Friday, September 26, 2008

Planting Spring Bulbs

Last weekend I spent some time planting spring bulbs. We visited the other nursery in town so I could see what kind of bulbs they had in for fall for spring bloom. I found the tulip "Apricot Beauty" which is a tulip I have always wanted to try and also some Ipheion starflower bulbs. I had starflower bulbs in a container in Petaluma and they multiplied quite a bit, really lovely little star shaped pale blue flowers for spring. I had a pack of dark purple Dutch Iris to plant that I bought from our local grocery store, they have a small area of plants available there. I've grown both Dutch Iris and Bearded Iris. Dutch Iris are smaller and easy to manage, no digging up and dividing like Bearded Iris. I have to say Iris are one of my favorite bulbs and I plan to have many of them throughout the front and back yard.

I planted the Apricot Beauty tulips in the front yard on either side of the walkway leading up to the front porch. The starflower bulbs were planted in the barrel in the backyard. I am hoping they multiply in the barrel so I can then transplant them throughout the front and back yards. I planted some of the purple Iris near the rhododendron on the right side of the gate and a few more under the window near the porch. I planted some of the same Iris a few weeks before on the other side of the window in front of the Foxglove, should be a pretty combination in spring with the tall spires of pink Foxglove and stately looking purple Iris.

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Monday, September 15, 2008

Moveable Garden Ferns

I love ferns of every kind, the more the better. This past weekend I spent some time moving a fern from a flower bed to the the base of one of the holly trees. I had two ferns I brought with us when we moved from Petaluma over a year and a half ago. The bigger of the two plants were planted under one of the holly trees early on and it is getting good sized now, about three feet tall and two feet wide. The second fern plant was smaller. I had the fern in a pot for a number of months when we first moved here, then added it to the flower bed we created behind the deck. Once the calla lilies died back this year I saw a spot to include the other fern under the base of the other holly tree. I'd like there to be some cohesiveness with planting there and will be adding plants so the same are on each side for each holly tree. Now I need to propagate another thymifolia fuchsia (if I can do it) from the original plant for the other holly tree area. The thymifolia fuchsia took forever to root and start growing, it is finally getting big and looks great.

Originally when we moved in there was nothing but calla lilies and a few tall ferns on one side of the holly trees. I'm working on propagating two more of those type of ferns (the ferns original to our Eureka garden) to even out the planting under the other holly tree.

My original fern in my Petaluma garden was grown from a half dead fern I got on sale in a 4 inch pot. The fern was at least four feet tall and four feet wide when we moved. I hated to leave it behind but brought two smaller pieces I managed to grab from the plant. I found looking underneath the fern there were fern offshoots here and there. Pulling on them carefully brought up roots and if I was really lucky some sort of rhiazome attached. I was able to pot these up and grow new plants. I had no idea how to propagate a fern but it certainly worked in this situation.

The newly planted fern looks great in its new home. Its still small so I hope it adapts into its new space and grows large to help fill in the spots where the calla lilies die off in the summer.

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Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Summer and Winter Heathers In the Garden

I have been a big fan of heathers and heaths for a number of years. Heathers are easy maintenance once they are established and always look wonderful as long as you give them a trim after they bloom. They provide great colors all year long, from greens to reds to golds in branches and beautiful blooms in a variety of colors. Heaths and heathers are especially wonderful when used in winter. They are a great way to add color and interest during the winter months and you have a huge variety to choose from.

In Petaluma I grew a few heathers in our backyard in raised beds. One grew to at least two or more feet wide. Another was happy in a partially shaded area, it was a winter blooming heather. Heaths and heathers like acid soil but they also do fine in regular soil from my experience. Even though they are boggy type plants as you may have seen in pictures from Scotland, they love the sun and require a good six hours of full sun to grow the best they can be.

When we moved to Eureka I brought the one heather I had left in a pot and brought it to plant at the new house. After a year and a half it has grown nicely to a much bigger size now that it is in the ground out in the front yard. Currently its sporting some pink blooms and is about eight to ten inches wide and a good five or six inches tall. Early on when we moved here I bought two spring heathers at the local nursery. A year and a half later they are getting quite big in the back yard flowerbed and leaves are coloring in deep green and deep reds. One of them, Spring Torch, is especially pretty in the spring with its cream and red colored buds displayed on the tips of the green branches.

Last October we went to a heath and heather farm located in Bayside near Eureka. Wow, that was an amazing trip! Every size and shape of heath and heathers you could think of set up in a green pasture behind the ranch with a gorgeous view of the hills nearby. Hot drinks and snack food were available under an old twisted apple tree, with a few tables and chairs so you could sit and relax enjoying the view. It really was a seasonal fall experience. The heather sale was great and for two or three dollars each I was able to buy a dozen different heathers for the front yard. Considering the price of heathers generally runs five to seven dollars for a four inch pot it was a great deal. The heathers are doing well so far and growing slowly. It seems to take a good year for them to start growing bigger, at least that has been my experience. You want to keep them well watered in good draining soil for the first year then they are drought tolerant. I give them a weekly watering even after the first year.

I have a mix of summer and winter heathers in the front yard. The summer heathers are a gold and green branch colors while there is a mix of pinks and purples for the winter heathers that are just starting to bud.

I can't wait for the next heath and heather sale in October. I'll find room to fit in more of my favorite plants somewhere in the yard.

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