June 8, 2008

Havin' heat wave...

With only one quarter of the new vegetable garden and yet-to-be-named, blue and gold garden dug and planted, the Salvia planted last year is beginning to mature nicely. My goal with this perennial border is to plant it properly, that is....with 5 to 10 plants per clump of each cultivar. A planting style rarely seen in the states, or at ones home, but truly, the only way to achieve professional results. Simply planting 3 of each perennial is not enough, although, that is my minimum rule. Generally, I plant 5 in a 12 sq. foot lot. Between and underplanted, of course, with lilies and annuals, and, all withing the yellow, gold, blue and white color palette.
A house wren makes a home in the new bird house.
Designed to attract Purple Martins, in our New England garden, I would be lucky to get a few nests of English Sparrows. So imagine how thrilled I was to see that wren has decided to move in. Well, semi-moved in. You see..House Wrens are peculiar birds, and much like many human couples, are very particular about their homes, and males tend to leave the final decision up to the lady of the house. Male House Wrens can select up to 12 nesting sites - building a nest at each, carefully chosen site. One may be an abandoned woodpecker hollow in an Ash, another, in an empty jug some farmer nailed to a wall on the barn, or another in a red plastic Wren House by Rubber-Maid. The male Wren then sings away, in an attempt to attract a possible mate. Once she has been found, the real fun begins. No pick-up lines here.....from this point onward, it's all up to her. Mr. Wren fly's with her to visit each site he has selected, and built, and she carefully selects only one which is perfect ( sounds too much like HGTV to me). The home reality show ends when she chooses the site, and mating can proceed. We can only hope our industrious male succeeds with his choice of an English Martin house in the Arts & Crafts style, with a genuine copper roof and a new-never-lived-in-construction, to boot. It lacks a stainless steel kitchen, but with an Olive tree right below, and two Irish Terriers to keep cats away......it sounds like Nirvana to me. ( Of course, there is a family of English Sparrows living in the same complex....).
Stay tuned, for today, our male sings for a mate, begining early in the morning from the tops of the bamboo stakes, amongst the Delphinium, as well as from the tippity top of the spruce trees surrounding the circular blue and gold garden. It appears the nest is built, he was lining it with feathers from the neighbors Homing Pigeons, which indicates that the construction is nearly complete. A down comforter and decorative elements in the bedroom is always the last sign.
This morning, I was able to hear two different species of wren, for a Winter Wren who live in the woods behind our property, whistles his repeating call of "Whit-wickty whit-whickity, whit-wickity", both in the early morning, and late in the day, at dusk. He is twice a large as the house wren.
An English double Auricula, Primula 'Stromboli'Primula auricula 'Stromboli' blooming unseasonably late, in the greenhouse. This is surprising, since these are cold-weather plants, and the greenhouse has been reaching temperatures over 100 Degree F. The auricula primroses, will be moved out this week, to a covered bench on the north side of the pigeon lofts, where they must be hand-watered for the summer, and protected from heavier rains. It is not the cold that makes these plants so difficult to grow, but the heat. Keeping them alive through our hot, humid summers is the most challenging part of mastering the most beautiful of English Primroses. They we're not designed for humid, damp gardens, but for pot culture, in a cool, breezy English alpine house.

It's amazing how fast Dahlia's grow. These pots are one week older than the post last weekend, and look at the size difference.
It was too hot, however, to plant them this weekend, so they will need to wait for cooler weather this week.

We started the new vegetable garden, a smaller venture, with just four raised beds. But it was too hot to plant, so the plants will need to wait for a few days. Rototilling was work, enough, in this weather!

It just isn't spring, without baby ducks. Four newly hatched Indian Runner Ducks ( for egg laying and slug removal duty from the vegetable garden) take a dip on this 95 degree F weekend.

June 4, 2008

Lilium mysteriacum?

Well, it's more like Lilium lost-the-lable-um.
Please, if any of you know.....share your thoughts. My best guess is Lilium monadelphum, a turkscap-or, pendant lily natic to the Caucasus. The yellow pollen and lilac spots shift me there. This confirms that I need to fill a gap in my library with some books of lilies, and if anyone knows of a good one, please share that too!

I am having some problems with the white balance with my new Nikon D300, but these early morning shots of this seedling are the best I have at the moment. Anyway, it is lovely, isn't it? And the lily beetles are finding the Asiatic's much more tasty than this mere species hidden in a shrub all alone. Maybe next year it will be larger, with more blossoms, I will need to remember to remove the seed pod.

June 1, 2008

A Stunning Sunday

A beautiful giant Allium 'Gladiator' blooms in the front yard garden. Too bad the honey bees arrive in a week, ( we bought two hives - the only bees we've seen have been bumblebees this year. Normally, the Allium are swinging with bees.

