Sunday, December 5, 2010

Cold Greenhouse

Well, I finished assembling the basics of my greenhouse, and even set up a writing desk in here.  In fact I'm writing this from the greenhouse right now, thanks to the miracle of wireless.  When I came in this morning, it was 32 degrees inside, which was only two degrees warmer than outside. I've got some insulating to do, both with weatherstripping between the windows and frame, and some waterproof caulking on the outside.  I discovered during the rainstorm other day that the greenhouse leaks horribly in one spot (the ceiling window/vent), which forced me to abandon work in the greenhouse.

Right now, within 1/2 hour of entering this morning, I turned on the little space heater and it's 55 degrees in here.  I only plan on using the heater while I'm working in here, not to grow plants.  But it's nice to know that this can be my winter writing studio, even if it feels like I'm working in a fish bowl.  

Monday, November 29, 2010


I'm in the middle of assembling a greenhouse behind my garage.  Here's the promo photo of it:  It's 6' by 8', and I got it on sale at 25% off.  Now I just need to finish assembling it before the snow comes, and then figure out what to do with it.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Free compost, part two

Yesterday I opened up my compost bin (the one I bought from the city of Portland last spring), cleared off the top layer, and dug out wheelbarrows full of free compost, which I put around my roses, fruit trees, and in my raised bed.  Rich, black stuff, full of earthworms.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

leaf mulch

Before the rain and wind came on Sunday night, I sucked up all the leaves in my front garden with my leaf blower/mulcher, then spread the mulch around my buddleia, rose bushes, lavendar and other more tender perennials.  Then, the winds came, and blew it all around, so I'll have to do most of it all over again.  But it's nice not to have to send anything to the landfill.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Finally, a frost

Our first frost finally came Monday night, over a month late (that's scarier than Halloween, for sure), so yesterday I pulled up my zinnias, cosmos, impatiens, snapdragons and cut back my asters and a few others.  Fall is finally here.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

done with bulbs

I finally finished the last of my bulb planting today, squeezing 20 Red Impression tulips in along my picket fence, in between my rose bushes and lilacs, and found a spot for 100 allium sphaerocephalum bulbs.

I also pulled out my morning glories, as they'd given up the ghost.  It was quite a task unwinding them off the trunk and branches of my peach tree, and untangling them from the clematis paniculata.  In the snipping mood, I cut back my boltonia and tansy.

Finally, I dug up a lot of the wild violets and lily-of-the-valley that infests my back yard, alongside the neighbor's privacy fence.  I mulched it heavily to try to prevent it from coming back (I left two small hydrangeas back there), and will figure out what to do with that space soon.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

more bulbs

Almost done with the bulbs:  I bought some Dutch Irises, hyacinths, and a few more tulips from my favorite garden center (yes, they still had many in stock, though some selections are thinning), and put those in the ground this afternoon.  It was a brisk day, so I expect to be pulling a bunch of annuals tomorrow after a frost tonight  (which is fine:  I'm getting tired of them.)

I still have to put in a dozen red tulips along my picket fence (to supplement the ones already there), but I'm going to have to wait until I cut back the perennials in that area, as it's impossible to get that close to the fence without trampling everything.  

And I ended up with 100 allium sphaerocephalum that I don't know where to put.  They're beautiful, but I'm running out of room for bulbs.  I may have to find a spot for them in the back of the house, since digging a trench seems to be the easiest way to plant so many.

Friday, October 8, 2010

bulb planting time

I got a chance to put some of my bulbs in the ground today.  I first checked the soil temperature (58 degrees) to make sure it was safe to plant them yet.  It should be below 60, otherwise they'll start to grow.  We're expecting nights in the 30's this weekend, so I'm sure it's safe.  So I got out my bulb auger, which I can attach to my power drill -- a great time- and shoulder-saver.  With a couple hundred bulbs to plant, I wasn't about to dig that many holes, and my garden is too full to dig trenches.

I put in my little species tulips (Little Beauty), Iris Reticulata (short rock garden irises called Blue Harmony), three bare-root Bowl of Beauty Peonies, and gobs of alliums.  I still have some full-size tulips and more alliums to plant, and I'm hoping my favorite garden center will have some more bulbs in stock so that I can fill in some spots that are bare in the Spring.  

