

6. Pop goes Poppies – This might be wrapped into the Annual Border test, but seeing that I am growing many annual and biennial poppies this year, I will be sharing these poppy-posts with you as they succeed or fail, this project also ties in with my next project, called….

7. The California Coastal Garden Project – In my gut, I know that I have probably chosen the worst year ever for attempting this venture – since even the UN has announced that we should expect the hottest and driest summer ever, but since I have already started, I might as well carry this one through – The California Coastal Garden Project of Massachusetts might be a more appropriate name, yet as strange as this sounds, I am using good judgement as for the site, and for the reasons why.  Along the western side of my greenhouse runs a raised stone retaining wall designed to grow and display high elevation alpine plants.

Rather than replant the wall after a few severe winters, I thought that I might use this fast draining uniquely sited location to try growing some cool-loving, northern California annuals and perennials if for no other reason, than to see if I can re-create a spread from Annies Annuals!. It’s a touch and go project, with lots of sown-in-location annuals the hate any disturbance, and an unusually hot and then frosty spring, so this may already be a disaster….stay tuned.

SPENCER VARIETIES OF SWEET PEAS TRANSPLANTED ON EASTER SUNDAY INTO ONE OF THE RAISED BEDS USING THE TRADITIONS ENGLISH CORDON METHOD of WIRE AND BAMBOO CANING.










9 comments :

  1. All of this sounds so cool, I am really looking forward to read about your projects as they progress!

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  2. Enter me into the drawing for the Great Chrysanthemum Show ticket! (and if I win we can talk about dendranthema v. chrysanthemum)

    I'd also like to put my vote in for the Fernery topic. I've been falling for them lately, they remind me of all the time I spent in the woods as a kid...

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  3. Oh dear. Please know that I say this with love but I think you need an editor to go over that post with a red magic marker. Or maybe you accidentally hit post while you were still in the copy and paste part of formatting. I've done that before!

    Anyway I am looking forward to your upcoming posts. Especially the annual border, poppies, sweet peas, and California annuals.

    California annuals should be very interesting as my own luck here has been a bit mixed and I am on the CA coast. The weather has been so wonky things are not really working out as expected. Still I am already taking notes on how plants do and the mistakes I made so next years annuals display will be worthy of sharing.

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  4. Oh Kaveh! Eeesh - That's what happens when I try to type fast during my lunch break, then don't proof read it, and get interupted and post! Plus, I've learned that if I write in Word, and paste it into Blogger, I can't use spell check. So I am not about to rewrite it, I just tweaked it a bit, deleted the repeats and removed the swears! Sorry folks for the lazyness!

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  5. OK Sprout - You caught me. Chrysanthemum or Dendranthema - Come on!!! Who really calls them Dendranthema anyway?!! I resist!, It's just not right, I say, it's just not right. I can jump from Ligularia to Farfugium no problem, but Dendranthema? It's just wrong!!

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  6. Anonymous10:16 AM

    Matt,

    I just love your blog. It is my homepage at work and I look forward to turning on the computer every morning.

    Looking forward to the triumphs and foibles of 2012~

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  7. Faybe7:33 PM

    Ohhh, could you do a few more posts on about your design ideas in re: to the garden or landscape. For example, the posts about the black and green flowers you did for a wedding, or even the recent easter readiness (with your eye catching flower in spice vases). You have a good eye and are a designer so a few posts about how you put " a look" together in your garden or yard are always interesting to me...

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  8. I too love and experiment with many sweet pea varities here in my suburban sand pit. I have had the best luck growing them in large pots where they flower early and well. My goal last year was to grow them into a smokebush but the rabbits foiled every attempt. This year...back to the pots. I will watch with fascination your bamboo/wire cordon and be filled with envy when it is the smashing success I dream of ..

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  9. All good... and Possibly Pelargoniums? I'm a pelly addict.

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