Saturday, May 21, 2011

My Back Garden Looks like Heck

Ok, there, I've said it.

It just doesn't look that good right now.

I have Rose's lovely Bleeding Heart and one of the Hellebores to the left and the Money Plant to the right and some "is it a weed is it something I want?" seedlings and some "hope it will come up" spaces and a few "hope it will survive" seedlings scattered between the patchy "we'll take over the world!" strawberries.

Behold:



Not exactly a thing of beauty, is it?
But, until some of these things decide to take off and grow, followed by another good decision to bloom their little hearts out, it's another opportunity to practice patience, I guess.

Also had a fun surprise in the midst of all those strawberries:


Totally needs the arrow at this point, but I have a surprising little Money Plant coming up next to the bigger one (shoving up through the strawberries).  Very happy to see that little guy!

And at least we finally had some rain-free days again--Rose mowed the lawn (push-mower, and right now it's novel for her--hope that lasts!) and helped me build this (on the left):



I planted in some scarlet emperor runner beans and asparagus pole beans--I like beans and hope to get some meals worth of vegetables out of them, plus the scarlet runner beans are really pretty to look at in bloom.

I also transplanted the Blenheim Melon seedling, the Musk-melon seedling, and the mysterious Pineapple Melon seedling:

Left to right: Blenheim, Pineapple, Musk-melon

Unfortunately, the Musk-melon rewarded me by withering off the very next day (today), but at least the other two seem pretty happy.  This is the second time I've tried and failed to get a musk-melon going.  I've heard they don't transplant well and I guess I'm a believer now--too bad since our season is so short I'm don't think I'd be able to grow it from seed outdoors, but hopefully I'll still have something to show for the other two.  Blenheim Melons are a lot like Musk-melons and Cantaloupes and are supposed to be good for short seasons, so turns out that was an excellent choice ;-)

And while I wait for the mysterious Pineapple Melon to show me what it is, and wait for the seeds to show me some love and grow, at least I'm finally close to solving a 3 year old mystery.  Way back in 2009, Rose planted some Mixed-color Columbine (she also planted some blue last year, but those never came up).  Last year, one of the Mixed-color Columbine came back but never bloomed.  But this year, it's back again, looking great, and--finally--has some buds!


Stay tuned to finally find out what color it is!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

May Garden Blogger's Bloom Day!

Another Garden Blogger's Bloom Day (from May Dream's Gardens blog) is here already, but for me this one is so much nicer that April's!  

In April is was darn cold out still as I put on a coat and went out to take a picture of the single bloom I had to look at.

Thank goodness it's now May!  It's raining, as it was yesterday, as it will be tomorrow.  and the day after. and the day after that, at least according to my friends at weather.com, but it's not chilly (for a drizzly day, at any rate) and, glory of glories, I finally have blooms!

So, without further ado, I bring you Garden Blogger's Bloom Day, Eden ever after style:

First we have the Lilacs that I love so much, they still have opening buds but, I guess with all the damp, at the same time they are going a bit brown here and there on the flowers--still, smells like heaven.

And we also have strawberries--in general, the strawberries are making a good effort towards a hostile takeover of every spare patch of dirt they can find--so far I'm waiting and watching, but I do expect some fruit as payment for my kindness.

Bleeding hearts are really huge this year with tons of hearts on tons of stems--Rose's red ones in the back are the most glorious, but my white ones in the front aren't too shabby either.


And, we still have Hellebore blooming--this is the first year it's bloomed so I didn't really know exactly what to expect, but I didn't expect it to last a month!  Not sure if I can expect this to repeat, either, or if it's just a benefit of a cool wet spring?  This one is in the front garden--it was budded but not quite blooming in time for Bloom Day last month.
The Red Coral Bells are back this year and looking lovely, not in full bloom but just about ready.  Especially under cloudy skies, the shots of red are a nice warm touch.

What started as 3 Freckles Violets have decided to fight the strawberries for total domination of the front garden--they're everywhere, but it's nice to have them.  No johnny jump-ups yet which looked so pretty with them last year--I'm pretty sure we had them by this time last year...could be the cool weather or could be that the violets smothered them out--have to wait and see.

The Lunaria/Honesty/Money Plant that I planted last year is blooming this year--again, didn't expect to see it up with the early spring perennials, but it's a bright spot in a pretty sparse back garden right now.  I just put in more seeds so I can (hopefully) have more of this biannual blooming next year.

And one thing to thank the cool damp for: the pansies still look nice and bright.  Some years it seems like spring lasts about a week and we're right into summer--this year is different, but at least the pansies are thankful.

And, last but not least, look what I found tucked away from the rain in at the side of the front garden--the lily-of-the-valley is back.  I thought it looked pretty sweet hiding out from the rain under it's leaves.