This year, I am feeding my bulbs with bone meal, to give them a little boost.  

Monday, October 4, 2010

Fall cleanup

Without a frost yet, most of my plants are still doing well, though some of them have exhausted themselves.  Yesterday I spent some time pulling out snapdragons, daylilies, morning glory, cleome and others.  I also dug up what I could of my gladiola bulbs.  I've never saved them year to year, so this will be new for me.

In bloom now:  my chocolate Joe-Pye weed is looking great, and my asters and mums have opened.  My zinnias and cosmos are still going strong, and I have a little bloom left on my Autumn Joy sedum.  Other than that, most of my garden has faded.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Free Soil

I "harvested" my first compost from my compost piles and forked it into my raised bed, after I pulled up bunches of carrots.  The soil is rich, dark, filled with earthworms, and free!  It's basically last year's oak leaves broken down into soil.  Worth its weight in . . . compost.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Clematis Paniculata

My clematis paniculata has opened up in a full flush of white.  The plant grew tremendously this year, and it covers the entire corner and half the front length of my fence.  It's not as stunning as the photo I saw in White Flower Farm that induced me to plant one of my own, but still.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Fall Sprouts

My kohlrabi, arugula, spinach and lettuce are up!

Monday, September 6, 2010


My Boltonia is now in bloom, underneath my peach tree, and it's a nice backdrop to the morning glories growing through the tree.

My clematis paniculata is about to open any day now.  There are hundreds of little blooms on the thing, crawling all over my picket fence, so I'm hoping it's going to put on a good show.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Fall planting

I got a moment to put in some late-season crops in one of my two deck planters.  With my daughter's help I planted lettuce (already started), and (from seed) arugula, spinach, kohlrabi (which my daughter likes pickled), endive, and a mesclun mix.  

Once the weather drops, I can cover my planter with two cold-frames, so I'm hoping to keep growing things til Thanksgiving.

I've been pulling my potatoes lately: my red pontiacs are starting to get rather big, though some are still quite small.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Watermelon death

Some animal mauled my one watermelon, which was only about two inches in diameter, so no great loss, but I was looking forward to something.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Hibiscus bloom

One of my two hibiscuses finally bloomed this year for the first time. (I planted it early last year.)  It's huge -- larger than the largest sunflower blossom.  I'm not sure if my other hibiscus will also bloom (I don't remember seeing any buds on it.)

Monday, August 16, 2010

Rain, finally, and some overdue maintenance

It's raining this morning, and is supposed to throughout the day, which is such a relief, given the lack of it over the past few weeks.  I've resorted to hose watering rather than using the rain barrel for spot watering.  (I even hooked up a hose to my rain barrel and hose-watered that way.)  But the ground has needed a deep soaking, and it's finally getting it.

Saturday I got around to some long overdue maintenance in the garden:  I cut back all the yarrow in my parking strip, which was looking awful, pulled up the dried-out daylily stalks (leaving the foliage), pulled up some bachelor buttons that were losing their luster, and weeded, weeded, weeded.

While out in the garden, a neighbor whom I barely know drove by, stopped, and asked how to get her hydrangea to bloom.  I gave an educated guess, and in the process of the conversation, she offered me a peony plant (herbaceous) that she didn't like.  (It was crowding her hydrangea, she thought.)  So I went over with shovel and pot, dug it up, and planted it along my back fence, which now gets much more sun than it used to.  I divided the tubers and planted them in the spot where I had just dug up some Yukon gold potatoes.

I also pulled the remainder of the peaches off my tree:  they are amazingly delicious and abundant (enought to give away to neighbors), and we've been having peach smoothies every morning for the last week.

Other harvests include bush beans, carrots, cherry tomatoes, and blackberries.  My okra has started to fruit and grow, as has my watermelon and pumpkin.  I hope they grow to maturity before the frost comes.

I yanked out my wandering cucumber plants, mostly because I didn't like the flavor (too bitter, even when young -- what went wrong?), but also because they were shading out the other vining plants in the front garden.

