Archive for April, 2009

Philadelphus Flowering

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Our deciduous philadelphus (mock orange) bush is full of white flowers right now. The previous owner of the house planted this bush. Because it doesn’t have a tag, I am not sure what kind of philadelphus it is. I didn’t even know it was a philadelphus until I encountered a very similar looking plant at a local nursery.

For the past seven years, it has more than doubled in size with very little care or watering. This year it has more flowers than it has ever had. For several years, it only produced a few flowers each spring. Ever since I removed an old tree that was shading it, this plant has really taken off and grown significantly.

April 26 2009 | Philadelphus | No Comments »

First Rose Bloom of the Season

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Our backyard roses are at the peak of their first bloom of the 2009 season. The first bloom of the season is usually the most spectacular, because it is the only time of year when all of our roses have flowers at the same time. We have planted red, pink, white, orange, purple, lavender, and yellow roses around the edge of the backyard lawn. The orange rose in the first picture is a ginger snap, the purple rose in the second picture is an intrigue, and the rose in the third picture is a double delight, which has a nice fragrance. All three are hybrid tea roses.

After our roses finish their first bloom in about 2 weeks, I will apply a slow release all-purpose fertilizer to them to stimulate them to bloom again in the summertime. I have noticed that when I haven’t fertilized our roses after the first bloom in the past, they don’t get as many flowers in the following months. When I have fertilized them, they generated second and third sets of blooms that were as amazing as the first bloom. Last year, I gave our roses 2 or 3 applications of fertilizer, in the spring and summer, and our roses bloomed off and on until early November.

April 26 2009 | Roses | 1 Comment »

Vegetable Garden Planted

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For a long time, I have wanted to grow a vegetable garden like the one my family had when I was growing up. For six years after I moved into my current house, I assumed that I did not have enough time to plant and tend to a vegetable garden. Last year, I realized that I may not have any more free time to tend to a vegetable garden until I retire. I didn’t want to wait that long (at least 25 years away), so I decided to try and make the time.

I wanted raised beds instead of a ground level garden to make it easier to amend the soil and keep the snails away. Rather than spend the time building it myself, I decided to pay the money to have a gardener dig up our side yard lawn, build two raised beds, and put in an automatic watering system.

Once those tasks were completed, it turns out that the vegetable garden did not require a substantial amount of my time. It takes a few hours to visit a nursery, buy the seeds and the transplants, and then plant them. After that, the automatic watering system takes care of the watering. I just need to fertilize and do a bit of weeding once every few weeks. Fertilizing and weeding doesn’t take me much time, because our raised beds are small, one is 6′ x 7′ and the other is 6′ x 8′. Harvesting the produce is the only additional task that needs to be done, and harvesting produce from my yard takes much less time than a trip to the grocery store.

I was telling all of this to one of my neighbors just yesterday. I think I may have convinced her to put in a vegetable garden in her yard.

Over the past several weeks, I have been planting this year’s vegetable garden in our two raised beds. I started this year’s plantings with broccoli in late February. In March, I planted pole bean seeds, cantaloupe and honey dew seeds, carrot seeds, tomato transplants, a zucchini transplant, a basil transplant, onion transplants, and cilantro transplants. So far in April, I have added bell peppers, an eggplant, summer squash transplants, and day neutral strawberry transplants. I also planted violas and hollyhocks to add a bit more visual appeal to the garden.  In addition, I planted spinach seeds and garlic transplants last fall that are still growing.

I collected the pole bean seeds from dried up bean pods on last year’s bean plants. All of these bean seeds sprouted quickly, and they are already several inches high, as can be seen in the back of the first picture. I built a simple support for them that is made of two thin wooden posts, and a sturdy metal wire frame that is hanging on hooks I screwed into the wooden posts.

Most of the cantaloupe and honey dew seeds sprouted, but birds ate most of them soon after. Even though I covered them in netting, the birds picked at them through the netting. I know it was birds, because I found feathers near the picked-at seedlings. Frustrated with that experience, I replaced them with cantaloupe transplants I bought from a local nursery. The birds have not touched these yet, probably because they are already large enough to be unappealing.

I planted two sets of the carrot seeds, once in early March and a second one in early April. Many of the carrot seeds I planted in early March didn’t spout. The carrot seeds I planted a few weeks ago are just starting to emerge. This year, I planted white and purple carrots in addition to the yellow and red carrots I planted last year. The yellow carrots did especially well last year. It’s so fun to see such tiny seeds turn into large colorful carrots in just a few months!

April 18 2009 | Vegetables | 1 Comment »

Alyogyne

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Our alyogyne bushes are in full bloom this month. Alyogyne huegelii is a perennial evergreen bush that produces striking lavender flowers. I planted our two Mood Indigo alyogyne bushes about 5 years ago. Each spring, they are covered with pinwheel shaped flowers for about 3 months. During that time, they make a great landscape display. Although in the summer and fall, they are not especially attractive.

Alyogyne rivals the princess flower. Both plants produce large purplish flowers. The flowers of alyogyne seem to stand out more against their foliage than princess flowers, but princess flowers usually bloom over a longer period. Also, alyogyne is more cold hardy than princess flower. Alyogyne is supposed to tolerate temperatures down to about 23 degrees F. Princess flower is usually damaged below 30 degrees F.

A few years ago when the temperatures here fell into the mid 20s in January, our alyogyne bushes were undamaged, but our princess flowers died to the ground. Obviously, neither of these plants are appropriate garden choices for most of the United States and Canada (i.e., USDA zones 1-8).

April 18 2009 | Alyogyne | No Comments »

Spring Bulbs

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These pictures show some of the spring bulbs that have been blooming in our garden in the past few weeks. The hyacinths in the top picture were stunning at their peak about two weeks ago when I took this picture, especially the blue ones. Right now, the multicolored tulips in the second and third pictures are in full bloom.

Spring bulbs such as tulips, hyacinths, dutch irises, and daffodils are so beautiful and fun to grow. They make a wonderful landscape display for a few weeks in the springtime, because they tend to bloom at the same time and have such vibrant colors. I have gotten rave reviews from the neighbors about the color display.

Our climate doesn’t seem to get enough cold weather in the wintertime to stimulate tulips and hyacinths to continue blooming year after year. Freezes here are infrequent. Some sources say that one should dig up these bulbs and put them in the refrigerator for a month. Instead, I have been growing them as annuals, replanting them each fall and discarding some of the old ones. Our hyacinths usually bloom again more than one year, but they produce less flowers each year.

The fourth picture above showing the purple tulips and daffodils was taken in March 2008 of the same flower bed. I decided to diversify the color range of tulips I planted for this year’s display.

The same daffodils bloomed again back in February this year and have already faded away. Daffodils don’t seem to need much winter chill. They will bloom again year after year without any special care in our climate. I have seen them blooming along roads and highways in our area, obviously growing wild.

April 11 2009 | Daffodils and Hyacinths and Tulips | 3 Comments »

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