Now I'm off to take Rose to the fabric store (she's waiting, occasionally patiently) and then I'll grab a nice hot cup of tea and enjoy all the other pretty (and many sunny) blooms in the blogosphere today!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Playing catch up

Been dealing with a mix of busy days and a most ungardeninglike cool drizzly days with a few nice sunny days just to keep hope alive.

Sorry to be so out of touch!

As a short recap of the past few weeks, here's a bouquet Rose picked this evening as I finally got out there and pulled some weeds before transplanting a few of the seedlings which now, I suppose, have earned the right to be called plants!



Yep, that about sums it up!  Bleeding hearts are looking fabulous, rhododendrons are bright and pretty, crab-apples are at the end of things now and lilacs (be still my heart) are perfectly in the middle of their week of glory!

Happy Spring!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - April 2011

In honor of May Dreams' Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day I'm posting pictures of my blooms, which in this case won't take much time at all!

Ready?

The hellebore in the back garden is low to the ground and facing the back wall, but it's blooming!

And, right now, it's all I have.

But I know there's more to come, I have these:

lilacs

pansies

and more hellebore

May's bloom day should be a whole lot more fun!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Surprise me!

Ok, I'm not usually one to want surprises in my garden.  I like to know what's coming and plan ahead, which I know is kind of like begging for disappointment when you're dealing with nature, and I like to think I can roll with the punches pretty well, I just don't like to go around asking for punches to roll with!

But, based on Pam's (Pam's English Garden) recommendation on her blog here, I've been reading Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle (I'm enjoying it a lot--there's a little preachiness, but much more a very delightful account of her and her family's year of local food and gardening).  

That, combined with some interesting sustainable gardening posts here on Jan's Thanks for Today blog, and some general "Heirloom Seed" shout-outs that seem to be everywhere lately...

I seem to have jumped both feet into the historic varieties deep end, at least long enough to purposely and intentionally order something completely unknown and unpredictable.

That's right...I'm going to be growing Pineapple Melon.

What is Pineapple Melon, you ask?  Um...well...beats the heck out of me...

I was charmed by Baker Creek's recent resurrection of Comstock Ferre seeds and requested their free catalog.  Flipping through it during the early spring grays, dreaming imaginary dreams of Rose and I sitting out on the patio in the summer sunshine, gazing at the lovely flowers and cracking open ripe sweet melons for a refreshing summer snack...

I think there must have been some strange fairy magic afoot--I turned right to the melon section (never mind that I've never successfully grown a melon) and saw this:

Pineapple (melon)
This historic heirloom was grown by Thomas Jefferson in 1794. It was offered commercially in America in 1824, and it was illustrated in color in France in 1854 in the Vilmorin Album. This wonderful variety is very rare. The productive plants can be trained on a trellis. The fruit is highly perfumed. This was one of the ten melons we offered in 1846 from our Wethersfield Seed Gardens.

Contains 35 heirloom seeds
And I was all: "Thomas Jefferson (I went to UVA, it's a Pavlovian thing)... 1824... Vilmorin Album (I'm a sucker for botanical illustrations, see "addiction, Botanical Interests seed company")... productive... trellis (remember, space, especially sunny space, is an issue here)... highly perfumed" and before you could say, "what on earth are you doing?" I was completely sold on having this glorious thing in my garden.

So...skip ahead to now--the seeds are ordered and on their way and I'm wondering what on earth I've gotten myself into!  Is it red? green? yellow? netted? smooth? crisp?   Darned if I know.

Googling was not especially helpful.  It might look like this:

Photo by Andy Nightmaar here
or, looking at another seed website, it could look like this:
from Cherry Gal seeds here
or it could look an awful lot like cantaloupe, like this:

from The Seed Kingdom here
or, for something a little different, it could look like this:

from Kokopelli seeds here
The funniest part is each of the 3 seed catalogs linked above all say "this" is the variety Thomas Jefferson grew...

Curiouser and curiouser!

I'm feeling a bit like Jack and the Beanstalk; I'll throw these seeds in the ground and wait to see just exactly what grows up my trellis this summer...stay tuned!


Monday, April 11, 2011

US Postal Service and an Interesting Link

Came home on Saturday to find our letter carrier had left me this:


Very exciting!  I have just the hard to plant spot that I'm hoping the Jupiter's Beard will take to and make beautiful.

And, not just good news to share but an interesting link, too:  http://volantefarms.wordpress.com/2011/04/09/beneficial-biological-controls/

I've been thinking a lot lately about what it means to grow in a healthy way and how that's accomplished on different scales--the blog post linked above details how one greenhouse is using bugs to get rid of other bugs and reduce or eliminate the need to spray chemicals on their plants.  It's not preachy and the thinking isn't black-or-white--very interesting stuff (at least to a geeky kind of gal like me!)

Hope all of you have a not too crazy Monday on your hands!