For blooms, my white phlox (Davids, appropriately) are the most beautiful at this point, and so long blooming.  Also open are Russian sage, butterfly bush, globe thistle, bee balm, sedum, cone flowers and black-eyed susans.  The rest are gladiolas and annuals:  zinnias, cosmos, petunias, and snapdragons.  But my favorite are the morning glories, which have grown up through the peach tree and are producing blue flowers among the branches (very cool looking!) and others up the grape vine and into the bird feeder, producing candy-stripe flowers.

Finally, my bougainvillea has been in bloom for about a week -- nowhere near as stunning as when I bought it, but I'm pleased that I've managed to maintain it.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Monday, August 2, 2010

Mid-Summer Lull; Harvesting Food

I've been very busy the last few weeks:  I've landed a full-time teaching job starting in the fall, so I've spent most of my time preparing classes (and raising my daughter, and everything else).  My garden has suffered because of it, as has this blog.  But here's an update:

We're in a mid-summer lull.  The front garden looks beautiful, I've been harvesting food for a few weeks now, but there's none of the excitement of spring and early summer, where new plants are popping up and new blooms are opening all the time.  There are a few new blooms, however, including most of my annuals (sunflowers, zinnias, and morning glory), as well as my garden phlox.  

I've also realized something about myself:  I'm much more of a flower gardener than a food gardener, which I regret.  If the flowers fail, you just get new ones.  If the food fails, it's much more disappointing.  So I have to work on improving my vegetable gardening skills -- next year.

My main success in food production is with fruits.  We've been picking blackberries in the back yard, a few strawberries now and then, and just yesterday, I started pulling the most-nearly-ripe peaches off my tree, so as not to snap the branches.  A few were soft enough to eat, even if small.  I pulled over 30 off the 5 year-old tree, and probably have over a hundred left.  It's going to be a bumper harvest.

Monday, July 26, 2010


My Butterfly bushes and liatris are fully open, and the nectar feeders are loving them.  

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Let there be Light

A few days ago the neighbor behind my house cut down two large trees (an oak and a Norway maple), giving me much more sun in the back yard and behind our garage, which means a more productive raised bed full of vegetables.  I'm thinking of setting up a greenhouse/shed combination behind the garage.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Updated Plant List

I finally updated my plant list.  For what it's worth, here it is:
Botanical Name
alcea rosea
allium aflatunense
allium caeruleum
allium moly
allium schoenoprasum
allium sphaerocephalon
aquilegia hybrida & vulgaris
aster novae-angliae & aster novi-belgii
baptisia australis
Belamcanda chinensis
Boltonia asteroides
Buddleia davidii
Campanula glomerata
Campanula persicifolia
campanula poscharskyana
Campanula punctata
Centaurea montana
Cerastium tomentosum
chionodoxa luciliae
coreopsis grandiflora
crocus vernus
delphinium elatum
delphinium grandiflorum
dianthus deltoides
dicentra formosa
digitalis purpurea
echinacea purpurea
eupatorium rugosum
galium odoratum
helenium autumnale
Hibiscus moscheutos
iberis sempervirens
irisi siberica
lamium maculatum
leucanthemum vulgare
Ligularia stenocephala
linum perenne lewisii
Monarda didyma
muscari armeniacum
Nepeta x faassenii
Papaver nudicale
papaver orientale
penstemon digitalis
perovskia atriplicifolia
phlox paniculata
phlox subulata
physostegia virginiana
platycodon grandiflous
Primula capitata
Salvia nemerosa
scilla siberica
sedum spectabile
solomon's seal
stachys byzantina
syringa vulgaris
tanacetum niveum
tricyrtis hirta
verbascum hybrid
veronica spicata
Veronica teucrium
Common Name
blue globe onion
golden garlic
Drumstick chives
astilbe chinensis
Blue false indigo
Blackberry Lily
Butterfly Bush
Clustered bellflower
Peach-leaved bellflower
Serbian bellflower
Spotted Bellflower
Bachelor buttons
Glory of the Snow
Pacific Giant
Chinese delphinium
maiden pinks
bleeding heart
globe thistle
Joe-Pye Weed
sweet woodruff
baby's breath
helen's flower
Coral bells
Rose Mallow
Siberian Iris
Dutch & German
Dead nettle
Ox-eye daisy
Black Groundsel
flax blue
bee balm
grape hyacinth
Iceland Poppy
oriental poppy
Bearded tongue
Russian sage
creeping phlox
obedient plant
balloon flower
Chinese Primrose
black eyed susans
Pincushion flower
siberian squill & spanish blue
polygonatum humile
lamb's ear
Japanese Toad Lilly
creeping speedwell

