Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Hydrangeas, Lilies And Lavender In Spring

My blue hydrangea near the back yard fence is doing well this spring. The plant is a good 2 to 3 foot tall and about 1 to 2 foot wide, about twice the size it was last year. I'm looking forward to the blue flowers it produces, I imagine there will be more now that the plant is two years old and bigger this season. Can't wait until it is full size and filling the shady space against the fence. My other small hydrangea start is not doing much in the front yard, so I may need to dig it up and plant it elsewhere.

The red lilies I planted in my tall metal cone shaped planter are coming up already and look like they may bloom soon. The flower buds are on the tips of the tall green stems and forming a little football shaped flower. These particular lily bulbs didn't bloom last year, with one or two stems coming up and nothing happening from the planting in spring. This spring there are four or five stems coming up from the three red lily bulbs I planted. I'm eager to see what they look like, I imagine the flowers should be fairly big on the plants.

The gloxina bulbs are coming up in the other metal planter, a short squat bucket that has a number of the bulbs in the planter. These bulbs actually came up and did some flowering in late spring/early summer last year after a planting in spring. The feathery tops of the stems are starting to grow taller and I'm hoping there is a good number of flowers this year from the bulbs.

The lavender plants in the front yard and the back yard are now three years old and producing a large amount of stems and flowers. The two Grosso lavenders in the front are usually covered in lavender stems with flowers, while the two Goodwin Creek Grey lavenders have fewer stems but beautiful foliage along with the brilliant purple flowers.

The Grosso lavender has a strong perfume that is wonderful when you brush the stems while walking through the garden. We have dried some of last year's Grosso lavender flowers to steep with my husband's favorite tea Russian Caravan. If you want a lavender that produces a lot of flowers to dry or cut for vases, Grosso is a big producer and will not disappoint you.

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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Foxgloves, Fuchsias, Sweet Peas and Mint

The local nursery and hardware store was having a big sale, we arrived and found some goodies to purchase. In the nursery section I found a small six pack of foxgloves. I have a few established in the shade bed in the back yard but most of the original foxgloves I planted next to the porch the first year we were here are gone. I planted the six pack of foxgloves in the corner next to my clematis. I originally planted three plants there, with six plants in place, I hope there will be enough seeding of these biennials to keep them going in the porch area.

The next sale items I found were some small fuchsia starts at $1.99 apiece. I bought two, both have lavender purple flowers and should be great in the back yard or in the front yard, I haven't decided where they will go yet. I have fuchsias in the front and back yards, they are one of my favorite plants and love the coastal weather.

We had been talking about buying a mint plant 'just cause'. I need to come up with a pot to plant the mint, when you plant mint directly in the ground it can become very invasive and I'd like to avoid that. A big pot of mint will be great to use for ice tea or cooking recipes. We got a spearmint plant, the leaves are bright green and the plant looks very healthy. I'm looking forward to planting it next weekend and watching it grow big over the coming season.

I have some sweet peas growing already for the obelisk in the back yard. I had a pack that I purchased from the store and planted, then I received a pack of sweet peas from my BBC Gardener's World magazine. I decided to plant the the new pack of sweet peas in with the other seeds for a succession of blooms. The sweet pea seedlings are growing in a pot outdoors until they get a littler bigger and stronger, then I will plant them beneath the obelisk. This method worked very well last year and helped keep the snails from eating away at the new sweet peas shoots.

I decided to purchase a third pack of sweet peas at the nursery sale to grow in the trellis boxes in the front yard. After a few of the passionflower vines died off last summer, there is less growing up and out of the top area of the trellis boxes. I'm hoping the sweet peas work well there and can climb up the old stems of the passionflower vines. These particular sweet peas are a beautiful variety pink and lavender shades that grow 8 to 12 feet tall, a perfect height for the tall trellis boxes. This variety is supposed to be very fragrant, I can't wait to see how these tall sweet pea vines do in the trellis boxes this summer.

