Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Planting Daffodils, Tulips and Pondering Amaryllis Bulbs

I planted the remaining boxed bulbs I got from our local store this past weekend. The daffodils and tulips ended up in the long flower bed in the back yard. The original home owner planted pink tulips and pink hyacinths in this flower bed. The hyacinths have established themselves well in the bed while the tulips are blooming but obviously have been in the flower bed too many years and are showing their years in terms of color and size of the flowers they produce.

I tried digging up and moving the hyacinths but they are buried deep down at the bottom of the flower bed. The tulips I've kept in place because they seemed to belong there. Recently I found some white daffodils with pink trumpets at the store and some dark purple tulips. I thought that they would be a good combination to add in with the established spring bulbs already in place in the long flower bed. I added in some purple dutch iris with yellow markings into the long flower bed last year and they are doing very well in their new home.

Saturday I decided to plant the bulbs and went out into the yard an hour earlier than usual since showers were predicted and its a good thing I did. It started to sprinkle enough that by the time I finished planting the bulbs I was feeling fairly damp. I surrounded the pink heather plant and the tall purple fuchsia planted behind the heather with white and pink daffodils on either side. I added the purple tulips a short distance on either side of the pink daffodils to expand the bulbs surrounding the center of the flower bed. I'm looking forward to the spring display, it will be good to see new flowers and flower colors mixed in with the original bulbs in the flower bed.

My mother-in-law gave me another red amaryllis bulb kit for my birthday. I still have last year's amaryllis pot on my work desk. I think I will take the older of the bulbs and plant it outside in a sheltered location. I've always wanted to try this and since I have two of the same bulbs it seems like a good opportunity to experiment. I have planted paperwhites outdoors before after growing them indoors and they seemed to work fine there. The obelisk outside the dining room window currently is supporting a vine of sweet peas. I think having a red amaryllis on either side of the metal obelisk would be really beautiful during the holidays. I'm going to give it a try and will see how things progress with the amaryllis bulb planted next to the obelisk.

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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Geraniums in the Coastal Garden

I have to say in the past I have never been a big fan of the old fashioned lipstick colored geraniums you see planted in gardens. I've learned over the past few years what a workhorse geraniums really are in the garden. I admit we removed some of the old fashioned geranium plants when we first moved here, the orange red color really was not appealing at all and the plants didn't look very good. I did keep three of the geraniums originally planted in the garden and I'm very glad I did. The first geranium shown in the photo is a scented geranium, it has pale pink flowers and lived in a pot for quite a while until I planted it near the arbor under the holly tree. Its doing great so far and is twice as big now as in the photo and full of pink flowers.

The geranium in this photo was a plant that lived in a plastic pot for the first two years we were here. I think this is closer to the old fashioned variety of geranium and I did wonder if I should keep it. The flowers on this plant are very pretty, a deep pink with darker coloring inside the flower. This particular plant flowered profusely in its abusive plastic pot in the shaded spot where it was left by its previous owner. I moved it to a brighter area and finally decided since I'd planted the other pink geranium under the holly tree why not plant this one on the other side under the other holly tree. The geranium started flowering right away after planting and the flowers have turned a deeper shade of pink. Plants under the holly trees do not always do well but both of the pink geraniums have flourished in their new partial shade locations.

This photo shows the re-planting of the dark purple geranium, another original plant in the garden. This geranium was in the white pot in the photo; planted with the geranium the huge naked lady bulbs had cracked the pot open after years of growing too big for the pot. This purple geranium has very similar leaves compared to the Johnson's Blue geranium but has a smaller flower that is distinctly purple and produces flowers all year long. After removing the naked lady bulbs from the cracked pot we added dirt and replanted the plant, watering it in well. A few weeks has gone by and today I saw one lone flower appearing amid the weary leaves and stems of the plant. I think it will recover and be very happy for its new private planter space.

Since moving to the house I've added two Johnson's Blue geraniums and they have been a great addition to the garden along with the original geraniums. I like scented geraniums and the sculpted leaved of the Johnson Blue geraniums, they add scent and shape to the garden and are extremely hardy and reliable. I had a few ivy leaf geraniums in Petaluma in a planter box because nothing else would grow there. They turned out to be good plants with beautiful flowers and leaves. Geraniums do just fine in our cool coastal weather and can tolerate some shade as well. So I'm turning into a fan of geraniums, at least some varieties of them and am glad they are part of my cool weather garden after all.

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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Planting Brodiaea and Grape Hyacinth Bulbs

I picked up some new bulbs to add to the garden this past weekend. I had planted brodiaea (starflower) in the barrel in the back yard last year and they bloomed beautifully in early summer. I purchased two boxes of the bulbs, 24 in all and planted them in the long border in the backyard. The blue/mauve flowers should look stunning with the pink two toned fuchsias in the border. Speaking of the pink fuchsia, I was able to root two more pieces of the fuchsia this summer and planted them in a hanging basket so they can get established before next summer season.

I was able to find some grape hyacinth bulbs (muscari) to add to the front yard under the climbing pink roses. In Petaluma our backyard was full of grape hyacinth bulbs. Unfortunately I didn't think to dig some up to bring with me and it has taken me a while to find these bulbs for sale in our area. The grape hyacinth bulbs should multiply quickly once established. They work great as a ground cover and are a bright spot in the spring garden. Besides the brilliant colored grape cluster style flowers they have grass like leaves that look attractive surrounding the flowers, and the bulbs seem to be very hardy. The bulbs I planted already had a number of small bulblets attached to each of the main bulbs. Once the lavenders under the pink roses grow larger the low growing blue grape hyacinth flowers should naturalize in swaths underneath the lavender shrubs, accenting the tall stems of purple lavender flowers.

After a few seasons in the ground the cotoneaster shrub is finally taking off. The branches are a good foot long now and they are filling up with orange berries. The cotoneaster shrub is low growing and grows horizontally, spreading its branches in an arch from the center of the shrub. The cotoneaster is planted between two of the pink climbing roses that are growing against either side of the fences that form a corner. I am hoping the cotoneaster will spread outward and back into the empty corner between the two rose bushes to fill in the gap between them. Cotoneaster is often used as a ground cover and this is what I am using it for. Birds like the berries so there will be another food source in the garden, although our holly trees provide plenty of berries for robins and sparrows in winter and early spring. In spring the cotoneaster sports small white flowers. I didn't see any flowers on the cotoneaster this past spring so I am looking forward to seeing some flowers on the shrub next spring.

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