All this in just 600 square feet!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

pruning and watering

Another 90-degree day here:  I watered three times today.  Thank you, Portland Water Dept for offering inexpensive rain barrels last year.  I have yet to use the tap, even in this hot dry spell.

Three maintenance tasks accomplished this evening, when it got a little cooler.  I propped up some of the limbs of my peach tree some more, with branches I pruned off of an oak tree a few weeks ago.  My daughter was fascinated with the process.  ("You're propping up a tree with a tree, daddy!").  I pruned my roses, now that they're done blooming.  It was just a light pruning, as they are still young plants, but I just snipped off some of the lateral shoots that were sticking out onto the sidewalk.  This'll bring more light and air into the garden as well.  Finally, I sprayed my fruit trees (peach and cherry) and my grape vine to get rid of those blasted Japanese beetles.  At least for now.

New bloom report: monarda (bee balm), allium sphaerocephalum, rudbeckia, platycodon, and buddleia.  My taller daylilies have also opened (as opposed to the stella d'oros), my perennial bachelor buttons have rebloomed, and my gayfeathers and gladiola are starting to open.

Some pix:

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Hot, hot, hot

Hot as the dickens here yesterday and today (and tomorrow, too, apparently). I watered twice today, and added a little extra umph to some of my newer plants to stimulate root growth. They look like their main goal is just to survive the heat.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Moving Stuff Around

A little weeding in the garden turned into a large project of moving plants around, continuing the re-arranging that I did yesterday.  My two hibiscus plants were doing fine, but could have used more sun, so up and out they came, and in they went.  (Deep roots!) My three platycodon (balloon flower) were getting lost behind the gladiolas which are now fully up (though not open), so I moved them to underneath the cherry tree.  And I moved all my salvias from in front of my steps to a circle around the peach tree, which left an empty spot that I filled with three blue fescues, divided in half with a pull saw, much to my daughter's delight.(Those bamboo stakes?  They are to hold up the branches laden with peaches.)  

I pulled up as much of the verbascum that I could find.  It's a beautiful plant, but it sure crowds everything else out if you let it spread.

Rudbeckia are starting to open.  They always look so nice next to the echinacea.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Grape trellis

A beautiful summer day in Maine today (low 70s, low humidity) got me out in the garden, though I needed no excuse.  I got the idea (from a walk with my daughter yesterday evening) to string up my grape vine with green wire (see below), so that it has some sort of trellis to grow on, rather than just a post.  

I also moved a few plants around (two hydrangeas that were wilting in too much sun, and about 8 small liriope plants that were lost in a corner).  In the past few days, I've also been starting perennials from seed, planning for next year's garden.  (They go in in the fall, give me blooms next year.)  See below.My echinacea (below) and black-eyed susans are opening up. I've also had a buddleia (butterfly bush) and some of my russian sage (perovskia) start to bloom.

Friday, June 25, 2010


This evening, I took a few pictures of my garden.  Here's what turned out well enough to post.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Long-overdue garden work

It's been nearly two weeks since I've been able to spend any time in the garden. (My wife was away on a trip, and I was solo-parenting my five-year-old.) So there was a lot of work to be done. Here's what it looks like as of today:

I pulled all my tulips stalks & leaves, as well as most of the daffodils. My oriental poppies were also pretty brown.

My celandine and cinquefoil were back with a vengeance, especially the former, and I had to carefully weed around the snapdragons that I planted there.
I weeded and mulched the row of liriope along my neighbor's house. (It's his property, but it runs along my driveway on the backside of his house, so he lets me plant there.)

My lupines were covered with aphids, so I sprayed. And sprayed again.

New plantings:
Cleome where the two stella d'oros mentioned above were.
Nicotiana where I pulled out the last of the tulips underneath my cherry tree
Amaranthus (Love Lies Bleeding) in one of my window boxes, as well in my porch pots.