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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Sweet Peas and Cherry Tomatoes To Plant

My favorite all time gardening magazine is BBC Gardener's World Magazine, the information is top notch, fantastic photos and a wealth of great ideas for gardening. My BBC Gardener's World Magazine has all sorts of goodies subscribers can get if they live in the U.K. Unfortunately for me you don't get the same items when your magazine is mailed across the ocean. There are times I really long for some of the great gardening equipment and plants they provide their readers for the price of postage. Once a year there are seeds that are included in the magazine and it really brightens my day when I receive them. This year the seeds arrived enclosed in the March issue of the magazine. In the past there have been some annual flower seeds or vegetables, most often tomato seeds. This time the seeds were cherry tomatoes and sweet peas.

I love sweet peas and could not have been happier with them, they are pink and purple shades and will join my other set of sweet peas I have started growing in my garden shed. Tomatoes here on the north coast are the bane of my existence, I love fresh tomatoes and would grow them all year long if I could, but they have a great deal of trouble growing in the cooler weather here even in a sunny location. I don't have a real greenhouse so that's out of the question. I have not found the trick yet to grow tomatoes successfully here in Eureka but I'm hoping the cherry tomatoes will grow in a new location.

My plan for the cherry tomatoes is to plant them in a hanging basket and place the basket up on the deck to get the most sun available during the day. I tried growing nasturtiums from hanging baskets off the kiwi structure last summer but it didn't work well at all, surprising since nasturtiums grow fine in the front yard at the base of the passionflower trellises. Maybe its all about location, location, location?

I've been thinking about growing sweet peas in the trellis boxes in the front yard, along with the passionflower vines and pink jasmine vines. A few of the passionflower vines died off but it appears that there are at least one in each of the boxes. I planted two new roots of passionflowers from seedlings off the passionflower vines on the fence so I hope they grow this year. I need to check out how tall the sweet peas I currently have growing in the garden shed will be, I need tall vines for the trellis boxes. The gardening magazine sweet peas unfortunately do not have a height listed on the package of seeds so they will probably end up growing up my obelisk in the back yard. I have a small metal trellis that lies flat against the wall in my back flower bed, it might be a candidate for sweet peas as well. The shrub size sweet peas are something I tried a few years ago in the front yard and would like to try again, although this time I'm thinking of planting them in a pot instead of in the ground so they can look very full spilling up and out of the rim of a pot. Well, enough dreaming for now, I'm looking forward to planting the cherry tomatoes and sweet peas this coming weekend if the weather holds up.

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Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Trimming Heathers and Other Spring Jobs

Spring means a lot of trimming and pruning in my garden. I started pruning the third of five butterfly bushes while my husband cut up the pruned stems from the bushes. Since these bushes are a little smaller than the first two we managed to prune and fit two of the butterfly bushes into the garden waste this past weekend. One to go and that part of the pruning for the back yard will be done.

While my husband gave a mow to the front and back yard lawns, I started trimming the heaths and heathers that had old flowers on them. Usually I get to this a little earlier but this year with the rains it was left 'till later in spring. The handy small pruners my husband gave me for Christmas are perfect for trimming up the heathers. The slight curve of the blades and the small size of the blades fit well when cutting through the delicate stems of the heathers. I got a good start on a few of the heathers in the back yard and had completed trimming the two plants that bloom in spring/summer last fall there. I trimmed up a few of the heathers a few weeks ago in one of the front flower beds and started on the plants on the other side of the walkway this weekend. I still have a few more to do located under the rose bushes but they flowered less so it should be quick going next weekend to finish things up. Heaths and heathers do well with a trim after blooming and can become a bit scraggly if you don't do this, producing stems with bare spots towards the ends of them. The trim also gives the plant a good shaping since some heathers get a little uneven anyway after growing for a few years.

I noticed the blooms on the camellia are opening and the bush has quite a few blooms this year, many more than its ever had before. I did another trim back of a few spikes of rose canes that were growing out of control, expect I'll have to do that every week in spring and summer. My hosta in the planter on the deck is getting quite a bit bigger, still small but surviving against the snails in the yard. It helps to have the pot up on the deck and farther out of the snail's reach. It's probably time to start collecting snails whenever we're out gardening.

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