People who know me, often comment that they don't know how I do everything, and others - those who know me well, really know that mostly, I complain, that I can't get anything done. Friday, when I drove home from the office, I decided to make a list of everything I wanted to get done - then, Saturday it rained, and then severe thunderstorms blew through near the end of the day, so I unplugged my compter, and dumped the list. Besides, what seems like a way to perhaps get things done on Friday, on Saturday, the list was so long that it loomed over me. Tossing it meant that at least, I knew I would forget most of it by Sunday.

Sunday arrive, and after the severe storms, the day began cloudless and brilliant. So for the heck of it, I decided to list everything I accomplished in the garden in one day.

1. Direct Sown Annuals -seeded in the garden:
Amaranthus -Love Lies Bleeding
Asclepias physocarpa ( Hairy Balls)
Nicotiana glauca

2. Cleaned ( swept and hosed off) the greenhouse walk.

3. I then prepared all 36 of the Dahlia which I started rooting in the greenhouse two weeks ago, and looked-up each name in the original catalog, and prepared new larger lables on wood lathe with the name, bloom size and color. Then the dahlia pots were relocated outside on the newly cleaned greenhouse walk, to be hardened off before planting later in the week.

Dahlias re-labeled and placed outdoors to harden off before being planted in the garden

4. Moved the remaining large tubs of Camelia out of the greenhouse, and placed then in the ephemeral garden.

5. Repotted two Camelia into larger pots

6. Planted the Canna Phaison that I saved from last year and started in the greenhouse a month ago, into the Blue and Gold garden.

7. Planted the last of the Colocasia in the Blue and Gold garden.

8. Removed the last of the seed from the Cyclamen and cleaned them, then freshly sowed them into pots, ready for watering in the fall. these were set in the sand bed, where the sand in just damp enough to keep them from drying out completely.

9. Potted-up the Tuberous Begonias from Blackmore and Langdon, which were started into growth in peat pots in the greenhouse. These 12 and ridiculously expensive Begonias were then potted up into 8 inch clay pots and moved onto a wire bench next to the Primula auricula collection.

10. Potted-up the fiberous Begonias into larger clay pots in the greenhouse.

11. Started vegetable seeds in 4 inch peat pots and placed them in the greenhouse sand bed, to germinate since the outside soil is still lower than 55 degrees.
Pickling Cukes - Pearl
Butternut squash - Waltham Butternut
Zucchini - Golden
Gourds - Ornamental mixed
Okra - North and South Hybrid

12. Repotted into larger tub, a Beaumontia grandiflora ( the easter lily vine). Planted Brugmansia in the Martin house garden.

13. Fixed the zinc rain barrel and set it behind the display of alpine troughs, where I filled it with water, so that I cold have easy access to the rain water which will collect in there for watering the troughs, especially the gentians.

14.Moved the Aspidistras out for the summer, under the magnolia trees.

15. Took cutting from some the the encrusted Saxifraga and planted them in pieces of Tufa rock where others had died. ( June is the best time to take Saxifraga cuttings, more will be done, later).

A lovely tight bun of a silver saxifrage planted and grown on a tufa rock. Cuttings of Saxifraga planted in tufa grow more characteristically than those grown in soil. Also, I have fewer failures.
16. Cleaned the Freesia bulbs since they went dormant, and I needed the pot for some of the Begonias.

17. Photographed some of the cacti which are blooming, as well as the Epyphyllum ( which we're also moved outdoors to spend their summer hanging in the trees.

Epiphyllum ' Vista Sun' bloomed last night, and filled the greenhouse with its scent. By morning, the blossoms has begun to wilt, but lasted most of the day. One wonders why one grows these plants, they bloom once a year, and the flowers last a day. Since all the buds opened last night, we now have to wait 364 days for another. Hmmm...we are crazy, aren't we!

18. Planted miniature shrubs in the alpine garden.

19. Moved the large tubs of potted Rosemarinus to the gravel circle with the Martin house. This project involved about a dozed large pots that will spend the summer in the circle, including the citrus, lemons, Murraya, the Tulbagia fragrans whicha re blooming now, the summer growing Nerine species, the Boophane, and the Ozmanthus.

20. Restaked the topiary Rosemary's, and repotted one into an italian pot.

21. Moved the 6 Banana trees outdoors to acclimate them before planting. ( The fancy bananas were all planted in the bed in front of the greenhouse Friday, along with the canna, calla, and rarer Colocasia varieties that came in the mail from Plant Delights Nursery a month ago. Dahlias will fill in the gaps, later this week.

So all in all, I guess things did get done, Even though it feels as if I have a longer list of "things to do". I suppose that will never change!.