Seed starting:
Yes, seed starting in late June. I started some perennials in pots and flats: gaillardia, echinacea, hollyhock, rudbeckia, canterbury bells, and pyrethrum.  

My baby's breath recovered from their transplantings and are now in bloom.
I tempted fate again by moving a plant in bloom, this time a beautiful astilbe (shown below), as it was being hidden by my two Joe-Pye Weed plants.

Food report:
I planted bush beans to replace the sugar snap peas once they fade, as well as a Howden pumpkin and another cantaloupe seedling (well, they are more than seedlings at this point).
My blueberries are just starting to ripen
My cherries are good and ripe, and Sage has been enjoying them for the past four days.
Sage has been snacking on spinach, lettuce, and sugar snap peas from the raised bed.
I kind of lost track of many of my front-yard veggies, as my labels wore off. (I'm going to paint and label rocks with my daughter later this summer for next year's crop.)
Most of my spinach has bolted, as has my bok choi. I've heard that the stalks of bok choi are still tender even after bolting, so I'll have to try them.
My zucchini and some of my potatoes have bloomed.

New bloom report:
Baby's Breath
Campanula Glomerata 
Phlox (David, a white one)

Still blooming:
Some lupines (those that survived the aphid attack)

Plant sharing:
I dug out two of my stella d'oro daylilies to give to a new friend as a house-warming gift.

What happened to my gaillardia? I'm not great at plant identification, but I see no sign of them underneath my peach tree.
 I'm stumped. Now that my campanula glomerata has actually bloomed, it easily identifiable, but that means that something bloomed earlier this year that I misidentified as campanula glomerata. I'll have to go back to my garden books.)

More Sun:
The cable company came by the other day and trimmed some oak branches that were too close to their cables, which resulted in giving me a significant increase in morning sun at the northern end of my garden. What an unexpected gift!

Friday, June 11, 2010

more of the same

I've loved my campanula persicifolia so much I bought two more plants (with an early Father's Day gift certificate -- thanks Jen!) as well as some snapdragons to fill some holes in the garden.  I also threw down some extra bachelor button seeds (annuals), in hopes it's not too late for them to grow and bloom.

Also, I hilled up my potatoes, which seem to be doing great, though something nibbled on one of them.  So be it.

Oh, and I love my roses. They just keep getting better.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Back to the Garden; Fall bulb order

I've been home alone with my 5-year-old for the past week, so I haven't had much chance to get into the garden.  Fortunately it didn't need watering, what with all the overdue rain we've had lately.

Today I got a break from childcare duties, so I spent a few hours catching up on the garden.  I pulled up most of my grape hyacinth foliage, and replaced it with some blue-eyed verbena.  Very pretty.  I also realized my baby's breath was being crowded out by a lot of liatris along my front fence, so I moved my four plants to a bare spot on the sunny side of my peach tree.  They are almost in bloom, so it's not the best time to move them, but let's hope I treated them with tlc.  My neighbor gave me some morning glories she started, and I planted them so that they climb my grape vine and through my rose bushes.  Finally, I staked my pepper and tomato plants.

My Sea-Foam roses have finally opened. After three years establishing themselves, they are repaying my efforts in many lovely white/pink blossoms.  Wonderful.

A few days ago, I put in my order for Fall bulbs.  I usually assess my Spring blooms as they come up, to see what holes in the garden need filling, so by the time the bulb catalogs come, I'm ready with my order.  Here's what I'm looking forward to planting this Fall:

I didn't have the best of luck growing tete-a-tete narcissus in one spot in my garden, so this Fall I'm going to re-work the soil there and plant 50 iris reticulata (little guys).

I had one Blue Magic Dutch iris come up this year in my parking strip. I guess I planted more there, but I'm going to plant 100 of them underneath my front window.

50 Little Beauty tulips (a species tulip). I loved this year's blooms, but I only had 20 or so)

Around those tulips, I'll plant 100 allium ostrowskianum.  Say that three times fast.

My allium spaerocephalum looked wonderful for a short while, so I'll plant 100 more in front of my window.

