Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Wet, Wet, Wet

We've had intermittent rain (and sometimes downpours) since Saturday, which means my garden is nice and watered, but now it's too watered, and I don't dare sow any seeds anywhere, lest they rot. But that hasn't stopped me from moving some things around: I dug some daylilies out of one area of my garden and put them in the verge (the place between the sidewalk and the road), so that daylilies now run the entire verge. Where those daylilies were (and some were just little off-shoots of my larger plants), I planted a few more peonies, two 'Benjamin Franklins' that I bought from Skillin's, and two mystery peonies that a neighbor gave me last fall (which I had planted in the back yard).

I also planted my potatoes (Red Pontiac and Yukon Gold), which needed to go in, so I had to balance not being too late with not having them rot in the ground. Let's hope I chose well. Also defying the weather, I planted some gladiolas alongside my fence.

In an annual ritual, it's pulling-out-the-blasted-oak-seedlings time. I walk around my garden, weeding tool in hand, looking for those distinctive red leaves, and out they come. With three oak trees in my neighbor's front yard, adjoining mine, we are inundated with acorns -- and their nefarious consumers, the squirrels.

Finally, my big purchase: I bought an espaliered apple tree, with three varieties grafted onto the same root stock. Unfortunately, Skillins' supplier lost track of what the three varieties were, so it'll be a surprise in the fall. Here's the challenge: I have to cut down four immature oak trees (each about two inches in diameter), which are all right next to each other and in the exact spot in the back yard where I want to put the apple tree. I'd been wanting for years to cut out those trees, but they had become a "house" for my daughter Sage's imaginary persona, Hack (who is, in her mind, a gardener and also an employee at Skillin's). While Hack still shows up once in a while, Sage now likes the idea of harvesting her own apples, so she's willing to give up the trees.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

It's been very dry these past two weeks, despite some brief drizzles here and there, and I've had to tap into my rain barrels for the past week to keep these moist.

I'm starting to take things out of my greenhouse and put them in the ground: nicotiana, amaranthus, lobelia, bachelor buttons, morning glories and thunbergia (the last from my generous neighbor).

I bought some red pontiac and yukon gold seed potatoes yesterday, and cut them up to harden them up before I plant them today or tomorrow. I also had to buy more gladiola bulbs: I hadn't planned on buying new ones this year, since I dutifully pulled last year's bulbs in the fall and put them in a pot to dry (I usually just leave them in the ground to rot), but I mistakenly put another flower pot on top of the bulbs, and when I discovered them last week, they were all moldly. Oh well.

New blooms: my peach (below) and cherry trees have bloomed, and my strawberries are beginning to do so. Among the perennials, the iberis and creeping phlox are in their full glory.People have been enjoying the "wow" factor of my garden this past week. A woman walking her dog paused to point out the tulips to her labrador. (I'm not sure what the dog understood.) A school kid on my daughter's bus stood up from his seat and started pointing and shouting to his friends (though I couldn't hear what he said). Passers-by compliment me on the garden when they see me out there. And my daughter thinks I have the prettiest garden in Portland. So I'm happy. Here are some pix:

Friday, May 6, 2011

getting greener

After a few days of on-again off-again rain, my garden is filling out with green stuff. And now that classes have ended, hopefully I'll have a little more time to identify what that green stuff is and separate the weeds from the rest. A few notes:

I have only a few blossoms (10 or so) on my cherry tree. It's only a four- or five-year-old tree, but I have images of the cherry blossoms in Washington D.C. in my head, and I'm envious.

As I've noted, only two of the three peonies that I planted last fall came up, so I took the peonies in my back yard (that a neighbor gave to me last summer) and moved them to the front. Let's hope they put on a good show: I have no idea what they look like.

While waiting for my daughter's school bus to arrive, I shelled and sowed lupine seeds that I collected last year. I'm sure they'll all resort to standard purple flowers, but that's fine. I need more variety in the parking strip out front, and as long as they don't become aphid magnets (or even if they do), I'll be happy with them.

I soaked and sowed six more morning glories (well, moon flower, but it's the same species) and put them under lights. Once they sprout, I'll be done with my grow lights and bring everything out into the greenhouse.

So many of the bulbs are open that I had to do a photoshoot yesterday, even if it was drizzling on me.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

glory days

This is one of my favorite times of year for my gardens: when most of my major bulbs are out, especially the daffodils, hyacinth, grape hyacinth, and the first of my tulips. This time of year, my garden acts serves as a traffic-abatement device, slowing down cars as they drive by. Neighbors wave and give me a thumbs-up if they walk by and see me sitting in the front window. It's very rewarding.

Seed-starting update: most of my morning glories have sprouted and emerged from the soil, as have all of the other warm-weather seeds I first started in the greenhouse and then moved into the basement. Lesson learned. My raised bed is now covered with little green things poking out of the soil. Now if I can only find the little map I made as I was sowing the seeds, so I can figure out the seedlings that I don't recognize.

My new bowl-of-beauty peonies sprouted seemingly overnight a few days a ago and are now about 9 inches high. One of the three has yet to emerge, and I'm concerned I buried it too deep.