20 Red Impression Tulips (Darwin hybrids) to go along my front fence.

I love allium bulgaricum, and ordered 20 more.

Finally, I plan on planting three Bowl of Beauty herbacious peonies in various sunny blank spots in the garden.  (Well, I'll have to make some blank spots.) 

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Rain, Finally

After two weeks, we finally got some rain today, good enough to water the tender roots on new shoots, which is good because I have a lot of them. But the rain didn't do much more than that.  I noticed that three inches down, the soil is still very dry.  We need a good day-long soaker.

I've been pulling up my tulips the past few days, now that the leaves are yellow.  I also dead-headed my bearded irises.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Bloom Report

(New Blooms have photos attached.)

Campanula Persicifolia 

Allium Bulgaricum
Allium Moly


Oriental Poppy

Meadow Sage (White and May Night)




Campanula Glomerata

Centaurea Montana (Bachelor Buttons)



Irises (bearded and siberian)

Ox-eye Daisies



Sunday, May 30, 2010


Geez, another nice compliment.  While I was out spraying my lupine for aphids (again) this evening, a gentleman walking by stopped and said: "this is the most beautiful garden I've ever seen in my entire life."  

People, you need to get out more.

Today I ran out of water in my rain barrels, and had to use the tap.  Damn do we need rain!

I planted a few delphiniums in the spot where I pulled up my loosestrife (which still keeps popping up, though I've yanked out most of the roots).  There are a few sunflowers started in that same area, so there should be some tall stuff later this summer.

I also sowed more seeds here and there: more nicotiana, zinnias and cosmos, and some cleome. 

I've been pulling yellowed tulips and hyacinth lately.

Picked my first strawberry of the season.  Sage got to eat it, and said it was great.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Eye Candy

It's been very hot here the last two days, so my garden has taken off.  Here's some eye candy for you:

The lupine I sowed from collected seed (thus all purple).

Ox-eye daisies, now in a safe place in the parking strip.  (They self-sow at a pestiferous pace.)

Lupine with chives in the background.

My favorite this time of year, campanula glomerata.  I've got to get more!

My Siberian irises are beginning to open.  This is "Caesar's Brother."

May Night Sage.

Monday, May 24, 2010

New plants

This time of year is always the calm before the storm, when the majority of the Spring-blooming flowers have gone by, but before the full flush of Summer flowers.  The last of my tulips lost their petals overnight, my creeping phlox and iberis have faded, and while I still have lots in bloom, there are noticeable gaps in my garden.  

So this evening I planted a number of new things:  I put more chives into my parking strip bed.  There are three nice plants out there in full bloom now, which I don't harvest, and I decided to run them along the entire length of the strip.

I moved my one pulmonaria from the rear of the house to the front, in a shady area, and planted two new ones in a semi-circle around my summersweet.  I love its variegated foliage, and the blue flowers this time of year add a lot.  In the place of the first pulmonaria, I planted two little sweet woodruff plants, as a sort of a place-holder.  I'm still developing a shade planter in the back, and just wanted something (and something cheap) in that spot until I focus better on shade plants.

Then I put in two blackberry lilies (Belamcanda chinensis) in front of my irises.  As their leaves are
fan-shaped like German irises (they're in the same family), I thought they'd blend in well there, and be a surprise when they actually bloom in late summer.

Then, water water water.  My ground is bone dry, except where I've been watering daily (from my rain barrel).

Finally:  a number of my seeds have sprouted around the garden where I cast them, especially the zinnias.  I always love when new plants pop out of the ground.  

Friday, May 21, 2010

Weeding Clover

Tonight I spent the early evening on my hands and knees yanking clover from my yarrow "grove" in the parking strip.  While I was out there, an elderly couple stopped on their evening walk and one of them said mine was the best garden he'd ever seen in Portland.  Made my clover yanking much easier going!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Empty Nest

Anticipating no more frosts, today I emptied my cold frame of all its tender annuals, both flowers and fruits/veg. Into the vegetable patch in the front yard went: cukes, watermelon, cantaloupe, and Roma tomatoes. And into the raised bed went broccoli and more Roma tomatoes. My broccoli looks pitiful, so I may have to replace it with store-bought starts.  I also have some tomatoes and peppers in pots. 

Around the garden I planted impatiens, morning glory, snapdragons, and cosmos, and put petunias into pots.

I threw down some more extra seeds: cosmos I got from some catalog company trying to get me to buy a lawn mower (hah – no lawn!), and lupine that I collected last Fall.

I put the bougainvillea and lime tree back outside.

I'm still pulling up gooseneck loosestrife and oxeye daisies from all over the place. And I have yanked gobs of celandine, a pervasive weed that I didn't recognize as such until this year.

Allium aflatunense, which are rather large, and look well in front of the bearded ires.

Campanula glomerata
Centaurea Montana, perennial bachelor buttons.
Creeping phlox is nearing the end of its bloom cycle
Galium (sweet woodruff)

Iberis (candytuft), starting to fade
Lupine just opened up two days ago
Muscari (grape hyacinth) still doing well, especially the ones that get less sun.
Pulmonaria. One of my favorite shade plants
Sage, May Night
Tulips, a nice fuschia color circling the cherry tree, still hanging on.

Edible update:
My peach tree, strawberries and blueberries have bloomed, and tiny fruit has emerged.
My potatoes are up.
Sage and I nibbled on our first spinach and lettuce leaves today.

I've had to control aphids infesting the lupines, but it seems to have worked.
Black cherry aphids have also been chewing on my cherry tree leaves, and the youngest and tenderest leaves are now curled up. I sprayed it with pyrethrum, but don't know how effective it was. It's something I need to look into further.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Seeding, Weeding, Feeding

A busy day in the garden:

Sowed some new seeds of lupine, annual bachelor buttons (which I should have sown earlier), oriental poppies, and nicotiana.

Moved a few poorly-growing lupines (from a too-shady area) to the parking strip, where a number of them are doing quite well. (The aphid problem seems to have abated.)

Taking a gamble, I put out the nicotiana I started, along with some Skillins-bought impatiens and pepper plants. (I have too many of the latter. The main ones I'll grow are in pots, along with the Roma tomatoes I started, and are still under my cold frame.)

I've been pulling a lot of clover from my parking strip, which I've kind of neglected this Spring. The Water Dept. is putting in new water lines on our street, and I feared they'd trample the parking strip. Now that they're done, I can give it some attention.

I also realized that my garden is teaming with little Obedient Plant shoots springing up all over the place. I took a little garden rake to them and put my nicotiana in those spots. Let's hope I don't have a major infestation.

I love my rain barrels. I have yet to use the tap this Spring, and I water (guilt-free) almost every day.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Lilacs not blooming

As I've written recently, I got no blooms on my lilacs this year. I've gotten good blooms every other year (they are about 4 years old), so I was surprised at first by the lack of blooms. But then I realized: I had cut suckers off my two main shrubs and spread them around the garden. I'm guessing the main shrubs chose to re-establish their root systems rather than produce flowers. The leaves look fine, so I should get blooms next year.

Monday, May 10, 2010


I discovered that a number of my lupines are covered with aphids. Lupines are notorious for attracting them. I sprayed them with an organic pyrethrum-based spray, which hopefully do the trick. The plants still look healthy, so let's hope I got them on time.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

New plantings; some spare seeds

After yesterday's rain, it was nice to get back into the garden today, though I had to avoid treading on the wet soil so as not to compact it. Fortunately, though the day was cold, I was able to put in a number of perennials.

I had pulled out a whole bunch of creeping something in the right-hand corner of my garden. It looked like anemone, but it wasn't flowering and I didn't recognize it, and it was taking over the whole area, so two days ago I yanked it all out. It has rather deep and spreading roots, so I'm sure I'll see it again and have to keep it under control.

In its place, I put down some new garden soil, then planted a couple of tall rudbeckias, two flats of Rocket snapdragons (the tall ones), some candytuft seeds to fill in the corner (with which I've had only slow and marginal success in the past) and finally, some corn poppy seeds to fill in the bare spaces. We'll see what comes up and what it all looks like come mid-summer.

I also put down some new garden soil in a bare spot in front of my Summersweet (which finally started leafing out this week), then put in three 'Rozanne' geraniums, which promise summer-long blooms. (It was Perennial of the Year a few years back, for what that's worth.)

I yanked out the one hydrangea that didn't survive the winter (the other three look very healthy) and in its place put in a couple of Goodwin Creek Lavender plants. Let's hope they grow their promised 2-3 feet.

Finally, in terms of plantings, I gathered up some of the extra seeds I had laying around (from a year or two ago), found a spot for them, dumped some fresh garden soil there, and sowed them: aubrieta, saponaria, sweet william, and delphiniums, the latter of which I've never had good luck with.

New blooms: a few of my bearded irises have opened, as have some of my flowering onions. Each are against the house, and purple, and go very well together. I'll have pix soon.

I'll pulled back inside my bouganvillea and lime tree. They were shivering.

Today, while I was working in my garden, a lawn-care company van pulled up and the driver asked if I needed any lawn care. I laughed. I don't even have a lawn. Plus, I'm not letting any "professional" set foot in my lawn, unless it's my friend Kathleen.

Thursday, May 6, 2010


Well, let's hope we don't get a frost until Fall, because I took the leap and put my bougainvillea and lime tree outside yesterday (I could take them in if need be), and today sowed a bunch of annual seeds, including sunflowers, scabiosa, California poppies, tithonia (Mexican sunflowers) and bachelor buttons. I also sowed some perennial & biennial seeds: columbine, hollyhocks, foxglove and echinacea. I haven't put in my warm-weather vegetables yet (like tomatoes). I still have those under my cold frame.

Gardening with children: my soon-to-be five-year-old daughter Sage identifies flowers for my wife, who is a passive by-stander in all this gardening.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Weeding and Feeding

Yesterday was my first day back at Skillins Greenhouse.  It was nice to see so many gardeners gearing up for the Spring and Summer, though my main job was telling people not to plant their annuals and warm-weather veggies yet.  I ended up buying a $10 confederate jasmine in a 1-gallon pot.  This particular jasmine is one of my all-time favorite flowers, and its blooms in San Diego in February got me through the hardest time of the school years there, so it's nice to now have one greeting me at the door every time I come home.  

Today, I got to spend a good portion of the evening in the garden, pulling out the weeds, especially the little ox-eye daisy shoots popping up everywhere, and the dis-obedient plants running taking over corners of the garden.  (Both are beautiful plants, the latter being one of my favorites, but they are quite unruly.)  Earlier I diluted some seaweed emulsion and applied it to my starts.

Flowers have opened on my strawberry plants, as well as on my late-blooming tulips (in early May?!?  That's creepy.).  The first flower buds have appeared on my reblooming daylilies.  And the first signs of life have appeared on my clethra (summersweet).  For some reason, I don't have any signs of flower buds on my lilacs, even though others in town have great blooms.

Finally, despite all the advice I gave to Skillins customers yesterday, I took a gamble and put my parsley and rosemary out in one of my window boxes.  I'll cover them if a frost threatens.

Thursday, April 29, 2010


Some of my tulips this morning, around the peach tree.My cucumber, cantaloupe and cosmos seeds have sprouted. I'm still waiting on the majority of my watermelons seeds so that I can unplug the heating mat (only a few of those have sprouted).

I also started my morning glory and okra -- the last of my starts.  I soaked them for a few days -- more than I wanted to, actually, and some of the seeds looked mushy, though most were intact, and a few had sprouted already.  Let's hope they work.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Full Spring Bloom; Round Three of Seed Starting

Today is one of my favorite days of the entire gardening season, as almost all my Spring bulbs are in bloom, except for the earliest of them such as crocus.  My tulips just opened this morning, and my daffodils, muscari and hyacinths are still flourishing.  Also in bloom are my iberis (candytuft) and creeping phlox.  There's such an array of colors this time of year.

I also began my third round of seed starting:  in peat pots I began cucumbers, cantaloupe, and watermelon, and also started four flats of cosmos.  Finally, I soaked a bunch of morning glory and okra seeds to start tomorrow.

Lacking room under my grow lights, I took the gamble of putting out my last round of starts in my cold frame, which should keep any frost away, even if the shock of the cold might be too dramatic.  It's always an experiment.